Thursday, November 29, 2012

Southern Holidays

The scenery which greeted me in the morning

A full breakfast in the morning- orange juice, rice porridge wilth all the usual condiments,
a bowl of muesli with  fresh milk and waffle drizzled with chocolate syrup.

Deep down in my heart, I always have a soft spot for Johor. It is a charming state in the south of peninsular Malaysia as it is blessed with its own specialities, rich in culture with good food and friendly people. Having spent four years of my life in one of the districts in Johor, I have discovered that the state of Johor as a place where you would feel warmly welcomed. I could not figure out on why I have this kind of feeling, it seemed that when I moved to Selangor back in 2004, it took me years to feel that I really belonged there. But it was different in Johor, within a few months, I could adapt to its way of life. Ever since my brother moved to Johor in 2010, I have been making a few trips to Johor. The southerners would always refer Johor Bahru (the capital of the Johor state) as Johor. Therefore, when ever we say Johor it would mean that we are going to Johor Bahru.

   Well, back to my holidays, some time in early November ( on Deepavali), my family and I went for a trip to Johor. We spent three days and two nights in Thistle, Johor Bahru and had a fabulous time over there. Eventually, we had a pleasant surprise as upon reaching Thistle late in the afternoon, the rooms  which my sister had booked online earlier on, were occupied.  Apparently,  the hotel decided to upgrade us to rooms facing the Straits of Malacca without any extra charge at all. Yes, that was indeed a nice surprise, an unexpected gesture from the hotel management, as it made the trip even memorable. And of course it's another way to attract loyal guests as well. And for that thoughtful gesture, it made Thistle a favourite hotel for all of us.

     I could say that being in Johor has its own perks. Finding good, delicious food is easy  and it is way cheaper than eating out in KL or Selangor. People are not pretentious, they are down right friendly and we would never ever think that we are outsiders, it's just like coming back to your own hometown. Likewise, I have 1001 reasons of liking Johor, not because I have spent a good four years in this wonderful state- but simply because, it is a distinctive place, it has that rich Malay culture mixed with Arab influences, it is probably an unforgettable "home". I personally think that my fascination with Johor is something that I could not really explain. Well, if you ever made a trip to Johor, you will know what I really meant actually. Never mind if there are  so many bad vibes surrounding Johor, on the rumours of escalating crime rates - well, in any place that you go, crimes are definitely bound to happen. I remember having encountered gypsies pick pocketting in Paris, many years ago. And that was supposedly to be Paris. Who ever thought gypsies and Paris should come together. As for me, it is a matter of safe guarding your own belongings and pray to God that worse incidents  should never happen to you.

Johor Clock Tower- night time

  As you could see - we had a good dinner in the Malay Village Restaurant in Johor Bahru. The food was up to the mark and the price was affordable as well. It costed a fraction of what I should pay back in Shah Alam for a dinner of four adults and a child. We had the normal diet of tomyam, fried vegetables, "pari bakar" (grilled sting ray), buttered prawns , dimsum, omellete and the usual drinks. Definitely, worth every single penny.

Dinner at Malay Village
From the picture- tomyam soup, fried kailan, omelette and dimsum/
And came morning, this lovely scenery greeted me as I said "hello" to the Southern sun, when the skies were charmingly blue and the clouds were as white as cotton. I saw that life moved pleasantly slow, here in the south, and people  embraced every day's tasks as something that they loved and looked forward. It could be seen from the food that the Johoreans served and prepared, the honest testaments of what should be presented to  customers and clients Well, I have so many things to say about my trip to Johor, that I think that I should do a great justice to a wonderful and charming place in my heart. I will definitely continue my posting on Johor, in another entry, as there are so many great things to share about Johor. In truth, as I started my initial career here, I learnt to be a young working adult in this state, and met many good and trusting friends in Johor. That is why, to me it is a special place, where I learn about honesty and sacrifices, or rather aptly described-- I learn to grow up as well. In fact, I learn on the finer things of working life, of being sefless and ever ready to give my best shot.

    And looking back, I am glad that I have the life- time opportunity of working in Johor. It may only be four years of my whole life, but those memorable years were definitely an experience that I shall treasure forever.

This marvellous kasui that I ate on my last morning in JB, at one of the food stalls at  Sungai Chat.

And who could resist this delicious plate of fried noodles and meehon,
 (mee and bee hoon goreng) with home made "sambal".
The pool side and the view of the sea seemed to be mesmerizing to me

From afar we could see the beautiful coast line ....

A room with a view- Johor Clock Tower seen from my room

On a final note, as any wiser man should say, "Welcome to Johor---the southern state of peninsular Malaysia with exceptional hospitality and fascinating culture, guaranteed to charm you to bits......" . And it is definitely true.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Marble Cream Cheese Brownies

Marble cream cheese brownies

  I have been eyeing these brownies for quite some time. I have bookmarked this recipe from my recipe book, but keep postponing in doing this. The original recipe calls for ricotta cheese, but since only cream cheese is available in my fridge, I have decided to use cream cheese instead. Most probably, I will use ricotta cheese the next time I baked this. Apparently, I have baked other types of brownies, but not really having the opportunity to bake this.

    So, last Monday, I woke up early purposely to bake these brownies. My first time of doing this type of brownies. And it was definitely worth it... I came back with an empty baking pan. My students loved the brownies so much so that they asked to pack up for their siblings at home. I wished that I have baked more, so that I could savour some at home. Perhaps, some other time.
      These brownies are rich in flavour, of chocolate and cheese. Using only cocoa powder ( I have used  Cardbury's Bournville Cocoa Powder) and not baking chocolate as usual, the taste was simply out of this world. I have also used Philly's Cream Cheese, and soft brown sugar. My students commented that the taste was like eating a cheese cake. And I totally agreed. I regretted of not baking these brownies earlier. For this entry, I only managed to post the pictures of this baking sensation. I think I'll do another post for the recipe, at another time. Meanwhile, I would let  the pictures do the talking...

I brought this for my kids- and they finished it within 2 hours

The marbling effects...

Well, cream cheese and cocoa powder are definitely two ingredients of the recipe towards a happy, well deserved Monday morning.  Happy Thursday, everyone.....

A Birthday Wish

An Angry Bird Cake- Store bought this time around

Birthday boy turned 7....

He's definitely a young man now...

Azeem and Grandma

Just a toddler- 2 years old

Concert time- 5 year-old Azeem

He was just a one year old baby

   How time flies. Seven years ago, fate came knocking on my door. I never thought that God had given me a chance to be a mother, let alone the opportunity of seeing him growing up right in front of my eyes. I may not be the best mother, it is a role that I am learning from time to time. I have made mistakes at times, but as much as I am learning to be a mother, I learnt that love knew no bounds or conditions. This is the "man" whom I loved very much in my entire life. He changed me to be a selfless and protective person. In a way, he changed me in a very different way. And I wish that I have more children just like him. Just a wishful thinking, that I am keeping for myself.

   This time around, I threw a small birthday party for my son, inviting some close friend with children. It's not really a party, any way. Just a small scale get-together with friends. My son wanted a home-baked birthday cake with cream cheese frosting topped with  fresh blueberries and strawberries.  However, since his teacher had presented him with a birthday cake, I thought that it was unnecessary to bake him a cake anyway. Anyway, it was a joyful celebration for my only child. Everybody went home happily and a seven-year old boy had his birthday wish fulfilled- that a party should be organised for him. 
How time definitely flies....
The birthday cake...
 Happy birthday, dear son.... May you grow up to be a deserving young man full of hopes and aspirations....

Happy birthday, dear boy

Saturday, November 17, 2012

No Butter Muffins- The Recipe

Chocolate Muffins

Seeing is believing, they say. I have never thought that my entry in No Butter Muffins would gain popularity. I had done this post in October 2010, without writing its  recipe as I thought that they were no big deal muffins. That was the first and last I had attempted that recipe, not because those muffins were no good, simply because I had hundreds of other recipes to be tried. However, I was definitely wrong. Time to time, I had encountered key words on no butter muffins on my statistic page. Therefore, I have decided to  write an entry on these no butter muffins.

Blueberry muffins - I used fresh blueberries

Plump chocolate muffins

These muffins do not really use butter at all. Instead, the recipe calls for the use of milk. No oil or whatsoever.  When I first baked these muffins back in  2010, I have altered the use of semi-skimmed milk in the recipe. I replaced it with fresh full-cream milk, simply because I loved the taste of full cream milk. I have got this recipe from my Good Housekeeping Cook book. What caught my eyes was the non-existence use of butter. All right, enough of "blabbering", I've got tonnes of house work to be done, so here goes the recipe ;


2 medium eggs
250 ml ( 9fl oz) fresh full-cream milk
250 g (9 oz) soft brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
350g (12 oz) plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
250g (9 oz) blueberries ( you can use frozen ones - I used fresh blueberries)
finely grated zest of 2 lemons


1) Preheat oven to  150C ( I used conventional electric oven).
2) Line muffin tin with paper cases
3) Put the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and mix well
4) In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add in blueberries and lemon zest.     Toss together and make a well in the centre.
5) Put the egg mixture into the flour and blueberries and mix in gently, over-beating will make the muffins hard/ tough. Divide the mixture equally between the paper cases.
6) Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and just firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. They are best eaten on the very day they are baked.

## Double Chocolate Chip Muffins
Omit the blueberries and lemon zest. Instead, replace 40g (1 1/2 oz) of the flour with cocoa powder, then add 150g (5oz) chopped dark chocolate to the dry ingredients in Step 4.

Now, you have it- No Butter Muffins.  Happy baking, everyone....


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