Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cats Don't Need New Year Resolution

Yeah, why make life difficult by making new year resolutions that you will never keep. Let alone achieve. The following are words of wisdom that a feline like me adheres to. A word of caution, I don't think it will work as well for humans.

Wisdom #1:
Stroll placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in a long tranquil nap. As far as possible, without being in any way humble, be on good terms with all creatures - with the obvious exception of dogs.

Wisdom #2:
Meow your desires loudly and clearly and occasionally listen to others, even your human, for she may be calling you for dinner. Avoid the company of fleas, they are vexations to both spirit and body.

Wisdom #3:
Enjoy your achievements - particularly wallpaper lovingly scratched and pieces of string thoroughly chased. Keep interest in your career, there will always be a need for good mousers in the changing fortunes of time.

Wisdom #4:
Be yourself; especially do not feign affection - except when you need a warm lap to sleep on. Neither be cynical about the love of cream, for through your charmed and enchanted existence it is as perennial as the grass it comes from.Take kindly the counsel of the years and rejoice in the fact that you have nine lives.

Wisdom #5:
Nurture arrogance of spirit to shield you from sudden misfortune such as getting stuck up a tree. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born out of getting less than 20 hours sleep in a day. Beyond a wholesome discipline be gentle with yourself and groom yourself frequently.

Wisdom #6:
You are a cat of the universe, so much greater than humans and dogs; you have a right to be served. And even though you may sleep through most of it, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. With all its snacks, adventures and peaceful dreams, it is truly a beautiful world. Be content. Continue to be happy.

I am, a contented cat. purrr....meow!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Look World, I Am 3!

The birthday girl - A Self Portrait.

It was my birthday on Friday, 25th Dec 2009. My 3rd year (15 in feline terms) of existence on this planet. I was born on 25th Dec 2006. I have no recollection of my biological family. I think my life really began after my Mama rescued me from someone's backyard.

Anyway, Mama organised a birthday party for me. Even Brad was helping out and promised to be on his best behaviour. Well, he might just steal my thunder, you know...

Brad and I having a "Dos and Don'ts" session before the guests arrive. Won't tell you all what I threatened him with but it worked. teeheehee...

Mama did me proud by supplying the food and drinks.

The Menu
Tomato Rice
Lamb curry
Roast chicken (this is Mama's own recipe)
Salad (Asian greens and feta cheese)

My two lovely future mothers-in-law, Aunty Z and Aunty If ... aaahh... so hard to decide.

Aunty Z and family who came all the way from Hornsby also brought food.

The Additional Menu
Rice in coconut milk (nasi lemak)
Anchovy and quail egg in chili
Fried anchovy fillets
Mee Siam (hot chili rice noodles with hot fermented soybean gravy)

Aunty Z, Uncle M, Kakak Z and Aunty If posing before the food-laden table.

Uncle Is ladling the goodies onto his plate.

The kids having their fill.

Whose hands are those?

Lamb curry - upclose.

Roast chicken - upclose.

After dinner, Mama made coffee and tea, and took out the cake too. Must say this is one of Mama's experiments. Baked blueberry cheesecake - low fat and low calorie. She used cottage cheese and yogurt to make this delicious cake. Oh, with fresh blueberries too of course.

The blueberry cheesecake sitting pretty in the fridge before taken out to be demolished. yummmm....

Cake cutting ceremony - yours truly assisted by Aunty If and Kakak Z.

The half eaten cake.

THE contented cat. 

Oh, the kids brought presents for me too. Nope, not cat food. purrr.....meow!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Want That!!!!

Now, THAT is a Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ga Xao Sa Ot

I like Sundays because that’s the day when my Mama would experiment with new recipes and I get to be the “guinea pig.” Well, not because I’m a glutton but because she trusts my judgement, or so she assured me. Doesn’t matter, as I know she won’t poison me. Not intentionally, at least. Teeheehee…

So, last weekend, Mama tried a Vietnamese recipe she obtained from her friend (the lady owns the laundromat in the suburb). Mama tried to stay true to the recipe and did very little improvisation. Well, I haven’t tasted the authentic version but must say I like this dish, although I think Mama should lessen or omit the fish sauce. As a true blue feline, I love fish (canned or fresh) but fish sauce I can do without. However, we can’t call it authentic Vietnamese if it doesn’t have fish sauce in it, right?

It’s hot! hot! hot! Mama exceeds the fiery scale by adding whole bird eye's chili in the dish.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for Ga Xao Sa Ot (Chicken with Lemongrass & Chili)

Ingredients: (serves 4)
450g skinless thigh fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp fish sauce (cut down to half or omit if you don’t fancy this pungent stuff)
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, finely chopped
2 big cloves garlic, minced
4 bird’s eye chilies, minced (Mama substituted this with 2 tsp chili paste and then put in 5 bird’s eye chilies [whole] at the same time as the spring onions)
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
Additional sea salt to taste
2 to 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 stalks spring onions, sliced (reserve green part for garnish)
Fresh coriander leaves to garnish

1. Marinate chicken with all ingredients except the oil, spring onions, coriander and sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. (Mama marinated this for two hours.)
2. Place a non-stick wok over high heat and add a generous amount of oil to fully coat the bottom. When oil is really hot, sprinkle sugar into the oil and swirl skillet around to make sure the sugar has dissolved.
3. When you no longer see the individual granules of sugar, throw chicken in and make sure each piece touches the skillet. Leave it alone for a while to allow the chicken to caramelize and then toss quickly to let the other side to cook.
4. At this point, you can make some room in the wok for the spring onions to fry (and the whole bird’s eye chilies, if using).
5. When all the pieces of chicken have caramelized to a beautiful golden brown, transfer to a plate and garnish with the fried spring onions.
6. Sprinkle the green part of the spring onions on top and place a generous amount of fresh coriander leaves around the chicken.
7. Serve with plain rice.

Our spring onion bush enjoys the city skyline everyday. 

Our bird eye’s chili – we have a bountiful harvest this season. This type would cost at least $25/kg at the shops.

Our ginger clump - – nothing beats home grown herbs and spices.

Mama serves a vegetable side dish too – it’s stir-fried pumpkin with snowpeas and capsicum. Yummmm….

That's me having a siesta in the garden after a hearty meal. Burp! Errr….excuse me.

Oh, sorry I didn't invite anyone to lunch. It was kinda impromptu. purrr....meow!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold

Blue Moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Blue Moon
You knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will (ever) hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold

Blue Moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked the Moon had turned to gold

Blue moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Blue moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

They Call It Choco-love!

Mama had a team-bonding exercise with her workmates recently. Once in a while, it's good to be away from the office environment, she said.
Anyway, it's not the team-bonding exercise I want to talk about. It's where they went that I'm envious about.
Katoomba is the main city within the boundaries of the Blue Mountains. It is also where the Chocolate Gallery is located. A picture paints a thousand words so this shall be a pictorial entry.

The door leading to chocolate heaven.

It's educational too. Start off by watching a video on the History of Chocolates.

Aunty J looks like a cat that got cream.. A vast selection of handmade chocolates that makes her happy...

Chocolate bars with cheeky packaging!

Really really spoilt for choice.

A bit of historical stuff here - some old moulds and yesteryear's packaging.

Some memorabilia to take home too. now and hoard for Valentine's Day?

Nicely boxed selection of handmade chocolates. 

To die for - Real Hot Chocolate! Can get refill of hot milk. One sip and you're in heaven....yummmm....

You buying that for me, Uncle R? Oooh...I'm still having Truffle fantasy...

Even the banner looks edible.

Aargh...some people say that chocolates are not suitable for cats, that it's poisonous because of a substance called theobromine etc etc... But we're still alive!!!! And loving it. purrr....meow!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Still High on Cherries

It's been a week since our cherry picking adventure. We've eaten most of it while some were given to family and friends. However we still have about 1kg in the fridge and the quality has begun to deteriorate. Dad suggested that we either make jam or juice. But Mama thought otherwise as she didn't think spending time de-seeding the fruits is a good idea. So, after checking if she has all the ingredients needed in the larder, Mama announced that she was going to try make hot cherry relish (acar).
I was given the task of writing down the recipe as Mama has plans for a family heirloom recipe book somewhere in the horizon. Here goes:

1 kg cherries, washed and the stems discarded
2 tbsp fish curry powder
1 tbsp hot chili paste
1 large onion
4 garlic
2.5cm ginger root
15 bird chilies, stems discarded
1 tsp salt
3 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 liter water
2 tbsp cooking oil

We managed to get two bottles of acar. Notice the nice red colour? That's from the cherries. Yummmm.....Best eaten with ghee rice, biryani (beef, lamb or chicken) or as dip for samosas.

1. Mix the chili paste and curry powder with a little bit of water in a small bowl.
2. Put the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor, pulse until fine.
3. Heat oil in a non-stick pan.
4. Fry the onion mixture until fragrant.
5. Mix in the curry and chili paste, stir well and fry until fragrant.
6. Now, plonk in the cherries, bird chilies and water.
7. Season with salt, sugar and vinegar. Let simmer until the cherries have become soft and the gravy thickens.
8. Mix in the sesame seeds, let simmer for a few minutes and take the pan away from the fire.
9. Transfer the relish into sterilised glass bottle or container. Only store in the refrigerator after "concoction" has cooled down.
10. Always use a dry and clean spoon to ensure longer shelf life of relish.

Bon Apetit! purrr....meow!

Friday, December 4, 2009

What We Also Did On Eid Day 2

...the story continues...(promise! this is the last of the Eid series)
Mama woke us up really early, "Wake up lazy heads. Go wash your face and then I'll give you breakfast. Early start so we can reach home early too," she said.
And Brad had to open his mouth, "Aren't we supposed to go back to the zoo? We haven't seen the lion or bison!"
"Brad, what if we leave you at the zoo while the rest of us return to Sydney. Would you like that?" Dad has a surefire way of shutting Brad up. I just laugh in my head. Don't want to risk getting scolded by Dad.

As expected, it was a loooong and boooooring journey again. Brad, afraid of Dad, just curled up and snored.
Rescue, fortunately, came via Mama.
"Dad, did you notice people selling cherries by the roadside when we passed by this way a few days ago?" she said.
He responded, "Yes. So?"
"Let's find out if there's any PYO orchards around here," Mama suggested.
"I think the cherry orchards are either in Orange or Bathurst. We'll find out there," Dad, surprisingly, agreed.
When we reached Bathurst (Dad didn't stop at Orange!!!), Mama said she needed a pee-stop so Dad had to find one and stopped there.
Mama, my lovely cunning mum, actually went to the big map on the wall and tried to see if any orchard is listed there. When Dad saw what she was doing, she quickly ran to the toilets. teeheehee....

The big map and info board in Bathurst. Population 38,000.

Street view of Bathurst. This city is famous for Mount Panorama, the V8 Supercar Racing circuit.

We found a kebab shop in the city centre and tried to get more information from the shopkeeper. The chap (he's quite cute) told us to go to the Information Centre that's located on the road to Sydney. He also said there's a mosque that we can visit in a suburb called Kelso. After a hearty meal of kebab and chips, we found ourselves on the road again. This time looking for the information centre.

The lady at the counter was very friendly. Mama and Dad bought some Bathurst souvenirs there before asking for information and maps. We found out that there are three PYO cherry orchards in Bathurst. The nice lady marked them on the map and gave us the addresses and telephone numbers. Mama called all the orchards and then made the decision to visit based on the way the orchard people answered. "In business, first impression counts," she explained.


Cows having a siesta under a tree. We saw many such scenes along the way to the orchard.

Although we were told that the orchard is just 15 minutes away, it felt like forever. I guess it was because we were all super excited. Oh, the orchard we were looking for is called Stockman's Ridge, located on Limekiln Road. It has a website, you can google it. It practises organic farming.

Cherries are delicate fruits. Therefore we have to be careful in handling them. The owner also took time to take us to the trees and show us how. "Use your thumb and forefinger," he said. "Oh, and the cats are not allowed to climb the trees, OK?"

Look at those humongous cherries! This type is called Starkrimson and matures to a deep maroon.

Mama checking out cherries hiding under the leaves. As the farm is organic, we could eat the fruits straight away as we pick them.

Harvest of the day. The owners even provided us with environment friendly bags.

The harvest upclose. We only picked from three trees and yet managed to get almost 6kg.

Mama checking out a fruiting peach tree.

The peaches are unfortunately still very young. Not ready for harvest yet.

An apricot tree.

Plums, still unripe too.

Organic almonds, anyone?

Dad practising his photography skill. The wooden stilt house is the orchard's office.

On the way back to the main road leading to Sydney, Mama noticed that we would actually be passing by Kelso. So Dad made a detour to look for the mosque.

The Al Sahaba Mosque is clean and nice. There were just us then, luckily it wasn't locked.

I must say that a day in the cherry orchard had a good effect on Dad. He even agreed to stop and stretch our legs at the Blue Mountains. It was late and so we miss the yummylicious hot chocolates at the Chocolate Gallery. But the Three Sisters in Katoomba is always open. So we visited them.

We had good company at Echo Point, Katoomba, where we could view the Jamieson Valley and the Three Sisters.

The graceful Three Sisters.

Sunset at Echo Point.

It took another one and a half hours before we reached home. But I'm not complaining. purrr....meow!

The End.