Friday, 11 August 2017

Partaking In Some Love

        Having been introduced by a friend to Earl Grey in my teenage years, I fell for its citrusy scent and have been choosing Earl Grey over other blends ever since. Named after Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey and also the British Prime Minister in the 1830s, Earl Grey is black tea that has been flavoured with bergamot, which lends it the citrusy scent. It is the only black tea that I stock in my kitchen and I have also converted hubby dearest into a loyal follower.
        Hence, it was not surprising that a recent Facebook post got me all agog. Pamela, my cousin's wife, posted about the
Picture of their stickers taken from their Facebook page
scrumptious Earl Grey Butter Cookies made by Keen. Although Keen has been baking since last November and selling her cookies for some time now, this Earl Grey flavour was only launched on 1 August. Without a moment's hesitation, I sent a message on Facebook to Keen's Cookies to place an order.

S-sized jar of Coffee Butter Cookies and M-sized jar of Earl Grey Butter Cookies
        Today, my Earl Grey Butter Cookies were delivered to me at my workplace and I shared them with some of my colleagues. The buttery taste was heavenly, the melt-in-the-mouth texture was just right, the sweetness was perfect and the Earl Grey aroma made it exquisite! Two of my colleagues loved it so much that they unabashedly requested for a second helping.
        What makes the cookies extra special is they are baked with love by a girl with autism. Yes, the talented Keen, who is behind these mouth-watering cookies, is autistic. Her loving sister, Wan Wai, hopes that this venture is an opportunity for Keen to develop, to learn, be confident, be empowered, and most importantly, be happy. Ever so supportive of her sister, Wan Wai manages the Facebook page, takes orders, assists in the baking and does the delivery. With so much love enveloping her, it is no wonder that Keen radiates happiness, which I saw when she came to deliver the cookies together with Wan Wai.
        In addition to the Earl Grey Cookies, I also ordered their very popular Coffee Butter Cookies. I have yet to try them as they are meant to be a surprise for my dad. Keen had thoughtfully included a sample packet of her Cinnamon Butter Cookies topped with a Coffee Bean for me to try. Other cookies in Keen's kitchen are Matcha Butter Cookies with Black Sesame, Bittersweet Chocolate Butter Cookies with Almond Nibs, Semi Sweet Chocolate Butter Cookies and of course the Original Butter Cookies. All the cookies are sold in jars of 4 sizes (XS at RM12, S at RM14, M at RM16, L at RM26). The jars are patiently sealed by Keen, tenderly affixed with customised stickers and carefully packed into paper bags that are lovingly hand-drawn by this young lady. Everything is a labour of love.
        I am so glad I have come to know of Keen and her cookies. Anyone who is interested to partake in some love can place their orders through 97/ or 012-5262637.
Tea time : Cinnamon Butter Cookie topped with a Coffee Bean, Earl Grey Butter Cookies and  a cup of Earl Grey tea


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Relishing Pan Mee

        I look forward to my weekday brunches with my parents. One of my staple brunch choices is the pan mee or ban mian at Sun Sun Cafe. 
        For the uninitiated, pan mee is a Hakka dish of handmade egg noodles served in a flavourful soup with pork slices, minced pork, strips of wood fungus, crispy anchovies and potato leaves. Creative Malaysian hawkers have come up with different albeit tasty variants like dry pan mee tossed in dark soya sauce, spicy pan mee topped with a poached egg,  pan mee in curry, pumpkin pan mee and more. The noodles itself can come in various shapes; some like them in hand-torn slices, others prefer thick strands like fettuccine while I prefer thin strands. The direct translation of pan mee is board noodles, attributed to the original Hakka method of cutting the noodles. Convenience has dictated that present-day hawkers use the pasta maker to cut the noodles.
        I used to favour the dry version but having made the decision to tame the rebellious cholesterol levels, I now opt for the noodles in soup. Dr. Lee should be oh-so-proud of me!  
It may not be dripping in oil, but this bowl of pan mee is so yummy! 

        Unlike many dishes, where the focus is on the ingredients, the benchmark of a scrumptious bowl of pan mee lies in the texture of the noodles as well as the broth in which it is served. Penny Lau at Sun Sun Cafe serves an excellent rendition of the pan mee as her noodles are springy and her anchovy-stock soup is so good that I slurp it up to almost the last drop.
Sun Sun Cafe at Medan Ipoh Bistari

The signboard says it all.

        Just typing this post is making my mouth water. I can hardly wait for tomorrow morning to come so that I can pay Penny Lau a visit and relish a bowl of springy pan mee in a delightful broth. And that makes it visit #2 for this week!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Bidding Adieu To Minnie

     One of the perks of joining a contemporary boutique style fitness centre is being able to try out different exercise classes. In addition to developing a love for Zumba, I am also a huge fan of Piloxing.

     Piloxing is the brainchild of Swedish fitness expert, Viveca Jensen. It uses a combination of Pilates, boxing and dance moves to deliver a high-intensity interval workout. In addition to an improved cardiovascular fitness, Piloxing builds a stronger core, tones muscles, sculpts the body, improves balance, corrects posture and burns fat...indeed an ideal workout. 
     I have Minnie to thank for introducing such an enjoyable exercise. Every Monday, she takes us through 40 minutes of  leg lifts, flat backs, standing side crunches and boxing punches like undercuts and hooks, followed by 20 minutes of floor exercises like abdominal crunches and butt sculpting.
     Sadly, this Monday was Minnie's last class at SculptFitness. She will be returning to her hometown, Kuala Lumpur, to further her studies. Piloxing classes at SculptFitness, thankfully, will continue under the tutelage of another instructress. But I will always remember Minnie as the sweet and cheerful girl who brought a whole new dimension to my exercise regime.
Piloxing devotees with Minnie

With Minnie after her last Piloxing session with us

Minnie, adieu, thank you and all the best!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Walking On Air

        After learning about MediFeet at a roadshow held at his hospital, Derrick decided to pamper his wife with a pair. Touted to be the shoes solutions for those who suffer from arthritis, backache, blisters, bunions, diabetes, foot fatigue, heel spurs and joint pains, MediFeet is endorsed by the American Podiatric Medical Association as well as the Australian Podiatry Association.
        A check on the Internet revealed that the MediFeet outlet in Ipoh is located at Greentown Square, where David's Diner and Restoran Simpang Tiga are. The shop, however, is tucked away behind the main road and that probably accounts for why we had never noticed its existence.
        Customers are encouraged to try on the shoes to determine which design fits them best. There were many designs that caught my eye but I finally narrowed down my choices to three pairs. Derrick approved of all three, but there was one particular design that he favoured. When I proceeded to walk around the shop in all the shoes, the design that he favoured, the Ultra-Light MP091-6 priced at RM229, was the clear winner. It felt like I was walking on air, owing to its adequate arch support, wide toe box, lightweight midsole, comfortable cushioning and directional grooves for optimum grip.
        For once, I am looking forward to going to work on Monday. I hope this pair of MediFeet shoes is the answer to the constant aches in my feet, calves and back. After all, MediFeet is suitable for teachers, cabin crew and those who suffer from osteoarthritis.

Merci beaucoup, mon amour!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Witnessing "Muhibbah"

       Both my dad and my hubby frequent the same Indian barber, who operates from half a shoplot. Rajen's shop does not have the eye-catching revolving red and white helical stripes of the barber's pole. But he embraces patronage with colourful words of welcome in Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin, Tamil and excellent embodiment of the 1Malaysia spirit. Interestingly, the name of his shop is Muhibah (misspelt with one b less), which means goodwill, friendship and affection.
     Whilst waiting for hubby to have his haircut today, I witnessed a truly muhibbah scene. A feeble old Chinese uncle was tottering towards the barber shop. Upon seeing that, a young Indian man rushed out to render assistance. After being seated, the Chinese uncle grasped his Good Samaritan's hand in gratitude. The Indian man's simple act of kindness was spontaneous and was not to put on a show. But it spoke volumes of one's goodwill for another man, with nary a thought for race.
     I have always felt that Rajen's shop is rather cramped and cluttered, with hardly any room to swing a cat around. I usually pray that the haircut can be completed as soon as possible, before more customers crowd in. But as hubby and I left the barber shop today, the thought of "thank goodness it's done" was not in my mind. It was the sight of the Chinese uncle still smiling at the young Indian man (and at me, perhaps for holding the door open for him) and the reciprocal slightly shy smile of the young Indian man that filled my mind and warmed my heart today.
At Rajen's shop


Sunday, 2 July 2017

Catching Up With Two Brothers

              It is immensely heart-warming when your ex-students remember you, for the right reasons, and yearn to meet up with you. Students come and go in teachers’ lives, and only some take the trouble to keep in contact. Needless to say, the advent of social media like Facebook and WhatsApp have made this much easier. But when ex-students make it a point to pay us a visit in school or arrange for a meet-up, it transcends catching up to a different level, a much more personal one.
     I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with two brothers, Julian and Kevin Looi. Julian was from my first batch of Sam Tet students and I had not seen him for more than ten years. I remember him as a reserved, shy and lanky boy. He has now blossomed into a charming, affable and handsome 28-year-old, who has girls swooning over him. Although I did not teach Kevin, he was a student in my Young Christian Students Movement.  I remember him very well as he was a quiet but adorable boy. And today, I’m pleased to see that he is just as endearing, but is so much more vocal and humorous. As he is 5 years younger than Julian, I did not know they were brothers back then. The connection came to light only when their mother, Pn. Chuan, was transferred to Sam Tet as the Senior Assistant later. This was after both boys had left school.
     I was touched to learn from Pn. Chuan that I had left some positive impression on both her sons. This is one of the greatest compliments a teacher can get, as we often fear that we do not give enough, that we may have overlooked some as there are always so many in our care, that we may have been impatient or insensitive at times, or that we may have been careless with callous words that leave a scar.
     Interestingly, both boys (or should I say, young men?) are so similar in many aspects. How could I not have made the connection back then? They both enjoy cooking and baking, and now often take over the kitchen (but leave the cleaning up to their mum). Julian showed me some photos of the food and cakes that they have made, and just from the looks, I would say the brothers could give many eateries and bakeries a good run for their money. Both Julian and Kevin are so united in teasing their mum mercilessly. It was incredibly refreshing listening to their good-natured banter. The bond between the brothers is solid, and it’s easy to see that they share a camaraderie that can be the envy of many siblings.

     Inevitably, all good things must come to an end. We had to reluctantly leave the cafe, but with promises to meet up again another day. I took a look at my watch and was surprised to see that we had been chatting for one and a half hours! Had it been that long? Time flies, when you are having a good time. This has definitely been an afternoon that will long be remembered and treasured.
A very enjoyable afternoon with Pn. Chuan, Julian and Kevin

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Indulging In Crabs

Admittedly, having a meal of crabs does not come cheap. 

But the sight of two crab aficionados gleefully feasting on the crustaceans is worth the price to pay. 
Very focused on the task

Crab House Seafood Restaurant seems to be our annual dinner venue to celebrate Papa's birthday.
Located at Laluan Perajurit 1, Ipoh Garden East

Derrick loves crabs and insists that the process of tearing apart the shell to dig into the flesh is an integral part of enjoying crabs.
Cleaned out dish, empty shells, full stomach

Ever so pampered, I prefer to have the flesh ripped out for me, without having to get my hands dirty.

Fresh, plump and juicy were the crabs, which were imported from Batam, Indonesia, and are currently priced at RM123 per kg.
Tempting me with some

Get here early or reserve your table to avoid disappointment as the restaurant is usually packed, especially on weekends.

Happy Birthday, my dearest Papa!
My handsome Papa enjoys his crabs

A family photo before the meal begins

Homemade tofu smothered in pumpkin sauce

Crispy roasted chicken stuffed with fish paste

Stir-fried broccoli with garlic

And the piece de resistance : sweet and sour crabs