Wednesday, 29 February 2012

This Extra Day in 2012

A green life unfolding.... (CNB 2012)

So we have an extra day today for this year, yay! To all 'leapers' out there, a very happy birthday & many more leap days to come! Now what do we do with this extra day? For me it will be pretty usual, though in the morning I will spend more time working in the garden, and thinking how I may improve on it. It is not easy trying to grow everything on a little piece of land. But it has been rewarding nevertheless with the perennials constantly in bloom and the foliage green and abundant.

In the afternoon I will read a lot and also blog a bit, while in the evening I will watch a newly acquired DVD movie - Frida. I have not read the book but the film starring Salma Hayek, is highly recommended by A who saw it at the cinema. At the end of this extra day, I would have spent it rather leisurely, doing things I love. What a celebration of  a pretty simply normal life!

Note: The above picture is new foliage of the ZZ plant in my little garden.

Froyo or Frogurt Fad

Lately we have been frequenting Tutti Frutti outlets for our froyo aka frogurt (frozen yogurt). This milk and yogurt snack/dessert tastes like ice cream but is low/non fat, and without the heavy cream. So its a healthier alternative, right?

There are more than 50 flavours (chocolate, pomegranate, vanilla, kiwi, etc., etc.) and a variety of toppings (fruits, cookies, cereals, nuts) to choose from. These self serve froyo outlets may become competition to coffee and ice cream shops or is froyo merely a fad? For now, we do enjoy our froyo every so often with family and friends.

Pomegranate & green apple with almond flake topping (CNB 2012)

Chocolate plus chocolate syrup & almond
(CNB 2012)

Enjoying froyo with family and friends (CNB 2012)

Yo! Its Hafiz and his froyo! (CNB 2012)

Remember you pay by weight, so keep the toppings light
(CNB 2012)

Vanilla with sunflower seeds and red berries (CNB 2012)

Kiwi and tart with sunflower seed topping (CNB 2012)

I spy Bart Simpson at the opening of the TF outlet in
Ampang (CNB 2012)

Note: Frozen yogurt originated in the 1970s in New England. Other than Tutti Frutti, other froyo franchises are Berry Sweet, Red Mango, Heavenly Blush, and Yogurt City, though I have yet to see these here.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

More Food from an Urban Garden

The other day I checked the refrigerator to see what I could cook for lunch. I was okay for the proteins - there was barramundi (siakap in local speak) and eggs, but there were no vegetables at all. Dang! I was too lazy to go out to buy any, so I went into the garden to see what I could gather for food (now that sounds very caveman, don't you think?)

Anyway I found that the piper sarmentosum or kadok leaves were enough to make a plateful of masak lemak, the pisonia alba or mengkudu siam another plateful of sayur air (sauteed vegetables) with ikan bilis (anchovies) or prawns. (The mengkudu siam can be cooked masak lemak cili padi as well). Then there were the various ulam (herbs); a little pegaga (Indian liverwort), sambung nyawa (be mindful of this potent herb - only three leaves per day, no more; you don't want to live too long!) and basil or daun selasih. These to be eaten with sambal belacan, of course. Bon appetit! (though I doubt if the French eat sambal belacan).

Food harvest from my little garden ... except for the pink crown
of thorns, that is not edible, I think (CNB 2012)

Mengkudu Siam (Pisonia alba) fresh from the tree (CNB 2012)

Sayur air Mengkudu Siam - quite nice! (CNB 2012)

Selasih (Basil) bloom (CNB 2012)

Kadok in the garden (CNB 2012)

Sambung nyawa - leaves of longevity? (CNB 2012)

Note: This post follows on from my first post about food from a garden on 10/10/11.

Celebrating a Kitchen Makeover

At the end of last year we decided on a kitchen (and laundry area) makeover, because the 15 year-old spaces had seen better days. It was scheduled for two weeks, but then the numerous public holidays got in the way and it stretched on for another three weeks, well into the new year. It was pretty chaotic and 'challenging', especially dealing with the dust at the end of each day when the workmen had left. Anyway it is all done now and last Saturday we belatedly celebrated with dinner (cooked in the new kitchen) and a movie night at home. It was fun but tiring too, so I'm resting my feet till the next time!

After the old cabinet was ripped out, wet works
 was done and kitchen floor retiled (CNB 2011)

The kitchen cabinets before the solid top was
put in place (CNB 2011)

The newly installed floor to ceiling storage in the laundry area
(CNB 2012)

The done-up kitchen (CNB 2012)

Dinner was white rice with barramundi in hot and sour stew aka ikan siakap asam pedas, chicken curry with potatoes and carrots (B's specialty), french beans, carrot and prawns in coconut milk (masak lemak le), Chinese cabbage sauteed in soya sauce, fried barramundi, fried chicken and Shirazi salad (Iranian style salad from Shiraz). For dessert it was fruits and ice cream. And what movie did we watch after dinner? There was a child in the house, so we watched Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked!

Our dinner for six (CNB 2011)

Salad Shirazi (CNB 2012)

B's delectable chicken curry (CNB 2011)

The Chipmunks and Chipettes, how cute! (CNB 2012)

Monday, 20 February 2012

More Fauna in an Urban Garden

It does seem that both January and February are wet months, because it has been raining often (lately in the late afternoons and nights in Shah Alam). So watering the garden is only done intermittently. I'm glad to note that the frangipani trees are budding and I spy a torch ginger flower bud. Fauna in the garden are spotted often and here are some more (in addition to my two previous posts of 15 and 26 September 2011).

A fly on a Straits rhododendron flower (CNB 2011)

A chameleon in the garden (CNB 2011)

A magpie on the tamalan tree (CNB 2011)

A black and white butterfly on the gardenia plant (CNB 2011)

A spider in its web spanning some branches (CNB 2012)

Another black butterfly on the jasmine plant (CNB 2012)

One of four caterpillars on the curry leaf plant (CNB 2012)

One of several caterpillars on the Noni plant (CNB 2012)

Down Memory Lane ... Musically

Yesterday afternoon I had the privilege of attending The Tunku Kurshiah Orchestra Royal Concert 2012 at the Dewan Agong Tuanku Canselor, UiTM. It was a charity event under the patronage of the Negeri Sembilan Royalty and the programme was impressive.

The Royal Concert backdrop (CNB 2012)

The Orchestra, under the baton of young conductor Nik Nur Nadiya Nerissa Mohd Zahir, started with 'Disney Festival', a medley of Disney hits, followed by a medley of 'contemporary rakyat': Ngajat Tampi and Dikir Puteri. Then they played Ayam Den Lapeh and Sejak ku Bertemu/Cahaya, with Nur Ilham Ramli singing. (We thought she was inappropriately too 'sensual' with her sways in a very tight, very red outfit albeit wearing a tudung; quite oxymoronic!). That aside, the Orchestra played well.

The Tunku Kurshiah Orchestra (CNB 2012)

The sensuous singer in red and Ayam Den Lapeh (CNB 2012) 

Then followed some dance and gamelan performances by the Dance and Gamelan Groups of TKC. The guest artist Adibah Noor who came on after this was a show of her own; she sang her popular songs including the iconic Istimewa and also a Whitney Housten number. She sang (though not with the Orchestra but) with minus-one and the audience really enjoyed both her singing and her banter! Truly, she is Malaysia's penyanyi terbesar! (Malay pun intended - these were Adibah's own words while introducing herself!)

The Orchestra and traditional dancers (CNB 2012)

The one and only Adibah Noor (CNB 2012)

The Orchestra then came on again with a medley of some memorable Michael Jackson music. A special performance followed with two royal pianists; Tunku Zain Al-Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz performed with both the Tunku Kurshiah Orchestra and the Tunku Kurshiah Brass Ensemble, before playing a duet with Tengku Sarah Rahayu binti Tengku Baharuddin.

With B at the concert (JA 2012)

The Royal Concert ended with the Orchestra playing 'Abba Gold Medley', with an encore of the TKC school song. It was an afternoon well spent. Bouquets for the Tunku Kurshiah Orchestra!

The TKC bus that ferried us from the carpark to the Dewan
Agong & back (BB 2012)

I was glad to note that the programme book included this about the Orchestra, 'Tunku Kurshiah Orchestra telah ditubuhkan pada 2000. Pasukan ini adalah lanjutan daripada pasukan pancaragam yang telah ditubuhkan pada tahun 1970-an.'  This pioneer band of 1970 is what I reminisce about... I was a member of this TKC Band and played the trumpet. Our teacher/conductor was Miss Black, who also started our Philharmonic Society (for music appreciation) then. No doubt when we performed for the Annual Speech Day, there were squeeks and screeches, but hey, we all started from scratch! I guess the pioneer Band has come a long way to become the Orchestra today.

Note: For a pic of the pioneer band, see my post 'A TKC Album' on 28/10/11.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Carnivores in a Train

No ....I'm just kidding! It's only the family having lunch recently at the Victoria Station Restaurant. Being carnivores, this has always been quite a favourite eatery for M, B & A, but I really tag along for the nostalgia - dining in a railway carriage, at Victoria Station (London KL). I think its so romantic, even with an old codger of a husband and two grown-up children! I usually have fish or other seafoods while the rest have their meats, especially the beef steaks. Roarrr!

Salt & pepper, anyone? (CNB 2012)

Carnivores, all. Smile, Father! (CNB 2012)

Now he's smiling. 'Food is here', B shrieks! Or roars? (CNB 2012)

B digs into her steak - nice! (CNB 2012)

A has her steak too - yumm! (CNB 2012)

This is my fish dish - quite sedap, really (CNB 2012)

This Victoria Station Restaurant is the one along Jalan Ampang, KL. But the one in Bayan Baru, Pulau Pinang has the best steak train, I think.

The locomotive at Jalan Ampang (CNB 2012)

February 2012

Friday, 17 February 2012

Wangsa Walk Outing

It was only very recently that I had to go to Wangsa Maju look for a kitchen appliance (a built-in oven to be exact) and I had no idea how to get there. I had left behind the GPS, so I did the next best thing. I took my sister CY's route-savvy young grandson with us. We left their Taman Keramat home just after he'd come home from school, and sure enough, Hafiz guided us there in no time at all. The second time we went, he took us on another route, to avoid the traffic jams, he said. He was as good as his word, and we got there in good time. We 'walked' Wangsa Walk, and later ate a late lunch there.

Hafiz at Wangsa Walk (CNB 2012)

Hafiz walking the walker at Wangsa Walk (CNB 2012)

CY & her favourite grandson (CNB 2012)

Can you spot Hafiz in all these colours? (CNB 2012)

For our late lunch, we went to a place of Hafiz's choice, because I wanted to belanja him for his very efficient 'GPS services'. He chose TGI Fridays. Good choice - I have not been to one for quite some time. We also had Elvis Presley 'entertain' us while we ate. Between us we had quesadillas, mac & cheese squares, a lamb steak, and fish & chips.

Hafiz took this pic of me & Elvis at TGIF (2012)

Hafiz getting all ready to 'attack' his steak! (CNB 2012)

Later for desserts, we went to a Tutti Frutti outlet in Ampang so Hafiz could indulge in his favourite frozen yogurts. Looking through the pictures we took that day, it had been very colourful indeed!

Hafiz gives the thumb's up for his yummy dessert (CNB 2012)

January 2012