Thursday, December 29, 2011

real men shave with this...


earlier this year, i've been converted to wet shaving using a double edge safety razor like this merkur 23c above. and i should have done this sooner!

for the past almost twenty years, been using the disposable razor cartridge types like gillette mach3 etc. now these fellas aren't very sharp. you need to force down the razor to get a clean shave. also, the disposable razor cartridge is very expensive. rm30+ buys a pack of 5, so that's rm5+ for a disposable plastic contraption with 2 extremely thin and tiny blunt blades. damn...

i don't have much luck with electric shavers. couldn't get a clean shave. sometimes it "pulls" the skin resulting in bruises, like i got whack by my wife.

hmm... hairy experience while trying to get rid of hair?

as always, history could tell us a lot. what have our forefathers been using before all these modern junk?

a double edge safety razor like the one above! purist will go for straight razors but these aren't easy to use (i know, i speak from experience. ouch!).

but where to buy one? i searched high and low, asked around, checked here and there, poked my nose around but to no avail. actually i did manage to get some cheap china made ones but these are so flimsy i'd pass...

so i bought this razor from ebay after exhausing all avenues here. [but there's good news later]

it cost me rm150++. well, this includes stupid freight from US of A. but this stainless steel contraption should last forever. hey, it's made of 3 pieces and it doesn't look like anything could go wrong! unless you are daft and use it to hammer nails...


to complete the whole experience, i fabricated this little teak wood stand for my razor as well as shaving brush.

curiously, it's easy to get shaving cream. you could get it from the bigger tesco outlets as well as local mydin malls.

so how's wet shaving with the double edge safety razor?

it's awesome! the razor blades are very cheap (how about rm4 for 5? some go for rm15 for 100!) and some makes are very very sharp. i like the gillette wilkinson sword best.

it's different from using those plastic disposable rubbish. you got to relearn your technique. just lightly glide it over your skin at an angle. what angle? you'll get the hang of it real quick! and it's soooooo easy to clean!

aren't  you worry of cuts? nicks?  i know you must be thinking of this. actually i find it to be very safe, as long as you hold it at an angle.

in fact, i like wet shaving so much i'm actively promoting it! however, most friends are scared of cuts. sissy! see, all those metro sexual shit is getting to you!

so this will be my mantra for now. real men shave with proper razors! not those plastic disposable nonsense!

and to further promote wet shaving, i've asked dovo (maker of above merkur razor) for distributorship of merkur razors in malaysia. in fact, i've placed an order...

how about straight razors?


not for me! for now!

this takes skill. i tried and suffered some cuts. but i'm sure i'll graduate to straight razor one day...

for now, safety razor will do. again, REAL MEN USE PROPER RAZOR!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

roomba red battery woes

we have been using a roomba red for a few years now. back then, there was only the red and a scheduler. nowadays the red could be considered a dinosaur.


this little fella makes your life a lot more convenient. sure, cleaning the floor doesn't take much time but one could easily be short of time especially on busy days. this little fella, has all the time in the world. so why not use his time rather than your time to clean up the place?

especially now that we have tonto, having roomba clean up all the hair this fella sheds is really awesome. we appreciate having a roomba more than ever!

and the roomba red is pretty tough. been running fine for at least 5 years now, except for... its batteries. its batteries suck! big time! have replaced them twice and a replacement battery cost rm350 here. YES! RM350! SCREW ME!!!

despite paying so much for the replacement battery, it's not very comforting to know that the warranty for the replacement battery is only 1 month (and they only tell you AFTER you paid for it). what? is that a harbinger of impending doom?

true enough, few months later, the replacement battery gave up as well.

well, i had enough! i searched around and found that there are folks who reconstruct the batteries themselves. this i got to try!

the worst part was prying open the battery cover. damn, it uses some special triangle screws. damn, the cover is glued.

fortunately you could get this special screw driver from jalan pasar. a bit more work later (and some scratches on the battery), managed to remove the cover. i already know what's inside. it's just 12 C size batteries in series.

now C batteries aren't common here. a pair cost rm50. we need 6 pairs, so this isn't cost effective. worse still, the batts are spot welded, 12 in series. damn.

then i got an idea! why not just replace the C batts with something that's more common here?


and that's what i did! bought AA size holders which house 4 in a pack. so some panasonic hermatite batts too. 3 holders is needed for 12 batts. secured them back, soldered the connections and...

our roomba is working again! and the 12 AA batts only cost rm150. best part is, you could replace them any time you want as these are cheap and common.

easy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

a stack of wood plus some elbow grease gives me...

... quite a lot!

i bought some salvaged timber strips, or known as "kok chai" in cantonese, some months back for some home improvement project. gabriel introduced these timber strips to me and i have lots of fun with them. for a half baked, low skilled nitwit wood worker like me, the flexible kok chai can be used to build just about anything.  have built quite a lot from just a stack of these strips. they are usually sold in bundles of 120 ft, or 10 pieces of 12 ft strips. cost? less than rm50 for such a bundle!

besides, i find wood working to be therapeutic. it is so calming to work with our bare hands. fyi, everything i built here is accomplished with hand tools only. a band saw, wood glue, screws, wood brackets and some clamps.



first thing i built, is this "creeper's aid". the base though is not made from timber strips but rather some bed frame someone in my neighbourhood threw away! yes, during my walks with tonto, we scour around the neighbourhood for rubbish. as the saying goes, one man's rubbish is another's gold.

this fella stands at 6 ft tall but unfortunately the plant is taking so slow to grow. hmm...




also built this compost rack. i'm tired of hearing the excuse of "not enough space" to compost. how about 3" by 1"? this is all the space taken up by our compost rack.




 but the most fun i have, is building this food dehydrator. a year ago, i blogged about making your own food dehydrator. well, that crude thing consists of 4 pieces of wooden plank (salvaged from the neighbourhood) and some L brackets.

since we use this quite often, that ugly piece got to be retired. and so i built this fella. since it is only oiled, you could see the timber strips clearly.


at the lower end, a 100w incandescent light bulb is used to provide heat. 


in case you are wondering,  a 100w light bulb manages to heat up the upper rack all the way till 50 degrees celcius. just nice for a slow dehydration.
the thermometer is a roast meat thermometer. excellent for this purpose here!
oh yeah, among my wood working tools, i could print some letters too. nice eh?





 on the left, drying some pig ears here. tonto absolutely loves this!
 on the right, drying some tomatoes. there's 7 tomatoes here. 8 hours give us some wonderful semi dried tomatoes.






so with some elbow grease, you could accomplish all this from just a bundle of timber strips of less than rm50!

best of all, these are all YOUR handiwork. there's no commercial stuff like this!









 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mooncakes!



I was supposed to be on leave last Friday but worked harder than usual.

It's almost mid autumn festival and mooncake is part of the celebration. This is also the time of the year I hear lots of complaints about mooncake prices heading the way of gold.

Word has it that a cartel of Chinese businessmen set the prices but the public is resisting >rm10, hence the huge discounts we get on these >rm10 mooncakes.

Those who lament but still buy justifies it by saying it's a once-a-year thingie. Hmm... if I screw you once a year, it's okay huh? Hey, it's only once a year!

I have a better solution. Make it yourself!

It's really easy if you buy those pre-mix mooncake mix and pre-cooked lotus seed paste. So all you have to do is concentrate on making the dough.

The most trouble I had was stretching the dough nicely then wrapping around the fillings. Either I kept tearing it or I just couldn't get enough dough to cover the fillings. Hey, after a few "ugly" mooncakes, you'll get the hang of it.
Oh yeah, my wife's colleague kindly lent us the molds. Thx to her!




Baking is really easy! 180c in ten minutes, then apply egg wash, then another 180c in ten minutes.

After applying egg wash, the mooncakes develop a nice shine.

Note that my oven's heat isn't even. Mooncakes on the right hand side of the black tray is a bit burnt.

hey, all in all, about rm100, we have about 24 large, 24 small mooncakes and about 10 "piglets".

So stop complaining, lazy bums!
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

i want to build this!


you could get the shelving system from ikea, pvc pipes/fittings from hardware store etc. all i need is a fluorescent light which mimics sun light. anyone know where to get one?

more details about above build here.


Monday, August 22, 2011

serendipity

serendipity is defined as
 1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
3. An instance of making such a discovery.

the 3rd statement is what happened over the weekend.

attended markets at jaya one for the first time last saturday. this is a bi monthly event but i missed the april and june edition as i learned about it late. well, finally managed to attend one!


though mostly clothes, clothes and clothes [malaysians are such vain pots?], i'm glad we visited the place as we discovered 2 "gems".

we met a farmer practicing organic farming. we buy food from the market and we lost this connection with the person who's responsible for the food - the farmer. by meeting the farmer, we make a nearer connection with our food.

well, yahqappu is not your average farmer! he used to run a restaurant business but gave up and went into farming. and guess what? he blogs! check out the lord's garden. hell, more farmers should adopt an internet presence like him. surprisingly, he knows martin too! small world!

and just beside his stall, there is a chicken farmer, known as the happy farmer. again, it's wonderful that they maintain a website. not your ordinary commercial chicken farmer, as they adopt  the free rangeing method of raring chickens. chickens free from antibiotics, growth hormone etc. did i mention he does delivery too?

both yahqappu and happy farmer's farm is in batu arang, 60km north of kuala lumpur. both are open to visitors. i'll have to organize a trip one of these days!




Sunday, August 21, 2011

follow up on victor's interview

remember my friend victor? couple weeks back, i did an interview with victor and blogged about his remarkable physical transformation?

from an extremly high risk case of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose level (triple whammy), he has reduced everything done to healthy levels. also, from being over weight to ideal weight, all in all in just months!

some visitors to this blog couldn't believe what i wrote. they kept asking "what did he take to reduce cholesterol/blood pressure/blood glucose [pick your poison]?". when i replied victor accomplished this by eliminating junk, processed food from his diet and ate good wholesome natural food, coupled with some exercise... guess what? nobody's interested! ha! it's true that people only listen to what they want to hear.

All lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest (hmmmm....mmmm......)  
---- paul simon "the boxer"

not only that, people are only interested in an easy solution, a magic pill that could magically reduce their cholesterol/blood pressure/etc.  no lifestyle change required, no diet change required. go on eating whatever you want to eat...   well, good luck to you!

anyway, here's victor's blood test results, which victor has kindly shared with us.

oct 2010, his triglycerides (very bad cholesterol) exceeds the limit of the measurement! although total cholesterol says 6.84, it should be higher as we don't know how high is the triglycerides reading. notice also his uric acid is very high. his liver is also working extremely hard. note the readings under LFT (liver function tests) are very high.



and in may 2011,   his triglycerides fell to 0.69! in fact, his total cholesterol fell to 3.48 which is now a little on the low side! his liver is easing up now, the readings in the LFT are all normal. this is more like it! uric acid is improved marginally but still on the high side. this takes time but as you could see, overall, everything improved!



isn't this amazing? talk about a physical transformation!




Thursday, August 18, 2011

bfm interviews judy cheng-hopkins



i blogged about bfm 2 years ago. it is by far, the BEST radio station in malaysia, if not in this region!

a common misconception is that it only talks about business, stock market etc. far from it! there's also talks on culture, on people, interviews with doctors, as well as ceos, business owners etc.

[you know, the best way to access a person's mind is to speak to him/her personally. observe how he/she answers, the thought process behind it and also the body language. all these tell a lot more than some press cuttings or some journalist's summation. now, on the radio, we can't study the body language but we could still pay attention to the tone, and pay more attention to the wordings and the content. often times, this is more than sufficient to read a person.

this is why it's great to listen to interviews. you learn more "in between the words", rather like reading between the lines.]

anyway, i'm digressing! this morning, listened to this interview of a fascinating malaysian woman. fascinating as she is really doing something that has a profound impact on society. you must have heard of folks going into politics to help out the needy? well, here's one lady who's doing it and not via political means.

she is none other than united nations assistant secretary general for peace building support judy cheng-hopkins. here is some info about her.

on the interview, she talks about her role in helping to rebuild a country after war. hey, after years of fighting, sooner or later, people will get tired of fighting and will lay down arms. so this is where he group steps in to help them get back on track for life to go on.

here's the podcast.



by the way, did i mention she's also the first malaysian listed by forbes as among the 10 most powerful women in united nations

so next time you listen to the radio, why not listen to bfm rather than some juvenile station?  great content, great music!

"freshly squeezed" orange juice?

If you buy orange juice at the store, you may lean towards the kind that advertises itself as “100 percent juice” and “not made from concentrate”.  But have you ever wondered why every glass of it tastes exactly the same?  That’s because the flavor of store-bought orange juice has more to do with chemistry than nature.
 
For industrially-produced orange juice, after the oranges are squeezed, the juice is stored in giant holding tanks and the oxygen is removed from them, which allows the liquid to keep for up to a year without spoiling.  It also makes the juice completely flavorless. So the industry uses “flavor packs” to re-flavor the juice.

wait a minute. so oxygen is removed from "freshly squeezed" orange juice, thus it could last longer, but as flavour and nutrient is lost in the process, some flavouring is added back in to get it to "taste like orange juice" again. huh? wtf???

you sure you want to buy/drink commercial fruit juice?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

what do we expect of our bread?

last sunday, 8tv's "ho chiak" featured a few bakeries. among them, mardia & mustafa's bakery which i blogged about 2 years ago.

i find it amusing that the 2 hosts introduced martin's bread as "chewy" and unlike the typical off-the-shelf soft sandwich bread. martin also explained that this is the way bread is supposed to be and this is how it's sold in europe.

so why does martin have to explain himself? and why does folks here (malaysians, singaporeans etc) have only one expectation of bread, namely soft and fluffy?

i think it all has to do with our introduction to bread.

now bread is a western thing. it's not asian at all. asians have own versions of baked goods like mantou, pratha, capati etc. bread is different, mainly because the wheat grown in this region isn't the high gluten type so it doesn't lend itself well to the development of bread.

but bread gained a foothold in asia, thanks to the chorleywood bread process.  this method, invented by the british, simplifies the production of bread and instead of high protein flour, it could make bread out of low protein wheat. 

excerpts from the wikipedia page,


The aim of the Chorleywood bread process is to use cheaper, lower-protein wheats and to reduce processing time, the system being able to produce a loaf of bread from flour to sliced-and-packaged form in about three and a half hours. This is achieved through the use of chemical improvers, solid vegetable fat, higher quantities of yeast, and intense mechanical working by high-speed mixers to incorporate air into the dough. The last requirement means that the CBP cannot be reproduced in a domestic kitchen. Solid fat is necessary to prevent the risen loaf from collapsing — in traditional methods, this structure is provided by the gluten produced by higher-protein flour.

see? so instead of the traditional sourdough, or long fermentation, organic, artisanal bread, the chorleywood process reduces bread to a commodity! so there is no difference between different makes of bread. in fact, MOST bread manufacturers use this method to bake bread, including some organic varieties.

note that why does bread, despite being touted as a health food, needs to be enriched with vitamins and minerals?  because there isn't much in low quality flour!

why is it so soft and fluffy? because it packs more air inside than the real stuff. a huge loaf of commercial sandwich bread weighs 300-400gm. a loaf i bake which is 1/3 the size weighs 450gm.

note also all the nonsense ingredient? understand this, to bake a loaf of bread, we need only flour, water, yeast and salt. NOT chemical improver, NOT enrichment by additional vitamins/minerals, and certainly NOT preservative.





i guess because of the industrialization of bread, we the home bakers, now have our own artisanal bread.

if you care about your own health (and your loved ones), bake your own artisanal bread. use organic flour, long fermentation (or sourdough) and incorporate higher whole wheat (wholemeal) rather than white flour.

speaking of which, i better call martin as i haven't called him since he came back from uk a year ago!





Sunday, July 31, 2011

what to eat if you care about the environment

each type of food have its own carbon footprint. if you are a greenie, you want to know this.

ewg.org (environmental working group) released this simple, easy to read, but so informative chart that shows the carbon footprint of different type of food.

in summary, less meat, more plants.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

vanishing of the bees

if you care about the environment, you must watch this documentary!

beautifully presented (how i wish more documentaries are done this way), this documentary showcases bee colony collapse disorder as encountered by many bee farmers in the united states back in 2007. a colony collapse situation is whereby a whole colony of bees leave their beehive, leaving only a few bees along with the queen. this beehive couldn't sustain itself any more and slowly dies off.

this strange phenomena puzzled the bee farmers as they helplessly see their bee hives falter one by one. this phenomena was later discovered to have been experienced by farmers in europe as well.

much effort later, the most likely culprit is the use of systemic pesticide. unlike conventional pesticides which are applied topically, systemic pesticide is absorbed by the plant and manifests itself outwards on its leave, stem and of course pollen as well. it is believed that the pollen which is then accumulated by bees contain this poison and thus affect the bees so badly that they abandon their hives.


Vanishing of the Bees - Trailer from Bee The Change on Vimeo.

to support this hypothesis, none of the organic bee farms suffer this disorder. so again and again, a lot of the ailments of the modern age is man made!

watch it. learn from it. have new respect for bees and of course, organic farming.

more info from the vanishing bees website.


Friday, July 15, 2011

problem buying whole wheat flour?

is it just me or do you have problem buying organic whole wheat flour lately?

i used to see stacks being sold at hock choon, cold storage, country farm organic store etc but nowadays could hardly find them!

juslife still sells the australian variety but at rm9/kg, I prefer the turkish variety from karahan mill, distributed by country farm organics which goes for rm6+/kg.

uh oh, i hope this is just a temporary stock issue. i hope the retailer is not considering dropping this product line. to be honest, i wouldn't be surprised if they drop this line as i imagine they don't sell much of it. this is not surprising considering this is a nation whereby 15% of malaysians >30 years of age are diabetics! and you bet this number is rising!

just ask around. how many prefer whole wheat over white bread? brown rice over white rice?


Sunday, July 10, 2011

my friend victor

i salute victor. i have seen many folks who complain about poor health but wouldn't do anything to improve it. "food too good, can't resist.", "no time to exercise", "i don't eat much meat (yeah right)"...

but victor took it as a challenge and improved on his health. in september 2010, victor was diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose level (on track to develop diabetes). a triple whammy.

but about 7 months later, his health has improved so much. so how did he do it? what medication did he take? what method?



september 2010

 the "before" pic





 

 june 2011

 the "after" pic





here's some questions i sent his way.



1. what made you decide to lose weight? how much weight you lost in how long the time period?
Obesity always my main issue since childhood. So what made me decide to to lose weight? Well, health of cause. Mid of September last year, I was diagnosed with diabetes with a reading of 20.85 after fasting (blood test)  [>5 for after fasting is bad!]. My cholesterol was off the chart as well... At that time I was 219 pound plus minus. [that's 100kg]

After advised from doctors, they set a target for me to achieve. from 200 plus to 170 to 175 pound (approx 80Kg). I did that in 2 months managed to bring down to 175-176 pound. Then they wanted to bring down to (65Kg)143.2 pound. With this new goal it is a bit difficult to achieve and I have maintained at 175 for about 3 months....

In April, 2011 I decided to set that target and re calibrate my food and exercise... from 175 to 168 in 2 weeks. I maintained this weight till June. A week ago I decided to bring down again my weight... and now is 165pound (75Kg)...

Currently: my walk is about 4Km/hour (2.5Km flat land and approx 1.5Km trail). Workout 2 hours in total (8Km). 3 to 4 times a week.

Will continue this routine and see how it goes...


2. what was your medical test results before and after? if you still have them?
For the blood pressure before September was somewhere around 138/85 to 148/90 at times was 158/98...[normal range is 120/80]

Now around at 123/68 to 127/72 sometimes 106/60 to 110/62 (at this point I think not enough rest and my food intake was too little on that day)... with average heartbeat of 72 to 75... 

Glucose level in blood
September 2010 - 20.85 (Blood test)
October 2010 - 16.5 (2 hours after meal) (High dosage pill)
November 2010 - 10.5 (2 hours after meal) (High dosage pill)
December 2010 - 4.8. 5.7 (2 hours after meal) (reduced dosage)
January til now 2011 - 5.5 to 6.2 (2 hours after meal) (maintain at minimum dosage)

On average after exercise 5.0

3. did you have difficulty sticking to this diet? did you feel like giving up? what was the motivation to continue?
For the first one month, it was end of the world for me.

September to October 2010
1. Morning Oats
2. 10 am. Biscuits and kopi O kosong
3. Afternoon Oats
4. 4 pm Biscuits and kopi O kosong
5. Dinner 200 gm of fish (stream) and Raw Salad (without mayonnaise)

No other food beside than this...

The motivation kicked in when my eyes when blurry even at the distance of 3 feet. The vision turned white like seeing through a filter lens... after taking high dosage of pills. That was from 20.85 to 16.5 in 3 days. In my mind I am still young and I still want to live on like a healthy person. There is no way out and accept the facts that i am sick and decided to take a very drastic action and fight this war. I don't want to depend on pills only but to push my organs to function properly. To do that only through proper Diet and exercise can achieve that at this moment.

[to be honest, such a diet is quite extreme but if you got such a diagnosis, you'll start something extreme right away! good thing victor realized this diet isn't enough so he changed his diet. also please please understand that medication is not the way to go.]


4. any advise to anyone who wants to do the same?Yes:

1. read and know the contains of your food and drinks. Observe every intake of food/drinks and your body reaction. You will know when you sweat. Taste your sweat.
2. Eat in small quantity rather than large quantity at a time. With small quantity you can increase your intake 5 times a day.
3. Reduce taking white rice or replace with brown rice (taj mahal) 3 - 4 spoons per meal.

Drinks
4. Cut Off all soft drinks including 100 plus...
5. Cut off all fast food.
6. Cut off all oily food.

[this means cut out ALL fast food]

Increase intake of vegetables and fruits however. fruits that are forbidden for diabetic patients are:
1. Durian
2. Banana
3. Pine apple
4. Water Melon
5. Grapes
6. etc avoid fruits that are sweet


Take a many lemon and green apple as you can... but you need to monitor your glucose level...

You need to check with your doctor before switching your diet because every person has different physiology. Some may suffer from low sugar level....


so as you could see above, if you want to do it, you could do it. if desire/will is not strong enough, excuses  abound.

by changing his diet, taking more veggies/fruits, eliminating all junk food (soft drinks, fried/processed food etc) and incorporating exercise to his routine, victor managed to lose 60 pounds in 9 months! as you could see his blood glucose level and blood pressure all dropped considerably. he will do a blood cholesterol check later as he doesn't have the equipment to do it at home.

victor did it. i salute his determination and his discipline. i have no doubt he could maintain his weight.

once your health is good, you may indulge in those "unhealthy" food sporadically. the key is that this indulgence is the exception rather than the norm.

so... what's your excuse?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

malaysians are really healthy



"Statistics show that the prevalence of obesity among Malaysian adults increased by a staggering 250% over a 10-year period from 1996 while the number of overweight has increased by 70%.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2006 showed that two out of every five adults or 43%, were either overweight or obese and an alarming situation where the number of obese adults had more than tripled over a decade, from 4% in 1996 to 14% in 2006.



According to statistics, 14.9% and 43% of Malaysians aged above 30 suffer from diabetes and hypertension respectively, with 20.7% of adults over 18 suffering from high cholesterol."

the above is quoted from a news article which appeared in a local english daily. 

so if you are a malaysian adult, you have a 40% chance of being overweight, 15% chance of being diabetic, 43% chance of suffering from high blood pressure and 20% chance of suffering from high cholesterol.

if i may add, i think this statistic is painting a very bleak picture as i personally know of friends who suffer ALL these concurrently!


young at heart

i was cruising on the road one sunday afternoon, listening to bfm (by far, the best malaysian radio station) when they had this show called "a bit of culture" where different presenters will present something unique or interesting they encountered, be it food, music, place... hence culture. that day in addition to nepalese food and other goodies, this young at heart acapella group is so damn interesting. at an average age of 80 years old, you may imagine some geriatrics singing some evergreen oldies... but spare the thought!

i managed to watch the documentary/film and it begins with a 93 year old (oldest member) lady singing the clash's should i stay or should i go! and what a performance!




but the best performance goes to this heart warming rendition of coldplay's young at heart. (this song was also played on the bfm show that day) i couldn't care less for coldplay and this song always gets on my nerve but this singing, this gravely voice, this "very old singing about loss" voice resonates deeply in me.



watching the documentary, it's like a celebration of life. sure, life is fleeting. we each have a limited number of years on this planet but please do not do not let old age slow you down. this group prepared for 7 weeks before their concert and during that time, 2 members passed away but this didn't stop anyone from continuing. no one gave up. in fact, the 2 who passed away attended every practice session all the way though.

as one concert goer commented "i'll never complain feeling old or tired ever again!"

to know more about the young at heart choir, go to their website.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

make your own nutella!




yes, ever tried nutella before? i haven't as i reading the label, i'm not tempted to try. the label doesn't "read" healthy to me.

but chocolate and roasted hazelnut as a bread spread... hmm... it must be good! so make a healthy version!

through google, found this nice little recipe, good for one big ikea jam jar above.

you need

  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


for sugar, i used brown sugar. start off with 1/2 cup and add to taste.
for cocoa powder, i used organic raw cocoa powder, which sells cheaper than hershey's cocoa powder.
for vegetable oil, i used coconut oil.

hey, all three ingredients above is the same i used for making chocolate!  :)

the coconut flavour may be a bit strong here. sub for other less strong tasting oil if you prefer. i won't bother with olive oil either.

i didn't use any vanilla extract but added in a pinch of salt.

first you need to toast the hazelnuts. you could use an oven, ~20 minutes @180c but you could get faster results on a frying pan. use medium heat and stir once in a while. once you smell the aroma and the nuts start to brown, it's ready! (it's sooooo hard not to much a few here!)

once the hazelnuts have cooled down, put into a food processor and blend till about fine. then add in the rest of the ingredients and blend further to mix everything up. taste it, and if you need more sugar, add and blend.

that's it! to clean the blender, use a piece of bread and mop up the remainder nutella. it's good stuff, don't waste it!

remember to refrigerate to keep it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

for coffee lovers




i used to be a coffee junkie but my insomnia got so bad that i only drink probably a cup or two in a week.

however, if you want to drink coffee, do it the right way. go for a quality cuppa.

drink it black. this means no sugar, no milk, no creamer, nothing else!

just coffee and hot water of around 80-90C. or just before it boils. feel free to go above boiling point if you love bitter coffee.  :)

since 15% of malaysians are now diabetic and this figure is projected to rise, it'll do you lots of good to reduce your preference for sugar. why heck, all of us are already guilty of taking too much sugar in our food! even if you go entirely sugar free, chances are you still consume simple carbohydrates (like white bread, white rice, potatoes) and this still converts to sugar in your body. if you drink your coffee black, you will slowly but surely cut down your preference for sugar. btw, do you know that sugar is the most addictive substance in the world?

and this is the coffee i drink nowadays.  le bistro fine coffee is available at most organic shops. a huge pack of 30 sachets cost rm60 and it includes a french press, like the one pictured above. sorry i don't know how long will this free offer.

each sachet contains about 12 gms of coarsely ground coffee beans. so to make your cuppa is really easy.

boil water till almost boiling.
empty sachet contents into french press.
fill up with hot water.
few minutes later, push down the plunger and pour out your coffee.

good for about 2 medium sized cups. please don't add anything else. drink it black.
the coffee grounds can be used for compost or as a fertilizer.

i sincerely believe one should only take coffee in the morning and best avoided after noon.
 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

what you are today...

 ... is a result of the people you met, the books you read, the music you listened to, the movies you watched, the conversations you had etc etc... 5 years ago.

so what will you be 5 years later is also the same thing --- the people you meet, the books you read, the music you listened to, the movies you watched etc today. in other words, your sphere of influence.

meaning that if you wonder why are you seemingly stuck at the same phase in life without making any progress, perhaps you are still doing the same thing over and over again!

so stop wasting time. develop a habit of doing something useful. follow your interests. 5 years later you can look back at all your accomplishment with pride. and if some ventures didn't work out well, well, at least you tried! and got wiser from the experience.

act now rather than figure what have you done wasting the past 5 years.

no idea who came up with the above quote but it's so true.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

make your own pickle!

as we eat healthier, we find ourselves doing things our ancestors have been doing all this while.

making bread the traditional way, using natural soap, omitting processed foad, eating more organic vegetables, getting more exercise... all in all, what our ancestors have always done!

and there is something else we should do. back in the 1930s, dr weston price did a tour around the world to study the health of natives around the world. as he is a dentist, he is interested in their food and also their dental health. as we know today, our dental health also correlates directly with our physical health. [you could extend this to the health of our gut and intestines.]

dr price is surprised to find that people eat all kinds of foods and still live healthily. his studies pf the eskimos for example, show that they eat lots of fish and fats and hardly grains/vegetables but do not suffer high rates of heart disease. you can find out more from the weston price foundation.

he also found out that many traditional societies eat a lot of fermented food. be it fermented meats or fermented vegetables. folks those days ferment food so that they last longer.

today we know that due to the process of fermentation, the food is now easier to digest, more nutritious (more b vitamins) and is packed with lots of bacteria beneficial - probiotics, to our gut, like lactobacillus.

so how do we "eat" more of probiotics? eat raw fermented vegetables! like pickles!

a great resource is this guy sandor katz who runs a website called... wild fermentation.

we gave it a try. it's so easy!

bought 2 medium sized organic cucumbers. (go organic. don't be cheap.)
cut into slices, lengthwise. you could halve, then quarter them lengthwise as well.
put in a tablespoon of rock or sea salt into a glass. fill it up with water. stir well.

this is your brine solution. how much salt to use it's up to you. i started off this. it's quite salty but no worries!

use a large glass jar, put in 2 cloves of crushed garlic (skin removed), some dried oregano, thyme, the sliced cucumber and pour in your brine.

make sure the brine covers the cucumber completely. if you do not have enough brine, make more and top up.

that's it! no heating, no vinegar etc. that's it! it's so simple!

i closed the cap loosely and kept the jar in a cool place and monitored it for days. every one or 2 days, i'll taste the brine solution. day by day, it gets less salty. and on the 7th day, it's sweet and sour! once it's sour to your desire, keep it in the fridge to halt the fermentation.


what happens is that due to the brine solution, water from the cucumber seeps out. thus the cucumber starts to shrink in size. look at the picture above, the cucumbers are now floating and there's lots of brine solution underneath. on day 1, the brine solution just about covers all the cucumbers nicely.

as the cucumbers shrink, it gets crunchier! the salt inhibits growth of bad bacterias and allows lactobacillus, which is salt tolerant, to grow. thus the cucumber starts to ferment. and the acids is the byproduct of the fermentation.

so day by day, more and more acid is released. so taste the brine and cucumber to see how sour you want it to be. with the addition of garlic and herbs, you get more flavours.

now commercial pickles use acid to speed up the process, colouring (so that the pickles look "aged")  and god knows what else.

what for? why buy when you could make your own? a commercial pickel of less than half of what i did sells for rm20 and i spent less than rm3 to make.

and it's so freaking simple!

you bet we'll be making more ferments later


Saturday, April 30, 2011

good4u



good4u.com.my is a local (as in malaysian) web based organic store.

they do delivery too, at only rm3 but with a minimum order of rm50. right now they only cater to klang valley but hope to expand to other parts of malaysia later.

they have quite a range of products. do check them out!

Monday, April 25, 2011

make your own chocolate!


i love chocolates! who doesn't? i love them, especially the dark dark variety.

unfortunately commercial chocolates are anything but healthy. too much sugar, too much fillers like soy lecithin, soy protein etc... why all these fillers? to bulk it up! cocoa powder and cocoa butter is expensive. to use more butter is also expensive, hence all the "substitutes".

as the saying goes, if you want something done the right way, you better do it yourself.

natural health strategies' website has this page on making your own healthy chocolate. it's really easy! you could make it in 10 minutes!

key here is to use good ingredients.

for cocoa powder, i used radiant wholefood's unsweetened organic cocoa powder. it's worth getting this, it's cheaper than hershey's! check around organic stores, jaya jusco and cold storage.

i tried searching for coconut oil but it's not easy! the only one i could find is the organic variety. quite costly... i asked our indian friends and was told you could probably find in indian specialty stores. hmm... for centuries, indians have been eating coconut oil and they live fine. no heart disease etc. but nowadays with the advent of cheaper oils like vegetable oils, we have a rise in heart disease! i know i know i'm over simplifying things but there's food for thought.

but coconut oil is high in saturated fat no? it is! but it raises mainly HDL - good cholesterol which has a protective effect on your heart. it is also rich in lauric acid which has anti bacterial properties. lauric acid can't be bad for you since breast milk is also high in lauric acid. since we can't drink breast milk every day... coconut oil will have to do!

raw cocoa is great as it's know to have anti oxidant properties.

so how about combining both super ingredients into one tasty snack?!

from the site's recipe, i modified it somewhat. i didn't put in grated coconut for bulk but put in quite a handful of roasted hazelnuts and roasted cashew nuts. put in some brown sugar as well. you really got to adjust this to taste. if you prefer it sweet, then put in more. i love it bitter! how much sugar is really up to you but go for brown sugar or molasses. do not go for those "sugar free" sweeteners like aspartame, xylitol, malitol etc. remember, use only natural ingredients. if it sounds like some chemical or you have problem pronouncing it, you shouldn't bother with it!

and when i taste it... it's fantastic! the darkest bestest dark chocolate i have ever tested!

 it's super rich, immensely gratifying, brings a huge smile to your face and you know it's very healthy as coconut oil is one of those good fats that we should eat more and eat less those unhealthy fats.

there you go! enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

earth day


what is your earth day pledge?

http://act.earthday.org/leaderboard

we do practice some here. let's see.


  • we use recycleable shopping bags.
  • we reuse all plastic bags.
  • we don't buy bottled mineral water.
  • we reduce our consumption of meat.
  • we eat organic produce.
  • we use natural soap/cleaners.
  • we car pool.
  • we compost our waste.
  • we recycle newspapers, all paper products and glass bottles.
  • 90% of our light bulbs are of energy saving variety.
  • we only use rechargeable batteries.
  • reduce further our consumption of water and electricity. current monthly water bill is the minimum charge of rm6 and electricity bill averages rm40.
  • we don't use air conditioning at home at all. on very hot nights, we switch it on for only 2-3 hours to cool down the room.
hmm... this is all i could think of, the initiatives we are taking right now. will definitely add to it! 

so what's your pledge?

Monday, April 11, 2011

if you love fast food, read this...


... in 1996, karen hanrahan bought a mcd hamburger. she didn't eat it but kept it in a sandwich box.

in 2008, she took a photo of the burger and updated her site in 2009 with the photo of the burger as well.

in total 13 years has passed and the burger still hasn't decomposed. not sure about status now though...

it doesn't matter. if it hasn't decomposed in 6 months (and this is already a stretch), it's not food!

photo below is taken in 2010. 14 year old burger on your left. new burger on your right.

check out these links.

http://bestofmotherearth.com/2009/09/23/1996-mcdonalds-hamburger-revisited.html

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/25/mcdonalds-happy-meal-shows-no-sign-of-decomposing.aspx


from dr mercola's site,  this is info taken from mcd's site. this hamburger bun consists of

"Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzymes), water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide, soy flour), calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin."

simple life maxim. 
if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it! 
if you don't know what is it, don't eat it! 


 we bake our own bread here, using artisanal methods of yesteryears and our bread consists of :   
 organic whole wheat flour, salt, oil and water


if you don't bother baking your own bread, perhaps you'll think twice about buying those "healty" commercial bread? 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

if you are lazy to bake your own bread, and i'm looking at you. you you you you!!!!!

here's a bread i turn to too when i have too much on my plate.


above is a 3 seed sprouted bread - flax seed, sunflower seed and sesame seed.

on the right is a 7 grain sprouted bread - millet, corn, oat, rye, soy, lentil and of course, wheat.



baked without preservative, the cost at rm6.90 per loaf is actually quite a good deal. it has to be one of the healthier off the shelves bread available now.

nowadays you could buy them from kl as well as many places in malaysia. the store finder on the site helps you out here.


do visit adventist's website for more detail.

Monday, April 4, 2011

i like this toothpaste!

the harmful chemical sodium lauryl sulphate is found in many household products, especially detergents, as it lathers very well. found in shampoo, soap, shower cream, dish washer, floor cleaner etc.

since it is so harmful, the thought of swallowing sulphate is disgusting right? but you may be doing so EVERY DAY. especially if you are using tooth paste that has this chemical in it. go home and read the ingredient label on your tooth paste!

i recommend this tooth paste.



ingredient list :  propolis extract, sage oil, chamomile extract, myrrh extract, peppermint oil.

we really like this toothpaste. it cleans very well, very refreshing and doesn't leave an unpleasant after taste in the mouth. also, since it's quite concentrated, you only need 5mm of it on your tooth brush. so a tube lasts more than 6 weeks for both of us.

we pay something like rm8+ for it, so it's very reasonable considering the natural ingredients used.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

i like this soap!

i'm interested in making soap but the problem is getting lye, a strong alkaline solution. even though i have been told where to get lye, still i'm lazy to go there. reason being...

this!

this is a bar of soap made using natural ingredients and made in the natural way. i was told the ingredients are palm oil and coconut oil. i believe lye is the other ingredient. since it costs only rm3+ and available easy at many organic stores, i'm not tempted to play with oil and lye!

it lathers very well, moistures our skin extremely well and best of all, it's so lasting. a bar lasts us more than a month for both of us. the fact that it's wrapped in unassuming mahjong paper only adds to its charm. well, that's what i think.

nowadays if i travel, i'll bring this bar of soap with me and it maintains our skin moisture so well that even if i'm cooped up in a dry, air-con environment for 24 hours, i don't feel my skin itch at all. you know, that kind of itch you get when your skin gets too dry?

who needs body lotion if you use the RIGHT type of soap? one made using traditional way, using natural ingredients. no sulphate no nonsense chemical.

as there's no synthetic fragrance in it, it has no smell at all. i like this! i hate smelling like a flower after shower.

go ahead! try this bar of soap! if you don't like it, i'll take from you!






Thursday, March 24, 2011

more earth day rant

continuing my rant on earth day...

other than reducing energy usage, we should also focus on reducing the amount of waste we generate each day. (and not just one hour, sorry, another dig at that earth day thingie.)

now, we can't simply reduce the waste our bodies put out (how to shit less? unless we eat less...) but we can at least minimize the impact the waste we put out.

now, let's look at our daily routine. we wake up in the morning, shit/bath, brush our teeth, then go to work, come home, bath, brush our teeth, go to sleep. this is a typical routine no? more or less.

now what happens to all that water that we use when we bath and brush our teeth? all flows to our drains and eventually to our rivers, and the oceans. so far so good.

but what are we putting out? when you brush teeth, you spit out used toothpaste. when you shower, you use shower cream or soap. all this will be washed down our water ways. so what's in these that prompts me to write this?

without even focusing on other ingredients, i'll just talk about one common ingredient found in our toothpaste, soap, shower cream, liquid dish wash, floor cleaner etc --- sodium lauryl sulphate.

this chemical is found in these "cleaners" as they help in lathering and cleaning. it's a CHEMICAL, not found in the natural world. its impact on human bodies is found to confuse the body's system as it mimics the hormone estrogen, a female hormone. click on the above link to learn more.

so what, since no one eats these "cleaners", you may ask? yes, you have a point but like in the case of shower cream, don't tell me none gets absorbed into our bodies?! or tooth paste when you brush your teeth?

and just imagine how much we put out all these "cleaners" into our water ways which is later consumed by all sorts of wildlife and plants, and which in the end, comes back to the water we drink.

so the easiest way to go about this is... not to use products containing such chemicals.

a bar of soap only needs fats/oil plus lye to make. animal fats used to be the choice but nowadays natural soap made from vegetable oils is available easily. the byproduct is glycerine and it's already in the soap. the chemical soup known as "commercial soap" has the glycerine taken out and put into another product called "body lotion".

use bio-degradable, natural dish washing detergent. currently using biohome from lam soon.

use natural tooth paste which doesn't contain sulphate or any of those chemical soup.

i'll share more about these products soon.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

hari organik 2011



another edition of hari organik is on this saturday, 26th march 2011. if you haven't been to one before, make it a point to visit!

i first learned about the benefits of mulberry (and bought a sampling) at last year's event. met a guy who's doing vermi-composting on a large scale (using worms to compost and using its discards as fertilizer), as well as a lady who's doing pretty well with her organic bakery business!

so not only you learn new stuffs, you meet like minded folks, learn more about the local industry and buy good stuffs at lower prices!

what more can one ask for?!

so see you there!




Monday, March 21, 2011

meat glue




watch this video! this is an industry secret the food industry doesn't want you to know.

low grade and meat scraps can be "glued" together to form a new piece of steak for you.

the meat glue is actually an enzyme called transglutaminase. it's also used in ham, hot dogs, fish ball and even noodles! click on the link to learn more.



Where to cross the border


got this from a friend...

so true!


Subject: Where to cross the border………..

Know where to cross the border...
If You Cross The North Korean Border Illegally
You get 12 years Hard Labour.

If You Cross The Iranian Border Illegally
You Are Detained Indefinitely.

If You Cross The Afghan Border
Illegally, You Get Shot.

If You Cross The Saudi Arabian Border Illegally
You Will Be Jailed.

If You Cross The Chinese Border Illegally
You May Never Be Heard Again.

If You Cross The Venezuelan Border Illegally
You Will Be Branded A Spy And Your Fate Will Be Sealed.

If You Cross The Cuban Border Illegally
You Will Be Thrown Into Political Prison To Rot.

If You Enter Britain Illegally
You Will be Arrested, Prosecuted And Sent To Prison And Deported

If You Are An Indonesian AND ILLEGALLY CROSS THE MALAYSIAN BORDER

YOU GET:

MyPR (Permanent Residence / Pemastautin Tetap)
A Driving License,
Voting Rights
Job Reservation,
Special Privilege to be Consider as Bumi,
Credit Cards,
Subsidized Rent Or A Loan To Buy A House,
Free Education,
Free Health Care,
and if you are a clever dickie, you can be a Menteri Besar or even
Prime Minister!

Oh Malaysia, what a great country!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

earth day approaching

it's that time of the year again. with earth day approaching, folks are again talking about switching off their lights for an hour, just to "conserver energy" blah blah blah...

i'm tired of this. i'm sick of this. the first time i've heard of earth day, i wonder "what's the point?". how does switching lights off for one hour bring about a message of conservation, of being environmentally conscientious etc? the argument always go along that "this is a start" etc. so i get the impression that something bigger will be in the works.

but my question is, for how long have we had this earth day thingie? and for how long are we still talking about switching building lights off? can we move on from this? are we building or losing the momentum?

as such, i'll try to blog about how each of us, through little lifestyle changes can have a bigger impact on planet earth rather than this earth day movement. with each of us doing these on a daily basis, we could see a much bigger impact cumulatively. yes, i'm talking about little lifestyle changes rather than one off events like "earth day".

if the aim is to save energy, for folks in tropical countries like malaysia, switch off your air-con.
i'm always amazed when friends are amazed by our electricity bill. for a build up area of 1600+ sq ft, our monthly electricity bill is around rm40. almost everyone i know uses more than this (in the hundreds!), even for smaller build up areas. well, certainly it's not like we are spartans. we still have our refrigerator, tv etc. why heck, add to my weekly use of our oven, almost daily use of soldering iron etc. the biggest factor is... we very rarely switch on our air con.

so if everyone (why heck, even just 10%) does not switch on their air con when they sleep, imagine how much power we could save?!

but you'll ask me, how so in hot humid tropical malaysia? easy. the answer is pretty much right in front of you. ask your parents or grand parents, how did they live when in the past air conditioning wasn't popular?

the problem as i see it is that these days, houses are built with nary a thought for air ventilation. it's already bad that we use thermally inefficient bricks and cements for building our houses (which are suitable for temperate regions), we worsen the situation by omitting ventilation holes common at the upper walls of buildings. also nowadays developers like to use a lot of glass in their buildings. urgh!!!! and the only advice they could give you is to install more air conditioning units!

to cool down your house, think of keeping hot air out and allowing cool air in.

if possible, get a corner or end lot rather than intermediate unit. you have more windows so open them in the mornings/evenings when the air is cooler and close them during the afternoon when the air is warm.
if possible, install windows awnings to shield direct sunlight from entering your home.
if possible, renovate your house to have a balcony or verandah, effectively creating an "air pocket" for thermal insulation.

certainly doable :
install tinted windows or just a tinted film on your windows to cut down direct sunlight.
install those "turbine thingie" at the roof top to improve air ventilation of your house and also mainly to channel out hot air from your attic.
install a fan near the window to pull in the cool night air.
if you live in a double storey house, install an exhaust fan at the highest point (or nearby) of your house to channel out hot air trapped in your house.

if you really need to use an air-con, switch it on for 2-3 hours before sleeping, then switch if off and open the windows wide to allow the cool night air to flow in.

some very simple tips no? try them and trust me, not only are you conserving energy, you'll be saving lots of $$$ in the long run.

if you have more tips, please share here in the comments section.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

treat your garden to coffee and watch it grow...

 

i was in the mall the other day when i passed by starbucks and noticed there was a bin full of coffee grounds packed nicely in aluminium foil bags. i asked the staff and was told these are given away free for use in your garden.

nice!

since we are already composting our organic waste, coffee grounds is a nice addition. furthermore after brewing, most of the acidity has been removed and tests on coffee grounds show that they register a pH of around 6.9 which is as good as neutral. they are rich in nitrogen so your plants would definitely love them. and the fact that they smell good too! oh yeah, the smell is a natural insect repellent.

just treated some coffee grounds to our plants. will see how they grow.

thanks to starbucks for this initiative. we need more of such environmental consciousness!

i just checked with starbucks malaysia, seems like most starbucks in klang valley region participate in this program but less so elsewhere. if your local starbucks aren't part of this program, talk to them. perhaps place a bin there for them to toss their coffee grounds so that you could collect it from time to time.








Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the china study

this is one of the books that could change your view and perceptions of food, forever!


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study_(book)

the author contends that a diet high in animal protein is the cause of many degenerative diseases afflicting our modern society these days. current scientific studies tend to isolate and identify a single agent causing a specific ailment. say high cholesterol is linked to heart disease. insulin deficiency is linked to diabetes. dr campbell however doesn't agree with this approach as he uses a different angle and his studies over the years found that a diet rich in animal protein is directly linked to a whole series of affliction known as our current "lifestyle disease".

it's hard to argue with the data as it's collected from 880 million people in china, the largest medical study ever done.  from wikipedia link above,

"The authors conclude that people who eat a whole plant food diet that avoids consuming animial proteins and fats from beef, poultry, eggs, fish, and milk will minimize and/or reverse the development of chronic diseases. They also recommend adequate amounts of sunshine to maintain sufficient levels of Vitamin D and dietary supplements of vitamin B12 in case of complete avoidance of animal products. They criticize "low carb" diets (such as the Atkins diet), which include restrictions on the percentage of calories derived from complex carbohydrates." 

i seriously urge you to read this book and reconsider your diet!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

current favourite whole wheat bread recipe

though i haven't blogged much about bread baking lately, i'm still doing it every weekend. will make the dough on saturday, let it ferment over night and bake on sunday. i've been tweaking the recipe bit by bit and have observed the changes. current favourite is still richard bertinent's ciabatta recipe tweaked for whole wheat flour.

here's the recipe again.

to ferment overnight or at least 12 hours (this is your biga):
  • 350 gm of organic whole wheat flour
  • 2-3 gm or quarter teaspoon of instant yeast
  • 200-220 gm of water (if it's too dry, a bit more water is fine here)
  • 1-3 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (optional but recommended!)

on baking day
  • everything above, mix with
  • 350 gm organic whole wheat flour 
  • 100 gm organic bread flour  (also known as white flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast 
  • ~10 gm sea salt or rock salt 
  • 330 gm water
  • 30 gm olive oil (use more if you prefer)

the vinegar is a nice addition. the dough ferments faster and the yeast is a lot more active. said to aid digestion of whole wheat, i don't know about this but i like the effect of the added vinegar. i used to do 100% whole wheat but the substitution of just 10% white flour results in very good rise. you could of course opt for 100% whole wheat.

this is a very wet dough. you can't knead it. it has to be so wet as we are dealing with almost 100% whole wheat flour here. if you ever cooked brown rice, you know that cooking whole grains require lots of water. same here!

so instead of kneading, you use the "stretch and fold" technique as illustrated in this video by richard bertinent. http://bleedinggumsmurphy.blogspot.com/2009/10/video-showing-bertinents-method.html. you really need a dough knife here!

don't over stretch yourself working the dough. work for a few minutes, let it rest for a few minutes then work on it again. better results than working on it continuously for 10 minutes. after you are done (say after 10 minutes or you couldn't be bothered anymore!), let it rest for about 30 minutes in a well oiled (olive oil) bowl.

after 30 minutes, it should have grown at least 50% in volume. pour it out (if you didn't oil the bowl, you'll regret now) on a flat surface and divide into 2 or 3, up to you. you could also switch on your oven now, set it for 250C or maximum temperature.put in your baking sheet now.

divided into 2, you get 2 large loaves of slightly more than 0.5kg each. divided into 3, you get 3 loaves of roughly 330 gm each.

once divided, gently stretch the dough again and fold into half. be gentle... to do this, you need 2 dough knives as there's no way your hands could handle the very wet dough. use the dough knives like an extension of your hands. place the ready dough on a piece of wood or baking sheet coated with lots of rice flour. you need this so that you could slide the dough into the oven.

once the oven is ready, use a very sharp knife, oil it slightly and slice on the top of the dough. slice it length wise or breadth wise or both. most likely you won't get a nice cut as the very wet dough will somewhat stick to your knife. never mind, let it be. slice for a depth of around 1 cm. if you don't slice it, as the dough rises up during baking, it may "break" at the sides, resulting in a not so pretty loaf of bread. if sliced at the top, it'll rise more evenly. anyway, it's okay to forego this step. most books recommend using a double edged razor blade but even with this, it still sticks as we are dealing with a very wet dough here. i know as i've tried this!

prepare a handful of ice cubes and throw into the oven after you slide in the doughs. be very quick here! you don't want too much heat to escape from the oven.

after 5 minutes at 250C or whatever max temperature your oven can handle, set it down to 220 C and let it bake for another 20 minutes.

then take it out! you are done!

if you desire for a slightly burned crust (i like this!), instead of 20 minutes, let it bake a little longer.

there you go! crusty, soft best tasting whole wheat bread. haven't tasted better!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

confusing flour codes...

if your recipe calls for a certain type of flour, say italian "doppio zero" or french flour 55, have no fret.

the below table taken from wikipedia shows the equivalent that you need.

have used doppio zero before when making pizza - as "italian" and as "authentic" as a pizza dough could be. have bought this flour before (around rm5.50-5m8 per kg) from hock choon before.


so don't worry about these pesky codes. you could buy the equivalent just as easily.

but of course, the purist in you can't accept this!


Monday, January 24, 2011

saveourseafood.my

saveourseafood.my is a collaboration between wwf malaysia and malaysia nature society to educate us about the precarious nature of our seafood. they issued a guide as to what species to avoid in order to avoid over-fishing.

there's a whole list there you can check out here. http://www.saveourseafood.my/sustainableSeafood/sustainableSeafoodSpecies.html

i think the malay version of the guide is more useful here.

so this coming chinese new year, try to avoid pomfret, shark's fin... yeah right, like this is going to happen.