Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bon Cafe

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Last night we had a Bon Cafe session. When I first came here, I missed the first two Bon Cafe session. I keep asking myself where is this Bon Cafe? I've been around the camps both on foot and on my bike, but I have not seen any cafe that I have not been in. It turns out, Bon Cafe is a session meant to provide updates to us the expat community. Its being held at the activity centre.

The session last night was to update on the security condition and the plan during the upcoming presidential election. At certain level, depending on how the election goes, potentially there will be some civil and political unrest and we might have to be evacuated to a safe location, where is defined as safe? Depends on the situation here in Rivers State and the other neighbouring state as well. Nigeria is an interesting location. Last year, we had evacuation exercise in preparation if Ebola spreads more than anticipated.

Late last year, we were woken up by the divestment move, 25% manpower are being let go, this is even before the crude price drop. This year, with the crude oil price dropping and not recovering, some projects may take a back seat and we are still not sure whether there will be other wave of divestment happening or not. And now, the presidential election....fuuh.... and I am only 1 year old here.

More to come I guess, with the market not looking that good, one can only hope for the best. Euro drop, and ringgit drop as well, so we'll see. WK predicted our stay here may be cut short. I wish I can finish my 4 years tenure here, for the sake of my financial and my personal experience as well.

Anyhoo, Allah knows best, its all part of His plan. Wherever he puts me, I am going to be fine, insyaAllah.

Till next time, wassalam.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekend round up : Kerabu Daun Selom

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh..

I have tonnes of things to settle over the weekend (over every weekend actually). But I keep on postponing and the list keeps piling up. The only thing that I am more than willing to do during weekend is cooking and trying out new recipe, and invite people over for lunch/dinner.

The other week, I had Annie and Geoffrey, Pak Anton and WK for dinner on Saturday and just yesterday I had Chiew and Theresa, with Lirang and her husband, Ignace for lunch. I've had successes with few recipes :) but too bad I was rushing it most of the times that I did not managed to take proper pictures.

For last weekend, here are some that I tried.
Sedihnya gambar blur... :(

I have been collecting chicken carcass in the freezer, there must be like 4 of them. So how best to use them, except to make chicken stock ! The recipe is super easy, taken from one of the earliest JO's book. I ended up with 3 containers of chicken stock, and quite a considerable amount of boiled chicken flesh mix with vege. It should taste good when I made into sandwich filling or pie filling or something. For now all goes into the freezer. Mental note: Beli rosemary, it was required in the recipe. but I did not have it then, to lazy to go to the shop, so less one ingredient there. 

Off late, I have been seeing a lot of kitchen hacks posting, mostly on FB, one of those is this, so instead of throwing the top of the carrot away, I want to try growing it... we'll see how it goes, this is day-1. 
Vanilla Ice Cream with crushed ground nuts
I have come to be accustomed of having something sweet after main meal. Salahkan mat saleh dan orang-orang di sini..hehehe.. mesti nak ada dessert. When I had my open house last year, one of the guest brought me a 4L tub of vanilla ice cream, freaking 4L!! How am I supposed to finish that? I did not touched it last year, until I hosted the fun run the other day. I made Eplekake and served with vanilla ice cream :)

I still have half of the tub, and somehow it feels not right just having the ice cream as it is... Childhood memory kicks in, I blended coarsely some ground nuts. You would not believe the things that I stocked up in my pantry. I have almost everything..hahaha... Sprinkle the nuts on top of my ice cream and voila!! Sedapnya....

Tekak mengada pulak...lama tak makan masakan pedas kekdahnya, and my daun kunyit in the garden has slowly turned yellowish, so might as well I made something out of it. I was very lazy to take out other protein and thaw it, so the easiest is to make Masak Lomak Tolo. No cili api, only cili afrika yang pedas nak mamps!! I underestimated the hotness level, and hamek kau, super podeh!! Should know how to estimate next time :)

For dessert yesterday, I made banana cake, the batter is fine, but I wanted to lined the bottom of the cake with sliced banana. I was not sure how it would turned up, so I made a testing batch using this ramekin :) It does not turned out good. Then I thought of lining the top with slice banana, but seeing that the cake rise quite a fair bit, I scraped the idea. So in the end I just bake the whole cake without any sliced banana anywhere, and since I halved the sugar content, the cake was not sweet. To add a bit of sweetness, I served it with my vanilla ice cream..hahaha.. selagi tak habis, selagi tu la any kind of dessert, will be served with ice cream :P

Ginger torch flower or Bunga Kantan
This is not from my garden, I had some planted, but no flowers yet. This was taken from the activity center. Its growing everywhere here and most of the time it just died there. So when I saw some good ones at the activity center, I took some and have it frozen. I took some out just to take photo..hehehe.. and used one to make kerabu daun kesum.

Lauk semalam, Lirang and Ignace love the kerabu, and of course all of them loved the Sambal Terung Pipit. I can live with these two dish every day and not a single complaint :)

Sharing the recipe so that I won't forget.

Kerabu Daun Selom :

3 red chillies (*)
2 tbsp dried shrimp (*)
Half of red onion (*)
Half cup of grated coconut
3 tbsp of kerisik (#)
Lime juice
Brown sugar
Daun selom (sliced coarsely) (~)
1 stalk ginger torch flower (bunga kantan) (sliced thinly)
  1. Pound all the (*) together. Saute without oil, add a little bit of water, to make sure that chili is well cooked.
  2. Add in the coconut and kerisik, stir well and use low heat.
  3. Add in lime juice and salt to taste, its ok if the taste is a bit strong as this will be added to the chopped daun selom and ginger torch flower
  4. The original kerisik would have a hint of sweetness to it, but the packed one that I bought was not sweet. I suspected they used the coconut that has already been extracted out the milk, that is why it was not sweet. So to balance the flavor, I added in some brown sugar.
  5. Cook until it is dry. Let it cool and mix with the chopped daun selom and ginger torch flower. Ready to serve with white rice and all other dishes. 

(#) Kerisik is another coconut derivatives. Its easy to make, but a bit labour intensive, Take grated coconut and saute without oil on low heat. Stir continuously to avoid the coconut from getting burned. When all the coconut has turned brownish, pound (using mortar and pastel) until it becomes oily (shiny). Pounding it while its hot helped to extract the oil better. Use it as additive in various types of Malay dishes. Instead of pounding it, you can also use the dry blender, or food processor, but the result would be a bit different, I guess.

(~) Daun selom is mainly found in South East Asia, but its not a common vegetable. In Malaysia, those that are familiar with Malay dish will be used to it, but I know some (many non-malay Malaysian) that don't even have a clue about the leaf. The taste is bland by itself. We used it as ulam (ulam is any raw vege that you eat with pounded chili concoction - sambal belacan). 

In the north (Kedah) where I came from, we used daun selom as one of the condiments in Laksa Kedah. 

Initially I don't know what is the English name for daun selom, but thanks to Google here it is water dropwort. But I bet, the mat saleh also would not be able to recognize this leaf. I brought it all the way from KL and planted it here. As I said, I can eat it everyday, so I do need the constant supply :) 

After quite sometime not posting pictures, I realised, I am losing my photography skill. (Not that I am super talented in photography to begin with). So, new year resolution (yeah right!!) I need to get back on with my DSLR and take better pictures. Sedih doh tengok gambaq tak semenggah tu... huhuhu..

Till next time, wassalam...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mat Saleh are very......

Asslamualaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh...

I have always been a self motivated person (self motivated does not means I have high motivation). It just means that I do things on my own, with little or no motivation from other people. My family, a typical Malay family, as long as I scored in exam, that is good. And at times in uni when I failed some papers, I did not told my mum, for fear that she gets over worried. But if I say all is good, its all that matters.

So almost every major step of my life, I made my own decision, maybe once or twice I have been influenced by other people to take a different path. One was at a point of choosing a course for my degree, a friend talked me into taking Chemical Engineering and look what (or where) it gets me today.

I am not blaming my family for the lack of motivation, we are not that highly educated. Only my generation (the younger ones) made it to university, my older cousins, some barely finish high school. My mother didn't even go to high school. So yeah, you don't know what you don't know. When I started working, I was lucky to have a boss that is not a typical Malay. He most of the time is more mat saleh than mat saleh themselves, in terms of how he thinks. He pushed me to achieve certain things, and I was (and am still) glad for it.

Here, I have almost constant encounter with Mat Saleh, most of them during the fun run. If I ditched that activity, I would be just another Asian yang memang katak bawah tempurung. From my once a week conversation with them, I found that they are very encouraging. I do feel that. And since I have been quite self motivated since young, if feels a bit different, I maybe at times took it the wrong way, I may think that they are being nice to me, where as in fact its just how they are, which is nice anyway. Am I making sense? Maybe I'm not..hahaha..

Okla, simply out, I like talking to some of them, the kind of talk that I did not have back home, the encouragement, that little push for me to do extra, to be a little bit different. I hope I can emulate that behaviour and reciprocate that to my nieces and nephews. I hope they can talk to me about anything, that they would not be afraid to share their failures with me so that we can work in finding the solution together. I really hope so, insyaAllah.

Till next time, wassalam.

p/s: I still do not have the courage to share my failures with anybody yet. Maybe its ego, maybe its fear to be looked down upon, maybe its some other things. I don't know. Life is complicated ain't it?  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Duit-duit..di mana kau duit??

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh...

Today, I declare myself a bankrupt...hahahaha... I can't remember when was the last time I had a cash reserve this low. Last few days. I was trying to purchase something online and my transaction was denied due to insufficient funds. I thought maybe there were some internet connection error, so I let it slide. The thing that I wanted to buy is not something important, kehendak je..bukan keperluan :)

Today, I thought of checking my account balance, guess whats my balance is?

Hamek... Tinggal RM 12 je..hahahaha.. Last month I have been having loads of online transaction and using the M2U apps, sometimes I did not check the balance, so I keep on transferring and didn't bother to track it.

I still have my local account here, and the cash is enough to last me another year..hahaha.. Just that duit ringgit for the time being tak dak. Any family emergency, I need to rely on my sisters first then. My pay comes into two accounts, one Malaysian account and another is local account here. Kira gaji bulan lepas habis pakai la...buat apa tak tau.. nak kata ada anak sekolah, bujang trang tang tang lagi..hahahaha..

The thing is, I still pay some maintenance expenses back in Malaysia, and most of it I set to auto deduct from this account, and that is why I don't see the money, as the bills are being paid. So until the next paycheck, kena puasa online transaction..hehehe.. Sabaq no..

Lesson from this months? Monitor closely my transaction, so that tak dak payment sangkut due to insufficient balance, which I foresee quite a few this month. Ok, will do!! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

To Golf or Not To Golf?

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh...

I am very bad at networking. I can be in the same room with some very big shots and high flyers and yet I could not even strike a conversation with them, unless they started it first and if they are really good at it. Then I can get along. Most of the time I can only pass the pleasantries, and then that's it. Its hard for me to engage all these big shots as I do not have common interest with them. Here, its the same thing. I have easy access to two GMs every week during the fun run, but did I bond with them? No I did not...wasted.

Why do I want to connect with all these people in the first place? To survive of course!! With the tough O&G market now, we don't know what might happen. I've heard from my ex-colleague, when I was applying for this job, my name was mentioned or referenced to somebody in Qatar. I have no contacts in Qatar, and maybe its my rizq (or sheer luck) that I have good words put on me that I managed to secure this job. But how many times can I rely on luck to land me a job. I have to do something.

It started late last year when during lunch, one of the Dutch expat was strongly pushing me to take up golf. And I fell right to it. The ideas keeps coming back after that. Yes, its a good networking tool. When I told WK about taking up golf, his remark was I beat him into this.

To me its not about beating anybody to anything. To me this whole working life is a game, its not a competition, because if it is, I would loose over and over again. I am not really that good, I know there are many other talented people, better than me. I am treating these whole thing (working life) as a game, and I merely wants to survive the game till I decide to step out of the game.

To stay in the game, you need to be involved. And for now the next part of the game, is enhancing my network and connection, since I am not a natural born people person (I am selective with whom I can get along, and I could not fake it), golf is the next best tool for me.

I don't even consider golf a sport, a mind games probably. A sport is something that can bring your heart rate to a certain minimum level, and I doubt golf can do that. Well, maybe it can, I had high heart rate by just watching a football game, and I was sitting on a couch..hehehehe..

Regardless, I would not count it as my exercise, its going to be my networking tool. Lets see how I survived the golfing thing :)

Meanwhile, these are pictures from last week, I hosted the first fun run of the year. Only 9 of us in total. On normal week, around 25-30 people would turn up. Most of the people were still on leave last week, but this week should be more, glad that I have done my bit, as the year gets busier, I will not be able to host as much as I want.

Till next time, wassalam.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Me and Miss M

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

Me and Miss M (menstrual pain) goes waaaayyy back, ever since I hit puberty. She was never far away. Once a month, never failed to visit me. Most of the time she stayed for 2 days, some times its only a day. But the worse, is like 4 days. I did almost everything within my means to get rid of her, but she keep coming, without fail.

I've tried all kinds of medications and the thing with my body is, first time consumption, it will take effect, but after the third time, the body has developed some kind of immune systems and began asking for higher dosage. I realised this back when I was in teenage years. I used to take 2 menstrual pill with 2 paracetamol, and the following months the same dosage did not work anymore. I have a smart body huh?

I've tried taking EPO daily, nope, didn't work. I exercised on constant basis, the pain still there, I drink only plain water, at times warm water only, but still it does not get better. I battled the same war months in and months out. I was  even put on contraceptive pill treatment for 6 months in 2012 just so to alleviate the pain. I had scans done on my uterus, but not a clogged can be seen, no cyst, nothing. All pathways are clear. I am at wits end. Yesterday was bad. I was crying at the hospital at the peak of it, the doctor prescribed another medication for me, diclofenac potassium 50mg tablet, just a normal pain killer. I had ponstant 250mg in my supply all the time.

The thing with ponstant is, it helps with the pain, but it disrupt the whole cycle, and my biggest fear is not all of the blood are being flushed out. It really did. It cut short the cycle from 6 days to 4 days, and that is not good.

Today, I am wrapped in 4 layers of clothing in the office, trying to survive another day. I am born with it and I think she (Miss M) will still be my companion till the day I die. Its life.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Freedom of Speech

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Islam and Muslim has again been put under the limelight, and this time by the stupid (mind my language) Kouachi brothers who takes matters to their own hands when they attacked the Charlei Hebdo HQ (where they publish the cartoon that mock Rasulullah SAW) and massacred police and civillian alike. Not long after that, another episode of terror happened in Paris, making the impact of the attack even more severe.

Today, Paris held a rally to demonstrate solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and people all over the world (at least around Europe) also held the same rally, shouting for Freedom of Speech. What is freedom of speech? Can you just say anything about anyone? Really? I don't think so.

Charlie Hebdo has produced the satire that mocks Rasulullah SAW, and they even mocked the monarch, the Christians and any other things that they fancy. So when all these people go on those rally, and carrying out the banner, fighting for freedom of speech, does that means these people are fighting for vulgarity? foul languages? mockery? Is that what today's world has become?

Its sad...when people are condoning foul languages out in the open. I pity the cartoonist that died, but there are not innocent either. If they choose a more respectful way to critic in their work, it would not lead to this event. Every action has a cause, what are the cause of all these? Its purely uncalled for provocation. While I condemn that magazine and what their products are, I 200%  do not condone killing them.

"I do not know of single (XXX words not clear) in the whole world of whatever mazdhab, of whatever methodology or theology who says that a lone Muslim, anywhere in the world can become judge, jury and executioner. and just go and start killing people and rampaging, this is especially in a land that never claims to be rule in the laws of Islam."

As Sheikh Yasir Qadhi rightly said, what Charlie Hebdo is fighting for is not freedom of speech, rather, its freedom to insult Islam. 

Wallahua'lam. Till next time, wassalam.

Friday, January 9, 2015

My 2014 - Kinda late, I know :)

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh...

Ninth day of the year, and only now I am putting up my first post. Again, I am not super busy, I was just super MALAS..hahaha. I guess its high time for me to do a bit of reflection of how my 2014 went.

Indeed, its an eventful year for me. Packed almost my whole life away and moved halfway across the world is no joke. Here, I learn how to keep my mind sane alone. I've been living almost alone in PD for the past 7-8 years, but that's different. Here, the definition alone was brought up to a much higher level. Reason being is, apart from being alone and far from close friends and family, I can pretty much say that I am a little bit cut off from civilization. The life in the camp is so confined, that at times I just wants to get out.

I am lucky, this job comes with perks, I get to travel more than before. This year alone, I've stepped on 5 new countries :) My first taste of Europe and Southern America. In March, I went to France and Britain, followed by Brazil in June, the back to Britain and a small part of Scotland in October and last but not least, during Christmas, I had a short trip to Spain. Hold on..its only 4 countries then, because Britain and Scotland is under UK..hahaha. (Nama pon Geography dapat B time PMR). I traveled back home only once during raya puasa. I stayed here during raya haji, and my sister sent a message saying  that mak nangis pagi raya.....gosh..!! So this year, I have to make a trip back for raya haji as well. Mak kan...?

2014 probably sees me trying and testing on more recipes than ever. Staying outside Malaysia makes you appreciate makcik-makcik dan akak-akak yang jual kuih tepi jalan. Nak apa, keluar cari, dapat. Effort level maybe 50%, tinggal nak tak nak je. I am so hopeless at cooking, almost everything must come from a recipe. I've googled even a simple cokodok pisang recipe. (malu weh!! hahaha). Well, I guess I have to, once I made something, if it didn't turned out well, then I'll be finishing it all alone, so it HAS to be good.

What else....? Ohh ya, I think I lost 5 kg all throughout 2014. Effective loss maybe, because I have not been eating and exercising well the past few weeks, and the weight plateau. Good eh? Hahahaha.. I have to put on more work, now that the loss has reached stagnant phase. The treadmill that I bought has not been fully utilized, the stack of DVD for basic pilates la, zumba la, dancing with stars la has yet waiting to be played. So yeah, I have my work cut out for me this year. Doa tak malas cukup.

I am still not giving up on my dreams to update my travelogue here..hahaha...cita-cita tu penting, I will follow up, insyaAllah, I promise. Else, I may actually forget all those things. I think enough rantings on 2014. My resolutions for 2015? nothing new, I have list of a dozen of things that I have yet to do/ pick up. So I might as well get on with that first.

On a more global level, 2014 has not been a good year for Malaysia. We are probably the most popular South East Asia country, the whole world would have known us now, with all kinds of calamities and test that we faced in 2014. I pray for a better 2015 for all of us, insyaAllah.

p/s: The crude oil prices dropping is very worrying. The company has been on divestment mode for security and sustainability reason here in Nigeria, but this new situation may extend the scope of divestment even further, wallahua'lam. Rezeki ada di mana-mana, we don't know what the future holds, pray for the best, and don't loose hope.

Till next time, wassalam.