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Friday, January 30, 2009

Chinese New Year - Pai Nien

On the 2nd of New Year, we'll head back to KL for a day trip to visit some friends to pai nien and visit my father.

Our first stop was at Kajang, Steve's house. Sadly I did not take any pictures of their huge and beautiful house. Why ? Because I was busy pigging myself out with the lunch spread, chee pau kai, seafood curry, yong tau foo, fried noodle and also cookies. We always look forward their cookies, they have the best and softest pineapple tarts, peanut cookies, coffee macaroons and almond cookies.

We then headed home to check on our house and water the plants.

3rd stop was at CK and Margaret's house, also big and beautiful.

While hubby chatted with CK, Amber kept herself entertained at the water feature decking.

Then, we visited my father at Ampang. The neighbours engaged a lion dance troup and Amber was sooo happy and excited :

firecrackers... Amber's first experience..

These lo-kams are precious, given by the 'lions', not to be eaten, she said.
Then, we headed to Stanley's house at Bukit Jalil. Again, no pictures coz I was busy running after Amber around the house. There were many kids around and I met a relative of Stanley's from Hong Kong - Mr Chow who's a foodie lover and told me the secret of a good mushroom stew. I have not tried but here's it to share :
- buy quality mushrooms, around RM100 per kati ones.. no need Japanese mushroom, China ones are good enough
- soak for 3 hours, give it a good scrub and discard the water
- soak again for 1 day before cooking, keep the water for braising
- fry sliced ginger till fragrant
- fry the mushrooms and pour in the water used to soak mushrooms,
- add couple of rock sugar
- braise for 3 hours, add in salt, a little soya and oyster sauce if necessary (only add in oyster sauce when mushroom is almost done cooking, do not add in the beginning. According to Mr Chow, oyster sauce and soya sauce, when cooked for long, will change it's flavour)
Must try the recipe this weekend..

We left Bukit Jalil at 10.30pm and Amber threw up in the car. Her tummy was bloated from the cookies, 100+ and chocolates and yet I insisted she takes her milk. So , 100+ and milk = puke !!
She was smelling of puke but fell asleep during the journey back.
3rd day of New Year - MIL's sisters came visiting, another big gathering. I stayed home while hubs met up with his schoolmates. Staying home means gorging on bak kuas and cookies and soft drinks. hahahaha...... We had dinner nearby and another lou-sang for us (my 4th for the year)

After dinner, we packed and got ready to head back to KL. Arrived home around 11.30pm, tired and missing Chinese New Year festivities in Tampin
On the 4th day, we went to my cousin (from both side of parents, aunty is my father's sister and uncle is my mom's brother). I always look forward to her soh-meen. This time the soup is made up of chicken soup boiled with pork belly, dried oysters, fried fu-chuk, taufu strips and mushrooms. Yumz...

Another feast for us, before calling it a day.....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chinese New Year - Day 1

Hubs and me are of Hokkien - Hinghwa descent. Spoken hinghwa is very different from Hokkien. Our ancestors migrated from China in the early 20th century and every Hinghwa would be or have a relative involved in the bicycle shop, tyre business, auto spare parts and electronic components.

When hinghwas get together, we'll most likely talk about the wonderful 'thread noodles' ie soh-meen , the thin salty wheat flour noodles. What makes soh meen different it the saltiness which adds to the tastiness, the soft but yet firm texture and the inconsistenty in thickness. The noodles are handmade and therefore the thickness is sometimes inconsistent. A month or two before the lunar new year, my parents will be busy placing orders for the noodles. Orders have to be placed early or else you'll end up with none when the noodle makers take a break closer to the new year. My sister in law will give me one big pack so I never have to worry about supplies but they are only available in very few place, Kajang, Brickfields temple and Restaurant Hong Ngek to name a few

It's Hinghwa tradition and a must to have soh-meen on the first day. My father looks forward to have his first bowl of soh-meen for the year after the ancestor prayers. Same goes for hubs family.

What goes in the pot of of soup varies with families. At my in laws, we'll have chicken stock boiled with kampung chicken, pak kor (gingko nuts), peppercorn , pig's stomach and canned abalones.

On the first day, everyone will wake up to a bowl of steaming hot soh-meen. MIL will prepare the noodles, a delicate task which she has to ensure that the noodles are not too soft or overboiled. Then I'll drizzle shallots oil to each bowl before adding the soup.

I can have bowls and bowls of the noodles, for breakfast and the leftover soup taste even better overnight when it's spicier as the peppercorns have fully released their flavour.

Spreads of cookies - pineapple tarts, peanut cookies, potato biscuit, kuih bangkit, love letters, cashew cookies, muruku, peanuts .... endless spread.....

more yumz ...

and more....

and how not to get fat with all the spreads ? esp drowning them with F&N Sarsi and Orange ??

Amber praying to the ancestors

Getting ready, all dressed up to receive ang pow

Wishing her 'fai kou cheong tai' , 'ping ping an an'

Amber and Yuen Wen getting ready for visiting
Around mid morning, we will all dress up and head to brother in laws house nearby to 'pai nien'. My SIL will be home waiting for us and again, we'll dig in on her spread of cookies and other yumz.

When my SIL did her pre new year house cleaning, she found some old framed photos of hubs grandfather, Dato Ong Chin Boo. We showed Amber Tua-Kong's photo, dated 1968. Tua Kong was born on 1908 and passed away on 1976
He was an immigrant from Fujian - Hinghwa province. Came to Malaysia by sea when he was 12yrs old with his younger brother and parents. They settled in Tampin, worked as an apprentice mechanic and later set up his own spare parts and bicycle/motorbike repair shop before branching out to bus transportation company.
Amber was confused as we told her Tua Kong is Yeh-yeh's papa or Papa's yeh-yeh. She kept talking about yeh-yeh papa, papa yeh-yeh for 2 days.

Indulging in her favourite snack - Molookoo (muruku)

Amber with her red love love socks. Thanks for planting your footprints on mama's car k ?

In the afternoon, we'll all head to Malacca and watch a movie. It's the Ong's family tradition to watch a new year movie on the first day. This year, there's 17 of us and we watched Alls Well Ends Well. Quite a boring movie but Amber was well behaved and stayed still throughout the movie.

Gong Xi Fa Cai !!!!!!!!!! Xin Nien Kuai Le !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chinese New Year Eve

What did we do on the eve ? Pretty relaxing.. the kids had a good sleep and woke up late, we went out for breakfast of roti canai and teh tarik. At home, the kitchen was steaming up for reunion dinner. We were lucky to have Ah Yen-soh cooking up a storm for us, so we need not worry about food and get ourselves busy. She has to prepare for reunion dinner and also New Year's breakfast of traditional hin-hua noodle. The maids (mine and MIL's) will help her with the food preparations and tons and tons of pots, pans, to wash up.

Kids having fun with the amusement rides at nearby supermarket.

Amber and her favourite Doraemon..

We prepared our own loh-sang. Very easy, just buy one ready packed loh-sang and add in shredded carrots, julienned pears, cilantro , pomelo bits and grounded peanuts. For the peanuts, I would suggest the traditional method of grinding with a bottle for consistency, you may also use a pestle and mortar but go easy with it and pound little by little.
We made our own sauce with plum sauce mixed with creamy peanut butter. Yumz !!

Our reunion dinner - roast pork, braised duck, pak cham kai, baby nga-ku and pork - wrapped in lettuce leaves (my favourite), sweet and sour pork ribs, mixed vege and pepper pig's stomach with abalone soup.. Yummzzzzzz..... we had enough food to last us for days...

The kids busy with hubs and his sms-es
Kong Hei Fatt Choy to all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
May the new year of Ox brings everyone bountiful of prosperity, excellent health, lots of laughter, love abundance and harmony always !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year - Balik Kampung

We headed back kampung to Tampin on Friday night. It was a smooth journey home, clear traffic and Amber was asleep in the car (bliss !!!)

She was excited to find herself at yeh-yeh's house the next morning.

Quickly headed to the OTO Weight Loss Flabelos machine to do her workout. This time, she figured how to switch on and off the machine.

Later, we took Amber for a haircut, CNY.. must look pretty mah..
In the evening, we went to the night market at Pulau Sebang. Ma-ma (MIL) needs to buy roast pork, huat kueh and loads of other stuff for the eve of CNY prayers. It's been a yearly ritual for all of us to follow MIL to the market and it's an outing I look forward to. The market was bursting with activities, colours, last minute shoppers, traders and full of CNY mood
We'll 'tapau' noodles, sui kow and extra side dish or roast pork for our dinner. After dinner, BIL and hubs will help hang up the new year decors. I truly enjoy being in Tampin, everyone is back home and there's always lots to do, plenty to eat and a lot of catching up to do..

Pulau Sebang is located at the Malacca border whereas FIL's house is at Tampin, Negeri Sembilan. It's only a walking distance away. Jalan Besar, the main street of Tampin is a one postcode but 2 states address (Malacca and N.S.)

Fascination with the ornaments

Choosing some ornaments for home decorations..

Roast ducks aplenty but will be sold off pretty soon ... yumz...

Making freshly steamed huat-kueh

Huat kueh, ang koo for prayers ..

Catching up with Ma-ma's close friends ...

Amber helping to decorate the bamboo plant

Hubby hanging up the banners

Amber with Yuen Wen jie jie, coincidentally both wearing the same pyjamas, already 11pm and not wanting to go to bed.

The kids lending a helping hand with the CNY decors.

Rows of nien-kao for prayers.

Having a last go at Flabelos before going to bed...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Last Minute Preparation

Chinese New Year round the corner and I have stilll so much to do :

- I have 2 empty vases to fill. sum tai sum sai , put pussy willow or curly bamboo. Pussy willow getting cheaper and cheaper, lucky I didn't buy earlier. The ones from Ikea are all dried up (don't bother checking them out), Tesco's are less than RM10 per half dozen... Curly bamboo soooo expensive... may have to fork out RM80 , excluding the ting ting tang tang decorations.
Aiya !!! Don't want to buy any lah.. 2 days away only .. too late to do anything. So how ? just hide the vases in the store room lah..

- buy lime, kam-kat plant or not ? I ordered from the nursery lady who did my grass turfing, and she did not deliver.. business too good and my order is too small.. so... don't bother lah..
Since we'll be away for almost a week, the kam-kat could have dried up and died-ed by the time we return from our kampung.. so how ? save money lor..

- make crab stick crisp - The easiest snack to make and I have not lifted my butt yet. After my maid's very failed attempt to fry nga-koo (she took 2 hours to fry 1 kg ngakoo !!) , I thought I'd better do the crab stick on my own.. Forgot all about it and it's still sitting in the freezer

- Prep up potted plants with ang pow packet decorations

- change cushion covers

- fry prawn crackers

- stock up fridge with vege, fish and meat. Chinese believe in abundance and we should stock up plenty for chinese leeks (soon soon lei lei), fish (nien nien yau yue) and prawns (hee ha tai siu). All I have is some pomfrets from Tesco and no vege !

- buy bak-kua from Wing Heong, Jalan Imbi. I like the old shop, the one with a 'since 1972' mark.

- Amber needs a hair trim. Her fringe is too long and irratating her eyes.

So much to do and we have to leave for hubby's hometown at Tampin, tonight. We'll be smart and no join the 'balik kampung bumper to bumper jam' by leaving home after 10pm, Amber will most probably sleep in the car. Let's pray not everyone thinks the same and leave late to take advantage of PLUS offer of 20% discount after midnight to 7am.
The 20% applies when you EXIT toll plaza after 12mn, irregardless of entry time. You'll most probably find rest areas filled up with people having teh tarik, timing their journey to exit after 12mn. For us, the 20% discount we save is not even enough to buy us teh tarik for 2 !

So much to do and so little time left. I'm lucky I need not cook for reunion dinner. MIL will handle everything, we just dig in on the yummy yummy food. Looking forward to 'balik kampung' tonight !

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bukit Antarabangsa Aftermath !

It took me a while to gather courage to use Jalan Bukit Antarabangsa. The landslide caused a massive destruction I kept on thinking of the families whom have lost their homes, and for the few houses deemed unsafe, what will happen to them ? It's very sad to see a beautiful home, being abandoned for safety reasons. Plants dying, I strongly disagree with some blogs criticizing the families are rich and do not need help. Some insensitive comments even said they deserved it, knowing the danger of living near hillslopes. How would you feel if your family or someone you know just lost their homes and belongings overnight, while sleeping ? The houses being swept away were actually on flat land and more than 100 meters from the slope.

I slow down and observe the area every occasion I need to drive through Jalan Bukit Antarabangsa to pick Amber from the babysitter.

Taken from the alternative route, on 30th December 08

Taken last week, this house did not crumble but the landslide weakened the foundation and deemed not safe for living, now, it's being demolished

Entering Jalan Bukit Antarabangsa from Bukit Utama

Only 2 house left standing, just next to the landslide

Backhoe, clearing up the rubbles, to pave way for a new road

Much of the debris has been cleared
I pray there'll be no more landslide in Bukit Antarabangsa or anywhere near. MPAJ has been checking and combing the whole area diligently since the landslide incident.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chinese New Year at Mid Valley

Amber's Yeh-Yeh and Mah-Mah was in town last week for the Chinese New Year shopping. They are from Tampin and would make frequent weekly visits to KL for their grocery shopping and also meet up with the grandkids.
Mid Valley had a chinese acrobat dance show and we manage to catch a bit of the
lion dance before our dinner. Amber loves lion dance and anything to do with Gong Xi Fa Cai, the chinese new year songs and lion dance. She was very happy to see the lion dance and wanted to stay on for the show and not proceed for dinner with Yeh-Yeh & Mah-Mah

Lion dancers performing stunts

Red lanterns decorated on the concourse area.