Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Seasons Greetings 2013; Happy New Year 2014

Hrmmm... I've really been neglecting this blog... Laziness is a powerful force!
Anyway, since 2014 has reared its hopeful head, here's the first blog post of the year :)

As per usual at Christmas, I took leave to go to my parents' place in Penang. The calendar helpfully placed Christmas on a Wednesday so I took the whole week off (yay).

Christmas time is also my eldest sister's birthday so we had some good foods. I met the relatives and went out a lot and generally lazed about spending time with the family. Come Christmas day, we opened our gifts.

A minion joins the Angry Birds in guarding the presents
A minion joins the Angry Birds in guarding the presents
I got the typical clothes, books, and cash, and my mom bought me this adorable Hush Puppy soft toy.

When I got back to KL and eventually cleared the mounds of work and e-mails waiting for me, it was holiday time again. New Year's Eve was spent at home as usual with a bottle of sparkling wine shared with my sister, watching what fireworks I could see from my balcony while the virtual festive greetings were sent to and from friends new and old.

Goodbye 2013! We had some good times!

Happy New Year, world! 
2014, be nice! kthxbye

Monday, September 2, 2013


I've always thought of barbecuing as more of a Western, or perhaps more specifically American, pastime. I always thought it was weird to make people wait while the food is being cooked - or sometimes burnt - right in front of them while being in the Great Outdoors™, or backyard as the case may be, subjecting themselves to the ravages of mosquitoes, flies, and other assorted delights of the insect world. I certainly never thought that I would hosting a barbecue....

It all started when my boss suggested over lunch that we have a barbecue party. Living in a condominium, I had access to a barbecue pit and much to my chagrin, I was to be the host of this little get-together. I scoffed, and assumed it to be a joke. Eventually, the founder of the feast himself elected not to attend.

But the idea refused to die.

Preparations were made, menus were proposed, and a date was set. Still dubious, I nevertheless enquired and eventually booked the pit for the evening of the 24th of August, 2013. Someone volunteered to make most of the food (hereafter known as The Cook) and others were to bring drinks, ice, side dishes, and barbecue supplies. On the Friday before the day, I even went shopping after work to buy the meats and other ingredients with The Cook after everyone else bailed on us.

On Saturday morning, I collected some tables and chairs from the condo Management Office and set up at the barbecue area. I then proceeded to visit the local mall for some last minute salads and other items. The Cook arrived early, followed by the others who arrived late in typical Malaysian fashion, some even getting lost along the way. All in, there were 10 adults and one child in attendance.

Once everyone arrived, the party began.

The cook prepared a nice selection of meat (mostly pork):

Someone brought some chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes.

Despite initial plans to make the guys do the grilling while The Cook relaxed by the pool, she and the other girls ended up doing all the cooking anyway.

The food was pretty good :)

There was actual hamburgers:

Roast pork with honey to cut the saltiness:

Even marinated chicken wings:

And in an odd turn, due to the unpopularity of the salad, roasted cherry tomatoes:

The event went on from evening to night. Despite my initial misgivings, I rather enjoyed myself and it was a nice bonding experience. I think everyone had a fairly good time, so I'm calling this one a success ;)

Guys, if you're reading this, thanks for coming and for all your help in making my first ever party a fun one. Good food, and good friends; you can't ask for much more in life :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Life is busy sometimes... I find myself writing this missive at a little past one in the morning. I've missed posting this on my birthday (fortunately, through the wonders of backdating, noone will ever know! Muahahahaha! ... wait... (but then again, I was born at 2:22am on August 20th, so technically this post could still be within the required timeframe if I stop wasting time with silly asides in nested parentheses)).

I went to Penang over Hari Raya holidays almost two weeks ago, so we had early birthday celebrations at a restaurant and at home. Unlike last year, we opted for a store-bought cake. It was a pretty good cake :)

The 'card' is smaller than it looks :P

Back in KL, over the weekend, I had my traditional steak lunch. This year, I had a lovely fillet mignon at Tony Roma's.

Mmmm... meat....

Now that the food's out of the way, as usual at this time of year, I find myself looking through the 'events' that were interesting enough to overcome my laziness and make onto this neglected blog. I finally bade farewell to my first car which I had for 10 years and said hello to a spanking new Toyota Vios. I tried making many new foods (with a fair degree of success, if I do say so myself). The end of the year marked my stage debut at my company annual dinner talent competition where I surprised everyone, including myself, by singing in front of the entire company. Christmas and New Year passed with the usual celebrations. April brought the sad news of the passing of Roger Ebert, a film critic and pop-culture icon whose writing always had my highest respect. Oh and though I didn't blog it, I got a very nice Panasonic Lumix LX7 camera which I think has vastly improved the quality of pictures you see here and on my G+. Also I finally bought a Blu-Ray player (welcome to 2009).

I guess it was a fairly good year for me, although I still didn't blog as much as I hoped I would, but I guess that's what new year resolutions are for ;)

As for 34 itself, it doesn't seem very interesting:
  • It's the atomic number for Selenium, often used in glass and solar cell production. That's erm.. nice I guess.
  • It's a semiprime... occuring in a cluster of three semiprimes. Interesting but I'm sure it's still jealous of the real primes.
  • It's a Fibonacci number. Fun.
  • It is a nontotient. Uh huh...
  • It's the magic constant of a 4x4 normal magic square. Whee...
  • It's a numbered 'Rule' of Internet meme fame that if you don't know, erm... don't Google it (seriously, don't)
That's all folks!
Until next time, Gentle Reader, goodbye and good night.

(Number facts from Wikipedia)

(Ooh looky, I made it in time before 2:22am... yay)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mushroom soup

Today, I attempted to make mushroom soup from scratch... and succeeded!

I've been meaning to try home-made mushroom soup for some time and after getting a recipe from a friend of mine, I gave it a try. I used Swiss button mushrooms (brown and white), one portobello mushroom, and some oyster mushrooms. Being blender-deprived, I chopped up the Swiss and portobello mushrooms as fine as I could instead of slicing them and shredded the oyster mushrooms.

One large red onion and five small cloves of garlic joined the fray.

After sautéing the mushrooms with the garlic and onion in butter, I added water and simmered....

... and simmered...

... and it looked nothing like soup. Some milk however, instantly turned it into soupy goodness :)

I added two tablespoons of cornflour in water mixture for thickening and simmered some more to thicken it. I also made some garlic bread from a French baguette I bought from Délifrance and a garlic butter spread.

The soup was delicious! It was a lot better than canned soup and less creamy since I used regular milk. I'm calling this one a success :)

Also, doesn't that garlic bread look great?

Friday, April 5, 2013

RIP Roger Ebert

I was saddened this morning to learn of the passing of Roger Ebert. As one who loves movies and one who used to write the occasional (amateurish) review, I greatly admired his writing style and insights even when I did not necessarily agree with him. When not writing about movies, his essays and wit were still master-classes in writing. Heck, he even got a Pullitzer prize...

His last blog post just two days ago was so full of hope, optimism, and grand plans for the future and it makes his rather sudden death all the heavier. Reading the biographies online and the words of his wife, I see more that he was an amazing journalist and a person who never gave up hope and love for life despite the ravages of cancer.

He lived a full life - much more than most of us could hope for - but he was taken too soon. The world lost a great mind today and is poorer for it.

Rest in peace, Mr. Ebert.

Thumbs up, all the way.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Po-tay-to, po-tah-to

After the success of last week's pasta sauce, I decided to make another dish that I've been wanting to do but never got round to: baked herbed potatoes :)

Based on this recipe given to me by a friend, I washed and scrubbed three large Idaho US Russet potatoes and cut them into cubes and wedges with the skin on. For the herbs I used paprika, oregano, dill, thyme, and rosemary. It only took about 30 minutes to bake in my little electric oven and it turned out pretty good!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I will have the penne al'arrabbiata

Ever since I saw this video, I've liked arrabbiata sauce on penne pasta. Normally, I would buy a bottle of prepared sauce and just add mushrooms for my penne enjoyment. Today, I finally tried my hand at making a pasta sauce from scratch. Since arrabbiata is one of the simpler sauces around, I decided that it would be a fitting choice.

After reading a few recipes, I basically got the gist of it and just winged it. Here are the ingredients:

There was also some paprika but it was an afterthought and didn't make it into the picture (sorry, paprika).

I used six cloves of garlic finely chopped and one small red onion coarsely chopped. Could probably have gotten away with more garlic, but it was ok.

Now, arrabbiata sauce doesn't actually have mushrooms in it, but I like mushrooms, so I put some in anyway.  I sliced up four large portobello mushrooms and sautéed them for a while before adding some water to let it simmer. After most of the water dried up, I put the mushrooms aside.

Next up was boiling the penne. I used some small tricolore penne. After the pasta was almost al dente, I drained it and set it aside (saving some of the water) and started making the sauce.

First went in the garlic and onions with some olive oil until the garlic turned slightly brown.

Then went in some water from the pasta boiling

After a short simmer, in went the tomatoes and the mashing commenced. It was a bit difficult to mash without a proper mashing tool, but eventually it got done. I prefer the sauce quite smooth so the tomatoes suffered much.

I seasoned with salt, a generous sprinkling of oregano, a pinch of thyme, about a half teaspoon of paprika, and about a teaspoon of ground chilli powder.

It took quite a long time to simmer away the liquid but eventually it was thick enough for my liking.

Mushrooms and tomatoes blended together in tasty matrimony and were blessed with much penne.

Some extra oregano completed the dish and it was goooooood. A tad too spicy but quite nice nonetheless. I'm not sure if it was worth the cost and effort over buying a bottle of prepared sauce, but it was fun to make and gave me +1 to cooking :)