Sunday, January 14, 2018

The King of Fruits

Durians aka The King of Fruits
The Hubs and I were on our way to the mall exit when we walked past a popsicle cart. The Hubs had a hankering for something cold and he bought a durian flavored ice pop. The Hubs happily lapped his icy treat as we walked towards a swanky hotel. The hotel lobby and mall shared the same exit to the basement car park.

There was already a small crowd awaiting the elevators as we were approaching the hotel lobby. Suddenly, a lady in the crowd exclaimed,  "I smell durian!" The Hubs quickly stuffed the popsicle into a pocket of his trousers. Ding! The elevator doors opened and everyone got on board. As the doors closed, the pungent durian smell was even more intense. "Eeew! I wonder where it is coming from?", the same lady complained, sniffing exaggeratedly, her eyes scanning around for the culprit.

Feigning disgust, I covered my nose with a piece of tissue paper so no one would suspect we were the offenders. After a few seconds that seemed like an eternity, the elevator doors finally opened and everyone rushed out save for The Hubs and me, an old man and a young couple. The old man looked at The Hubs and said cheekily,"I know it's you!"  The Hubs sheepishly fished out the offensive item from his pocket and protested, "But it's only a popsicle!" Just then, the doors opened and as the old man was stepping out, he winked, "Don't worry, I won't tell!"

Ooops!  It just didn't strike us  that durian popsicle is....well....durian! :smack: Honest mistake!

This sign from Singapore Airport prohibits the transportation of durians under penalty of 500 SGD (Singapore dollars).
In case you are wondering what I am ranting about, durians are prohibited in public transportation, hospitals, taxis and hotels in our country and most parts of South East Asia because of their overpowering pong.

Interestingly, did  you know that in 2013, Sydney officials had to evacuate an entire floor of an office building after smelling what they thought was a gas leak.?!  It was only much later that they discovered it was durian! The odour  had wafted up through the vents from a neighboring warehouse where Malaysian agricultural staff were unloading a shipment of the pungent fruit!

The Star reports

Malaysia's Sydney Consulate agriculture director Muhammad Rudy Khairudin Mohd Nor said the 'gas' alert followed Agriculture Malaysia staff opening 10 packs of 'Musang King' and 'D24' durians at 2 pm for lab tests in their Sydney CBD office.

The strong, pungent smell of the durians went into the ventilation system and reached the next office on the 15th floor of the Market St building.

"The staff in the adjoining office, all Caucasians, panicked because they thought there was a gas leak ... they summoned the emergency services. The whole floor was evacuated within minutes," he said.

Muhammad Rudy said security and emergency staff arrived at the 15th floor to investigate and, sniffing out evidence, ended up at the consulate seeking answers.

"We explained that the smell came from the durians. The officers were amazed and puzzled how similar the smell was to gas, although they were convinced after we showed them the fruit and how it smells," he added.

Durian, anyone?

More durian stories here

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Salted Egg Molten Lava Croissant

*Salted egg meets croissant. The combo? An eruption of perfectly balanced sweet and savoury flavours that send your tastebuds to salted egg heaven! It's the best thing since cronuts!
And if that didn't pique your interest, watch this video!

 Food porn at its best!

My love affair with this divine pastry started when my dear friend Val acquainted us when we met up for tea a couple of weeks ago. I had always thought that Kringels were the best tea-time treats ever but now I'm a convert!
Thanks, Val!  Muaahhhhhhh!

So enamored was I of this luscious pastry, l scoured the internet for info regarding its origins. Surprisingly, there is little history and no official wiki write-up on these babies. All I have learnt is that they debuted in Hong Kong and only hit Malaysian shores about a  year ago and the mania has since swept neighbouring countries like Singapore, Indonesia, The Philippines, etc. It was reported that when the frenzy first hit Malaysia, Singaporeans would cross over to neighbouring Johor and brave the long queues just to bag a couple of these home!

There is a right way of eating these beauties. You slice the croissant right in the middle and let all that golden yellow gooey goodness ooze out slowly before you cut up the rest of  the pastry. Sop up the lava and nom, nom, nom, nom!The messier, the better!

It's hard to describe the taste. It's a chockfull of all things wonderful - buttery, creamy, gritty, sweet, savoury.....  kinda like a cousin to Hollandaise, only better! The umami element from the salted egg yolk complements the sweet filling really well.

*For the uninitiated, salted eggs are brined duck eggs that are ubiquitous in most Asian cuisines. In Asian supermarkets, these eggs are sometimes sold covered in a thick layer of salted charcoal paste

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Cookiefying  Snoopy, my all-time favourite cartoon character

Born in the 60's, I grew up with the Peanuts gang, in an era when the pleasures of life were small and simple. My Sunday dose of good cheer  was pulling the Sunday Funnies out of the newspaper after  returning from  Mass and chuckling over Peanuts. The following day, I would cut out the comic strip and glue  it to my scrap book. I named it my Happy Book. Over the years, whenever I was in a funk, I could count on my Happy Book to turn my frown upside down. It was an instant pick-me-up.
When I was in Form Three (lower secondary school), a very dear friend gave me this cute Peppermint Patty trophy and it kept me company when I went to college and throughout a large part of my adult life. I can still find it on my nightstand in my childhood bedroom whenever I visit my parents.

When Charles Schulz died in 2000, I felt like I had lost a lifetime companion. But thankfully, the Peanuts gang lives on and they always will have a special place in my heart. PEANUTS are forever!

My favourite Peanuts moment
I love you Snoopy and thanks for the many happy childhood memories.
The loser who never gave up

Sunday, December 3, 2017

National Cookie Day

Dec 4th is National Cookie Day in the US. It’s not like we need a day to tell us to eat cookies, but hey, I gladly applaud it.  Wish we had a National Cookie Day too.  Then, I would invite my friends over for a cookie swap.
Interestingly, did you know that the English word "cookie" is derived from the Dutch word "koekje," which means "little cake"?  Dutch bakers used to test oven temperatures on small amounts of batter so that the entire cake mix would not be wasted if the temperature wasn't right. It wasn't long before they discovered that these miniature test cakes were actually quite tasty!

According to Muppet Wiki, National Cookie Day is a minor holiday, celebrating cookies in all their sugary glory. It occurs on December 4th of every year, but is not widely observed.

Cookie Monster proclaimed his own National Cookie Day in the 1980 book The Sesame Street Dictionary.
National Cookie Day was established in 1987 by one of the founders of San Francisco-based Blue Chip Cookie Company, an American gourmet cookie bakery chain. Now Cookie Day is celebrated around the world, sometimes as Bake Cookie Day and Oatmeal Cookie Day.

Each country has its own word for cookie. What we know as cookies in America are called “biscuits” in England and Australia, “galletas” in Spain, “keks” or “Pl√§tzchen” (Christmas cookies) in Germany and “amaretti” or “biscotti” (among others) in Italy.

Nestle's Infographic - The Most Popular Cookies by State

And just because it's National Cookie Day
Gingerbread Cookies


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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Of Gochujang and Booldalkbokkeummyun

Sometime back, Rodney's university mate from Korea gave him a tub of Gochujang paste knowing my son's love for Korean food. I had completely forgotten about its existence until I cleared my kitchen cabinets yesterday! As the unopened tub is good until 31st December 2017, I thought to attempt at least one recipe using this red chili paste before it ends up in the trash can.

I did a Korean pork stir fry and it turned out pretty good.

Here's the recipe to share

Korean Pork Stir Fry

500g pork shoulder
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp gochujang
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, halved and sliced

1. Cut pork into thin slices.
2. Marinate pork with gochujang, sesame oil and sugar for about an hour, preferably overnight.
3. Heat oil in a  non-stick pan over high heat. Add onion, cook for 2 minutes until translucent. Add pork and cook for 5 minutes or until  caramelised, and just cooked through.
Serve with rice.

Speaking of Korean food, have you tried the fire noodle challenge that blazed Youtube with videos of people  challenging one another to eat 'Booldalkbokkeummyun' or 'Fire Noodles' as quickly as possible?
Interestingly, Booldalkbokkeummyun is Korea’s spiciest instant noodle. This evil looking red noodle clocks in at around 8,000 on the Scoville scale and is reputed to be the spiciest instant noodle on the market. Nasty!
As a Malaysian who's worth her salt, I can do spicy but my pungency level registers only between 1,000-3,500 units on the Scoville scale. I couldn't possibly brave the challenge but curiosity got the better of me. I had to know what the noodle tasted like. Just like the proverbial cat, curiosity did almost kill me or rather, my tastebuds.  Regretting after only the first bite, my tongue, lips and throat were on fire and I was crying  MURDER! My tongue would never be the same! The noodles have zero flavour, just insanely HOT, HOT, HOT!  I most certainly would not eat them again, EVER!
Hubby and the boys fared better but by the time they wolfed down the entire bowl, they were sweating big time, their noses watering and eyes tearing up like cry babies! Yayyy! Now their talented tongues can chalk up the spiciness meter to the next level on the Scoville chart!  Congratulations, boys!

One of the many videos found on YouTube

I still have 4 packets of Booldalkbokkeummyun left that came in a pack of 5. Nobody wants to eat them. Any takers? Not for the faint-hearted, I caution you! The effects are long lasting. Your butt is going to be on fire the next day when you go!

image credit - Christopher Stokes @ DARK AT HEART

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Basset Hound Cookies
I haven't been baking or blogging for quite a bit now so here's a post just to crank up my blog again.
What's better than a Wordless Wednesday post when you are blocked for something to write about?

Until then..........

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Tail & Trouble

Way back in another life before the internet existed, I used to be a voracious reader. I could happily devour a book in a day.  But digital distractions had messed up my brain and for the past decade, I read a grand total of  2 books! I couldn't stay focused on anything longer than 140 characters!

It's not that I didn't want to, but  my mind  would wander off after reading just a single sentence. I had to read and re-read a page several times before actually grasping it. I have a stack of books lying around somewhere that I had won in giveaways but I never got past the first page whenever I attempted to read......... until Tail & Trouble. I couldn't put the book down and finished reading it while I was on a 6 hour road trip to Singapore. The author had me from page one!

I won Tail & Trouble in the For The Love of Books Valentine's Day giveaway and the author Victor Catano had kindly mailed a signed copy of his book to me all the way from the US. Thanks, Victor, for taking the trouble and  for rekindling my passion for reading.

Note: This is NOT a review but a shoutout for the author for being awesome and for his book I had a TON of fun reading!


"When Gabriel’s witch girlfriend doesn’t return from her latest trip, he gets on the road and heads out to find her. Sheila’s coven is secretive and distrustful of Gabriel, so the only help he has is Sheila’s familiar, a bulldog named Orson, who is psychically linked to both of them.

In Florida, they walk right into an elaborate plan to steal Orson. A mysterious wizard named Yareth is behind the plot, and he may also know where Sheila is.

Gabriel and Orson will have to fight for their lives as they navigate around all the magical roadblocks to force Yareth’s hand. They won’t give up until Sheila is safe."

Tail & Trouble is a melange  of magic, paranormal, fun, humour, mystery, fantasy and adventure with a super adorable psychic "talking" bulldog to boot! OK, Orson doesn't really talk but Gabriel and a couple of others can hear his thoughts! The banter between Gabriel and Orson gives you lots of LOL moments.

Catano's style of writing is fresh and funny:

                    Orson drooled happily. You'd never give me away, would you?
                    She hugged him close. “Never! Even when you left a dead rat in my slipper.”
                    You didn't like my present? He whined and gave her sad eyes.
                   “I'm more of a Tiffany's girl.”

The book is perfect for those days when you're in a mood for a light, easy read even if you are not a dog lover.

Cookifying Orson, the gaseous taquito-loving bulldog.

Once again, Thank You, Victor, for reaffirming my belief that magic exists between the pages of a book.

Victor Catano lives in New York City with his wonderful wife, Kim. When not writing, he works in live theater as a stage manager, light designer, and technical director, working mainly with dance companies.
His hobbies include coffee, Broadway musicals, and complaining about the NY Mets and Philadelphia Eagles.

Author's links.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Last Kite Maker

Sharing this beautiful commercial about Pak Shafie, the last Wau Bulan maker in Malaysia. Pak Shafie has been making Wau for 48 years and to him, each wau is like his family as his heart connects him to every one of his creations. He wants to retire but knows he can't 'cos that would mean the end of the art of Wau Bulan making.
image credit -

Wau bulan is an intricately designed Malaysian moon-kite (normally with floral motifs) that is traditionally flown by men in the Malaysian state of Kelantan. It is one of Malaysia's national symbols, some others being the kris and hibiscus. The reverse side of the fifty-cent coin of Malaysia (1989 series) features an intricately decorated wau bulan with a hummer on top.The logo of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is based on the wau kucing (cat kite).

There are many types of wau in Malaysia, each with its own specialty. Wau kucing (cat kite) and wau merak (peacock kite) are some of the variants

source : Wikipedia

Pak Shafie had dreamed about being a Wau  and  soaring as high as the Wau he crafts and seeing the world as a Wau would.

The short video below tells Pak Shafie's story.

Pak Shafie at work. Pak means 'uncle' in Malay
image credit - Udey Ismail @

The logo of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is based on the wau kucing (cat kite).

Cookies I've been making

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Saturday, August 20, 2016


Oops! I think I must have freaked out the mailman just now! Earlier, after I had put on a sheet mask for like a minute, the doorbell rang. I had a serious internal debate whether to leave it on or not for a few seconds. Since it was an expensive mask, I wasn't going to give up all that juicy goodness and essences. I decided to leave it on. When I opened the door, I got the weirdest look from the mailman. I was quite sure he thought I was the Phantom of The Opera! While I was signing the package, I could see that he was trying hard not to stare.

Now, I am feeling really awkward. I wonder what he was thinking!
Have you guys ever been caught off guard in a sheet mask??

Cookies I made for a friend's 21st wedding anniversary

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Yam? Sweet Potato? Taro?

I was at the market with my neighbours, Pat and Ming, when I told them I wanted to get some yams to make yam rice. "You mean taro? Most Malaysians are mistaken when it comes to naming these", Ming corrected me as she pointed to the tubers.  Not convinced, I asked Pat who has lived in America for some time. She confused me further when she insisted that these are called sweet potatoes in the US and Canada!

So what are these, really? Yam? Sweet potato or taro?

I googled and learned that interestingly, the confusion is not limited to Malaysians. While most Malaysians  mistake yam for taro, Americans have been confused about sweet potatoes and yams for hundreds of years!

A video to share

Er.... what about tapioca?

Sharing my yam/taro rice recipe. A word of caution - wear gloves when handling the raw yam/taro as the tuber contains crystals of calcium oxalate just beneath its peel. This substance will make your skin itch. Undercooked taro root and taro leaves can also cause extremely unpleasant itching in your mouth

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
200g yam/taro, skin removed and cubed
2 tbsp dried shrimps (soak in water for 15 minutes, drain and chop finely)
100g Chinese roast pork, diced into small pieces
dash of ground white pepper
2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil

3/4 tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Wash and drain rice. Set aside
Heat up a wok.  Add oil and scald  yam cubes on high heat for roughly 5 minutes till just about cooked. Set aside.
Using the remaining oil in the wok, stir fry the dried shrimps on medium low heat till fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).
Return the cooked yam to the wok. Add rice, roasted meat and ground white pepper. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes till all the ingredients are well mixed.
Allow the rice mixture to cool, then transfer to a rice cooker. Add 1 3/4 cup water to rice cooker followed by seasonings. Stir to ensure that the seasonings are well mixed. Let the rice mixture cook in the rice cooker.
Serve the yam rice hot, garnished with sliced chillies, green onions, and cilantro.


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Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Eyes Are The Windows To Your Liver

Did you know that eye problems may indicate an unhealthy liver?
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we can physically view the health of our liver via the eyes. I didn't know this and only learned about the connection when I was trolling the internet for a cure to my chronic Dry Eye condition. And yes, I did find a natural remedy which inadvertently, fixed my other problems as well- hot flashes and night sweats!

The answer to all these problems, my friend, lies in a cup of tea! Hallelujah! I am doing the happy dance! It is so liberating to wake up fresh and happy from a good night's sleep and with eyes that don't burn or itch.

Yep, a soothing cup of Chrysanthemum tea daily (those commercially canned and packaged ones don't count) does the magic!  It has something to do with the balance of yin and yang in your liver. From a Chinese perspective, health problems arise when the yin and yang are imbalanced in our body and in this case, an excess of yang in the liver which causes liver heat. When there is heat in the liver and liver channel, the eyes are likely to be dry, bloodshot, painful or have a burning sensation.  Here's where the Chrysanthemum tea works its magic. Acting as a natural coolant, Chrysanthemum tea lowers the heat in your liver, thus restoring the yin-yang harmony and voil√†! - no more dry eyes and hot flashes!

TCM values the liver as one of the most important organs in the body and has the strongest connection to the eyes. The main job of the liver is to spread and regulate QI (energy flow) throughout the rest of the body. Besides cooling, regular consumption of Chrysanthemum tea helps to detoxify the liver, resulting in the smooth flow of QI, thereby eliminating a variety of aliments.

Look after your liver and your eyes will benefit.

Some interesting facts of Chrysanthemum  to share.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Chrysanthemum

Some of the compounds in Chrysanthemum are flavonoids like luteolin, apigenin and acacetin, choline, and vitamin B1. It is also a good source of Vitamins C and A, Niacin, Folic acid and Pantothenic acid and is also rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and phosphorus. Chrysanthemum tea can help detoxify blood, regulate blood pressure and calm the nerves. It has antibacterial properties that can be effective against staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus hemolyticus B, dermatomycosis, shigelladysenteriae and the tubercle bacillus.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum can help the body fight off a range of infections including streptococcal and staphylococcal infections.
The traditional Chinese have used the tea to treat influenza, fevers, inflammations and even heatstroke due to its cooling effect. The herb also helps to correct imbalances that may affect the liver and also helps in dealing with kidney function, thus helping with their treatment.
A rinse made from the flower can be helpful to treat skin infections.
The herb can be used in many different forms, from tinctures and creams to chrysanthemum tea that is very popular. While preparing the tea, care should be taken to let the flowers boil in the hot water for around ten minutes. This should be done in order to protect the essential oil and other nutrients.
Chrysanthemum tea is a great aid to digestion, helping the body to digest greasy food more easily.
The tea is also helpful in relieving nasal and head congestion.
Because of its zero calorie content, it is often used to treat obesity and as an aid to lose weight.
It is also said to improve vision and hearing and is given in cases of dizziness, blurred vision and spots in front of the eyes. It may also be helpful in cases of night blindness and to treat conjunctivitis.
New research has shown that the flavonoid acacetin that is present in chrysanthemum has the ability to inhibit malignant cell growth in the prostate region. This may make it a useful weapon in the battle against prostate and other forms of cancer.
It is believed to be good for the heart and has been known to lower blood pressure levels. It may also be able to increase blood flow to the heart.
Traditional Chinese medicine has used these properties of the flower to treat cases of hypertension and angina.

A Cautionary Note: Some people may be allergic to chrysanthemum and can experience adverse reactions on consuming or handling it. Physical handling of the flower may result in skin irritation and consumption can cause stomach upset. People with known allergies to daisies and asters should avoid chrysanthemum as should people with diarrhea. Consult your physician before taking chrysanthemum, especially if you are on other medication that may adversely react with it.

source -

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