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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Basset Hound Cookies
I haven't been baking or blogging for quite a bit now so here's a post just to crank up my blog again.
What's better than a Wordless Wednesday post when you are blocked for something to write about?

Until then..........



Monday, March 27, 2017

Tail & Trouble


Way back in another life before the internet existed, I used to be a voracious reader. I could happily devour a book in a day.  But digital distractions had messed up my brain and for the past decade, I read a grand total of  2 books! I couldn't stay focused on anything longer than 140 characters!

It's not that I didn't want to, but  my mind  would wander off after reading just a single sentence. I had to read and re-read a page several times before actually grasping it. I have a stack of books lying around somewhere that I had won in giveaways but I never got past the first page whenever I attempted to read......... until Tail & Trouble. I couldn't put the book down and finished reading it while I was on a 6 hour road trip to Singapore. The author had me from page one!

I won Tail & Trouble in the For The Love of Books Valentine's Day giveaway and the author Victor Catano had kindly mailed a signed copy of his book to me all the way from the US. Thanks, Victor, for taking the trouble and  for rekindling my passion for reading.

Note: This is NOT a review but a shoutout for the author for being awesome and for his book I had a TON of fun reading!

BLURB:

"When Gabriel’s witch girlfriend doesn’t return from her latest trip, he gets on the road and heads out to find her. Sheila’s coven is secretive and distrustful of Gabriel, so the only help he has is Sheila’s familiar, a bulldog named Orson, who is psychically linked to both of them.

In Florida, they walk right into an elaborate plan to steal Orson. A mysterious wizard named Yareth is behind the plot, and he may also know where Sheila is.

Gabriel and Orson will have to fight for their lives as they navigate around all the magical roadblocks to force Yareth’s hand. They won’t give up until Sheila is safe."

Tail & Trouble is a melange  of magic, paranormal, fun, humour, mystery, fantasy and adventure with a super adorable psychic "talking" bulldog to boot! OK, Orson doesn't really talk but Gabriel and a couple of others can hear his thoughts! The banter between Gabriel and Orson gives you lots of LOL moments.

Catano's style of writing is fresh and funny:

                    Orson drooled happily. You'd never give me away, would you?
                    She hugged him close. “Never! Even when you left a dead rat in my slipper.”
                    You didn't like my present? He whined and gave her sad eyes.
                   “I'm more of a Tiffany's girl.”

The book is perfect for those days when you're in a mood for a light, easy read even if you are not a dog lover.

Cookifying Orson, the gaseous taquito-loving bulldog.

Once again, Thank You, Victor, for reaffirming my belief that magic exists between the pages of a book.

Victor Catano lives in New York City with his wonderful wife, Kim. When not writing, he works in live theater as a stage manager, light designer, and technical director, working mainly with dance companies.
His hobbies include coffee, Broadway musicals, and complaining about the NY Mets and Philadelphia Eagles.

Author's links.
www.victorcatanoauthor.weebly.com
@VGCatano
Facebook
Goodreads
Instagram


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Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Last Kite Maker

Sharing this beautiful commercial about Pak Shafie, the last Wau Bulan maker in Malaysia. Pak Shafie has been making Wau for 48 years and to him, each wau is like his family as his heart connects him to every one of his creations. He wants to retire but knows he can't 'cos that would mean the end of the art of Wau Bulan making.
image credit - http://waukite.blogspot.my/

Wau bulan is an intricately designed Malaysian moon-kite (normally with floral motifs) that is traditionally flown by men in the Malaysian state of Kelantan. It is one of Malaysia's national symbols, some others being the kris and hibiscus. The reverse side of the fifty-cent coin of Malaysia (1989 series) features an intricately decorated wau bulan with a hummer on top.The logo of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is based on the wau kucing (cat kite).

There are many types of wau in Malaysia, each with its own specialty. Wau kucing (cat kite) and wau merak (peacock kite) are some of the variants

source : Wikipedia

Pak Shafie had dreamed about being a Wau  and  soaring as high as the Wau he crafts and seeing the world as a Wau would.

The short video below tells Pak Shafie's story.



Pak Shafie at work. Pak means 'uncle' in Malay
image credit - Udey Ismail @ http://blog.udeyismail.net/

The logo of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is based on the wau kucing (cat kite).

Cookies I've been making

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Caught!

Oops! I think I must have freaked out the mailman just now! Earlier, after I had put on a sheet mask for like a minute, the doorbell rang. I had a serious internal debate whether to leave it on or not for a few seconds. Since it was an expensive mask, I wasn't going to give up all that juicy goodness and essences. I decided to leave it on. When I opened the door, I got the weirdest look from the mailman. I was quite sure he thought I was the Phantom of The Opera! While I was signing the package, I could see that he was trying hard not to stare.

Now, I am feeling really awkward. I wonder what he was thinking!
Have you guys ever been caught off guard in a sheet mask??

Cookies I made for a friend's 21st wedding anniversary

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Yam? Sweet Potato? Taro?

I was at the market with my neighbours, Pat and Ming, when I told them I wanted to get some yams to make yam rice. "You mean taro? Most Malaysians are mistaken when it comes to naming these", Ming corrected me as she pointed to the tubers.  Not convinced, I asked Pat who has lived in America for some time. She confused me further when she insisted that these are called sweet potatoes in the US and Canada!

So what are these, really? Yam? Sweet potato or taro?

I googled and learned that interestingly, the confusion is not limited to Malaysians. While most Malaysians  mistake yam for taro, Americans have been confused about sweet potatoes and yams for hundreds of years!

A video to share

Er.... what about tapioca?

Sharing my yam/taro rice recipe. A word of caution - wear gloves when handling the raw yam/taro as the tuber contains crystals of calcium oxalate just beneath its peel. This substance will make your skin itch. Undercooked taro root and taro leaves can also cause extremely unpleasant itching in your mouth

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
200g yam/taro, skin removed and cubed
2 tbsp dried shrimps (soak in water for 15 minutes, drain and chop finely)
100g Chinese roast pork, diced into small pieces
dash of ground white pepper
2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil

Seasonings
3/4 tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Directions
Wash and drain rice. Set aside
Heat up a wok.  Add oil and scald  yam cubes on high heat for roughly 5 minutes till just about cooked. Set aside.
Using the remaining oil in the wok, stir fry the dried shrimps on medium low heat till fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).
Return the cooked yam to the wok. Add rice, roasted meat and ground white pepper. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes till all the ingredients are well mixed.
Allow the rice mixture to cool, then transfer to a rice cooker. Add 1 3/4 cup water to rice cooker followed by seasonings. Stir to ensure that the seasonings are well mixed. Let the rice mixture cook in the rice cooker.
Serve the yam rice hot, garnished with sliced chillies, green onions, and cilantro.

Enjoy!

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Eyes Are The Windows To Your Liver


Did you know that eye problems may indicate an unhealthy liver?
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we can physically view the health of our liver via the eyes. I didn't know this and only learned about the connection when I was trolling the internet for a cure to my chronic Dry Eye condition. And yes, I did find a natural remedy which inadvertently, fixed my other problems as well- hot flashes and night sweats!

The answer to all these problems, my friend, lies in a cup of tea! Hallelujah! I am doing the happy dance! It is so liberating to wake up fresh and happy from a good night's sleep and with eyes that don't burn or itch.

Yep, a soothing cup of Chrysanthemum tea daily (those commercially canned and packaged ones don't count) does the magic!  It has something to do with the balance of yin and yang in your liver. From a Chinese perspective, health problems arise when the yin and yang are imbalanced in our body and in this case, an excess of yang in the liver which causes liver heat. When there is heat in the liver and liver channel, the eyes are likely to be dry, bloodshot, painful or have a burning sensation.  Here's where the Chrysanthemum tea works its magic. Acting as a natural coolant, Chrysanthemum tea lowers the heat in your liver, thus restoring the yin-yang harmony and voilĂ ! - no more dry eyes and hot flashes!

TCM values the liver as one of the most important organs in the body and has the strongest connection to the eyes. The main job of the liver is to spread and regulate QI (energy flow) throughout the rest of the body. Besides cooling, regular consumption of Chrysanthemum tea helps to detoxify the liver, resulting in the smooth flow of QI, thereby eliminating a variety of aliments.

Look after your liver and your eyes will benefit.

Some interesting facts of Chrysanthemum  to share.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Chrysanthemum

Some of the compounds in Chrysanthemum are flavonoids like luteolin, apigenin and acacetin, choline, and vitamin B1. It is also a good source of Vitamins C and A, Niacin, Folic acid and Pantothenic acid and is also rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and phosphorus. Chrysanthemum tea can help detoxify blood, regulate blood pressure and calm the nerves. It has antibacterial properties that can be effective against staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus hemolyticus B, dermatomycosis, shigelladysenteriae and the tubercle bacillus.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum can help the body fight off a range of infections including streptococcal and staphylococcal infections.
The traditional Chinese have used the tea to treat influenza, fevers, inflammations and even heatstroke due to its cooling effect. The herb also helps to correct imbalances that may affect the liver and also helps in dealing with kidney function, thus helping with their treatment.
A rinse made from the flower can be helpful to treat skin infections.
The herb can be used in many different forms, from tinctures and creams to chrysanthemum tea that is very popular. While preparing the tea, care should be taken to let the flowers boil in the hot water for around ten minutes. This should be done in order to protect the essential oil and other nutrients.
Chrysanthemum tea is a great aid to digestion, helping the body to digest greasy food more easily.
The tea is also helpful in relieving nasal and head congestion.
Because of its zero calorie content, it is often used to treat obesity and as an aid to lose weight.
It is also said to improve vision and hearing and is given in cases of dizziness, blurred vision and spots in front of the eyes. It may also be helpful in cases of night blindness and to treat conjunctivitis.
New research has shown that the flavonoid acacetin that is present in chrysanthemum has the ability to inhibit malignant cell growth in the prostate region. This may make it a useful weapon in the battle against prostate and other forms of cancer.
It is believed to be good for the heart and has been known to lower blood pressure levels. It may also be able to increase blood flow to the heart.
Traditional Chinese medicine has used these properties of the flower to treat cases of hypertension and angina.

A Cautionary Note: Some people may be allergic to chrysanthemum and can experience adverse reactions on consuming or handling it. Physical handling of the flower may result in skin irritation and consumption can cause stomach upset. People with known allergies to daisies and asters should avoid chrysanthemum as should people with diarrhea. Consult your physician before taking chrysanthemum, especially if you are on other medication that may adversely react with it.

source - http://www.home-remedies-for-you.com/herbs/chrysanthemum-flower.html



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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Finding Dory

Sharing photos of the cookies I made for a dear friend's daughter's Finding Dory themed party.
Nemo
Hank
Squirt
Dory
Becky

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Runaway Ostrich on Highway

Now here's news you don't see everyday!

PETALING JAYA: An escaped ostrich caused a commotion when it was spotted bolting down the Federal Highway.

The video of the flightless bird speeding down the fast lane at about 3.20pm was uploaded by Jeff Sandhu on social media website Instagram.



When I came by it, the ostrich was running from the Universiti Malaya bus stop heading towards the Federal Highway. It blocked traffic at the bus stop as cars stopped to see what was happening," he told The Star Online on Thursday.

"After the bus stop, it started running on the road. And the next thing you know, it ran all the way to the RTM building," he said.

It appeared that the ostrich also had no regard for rules, and ran "afowl" of basic road etiquette.

"It blocked up five lanes on the Federal Highway," said Sandhu, who explained that it took up so much space because the indecisive ostrich kept switching lanes.

"Everyone wasn't sure whether to overtake it or not so we stayed behind it," he added.

However, the ostrich adhered to at least one road rule.

"It was running within the speed limit, so that's OK," said Sandhu, who estimated the bird's general speed at about 35kmh before it grew tired and slowed down.

Sandhu stopped tailing the feathered fugitive at the RTM building because he had a meeting to attend.

"I had to stop following it by then because I had a meeting. I don't think anyone would believe me if I told them I was late because I was chasing after an ostrich," he said.

He also expressed some worry for his new friend, hoping that the bird finds its way home unharmed.

"I hope the ostrich doesn't get hurt and finds its way back home! Raya is coming and I'm sure everyone wants it to be home safe," he said, echoing the concerned sentiments of netizens who commented on his video.

There is no information yet on what the ostrich was doing or where it came from.

The Star Online is in the midst of contacting the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) and the Department of Veterinary Services to the status of the ostrich.

All attempts so far to apprehend the ostrich have been futile.

"We sent a team to locate and capture the ostrich but it could not be detected. It is likely that the bird has run to another area," an officer at the Seksyen 7 Petaling Jaya Fire and Rescue Department told The Star Online.

However, catching the bird was a delicate manner as it required some "interstate coordination".

"It is difficult as the bird was spotted at the border (between Kuala Lumpur and Selangor)," he quipped.

source - http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/06/16/ostrich-sprints-down-highway/

This week's cookies. I made them for my vet.

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Rice Dumpling Festival


Happy Rice Dumpling Day, pallies! Today, Chinese the world over celebrates the Duan Wu festival.
Rice Dumplings
An absolute favourite, the Duan Wu or Dumpling Festival was one of the celebrations we looked forward to when we were little. Back then, it was the only time of the year we got to enjoy those yummy rice dumplings and Grandma's kitchen would be abuzz with activity and chatter as we helped the aunts and older cousins with the preparation of the dumplings.

Part of the fun besides eating is the exchange of dumplings with neighbours, friends  and relatives. There's always an element of surprise in  unwrapping those pyramid-shaped packages. You never know what 'treasures' are buried in each package as the fillings used  differ from one cook to another.

These rice dumplings aren't the easiest of things to make.  A lot of work goes into the cooking of the meat and other fillings, boiling the bamboo leaves and cleaning them, wrapping, tying with reed strings  and then the long hours taken to boil the dumplings. The wrapping itself can be quite a frustrating and fiddly task for newbies.
Ingredients that go into the dumplings

These days, we can enjoy those sticky dumplings any time of the year as they are sold by vendors all year round.
A rice dumpling vendor
A little trivia about the Dumpling Festival.

Celebrated by the Chinese worldwide, the festival falls  on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese calendar. On this day, the Chinese will  feast on dumplings as a holiday tradition and in memory of the great patriotic poet Qu Yuan.

 The tragic story goes like this…......

A long, long time ago in ancient China,  there lived a poet by the name of Qu Yuan who served the Emperor of the  Chu Kingdom.  He was a good minister and was loved and respected by many. However, this did not go well with  jealous and corrupt court officials who successfully influenced the weak-minded emperor to dismiss and exile him.

The Tragedy

Devastated and angry, Qu Yuan tied himself to a rock and jumped into a river as a protest against injustice and corruption. Word about his suicide got out and the common people went to the river to search for his body in boats. When they failed to find his body, they started beating their drums and splashing the water with their paddles,  hoping to scare the fish away so that they would not devour his body. Others started making rice dumplings to throw into the river in the belief that the  fish and other aquatic creatures would feed on their dumplings instead of Qu Yuan's body. However, late one night, the spirit of Qu Yuan appeared before his friends and told them that the rice meant for him was being intercepted by a huge river dragon. He asked his friends to wrap their rice into three-cornered packages to ward off the dragon.

Since then, the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar was set as "Duan Wu Jie" (i.e. Dumpling Festival), to commemorate the incident. Dragon boat races are also held annually on this day of his death.
image credit - http://go2taiwan.net/mobile/blog/42
image credit - http://www.tofoodwithlove.com
An unwrapped dumpling  

This week's cookies

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Walking Dead

Wait!  Before you give me credit, these insanely jaw-dropping cookies weren't done by me! Yep, you read it right the first time. These are COOKIES! They are the amazing creations of fellow cookier Gerry Marsh. Wish I had half of the man's talent. Do visit his Instagram page @ https://www.instagram.com/gerry_marsh/ for more of his mind-blowing masterpieces. That guy is a creative genius!

Daryl Dixon cookie
Michonne
Rosita Espinosa
Carl Grimes
Hubby and my teen boys are big fans of The Walking Dead and have been watching the series since Season 1. I only started watching the show midway in Season 6 and I am now SERIOUSLY hooked!
Finally, dinner conversations at the table are no longer monosyllabic answers!

So true except that I did 5 1/2 seasons in 3 days.


No cookies to show off this week. I have been 'busy'!  LOL!

Are you a big fan of the series too? If you are, who do you think was lucilled?

Have you ever tried binge watching?

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