Nasi Lemak Subaidah from Taman Pekaka

Nasi lemak from Subaidah Nasi Kandar Taman Pekaka
Nasi lemak from Subaidah Nasi Kandar Taman Pekaka

I feel a bit foolish because I just discovered this nasi lemak….like last night!
My cousin, Lai Yee, told me about the nasi lemak a few weeks ago when she was working the graveyard shift. It seems her boss had ‘tar-pau’ this piping hot nasi lemak for her and her colleagues late that night as they were clocking in at 2am. (Yes, people who work in factories start work at odd hours of the day. My friend, Karen, wakes up at 3.30am and gets to work by 4am. She services Australia/New Zealand so she’s there to answer calls when Aussies start calling in!)
I had listened in disbelief at her description of the nasi lemak. It was drop-dead delicious. With chunks of special Subaidah fried chicken.
The only Subaidah fried chicken I’ve ever eaten is pretty damn good. And that’s from the Subaidah Nasi Kandar outlet inside the USM campus.
Other than that, Subaidah Nasi Kandar never ranked high in my list of nasi kandar outlets. I prefer Kayu Nasi Kandar although prices are quite steep. But never mind lah, I eat nasi kandar once in a blue moon. Everyone I know shudders at the prices at Kayu Nasi Kandar but yeah, we all have our vices. Mine happens to be the beef curry from Kayu’s.
Now let me get back to this nasi lemak from Subaidah’s. This Subaidah is at Taman Pekaka which is just opposite Tesco Extra, Jalan Sungai Dua. The stall, located just outside the restaurant, opens at 10.30pm. Any earlier and you don’t get even a whiff of the rice. (Taman Pekaka and Taman Permai are 2 good areas around USM where you can get pretty decent food at almost all hours of the day!)
But they open on the dot. And a line of people already snake their way around the stall. The fried chicken is fried on the spot so you get almost a quarter chicken, piping hot from the kuali. We bought a packet of this nasi lemak last night, just to try it out.
The banana leaf intensifies the fragrance of the steamed rice. Sprinkle over some salty, fried peanuts with skin on. Throw in some sliced cucumber. Ladle over a good heaping of sambal ikan bilis (which is one of the best I’ve tasted). It’s not too spicy but has the right hint of chilis to complement the warm, moist fried chicken. Oh, plus there’s even a whole fried egg. All this for RM6.90.
Like the duck curry sold at Kassim Mustafa’s downtown, this nasi lemak will enter my holy list of food I must partake in, once in a blue moon.
It’s that kind of comfort food for a cold rainy night! Worth queuing up for!

12 Money Saving Tips… Add On Yours?

I emailed this over to a writer friend as she was preparing for a magazine article. Little did I know I missed her deadline! And as always, she only asked for one money-saving tip but I gave her 12. I know, I am a bit over-lah!
So instead of throwing it all away, I am sharing them here with you. Feel free to add on with your own tips.
Lots of people (OK, let me qualify that…lots of Malaysians) seem to have this impending fear of the global recession. Call me dumb or overly naive or too optimistic, but I think that we can all overcome this fear. I call it fear because that’s what it is. Everyone scaring everyone even BEFORE that recession hits, if it hits lah.

Read more12 Money Saving Tips… Add On Yours?

A Story of Malaysia Tak Boleh

This is from an email forward which I sent out to all my friends today. I decided to put it here on my blog because it riles me a lot that we still hear of these incidents happening in Malaysia.
“Dear all
Am forwarding an article which appeared on malaysiakini to you. I think medical care is a basic human right, no matter if you are a Penan in the Sarawak jungle or not.
I’ve always wondered why there hasn’t been a major highway link-up over in Borneo like what we have here in Semenanjung (our PLUS highway).
But highways aside, development is not something you get if you vote for the ‘right’ party or allow the ‘right’ timber company to come into your land.
If we’re talking about Merdeka, let’s talk about Merdeka of these people. Aren’t they the real bumiputera, the sons of the land? Why are they often neglected if they don’t throw a fuss?
Even if they do throw a fuss (mild by our city standards) they still don’t get the right help or
attention.
I get very pissed at this for many reasons.
If you have been to Sarawak, you will note that these people are kind and easygoing. Perhaps these traits are the cause of their downfall. They’ve been too kind and easygoing, so trusting that outside people exploit them! (In the case of timber companies, it is also their own people who exploit them!)
And talk to any Sarawakian and the vocal ones (my husband included) will tell you that the oil money is theirs YET it is used for development projects here in the Semenanjung. None or very little for their own home state.
No wonder the Sarawakians call the Semenanjung people ‘leper’, a derogative term for cockroach!
Anyway, do read this letter and if possible, tell others this story.
The story of a Penan woman who died of post natal bleeding in today’s day and age!” (You need to be a Malaysiakini subscriber to read the full story).
Or you can read a response to the story. This one fills you in on what happened to the poor Penan woman.
As it was first published in The Nutgraph before it got into Malaysiakini, I will re-route you to read the Nutgraph (original) version as you won’t get the full Malaysiakini story if you aren’t a subscriber.
Read and contemplate….I did and it made me so angry I had to blog about it!

SPCA Garage Sale This 29 November

I got this email from a friend who helps out at the Penang SPCA.
The SPCA will be having a garage sale this 29 November (Saturday) from 10am to 2pm at its Jalan Jelutong premises. Get the map from here: http://www.spca-penang.net/Document/locationinfo.htm
I heard that there’ll be lots of kitchenware, books, 2009 calendars, notebooks, household stuff and more for sale, from as low as 50 sen per item.
It’s also a good time to stop by and sponsor or adopt a cat or dog from them. 😉
My Margaret was neutered with help from these good people from the SPCA.
If you bring a stray to neuter, the SPCA partially subsidizes the vet fees (we went to GS Gill’s on Gottlieb Road for Margaret’s quick and easy surgery). As we didn’t have an animal carrier, the SPCA also loaned us a carrier to bring our cat from home to the vet’s.
I believe if you have a cat or dog, it’s best to spay or neuter them. For their own good and yours too.
Find out more from http://www.spca-penang.net

Don't Get Scammed with this SMS from SHELL!

I got this SMS this morning.
Something tells me it’s downright fishy.
It’s probably a scam for a few reasons.
I don’t buy petrol from Shell.
I don’t join SMS contests.
I am very skeptical of forwarded emails (especially those that begin with: Send this to 10 people and I get 3 cents for my daughter who is dying of leukemia, you get my point. It started with Bill Gates and we all wanted to fleece that poor nerd-CEO).
I am very skeptical of everything. Maybe it’s because I am a woman or that I am too bloody jaded for my own good. Women are tough when it comes to negotiating money and nitpicking (or what’s called looking at super tiny details). Please correct me if I am wrong.
OK, this SMS comes from this number: 014 374 9309. So beware.
“Shell Promosi”. Anda di Pilih dari Office SHELL tlh Berjaya Meraih Cabutan Hadiah “RM 17,000.00”. Sila dail di Talian 017 837 2718 Terima kasih.
First, let me nitpick.
The Bahasa is like crap.
If you want to scam someone, make sure you can type an SMS properly.
Don’t do it like you’re an illiterate. Unless you bloody well are. (Methinks the scammer is illiterate. Look at how he/she spells ‘di Pilih’ and suddenly it’s a truncated version of ‘telah’ with ‘tlh’).
The modus operandi is probably like this: If I were sillier (and didn’t use my brains), I would happily call the number.
Once I do that, the scammer knows I am hooked. I am a greedy pig. I want to know what I won. Maybe it’s RM17K.
So he/she will get me to deposit some money so I can claim my prize.
It’s not just this SMS.
Once I got a call from a Chinese-speaking woman. Thick accented Mandarin. Probably from China. I knew it was a scam the moment she asks, “Ni hui chiang huayi mah?” (Can you speak Mandarin?) If I were ruder, I’d say something crude in Mandarin that begins with “mah”.
The other type of scam is the credit card/call centre scam. Nic got a call which actually (audaciously) said that this was a bank call centre and wanted to verify his credit card details. Could he verify by saying his credit card number with CVC over the phone?!
Now, it’s normal to get calls from your bank. But one that asks for your credit card number and CVC? First time I ever heard of it.
Luckily Nic wasn’t that stupid. Something didn’t sound right. The guy on the other end sounded too slick, too polished. As if he did this every day. Which he probably does. Call and scam people easily because sometimes you just might forget and think it’s your bank calling up for verification purposes.
The other type of scams is the shopping mall-scam-old-uncles-and-aunties.
My Dad and Mom experienced this once when they were at a shopping mall a few years ago. It was the thing then to catch senior citizens and give them these scratch and win cards. Of course, once you scratch the card, you get this prize.
You are then dragged to the shop (usually electrical item shop selling vacuum cleaner, washing machine, etc) and then there’s this ‘drama’ where the shop employees start this song-and-dance and gush “Oh uncle, how lucky! You won this RM2000 voucher! Can get so many things in this shop for free.”
The problem is, most of the items in the shop are priced OVER RM2K. Either you fork out more money to buy some cheap China-made vacuum cleaner (which breaks down in 2 weeks) or you forfeit the voucher. Most uncles and aunties get pressured at the shop employees can be quite persuasive!
The thing is, many young people also get scammed, if the news reports in the papers are anything to go by. Executives in their 20s and 30s get scammed the hi-tech way – through phone and Internet.
I guess the only way to prevent this happening to you is this: keep Greed away.
If you’re not greedy, don’t care for such freebies, you’re safe.
You know what I am going to do? I am going to email Shell Malaysia and get them to look into this SMS scam. After all the scammers are using Shell to scam people!
UPDATE: I emailed the Shell Malaysia people after I wrote this post. They wrote back. This is what they said:

Thank you for your feedback. With regards to your enquiry below, the SMS received is not from Shell. That is a SCAM SMS going around saying that it is from Shell.
If you were to be a winner from Shell, we shall notify you through phone call and will not send any sms.
Hence, kindly ignore the sms and do not reply to them on any details. For further clarification, kindly call us at 1300 88 1808. Thank you.
Regards,
Shafeela
Shell Customer Service Centre

Best Banana Cake Ever

Don’t you just love the smell of baking banana cake?
(OK. if you hate bananas, this post is not for you. Stop reading now. If you love bananas, then read on for you will find a recipe so simple you’ll run out right now to buy some to make this cake.)
I do. I love bananas fresh but also when bananas turn overly ripe, as they tend to do in our warm Malaysian weather, don’t throw them out. I know soggy, ripe bananas aren’t the best looking items to cook with but wait a minute and you will know why.
Bake a banana cake with soggy ripe bananas and you will have a luscious, moist, 100 per cent lovingly homemade banana cake par excellence (OK, and I am also running out of bloody superlatives here).
Bananas freeze well so even if you’re not in the mood to bake a cake anytime soon, they can sit in the freezer for sometime.
I have made this banana cake so many times I’ve lost count. And unlike my bread baking adventures which can be counted on the fingers of one hand, this one is a sure winner. Unless you don’t like bananas, in which case I cannot help you.
Marsha, my cyber buddy, asked for this recipe so I gave it to her. She promises to courier to me if it is hard as a rock. I assured her, no, I guaranteed her – this is a no-fail cake.
If I can make it, anyone can. After all, look at me. I am not the best baker around – I tend to go for shortcuts if I can (like cake premixes but after sometime I gave up on those as the cake tastes fake!)

All you need are mashed bananas, beaten egg & self raising flour
All you need are mashed bananas, beaten egg & self raising flour

OK, for this banana cake you will need:
150 gm sugar
150 gm butter
150 gm self raising flour (with a pinch of sodium bicarbonate)
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup of ripe bananas, mashed
First you cream the butter and sugar. I used to beat them by hand with a wooden spoon for about 15 minutes. Then I got a hand mixer so that made it even quicker.
Creaming butter and sugar
Creaming butter and sugar

With a hand mixer, you take about 5-8 minutes on a medium speed. Then slowly pour in the egg, bit by bit. You don’t want the whole thing to curdle like taufufah. I usually pour in the egg about 3 times, each time mixing it well into the creamed butter and sugar.
Banana batter done!
Banana batter done!

Once the eggs are all in, use a metal spoon and fold in half the amount of flour first. Fold lightly. Add in the whole cup of bananas. Then add in the second half of your flour. Don’t overfold.
Pour batter into a greased tray that’s lightly coated with flour. I don’t line my tray with greaseproof paper – too lazy for such dainty stuff.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160 C for 20 minutes (using bottom heat) and after that 10 minutes (using top heat). I know ovens can be strange so your oven may take a little longer or a little less. So the final test lies with your equipment. The test of a done cake is a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake and comes out real smooth and clean, no batter bits stuck.
Tadaaah...banana cake ready in 30 minutes!
Tadaaah...banana cake ready in 30 minutes!

Cool, cut and serve.
That’s it! A superbly yummy cake (which can be cut into 24 pieces) and eaten in a jiffy.
Try and do tell me how yours turned out, OK?
What's left of the banana cake I made last night!
What's left of the banana cake I made last night!

Eat, Pray & Love: Elizabeth Gilbert's Mantra


Jana gave me Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray & Love when I was in KL a few months ago.
We’re both book-mad in the same way and love the same kind of reads. But Jana’s more feminist than me so I was surprised that this non-fiction was slipped into my hands, with an urgent “read it”.
Have I heard of Elizabeth Gilbert!
She was interviewed on Oprah sometime ago and I had caught that episode but it didn’t make sense to me as I hadn’t read the book yet (then).
And with all things ASTRO, they always have re-runs so I managed to catch the same episode AFTER I read her book.
One Woman’s Spiritual Journey
Elizabeth Gilbert personifies much of the modern woman in a prickly situation. She is a writer. This book is real. It’s based on her one year of travel first to Italy (to eat), to India (to pray) and to Indonesia, Bali island (to love as love found her!). It sounds unreal because she was given a book deal to travel and write so this book is the result of that one whole year.
When she started, or rather before she started her journey to the three countries beginning with “I” (it sounds contrived, does it not? Everything seems to fit. To fall seamlessly into its own place of ironies. Her own journey, looking for herself, “I”…three countries, three different missions, one goal – to discover herself. Maybe I am too bloody jaded about Americans.
Maybe.
Her story is one that most modern women share. She was in a marriage, trying for a baby. Found herself not wanting either. Didn’t know how to get out of it.
When she finally divorced, she decided to go after what she really wanted in life.
To learn Italian in the native country of Italians.
To eat without feeling guilty (the sin of today’s civilisation!)
To spend 4 months each in Italy, India and Indonesia.
To go to an ashram in India and learn meditation.
To find the medicine man in Bali (Ketut Liyer) whom she had met years ago and to become his ‘assistant’ and English tutor.
Eventually she found love in Bali.
She returned home, wrote this book and it touched so many women because it’s adventurous, exciting and deeply philosophical.
Why I Adored This To Bits
Sigh. We’re women lah. We empathise with such books. We flock to such authors. They give us reasons to discover ourselves.
I would be a liar if I said I didn’t like her book. I loved it. I felt I was taken on the same journey to these 3 countries and saw the same landscapes, met the same people, laughed at the corny jokes, loved and hurt, and teared at the same time.
Gilbert is not a soppy writer; her strength is in her words, flowing softly like a breeze. It rushes out at you at certain times, augmented by her love of self deprecating humour despite her heartbreaking circumstances. She kept me glued to the book because I really needed to know if she reached her goal.
If you’re a woman and love travel and culture, Elizabeth Gilbert may make you eager to jump onto the next plane and go in search of Ketut Liyer, her Indonesian medicine man. I loved him because he was just so real!
This book is a keeper.
You would want to dip into it just for fun and accompany her on her spiritual path once in a while to remind you of your own spiritual journey too.
Something you can pass on to your girlfriends too.
While you’re at her website, read her thoughts on writing too. Lovely!

Mentioned in The Malay Mail, Thanks to Robert

Anyone who reads this blog knows that Robert Raymer used to be my Creative Writing teacher when I was an undergrad in USM about 10 years ago.
Fate made us meet again some 3 years ago when we were both speakers at an event that KDU Penang was organizing then. We met up, exchanged news and thought that was it. He was moving to Sarawak anyway as he had taken up a new teaching position at UNIMAS.
Yet, as always, as Paul gleefully reminds me, there are no coincidences in life. We meet for a reason. And that reason may not be clear to us in the beginning but soon makes sense.
In the end, Robert became our client because as a writer, one needs to get the word out there. What better way to show it than through a website that collects all the awards and stories/books in one place for editors and book publishers to find him? It’s a one-stop website for all you ever need to know about Robert Raymer, the author, the teacher, the self-confessed fan of The Secret.
But it went a step further with a blog. I knew instinctively that a blog was the best thing for Robert because he writes and writes and has so many ideas. He needed to share them online.
And so he has. For the past 2 years, he has been blogging in between writing his novels, signing books at MPH, promoting his newest book, Lovers & Strangers Revisited and juggling teaching at UNIMAS. And in addition to raising a young family – he has 2 young boys!
Anyway, go read the interview in the Malay Mail where Robert gets to talk about blogging, what he has gotten out of it and yippee, even I get a lovely mention and blog link! (Thanks Robert!)
What a way to start one’s Thursday huh!

Networking, Anyone?

I’m organising a networking lunch for ladies next Friday, 14 November, at Edelweiss (on Armenian St) as part of our WomenBizSense activities.
While most activities are limited to ladies who are members of our group (our Lunch Bunches and Quarterly Meets), this time we’re opening up to other ladies – if you’re a homemaker or working gal and want to make some new friends, join us for lunch at Edelweiss from 1pm onwards.
But if you want to join us earlier (do we have a surprise for women who love bling bling), meet us at Campbell Street at 12 noon sharp. At Nam Loong Jewellers specifically.
Ya, I know WomenBizSense is for entrepreneurial women but once in a while, we would love to enlarge our circle and meet others too.
Actually we’ve got many requests from ladies who don’t own businesses wanting to join us in the past. So this Networking Lunch is the best way to come to meet fabulous women in business.
OK, so details, yes. Find the details over at our official WomenBizSense website: http://www.womenbizsense.com/pages/events-activities.php

A Tale of 3 Eurasian Sisters

You know, I never miss a play by Mark if I can help it.

That's Nic, me and Lisa with Mark (with GAP shirt)...met him after he acted in his play Ah Steve so he was in make up, hence weird eyes (and crouching - he really isn't that short!)
That's Nic, me and Lisa with Mark (with GAP shirt)...met him after he acted in his play Ah Steve so he was in make up, hence weird eyes (and crouching - he really isn't that short!)

Urmm…A Case of Mark Boleh
For one, he’s a good friend and two, if we don’t support Malaysian theatre, where will it be? It’s not that we are major theatre goers lah, I mean, look at the pathetic theatre scene in Penang.
Actually I shouldn’t say it’s pathetic because it is much better now. A friend from PJ came up in July and we caught a pretty good acapella rendition of Celine Dion’s hits and she gushed, oh I wished I could have these in PJ. Which meant that for the measly price of RM20 apiece, we in Penang can attend any theatre production we liked. In KL, she pouts, such prices aren’t available. Anyone can vouch for this?
Also come to think of it, while we do not have the Philharmonic Orchestra that KL people have, we do have our Penang Symphony Orchestra and visiting orchestras which are actually quite lovely to attend.
Culturally I suppose we aren’t left wanting in Penang. Perhaps we tend to be picky but I always think, if it is a toss-up between a play and paying the cover charge for some night hangout, I’d go for a play. And if people can pay cover charges, it’s not about the money then. It’s probably more of interest.
Secrets of 3 Daughters Undone
I caught Mark’s Mama’s Wedding on Friday night at The Actors’ Studio Greenhall, arriving at 8.29pm (plays usually start at 8.30pm). I had earlier SMSed him to see if he’d be around but he couldn’t come up to Penang for this. He’s actually one of the three directors-in-residence at KLPAC so he must be dead busy.
I liked Mark’s style because he writes about what he knows intimately.
Like about Kulim.
Like about growing up Eurasian.
Like growing up with hang-ups (hey, who doesn’t have hang ups!) about love and relationships.
Like about being Catholic.
Like about speaking Hokkien with English and campur with some Bahasa (that’s how real Malaysians speak, not those put on accents you hear on TV. Thank God someone realised that!)
But I’m biased. I’ve been a Mark Beau fan since his Stories for Amah days. Since his Cheet Chat days with my best pal. Since his Ah Steve days.
(He’s also one of the humblest people I know, despite his fame and success. Mark has twice been nominated for a BOH Cameronian Arts Award in the Best Original Script category against Jit Murad and Ann Lee.)
And of course, he was still in Penang then.
He took off for KL because let’s face it, if you’re in theatre and you want to really make it big, anyone in their right mind would relocate to KL. That’s really a no brainer.
So, how did I like this tale of 3 Eurasian sisters? (A sidenote: It premiered in Singapore before it came back to Penang and KL.)
It struck a chord with me because I happen to grow up knowing 2 Eurasians and yes, they do act all uppity and strange, neither here nor there. I can’t say they were silly; it’s how they were brought up to shop in Marks & Spencers, wear flowery hats at church weddings and bested each other with family gossip and acar recipes.
Oh and let’s not forget those incredibly English accents.
The Dresser Envy & Sugar Daddy Goss
This girl I used to know, well, she was beautiful at 16 and everyone loved her gregariousness.
Me, I loved and envied her bedroom because it was all hers (I had to share my cramped space with 2 sisters) and she had a full dressing table (which was one of those crazy things I hankered for when I was a teen!) and she had all these lovely English-y stuff that no one my age knew where it all came from (later I found out those lavender soaps, rose soaps, embroidered handkerchiefs, lacy undies and all came from Marks & Spencers and they still cost a bomb so I really didn’t know if I were to believe the sugar daddy stories).
The other Eurasian was a boy. He was an absolute maddie. Their family were so open that his mom showed us girls her G-string when we visited his home in the middle of a tea plantation (his father was an estate manager).
I formed early opinions of this group of folks whom I found exciting and different from my typical middle-class Chinese upbringing.
Anyway, Mama’s Wedding is about 3 sisters who each have their memories and angst about each other. The dialogue is quite Malaysian and though at times the jokes kind of hang precariously in the air , Mark’s play is always a continuation of family relationships, of how we really do hurt the people we love most and why in the end, everyone’s still family because we’re bonded by the blood that runs in us. We can fight, scream, bitch and groan about each other but we’re still deep inside, of the same kind. Different outside but same same inside.
It’s now playing in KL’s The Actors Studio @ BSC (running till 6 November).
So catch it and tell me what you think of Mama’s Wedding.