Monday, March 28, 2011

Cook with Love

Datin Faridah , the chairperson of the Woman's Auxillary. Her involvement began in 1978 but she doesn't count the years. She just keeps coming back

I have a love affair with the cookery classes tucked away in a room at the  Spastic Children's Association of Selangor and Federal Territory, Petaling Jaya. This happens monthly and I mark it down in my diary. Daresay, few people know of the work behind the scenes, a no - frills  cookery demo by guest chefs  that starts with the act of giving, from the heart.

What started in 1966 as a humble effort by some expatriates to raise funds to provide meals, and some basic necessities  for the disadvantaged children who come to the Centre  for therapy, and still continues to this day, under a relatively unknown group of The Women's Auxillary, is highly commendable. Previously many other programmes were tried  out to reach out to a captive public and members. Happily, the proven success lies in cookery. FOOD it is! It brings people together and  is charity  through the stomach. The Committee comprises 14 ladies, helmed by Datin  Faridah  plan the programmes to support the activities at the Centre and help source funds.

That particular morning, it was Chef Nermala with her recipe of  Barbarian  bread to eat with Chicken Stew and Rock and Roll Lasagne recipe. Luckily the rolls of lasagne stayed put on the layer of spinach and button mushroom, held back by a layer of sauce ! I was keen to learn  how to cook the stew ala' Nermala's way. Methinks it harks back to the days in the UK when I was a student. I had my fair share of stews, nice and nifty dishes, if one is innovative enough. After the session was over, all of us got to taste it. Verdict -  you'll certainly polish it up and leave your plate squeaky clean!

Mind you, at the cookery demo one gets to meet some old timers who support the event, rain or shine even if it ain't  totally cookery for them. After all, food and mixing around people makes life  more fun. It is hard for any newcomer to feel out of place for the fellowship just transcends age, status  whatever. In fact, often enough jokes are interspersed in the session. The chef then knows its time to to bring the 'jokers' back into the cooking!

For the entry fee of a mere RM15, arm yourselves  with all the questions you want to ask of the chef and zoom in on his or her  culinary secret  of that perfect dish. There's always a lucky draw. That's when the decibels increase as excitement rises. Needless to say it all adds to the vibrancy of the morning. Little prizes  are given to the lucky winners for the small token of  one ringgit per ticket. It all translates into the sen and ringgit which in turn  brings food  to delight  the hungry ones during break time.

The morning ended with a small sampling of food from the dishes cooked , supplemented by some other dishes contributed by members. When the food was eaten, I couldn't help but feel thankful for whatever was served. For food that is always cooked and served with love.

A room filled to the brim with Chef Nermala introducing  her Western menu
Scooping a tablespoonful of cheese mixture onto the strip of lasagne and rolling it into a tube

Everyone's interested in knowing the ins and outs of cooking
Above the  appetising base of spinach and  button mushroom goes the lasagne with cheese mixture wrapped in it

What's in the name - Barbarian Bread? I tasted it and found it wholesome and decent!

Patience is a virtue when it comes to stews. Wait for it to be ready - you will be amply rewarded.

Participants having a small sampling of the Barbarian bread with some bits of the chicken stew.

Another fund raiser - home made muffins . After this shot was taken, all the muffins were sold!

If you want your number called, increase your chances - buy more and give charitably

Sunday, March 20, 2011

En Adziz and his goat farm

When we stepped out of our cars, someone exclaimed, 'Oh, it's so peaceful!'. A welcoming sight greeted us at NURFARM AGRO. Being on a farm evokes warm sentiments like this especially for city folk . The abundant greenery and the rustic look coupled with the chickens doing their swagger instantly won us over.

The GPS did not fail us; we took the wrong turn and finally  it was a relief to hear the lady's voice announcing crisply,' Arriving at destination' which was in Ulu Langat. En Adziz and his wife, Pn Zaini greeted us warmly and escorted us to their admin office, a house built with recycled timber. The house has an airy feel and we seated ourselves in the lecture room, ready to absorb  En Adziz's journey into carving his path as a goat farmer. Before the tour, we were served with drinks and snacks  like curry puff and cakes.

He has 270 odd animals, goats and sheep inclusive. The goats are of the Jamnapari and Boer varieties reared for meat. Work is never done on the farm and this farm has an integrated farming concept. There's the animals for meat, organic fertilisers and soil mix from the dung, And naturally, plants thrive well  from the specially processed fertilisers. If anyone fancies fishing, there are 2 ponds and you can fish for your dinner. But the scorching sun beat down on us and we  retreated to shady spots. We bought  some plants. Me, I couldn't resist a lime, lemon (Australian variety) and a passionfruit plant. Sure enough, there'll be a squeeze in the garden  which prompted my son to say that I was turning my garden topsy turvy!!

That's my name!

Our home with no borders

The proud owner of the farm and an equally proud grandma
Snacks in between the 3 solid meals of the day.
Do you love me? Recognise me ?- I'm a Jamnapari - see my long, pendulous ears, arched Roman nose, long neck, horns project backwards, short tail which is typically curved upward.
Bags of grass for the goats are safe  till the next feed. En Adziz says the goats are quite voracious eaters.
Sheep from Australia, Indonesia  - these do not have much wool.
Call me John. I'm 3 years old and a celebrity. Everyone wants to say hi to me!

Watch it, John! Do not try to get fresh!!

No nibbling my bum, thanks!
Take more pics of me! 
The 2 storeyed barn  - full marks for cleanliness.
Do I remind you of  Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars ???
He's mine for now!
Si Manja, stay close by me. Can always recognize a granny!!
Mother's milk is best, especially the rich colostrum for a newborn

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Green Springcleaning. I am 2 today !!

Today I'm 2 years old. Yes, all of  730 days to date since I decided to create this pastime for myself. Guess what, writing is good for through it I've found so many friends the world over. Simply this blog is to share life's precious little pleasures with you in the manner I can. Also, these tales which I relate will allow me to remember them myself, not forgetting your shared thoughts when the grey matter fails me.

Thanks for staying with me friends. Fingers crossed, I'll be blogging much longer. How does one celebrate this day - March 12, 2011? It's springcleaning time. Not only my fuzzy mind needs it, My garden too!

I need a dusun ! Out of the confines of my garden proper -  hibiscus, mango, banana, mulberry, plumbago ,herbs -  curry leaf, daun kesum, pandan, aloe vera, cinnamon.  On the other end of the perimeter wall  - ixora, brazilian firecrackers, 2 jacaranda, Pride of India , flame of the forest and a couple of plants .
I bought a Pride of India (lagerstroemia speciosa) sapling in December, can't wait to enjoy the flourish of the pink/purple flowers. The Flame of the Forest has not shown its beauty yet - more fertiliser !

A couple of medium to tall trees flank one end of the garden. The  costus curvibracteatus adds some colour sandwiched between the phyllanthus and the misai kuching on the ground.  I started with  9 weak misai kuching plants and have been faithfully cutting and multiplying them. It does not look  a great plot yet but  it will in time.

Standing tall behind are  palm trees with their berries, few eugenia plants, the handkerchief ( maniltoa) tree and the rukam. I love the handkerchief  tree when there is a flush of new leaves.  It is like a story unfolding. As they dangle in a spear like form the colour and shape changes . Finally, they appear like the rest of the mature leaves on the the tree, quite undistinguishable. As for the rukam, the birds hop over for refuge. The berries are plentiful and they are raining on my garden! What do I do with them??  

The workers were heaving the spiky trunk of the hura  onto the truck. My cinnamon tree with a nice canopy was a gift from a friend in Penang. Though  scraggy, the mulberry plant beside it has fruits appearing. 

Safe in their yellow bucket, the workers loped off the spindly branches of the neem.  It has overshadowed  the erythrina glauca and bougainvillae in my garden proper . 

How the neem has grown from a small plant given to me in a milo tin by my sis in law's mil. Her name is Mrs Selvadurai, a dear old, sweet natured lady who came for our house blessing  20 years ago. The neem  popularly known as ' Heal All' in India  is a major component in Ayurvedic medicine.  

A day when the grass cutters and the DBKL guys came calling. Reluctantly I allowed the gardener to trim the grass of this patch as during the previous cutting months ago,the earth was exposed here and there. I resurrected it and got the cover back by regular watering.

Up with the birds and clouds. After the neem, it was the turn of the hura crepitans ( sandbox tree) trees. Hura in normal  circumstances has an erect trunk witk a lovely canopy. They were looking like crooked stairway to heaven  before the cutting. White sap (toxic)  flowed quite freely from the remaining trunk . I went with my friend, Uncle Foo to Sungai Buloh to get  a few plants upon his recommendation.  During storms, the branches have fallen. They are fast growing . It's time to get them down to size.

Finally, when the job was done, it more than filled the truck. Thanks DBKL, we await the regrowth. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My name is Robbie

Just being my own herbalist today -  dunno the name  of the grass but it sure soothes my tummy :)

Hey friends, since I shot to a brief period of cyber fame in the  Blog4ft competition and got myself some fans, I'm still the same guy, handsome to the tip of my nose though that right hip does make me look like a laggard. Anyway, whatever the weather, I hold my head up high and try to look my best. Age is just a number and I'm not counting . Hey, am I all of eleven already??

Despite that hippy letdown, my good doc says I'm fit as a fiddle short of giving me a cert. Thank goodness my visit to his clinic is only once a year 'coz my mister, R says I am a disgrace! Yelping at strangers especially my own kind just won't do!!

For this  long overdue update, follow me round where I live.

One thing never changes with me . The missus always jokes about the centre of the garden being a landmine. I avoid it like the plague!! How my ears ache  hearing her  tell her friends this habit of mine. Can you blame me ? It's poo mine and when  the business is done, who wants to know? Not ME! Just skirt round the garden, take the  longest route to get from A to B. Meaning I do not take short cuts . Not even to make a dash for a treat . That way, my paws are ever pristine  clean. 

 Miss S loves me like crazy. She allows me to sit around when she bakes during weekends. I know I can't sniff a rat out but cakes...   

This is also where I like to be especially at lunchtime during weekends. The household gang gather  at the kopi tiam table wolfing down their steamy noodles. I hang around, drooling and hoping to get tiny offers. But  the missus (again!) says feeding off the table will see a steak disappear next time! Why does she say these things of me?? ARGH ! WOOF! ARGHH ! - I protest!

Who goes there? Just a peep over the neighbour's at the chainlink fence. Nothing much goes on  - the adults seem to go about their own way. Every Sunday, the good old doc holds a hand pump spraying his plants. Occasionally an old cat sits by the pots and stares at me - common sense says leave the old hag alone! Some might recall the neighbour slipping portions of dhall and rice  over the fence.It was a strict no -no  with my mister and missus. The lanky lady has obliged. *Sigh* my diet is as predictable as ever -  Royal Canin -for Seniors. 

 I can't wait to have the gang at brekkie in the kitchen. I'm used to shouts of 'Hurry up, it's late !' That's when my 'soulmates' are together, having their quick bite before going to work. I answer to every name called : Robert, Rob, Robs, Acha baby ( who else but from the mister himself!!).  Nothing like being patted  left right and centre and a good rub of the ears. Then, they turn their backs on me, jump into the car. Vvrromm...  Am left with the sparrows  taking dips in my bowl of water.

My usual  snooze in the backyard. I like it here. I play peekaboo- snoozing, half waking but I sure know what's happening. There's  Ana doing her housework,  my missus is pottering  among her veggie plot. Birds twitter  especially the sunbirds, oh  their shrill calls just seem endless.  The doorbell rings but who cares. Sometimes there's a kinda explosion in the air - it's only another neighbour yelling her head off at a maid.   

Bliss. The cool marble right next to my body. I could sleep like Rip Van Winkle . It's not often that I get to be inside the house. The missus (again!) says my tail whips around and knocks things to smithereens. I hardly keep still and go slipping and sliding. That sets everyone flinging their hands like jugglers. Guess it's my fault - am fidgety to my own detriment.