Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend Projects

There is something about being deprived of warmth and sunshine over an extended period of time which makes one spring into a buzz of activity. We worked on the yard and put in a little vegetable garden in the backyard. After tilling the soil and weeding our little designated patch, I was very glad that we didn't do this for a living! Dear hubby is sitting on the couch with a heating pad on his back right now and I feel like I've been put through a washing machine! In any case, I think when we see the flowers blooming and eat the produce from the garden, it would be all worth it!

Mr. J started out early, mowing the lawn and prepping the area

Our little vegetable garden, we've put in cherry and regular tomatoes, chilli peppers, yellow string beans, sugar snap peas, carrots, yellow squash, chives, lavender and green onions.

Mr. J planted various bulbs etc so hopefully we'll see blooms in the summer or maybe next spring.

Of course, with my guy working hard outside, I slipped in to put a pot roast together.

Sear a good chunk of pot roast beef. Place in slow cooker, add beef broth. Season with onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, bay leaf and Lea & Perrins sauce.

Layer with sliced onions, carrots, potatoes and sliced mushrooms.

6 hours later, served with toast.

When the boy has his meat and potatoes, what's a girl got to eat?

Sushi with unagi, crabstick, cucumber, avacado and egg. 3 slices not because I'm on diet but because I couldn't stop eating when I was rolling them. Mr. J insisted that I eat dinner with him so 3 slices it was :) Mr. J laughed when he saw my plate, he was like, all day cooking and this is what you made???? Ahem, look for results in the next pic :)

I usually stock up on weekday meals since I have LeanCuisine for lunch with fruit or carrots, I like to have a hot meal when I come home that's not instant. I made Ikan Bilis Sambal and Beef Rendang, can't wait for a Nasi Lemak night! And Ikan Bilis Sambal is excellent with fried rice/noodles, sayur lodeh or can even be made into Sambal Telur... oooh, the possibilities are endless.

These pics are from last weekend, I made shortcut curry laksa, I used chicken stock with my mother's laksa paste that I had in the freezer.

Chicken breast seasoned with salt, garlic and ginger ready to be steamed in the microwave. Once cooled, shred for topping.

Ladle broth over rice vermicelli, yellow noodles and bean sprouts. Top with shredded chicken, mint leaves and sambal. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dog Tales

How fitting for my dear mother in law to share this with me, especially since our dear furry friend has been the star of my weekend. I drove home from work on Saturday afternoon and came across a little black and white dog looking very lost and terrified in the suburb we live in and of course worrying about her getting run over, I stopped the car and called out to her and her little heart must have lept for joy as she bounded over and got into the backseat! Of course, what's a girl going to do but give her shelter and try to find her Mommy/Daddy. I call Mr. J at work and he only laughs and shakes his head as according to him, I have a tendency of picking up strays because I have to 'mother' everything that seems sad!

Anyways, as usual, with any task at hand, I got organised, took her picture and started printing posters. All this while, the little dog sat in the garage as it was still pretty cool and she didn't bark one little bit, she just trusted that I'd take care of her and waited patiently by the door. So a couple of hours later, we were all set and started our mission, loaded her in the backseat with the windows down [I learned quickly that she loved the wind in her face] and stuck posters all over the neighborhood whilst spreading the word around if anyone knew her owner.

It seemed like a insurmountable tasks at first because she could have come from any one of the 3 suburbs closeby and no one I talked to seemed to know where she's from but I never gave up because I didn't know what I'd do with her during the work week when we were away for so many hours.

It was towards the end of the day and what felt like 30 miles of driving around, one of the couples strolling with their baby calls out to me and tells me they found her Daddy! Anyways, it was a tearful reunion, Katie [her name, I found out later] had wandered too far from home and lost her tag.

This is the little girl, waiting patiently for me to get her home!

Anyways, it was a long day but definitely worth the effort.

So without much ado, this story my MIL shared with me.

A Dog's Purpose (from a 6-year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish
Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their
little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for
a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we
couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia
procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good
for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane
might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family
surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time,
that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes,
Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty
or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering
aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, 'I know why.'
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me.
I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, 'People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life --
like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?' The six-year-old
continued, 'Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to
stay as long.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Amor Vincit Omnia

Carissimo mihi, we would have celebrated your 38th birthday today. I wonder if they celebrate birthdays in heaven??? If they do, I hope that yours is a luscious Boston crème with oodles of delightfully cold, creamy filling slathered with warm chocolate ganache just as you like it!

It just occurred to me that we have never been on the same continent; much less celebrated our birthdays with each other in the 8 years we had been together. That saddens me as I would never know what it would have been like… however, I realize that every single day that you have loved me, was a celebration in itself. It was you who showed me through your actions, what love truly is about.

Your kindness and compassion knows no boundaries, for some reason, my thoughts flashed back to the time we went to the auto mechanic to get the windows in the ’39 Chevy fixed and we met one of the mechanics there who barely spoke English but whose foot was clearly troubling him. I remember how my heart filled with pride seeing you dressed in your suit with his dirty foot on your knee and tenderly, you cleaned out the pus, medicated his wounds and bandaged it for him. He offered to fix the window for free but you would have none of it, seeing his little ones running peeking out of the office. It didn’t matter that we didn’t really have much then, but your words ring true till this day, better us to do without for a while than babies who wouldn’t understand if they didn’t get their next meal.

Despite the life lessons I learnt from you during your life hear on earth, it wasn’t until you went to be with the Lord that I learnt harsh lessons of the real world. I finally realized how sheltered and innocent/naïve I was and to a large extent, I was very childish. You had enabled this behavior by doting on me to the extent I never did anything wrong in your eyes and I sure took full advantage of it! But everything changed in a split second, it seemed like I was stuck in a nightmare I could not wake up from. Hysteria wouldn’t even begin to describe how I felt, I was heartbroken, I was petrified, I was in denial, I kept praying to God to take me in your place! You were the better half of us, so much to contribute to humanity and I was just… me. I did not and still do not understand why things turned out the way they did.

For a little while, I was even mad at you, why is it that you get to choose who lived between us both, why would you not let me go? Did you not hear my screams? Did you not feel my shoves? Why didn’t you go to safety? I still remember feeling you slip away from my arms, I grabbed on to your shirt but Mother Nature pried us apart, I never thought that I’d never see you again. It still sickens me to think about the “what if”s or the “if only”s.

I always wonder if you’ll remember me when you see me again? Do you hear me when I talk to you? Do angels have the ability to see into one’s heart and mind? I don’t know but if we ever meet again, I am sure we will have a lot of catching up to do!

Picking up the pieces were extremely difficult, it drove me crazy living in the little cottage, I kept expecting you to storm through the door exclaiming “Honeybee! I’m home!” and reaching out to me with a kiss and a hug and smugly ask what’s for dinner! :) It was also a confusing time because I had to learn the hard way who truly cared for me and who had ulterior motives. Beth, Rob, Josh, Nick, Nate, James… I don’t know how I would have gotten through without them! You were right about John and your brother though. Then, it was how unfair it felt that the world went on as usual when mine was non-existent. Or how people at work gossip or be mean or spiteful or make me feel that I didn’t belong… You must know how hard that is for me as I take great pride in what I do and being the person I am.

Amongst all that pain and destruction, I was constantly reminded by your constant words of encouragement, how I’m your ‘strong girl’ and persevered. Once again, you were right, the rainbow did emerge from the darkness of the storm.

I never thought my heart would heal or even love again but it did. People made me feel guilty for this, make me feel like I didn’t love you enough or betrayed you. But you know my heart, words can’t express how I feel but as you always say, I have to live for myself and how I feel about myself instead of what others think of me. And I did.

He is like you in so many ways except a little more rough around the edges. He’s intelligent, hardworking, caring, unselfish, kind and makes me laugh all the time. He has a lot of respect and love for you. You picture and flag is displayed proudly in our home and we share your heroism and story with anyone who would listen. It is when I finally understood that he accepts you with me that I knew for certain that this man truly loves me. Sometimes I wonder how is it that I am twice-blessed but I think I know better than to question what God gives to me!

So on your 38th birthday, I wanted to put in writing my memories and thoughts of you. Thank you so much for all that you are and have given me, though we walked this earth side by side in the past, I can feel you watching over me for the rest of my life.

Amor Vincit Omnia… love conquers all indeed.

I love and miss you.

Until we meet again, take care!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vegetable lentil curry

This recipe is specially for my fellow blogger friend Farina who requested that I share from one of my previous post. Super easy and fast especially if you have a pressure cooker.


Group A
1/2 cup lentils [yellow], soaked overnight
10 pips garlic sliced
3 shallots sliced
1 tsp tumeric
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon oil
5 cups water

Group B
5 dried chillies
curry leaves, torn
1 red onion sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds

Group C
Any vegetable you like, I used;
White carrot, dry fried in a wok without oil
Green beans

1. Place Group A in a pressure cooker and boil for 20 minutes, add carrots and continue to boil for 10 minutes, lentils should be totally disintegrated by now.
2. Heat wok with some oil, add mustard seeds. Wait till it starts popping, add onions, fry till translucent. Add curry leaves, saute till brown and almost crispy, dump into lentil mixture.
3. Add white carrot, green beans, eggplant, okra and tomato. You may time it based on your preference on the tenderness of the veggies.
4. Add salt to taste and remove from heat.

This is delicious with spring hoppers, roti canai, basmathi rice, french loaf or even regular bread. Enjoy!

Fish tales and all.

After a month's absence, hubby is finally home. The house seemed so big and empty without him, I am glad he's home for a little bit!

He got home this past Friday and during the weekend, he had to work so on Saturday evening, the guys from work asked him over to a fish fry after work, just to have some beers, fried fish and chill with the rest of the guys. Mr. J asked if he could bring his wife along since he hadn't seen her in a month and that is how I became the rose amongst the thorns for the night. 12 men and a lady :)

As a 2nd Lieutenant, Mr J was the most junior officer at the party but I wouldn't have guessed that as once again, we were welcomed with open arms and hearts. The men treated me like a younger sister, teasing and bantering.

Captain A caught the whitetail catfish which I understand is not the regular bottom feeding catfish but rather, swims 10 feet from the waterline and eats little fishes. I had never tried catfish before but this was one of the tastiest fried fish I have EVER tried. The batter was crunchy, well seasoned and not oily, the fish was flaky, juicy and sweet tasting.

Thank you guys for a wonderful evening, look forward to doing this again!

Chef for the day whipping up his masterpiece

Cooking up a storm

Crispy golden goodness

My plate [first of MANY] fixed

Oh, unrelated post, I came home last night bone tired after another 12-hour day and look at what I found??? Our tub was filled with piping hot water, bath salts added, candles lit... I almost fell asleep, it really helps take the aches and pains away. Thank you honey!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Busy bee

Dear blog, I promise I have not been intentionally neglecting you, it just seems that busy season has a way of keeping me... ummm... busy? :)

With my husband gone for the past month, it is easy to understand how I was swept into a reluctant affair... with work!

It seems that I spend more time in the audit room and my co-workers than at home! Almost all meals are taken at this very spot... breakfast du jour, yoghurt with Uncle Sam cereal and almonds. Yes, physical activity is very limited during the first half of the year. It's definitely not my imagination that the bottom feels heavier! :)

Two weekends ago though, I was determined to spend sometime outside enjoy a little sunshine and relaxation.

It was off to the Farmers Market.

It was still early spring and the vendors were not out in full force but it felt so good to be out there to soak in the atmosphere and the season's first produce.

Assortment of fresh produce, jams, bacon, honey... all from local farms.

Amish bread. Absolutely yummy.

Of course I couldn't leave without my own bounty. What's better than vegetable lentil curry when you have all these fresh vegetables!

Paired with dry chicken curry and basmathi rice.

Final product.

Side note, this is what I found from the newly opened World Market, Tim Tams and Dutch waffle cookies!!! Memories of Australia and the Netherlands... perfect to end the day with :)

I'm counting down the hours till my honey comes home! I never thought that it would affect me so much because I travel all the time but there is something different being alone at our home than it is living out of the suitcase in hotels all over the US!

What I realized with Mr. J gone is that how much I depend on him to take care of things at home, it's so easy to forget that when I do the dishes or laundry or cook because during those times, I feel like I do ALL the work! I wonder if other couples feel the same way? Anyways, Honey, I appreciate how much you contribute to our home and I'm sorry if I don't tell you enough. One more wake up and you're home!