Friday, 15 February 2013

LRT : I Like Rakyat Transport - 15 Feb 2013

Jin is taking the LRT back from school every day, and it's a change from those days where he's chauffeured around to and fro school. He told me he's enjoying the public transportation route much better - to be in touch with the real world... and here's his thoughts on the public transit:


I could have sworn I just heard,
something that filled my heart with joy,
something that made me grow a beard,
something that...oh never mind.

It was the cars and buses,
roaring and whirring as they passed,
the click-clack of the train's wheels,
it was a sound to enjoy.

It was that troublemaker heat,
if he were alive I would fight him,
many a time have I not felt jealous
of the people in the train,
 with air-conditioners at full blast,
all for themselves.

It was the air,
the smoke polluted air,
the dust of the vehicles, 
the different odours of people.

It was a potent mixture, 
to breathe in the dust and smell the polluted air.
I wonder what it would be like without smell.
I would only be able to breathe.

All the hassle, all the waiting,
all the rain and all the queues,
but it was worth to see
the different types of people,
old, foreign, workers and students
and thankful I shall be.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Classic Almond Biscotti - 10 Feb 2013

A kitchen filled with the aroma of freshly baked goodies is one of the most treasured memories of the festive season. This is why I love baking especially before Chinese New Year because of the warm, wonderful aroma that gives the home a sense of anticipation of the reunion with family and loved ones. Unfortunately, you cannot capture tis in pictures.

Together with my helper, I made biscotti as Chinese New Year gifts. It's one of those things that goes well with my daily dose of coffee. I've more time this Chinese New Year cos my kids are all in schools. But things always did not go as planned as one of them fell really sick the week before the new year.

There're many different variations of biscotti recipe, some called for whole eggs, some only egg whites and some even with butter. I've used a recipe from Bake with Yen because it works and it's so simple. The main ingredients are egg whites, flour, nuts and sugar. The problem with making biscotti is that you'll end up with lots of egg yolks. It is not a problem for us as my sister-in-law is using the egg yolks to make ice-cream. And biscotti goes really well with ice-cream too, esp. rum & raisin ice-cream.

Now we can catch up with our family and friends, over a cup of coffee and enjoy our Biscotti....


Recipe for Almond Biscotti

You will need :
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
90g castor sugar
120g medium protein flour (sifted)
120g (or more) unblanched whole almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (*try not to use the commercial vanilla essence)

Method :
1) Beat egg white with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating constantly until stiff (*some recipes are different where you beat until foamy and then add in sugar gradually)
2) Lightly fold in flour, almonds and essence.
3) Bake in a lined (loaf) tin for 35mins at 180C.
4) Rest and wait till loaf is slightly cool then turn it out and cool on wire rack.
5) Cut the cool loaf into wafer-thin slices, and then lay them on wire rack  and bake for 10 minutes or until crisp at 150C (*time varies depending on your oven and thickness)
6) Cool the baked biscotti on wire rack.

I usually make double portion of the above because it is just nice for my baking tray and makes 4 small-sized containers.






Wishing you all a very blessed Lunar New Year and Happy Reunions! May your home be filled with sweet memories and wonderful aroma of freshly home baked goodies all year round!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Chill out at Fraser's Hill - 24-27 Jan 2013

Fraser's Hill is only 2 1/2 hours from Kuala Lumpur, a perfect escape from the sweltering heat of the city. Since last year, they've changed the traffic control system so now everyone can drive up to Fraser's at anytime you wish - no more time restriction for ascending and descending the hill from The Gap - the last 10km before the peak.

We felt like we'd arrived in an English countryside with beautiful and quaint colonial bungalows left behind by the British. We stayed at Rumah Methodist, a 10-room bungalow run by the few remaining Hainanese caretakers in Fraser's Hill. The rooms are very basic but the place is located uphill so plus points are it's very scenic and quiet.


The air was so fresh, with temperature hovering around 14C to 20C mid-day during our stay. At night, it's very chilly and thick fog greeted us in the early morning. The serene environment, pristine forest and cool fresh air make you want to come back again. 




Surrounded by nature, the kids were free to explore the compound.....




Over the years, there have been some changes here and there but overall, we didn't see any new or developing structures in Fraser's Hill. Let's just hope that this colonial hill resort will not follow the fate of the other highlands in Malaysia. 

A favourite place we would drop by - Ye Olde Smokehouse - famous for scones & tea and also something far more awesome.......


This was the main attraction for us in Fraser's - bird-watching!

 Spectacled Laughingthrush

Silver-eared Mesia


A common sight - the streaked spiderhunter - part of the sunbird family. As the name suggests, they will eat spiders and able to extract spiders from the centre of their webs! And one thing we also noticed, they love to consume nectar from flowers and they make a lot of noise, often described as an 'incessant squeaky whistle'.



Could not identify tis birds (pic top & below) - probably a "little spiderhunter"?




The common Long-tailed Sibia (pic top & below)



Black-throated Sunbird

Indeed a nature paradise, wish we have more time to explore and just to absorb everything there. It rained for 2 consecutive nights, enough to bring the leeches out in the garden and compound. Jin got his first bite from a leech - it was sooooo bloody! One landed on my sweater then hopped to my hand before I shoved it to the floor - yikes. An interesting find - a communal spider web where a group of spiders were building webs in the same area. We also saw a long snake - which looked like a Malayan rat snake as we're descending from the hill.


Hitting the gong for meal time! We felt so pampered here. During our stay, the caretakers took care of all our needs. They were the second-generation Hainanese caretakers - the Leo  (Chinese pronounced as "Liang") sisters. Both were born and bred in Fraser's. They picked up cooking from their parents, a first-generation Hainanese who came from China. Most of their siblings have moved out to the city.

The Leo sisters maintain the bungalow, cook and serve the guests and do the housekeeping as well. These folks can cook up a storm from western to oriental food and mouth-watering dessert. Roasted chicken, pork chop, apple crumble, beautiful scones, banana pancake, mango pudding.... these were some of the food prepared by the Hainanese caretakers who once conquered the kitchens in the colonial hill resort.

The younger generation is no longer interested in this kind of job. There were few remaining descendants of these immigrants. When they're gone, lost are the family secret recipes and the caretaker tradition who lived through the colonial period.
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