Wednesday, November 24, 2010

From The Kitchen: Butter Shrimp with Pineapple, Calamari and Okra

I got addicted to Top Chef recently - man, if I can ever trade my work with anybody, I want Padma's job as the show's host (nama pun dah lebih kurang), and if I ever have to participate in a reality show, it will be this program (syoknya main masak-masak!) - and that make me realized it has been a while since I cooked anything fancy besides the usual comfort of chilli, porridge and more chilli. So tonight, a new dish!

Butter Shrimp with Pineapple, Calamari and Okra

This is practically three-dishes dish. Let's start with the easy one.

1) Calamari
Dip the squid into one of those ready-made frying flour, and deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. Hehe. easy maa...

2) Okra
To remove those gooey stuff from the okra, heat up the okra in a non-stick pan, without oil. It will dry up those gooey stuff. Put aside.

Heat up a little bit of oil. Toss in the chopped onion and garlic and some dried shrimp. Then, put in the okra. Seasoned with some tauchu.

3) Butter Shrimp with Pineapple
Prep the shrimp by removing the shell and season with some chilli powder and salt.

Heat up some butter (okay, lots of butter! But I leave it to you to decide what's appropriate :p). Toss in some garlic, curry leaves, onion and cubed pineapple. Let it simmer for a while for all the juices and seasoning to mix, then add in the shrimp.

Note: If I were to cook this again, I would add up some acid - lime juice - and more hotness - cili padi - to the shrimp dish. That will make the whole dish even more awesome!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book Review: Heroes of Olympus - The Lost Hero

"It isn't time yet, little hero. Some day, you'll have your quest. You'll find your destiny, and your hard journey will finally make sense. But first you may face many sorrows. I regret that, but heroes can't be shaped any other way" - Tia Callida / Hera.

Percy Jackson is back, wuhoo…!!!

Okay, sort of.

Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero is the follow up to the Percy Jackson’s series. However, our old hero and his friends are now the back-story and supporting characters for a whole new set of heroes. In this first book, Percy Jackson disappeared, and three new demi-gods – Jason, Leo, and Piper – were brought into Camp Half-Blood. They were soon claimed by their parent-god and as all other preceding books that came before this, they set out for a dangerous quest.

You won’t get anything different that what Rick Riordan had ever written before. This is pretty much just another Percy Jackson book – a group of heroes fulfilling a prophecy while their powerful god parents pretty much ignored them and they have to complete a quest in such a short time or if not, the whole world will collapse. Along the way they fight monsters, giants and other crazy mythical things.

Same old, same old.

However, this new series do show promise, as this time around, the historical aspect is not only from the Greek myth, but is coming from the Roman as well. Apparently, not only the Greek gods have their demi-gods children, but Roman demi-gods kids exist too. The history between the Greek and Roman demi-gods were rather ugly, and for the ultimate quest, Jason (the new series main hero) has to lead a group of heroes consisting of these two conflicting factions to save the world.

As a history buff and fervent Percy Jackson fan, I find this book still enjoyable to read, but nothing is breathtakingly amazing. At least I had fun in guessing the characters that appeared before their names were revealed. Those looking for an extraordinary twist or departure from the previous books will be disappointed. Read this if you are a hardcore Percy Jackson fan or looking for a quick, light read.

(… and the last two pages of the book – okay, I didn’t see it coming. I am so looking forward to know what will transpire next. But need to wait till September 2011 for the next book, "The Son of Neptune" to be published, isk isk)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Terry Fox Run 2010: Here Come The Foxes!

"I am not a dreamer, and I am not saying that this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer. But I believe in miracles. I have to" - Terry Fox

Let me demonstrate to you the graceful way of falling down while roller skating in the midst of a few thousands people. It does not matter HOW you fall – it is how the fall ends. As example, you can fall like this:

... on your butt while navigating your way down the stairs (and who comes up with a brilliant idea to get the skaters to use a route with stairs? Aiyoooo, I have yet to learn how to jump while skating, okay. Macam x-treme sport la pulak kan. And it does not matter if only one particular skater - who shall remained nameless - falls down at the stairs and the other skaters got over it easily. No, it was not that one skater’s fault, humpphh)

Or you can fall face down, on your tummy, while trying to go uphill…

Posing shy-shy (malu-malu) setelah menyedari aksi kejatuhan telah dirakam. Teknik ini sama seperti teknik 'mengelak dari paparazi'. Kedua-dua tangan diangkat menutup muka. Berguna juga saya keluar dating dengan abang Nuar kerana kami sentiasa diserbu oleh media. Ilmu itu dapat dipraktikkan disini.

The most important thing is, after you fall, smile and laugh it off! That is how a graceful fall should end with… with a laughter, as if falling down is the most fun thing that could happen, people.

The End.

(And thank you to those who helped me, eh, who help that skater who shall remained nameless, to get back up again, hehe)


Last Sunday was the 30th Terry Fox Run, and a few KOMA members joined in under the Petronas team. Terry Fox Run is an annual charity event to raise fund for cancer. Here is a background of the event (taken from Wikipedia):

Terrance Stanley "Terry" Fox CC OD, (July 28, 1958 – June 28, 1981) was a Canadian humanitarian, athlete, and cancer research activist. In 1980, with one leg having been amputated, he embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Although the spread of his cancer eventually forced him to end his quest after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 mi), and ultimately cost him his life, his efforts resulted in a lasting, worldwide legacy. The annual Terry Fox Run, first held in 1981, has grown to involve millions of participants in over 60 countries and is now the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research; over C$500 million has been raised in his name.

Some decided to run and walk, but a few of us decided to skate. We arrived just nicely before the event about to start, so there was really no time to practice. Hoh, it was quite nerve wrecking at first, since I haven’t skate for a while, and while testing the skate at the parking lot of Tasik Titiwangsa, we found that it was really hard to move because the asphalt surface was so rough. Wobble, wobble. I looked dejectedly at Huda and said, “How are we supposed to finish 2 km on this skate when we can barely move an inch?”. Awal-awal dah rasa nak give up – malu okay konon terer sangat nak skate tapi nanti terkial-kial lak. And the other skaters were so macho and experienced-looking. Psiko, beb!

Well, thank god, that the actual route, which was the main road that circled the lake, was smoother, and I breathed easily knowing that I won’t embarrassed myself in front of the crowd.

The ‘wheelers’ were released first, i.e the skaters, cyclists and strollers, and afterwards the runners and walkers. After a while, the first wave of runners caught up with us. It was so much fun that we decided to go for a second round, for a total of 4.4 km of skating. This was definitely one of the enjoyable event I’ve been to, since there was no pressure, it was for fun and charity, and everyone was just relaxing with their friends and families.

Looking forward for next year’s Terry Fox Run!

For more info, do visit the official Terry Fox Foundation website.

Picture credit to Assan, Harun & CK. Thank you also to Mr. Robin for sending the pictures to me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book Review: Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy

Stieg Larsson, the author, died of heart attack a few months before the first book of the trilogy was published, and as such, he did not get to see how wildly popular these books have become. Pity on us, for I would gladly read more of his work. His Millennium Trilogy is one of the finest, absorbing thrillers I’ve ever read.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” kicks off the series as the main male character, a journalist named Mikael Blomkvist, was hired by an aging, wealthy industrialist to investigate the murder of his niece, a cold-case that occurred 40 years ago. During the investigation, Blomkvist encountered Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant hacker and complex character with a dark past of her own, who helped him to unravel the mystery surrounding the murder. The book is rather slow at first, yet remained intriguing enough that I could not put the book down.

The great thing is that the series got better as you moved to the next two books, in which Salander became the central figure of a top-secret, explosive cover up. I read the second book (“The Girl Who Played with Fire”) and just went “Whoa…”, and then I read the third book and went all “Whoooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”. Crazy awesome! The last 200-pages of the third book, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is such a page turner that I would have been jumping up and down had I not been reading those last chapters in a moving car. It was such a restless read, because I can’t wait to figure out what will happen next.

And Lisbeth Salander is freaking awesome! Despite of her depressing, sullen way, it is refreshing to root after such an atypical heroine. This is no damsel in distress – she totally kicked ass (and many other body parts as well).

One of my minor complaints is the somewhat choppy sentences – my wild guess is that since the story was written originally in Swedish, and as many other translated work, it is unfortunate that we sometimes lost the smoothness of the words. The unfamiliar Swedish names and geographical location intermittently threw me off, especially in book three when a slew of new characters were introduced in such a short time. I did have to flip a few pages back to remind myself who is who.

Forget all that, and stay put for the twist and turn of the story and the pulse-racing, dark and twisted narrative. I thought I could have figure things out halfway of each book, ala Dan Brown’s novel (the nicest person in Brown’s novel is usually the bad guy, eh) but no – Larsson mercilessly threw more and more twist to the plot when you least expect it. I also dig the strong female characters portrayed throughout the series, and the somewhat feminist/civil right tone the books carried.

All in all, an enjoyable read.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Is Forever Enough?

I want to teach you the wonders of the world
The seven colors of the rainbow
Sing you the ABC and
Count from one to three.

I want to sing you a lullaby
And kiss your nightmare goodbye
I want you to learn about love and hate
And be there for your first heartbreak.

How long do you want to be loved, my dear…
Is forever enough?
Is forever enough?

I wrote that when I first received the news of my sisters’ pregnancy. The little ones were not borne yet – but I constantly thought of them. Now that they are here, I miss them.. all the time. Hohoho… At work, I have their pictures close to me. I even went back to Melaka for a quick break last weekend (I was not even home for a full 24-hours – tak pernah dibuat den) because I can’t bear another day of not seeing them. Rindu sangat. Somehow sejuk hati bila tengok muka diaorang. Jiwa yang kacau pun boleh tenang.

Little F is a sturdy boy. We called him GemGem, hoho, because he is soooo chubby. Geram! He has a serious face – when we sent a picture of him to our dad because he has yet to see this grandson of his, his comment was “Muka garang”. Haha… I guess as the first male of his generation in our clan, his fierce face will be useful to protect his little girl cousins.

While Little F hardly posed for pictures, Little H is a natural. She knows how to look into the camera. Even when sleeping, her poses would’ve make Tyra Banks cry with pride. It is a delight photographing her. Memang little diva in the making :)

Her mom really wants a picture of Little H and her Standard Chartered Singapore Full Marathon medal. Weeeee... nanti kita main lari-lari ye.