Me and my shadow

Everyone has a life, a body, a shadow and a soul.

When good things happen, you enjoy your life to the fullest.

When you are healthy, your body feels good and energized.

When the sun shines, your shadow appears.  At certain times of the day, your shadow may be taller or shorter but it will always appear next to you.

When you passed on, your soul leave your body and you will be no more.

 

via Elemental – In or out of balance, my shadow and me.

A very sad story of the life of my little FeeFee

I received news that my precious FeeFee passed away peacefully on 9 July 2017 after a short illness.

She lived a long life, prolonged perhaps since she lived in a cage for over a dozen years.

Cute and so playful as a kitten and so proud and self confident as a mother cat.

My heart is heavy and feeling sad.  Numbed beyond words but she is now in a better place.

Beloved FeeFee
4 July 1999 – 9 July 2017

Greatly loved and fondly remembered always.

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We did not know when her actual birthday was but American Independence day, 4th of July was an easy date to remember hence we adopted that date for her birthday.  On her birthday, we would cook a whole fish for her and that fish was a treat and symbolizes a birthday cake.  A friend gave her to us.  She was cute and adorable with blue eyes and grey fur, a tiny little wee kitty barely a month old.  That was a long, long time ago, way back sometime in August in the year 1999.  We named her FeeFee.

This post is a very sad story of the life of my FeeFee.  I am extremely remorse as I type this story.  It is a story that hurt me deeply, yesterday, today, tomorrow and everyday. I am hurting so badly because I believe my FeeFee’s life must be in agony.  What is…

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Unusual Fruit – Durian

I had previously blogged about the King of Fruits – Durian.

Imported durians from Thailand are available in New Zealand from local Asian supermarkets.  The best durians are ‘Mao Shan Wang’ from Malaysia which are a lot more creamier and of course more costly.

Quoted below from Meryl Koh in Michelin’s ‘Guide to Durians – the difference between Mao Shan Wang and Thai Durians’.

Hate it or love it, durians exude an exotic appeal that inspires intense devotion. Some might pucker their nose at the fruit’s strong smell, yet durian prices are steadily on the rise thanks to heated demand from the China market that, more recently, have fixed their sights on Malaysia’s durian supply instead of Thailand’s.

A very interesting read on the various durian varieties and what they taste like.

More news on this unusual spiky fruit in The New Paper, Singapore.

Durian prices reach 33-year high

Durian lovers, take note – prices of the spiky fruit have shot up to a 33-year record high, according to sellers.

The price of Mao Shan Wang – the most expensive variety – has hit $38 per kg.

Another popular kind, the Golden Phoenix, is now $32 per kg.

The prices of the former went up by $3 and the latter by $2 in three days, reported Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News yesterday.

CHEAPER FROM THAILAND

While there are cheaper options from Thailand, the Malaysian ones, which can cost more than $100 per fruit, remain popular.

Click here for the rest of the article.

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Care for durians, anyone?

Most popular food in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore

If you were to identify the most popular food, just one food in each country, what would that dish be?

The list would be endless as there are so many yummy edibles.  There is definitely more than just one single type of food for each country but this blog shows only one dish out of the many.

People eat different kind of food for breakfast, lunch or dinner so the below are more on lighter meals more for brunch, snacks or finger food (for New Zealand & Australia), not the usual formal dinner food.

New Zealand
The population in New Zealand (especially Auckland) is so diverse so we have all sorts of food from Filipino, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, Singapore, Vietnam, Turkish, Mediterranean, Middle East, Dutch, French, European, Kiwi cuisines and lots more.

In New Zealand, we eat anything from

  • Roast Lamb. Succulent and tender, roast lamb is a Kiwi favourite. …
  • Māori hāngī The hāngī was the most widely used method of cooking by Māori for more than 2000 years. …
  • Fish and Chips on the beach
  • New Zealand sweets, candies
  • New Zealand Desserts
  • Cheese and Wine
  • Chinese (Thai) Takeaways
  • Pizzas, Pies & Quiches

As the list goes one, I will pick what we have in abundance, our “Fush & Chups” on the beach.  They used to be wrapped in old newspaper years ago but now some restaurants printed their wrapping paper making it look like newspaper to keep the traditional look.

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Australia
Our neighbour’s cuisine is so like ours.  They boast they have the best pies but we sing the same tune too.  For this post, we will give Australia the honour to share their pies as their popular food.

Australian cuisine (similar to New Zealand) is heavily influenced by British colonization, with many popular foods in the country coming directly from English or Irish cuisine traditions. Other food traditions in Australia include roast dinners, fish and chips, and blood pudding. Iconic foods unique to Australia include Vegemite, Tim Tams, fairy bread and the fried Australian hamburger.

Australia like New Zealand has abundance of sea food and I love their barramundi fish and blue mussels where the flesh is not as big or rubbery (chewy) as our local NZ mussels.

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Malaysia & Singapore
Eating out is a past time for Malaysians and Singaporeans.  With numerous hawker styled food courts, it is generally cheaper and more convenient to eat out after 8 to 10 hours of work, Mondays to Fridays.  While official work hours are either from 8am to 4pm (or 9am to 5pm), often workers do not leave their office till 6pm.  When one is flat out at work, isn’t eating out the most rewarding thing to do? Enough slaving at work so time for others to ‘slave’ or cook for you.

Most Malaysian Singaporean dishes are rice or noodles based.  One unique trait Singaporeans and Malaysians share is that they insist on having chilli with anything they eat.  Any noodle dish is not complete without chilli padi (bird’s eye chili) in soya sauce and laksa (spicy noodle soup) isn’t laksa if it does not come with a side of sambal (hot sauce made from chili and spices).

It’s hard to name just one popular dish in Malaysia with its 13 states in all.  Since I was born in Kuching, Sarawak, I will pick kolo mee for Malaysia and growing up in Singapore, I would say Chicken Rice is one of their many popular dishes.

While New Zealanders and Australian greet each other with
“What’s up, mate?” or “How are you?”

Malaysians and Singaporeans often ask
“Chiak Pah Boi?” “Have you eaten?” especially the older folks though the trend now is moving towards “Lu Ho Bo?” meaning “How are you?”.

Indeed there are so many things to talk about with this simple four letter word  FOOD, so much so that we entertain clients with food and drinks to build the connection (Guangxi) and break the ice for a mutual win-win situation in businesses as well as bonding with family and friends.

From the desk of a foodie ……………………………..

Ways of cooking Chokos

I recently discovered a very weird kind of  vegetable and been savouring them in all sorts of dishes.

I used to have a choko tree in the house I rented some years back and I never knew what that ‘fruit’ was.

What are chokos?

Choko

Chokos are vegetables (some called it a fruit) native to Central America.  They were taken to Europe by Spanish explorers and from there were introduced to parts of Asia.  They are pear shaped and the smaller or young ones are green and the bigger ones are lighter green in color.  The grew to be about 10 to 15cm long and are pretty solid.

The Cantonese literally named this vegetable as Buddha’s hand melon (佛手瓜 fut sao gwa) mainly because it looks like a pair of palms clasping together in prayer.

The Jamaicans called this vegetable Chocho.

Their skin are pretty tough so before cooking, peel off the skin and cut into halves to remove the seed.  Chop the chokos in bite sizes or thinly sliced into strips.

Stir fry is the best way to cook them.  I added garlic, chicken stock, egg and a dash of soya sauce, oyster sauce (or hoisin sauce) and finished off with a dash of Chinese wine.

 

Chokos are delicious and has its own natural sweetness.  I also used it as a filling for spring rolls.  Sliced thinly and stir fried the same way as above, add a spoonful of cornflour (diluted with water) to thicken the dish.  Leave to cool and then fill into spring rolls sheet.  I usually make them in batches and freeze.  Handy to pan fried when ready to eat.

Choko tastes a bit like ‘Bang Kuang’ (Jicama or Mexican Turnip) which are not available in New Zealand so Chokos are great substitute for homemade Popiah (Hokkien name for Spring Rolls that are not deep fried) and Spring Rolls.

 

One important tip to note before you start picking any fruits (veggies) thinking they must be chokos and start cooking them.

Chokos grow on vine, similar to a weed called moth plant.

Moth plant has a sap that irritates our skin when in contact and is a deadly weed.  They are lighter (in weight) not a solid as chokos.

I am a bit weary in the beginning when I first ate chokos with the phobia that I could be poisoned by eating moth plant instead.  Anyway, there is no way that anyone could be mistaken because the skin texture is different, the weight and if you are still not sure, once you cut open the choko and moth plant, you will noticed the moth plant have a milky sap.  If not sure which is which, please use a gloves to prevent the sap from irritating your skin.

If you are still not sure, click here to check out when a Choko is not a Choko, courtesy of Just like my Nan made.

Can you identify the difference?  Which is choko and which is moth plant?

A jar of caper & a crying baby

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I was promoted to be a new grandmother and that was almost four months ago.

Today, I am still lost, not knowing whether to laugh or to cry.

Our little baby is such a handful.  My poor daughter is having a hard time.  If only our little bundle of joy doesn’t cry so much, her mum would caper with glee.

All we could do at this stage is to stay calm, provide all the care we could to pacify our crying baby.

That jar of caper sits unopened on the kitchen bench.

There’s no time to even bake a pizza !

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Fireworks and Food

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a random event …..

Aucklanders are in for a treat tonight with a fireworks celebration set to take place in honour of Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup win today.

It sounded cool, something to do on a cold Tuesday evening.  We took the train to Viaduct and reached the venue just as the fire flame started.  The supposedly fireworks display lasted for probably under 5 minutes (more or less).  We won’t fussy as it was a random treat after all, but most Aucklanders who rushed to the event were disappointed as reported today ……….

Public backlash after America’s Cup-Viaduct Harbour fireworks fizzer

If you click on the above link, that would take you to the video on the entire fireworks display.  The crowd was overwhelming and I only managed a transient shot of the after event below.

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The evening wasn’t wasted.  We took the opportunity while in downtown to dine at our favourite restaurant, Hanoi Cafe serving the nicest Vietnamese food you could ever find in Auckland.

How wonderful our (otherwise quiet) Tuesday evening turned out to be.

From New Zealand’s win in the America’s Cup to our celebration by fireworks.

Off we went by wheels of a train to join the crowd.   Reached the venue just in time when the flames lit up to a hearty  meal and home sweet home with happy hearts.

From the desk of a new grandmother

Upgraded to GM (grandmother) at the age of 55, I am not sure if it is a sign of old age or a sign of happiness or both.  Feeling buffed, perhaps like a sportsman coming out of the gym showing off his muscles.

When one gets past 40 years old (at least for most women I know), one tends to forget her age.  Unlike the teens or the early twenties who look forward to their birthdays,  year after year.  Oh, you can’t wait to reach your 21st birthday to be an independent adult and wear a key pendant around your neck.

After reaching my early 40s, I tend to reflect in my head and do a little sum to get my age.  Mentally I took my year of birth minus the current year equals how old I am.  I honestly stopped counting.  Inside me, I feel the same way as I did some twenty years ago.  My hobbies have not changed though perhaps my body may look a little bit out of shape and my face may show some wrinkles.

The best thing about being a GM to me is that I have successfully gone through motherhood and raised my daughter (or perhaps a son for others) into a fully grown responsible adult about to start her own family.  A little one is born, another generation.

A new grandchild tends to be a bond between a mother and her daughter (son).  As the daughter reaches out to her mother for advice on what to do with a crying baby, the connection is deeper, more of respect and guidance that the new young mum seeks to care for her baby as her mother had cared for her years ago.  Ideally, mother and daughter appreciate each other more fully when the daughter becomes a mother and the mother becomes a grandmother.

Our little Gloria (as I call her but Kirsty is her name) is two months old.  She is not an easy baby and demands 100% of her mother’s time.  My daughter, Jo is undergoing baby blues, in fact postpartum depression .  I wish I could help but having a full time job is no help at all.  In my free time, all I can do at this stage are the little things like helping her with dinners and bringing them out for some fresh air.  Those are mother-daughter’s bonding times made possible by little Gloria.

This is just the first part of my journey.  I have yet to experience any grandmother-grandchild bond.  Perhaps when my daughter returns to work, I could care for Gloria where possible hoping to make childcare more affordable for her parents.  At present, I cannot imagine myself to be a ‘mother’ (or grandmother) as years ago, I was blessed with help from my aunt (who raised me and my children) or hired help that didn’t cost us an arm and a leg.  I have not raised any of my children single-handedly as Jo does (other then when her husband is home) with Gloria.

One day perhaps, I will have a bond with my grandchild, a stronger bond that I ever had with my own children.  My three children have strong emotional bond (love) with my aunt whom they look upon as their grandmother.  Sharing of affection for each other is the best thing in the family.

As my journey of a GM begins, I look forward to an opportunity for nurturance (mother-daughter), a sense of reliable alliance (bond),  showering love and feeling loved.

Feeling good, something money cannot buy.

From the desk of a new grandmother.

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Evanescent as snow

So windy.  My hair was all over my face and they seemed to like it.  Blowing wildly as I tried to take selfies at Coronet Peak, Queenstown.

Beautiful views from the peak.  Gondolas hanging on a line, moving up and down.  It’s almost winter now so time for ski.  So many nice things to do there.

What a lovely spot, though evanescent for me and other visitors.  Similarly skiing is evanescent as snow only falls in winter.