<![CDATA[Sugar & Pepper - BLOG! Mr A & Ms S]]>Fri, 26 Feb 2016 06:53:10 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[The ambitious campaign]]>Sat, 20 Apr 2013 15:22:27 GMThttp://sugar-pepper.weebly.com/blog-mr-a--ms-s/the-ambitious-campaignLast I posted anything was nearly 4 months ago. Sadly nothing has changed but I was suddenly injected with a new spirit to campaign (not a political campaign, I can assure you of that) and it made me want to say something and perhaps motivate a few of those who actually read this blog.

I would like to inspire people to eat their own home-prepared lunch. When I was in the UK, the people there seem to have this culture of bringing their own lunch instead of eating out. Sure, people still ate out but compared to the number of people here who actually do bring their own lunch, there is a significantly greater number there compared to here.

It might be because fast and tasty food is easily available in Malaysia because after all, it is a food paradise as everybody knows it to be, but just imagine how easy it is to actually pack your own lunch. How much money it would save you, and surely you can enjoy that sense of satisfaction from eating your own homemade food. I know I do.

I have been packing some homemade sandwiches for lunch for about 1 month now. Apart from enabling me to control whatever goes into my system, I managed to lose about 4kg, and it made me feel good because I don't feel like I am spending unnecessarily on food that I don't actually need. What's better, you can practice that culinary skills if you feel like going a bit fancy! You don't have to go the distance to making your own bread like I do, or have the intention of losing weight, or wanting to swing towards the healthier direction. The main idea is just to pack your own lunch!

Here are just some ideas for your packed lunch:
  1. Sandwich / tortilla wrap - this is my packed lunch normally because it is easy to prepare and is done in no time
  2. Pasta - e.g spaghetti meatballs / bolognese / creamy pasta / pasta salad
  3. Fried rice  / fried noodles / noodle salad
  4. Left over pizza from last night's take away 
  5. Bread and soup
  6. If you are really in the zone of course you can cook your white rice and all the other 'lauk-pauk'

Simple isn't it? Let's bring our own lunch to work/school/ college today!
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<![CDATA[Chocolate and CAKNe]]>Sun, 16 Dec 2012 10:42:22 GMThttp://sugar-pepper.weebly.com/blog-mr-a--ms-s/chocolate-and-cakneChocolate!
I guess I am quite transparent to my close friends and family, or perhaps they just know me better.
I received this book last week, from a good friend of mine, Sarah.
You are not seeing double. I received the first book last 2 years from my brother. Thanks Abang! Goes without saying : Everybody knows I love chocolate. I mean come one, who doesn't? It is the best food discovery..after eggs (A friend told me, an egg is almost a complete meal on its own - it contains protein, fat, minerals and vitamins. It is delicious and can be eaten in more ways than one. This is just my interpretation of what she said, of course.)
Surprisingly though, I only have these two chocolate cooking books with me.
It made me think that since I have these books, perhaps I could cook based on these books and give my review of the recipes, ay? Maybe we can do it like 'Julie & Julia' sort of thing. I.AM.EXCITED! Watch out for a possible new tab on the website. We can call it 'Recipe Book Review'. How about that?
On a different note, yesterday I went to Mama Emma's (Rosemah Ibrahim) house, for a CAKNe (Cancer Associates & Kindred Network) - PPUKM programme of cooking class and lunch, hosted by Mama. Among the Masterchef Season 2 attenders yesterday were : Izyan (Masterchef Malaysia 2 Winner), Along (top 3), Eida (Top 12), Kak Arnee (Top 40), Bulan/Muhammad Ammar (Top 40) and myself.
This was my first time attending such programme. Mama showed a few recipes that are simple and time saving for the parents of children with cancer. On the menu were ; roasted chicken, butter rice, Mama's special baked potato and cupcakes. Eida, Along and Bulan showed these parents how to make pizza before which I overheard one one of the mothers said 'Yang ni kena salin betul-betul, semua orang suka ni'.
Unfortunately, I had to leave early but to me this was a good effort in bringing the parents and children together. I was surprised at how easy going these parents are. Before this I only stood on the medical side of the situation and I always imagined how difficult it would be for the family to learn that one of their family members has cancer. However seeing how things were yesterday, I knew that parents and Malaysians in general nowadays know how to live with this fact.
Of course, they know what cancerous illness is and they know what possible scenario could happen in the future but as for now, these children should be treated like every other children. To me it is important to make the children feel part of the society, not just as a 'cancer patient'.
Once again I would like to applause this beautiful network on their effort, and Mama for being such a generous host. May all your kind efforts be rewarded by Him. InsyaAllah.
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From left: Kak Arnee, Eida, Mama & Me
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<![CDATA[A gentle reminder to all women]]>Sat, 20 Oct 2012 01:30:47 GMThttp://sugar-pepper.weebly.com/blog-mr-a--ms-s/a-gentle-reminder-to-all-womenBreast cancer is no laughing matter. It remains as the biggest threat among women in Malaysia. There are many types of breast cancer and the treatment depends on the type and stage of the cancer. The plus side of this cancer is that you could actually improve your chance of survival if it is detected early.

The first stage in screening this cancer is by doing your own breast self examination. Although it only has a small role in detecting this cancer - perhaps only by chance, it is a good tool in reminding us of this cancer and how early you could bring it to a doctor's attention. This website has good diagrams and guidedance on how you could perform this examination at home.
http://www.breastcancer.org.my/abc-03-03.html

If you are worried that you might have felt a lump or your breast(s) looks abnormal, then seek a medical attention. Initially the doctor will perform a similar examination of the breasts and if there is a concern about it, further investigation using x-ray or scans will be done. Even if you do not notice/feel any changes to your breast(s), it is recommended that you get this examination done once every 3 years as early as your 20's.

I'm sure we've all heard of mammography. This is a special kind of x-ray that creates detailed images of your breasts. It is however only recommended once every one to two years from the age of 40 and once a year starting the age of 50. It is recommended early for women with a strong family history of breast cancer.

I could only imagine how frightening it would be if you find out that you have breast cancer but remember, if it is detected early, there are many available treatments to manage this cancer. Think of your loved ones. They care about you and they want you to be around them to enjoy life together. If you care about them and of of utmost importance - yourself, seek for early medical attention.

October is a Breast Cancer Awareness month around the globe. Show your support by joining the activities in conjunction with this event.

Another interesting initiative coinciding with the cancer awareness month for all the Muslim ladies out there is the Global Pink Hijab Day. This started of as an experiment founded by a group of high school students in Missouri, USA whereby Muslim women join walks in groups wearing pink headscarves with the intention of removing stereotypes and encouraging Muslim women to get engaged in dialogues about breast cancer awareness.

So show your support and be Breast Aware!

For more information about breast cancer awareness in Malaysia, go to www.breastcancer.org.my
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<![CDATA[Nostalgia]]>Sat, 02 Jun 2012 15:02:49 GMThttp://sugar-pepper.weebly.com/blog-mr-a--ms-s/nostalgiaAt this moment, I am typing on the desk in my hotel room with the view of Sungai Santubong, lit by the reflection of lights from the riverbank on my side.

I grew up here. Everything I needed was here. I didn't need any fancy clothing, bags, a big house, etc. All I needed was this but I had to say goodbye to a place that was so dear to me almost 10 years ago when my family relocated to Shah Alam.

People say you don't know what you will miss until you lose them. I miss them the whole ten years. A friend's wedding brought me here this time (I come back here every so often when I could, lately more compared to the earlier years as I am still jobless :P) An old friend's wedding whom I have known since primary school (or kindergarten?) and as with all my other school friends, separated by the years. Study, jobs, family, the whole works. This wedding was very special to me however because we managed to summon even one of those friends whom I haven't seen since after SPM. It was a riot of pregnant women (3 of them pregnant at the same time, one was due to deliver anytime - Alhamdulillah it wasn't at that time) beautiful wives/mothers and of course the mini group I was a part of -the single ladies. The single ladies all had a tragic story so we'll leave that as is.

Catching up with old stories didn't end there as it continued in our 'Whatsapp' forum - falling asleep in class, getting scolded at, getting horrible marks, collecting newspapers house to house in the rain, memorable teachers and the list is endless. I realize that I attach a fond memory with every story. Now, eventhough the teachers that taught us in school are no longer there, we still have the memory to hold on to - the memories that keep us together as sisters. 18 years I lived here and  of course not everything was a happy occasion but I had all I needed here. It was enough to make me think that one day, I will come back and live here again.

I cherish all of you here and Kuching will always be my first home. To my friend Aishah, Congrats to you and Shakur. I hope that your marriage is just one of the many happy occasions that you have yet to relish in your new life called 'wife'..and soon 'mother'. Let's all meet again!

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<![CDATA[Go to your happy place]]>Sat, 28 Apr 2012 15:30:14 GMThttp://sugar-pepper.weebly.com/blog-mr-a--ms-s/go-to-your-happy-placeMy happy place yesterday was definitely not in Kuala Lumpur, what with all the 'cleaning' happening in the metropolitan city.

One of our friends from college got married yesterday (the Bride's reception) so I managed to meet up with 5 of my awesome college mates whom I have not seen for a long time - one of them, about 7 years. I had a great time catching up with the girls while Mr A sat patiently. Bless him.

The wedding was held at the Putrajaya Marriot Hotel. Beautiful wedding for a beautiful couple, definitely (apart from a couple of odd dances during the reception - samba? salsa? merengue?). We even had a personal waiter who looked more than happy to serve our table, especially one of our single lady friends with some minor flirting going on, if you get what I mean? ;) The wedding was a great blessing to the family as apparently the bride's younger brother also tied the knot this week. Two new family members in a week! Who would have imagined?
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The happy couple on the stage with some traditional dancers performing
The glamorous event ended around 11.15pm with the guests lining up to shake hands and congratulate the bride and groom.
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Ms S & Mr A trying to look the part
I went home happy (though tired) to have spent the evening with the people I enjoy being around with. I am still waiting for some pictures from last night from the girls because my camera's battery died on me right after the couple walked into the hall.

Now as for the 'cleaning' business (Bersih 3.0), here is my view. Quick introduction to those who are unfamiliar with this term - Bersih 1.0/2.0/3.0 refers to a rally, calling for clean (hence the name) and fair elections organized by the Malaysian political oppositions.

Admittedly, the initial intention is for a greater and fairer political scene. The problem and concern that I have with the activities is the negativity surrounding the scene - aggression, anger, despicable verbal (and physical) abuse, mudslinging and the disintegration within the society that results from all of the above.

Although I am hopeless when it comes to politics, saying 'I don't care about politics' isn't right either even if that is really how you want to treat the matter. We live in a civilized country so any internal problems that we might have should be dealt with in a more civilized manner. Petition, letter to the press - pressing on the issue, blogging, debate etc are only a few ways that the Bersih campaign could be done more 'Bersih'-ly. What greater outcome is going to be achieved from standing on the road that is blocked for other people who might need to use that route to work for example, chanting whatever it is until someone gets agitated and mayhem is created?

Don't even get me started on the youngsters who joined this rally. I would be really interested in hearing what they knew about the rally or if it was just 'to join the crowd' or 'I'm bored and have nothing better to do' sort of thing.

It's great if you have an opinion about something (who doesn't nowadays?) but if you want to stand your ground, perhaps you need to think about the most effective way to channel that opinion and get it heard by people. Not just the most convenient for you, but for the people around you too. If you really love your country, you would think about doing what is best for EVERYONE.
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<![CDATA[Newbie]]>Tue, 24 Apr 2012 16:32:38 GMThttp://sugar-pepper.weebly.com/blog-mr-a--ms-s/newbieWe have just welcomed a new addition to the family - a baby girl. Not mine by the way, just to clear any curiosities.

This beautiful baby girl is a shared new responsibility of my brother and his wife. Very cute, very adorable yet very far away from where we could go and visit her. We've only seen her on Day 1 but I could foresee that she will be her aunty's great little helper in the kitchen one day!

The reason why we are not able to see much of her is because her mother (my sister in law) is currently staying at her parents', practicing the traditional Malay customs after giving birth called, 'Pantang'. This word literally means prohibition or taboo.

The period of berpantang ( the verb of pantang) is usually 44 days. Due to my own ignorance and unfamiliarity, I would have guessed that this tradition is becoming less practiced among the more modern Malay community. It could be just because in our busy and hectic life, a lot of us cannot be bothered to incorporate all the things that we are not-supposed/supposed to do according to the custom, because it is more convenient for us. Part of it (and possibly largely) could also be because there is not really any medical reason to do it as we doctors normally say - everything goes!

If properly done, this custom is meant to aide in returning the mother's weight and shape to her pre-pregnancy physique. We saw a sales attendant about 6 months ago, pregnant and judging from how she looked at the time was probably in her third trimester. About 2 weeks ago, we saw her again and she was looking trimmer than a teenage girl. We asked her what was her secret and she said that she abide by all the rules of Pantang. I am no expert but this was intriguing.

One could dive deeper into the anthropological origin of such customs, reasons they were made a custom etc but for a lot of lay people, the important thing to know are the main practices in this custom which are:
  • Wearing a corset - day and night from Day 1. Obviously a long time ago the corsets were a lot more hassle to use but nowadays there are lot of modern and easier to use corsets available within everybody's range of budget. The principle is, it needs to cover from below the breasts to near the groin. I would be apprehensive about wearing this early if you had a caesarean section
  • Massage - whole body massage, especially tummy and breast area. Apparently it will improve blood circulation, aides in uterine recovery and improves milk production for breastfeeding
  • Traditional herbs - also called 'jamu', important in reviving your energy and flushing away toxins in the body. There are also food that should be taken more, such as turmeric as it helps in repairing wounds and food that should be avoided are those which are 'cold' (not referring to the temperature of the food, but the type of food according to tradition) and greasy.
There are a few other practices but upon my observation, I believe these are the most commonly practiced, even among Malay women of my generation nowadays. It would be unfair for me to say too much about it because I have not experienced it first hand - not even close, but sometimes some traditions should not be left to extinct.

This information was gathered from self observation and the following website:

http://www.babycenter.com.my/pregnancy/asian-postnatal-practices/malay-confinement/



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<![CDATA[Basil]]>Sun, 15 Apr 2012 07:29:06 GMThttp://sugar-pepper.weebly.com/blog-mr-a--ms-s/basilOne of my favourite herbs - basil. Its fresh and versatile flavour enhances any type of cooking that you add it to. I have tried planting the more common basil (sweet basil) that's often used in Italian cooking for pesto and pizza however being in Malaysia, it is not native here hence some of us might find it difficult to source and grow.

I had my hands on a couple of pots of this type of basil from a Sunday market but they died pretty quickly - only a few days after we bought it. Perhaps due to too much moisture or too hot a temperature.

However, Malaysia and other Asian countries have their own type of basil. In Malaysia, they are called 'Daun Selasih'. I am not too familiar of its usage in Malaysian cuisine however due to my craving for some pesto (as I have not been able to find a ready-made one) I have made my own, using the locally found basil.

There were 2 different types of basil that I have found here so far, from 2 different supermarkets. The first one had a green stem and more pungent basil smell. I can't really say if I detected any lemon scent, but comparing pictures to ones that I could find online, this could be Thai lemon basil. I bought this bunch about 1 week ago and replanted them in a pot after plucking the leaves. They're really easy growers.
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Thai lemon basil
The second type that I found yesterday had purple stems and purple flowers. They smelled less pungent, in fact very mild. Again, I compared pictures to ones online and I think I can safely say that they were Cinnamon basil.
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Cinnamon basil
As the previous bunch, I replanted these in the backyard -I just love my own collection of herbs at home.

I managed to make green pesto and my verdict is they both do the trick.

Click here for the pesto recipe!

If you prefer a pesto that doesn't have a very strong herby taste, the Cinnamon basil is the one to go for.
If you really want to go that extra mile for an authentic tasting Italian dish, get yourselves some sweet basil.

I think I'll try and get me some too!
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<![CDATA[Cat against the world]]>Sat, 14 Apr 2012 15:19:06 GMThttp://sugar-pepper.weebly.com/blog-mr-a--ms-s/cat-against-the-world
It just strikes me how smart cats, or even all animals can be. This evening, I was flossing my teeth and turned on the tap. Striker immediately rushed next to the sink and started to play with the running tap. He has an affinity towards water - hydroFelix I call. Then I turned on the shower which made him even more excited and he was going to jump on to the wall separating the shower and the remaining of the washroom but he didn't. He looked anxious and restless but he didn't jump. It took me a few seconds before I figured out why. His paws were all wet from playing with the tap water that if he jumped, he would slip and fall. I took him up towards the wall and sure enough he quickly ran towards the shower head and kept on trying to reach for the shower.
If cats can think rationally when people say that they only have a brain, not a mind - then human being should be able to make rational decisions with every actions that they take, right?

Remember the issue which sparked a lot of anger when the pet shop owners abandoned some hundreds of cats that were boarding in their shop during the festive period of Eid with these animals starving (some even died) while lying in their own faeces and urine because unattended for days? I was raging when I read about it. Then almost every week since, I came across a photo, video or article about more animal abuse. They are very upsetting and made me question about humanity. Humanity should not be just about keeping a civilized relationship among human beings - It should be about teaching us to become a human, bearing in mind that we co-exist in this world with nature and animals are part of that.

Stop animal abuse. They are just God's creations like YOU and I.

If you are against animal cruelty and abuse, here is a small action that you could do to show that you despise it - please sign the petition online at www.stopanimalabuse.my
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<![CDATA[Friends ]]>Fri, 13 Apr 2012 09:27:45 GMThttp://sugar-pepper.weebly.com/blog-mr-a--ms-s/friendsDo you remember who you used to imagine growing up and doing 'cool stuff' with when you were younger? I do. They were my friends. I used to think that we will all end up at the same place, doing every bit of interesting and adventurous things together. I even remember answering 'friends' as the group of people that I prioritize the most in one of those silly quizzes you take with your (yes, you guessed it) friends.

At 27, I don't have any close friends anymore which made me wonder perhaps it was all on me.
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High school - I'm the one at the top right hand corner, standing
I moved away from where I grew up and I guess along the way, I was really poor at keeping in touch with my friends. Thankfully there was already internet. So there were the few people that I still kept barely in touch with.
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A-levels - I was in pink. Made some friends in matriculation but I was only there for a couple of months that I don't even have a picture together
After pre university, everyone went to their respective destinations and we only got together once every year, if we were lucky.

University was great. Not in the sense of learning things (really, who thinks college was fun?maybe a little bit) but with the adventure and independence part.
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Some of the Malaysian gang
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Holiday
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Roommates whom I miss
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Lovely ladies that made me feel so at home
Soon enough, college life was over and everyone became what they aspired to be.

No matter how friendly your colleagues are, they are not your friends. They are just people bound by the same rules and work under the same employer as you do. Perhaps some of us will have better luck than others and that professional relationship will develop into friendship, but for me it was just that.
It is so difficult to make new friends that at the end of the day, I still had to rely on my cat as my companion.
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Striker having a bubblebath
Maybe a cat is a woman's best friend? If you think that's sad, it is not the saddest.

As an anonymous yet very wise person said : The saddest part of growing old is losing your friends.
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<![CDATA[First Post!]]>Thu, 12 Apr 2012 08:34:55 GMThttp://sugar-pepper.weebly.com/blog-mr-a--ms-s/first-postI always felt like I wanted to say more when I write in the website but then have had to remind myself that it is a website - people want to see facts with least words possible. Being a woman, that is impossible! So I thought I'll write here, more of a side note that is hopefully related to the website. Some I'll admit are probably just personal reflection of daily things i.e not food related.

With that said, yesterday I made a warm tomato salad. The tomatoes were from our own tomato plants in the backyard. They were so sweet and juicy it was like a treat!

We had to overcome a lot of problems whilst growing the tomatoes - pests, stunted plants, yellow leaves, etc that the plants actually started to produce fruits after almost half a year which seems like a very long time but I guess it was well worth it. The only thing we did to overcome all these problems was to separate the tomato plants and put them all in separate pots and they started to thrive happily.
The skin however was a bit tougher compared to commercial tomatoes that you can get from the market or supermarkets so before eating them, I peeled off the skin.
They look like watermelon balls eh? Yum!
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