Monday, November 30, 2009

IRREPLACEABLE

I (kind of) surprised one of my best friends at the airport last night.
I spoke to another one of my best friends on the telephone a few moments ago about our holiday plans (and her encounter with a 'disgustingly beautiful' spider and 'weird looking' lizard today, we also talked about what this could possibly signify).
I'm looking forward to meeting my other best and close friends soon.

No matter where you go and who you meet you can never replace the friends you've known since primary / high school. One of the things I love most about coming back to Malaysia every year is meeting familiar faces and reviving conviviality. I love my KL friends and I mean it. They're talented, passionate, funny, beautiful, tenacious and smart individuals. What we have is irreplaceable - our history. That's why we understand each other the way we do despite the distance and lost time. We've changed, definitely but we'll always be friends, indefinitely.

As much as I enjoy living overseas it's always a thrill to come back home. There's always so much to look forward to. New adventures, new pieces of news... old rituals, old memories. I'm in a sentimental mood, can you tell?

P.S. Dear spider killer, your blog does not suck. I love your spontaneity and your humour more than you'll ever know.

Moroccan Lamb with Apricots, Almond and Mint

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I developed a passion for cooking and baking last year. I’m the type of person who doesn’t give up easily so I like to try out recipes that intrigue me and if they don’t work out I insist on trying until I succeed. In my opinion, cooking is mostly practice and understanding ingredients and their textures and flavours. When you appreciate and grasp the smell and taste of fruits, chocolates, herbs, spices and et cetera you can create just about anything. However, as cheesy as this may sound the most important ingredients of all are passion, love and sincerity. That is how you make good tasting food taste GREAT. Think of it as your own special ingredient.

Today I tried a dish called Moroccan Lamb with Apricots, Almonds and Mint. I found the recipe here. I did a few things differently to save time and adjust the consistency. I didn’t make the couscous as the dish can be eaten with rice as well. It can also easily satisfy 4-5 people.






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Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
500-600g lean lamb, cubed
1 onion , chopped
2 garlic cloves , crushed
700ml chicken stock
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp clear honey
175g ready-to-eat dried apricots
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
30-50g ground almonds
25g flaked almonds
salt and pepper

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole or pot. Add the lamb and cook over a medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes until evenly browned, stirring often. Remove the lamb to a plate, using a slotted spoon.

2. Stir the onion and garlic into the casserole and cook gently for 5 minutes until softened. Return the lamb to the pot. Add the stock, zest and juice, cinnamon, honey and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for 30 minutes.

3. Add the apricots and two-thirds of the mint and cook for 30 - 45 minutes until the lamb is tender. Stir in the ground almonds to thicken the sauce.

4. This dish tastes better after 2-3 hours so I recommend making it a few hours earlier before serving as it allows the lamb to absorb the different flavours of the other ingredients. Sprinkle the remaining mint and almonds over the top just before you serve.

5. Mint tea is the perfect seal to this dish!

I had for it dinner and it was very filling. The gravy had a slight sweetness and it was creamy because of the ground almonds. It’s perfect for winter. All in all, a very simple and hearty dish! It takes a while but it’s worth it. Before I forget, Eid Mubarak to all the Muslims out there! Have a happy and blessed Eid-ul-Adha everyone! =)

Great Expectations Can Lead to Great Disappointments

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Have you ever wanted something for so long and then when you finally get it it's not as great as you hoped it would be?





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Mum drove for almost 50 minutes to go to the famous Satay Kajang Haji Samuri Restaurant in Kajang and it was a major disappointment. Firstly, they didn't have any rabbit nor deer meat. I've tried rabbit meat before and it was really delicious (okay I know some animal lovers may hate me for this... rabbits are adorable but they're totally halal, edible, tender and did I mention delicious?). Plus I heard deer meat is worth trying as well so I was all excited but soon found out that all they had was chicken, beef and tripe. WHAT?! I could've had that in SS19, Subang Jaya and be equally satisfied. Secondly, the quality of the satay has dropped so much that I am seriously considering writing to the manager. The meat was tasteless and dull. The portions were also reduced. We also had the ABC for dessert and that was also an utter mess. To top it all off, as we exited the restaurant area we realised we had to pay RM 1 for the parking. I don't recall having to do that before. And to think I was craving the used-to be amazing Satay Kajang for almost a year.... I guess I shouldn't be complaining about food, it is still rezeki and I should be thankful (to a certain extent I suppose) but it was majorly disappointing nevertheless.

So I came home feeling pissed off that someone would even think of serving such food to people, especially when the company has such a reputable brand, and then my brother told us some extremely bad news about one of our closest family friends... actually scratch that, they are our family. I was shocked, dumbfounded, speechless, sad and confused all in one. I've experienced it with my own family and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone else. Losing a parent is devastating. It feels like your whole world ceases but also begins to make sense at the same time. How I wish I could change things and make it all go away... I just never saw this coming at all, not in a million years.

What a day....

New Beginnings

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I met my niece for the first time yesterday. She is 12 days old and très adorable. She pretty much slept all day, even through out most of her feeding times she had her eyes closed! She woke up after Maghrib for a little while then slept again. I'll blog more about her later as I'm going out in a little while. Trust me, I can go on and on about the little one =) To new beginnings everyone!

On that note, I made my famous lasagne for my brother and his family yesterday and they loved it! So I've decided to try out new recipes during this break and post them up in this blog. And no, I wasn't inspired by Julie and Julia. I've always been a fan of the art of culinary and so I'd love to share the explorations of my tastebuds with everyone.

My holiday is just getting busy and exciting now. I can't wait to see what's installed next!

Friday, November 20, 2009

JETLAGGED AND JADED

The blog layout is up and I'm happy with it! Took me a while to figure out a few things. My past experience in building an entire website with HTML codes definitely helped. Anyway, I've been back for 2 days and I'm still jetlagged. Furthermore, everytime I come back home after spending 8 months in New Zealand I feel a little out of place. I'm feeling kinda jaded *sings Jaded by Aerosmith - Jaaaade jajajaded*. I suppose it's normal to have to adjust myself to the weather, people and lifestyle. In case you're wondering what I'm talking about...

In terms of the weather, Malaysia is muyyyy caliente and humid. It's monsoon season at the moment though so it's not as bad as it can potentially get. Then when it comes to Malaysians they all look exotic to me. It's quite bewildering to see Malaysians and Asians everywhere. Lastly, the Malaysian lifestyle is completely opposite of the laidback and mellow Kiwi way of life. It's hectic, stressful and everyone always seems to be rushing for time. For instance, I was at the bank yesterday and I had to wait 20 - 30 minutes just to see a teller. I mean, what is that all about? And don't even get me started on the traffic jams and the motorcyles that swerve left and right to cut in between cars and other bigger vehicles. Some motorcyclists think they're invincible like Superman.

I am happy to be on holiday and in Malaysia though. I'll meet my newborn niece tomorrow when she comes back to our house. I've seen many photos of her and she looks just like her daddy (my brother). I like my house and the area we live in. It's very peaceful here compared to other parts of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Moreover, Malaysian food is amazing. Not good for my waist but amazing.



yoyo
It seems I'm not the only one who likes it here!


birds of paradise
Birds of Paradise in our garden


nasi lemak
Homemade nasi lemak (coconut cream rice) garnished with cucumber slices, fried peanuts, fried anchovies and served with shrimp and egg sambal


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A part of me really misses NZ though


Making a Comeback

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gosh this feels a little strange. I haven't blogged since I was... 16? Right now it just feels like I'm talking to myself... much like writing in a diary, something I haven't had since my early teens!

Anyway, hello =) My name is Shahirah. I'm semi-new at this. My blogging skills are a little rusty and I'm not the funniest person in the world so don't be hating on me if I'm not very entertaining. God knows how you landed here (I probably told you about this blog) but thanks for dropping by!

I told my friend, Amina, a few weeks back during our sushi break while we were cramming for our final exams that I was thinking of starting blogging again. I remember the best part about it was being able to update my friends who lived in different countries about my life and getting to know other bloggers. It's a big world out there and the Internet allows us to reach above and beyond our usual geographically-confined spaces. So here I am, reaching out I guess.

Plus! I'm on my summer break in Malaysia at the moment for 3 months. So this is the perfect opportunity! I'm signing off for now. Breakfast is waiting for me downstairs (ooh la la) and I am super hungry, hungry hungry hippo level of hungry.

P.S. The blog design is not complete yet so bear with me until I get everything good to go.