Sunday, June 26, 2011

Homemade Caeser Salad!!!

Well, here I am at home, my Dad is watching a DVD but I'm bored and..........hungry......

So, I thought, what snack can I fix myself that's both healthy and filling? Well, I have some romaine lettuce : Bingo! Homemade Ceaser Salad!

The Dressing : 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine, mixed with light mayo and mustard. Set aside and allow flavors to develop.

Then I chopped the romaine lettuce to bite sized pieces, you can also tear the leaves in 2s or 3s.

Since there is half a cucumber waiting to be used in the fridge, I chopped them and added them to the lettuce.

The Croutons : Cut a slice of day old bread into cubes; sprinkle with olive oil, you may also sprinkle some dried herbs like rosemary and thyme like I did, bake in a toaster oven for 30 minutes or so till crispy. The croutons have to golden brown to be done.

When croutons are done, put over salad, sprinkle some real or vegan bacon bits, pour the dressing over and toss!

Walla! Homemade Ceaser Salad!!! Bon Appetit!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Child In Need

A favour that was offered to a friend turned out to be a heart-wrenching experience for me. It really made me think and ponder about life and humanity.

    The 45-minute journey took me to a shanty wooden house, with missing wooden planks on its wall.

     A fairly good wind could blow down such dilapidated structure any minute. After introducing myself, I asked permission to snap some photos for the record. The interior of the house proved how deprived the family’s life has been.

     I stepped into the kitchen, hoping to find a fridge to store the milk supply I brought. I was relieved to spot a small fridge, with a surface rust, standing in the corner of the kitchen.

     It was a 2-room house – the kitchen and the bedroom (cum living room). The back of the house doubled as En. Emran’s workshop. Being the sole breadwinner of the family, it was pretty difficult for him to make ends meet.

     So, apart from repairing vehicles that could not provide a stable income,the 33-year old father of three had to do odd jobs in the village to earn at least RM800 a month. His 26-year old wife was a home maker. 
     I finally met Zikri, a vulnerable-looking 4-year old boy. Such timid soul had been staring at me ever since I first stepped into the house, perhaps wondering the purpose of my visit.

     He had this big, sad and bewildered looking eyes that could not conceal the pain and suffering he had to endure.

      When I called his name, he immediately approached me with open arms. While he was in my arms, I quickly poked a straw into a Yakult bottle and placed it is his hand. As he was drinking the milk, those wide round eyes looked straight into mine as if to say “thank you”. I held him close and could feel his bloated and firm stomach against my hand. 
      Zikri was born without an anus. The second day after he was born, the doctor did a surgery on him to place a colostomy bag which he had to depend on for the next 12 months. The doctor then did another surgery to provide Zikri with a rectal opening.

      He, however, had no control over the release of his faeces which explains why he had to be in disposable diapers at all times. His condition worsened after he swallowed a metal nut when he was barely a few months old.

      Because of that, his stool had to be pumped out 3 times a day. Drinking Yakult helped to soften the stool, thus reducing the pain when the stool is being pumped out. I can’t imagine what future lies ahead for this poor, sickly soul.

      How is it possible for him to be academically successful and socially healthy if his condition does not improve. He could have a much better future only if the family can afford to send him for surgery and medication.

      It struck me that while we are working our way to become a prosperous developed nation, there are still those out there who do not even have a decent living condition. If we can’t help all at once, at least help one at a time. And this one true case of suffering deserves help and support from our caring Malaysians.   

Learning To Live Within My Means

It's a hot day! Again, I find myself longing to go to the nearby cafe, Coconut Groove to try their huge and icy Coconut Shake.

I've never tried it before and it looks good on the menu. But it'll probably be a bad idea because 1) it's not exactly cheap 2) it comes in this huge jug which frankly to me looks like it could be shared with a family! Not a good idea for a dialysis patient like me; who need to control her fluid intake.

Also, as always, I have cravings for a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger, which again is not a good idea because of the cost, the amount of fat I'll be ingesting, not to mention sending my protein and phosphate levels rocketing sky high!

Just think : 2 slices of cheese, 2 fatty beef patties, bad idea, not to mention the sodium. And don't even get me started on 'saving' money by ordering the McValue Meal, which adds more fat and sodium in the form of fries, not to mention the sugar-laden soda (soft drink) that comes with it.

But still I'm longing for something cool to drink as it's a hot day.

So, what did I do? I went to the fridge and poured myself a small cup of ice-cold water! Ahhhhhhh! Bliss!

So, you can save money if you really want to. Anyway, the sun out there is just frightfully hot, I don't even fancy walking out of this air-conditioned room where my computer is to get my burger or coconut shake.

If I'm hungry, my Mom's noodles will do.

She cooked a huge batch to last us from lunch to dinner. I'll be saving money by not eating out. Inflation in Malaysia has driven the prices of everything up and up!; including cafe prices.

So, if you're hungering for some store bought food, ask yourself : is there anything in your fridge or pantry that is just as good, if not better and healthier?

Then eat in, not out! Saves you money and you get to cool off in the comfort of your own home.

Just imagine popping your own popcorn with those cheap raw corn kernels. No butter or sugar, takes some getting used to but I think plain olive-oil popped corn is delicious!

Then eating that pre-portioned bowl of popcorn and watching a movie on your DVD player in your air-conditioned hall! Now, that can't be beat!

So, stay home when you can in your free time and be creative!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ehomemakers Community Cooking Class

     The class we had today was pretty fun. The moment one student realized that she had to peel the onion skin and clean the fish, she looked startled.

     Apparently, she had never cleaned a fish before and not planning to do so. She never cooked a meal but because she's getting married in a few months time, she felt like it's time to learn some kitchen skills.

      Realizing that look on her face, I quickly reassured her we'll be able to do it in a breeze. With a little frown on her face, she made her way towards the kitchen table.

      The other student had a new resolution to fulfill - preparing home-cooked meals, at least once a day - because she finally realized that eating out is such a costly and unhealthy. So now she plans to have healthy, frugal cooking and living. I hope she will.

      We cooked 3 dishes - ikan asam pedas, ayam masak merah, Chinese mustard in oyster sauce. The desserts - fluffy pudding in custard sauce and 4 types of muffins. The results? What seemed impossible to them turned out to be tasty and scrumptious dishes for a beginner. 

Frying the ingredients till fragrant.

Working together to cook the final dish.

Baking colourful muffins.

Clockwise : A happy student with her masterpieces: pudding in a glass, muffins, Chinese mustard in oyster sauce, Asam pedas in 'belanga' (claypot) and  Spicy chilli chicken.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Meeting Myself Halfway

Loosing weight is an uphill battle even if you're not on steroids, but even more of an uphill battle with steroids. I was prescribe steroids by my nephrologist (kidney doctor) when my SLE was active. At that time, my weight ballooned up to 68kgs! Imagine being that heavy at 4 feet 11, I was overweight, bordering on obese!

No matter what I did at that time, the extra weight just refused to budge! To make matters worse, I had a tummy to rival that of a pregnant woman! And I was teased by heartless people for my tummy problem! To make matters worse, the steroids also increased my appetite. Now, I have a pretty good appetite even without the steroids but with the steroids, I was hungry all the time! And I had to eat a lot to fill my rumbling tummy! So, that made it even harder to slim down.

Then came the magical day when my doctor announced that steroid are not meant to be taken long term and that I'd be taken off the steroids from that day onwards. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! I don't have to take them anymore! And within a few short months, my extra weight just melted off and I've been maintaining at 56kgs ever since.

Of course, I'm a work in progress and I'm still striving to lower my fat levels to improve my body composition. In other words, I still have a little bit of a tummy problem that I'm striving to get rid off. But who knows, maybe if I listen to my body, I'm at a healthy compromise right now, but well see, I'll keep eating healthy and exercise and I'll see where that takes me.

I'm a member of Sparkpeople (, a website that teaches you how to be as healthy as you can be through proper diet and exercise; and they teach that you should never go through life hungry. If you're really hungry, you should eat enough, don't overeat.

After all, how fun can it be if you're hungry all the time and have a twiggy figure. It's better to be healthy and reasonably satiated. In other words, eat enough, not too little, not too much. And it's better to be healthy, slim and fit than to be skinny but hungry all the time.

And to celebrate my new weight, I've purchase some designer skinny jeans that were 50% off! And I'm loving the way I look in it! But like I said earlier, I'm still a work in progress!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The price of food has increased drastically over the past few years. The recent hike in petrol price has mad me revise our family routine and budget on eating out. Should we frequent restaurants and cafes on weekends like we normally do? We dine out for the kind of food that we rarely cook at home - Western, Japanese, fast food, French etc. These food seem more appetizing when served in a fancy restaurants with colourful accompaniments. However, after a month of weekend dinners and and putting that extra effort on preparing homemade fancy and Western dishes, I noticed a striking difference in our monthly budget. I saved a few hundreds.

One dish that I find works perfectly well with my kids who are ever willing to eat anything chicken everyday is crispy chicken chop. This can be much healthier than fast food or restaurant fried chicken when using organic chicken (I can afford to use healthy ingredients now because I have already cut down on my monthly cost for dining out!).

Let's fry them deep....

5 pieces of chicken chop pieces (the ones with the leg) or chicken breasts (a bit too fleshy for me), washed, dry (using kitchen towel) and marinate with the following mixture:

1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp paprika (or chili powder) 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp white pepper

Marinate the chicken pieces an hour before frying, or, u can do this way beforehand and freeze them. The best way is to pack them in ziplock bags. Otherwise, pack each piece in a plastic bag and seal it (I use impulse sealer).

To deep-fry them:
About 2 cups of breadcrumb (white...I use Biffy breadcrumb)
4 beaten eggs + 1/4 cup water
2 cups of flour (all purpose flour)

Heat enough oil to deep fry the chicken pieces. Coat each piece with flour. Dip it in the beaten eggs. Then quickly coat it with the breadcrumb. Deep fry. The chicken pieces will stay afloat when thoroughly cooked.

For the sauce, I use Knorr demi-glaze brown sauce. Prepare the sauce as directed. I blend half can of button mushroom and add to the sauce mixture. Then slice the rest of the mushroom, add to the sauce as well. Stir until smooth and thick.

Or, for a hot zesty taste, serve with ready made black pepper sauce (bottled ones - Life, Maggi or imported ones...I would just grab any brand available on the shelf), otherwise, you can make your own. And of course, you might need the chili sauce to go with it (the Malaysian way).