Saturday, August 27, 2011


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 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!