Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Making of Nyonya Bak Chang

Come the 5th Day of the 5th Month of our Chinese Lunar Calendar, my wife would diligently get herself busy to make the Nyonya Bak Chang every year. She would run around the shops and wet market to buy all the ingredients for the tedious preparations that would use up all the big & small containers and space of our entire kitchen and dining room. She would put in all her heart and passion to wash, cut and cook everything for many long hours to prepare the ingredients. Being an OCD Chef, she would make sure that I stay away from her as she is worried and superstitious that I might accidentally utter some nonsensical and silly words that might dampen her cooking spirits. LOLOL. This is true to the customs of the olden days when the Bibiks and Nyonya Makciks would even choose the auspicious dates and time to cook festive dishes or cakes. That's what my OCD wife did exactly!

Being an OCD Chef, she would use her scales to measure for perfect proportions 
as the agak-agak method is not in her books.

My wife had been making her signature and authentic Nyonya Bak Chang using the Blue Telang flowers glutinous rice to blend with the white portion glutinous rice with generous assorted ingredients before wrapping them in bamboo leaves. She could easily tie them perfectly well, probably due to her skilled hands in Wushu.

She had made hundreds of Nyonya Bak Chang and delivered them all to our relatives and closest friends. This year will be another different story with the current MCO and social distancing. We thought that we could forgo this dumplings for this year and resume next year. 

Somehow our friends and relatives joined wagon in her FB to pester her to make the Nyonya Bak Chang again this year. Their jokes and banters turned into serious talks that encouraged her to sell them online, so that it could be delivered and reach them safely, no matter how far they live away from Klang Valley!

All are happy now. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Tomorrow May Not Come

 Location: Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.   
Standing: Myself, My Cousin & Korean Room Mate

I was browsing through some old photos in my album to rekindle the happiest memories I had with my closest cousin. He was studying accountancy in London when he flew over to the States to spend one summer holidays with me. I brought him to New York City, San Diego, Disneyland in Los Angeles and Grand Canyon. By chance, we both saw real life police using handcuffs and guns to make arrests on drug smugglers in New York's notorious Harlem area. We slept through the big earthquake that hit L.A. because I shared the motel's King sized bed with my cousin and my Korean room mate. The earthquake shook & rocked our bed until things fell onto the floor. We were still fast asleep thinking that one of us were tossing & turning on the bed.

Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona   
My cousin tried to carry me!

I informed this cousin who has migrated to Melbourne that Air Asia had refunded me for my flight tickets to Guangzhou on CNY which the trip never took place. I decided to use the refund credits to visit him at the later part of the year as I found a cheap flight of RM415 per pax. He was so excited and I suggested having a pot luck party at his home so that it would be easier for me to invite all my other cousins and friends in Melbourne to meet up at one place. I was wondering what his lovely wife could cook for the pot luck gathering because he often chided her lousy cooking.

This morning, I received a heartbreaking news that his wife had passed away suddenly of brain haemorrhage! She left behind my cousin and 2 young teenage children. I am still speechless and shocked.


A few months ago, I received news that my parent's old family friend who was my dentist had passed away in his sleep. The funeral was held at Taman Seputeh which I had mentioned that it contained over 20 cats living inside that house!

I happened to remember a lady Jacqui, whose both late parents were also close to the dentist and they went on tours around the world together. She is the grand daughter of the late philanthropist developer Dato Tan Yew Lai who built his housing estate along Old Klang Road. Jacqui's brother was the Beaucarrate Enterpriser Award Winner who opened The Carat Clubs at Bangsar and Pavilion KL before moving his business to Shanghai. They are all from diamond supplier business.

Jacqui had met up with me on several occasions at the BSC cafes and her home. We chatted a lot about both our late parents who were very close whereas we children hardly met up as they all schooled in England since young. This kind hearted Jacqui shared about her numerous trips to help the poorest people living in the plains of Qinghai in China. Her team led by a Tibetan Rinpoche always brought thousands of medical supplies and necessities with them to give the poorest villagers who did not get any aid from the government.  She decided to collect recipes of her mother's fabulous cooking and invited me to share the Thai food recipes which my mother had cooked for the late Tunku Abdul Rahman during his retirement years in Penang. Jacqui wanted to compile and print all the recipes to sell in a Coffee Table Book and donate all the proceeds to charity. I had done my part and waited for so long as she was living between her mountain ranch in Western Australia and home in Bangsar. She was so low profile yet high flying. I tried to text and call to inform that my dentist had passed away but her line was dead.

I was dead shocked to read this on her Facebook last year. She had left her husband and 3 teenage sons back in 2017! I didn't realise that time had flown so fast as our last meeting showed her recovering well from brain cancer. Her passing affected me a lot as I was looking forward to the Coffee Table Book in memory of my late mother.

Life is Uncertain but Death is Certain.
Quoted by Dalai Lama


Monday, April 27, 2020

My Secrets of Growing Spring Onions

Yesterday my wife posted in her Facebook for fun, about all the plants that I have planted at home over the years. Her post almost shocked everyone to the core, right from my hometown Penang's friends up to my relatives in Thailand and contacts across the continents to Australia and Japan. Honestly, I was more startled by their big reactions as nobody had the faintest idea that I could actually grow many vegetables and plants since 10 years old. Even my own sister who lived in the same house did not know it! I have been painted with the images as a wild party animal, religious spiritual fanatic or simply a studious nerd in the later years.

I lived in a house with a huge garden where my father planted plenty of plants with blooming flowers besides all the hundreds of orchid collections using organic fertilizers created by himself from the Chemistry Laboratory where he worked in the forensics. He planted and replanted all the grass himself until he found the softest "Taiwanese Carpet Grass" species that impressed all our visitors. They would happily take off their shoes on their own to walk & pamper their feet on the soft Gardens of Eden outside our family home and admire all his flowers. My father would hide all the pots when he had no flowers to show off. Every neighbour who jogged past or walked their dogs would always smile at my late father and showed thumbs up for being the only house along the steep slope that was like a permanent place for a "Flower Carnival Show" complete with rock gardens and full blooms. That was the legacy of memories that had lived on till today amongst the cousins who would fondly remember our grey persian cat, my mother's delicious Thai Laksa and my father's garden. I know it sounds like my big trumpet blowing sessions again. They are nothing but the truths of my bygone memories.

So I actually inherited my father's green fingers naturally because I was the only child left at home to help him in gardening while my siblings had gone overseas for their studies. Everyday I had to water all his green lung of  flowering plants, assorted hybrid orchids and every inch of his precious grass on his big sprawling gardens that were on 3 different levels of the house. 

An old friend who saw my wife's FB texted me to ask some questions on my method of planting Spring Onions. Her daughter also tried to grow Spring Onions using tissue paper!! Goodness!

Let me share my own simple secrets below and hope that you will share with others too:

I would definitely choose to recycle the plastic egg cartons and use it as the base for growing spring onions. Just use a scissors to cut it across vertically into half. Use a picker to poke one hole for each egg dimple section for water to flow out later.

Now choose carefully 10 pieces of small onion bulbs for planting. Examine very closely that they are not rotten with decayed fungus and still hard when pressed. Best choice would be the bulbs with tiny plant that has sprouted out which is not suitable to eat then. Soak the selected small onion bulbs into a bowl of water and leave it there for a few hours. This is the unknown secret where my friends weren't aware of and simply planted them right away which took much longer time to grow. When you immerse the onion bulbs into the water for hours, the long dehydrated bulbs would slowly soften and feed all its pores sufficiently to bring it back to life again. 

Meanwhile, you can start scooping some black soil with a spoon to fill up all the dimples of the egg carton. Sprinkle or spray some water to moisten the soil. Place the cover of the egg carton at the bottom to act as the tray to collect excess water that flowed out later.

Place all the wet onion bulbs, one each onto the individual soil filled dimples of the egg carton with the roots section pointed downwards. Place the tray indoors by the windows or balcony with partial sunlight. You may place them outdoors but not under direct sunlight as it will dry up the soil fast.

You should be able to see the spring onions growing on the Day 02 (Top Photo). The cover is at the bottom as its base tray where the excess water has been collected. (Bottom Photo) The roots will grow out of the holes to reach the excess water always, saving all your watering time and attention.

By the Day 03, the spring onions would be growing faster now. You will probably wait till it reaches the height of 6-7 inches before trimming off the top stalk for your consumption. Leave the stalk with about 1/2 inch at the bulb and it will continue growing again. I will update this post again with photos to show my spring onions when they have reached 6-7 inches. This is the first time I am taking photos of my spring onions to share, so please be patient. Thank you for reading.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

His & Hers Refrigerator

When our guests entered our humble abode, their roving eyes had to pan across the living and dining rooms, right from the walls up to the ceiling until beyond. This is the little home of the Mr. Antiquarian and Mrs. Bibliophilia who hoarded all the old antiques and many shelves of books.

Those inquisitive ones who pried into the kitchen always exclaimed loudly! You guys have 2 big fridge at home?? Just for 2 persons!! Crazy lah!.....

Hey, what's so shocking about having 2 refrigerators at home nowadays? My executive chef keeps all her cooking ingredients inside one fridge for longer lasting freshness instead of a pantry. The air over here is a bit damp for being too near a river and very thick forests. So everything here grows fungus quite easily. Our wardrobes have black mouldy marks inside the walls too. So geli.

So the guests must kay poh a bit to open the freezers to satisfy their whims. Here is what they will see.

The first fridge in the dining room with all the magnets. The regular kids love to open this freezer!

It's like a Magic Land with all the ice creams and chocolates from London, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia. This makes me a happy kid too..... Look at the tin of London's Bus Chocolate which I bought from Harrod's back in January 2019!! Not even opened yet.

The second fridge is inside the kitchen area.

All the meat are neatly stacked here by my OCD Chef.

What's inside your fridge at home??


Friday, April 24, 2020

Last Night In Busan (Part 3)

I was like having a whirlwind romance with the city of Busan. Many heartfelt thanks to my Korean best friend for driving me all the way from Seoul to enjoy the best sightseeing around Busan. He drove along the stretch of coastal roads for me to enjoy the panoramic view where all the big & small beautiful homes lined the sea cliffs and face the breathtaking ocean. These precious and good memories will last me a lifetime.

Poongwonjang Restaurant
No.38 Marine City 2-ro, U-dong, Haeundae-gu,
Busan, South Korea.

My friend brought me to a famous restaurant that served traditional Korean seafood dishes. It is located along the coastal area.

The minute I entered the entrance, I was greeted by a cozy ambiance of many blooming flowers of Spring. The myriad of beautiful colours and the pine wooden floor to the ceiling was a sight to behold.

The owner loves flowers! It was my first time seeing orange tulips.

There are many private rooms there with about 6 tables each.

My friend browsed through the thick menu and ordered on the recommendation of the Lady Captain. The array of food was served very fast with all the heating stoves started up for the broths. It was nice to drink tasty hot broths in cold weather.

Look! My eyes went very big & wide as the waiters could not stop serving the many appetizing plates of main dishes and banchan (side dishes). I looked at my smiling friend who gestured me to eat without hesitation. The plates, bowls & saucers totaled over 25 pieces in the end! It was the most delicious Korean lunch I ever had. I am thankful for my good karma to eat good food and have good friends.

I always remembered what my Korean friends taught me in America. The host expects the guests to enjoy eating non stop and drinking alcohol merrily with much loud noise, laughter and carnival like. You will also see alcohol being served for well wisher guests at all the funerals in South Korea.

My stomach was too full with all my intestines almost bursting at the seams. I ran to the toilet to empty my old shit bowels. I wanted to cry and faint as the toilet was at the very far opposite end.

Hwangnyeonsan Mountain

My friend wanted to show me the night view of the whole Busan City. He chose the late evening to start driving up to the summit which took 15 minutes.

We almost reached the peak and he had to stop because he wanted to smoke!

 The skies were enveloped in thick mists which gave a blurry view.

We proceeded to continue driving up to the peak, only to be greeted by many flowers on both sides.

This is the Mount Hwangnyeonsan Observatory where there is a big cafe for visitors to drink and admire the Busan City's night view below.

We ordered coffee and it started to rain heavily! I was patient and very optimistic that heavens would open up the skies for me after the downpour.

Beautiful Busan City at night with all the glittering lights.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

My Bread and Breakfast today

My wife baked a bread again last night after a long hiatus. It so happened that I have finished the last loaf of bread from the bakery. It was so easy to use her bread maker which never failed her bread making. She just measured the milk, flour, water and yeast before tossing them into the container of the bread maker.

3 hours later and the bread was ready!

The beautiful bread was removed and placed onto a plate to cool.

My baker chef used a plastic bread cutter template to slice all the equal pieces neatly.

This is how the bread cutter template looks like.

This morning we enjoyed a simple breakfast of toasted bread with Bak Kwa (BBQ meat) and Moccona coffee! I have become addicted to this coffee after being introduced by Blogger PH. It goes very well with condensed milk and evaporated milk! Try it today.

The antique teacup set was given to me over 25 years ago after the unknown owner had passed away. I believe the colourful & flowery designs resembled the Chinese Peranakan's porcelain wares during the end of the Qing Dynasty. The handpainted 9 Dragon Emperor's plate is a reproduction antique from the Ming Dynasty era of Blue & White porcelain wares. In olden days nobody was allowed to use yellow colour or dragon motifs which was reserved for the Emperor.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Busan Attractions (Part 2)

Busan is a very interesting city with many attractions. I did not visit all the places that trip because I have plans to visit again in near future when my wife goes mountain hiking with her gang of hikers. I am not welcomed to join the hikers because I was slow like a tortoise. The last time we hiked up Mount Kinabalu, she finished in 4.5 hours before lunch. I took over 9 hours to reach the top when the skies turned pitched dark with the moon laughing at me. So damn malu!! You wanna hear the reasons?

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Address: 86 Yonggung-gil, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan, South Korea.

This popular idyllic temple sits by the rocky seaside that offers very spectacular view of the whole ocean and natural landscaping of beautiful rocks. There are plenty of steps to navigate yourself to visit this place, so your knees should be strong.

They are rated as "The Most Beautiful Temple in Korea" as all the temples are located high on mountains but this one sits by the hilly rocks and overlooks the sea.

This ancient temple was first built by the Great Buddhist Teacher named Naong in the year 1376, during the Goryeo Dynasty.

You can spend hours alone to admire the peaceful scenery with the huge rolling waves splashing on the rocks. It really calmed my feelings. The waves took away my blues and whatever sadness into the ocean very faraway. Busan has many beautiful rocky areas by the sea for us to check it out.

The main Mahavira hall of the temple.

The monk was reciting some prayers inside the hall.

 My Korean friend sat and waited for me patiently wherever I went. 
That's what best friends are for.

I think that statue is the Bodhisatva Di Zang Wang Pusa by judging on the long pole that he carries. He was a Royal Prince from Korea who went to do his cultivation in the Mount Jiuhua in Anhui China. This Bodhisatva's statues can be seen widely all over Japan, China, Taiwan including Malaysia. I visited the pagoda where his body was kept in China. You can see it HERE.

There is a tall pagoda outside the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. 
Can you spot the 2 Love Birds??

The 2 Love Birds.

Gamcheon Culture Village
Address: Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan.

That's my friend who drove me up the hilly slopes of Busan to see the amazing "Santorini" village. 

The whole village was once the poorest slum area since the Korean War. Today it has magically turned into a top tourist area with so many colourful streets, corners and cafes for good photography. They have endless of Artistic Walls, Sculptures and Murals. I am just showing you the monkey side of me. 

So many Korean lady-wannabes wearing their pretty traditional "Hanbok".

Please remember that this whole Gamcheon Village consists of all clustered houses stacked up on the hilly slopes with tiny winding steps. My friend being a heavy smoker was gasping for his breaths and dear life, climbing the winding stairs. It was amazing to see how the Korean families lived there.

We found a roof top of a cafe to peek the view of Gamcheon Village but it was not the right angle.

I went up to the stage to sing Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock".

So we had to walk down all over again and walked up other narrow steps to find the right place. We failed again and had to drive the car to another side of the big hill.

Now this angle looked more interesting.

I found the perfect spot!

My postcard photo. Hope you enjoyed the tour.


The Day My World Ended

At sunrise of 3rd August, my wife came to fetch me in her brand new car. She sped all the way through the morning traffic to Shah Alam. It w...