Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ashamed to be called a malaysian...

... you will be too after you watch this video.

Unreported World Malaysia - Asia's Slaves

developed country? high income country? or just plain greedy, morally empty, ethnically void?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

hit girl kicks ass!

i love comics and have been devouring those movie adaptations religiously. unfortunately there are more bad than good adaptations. the bad ones... don't even worth wasting electrons typing here. the best so far, i would think is watchmen which i have watched again and again and again and again...

but here's one which i totally adore! really kick ass!

you can read about the comic book here, courtesy of wikipedia.

the movie doesn't follow the comic book 100% but the essence is there. i prefer the comic, the story line, the ending... ha ha! classic! "with no power, comes no responsibility".

in a way, its' a parody on other comic books. it's like a movie about how a super hero movie shouldn't be. it really widens your horizon! (never thought a comic book could do this to you?)

but my favourite character isn't kick ass. it's the 11 year old, foul mouted, bloody, deadly but so damn cute hit girl! and what an attitude! [she's so foul mouthed i admit she kicks my ass.]

needless to say, the concept of an 11 year old, knife wielding, gun totting, foul mouthed, punky vigilante is too much for most folks. do a google on hit girl controversy and see how much has been written about this.

folks, take a break. leave comicdom as a last bastion for the average human being's fertile imagination to go where no laws, no code, no ethics, no religion, no norms etc allows it to go.

but if you have kids, i don't recommend letting your kids watch this movie!

hit girl in the comic

hit girl played by chloe grace moretz

Chinese poor and lower class in M’sia: How well off are they?

living in malaysia, very seldom we come across the mainstream media analyzing the plight of the lower income group of malaysian chinese. in fact, if you are a tourist who only reads/watches/listens to the mainstream media, seems like the chinese are the only rich ones around town.

what nonsense. there are many poor chinese folks who don't have the means to lift themselves out of their social economical level.

this article from "center for policy initiatives" by dr lim teck ghee analyzes what has gone wrong. government policies affect us profoundly. due to "selective" implementation of policies, a generation (possibly two) of malaysians had to suffer unneccessarily. sigh...

Chinese poor and lower class in M’sia: How well off are they?

bread baking blues? a simple troubleshooting guide --- part 1

so you tried bread baking but instead of finding yourself in bakers' bliss, you are now having bakers' blues?

fret not my friend! how many among us have not got detoured by minor setbacks like this? and it is minor as we shall triumph over it with renewed zeal, zest, enthusiasm and much better bread!

ok, ok, enough passion. let's begin.

q. did the dough rise?
this is the most most important question you need to ask. did the dough rise? if it did, you could skip this whole section. if not, there's lots to do.

most of the time, the likeliest culprit is compromised yeast. yeast which has been exposed to moisture and thus doesn't have any more potency like before. if this is the case, fret not as you could still salvage your dough by feeding it fresh yeast but the old yeast needs to be chucked. usually it's a storage problem.

i have tried mauripan and saf brands with good results. these are instant yeast. mauripan sells in small sachets but also available in 1kg packs. i have so far only seen saf brand in 1kg pack. (both brands 1kg pack sell for around rm10-14.) take out some and fill in half of a jam bottle. this will be kept in the fridge and will be used each time you bake bread. store the rest (the bulk) in a big container and keep in the freezer. from time to time, if you find your jam bottle yeast is lacking potency, throw this away and refill from the container in the freezer.

i do this and my 1kg yeast i could bake for more than a year's consumption of bread and hey, i bake 2 loaves every week.

if there's nothing wrong with your yeast, then did you mix salt and yeast together? as yeast is a living organism, exposing it to salt could kill it instantly. when mixing the dough, i usually mix the salt last.

then there's the issue of the other ingredients. you only need flour, water, yeast and salt to start with.

as i use only organic flour, i don't know much about the normal flour you buy out there. how much preservative does it contain? how will the preservative interact with yeast? how will the bleaching agent interact with yeast?  [now now organic flour can contain some amount of preservative but this is usually very minimal. otherwise it can't quality as "organic".]

do you use filtered water? straight off the tap, does your water smell of chlorine? will this chlorine affect the yeast? i don't know but you should think about it.

lastly, is your ratio correct? a recipe using 100% white flour needs way less water compared to a recipe using 100% wholemeal flour. wholemeal, like brown rice, needs a lot more water.

did you go overboard and have too much of other ingredients? so much so that the dough can't form enough gluten networks? let's say you want to bake a multi seed bread but if you mix like 2 cups of seeds into 3 cups of flour, you won't get good rise from such a heavy dough.

does the recipe call for kneading? call for overnight ferment ala biga? even though no-knead bread is easy, kneading and using biga yields much better bread.

okay, these are just some possibilities you need to think of. write to me if you have more specific questions.

today is earth day

... but i didn't do anything out of my usual routine just for this day. duh...

but i enjoyed listening to bfm interviewing matthias gelber - greenest man on earth. listen to not only how he lives his life but also what action he takes to inspire others to be part of the green revolution.

In Conversation with Matthias Gelber - Greenest Man on the Planet 2008 and Co-founder of MALEKI Green Building Products

for you unfortunate folks who can't have access to bfm, be glad you have the podcast!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

fantastic mr fox

i'm a sucker for roald dahl stories. this man is one heck of a story teller and boy, what an imagination he has!

watched "charlie and the chocolate factory" and read his book "mathilda". now, why would i buy a kiddie's book? actually i bought the book for adelyn, a very special girl, for her birthday and i just had to read it first! adelyn, if you are reading this, sorry...

ok, the wonderful theme about roald dahl's story is that adults are always the bad folks while children are the protagonist. in this movie, fantastic mr fox, the animals are the good guys while the human beings (mostly adults) are the bad hats.

you just got to watch this movie! totally love it. it's... dare i say it... cute!

boggis bunce and bean
one fat, one short, one lean
these horrible crooks
so different in looks
but nonetheless equally mean.

dang, can't get this rhyme out of my head!

Monday, April 12, 2010

wholemeal bread

i always pride myself that i'm baking 100% wholemeal bread, and not that wholemeal flour mixed with white flour nonsense you see people peddling and passing it off as wholemeal bread.

you see, baking wholemeal bread is quite challenging. it's so wet you need different way of handling it. and there aren't that many wholemeal recipes out there. i can't even think of any bakery doing wholemeal bread the purist way.

until one day....

i was late to work as just collected my old car (from the best car air con man in kuala lumpur!) and was rushing to work when i caught "open for business" on, the thinking man's radio station. this episode features madam june lim, "spreading the message of a macrobiotics diet". click on the link for the podcast.

[i wish other radio stations would feature more intelligent and useful shows rather than those "what would you do if zombies rule the world" nonsense.]

and madam lim mentioned about her bakery employing slow fermentation whole wheat flour... hey! that got me interested!

a day later, went to their outlet, woods macrobiotics, in bangsar and managed to try out their 100% wholemeal flour bread.

hmm... not bad. i like it!

they use 100% organic wholemeal flour and sourdough fermentation. great!

now i'm tempted to have another go at sourdough again. previous attempts yielded "funny" results. a friend, mark, tried and asked, "did you put banana in it? it tastes like banana.". my sourdough attempt results in banana flavoured bread!

corrections for daniel leader's "local breads"

refering to my previous post about the bargain of buying daniel leader's "local breads" at rm25, reader chan bought the book and pointed me to the various mistakes in the book.

here are 2 relevant links.

Here's some URLs on the book
1) Discussions on the wrong measurements

2) The corrections for the book

print out the later and staple it in your book.

thx a lot for the hard work chan!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

local breads. what a bargain!

when i first started bread baking, i was constantly on the search for good bread baking books.

there are those "containing lots of recipes but precious few thoughts" books and there are those "full of philosophy but not much on the whys and hows" type. and then there are some books which almost everyone recommends again and again.

one of those, and i had the privilege to browse it, is daniel leader's "local breads".

unfortunately only borders have it, at an obscene price of ~rm120. of course you could buy from amazon for usd23 +  freight but it's still quite a large sum of money. dang.... we malaysians have to pay so much for books. books is truly is luxury here.

so imagine my surprise when i visted book excess, amcorp mall, over the weekend and found this book, in hardcover, selling for only rm25! my jaws almost dropped!

so whether you want to learn about bread baking or not, if you enjoy books, book excess is THE place to go.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

grissini - breadstick

i've been an advocate for 100% wholemeal (whole wheat) flour all this while and every loaf of bread i bake these days are all 100% wholemeal.

however, some breads just don't work well with 100% wholemeal. or is it i guess i haven't found the right tweak yet. a recipe meant for white flour will need slight tweaking (usually just more water) to work with 100% wholemeal.

anyway, tried this breadstick (italians call it grissini. some stores sell grissini for rm12!) recipe before using wholemeal. it didn't work well. still too moist, too chewy rather than crispy.

with white flour, it worked fine.

  • 225 gm or 2 cups white flour - best is the organic variety which comes unbleached as well
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 135 gm or 2/3 cup water
  • some olive oil, sesame seeds, cut olives or whatever you desire
mix flour, yeast, water and salt in this order. knead a few minutes. let it rise for an hour.

divide into eights. stretch and roll until long, thin and slender. roll on a plate of sesame seeds and cut olives. then drizzle with olive oil and place on an oiled baking sheet.

the recipe says you should get 20 grissinis but i got 12 i think. guess they are long but fat. hey, looks like me! okay, i'm not that tall if you are wondering.

bake at 200c for 15-20 minutes. or till golden brown. if need to, turn over the breadsticks at the last few minutes so that they brown evenly. nah, i didn't bother.

one last tip : don't stinge on the ingredients. it shows in the final product.