Friday, December 14, 2007

Nee's Kung Fu Kids

Nee did a little baking & cooking workshop for a few kids today. These weren't just any kids from the roadside, they are children of our good friends.

She started the session off by bringing the four apprentices to Choice Supermart. I heard they brought back a whole trolley of stuff. So when they got home, they started getting busy.

These were future wives in training. Hopefully their stock market value will go up after this. Interested mothers who have eligible sons can start booking now. We charge very low commissions.
See, from a very young age, they already know how to pose.

This is Heather the Onion Princess. She loves the smell of garlics and onions & is strangely immune to the sting. I guess the shape of her eyes has its advantages.

And this is Alicia. She is showing potential as the future Iron Chef.

I don't know what's going on here cos I wasn't there. But they sure looked amused. NEE: They were slapping burger pate and oops one whole piece flew off.

At this point in time, I'm beginning to wonder about the other two missing fellows.

Here comes Nathan. As you can see, he is a boy. Therefore he has a tendency of causing more harm than help in the kitchen.

And there is Jordan. Despite his ernest looks, he is just kaypo-ing.

The first of half the cooking session ended just in time for lunch. Nee was smart. What actually happened was that they got duped into cooking their own lunches.

This picture just proves to show that men do not belong in the kitchen. Their place is at the dining table.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas in KL

Here are a few pictures we took of the Christmas decoration in KL. A few only lah. We were on the go with shopping, so taking pictures was really at the very very back end of our minds. Imagine when the bus conductor says 'Ahh, masuk lagi. belakang lagi. Lagi Lagi. ' That's how far back it was.

This is the Christmas tree at Cititel Hotel, where we were staying.

I loved the lights. You don't get those kind of lights in the jungles of Kuching.

Usually the photos we take end up looking not as good as really being there. But somehow this one actually looked exactly like being there. Not bad for a lazy photographer like me. Don't ask me how I did this. Nowadays I have my camera sensitivity set to the highest ISO at 3200. So I just snap whatever is indoors with that.

When we got to Megamall Central Court, we were greeted by this huge display of lights on the centerstage.

There were a lot of scheduled musical performances on stage. This is one of them.

We didn't know what it was about & being Malaysians, we didn't even bother to find out. We just knew that it wasn't a story about shopping.

We didn't know what kind of theme this was but the decor had some kind of moss covered egg shaped rock. Maybe it was environmental.

And we also didn't know why there was this grass thing going on.

But we took pictures anyway, just in case, so that we wouldn't lose.

Nee also took one.

The difference between our photos is that mine looks dorky & her's got a bit of effort in posing.

Megamall had a different Christmas decor on every wing. That's how much they spent to be competitive.

This is at South Court. Not as exciting, but people just have to have their photos taken anyway.

There's this one display which we really liked. This is one of the most creative ones that we've seen.

I guess the display worked cos we were suckered into buying two slices of cakes to try. I chose this one. It's called a Bavaria coffee or cappucino or something.

And Nee picked this one out. It's a mango swiss roll something.

Guess what? They both suck.

It's strange. You'd expect that KL being a big city, would have people with very sophisticated taste. But rich cakes are hard to find there. It seems that they don't seem to mind light spongy cakes like this & similar ones from Secret Recipe.

KL people seem to go for convenience. As long as the food is a little over the average, then it's ok. Both Nee & I concluded that probably that's the reason why a lot of food franchises from KL doesn't really work here in Kuching. In Kuching, when something doesn't taste nice, they'll just drive on to the next one. Everything else is 15 minutes apart.

Surprise! We Were in KL!

Hi to all our readers! Sorry for not posting over the last two days. But thank you all for dropping by anyway. We appreciate that. :)

We were actually in KL on Monday. This was one of our annual shopping trips. Whenever we're there, we made sure to stay at Cititel Hotel at Midvalley.

This hotel has become something like our second home.

The rooms may be a bit small. But that didn't really matter. What really mattered was that it was NEXT TO MEGAsuperrrMALL.

For lazy people like us, this was a very convenient arrangement. This meant that there was very minimal movement required of us from the bed straight down to the shops, and back again to the bed at the end of the day. No hassles with the taxis & the KL jam. If Megamall had rooms, we'd stay there, and shop from our bed.

Anyway, we got our one year supply of new clothes. That should last us through the Chinese New Year & the whole of next year. For many of you who might not be aware, Kuching don't have clothes. We only have dried leaves strung together. That's why we need to make the trip every year.

This trip was also an opportunity for Nee to stock up on her baking ingredients. She was shopping like she owned a baking factory. You should have seen us. If you were there, you'd think we were geting ready for a major flood in Sarawak.

People probably thought we came from the jungle. We were like mountain people coming down to the big city.

I don't know about Kuching, but the Christmas mood was really ON in KL. We just couldn't understand why there were so many people at Megamall. It was full of people even on a working day.

Then we realised that half the people there were either from Kuching or from Sibu. You could easily tell the Foochows apart from the rest. They're usually loud & you could hear them coming around the corner.

Do you remember how the birds fly & the turtles swim to other continents when the season changes? Well, Sarawakians are like those animals. They migrate during the Holiday season.

Foochow Chow Chai Mee Fern~ Version RM4.50

Home cooking Chow Chai Mee Fern (Foochow pronouciation is Chow chai hung gan) is simple but the taste level is normally not quite there. Many good cooks in my family have attempted at this but somehow we could never match the ones in the shop. The homecooked ones are somehow lacking in its sourness & fragrance.

There are a few factors to consider, one of which, is the treatment of chow chai. Chow chai needs to be chopped, and i mean hand chopped (not blended into small bits), and then add Foochow Red Wine to it to season before using. This will increase the sourness factor. And of course good sour chow chai is important as well. Also note that you should only chop and season the amount you want for the coming mea(s). Do not leave seasoning for more than a week. The sour factor tends to go away with time. I found that out when I used the ones I chopped three weeks ago.

The soup base is another factor for tastiness. Use only superior stock. What we are talking about here is not chicken stock cubes. This is like 8 cups of water boiedl with big huge pork bones (1kg) and some chicken bones (400 to 500 gm) and simmer for at least an hour. The longer the simmer, the 'sweeter' the stock.

Foochow Red Wine (Ung Chew in Foochow) plays such an important role in this dish. Sub standard ones which are usually diluted and missing the sweet sourish taste does not do justice to the mee fern. You should see the amount of Red Wine that is dumped into the noodle and soup at New Happy Cafe.

And finally of course the ingredients. New Happy Cafe uses Tapah fish fillets and/or king prawns and they cost about RM18 to 25 per bowl. Those are really superb. My version is RM4.50 according to Greg. Cause it only has meat slices, meatballs and medium prawns. What I also learned from them is that you don't need flaming fire to give the mee fern the fragrance. In fact, I find out through experiments that it will just kill off the sour taste in the soup.

8 cups of superior stock
6-8 heaped tablesp of chopped, seasoned chaw chai
1 tbsp of ginger, minced
1 tbsp of garlic, minced
3 nos. of big tomatos, sliced to wedges (use sour ones)
3/4 to 1 cup of good foochow red wine
3-4 stalks of choy sum, clean and cut to 3-4 parts
50gm of black fungus, sliced
400gm of fish fillet o prawns
200gm of pork slices/chicken meat, treat with a little salt and pepper and light soy and some cornstarch, set aside
4-5 tbsp of light soya
light soya, pepper and msg to taste
300gm of thick mee fern, soak in room temperature water til soft. Drain and set aside.

Fish like tapah, patin, red snapper, filleted
Prawns, clean sand bags, whether shelled or unshelled is very personal
King prawns, cut half, cut the legs off
Pork liver
Meat balls

1) Prepare superior stock. Keep it simmering.

2) In a heated wok, with 3 tbsp of oil, stir fry ginger and garlic with high fire till fragrant. Add meat slices. Stir fry to seal the meat. Add superior stock. Let it boil.

3) Add seasoned chow chai (please don't fry this, the sourness is lost if you do so). Then, add harder to cook items like meat balls and king prawns and boil for about 2-3 min. Add fish fillets, fungus, tomatos, pork liver next. Boil for another 2-3 min. Add light soya and 1/2 of red wine now.

4) Find a permanent spot in your soup to put your mee fern in. You dont want to stir the mee fern all over the soup cause you want to take it out first and place nicely on each individual bowl later. Continue boiling til mee fern is cook. Add vegies. Add seasoning to taste and rest of red wine.

5) Dish out mee fern and distribute evenly on each individual bowls. Should make 5 medium bowls. Then, look for meatballs, meat, fish and prawns and others to dish out evenly onto each bowl. Arrange them nicely. Finally, scoop out the soup into the bowls. Drizzle with more red wine. Serve with pickled chillis with soya sauce. If you have the heart to take it, drip a few drops of pork lard.

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