Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What Happened to Respect?



Funny thing this social media is. And what it's capable in doing to us as a society in just under a decade. Asian are generally polite and respectful. And I am sure other cultures teaches good values too, respecting the elders and respect among human being being amongst others. Sadly, the past decade or so has seen a major decline of what we have been brought up to believe and practice.

For instance, in real life, a friend of your mom says something that you don't entirely agree with, you will usually just keep quite or at most politely begs to differ and state your points. But most of the time you just keep quiet.

Out of respect. Because we were brought up to be respectful of the elders, and everyone else, regardless of his social standing, age or wealth. 

Another scenario, an elder in the family gently tell you that what you are doing is not right, that you are following the mass, quoting wrong facts. You quickly apologize and say you won't repeat it again (pretending, if you think you are in the right). No matter how your heart rebels to be saucy, but that mental image of the repercussion from your mom or dad or heaven forbids your grandmother flashing in your head will stop you.

However, had it been on Facebook, you will tell her off rudely, your friends will jump in the attack, you bombard your answer with unverified and often ridiculous copy & paste 'facts', dragging religion if needs be. And finally using the default favorite, this is my wall, I can pretty much do what I want. 

We don't go around attacking strangers, do we? Neither do we personal attack people we barely just met. Or sucker punch that friend of a friend of a friend, for being different than us. If we don't do this in real life, why do we do all this and far worse things on the internet?

In real life we take the trouble to hide our secret vices, we know what's right, and what's wrong. We are usually ashamed to flaunt the worst of ourselves. So what happened to us on social media? Did agreeing to the terms and conditions to the sites give us license to be downright rude? To throw away all the good values we are brought up with?

What happened to the values you are brought with? You are the embodiment of the good ones, I have met you, and I know how some of you are brought up. Is social media where people go to let their hair down and be the ugliest of themselves? Is this just predominant in Gen-Y and after? Or it's the whole freedom of not being physically face to face that let us think we can get away with anything. If this is the behavior of the adults and young adults these days, what's of the children of tomorrow? 

I am always saying what children see children do. If before this, you just let your hair down and be crude or rude or racist only among your trusted peer, you are now doing it where everyone can see it, not just a one off thing, but forever. And children are watching, yours included. And they will copy. And then some.

I too believe in freedom. Of speech, politics and ideals. But I also believe in being respectful, polite and being tact. After all, this is an eternal world platform. It will always be here, long after you and I are all gone.
Shall we resolve to promote respect and politeness in the coming new year? And accountability too? And all the good values we were brought up with. Plus all the great ones that we've picked up along the way.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Athene's Roast Chicken

Roast chicken must be one of the easiest dish that you can make in about an hour. You can even have a one pot meal if you plan the dish properly, adding some roots such as potatoes, pumpkins, carrots or sweet potatoes to be roasted in the same pan making a complete meal with so little hassle. It will also make it's own gravy if you do it correctly.

Some of you may ask, why do I cut the chicken along the backbone instead of the usual way it's done which is to cut on the breast side.
Cutting this way makes sure that the breast doesn't lose too much of it's juice during roasting. If you see from the photo, the whole breast is in one big piece, no cut at all, hence the part that's usually brushed off as being dry in a roast chicken will still be plump and juicy.

Don't be put off by the strong acidic smell of the balsamic vinegar. It will bake into a molasses-like texture, lending a fragrant fruity caramel flavor to the dish. I'm sure once you've tried it, you'll want to include it in most of your dishes.

Athene's Simple Roast Chcken

1 whole chicken, uncut, about 1.5kg
2 tbsp Lemon Lime Pepper Salt 
or 
2 tbsp (or more) Hot Chick Spicy Salt
4 tbsp of date vinegar /balsamic vinegar
2 whole head of garlic
2 onion
50g butter, cut into cubes

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
  2. Wash and clean the chicken. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut on the backbone to flatten the chicken. Remove the neck if you wish.
  3. Cut the top off the heads of garlic, making sure every clove is cut. Peel onion, cut a cross half way down the onion, be careful not to cut all the way through.
  4. Crush the spice salt, rub all over the chicken. Try to slip in some of the spices under the chicken skin, just be careful not to tear the skin. Spare about a teaspoon of the spice salt.
  5. Drizzle the chicken with the balsamic vinegar, massage gently.
  6. Place the chicken in your baking dish, skin side up. Pack the garlic cloves and onions in the pan with the chicken.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining spice salt on the garlic cloves and onion. Spoon the remaining marinate all over the chicken and onion.
  8.  Dot butter cubes all over chicken
  9. Roast for 55 minutes, or until juice runs clear.
  10.  Remove the chicken from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
  11. Serve with the roasted onion and garlic. Great sides will be roasted toots vegetables or homemade mash potatoes and fresh tomato and greens salad

Marinated chicken and pumpkin on cookie rack ready for roasting

Roasting away, the balsamic vinegar working it's magic

All done, now just to give it a rest for 15 minutes. Check out the dripping that will be gravy for the roasted chicken!

The roast chicken, pumpkin with the gravy.
Note #1 : Use a cookie rack in the baking dish, place the chicken plus garlic and onions on top of it. This will help the chicken remain crispy while you don't miss on the brilliantly delicious dripping that will make great gravy.

Note #2 : You can roast some root vegetables in the baking dish along with your chicken. Cut the roots into equal size, you can use  pumpkin, carrots, sweet or regular potato, add a bit more of the marinate, make sure you rub them all over and roast.

You know what’s really, powerfully sexy?



Saturday, December 14, 2013

If you choose to have 7th century mentality, you don't belong on social media and internet


If you choose to have 7th century mentality, then you don't belong on social media and internet.

Bigots only mislead and incite further hatred, then they cry victim. That so called oppression on you and your group? That's the result of your big mouth, have you no shame making this the centre of attention now, stealing the limelight from the real victims such as those in Palestine and Syria? This in turn has caused more misunderstanding of Islam and as a result inflict further oppression on the real victims. Instead of dealing with real problems, the Muslim world now stands still, pondering on the fact if it's alright to pray for a non-believer or send condolences upon their demise. Meanwhile our brothers and sisters will continue living in cold, hunger and constant fear for their life, indirectly due to your stupid action!

There's nothing wrong with Islam, it's the Muslims that seem to be going out of their way to make it look bad , especially of late with social media and the over abused freedom of speech. Think before you act or say anything, especially when it comes to Islam. Otherwise, stay in that medieval cave that your brain seems to be stuck in!

Didn't your mom teach you to keep your mouth shut if you don't have anything nice to say?

Friday, December 13, 2013

On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning

by Haruki Murakami

One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo’s fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.

Tell you the truth, she’s not that good-looking. She doesn’t stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn’t young, either - must be near thirty, not even close to a “girl,” properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She’s the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there’s a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert.

Maybe you have your own particular favorite type of girl - one with slim ankles, say, or big eyes, or graceful fingers, or you’re drawn for no good reason to girls who take their time with every meal. I have my own preferences, of course.

Sometimes in a restaurant I’ll catch myself staring at the girl at the next table to mine because I like the shape of her nose.

But no one can insist that his 100% perfect girl correspond to some preconceived type.

Much as I like noses, I can’t recall the shape of hers - or even if she had one. All I can remember for sure is that she was no great beauty. It’s weird.

“Yesterday on the street I passed the 100% girl,” I tell someone.

“Yeah?” he says. “Good-looking?”

“Not really.”

“Your favorite type, then?”

“I don’t know. I can’t seem to remember anything about her - the shape of her eyes or the size of her breasts.”

“Strange.”

“Yeah. Strange.”

“So anyhow,” he says, already bored, “what did you do? Talk to her? Follow her?”

“Nah. Just passed her on the street.”

She’s walking east to west, and I west to east. It’s a really nice April morning.

Wish I could talk to her. Half an hour would be plenty: just ask her about herself, tell her about myself, and - what I’d really like to do - explain to her the complexities of fate that have led to our passing each other on a side street in Harajuku on a beautiful April morning in 1981. This was something sure to be crammed full of warm secrets, like an antique clock build when peace filled the world.

After talking, we’d have lunch somewhere, maybe see a Woody Allen movie, stop by a hotel bar for cocktails. With any kind of luck, we might end up in bed.

Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart.

Now the distance between us has narrowed to fifteen yards.

How can I approach her? What should I say?

“Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?”

Ridiculous. I’d sound like an insurance salesman.

“Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all-night cleaners in the neighborhood?”

No, this is just as ridiculous. I’m not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who’s going to buy a line like that?

Maybe the simple truth would do. “Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me.”

No, she wouldn’t believe it. Or even if she did, she might not want to talk to me. Sorry, she could say, I might be the 100% perfect girl for you, but you’re not the 100% boy for me. It could happen. And if I found myself in that situation, I’d probably go to pieces. I’d never recover from the shock. I’m thirty-two, and that’s what growing older is all about.

We pass in front of a flower shop. A small, warm air mass touches my skin. The asphalt is damp, and I catch the scent of roses. I can’t bring myself to speak to her. She wears a white sweater, and in her right hand she holds a crisp white envelope lacking only a stamp. So, she’s written somebody a letter, maybe spent the whole night writing, to judge from the sleepy look in her eyes. The envelope could contain every secret she’s ever had.

I take a few more strides and turn: She’s lost in the crowd.

Now, of course, I know exactly what I should have said to her. It would have been a long speech, though, far too long for me to have delivered it properly. The ideas I come up with are never very practical.

Oh, well. It would have started “Once upon a time” and ended “A sad story, don’t you think?”

Once upon a time, there lived a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen and the girl sixteen. He was not unusually handsome, and she was not especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others. But they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100% perfect boy and the 100% perfect girl for them. Yes, they believed in a miracle. And that miracle actually happened.

One day the two came upon each other on the corner of a street.

“This is amazing,” he said. 

“I’ve been looking for you all my life. You may not believe this, but you’re the 100% perfect girl for me.”

“And you,” she said to him, “are the 100% perfect boy for me, exactly as I’d pictured you in every detail. It’s like a dream.”

They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. 

What a wonderful thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It’s a miracle, a cosmic miracle.

As they sat and talked, however, a tiny, tiny sliver of doubt took root in their hearts: Was it really all right for one’s dreams to come true so easily?

And so, when there came a momentary lull in their conversation, the boy said to the girl, “Let’s test ourselves - just once. If we really are each other’s 100% perfect lovers, then sometime, somewhere, we will meet again without fail. And when that happens, and we know that we are the 100% perfect ones, we’ll marry then and there. What do you think?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is exactly what we should do.”

And so they parted, she to the east, and he to the west.

The test they had agreed upon, however, was utterly unnecessary. They should never have undertaken it, because they really and truly were each other’s 100% perfect lovers, and it was a miracle that they had ever met. But it was impossible for them to know this, young as they were. The cold, indifferent waves of fate proceeded to toss them unmercifully.

One winter, both the boy and the girl came down with the season’s terrible inluenza, and after drifting for weeks between life and death they lost all memory of their earlier years. When they awoke, their heads were as empty as the young D. H. Lawrence’s piggy bank.

They were two bright, determined young people, however, and through their unremitting efforts they were able to acquire once again the knowledge and feeling that qualified them to return as full-fledged members of society. Heaven be praised, they became truly upstanding citizens who knew how to transfer from one subway line to another, who were fully capable of sending a special-delivery letter at the post office. Indeed, they even experienced love again, sometimes as much as 75% or even 85% love.

Time passed with shocking swiftness, and soon the boy was thirty-two, the girl thirty.
One beautiful April morning, in search of a cup of coffee to start the day, the boy was walking from west to east, while the girl, intending to send a special-delivery letter, was walking from east to west, but along the same narrow street in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo. They passed each other in the very center of the street. The faintest gleam of their lost memories glimmered for the briefest moment in their hearts. Each felt a rumbling in their chest. And they knew:

She is the 100% perfect girl for me.

He is the 100% perfect boy for me.

But the glow of their memories was far too weak, and their thoughts no longer had the clarity of fouteen years earlier. Without a word, they passed each other, disappearing into the crowd. 

Forever.

A sad story, don’t you think?

Yes, that’s it, that is what I should have said to her.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Lagu Warisan

Lagu Warisan
(Versi asal yang dinyanyikan di MRSM pada tahun 70an hingga awal 90an)

Anak kecil main api
Terbakar hatinya yang sepi
Air mata darah bercampur keringat
Bumi milik diancam orang

Nenek moyang kaya-raya
Tergadai seluruh harta benda
Akibat sengketa sesamalah kita
Cinta lenyap di arus zaman

Indahnya bumi kita
Warisan berkurun lamanya
Hasil mengalir ke tangan yang lain
Pribumi merintih sendiri

Kita rumpun bangsa melayu
Menganut agama yang suci
Semangat bangsa berlandaskan islam
Teras capai kemerdekaan

Masa depan sungguh kelam
Kan lenyap peristiwa semalam
Tertutuplah hati terkunci mati
Maruah peribadi sudah hilang

Kini kita cuma tinggal kuasa
Yang akan menentukan bangsa
Bersatulah hati bersama berbakti
Pulih kembali harga diri

Kita sudah tiada masa
Majulah dengan gagah perkasa
Janganlah terlalai teruskan usaha
Melayu kan gagah di nusantara

Melayu kan gagah di nusantara
Melayu kan gagah di nusantara
Melayu kan gagah di nusantara

Saturday, November 30, 2013

GeorgeTown Literary Festival 2013


.
Emila doodles
Faten scribbles
Over Gula Melaka Ice Cream
.

China House, Penang
 - GeorgeTown Literary Festival 2013 -

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Real Traditional Style Hummous



Hummous

Ingredients
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed 
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), half the liquid reserved 
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 3 tbsp tahina 
  • 1 tsp salt (add gradually to taste as some canned bean can be salty) 
  • black pepper to taste 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin seed
  Steps 
  1. Pour garbanzo beans into food processor, reserving about a tablespoon for garnish. Place lemon juice, tahina, 1 tbsp of oil, garlic and salt in blender. Blend until creamy and well mixed. 
  2. Taste the dip. Add additional tahina, lemon juice, salt or pepper, if desired.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a medium serving bowl. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the top. Garnish with toasted cumin and the reserved garbanzo beans. 
  4. Serve as a dip with pita bread, cut vegetables crudites or chips. If you prefer a cold dip, chill in the refrigerator prior to garnish. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.

Classic Baba Ganoush Recipe


Baba Ganoush

Ingredients
  • 1 eggplant (about 400g), roasted
  • 1 head of garlic, roasted
  • 2 tbsp tahina
  • 4 tbsp  lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • ¼ tsp whole cumin, toasted
  • ½ tsp crushed black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro /parsley, for garnish
  • Extra virgin olive oil, topping
  • A handful of pomegranate seeds for topping 

 Steps 
  1. Pierce the eggplant with fork all over. Roast over fire until the skin is charred and the flesh has collapsed a little bit. Put the charred eggplant in a bowl and cover (you can also use a bag) to sweat the skin off while cooling.
  2. Cut the top off the head of garlic, oven roast it for about 25-30 minutes until the pulps are soft. Remove from skin, mash.
  3. Gently remove and discard the charred skin from the roasted eggplant and place the flesh in a bowl along with the mashed garlic.
  4. Add tahina, fresh lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to the bowl.
  5. Use a fork and/or spoon to mash together the mixture, using firm pressure to break up the roasted garlic, and any stringiness of the eggplant. Mix until well combined.
  6. Taste the dip. Add additional tahina, lemon juice, salt or pepper, if desired.
  7. Drizzle the surface of the dip lightly with extra virgin olive oil.
  8. Garnish with cilantro or parsley, toasted cumin seed and pomegranate seeds.
  9. Serve as a dip with pita bread, cut vegetables crudites or chips. If you prefer a cold dip, chill in the refrigerator prior to garnish. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.

 Note : Baba Ganoush is also known as Mutabel in some places. It is sometimes refered to as poor men's caviar,

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Easy (3 Ingredients) Nutella Brownies

This must be the easiest brownies recipe ever, only 3 ingredients, and best of all, you will only need one bowl and a spatula to prepare, less to clean up, my idea of the perfect recipe!

All in all, it  takes only 25 minutes to make it from scratch and that includes the cleaning up time plus while waiting for it to bake, I am updating this recipe on my blog.

Easiest Nutella Brownies

ingredients:

1 1/4 cup Nutella
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour

optional ingredients you can add:

A pinch of seasalt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
A handful of mixed nuts
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules

directions:

1. Grease a 9 x9 baking pan and preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix Nutella and eggs in a bowl until smooths.
3. Add flour (plus salt and baking powder, if using) until just combined.
4. Pour into baking pan and smooth top with spatula.
5. Bake for about 15 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Careful not to bake too long otherwise brownies will dry out.
Let brownies cool and set before cutting and serving.

I think I am going to serve it with some vanilla ice cream.

Friday, November 15, 2013

There's still hope after all




This two made me smile when they greeted me with a hello as I walked past them at the bus stop right outside their school couple of days ago. 

Well you see, no kids has done so to me in over twenty years, apart from my former students. Not only they won't say hi to family members or friend, let alone strangers, most kids will just answer with a grunt whenever I greet them. 

And then I noticed what they were up to, instead of being glued to a gadget, this two chose to play a real card game and enjoy real human interaction. There's still hope in these kids after all. 

p/s: they got really excited when I asked to take photos of them and started posing. I told them just to relax and keep on playing. It's UNO they are playing by the way, less someone gets ideas.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The allure of utopian dreams

Heaven on Earth

We found this special place
Beyond the turbulence of anguished thought,
Beyond the vexations of bitter hearts,
Beyond yesterday's regret,
Beyond the grip of tomorrow's worry,
Beyond the allure of utopian dreams.

We found this special place within,
Where pride intrudes not on the soul of love,
Imposes not on another's sacred journey,
Accepts silently the right to be right,
Respects humbly the right to be wrong, 
Awaits not for the wrong to be righted. 

We found this special place together
After the turbulence of anguished thought faded,
After the vexations of bitter hearts perished,
After surrendering yesterday's regret,
After giving away tomorrow's worry,
After the allure of utopian dreams
Drove us to our knees 
in forgiveness.

~Spadecaller~