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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cross-posting: Of Laksa Asam & A Good Friend

Recommended pre-read: the epilogue; Wanshana/2008/08/Laksa-asam-and-friend

My home science teacher (God bless you Cik Kalthum) would not have believed this phenomenon for a micro second I would think. But iye Cikgu, haritu saya masak Laksa Asam!!! (And I hear a thunderous applaud from all those reading this entry - clap! clap! clap! Thank you, thank you.....)

I have never been very good at cooking. Full stop.

As the youngest of six, I was often chased out of the kitchen - I was more of a nuisance than a helping hand whenever I lingered around in that department. My mother and 3 elder sisters would be happier for me to be lounging in front of our (then) black & white TV watching Sesame Street & Popeye The Sailor Man than to be wandering about in 'their' kitchen. So you see.... this notion that I can do no good in the kitchen has long been instilled in my subconscious mind. To further entrench this notion, I was whisked away to a boarding school at the tender age of 12. The school was only 5 'miles' away from home though. But distance did not matter. With no access to a 'live' kitchen (other than the school canteen and dining hall which access were also equally denied to budding female adults) , how can you expect one to bloom into a good cook?

Later when in college, I learned about this concept of "self fulfilling prophecy" in Psychology 101. Simply, the self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a statement, a prediction or a false definition, of a certain situation. The person believing this prophecy then evokes certain behaviours or alters his or her actions which makes the original false conception to become 'true'.

So this notion of me being a lousy cook is a self fulfilling prophecy, you think? Yeah... I think so lah! No doubt about it.

Rationalising my incompetency is indeed one of my competencies :)

But it's never too late, right? Better late than never.

So when the Ah So at Pasar Rawang offered me a few packs of laksa at half price (because the customer who ordered for them did not turn up as promised), I thought - hmmm.... this could be a window of opportunity for me to hone my culinary skills. Honestly, at that point, I only thought of boiling the laksa and mix them with Prego spaghetti sauce. A suggestion by Aso though, helped pushed me to a new frontier altogether. She "directed" me to buy asam keping, bunga kantan, daun 'punina' ( trust me, she meant 'daun pudina' or mint leaves, and nothing else), etc, etc, etc. And so I snaked myself through the crowds at the wet market looking for those ingredients.

As fate has it, that same week, I had also been clearing up some boxes of books to "restore" our mini library. The last few books that remained untouchable were a few good but dusty cooking/recipe books. GOOD because they fill up the shelves, DUSTY because they really are..... they have never been put to good use other than for ogling and salivating over the pictures of elaborately garnished dishes. And one of these dust collectors was none other than a special recipe book entitled "Dari Srikandi Untuk Srikandi". I suppose, I am not alone ..... especially amongst those who hailed from the same alma mater.

I flicked through to the mee & pasta section and voila!!! Two pages caught my eyes; on Assam Laksa & Laksa Johor.

Both are my favourites.

Both have never been served home-cooked in my kitchen.

Could this be my next fear factor challenge?!

In times like this, when faced with daunting tasks that could bring tears to my eyes ( because onions would be involved) - who did I call?

WAN SHANA !!!!!!

- to be continued -

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pet safari - not yet ....

Ameer has been nagging me for a new pet since the past one week.

We've already got 3 cats; a mommy, 'Blackie' and her two not so little kittens, 'Tompok' and 'Burnt' (you can imagine what colors their furs are). They are not that 'manja', can't cuddle them too long. But Mommy Blackie is good at catching rats (from the main road gutter I hope!) . And the 2 not so little kittens are good at playing with the their mommy's catch.

We also have some fish - of all colors - but which remain nameless. They don't do much at all, just swim all day long. If they were humans, they would have broad muscular shoulders by now. But they are fish. Their fins stay just the same so far.

Of late, we discovered we also have some toads. Or are they frogs? I suppose they are the grown up tadpoles which must have survived in the water cabbage petals that we transferred from the old house pond. And these toads (or frogs?) I tell you.... we've never seen them, but heard enough of them. They are very good at serenading us at night. Each time when they start the orchestra - which unfortunately usually happens when we are just about ready to fly into dreamland, we would be forced to lie helplessly staring at the ceiling feeling like being strapped to our seats in philharmonic auditorium and tortured to listen to some tone deaf idols wannabes trying very hard perfecting their falsettos. Yeah.... we are not quite the "cultured" type. Sorry. With the haze in the air, hopefully the rain will respond to their calling soon.

Occasionally, we spotted one or two lizards sneaking and scurrying from behind the cabinets. Not many (yet) dare to stride into sight though. Maybe they suspect one of my boys could be Professor Klon's alliance? Hide away is a better alternative.

So you see..... we don't need a new pet - I think.

But my view is not shared by Ameer. He insists (still) on a new pet.

And Ameer being Ameer, he would stop at nothing until he gets his demands. From asking politely, to sulking, to begging, to crying and ...... threatening.


"What kind of pet do you want?"

"Ameer nak ghabbit la Ibu!!


"Ha... boleh la, Ibu? Ghabbit kan cute?"

"Yes... of course it's cute. But who's going to jaga the rabbit?"

"Ameer la. I will feed them and give them water everyday, I promise!"

"THEMMMM???? You said rabbit, NOT rabbitS! So why "THEM"?

"Alah... tak pe lah... nanti ghabbit tak de kawan, kesian...."

"Tapi susah lah nak jaga rabbit, Ameer. Who's going to clean them and their cage and all?"

"AMEER! AMEER! Ameer can do that!"

( Yeah right..... istinja' pun with adult's assistance).

"Hmm.... I don't know la Ameer, I am not sure. I think you have to ask Ayah."

"But I am very sure. I want GHABBIT!!"

"So you just have to wait & ask Ayah, ok?"

"Bila Ayah balik? Lagi berapa kali tidur?"

(This was yesterday, Ayah had not returned from Umrah yet. So at least one more pet-tactic day to defer dealing with Ameer and his pet demand).


We went to KL Sentral this morning to fetch Ayah. I asked the boys what would be the first thing they would do or say to Ayah upon his arrival.

Hafiz wanted to salam, kiss Ayah and touch Ayah's botak head.

Ameer wanted to salam & kiss Ayah too. AND YES!! OF COURSE!!! Ameer wanted to ask Ayah if he could have a ghabbit as a new pet.

He had not forgotten, why was I kidding myself?

"Kalau Ayah tak bagi, Ameer nak buat apa?"

"Ameer panggil dinosaur, suruh dinosaur destroy ghumah kita!"

Fuiyoooooo ........

"Kalau rumah kita dah destroy, kita nak tinggal kat mana?"

"Kita beli la cage macam ghabbit's house tu!"

Hahaha.... But hey.... it's not a laughing matter to Ameer okay? He sulked all the way to KL Sentral thereafter.


"AYAH!! Can I have ghabbit, please, please, please Ayah!! "

No need to guess who was pleading and showing all good manners to Ayah.

"Rabbit? Why... we already have three cats?"

"Yahhhhh... Blackie tu nanti scratch Ameer. I want a new pet la Ayah. Ameer nak ghabbit, please?"

"Susah lah nak jaga rabbit, Ameer. Nanti kalau Ameer tak jaga betul2, nanti rabbit tu sakit, lepas tu mati.... kesian dia. Kalau Ameer nak new pet, ikan boleh."

"Alah.... Ikan pun boleh mati jugak!"

Hmm.. apa nak jawab?

"Tapi ikan senang nak ganti. Ameer pun boleh choose banyak-banyak color! Ameer nak ikan apa pun boleh", Ayah trying to spin off some tricks.

That left Ameer quiet for a while. Gone into his thinking mode.

"Betul? Ayah tak tipu?"

"Betul...... Kita beli ikan jer ok?", pujuk Ayah lagi.

"OKAY LAH!!!" ( sulking mode setting in again).


"Ameer nak ikan apa?"

"Ikan yang panjang, yang mulut dia tajam"

"Uishh... ikan apa tuh? Electric Eel ker?"




Dia jawab selamba jer.

Alamak..... Mana nak cari dolphin? Hah!!! Jawab......

Ameer.... Oh Ameer.....