Monday, May 24, 2010

Sekuntum kemeja, sehelai bunga ros

Finally the semester is over. Done marking students' papers. Done grading them. Spent a little time nursing my heartache over the failures. It always hurts to fail your students but it just has to be done sometimes. Especially when the students left a few pages of the exam script blank *sigh*.

And my own kiddies did their first Malaysian school exam last week. I've told myself to expect the worst. They've only been 5 months into their schooling and after the 4 years spent learning in a different environment, what could you expect but the worst?

So home came the littlest one today, bringing some of his marked exam papers from school. Ignoring the fact that he has failed some of the subjects, he proudly told me he has scored an 80 for his Bahasa Melayu paper. I congratulated him for having done so well. I looked at his paper; first to fourth pages-perfect. But on the fifth page, I had to hold myself from laughing out loud. Apparently my little one has no idea what
penjodoh bilangan(s)
are . One day I'll tease him about how in his first BM exam, he wrote ... sekuntum kemeja and ...sehelai bunga ros. Oh boy...:-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

of death

My daughters witnessed their hamster die while it was pooping. It was such a traumatic experience for them. The next day a bird just dropped dead on the road right before my eyes. Yesterday an ex-schoolmate died in an accident, something that was totally not his fault. Of course, all these moments of life being ended got me reflecting. (Coincidently I have been invited to contribute a chapter on death rituals among the Dusuns, in a book on the interplay of local wisdom with the cultures of the people in Sabah. It's kind of creepy actually but I wouldn't miss writing the chapter for all the world. The topic is too interesting for the cultural me to ignore.)

We can't choose the day we were born, nor the day we will die. These two things just happen. I guess that's why most people, me included, are consoled by the idea that there is a Higher Power aka God, that will take care of you after death. In that sense, death is not the end but the beginning of another life.
I quite like the idea of a new life. It might not be a life we know. But at least we don't just 'end'. We'd continue to exist, in the memories of our loved ones, and in another world which is always painted beautiful and serene, without pain. The ones left behind will suffer the most, naturally. In fact, in the case of the ex-schoolmate, my heart bleeds to know that his children are still very young, the youngest being only 5 months old. I say a little prayer that his wife and children would be strong in this difficult moments.
Death to me is the greatest puzzle...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Forgiveness will set you free"

Sometime ago I saw these words written at one of my friends' status in FB. I like them a lot. Once a while they come back to haunt me and I always end up in a reflective mode. At some point of our lives, we need to forgive. Sometimes grave sometimes light, the nature of the events that need forgiving vary, but the effect of forgiveness is always the same: it results in peace and joy.
We might not even realize that we need to forgive, until we are too weary we can't take it anymore. Then we start to be bitter, and resentful, and angry, and we'll start to age before our time, because all these emotions are heavy to carry. I guess that's why forgiveness sets you free, because letting go of these emotions means getting rid of the heavy burden.
Through the years I've come to my own conclusion of what forgiveness means. It simply means "being able to look back at the event without feeling the pain". There's a joy in that. And definitely peace...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

So it's peace and quiet on Mother's Day; Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all moms :-). Being a mother is a blessing. I slept in this morning, just to give myself a little treat for being a good mom..ahem... My little boy woke me up at 9am, wished me a Happy Mother's Day, said he doesn't have anything to give, not even a card. I told him I don't need a card or anything, I would just love two things the most and he quickly said "peace and quiet". He left me in the room, beaming because he knows he has peace and quiet to give me on Mother's Day...

They say a mom is a rose whose petals are soft, a lilly whose stem is strong and tall. The person who will love you forever. The bank in which you can deposit all your hurts and worries, the cement that keeps the family together. They say that it would take a thousand workers to build a castle, a million soldiers to protect a country, but only One Mom to build a happy home. Well, maybe not entirely true. A mom needs help from the Dad too. But I guess it is true that a mom's love lasts a lifetime. Hence, the Malay saying "syurga di tapak kaki ibu" (Literally paradise is at the mother's feet).

I'm thankful for my mom and I'm happy for being a mom...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kuih Lapis again

The second attempt at making kuih lapis produced this result. It looks nicer than the first one because I've managed to position my steaming rack in the wok at a right angle that it was more stabil. I brought this kuih lapis to a pot-luck lunch at my mom-in-law's, alongside my signature dish chicken rendang. The comments I received? Haha, my sis-in-law says it's too healthy (very much unsweetened :-)) but most of the family members prefer it that way. I guess it is really a matter of preference.

The ingredients for this one:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 cups coconut milk from 1 coconut
2 cups water
2 pandan leaves

I put sugar, water and pandan leaves together in a pot, heated up till sugar melted. (This way, instead of boiling, it gets cool fast though maybe the pandan flavour doesn't really come out.) When the water turned lukewarm, I mixed it with the coconut milk. I add the liquid little by little to the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl, making sure I mix them well to avoid lumps. Then I didvided the mixture equally into three portions; one is coloured green, one red, and the other is left white.

I put a drop of oil on the steamer, heated it up on the rack, and started the steaming process. Green at the bottom, wait till set, followed by white, red and kept on the process with alternating colours till the kuih lapis was done. Since I used a normal wok, I made sure I wiped the steam off the inside of the wok lid every now and then to ensure my kuih lapis set well.

Kids like it though they beg for slightly sweeter ones next time :-)

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

The amateur photographer and my kuih lapis

This is the work of the amateur photographer on my kuih lapis this morning. I finally understand that even a picture as simple as this takes quite sometime to produce. It involves things like correct lighting, correct this and that and whatever not :) And I can't even remember what they are called. Josh, the hubby is obsessed about photography but he never had the time to attend any professional course till last month. Well, finally he bought a nikkon that can satisfy his obsession. And it's kind of fun to see him playing with his latest toy, taking pictures of objects and people.

Anyway, I haven't made kuih lapis since a few months ago. This is my virgin attempt in KK at making kuih lapis using fresh ingredients, especially the coconut milk. I found that the product of this first attempt is a bit sticky; maybe because of using coconut milk that is too thick. I used the following ingredients:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sugar (and I think I need to reduce this next time)
1 tbsp salt
4 cups coconut milk (and next time I'll make sure it's not too thick)

I prepared a steamer, mix all the ingredients, divided them into three portions and put green and red colouring in two of the portions. I put a drop of oil in the steamer, and started the process. Green on the bottom, a little bit thicker, steamed it for three minutes till set, layered with white, again steamed till set, then red, and repeated the process till it's done. As you can see in the pic, my layers are not even, that's because my steaming rack is very old and moved a lot. (LOL).

I'm making my second after this. This time with less sugar, less thick coconut cream, and maybe with some pandan leaves for nicer flavour. There's nothing more satisfying than getting a perfect result after some trials and errors!
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