Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sweet Bird in the Backyard

I spotted, actually T spotted, a bird making a nest in the small Mango Tree at the back of the house. Everyday T has been glued to the window closest to the tree watching the activity.

I did a quick search online, but couldn't find a photograph of this smallish white bird with a black almond shape around her eyes. Anyone know what kind of bird this is?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Malaysia Sunset

Often the sunset makes the entire sky pink, but this photo doesn't capture just how pink and beautiful it really is.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Air Asia Amazingly Cheap Flights

One of the best things about living in Malaysia is Air Asia. The flights are cheap and I recently purchased some tickets for travel in the fall. Well, I always see on the Air Asia website these amazing deals, but when I key in the dates and destinations of my travel the prices are never as cheap as the promotion. Although they are cheap enough.

Yesterday morning I received a newletter in my email inbox from Air Asia stating "The Big Sale in On Again". So I went on to the site to see what they were offering because 10 sen flights (about 3 US cents) seems unbelievably low.

First I searched Kuching, Malaysia because R and I want to go there. It is in Sarawak. The price for two round trip tickets (duration 4 nights in February 2012) was a total of 30.40 RM (about $10 USD) meaning that each of our round trip tickets were only about $5 USD amazing!

The Air Asia site was so busy, it put me in "the Waiting Room" where it counted down my wait and noticed me that I had only 10 minutes or so to search when my search began. Now I know why the prices were higher when I searched in the past, I think it is because everyone on their email mailing list gets noticed and then these customers get all the good deals.

So I searched Jakarta, Indonesia just to see (duration 7 nights in February 2012) and the total for 2 round trip tickets was 50 RM (under $20 USD for both!). When have you last heard of a flight out of the country, roundtrip no less, for less than $10 USD?

I checked one more desination Mumbai, India and the price came back 524 RM (for duration 2 weeks in February 2012). It seems Air Asia wasn't letting any flights to Mumbai go both for 10 sen so they had one leg of the flight at 125 RM and that with the taxes made it up to 524 RM. But 524 RM is about $175 USD meaning that each round trip ticket to India was about $87.50 USD! Unbelievable.

What is unbelievable is that I had to close out of the site not ordering any tickets because R and I don't have our travel plans set for 2012 as we plan to visit the US. It pained me not to book anything. I can only hope that Air Asia stays in business (at these prices how can they?) long enough for R and I to really enjoy visiting more countries in Asia.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Popovers in Malaysia

I found my mom's recipe for Popovers in my recipes and decided to give them a try as they are very easy to make. My mom's recipe is the easiest one I've encountered and usually is failure-proof unlike other fussy popover recipes.

You'll see in the recipe below it says not to over-beat the mixture. So I when I was making them I stirred just enough to mix the batter. Then I realized I had forgot the eggs and was forced to add them and stir some more. Well, this extra stirring I think was the reason that the popovers did not stay large a puffy as they were in the muffin pan when they came out of the oven. As soon as I took them out and put them in the dish, they fell. They still tasted pretty good with butter melted all over the insides. I'll try them again soon R loved them.

Mom's Popovers
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs

Heat oven to 425 fahrenheit (218 celsius). Beat ingredients until smooth - do not overbeat or the popovers will not rise. Overbeating will reduce volume.

Pour mixture into well greased oven-glass cups. Bake for 40-45 minutes or take out before the tops of the popovers burn.

Note: I don't have glass cups here in Malaysia, so I used my muffin pan which worked ok.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bunga Kantan Thriving

My Bunga Kantan plant behind the carpark continues to thrive. I initially wrote about it here. Another Malaysian blogger Autumn Belle, who has a fantastic gardening blog called My Nice Garden, wrote me that from the photos on my blog she can see that my plant is generating seeds which is apparently uncommon. I do see the Malaysian Little Spider Hunter Bird hovering around the plant alot (see my post here) and so I think that is how the plant is being pollinated.

I sent Autumn Belle some of the dried brown seeds like above and a few fresher larger green and pinkish pods. She sent me some items in return which I will write about later! Anyway, she just posted a very good informative post on Bunga Kantan here asking her large readership if they have any experience with germinating Bunga Kantan from seeds. I hope that they can give us some advice or if anyone reading here has any advice please post it!

In the meantime, I planted two pots of Bunga Kantan seeds as a test. 4 seeds on April 24 and 4 more on April 29. You can see from the photo that nothing has sprouted yet in the Bunga Kantan pots. The other pot is a mango seedling that I pulled from the grass in the front yard. I want to see how that does, but I'm not sure I need anymore Mango tress on the property because I already have four and they grow pretty big.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Planted Ixora Orange Plants

I planted four Ixora Coccinea Orange Plants in the square planter at the front left of the property. This planter is above the trash box / mailbox. I went with this orange plant opposed to something else because these plants, I have been told, can withstand a lot of sun and do not have to be watered everyday. I know this must be true, because I see many of these plants along the roadsides where they are not watered except for natural rainfall. No watering sounds good to me.

The plants in the planter (above left of photo)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bayam Merah Salad

I decided to try and make a vlita salad yesterday after putting up the Bayam Merah Post. So I searched online and found a couple recipes which I adapted slightly. The salad tasted pretty good, the fresh lemon juice was nice. I happened to have a couple lemons on hand, usually we use more limes. Here's the recipe:

1 Large Bunch of Amaranth Leaves (Bayam Merah, Chinese Red Spinach)
½ Red Onion Diced
1/2 to 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil (enough to cover the leaves)
½ Squeezed Lemon Juice
Sliced Almonds

Cut big stem parts and roots from Amaranth Bunch and clean leaves.

Boil large Wok full of water. Place Amaranth in Wok and cover boiling for 10 minutes, stir occasionally pressing leaves down into water.

Drain Amaranth and paper towel dry excess water. Add to a large bowl and mix in the other ingredients starting with the lemon juice and olive oil.

Chill for a few minutes before to serving. Serve with lemon wedges. Eat the salad in one serving (it doesn’t keep well).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bayam Merah

I bought a huge bunch of Bayam Merah a vegetable leaf that you can find out more about in the Wikipedia article on Amaranth. The first time I bought it here in Malaysia someone called it Chinese Red Spinach. So I have been preparing it as a spinach of sorts. Looking at the Amaranth article though, I see that many countries use this leaf in cooking. I'm going to check out how to make the Greece salad dish using this leaf called vlita or vleeta. What is best about it is that, unlike green spinach, when cooked the red of the leaf bleeds so when you mix the cooked Bayam Merah on say rice, the rice takes on a red color similar to the color of beet juice which makes for a colorful meal. Price of the bunch above 1.44 RM from Tesco.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rattan in Seremban Store

I was in Seremban town the other day and dropped by the Rattan store to check the rattan table I had seen there to see if it would go with my patio chairs. The table pictured above doesn't come with a top. The woman at the store had a large round flattish basket tray sitting on it. It might be nice to use a tray to bring out food and drinks, but not sure. Maybe a round piece of white laminate or a piece of glass for the table top, but the glass might fall off easily?

The store also had this foot stool as well. I would remove the fake leather cushion and find another or leave it without one.

I'm not sure if I get these pieces if it will be too much rattan on the patio. Have to think....

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Our Favorite Malaysian Noodles

Since living here our favorite Noodles have become these brownish hard noodles which are called different names and similar to Chinese Noodles. Both brands above are produced in Selangor, Malaysia the yellow bag is called "Megah Mee Clay Pot Ee Mee" and the White and Red bag is called "EE KEE" (2.60RM per bag). Although the brand name states "clay pot" the instructions on the back show the noodles can be used for soups or fried noodles as well. We like them as fried noodles and below is how we make them.

One of the simplest meals we make are vegetables and these noodles. We use whatever vegetables we have on hand and some chili peppers. First we cook the vegetables in a bit of oil in the wok and set them aside. While we are cooking the vegetables we add two of those round noodle disks to boiling water and cook the noodles for about two minutes. They should get softer, but not mushy. We drain the noodles and then add them to the wok and fry the noodles. Stirring them a lot so that the noodles don't get stuck on the bottom of the wok.

When the noodles start to stick, we add some light and dark soy sauce to loosen them from the bottom of the pan. Then we add the vegetables back in and toss the mixture.

Lastly, we add some of this Thai sos sauce (here a popular brand called Maggi) to make the noodles a bit spicer and to give the noodles a bit of a sauce base. I think that these noodles made in the hawker stands in Malaysia are made with soy sauce only. But we like the extra taste. The noodles are brownish, but I think that the dark soy sauce is what makes the noodles look darker too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Painting Complete

The painting and clean up of the upstairs 'Family Room' (as they call it around here), Stairs and Entry way is finally complete! I think it looks great and is ready for some furniture, now if we could only find the right items. The Ikea mattress cushions that I saw with the grey covering turned out to not be a good idea. The grey part was not a permanent fabric but kind of a temporary cheap fabric cover that would get ruined pretty quick. So for now we have to find other cushions that will work or resort to sofas/chairs. The search is on....

Monday, May 2, 2011

More Painting

For the past couple days the painters were here sanding and priming the walls in the Family Room, Stairway area, and Entryway to make the walls smoother. What a mess, but we put up plastic in the living room doorway and the kitchen doorway to cut down on the dust which was really bad last time they sanded the living room and dining room. The walls in these areas were painted a light 'gardenia' green. Almost white but with a light green tint. It was ok, but the walls were a bit uneven in places so we decided to paint the rooms Nippon 145 White in Spotless. We had used a cheaper non-washable paint Nippon paint in the living room and dining room and it just isn't performing as well as our Home office or Kitchen which are Spotless White. So we decided to use the better paint especially for the stairs walls which gets dirty faster. Here in Malaysia the Geckos create a dropping that gets on the walls and it needs to be washed off. No matter how hard you try to make your place gecko-free, they manage to get in anyway and there is always some of the brown hard droppings around the windows and floors. This sounds gross and it is, but after being here for awhile, it is just part of living in Malaysia that you have to deal with. Well, having washable paint on the walls does help cleaning it.

The photo above is while the painters are painting the sealer on the walls before the coats of paint.

Image of the completed ceiling in the stairs area.

Entryway with sealer coat.