Goodbye 2014: Looking Ahead


You came so quickly, and now you’re gone;
I never had the chance to make right all my wrongs
So much unsaid — no, too much said!
So much hurt
These burdens of such staggering weight.

If I had but one wish for 2015
It would be to get things right:
To be thankful and happy,
And content in all things in spite
Of shortcomings and weaknesses in myself and others
To accept defeat and move ahead
To be selfless and brave, instead.
Strong, unyielding, persistent;
To embrace pain, and be resilient
To leave be, all that is beyond my control
To laugh more and cry less
And know deep in my heart that I’m blessed.
To realise that all I have comes from above
And to always offer thanks from a heartful of love.

Copyright Malaysian Minx, 1 Jan 2015

I Need You


I Need You Now

Well, everybody’s got a story to tell
And everybody’s got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there’s beauty here
‘Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can’t let go, I can’t move on
I want to believe there’s meaning hereHow many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Standing on a road I didn’t plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I’m trying to hear that still small voice
I’m trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Though I walk,
Though I walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?
And how many times have you given me strength?

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

I need you now
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
I need you now
I need you now

Loving That Little Bit of Stink

Petai sambal is best eaten with hot, steaming rice.

Petai sambal is best eaten with hot, steaming rice.

THERE are some types of food that people would put up with with. That others would never step within a 10 foot distance of. Like balut in the Philippines, stinky tofu in Hong Kong; petai (stinky bean) in Malaysia and several parts of Southeast Asia; stir-fried worms and a various assortment of six- to eight-legged critters in Thailand, to name a few.

One of my favourite dishes of all time is sambal petai.

Sambal petai, easily found in my home country of Malaysia, is most definitely an acquired dish. The beans, though not as offensive-smelling as the stinky tofu (which you can smell at least 100m away #truestory), still packs quite a powerful pong. The dish consists of petai (a kind of bean) and fresh medium-sized prawns cooked in a spicy paste consisting mainly of shallots, garlic, and dried and fresh chillies (I add bird’s eye chilli in it for more heat). It’s best served with hot, steaming rice, ad is certainly one of life’s many joys for me. Throw in a side of onion omelette or stir-fry brinjal and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.

Petai, a stinky bean that is commonly found in Malaysia and some countries in Southeast Asia.

Petai, a stinky bean that is commonly found in Malaysia and some countries in Southeast Asia.

While you can’t truly separate taste and smell when it comes to appreciating food, I personally find that the stink of the petai is mainly on the nose. The taste is a little milder and somewhat ‘green’ and pulpy. Petai can be eaten in many ways — raw with sambal belacan, stir-fried with other vegetables, or cooked in a sambal style. My preference is to eat it cooked in sambal or stir-fried in a mixed-veg dish.

I grew up eating Mum’s version of sambal petai, cooked with shrimps, onions and cili boh (ready made spicy paste which negates the need for tedious peeling, blending/grinding the ingredients). While I’ve enjoyed Mum’s sambai petai immensely, I’ve also grown to appreciate the flavours that come with making the dish from scratch. It’s not very difficult and, if you have time to spare, I would recommend it.

Once you've stirfried the spice blend in oil till fragrant, add the shrimps and tamarind juice. Season and add the petai and keep on the fire till shrimp and petai are cooked.

If you’d like to try the dish out, here’s the recipe. Beware, though: all that chilli will make your hands burn for an hour or so. Note: Petai attracts flies, so you might want to keep the beans covered at all times, or in the fridge until it’s ready for use.


200g petai (halved and cleaned)
10 – 15 medium prawns
50g tamarind pulp (mixed with 1/2 cup water)
1/4 cup oil
1 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Spice paste (blend the following)

20 shallots
10 fresh red chillies
8 – 10 dried red chillies
3 birds eye chillies
3 cloves garlic
8 candlenuts
8 – 10g belacan (toast before cooking)


1. Heat oil in pan and stir-fry spice paste till fragrant.

2. Add in strained tamarind juice and shrimps. Bring to a quick boil. Note: tamarind juice can be adjusted to taste. Some like a little more sourness to the dish.

3. Add seasoning to taste.

4. Add petai. Keep on the lowered heat till the shrimps and petai are cooked.

5. Serve with rice🙂


Book Review | Julie & Julia


julie juliaI FINALLY read Julie & Julia a few years, I must confess, after watching the movie. This is a bit of a cardinal sin for me because, as a rule, I always read the book before watching the movie. I blame this on the infallible Meryl Streep who starred as Julia Child in the movie. Madame Streep is one of my favourite actresses and the bait I couldn’t resist.

In a nutshell, Julie & Julia is a cooking memoir. The book is an account of how Julie Powell who, feeling like she needed more in life to live for, embarked on a ‘cooking expedition’. The goal was to attempt 524 recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol I by Julia Child in one year, in a small, cramped apartment in Manhattan.

The book started out promisingly, but by the halfway mark, I had fast-tracked to skim-reading as it became more of the same: more cooking (duh!), how wrong the dish turned out and the subsequent tantrums/lash-outs at her long-suffering husband, Eric; her fans and friends, her deadbeat job as a secretary at a government agency. By the third quarter of the book, I was really speed-reading so that I could reach that climactic moment which, I think, began at the height of the dirtiness of her kitchen (uggh maggots??!!), and which resulted in a perfectly boned duck and Pate de Canard en Croute. It was great reading all the way from there till the end.

So, what were my observations of Julie & Julia?

  • Julie Powell is neurotic and self-absorbed (here’s where I expect her, if she were reading this, to say “Fuck Off”.)
  • Julie Powell’s ranking on the hygiene-o-meter is abysmal — unless the perpetual cat fur-covered apartment and pile of days-old dirty dishes in the sink are an exaggeration.
  • Her husband, Eric, is a saint. Is the guy for real? Amazing that he could stomach her fits of rage and misanthropic outbursts, not to mention eating dinner (whether it turned out well or not) at close to 10pm every other night? I finally understand why the word ‘long-suffering’ and ‘marriage’ go together. It’s about being there for your spouse for better or for worse. In this case, it was mostly for worse.
  • There is waaay too much butter going on for anyone’s waistline and heart🙂
  • This was an exercise in sheer determination — one, to Julie Powell’s credit, I could never attempt. A round of applause for Ms. Powell.

Overall, I loved her style of writing. It gave me the feeling that I was really looking into that window of her life — dirty kitchen, maggot-y sink and all. The book was amusing in many parts and I greatly appreciated the creative turns-of-phrase now and then. I also loved how Julie Powell’s mad-capped cooking attempts in the book are interspersed with short glimpses of Julia Child. But, still, I enjoyed the movie more than the book and, just maybe, I have Meryl Streep to thank for that.

I leave you with Julia Child’s recipe for Boned Duck in Pastry, taken from G’Day Souffle’s blog, here. If any of you tried it, let me know how it turned out!

A Bowl of Yum | Cooking Mum’s Way

Chicken minestrone, mum's way. Perfect on a rainy day.

Chicken soup, Mum’s way. Perfect on a rainy day.

THE thing about having dengue is that your body takes a long time to recover. It’s been five days since the doctor cleared me of dengue, and I still tire easily. Cooking — something I enjoy — is no longer a walk in the park, and my maximum cooking capacity is at two simple dishes or one, very elaborate, dish before I sink senseless and exhausted on to the couch.

One of the most comforting meals to have after being sick is a hearty, nutritious soup, and one of my most favourite soups in the world is chicken soup, Mum’s style. I grew up eating a simple version of it which we called ABC soup. What it is, is wedged carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and onions with chicken pieces on the bone. It was easy — chop everything up roughly, brown the chicken, then bring plain water to a boil with onions and browned chicken in it, and then chuck in the rest of the ingredients till it’s cooked and add seasoning. But a year ago, Mum decided to improvise on what now takes twice the effort and time, but which is slowly becoming a staple one-pot meal in my home.

In my last blog, I mentioned that dengue had given me a real sense of paranoia. Last night was one of my worst: I slept just before midnight and woke up at 2.50am, worrying about mosquitoes. By 4am, I still had not fallen back asleep, and my constant tossing, turning, scratching and sighing woke The Boy as well. Thankfully, he never gives me grief for waking him up every single paranoia-laced night. We ended up watching an episode of Homeland (Claire Danes’ character wins hands down as the most annoying ever in the history of serials) which irritated me immensely before I finally fell knocked out close to 7am.

So, today, I decided that I could use a comforting meal and what better than Mum’s One Dish Wonder. What I failed to remember was how time-consuming and tedious the dish was to make!

Dicing onions, carrots, potates and tomatoes is an incredibly tedious job!

Dicing onions, carrots, potates and tomatoes is an incredibly tedious job!

According to Mum’s improvised recipe, I had to peel and dice 3 carrots, 3 onions, 1 potato and 2 tomatoes. I did all this, during the hour it took me to boil a chicken carcass for some good old homemade stock, cutting my finger in the process. Once that was done, it was time to cool the carcass in a separate bowl so that I could peel the flesh off for the soup.

Why dice everything? Because the flavours really come out during the cooking.

As soon as the carcass had cooled, I proceeded to peel the remaining flesh off (why waste, no?) while putting the diced onions to boil in the home made chicken stock for about 45 minutes. The aroma of onions boiling merrily away very, very worth it. And while all that was going on, I put two fresh pieces of chicken on the rib to boil in a separate pot for half an hour. You want to save that stock once the chicken is cooked; it will come in handy when your onion-chicken stock soup subsequently reduces over time.

The aroma of onions boiling merrily away in homemade chicken stock broth is utterly beguiling.

The aroma of onions boiling merrily away in homemade chicken stock broth is utterly bewitching.

Then, it was time to add the diced carrots and potatoes to the onion-flavoured soup on the boil and start peeling the cooled chicken flesh. By this time, I was insanely beat, and had graduated to the couch in front of the TV.

After about 15 – 20 minutes, it was time to season the soup (I prefer ready-made chicken stock instead of salt) and leave it on the boil for few more minutes before dumping in the painstakingly peeled chicken flesh and additional home made chicken stock. The final step: add the diced tomatoes and boil for another 10 minutes or so. And the soup is finally done!

Dish out and garnish with freshly-crackled black pepper and chopped fresh cilantro. Ah, this will make a fine dinner tonight. Was it worth the effort? Absolutely. But maybe I will only cook it again once I regain a little more of my strength.

Can’t wait to dig in later!

Dancing with Dengue

Dengue can kill. Image taken from

Dengue can kill. Image taken from

THREE days ago, I went for my last blood draw at the hospital, and was finally given a clean bill of health from the doctor.  I had finally recovered from dengue.

Dengue is a serious thing. A recent report in the Malay Mail showed that cases have continued to rise and that the number of fatalities had increased 163% from 63 deaths in the same period last year.

My dengue episode, although not critical, was nasty enough. It started when I woke up one morning with a terrible headache and pain behind my eyeballs, two Saturdays ago. Four Panadol tablets later, the headache and pain behind my eyes still did not dissipate. Feeling unusually tired, I went to bed in the afternoon, thinking that a nap would cure me. Unfortunately, I woke up with a burning fever that wouldn’t go away and chills I could not explain. Four more Panadol later, I still did not get any better. By the following day, my fever had exceeded 39 degrees. I went to the hospital and learnt that my blood pressure had dropped to 90/64. Surprisingly, I was not asked to take a blood test. Three days later, my fever subsided, but my appetite remained poor. My gums bled more than usual whenever I brushed my teeth, and I could not shake off the feeling that something was wrong. On a hunch, I decided to go to the hospital again to take a blood test.  This was Day 5 since my fever bout began. Two hours later, the doctor called me with the awful news that I had dengue. The better news was that it wasn’t critical enough for me to be warded, but there was every likelihood of my condition worsening over the subsequent days.

I struck a deal with the doctor. In exchange of staying home (instead of getting admitted), I promised I would stay hydrated (more than 2L of water a day) and indoors, and check myself in, if I started vomiting, getting dizzy spells and severe abdominal pains. The trade-off also was to go to the hospital for daily blood draws until I started to demonstrate an upward trend in my blood count. For someone as frightened of needles as I am, this was torture. Still, it beat having a drip needle perpetually wedged in my vein.

The bout of dengue has left me with a real sense of paranoia: I have woken up in the middle of the night, every night for the past week worrying about mosquitoes. Today, every mosquito bite scares the hell out of me. Because, while it is true that you may develop immunity from the strain of dengue that you suffered from, you are not immunised from other strains of dengue. Also, the road to recovery is a long one. A quick trip to the supermarket to shop for groceries leaves me terribly tired. And writing a blog is exhausting, too. I have yet to regain my full strength and I daresay it will take me at least a month to become my strong self again. Imagine if my condition were more critical!

I’ve learnt a thing or two during my illness, and I’d like to share them here:

  • Dengue can kill. If you suspect something is not right, or your fever does not go away, see the doctor immediately and get tested.
  • There is NO medication for dengue. Staying hydrated and lots of bed rest are key, alongside constant monitoring of your condition.
  • Papaya leaves DO NOT help with dengue. This was confirmed by the specialist doctor who attended to me. Most often, people administer blended raw papaya leaves as a last resort to dengue, when they no longer have any idea what else to do. This is normally close to the 7th or 8th day of dengue — when the body is, in fact, already starting to heal. Understandably, it would appear that raw, papaya leaf juice works when, actually, it is your body that is already naturally recovering. Trust me, I had my share of  papaya leaf juice, and despite downing the vile tasting liquid, my platelet count continued to plummet for several days. #TrueStory
  • Millennium cactus extract DOES NOT help with dengue either. It is also very expensive. I drank 1L of the extract over two days, which cost me RM560, and yet my platelet count continued to plunge steadily.
  • Your platelet and white blood cell count (WBC) will continue to drop for about 7 to 8 days. After which, it will start to rise. Once your WBC goes up, you can be sure that it won’t be too long before your platelet count follows suit.

Stay healthy, peeps.

Celebrating the People I Love!

Celebrating the People I Love!

When you have more than 3 people who will stick with you through thick and thin, count yourself lucky. Some people go through life with far less.

LAST night, I celebrated my birthday with some of the most amazing people in my life. For me, it was not so much about celebrating myself, but of celebrating the people I love.

I am truly thankful. For these friends of mine who have known me for a greater part of 15 years, and who have been with me through thick and thin. Who understand me (and still chose to stick around!), who never judge. Who cry with me, scold me out of love, stand up for me, check up on me, pray for me, and encourage me despite juggling their very busy schedules. Who love me for the person that I am. And who give so much without ever calculating what they get from me in return (yeah, I’ve got childhood friends who only take….).

Someone once said:

Friendship isn’t about whom you have known the longest…It’s about who came, and who never left your side…

If you have even one good friend in your life, who’d be with you no matter what — you can count yourself fortunate. But if you have more than one — or more than 5 in my case — you have far more than you could ever ask for. And so, as part of the birthday celebration, I shall count myself blessed!

Truly, birthdays are special when you can celebrate the ones who stuck around!

Project B-2-5: Kitting up the Kitchen


These wall shelves and hanging dish rack helps organise a kitchen with limited surface space. Image taken from IKEA website.

TODAY marks the start of the Project B-2-5 household shopping spree, beginning with the kitchen. Since we decided not to spend too much and concentrate most of our money on the master bath and master room, we decided that the kitchen would be virtually left as is, with the exception of some major polishing and cleaning. The only problem with our kitchen as it currently stands, is that there isn’t much surface space…which meant that having a dish rack, spice rack or spatula container, was going to be a tad problematic.


With the sink and cooker hob, there’s not much surface space left in the kitchen!

One way around the problem was to get hanging racks. Which was how I ended up in IKEA, despite every disparaging remark I’ve ever made about the Swedish homeware giant. I mean, these guys really know how to visually market their stuff! As we walked through the individual show spaces, I ended up taking down notes on the items that I wanted to buy. And the list came out to be quite extensive!

But, I was a good girl and ended up buying only one wall shelf (to dry my pots), a hanging rod, a hanging dish rack, hooks, and a hang-able spice rack and spatula rack. I also ended up buying a floor lamp for less than half the price of what I spotted at Kare! All in, the bill came up to less than 500 bucks. Not bad.

A floor lamp for our hall.

A floor lamp for the hall.

Tomorrow, I will go hunting for boxes to pack up my books and CDs. And this weekend marks the big hunt for the WC, basin and shower head for our master bath, and vanity counter for the hall sink area. And maybe some pendant lights if I find some nice ones along the way.

Life & Times of A Spoilt Doggie: Remembering Zoe


We went there again the other day. Mummy and I sat by the water’s edge, at the spot where we last saw you before you died, about 10 months ago. Did you know it was your time? What were you looking at when you sat there?

I’ve never had furry friends until you and  your brother, Leo. You probably knew that, which was why you never minded my silliness. Mummy was always my best friend, and all my other friends were People. Like Grandma, Uncle Oinks, Uncle Colin, Aunty Deepa, Aunty Goh and Uncle Tang. There’s also that kid, Ezra, but I don’t really like him much. He scares me and Grandma’s doggie, Muffins, too.

You and Leo were my first furry friends ever! I remember the first time we met…the two of you were huge and I was so scared! I stood behind Mummy’s legs, worried you would bite. But you didn’t. In fact, the two of you were always good to me.

Eventually, I had other furry friends too. Like Grandma’s doggies. But they’re not at all like you or Leo. And now that the both of you are gone, I miss you.

What is it like, to go? Does it hurt? I’ll be most worried for Mummy when my time comes. How will she feel? I hope she won’t cry too much.

I hope wherever the two of you are, you’re having fun. I will be seeing you someday and we can play together again. Don’t forget me ok? I won’t ever forget you.