Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NST Reunion - The Montage

And so the NST 'exes' had a grand reunion in Tropicana Golf & Country Club Sunday. I wasn't there (had a prior engagement to attend to) but I did join the pre-event 'do'; a visit to Balai Berita two days before.

The editorial floor is no longer what it used to be. Today the entire place is so sanitised. And calm. The silence is deafening.

The old editorial floor was messy, reeked of stale smoke, and with a 'pasar malam' atmosphere.

Noisy it certainly was; the banging of the typewriters, the endless ringing of the telephones. And everybody seemed to shout and swear at the same time.

Former NST pixman Loh had put together the following montage in honour of the ex-scribes. Check out yours truly.. the hair...!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Snickerdoodles Doo...!

The itch to bake heralded Sunday, all because of my discovery of Tatura butter in Cold Storage yesterday.

Never seen or heard of this brand before until Yani a.k.a Kitchen Guardian mentioned it in her blog. 

It's Australian, halal and at a mere RM6+ per block of 250gm, easy on the pocket compared to the others. So it's Tatura for me from now on, until this baking madness is over.

After morning coffee I surfed the Net to check out recipes, and found this easy-to-make cookies here; the how-to video clinched it. 

Got down to work as soon as Pak Abu left for golf just past 11 am. Took me about an hour from start to finish, but the end result was well worth it.

Both my testers Ann and Awwa gave their thumbs up but commented the cookies could do with a little less sugar. Noted, girls!

These are cinnamon sugar cookies, proper name snickerdoodles or snipdoodles. They originated in New England, of either German or Dutch descent, and have been around since the late 1800s.

I had followed the recipe to the letter; the cookies turned out alright. But if I were to do it again, I'd cut down on the sugar for the dough, at least by a third.

Snickerdoodles are crunchy at the edges and chewy in the middle. Good as an afternoon snack and I'm thinking sugarless tea would be the perfect companion. 

Check out their homepage and how-to video (link given above). You won't regret making this one; they are delicious. And the kitchen smelled sooo good for hours...

Thanks for the Memories ..

The grey-haired brigade ... one for the road..

With ex-boss, former Malay Mail Editor Aziz Hassan

Datuk Rejal Arbee getting comfortable on the Editorial floor. Aahh, just like the old times. The two ladies to Rejal's right are Noraini Mydin (in blue) and Putri Juneita (in black).

Rejal, still looking good after all these years. Unfortunately, I can't recall the name of the fella to my left; said he joined NST in 1985 (that made him a 'baby' amongst us that day!)

Old hat Najib Rahman, retired but back on contract. Just goes to prove, old reporters never die.. heck, they don't even fade away...!

Pixman extraordinaire Eric Peris, one of the few quiet ones in NST, always doing his own things with nary a care about what went on around him. Next to him is former business writer KH Lim, now a successful entrepreneur.

Former Crime Editor Rudy Beltran, once a big bully who scared the crap out of every rookie crime reporter. An accomplished pianist, Rudy now plays in clubs and private functions.

[He said he played more at funerals these days since his friends were dropping off one by one! He also chastised me for my second helping. "Oi, makan sikit cukup, you gumuk oredi!" Aiyaiyai, that's 'tak makan saman' Rudy for you...]

Aishah Ali, former Editor of Sunday Mail and a celebrity in her own right, now running her own media consultancy..

KC Boey, yet another former boss of mine in Malay Mail. Aussie-based for the last couple of decades, KC was MM editor in the mid 1980s.

On his right is Margaret Sebastian, former editor of women's magazine 'Her World'. Flanking him on the left is Teresa Manavalan, one of my closest buddies during those ribut days.

Hanim Melan, NST court reporter in the mid 1970s, with ex-sub Calvin Goh, the guy with a perpetual smile on his face, who is back on contract after retirement..

[Picture credit: Pixs 3-10 by ex-scribe Gobind Rudra]

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Some 30 former editorial staff of the New Straits Times Group - reporters, sub-editors and editors - got together at Balai Berita Friday to rekindle old memories at a place where many had spent their  adult working lives.

The reunion was a prelude to a bigger one, to be held Sunday at the Tropicana Golf & Country Club in Petaling Jaya. Some 120 have confirmed their attendance.

The Friday gathering saw former staff coming from as far as the United States (Yin Fong, now married and residing in Ohio), the United Kingdom (Nooraini Mydin, now single again, from London) and Australia (KC Boey & Hannah) to join in the fun. 

There were beautiful moments for me, in particular when I met again three former bosses - Philip Matthews, KC Boey and Aziz Hassan - at the same time.

Philip Matthews was the news editor when I first joined in 1973; KC and Aziz when I rejoined in 1985 after a three-year hiatus (I took a break to complete my college education, after marriage and three kids). 

Philips, who went to ISIS (Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia) upon retirement from the Malay Mail, played a major part in moulding me into a journalist.

A taciturn man, he hardly praised but was generous with his advice and never skint with his knowledge. 

I have never forgotten how he made me sit down next to him whilst he went through, sentence by sentence, my raw attempts at reporting.

This was the era of the typewriter, where you had to file in your stories by typing them out with seven carbon copies going into various trays. 

Copy manually 'cleaned' by the boss, using red ink no less, would have to undergo the same process all over again. 

I owe you bigtime, Philips. Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher to a fresh-faced kampung lass from Terengganu on her first job, nervous and hesitant in a strange, new environment.    

And thank you too to the current bosses for playing such gracious host to us.  On hand were NST Group CEO, Datuk Anthony Bujang, Group Managing Editor Datuk Zainul Arifin and Managing Editor Datuk Nuraina Samad.

For tea we were served very delicious laksa Johor, kuih muih and creme caramel, downed with teh tarik.

The oldtimers were also presented with a copy each of NST-published "Road To Nationhood, Malaysia 1941-1966". A lovely gesture, that.

Gobind Rudra, acerbic yet witty as ever, took the trouble to get everybody's pawmark for his copy. Clever dickie! I wished I had the presence of mind to do the same..

Swithin Monteiro In Rememberance

Amidst all the joy, I was somehow reminded of Swithin, one of the first reporters to have befriended me when I joined the Malay Mail. 

This pleasant, gangly young man literally held my hand; I was terrified of big city traffic to cross Jalan Bangsar by myself.

It was Swithin who first took me to lunch at A&W Restaurant in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman where I was introduced to root beer. I was aghast when he ordered one for me.

I remember being very annoyed with him, and telling him off by saying: "Swithin, I don't drink beer!"

How I wished he was in Balai Berita with us to share the fun and laughter. Swithin, who had not a single mean bone in his body, passed away in February this year .... :(

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Been Ten Years Since ..

Yesterday, June 23rd, marked our 10th wedding anniversary. Frankly, I never cease to wonder that we have managed to last this long, considering the odds, of which there were many.

Any of you out there who have ever embarked on a second marriage following the collapse of the first, for whatever reason, would understand perfectly where I am coming from.

The exes, the kids from both sides of the divide, the in-laws (and 'out-laws' too), the mutual friends (some taking sides, some valiantly trying to maintain the status quo);  that's the kind of excess baggage (and I mean this in a positive way) we drag along into our second.  

I still remember the biting words of someone close (a family member, in fact) who rudely dissed our union, then in its first year, with a dismissive "... alah, don't even know if this will last five years..."

Well, it has been a decade since and we are still here, alive and kicking, the going still great. No thanks for the withering vote of no confidence, though.

As a woman, when you remarry at 47 you know darn well the direction you are taking. At least I did. You didn't marry for lust; you marry for companionship.

I had interesting monologues with God long before meeting Pak Abu. Truth be told, remarrying wasn't on the cards at all; I had no intention of giving my growing daughters a stepfather.

But I did ask Him, if there was jodoh for me yet, to bless me with a companion who could guide me into becoming a better Muslimah because I had been a lousy Muslim for the longest time.

Although I was tired of being one, starting over was tough. It wasn't easy to wean yourself off  'la dolce vita' (the good life) even if you knew it was for a better one.

This was because duniawi was real, something I could relate to, as opposed to the hazy notions of akhirat, qiamah, syurga and neraka; such was syaitan's hold on me.  

I had no doubt that Allah swt listened, for, here I am, where I want to be. And I guess I can speak for Pak Abu too because we share the same goal.

We have to continue working on this second chance that we have been given, to make it work and last, till death do us part. Insyaallah.

The Dinner

As in the past (here and here), we made our way to La Risatta in Medan Damansara for an anniversary dinner. We had hoped for a quiet evening, but the restaurant was chock-a-block with yuppie (and noisy) patrons.

We ended up sitting on barstools at a high table; it was uncomfortable, to say the least. Fortunately, before the main course arrived we were moved to proper seating.

Whatever the condition, the restaurant remains in our good books; the food was excellent and the service topnotch, as usual.

We kept coming back because of their seafood zuppe; it's rich and absolutely delicious. 

Last night's sampling included fried calamari with tartar dip, sauteed mushrooms, gnocci & peeled prawns, and the usual garlic bread.  

For dessert we decided to try their napoleotani creme brule; it came in three little dishes of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, respectively. I'd definitely order it again.

We noticed business had improved much after they renovated last year.  It used to be so-so and we had liked the laidback atmosphere then. Now everything seemed so hurried.

Pak Abu said we should consider another place next year, just for a change. Perhaps... 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

'Sam' without the 'Prit'.....

To some women, cooking is second nature. A pinch of this and a dash of that, and walla, a gastronomic offering, delicious to the taste and delectable to the eye, is created.

But to me, cooking is nothing less than rocket science. For every dish that turned out alright, there were many others beyond salvage, whose trip to the bin was speedier than Speedy Gonzales.  

When a recipe calls for a cup of something, I'd begin to worry about the size of the cup and when it says a spoonful, I'd wonder about how much heap should be on the spoon.

Lack of 'air tangan' notwithstanding, that has not stopped me from experimenting. The only setback, as it were, is that failed experiments can be costly. Then again, without trying one will never learn.

Two days back I tried making 'samprit' cookies, following a recipe given by fellow blogger Lyana Mauseth. I had not baked cookies in ages (the last one must have been in the 1980s), but the recipe looked simple enough.

Then came the sticky part (to me la, not to you Kitchen Goddesses out there). The ingredients called for cupfuls of various flour; wheat flour, corn flour, custard powder.

I had no problem with the flour; it was the cup I had issues with. Big or small? Deep or shallow? Capacity? Packed, loose or heaped? I sat there in the kitchen, stumped.

There are teacups of four varying patterns and sizes in my kitchen (pixs above). Which one to use? Decisions, decisions...

After mulling over it, I decided to go with the blue & white  'solo' member, used mainly for drinking Chinese tea and green tea.

The end result is in the 'balang' up there; they look good and taste just as well. But guess what? They don't really have that unique 'samprit' taste. Instead, they come across like rich butter cookies.

Why la, when I follow instructions to the letter. Could it be the cup?

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Inheritance

I have been meaning to do this for a while now but as usual, procrastination gets in the way. Until today, that is.

This precious piece of porcelain I inherited from my late grandmother upon her death in 1981. She, in turn, acquired it from her family upon her marriage, I believe.

Given that Opah married in the early 1930s and the bowl was already in her family possession by then, this piece of china must be close to 100 years old, if not older.

I am no expert but I think this bowl has value. I have no intention of parting with it but I would like very much to have it professionally appraised, just to satisfy my own curiosity. 

The bowl is still in mint condition; not a chip anywhere. In fact, I don't remember it being used at all, except as a showpiece.

If any of you know of anyone knowledgeable enough about antique china to professionally appraise this for me, I would be very grateful indeed.   

Fat, Fat, Go Away...

An endless round of engagements/ kenduris/ high teas, not to mention a current penchant for trying out new dessert recipes, has put paid to my effort to shed the pounds.

The good news is I have managed to lose some three kgs thus far through fasting, controlled eating and brisk walking. The bad news is the momentum has stalled. If at all there's any consolation at the moment, it's that the fats have not crept back (yet!)

After going off rice completely for some time, I succumbed to hard-to-resist wedding fare of nasi minyak, rendang, ayam masak merah, dalca, pacri nanas et al four Saturdays in a row.

And as I write, I'm already thinking of baking. Saturday last, over tea, Kak Maz (blogger ASH) gave me an oh-so-British tea towel with five tempting honey-based recipes printed on it, and I just have to try them out.

There's Honey Souffle, Honey and Almond Cake, Honey Fudge, Honey Cookies and Mead. I think I'll start with Honey Cookies, the simplest. How la to lose weight like this....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stereotyped, again...

It's interesting to see how people get stereotyped all the time, much like in the West where demonisation of Islam is so complete that the mere mention of this faith brings forth spectres of fanaticism and terrorism.

I would have thought by now hijjab-clad women in Malaysia is as common the garden snail that pigeon-holing was non-existent. I was sorely mistaken, as what happened at the Royal Lake Club today proved.

After attending a wedding kenduri in Keramat, Pak Abu and I made our way to the Club for tea with England-based blogger 'Anak Si Hamid" aka ASH (Kak Maz in real life) and her husband Iain.

ASH and spouse have always had one foot in KL and the other in Leicester and return often. Their trips have become more frequent now, since dear Iain is undergoing treatment at Tung Shin Hospital.

After tea, Pak Abu and I adjourned to the karaoke lounge for a couple of hours, before having dinner at the poolside terrace, after which we proceeded to the Club surau for solat maghrib.

There were four middle-aged women and a jeans-clad young lady in the surau when I entered. From their conversation I noted that one neatly groomed, immaculately dressed woman of ample proportions was the mother of the girl.

Whilst the other ladies (amongst them two Club workers whom I knew) finished their solat and left, the duo remained a while longer, to do their face. In the mean time, I proceeded to take my wudhu and prayed.

I was donning my tudung when the woman, perhaps to show her affirnity with the hoi polloi, turned to me and said: "Baru habis kerja ker?"

It dawned on me that she had mistaken this rotund, tudung-clad makcik in lime green baju and grey long skirt as an elderly Club employee, perhaps a kitchen helper or cook or even the changing room cleaner.

Naturally my ego was dented, albeit slightly and momentarily. I gave her my best smile and answered: "Tak, baru habis dinner dengan husband." With that I gathered my handbag and 'tapau'ed bag of satay and sauntered out.

Pak Abu guffawed when I related the episode to him. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, we both could see the funny side of it... :D

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Teatime Treat

Among our favourite desserts is that old English teatime treat, bread & butter pudding.

My late grandmother used to bake this when I was a child but I can't recall having it as a teen. Perhaps she just stopped making it in favour of local kuih-muih.

As a young bride abroad, I would make it occasionally, especially when friends came a-visiting. As it were, I wasn't much of a kitchen person, so this sort of slapdash dish, quick and easy to make, was right up my alley.

The Royal Lake Club once served the most delicious bread & butter pudding I had ever tasted (story here). Then the Club changed caterers, and the overall food standard declined.

Adding insult to injury, the Royal Lake Club's now insipid offering paled in comparison to the one served atop KL Tower. Since then we have not found a worthy competitor.

With bread & butter pudding on my mind the past couple of days, it wasn't much of a surprise that I woke up this morning with the urge to bake one.

The end result: the family gave their thumbs-up, and I'm pleased as Punch. So here goes:


1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, more or less as needed, at room temperature
5 slices crust-on white bread
1/2 cup golden raisins or sultanas
2 cups milk
2 eggs


Preheat oven to 350 F. Add cinnamon to sugar; mix well and put aside. Spread butter or margarine lavishly on one side of the bread. Cut each slice into two triangles. Arrange the slices peak up (re pix), buttered side up overlapping each other, sprinkling mixed sugar and raisins as you go along.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs into milk, then pour the mixture onto bread. Let stand for 10 minutes for the bread to absorb the liquid. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with warm custard sauce.

Custard sauce
2 tablespoons custard powder (Bird's my choice) mixed with 2 tablespoons fresh milk to make a paste. Warm 200ml fresh milk in a pan, add 2 tablespoonfuls of sugar. Add paste and mix to desired consistency.

Eat 6-8.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rene's Engaged..

In goes the ring... and she's taken..

Bride-to-be Masyarene with friends after the engagement ceremony.

Ali's Angels... unlike the real thing, we are no matchsticks (with the exception of the one in the middle, who has no meat to boast of. Izah, don't kill me, ok!) From left: Ayahcik Ali, his son (and our cousin) Sazali, my sisters Zaridah and Hanizah, and yours truly.

Pak Abu kekenyangan lepas berkenduri nasi minyak.

From left: My cousins Jefri and Sazali, my nephews Atari and Aizuddin (Zack), and my grandnephew Qadri (Zack's son).

Hantaran goes traditional - I have forgotten what this agar-agar sweetmeat is called.

Mini cakes, today's hantaran trend. We cut the cake upon getting home; it's a sinfully rich chocolate cake covered with thick icing. I got migraine just by looking at it..

Masyarene is the third daughter of my sister Zahana and her husband Mohd Som (whom we call Atan). The elder two are married, with a child each, and now it's Rene's turn.

Barring unforseen circumstances, Rene and her beau Syed Atief will wed in March next year, Insyaallah.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Down, Down and Away We Go..

"Hey, look who has begun to shed the pounds!"... heheheh

The Royal Lake Club (RLC) continued its relentless slide in the Inter-club Karaoke competition by slipping into third place in last night's final held at Kelab Golf Negara Subang (KGNS).

Last year we had to settle for second placing to 'comeback kid' National Press Club (NPC), represented by a gaggle of scribes.

The year before that we clinched our fourth consecutive championship of this annual event, with strong representation from a clearly formidable team.

This year however, even the media folks were upstaged, and completely unplaced. The championship was won by the Royal Selangor Club, a deserving champion I must say, represented by a mix bag of young and old crooners.

On the bright side in last night's final, despite losing in the group category, our club champion Christopher Lee came out second from a list of 35 contestants.

Kudos to KGNS for hosting this year's final and if I'm not mistaken, next year will our club's turn to play host.

If there is one thing to be remembered, it is that our future teams have to be better prepared. Competing in the finals mean no 'syiok sendiri' song choice; songs must complement each other in order to get the maximum marks.

Having said that, our representation was ok (could be better, though); with two English, two Mandarin and one Malay songs.

It's time the Club remembers that the Inter-club competition is no longer a 'suka-suka' event; it has evolved into serious business and one look at last night's panel of judges said it all.

Noted composers Adnan Abu Hassan and Fauzi Marzuki, with Chinese artiste Vicky (didn't catch her last name), stood in to pass the marks.

All said, congratulations to the winners and better luck next time to the rest....

NOTE: One of the things I like about last night's show is the versatility presented. A Malay guy from Press Club rendered a Hokkien number, a Eurasian lady from the Eurasian Club sang a Mandarin number whilst a Chinese girl from Selangor Club belted out a Malay song. She ultimately clinched the top spot in the solo category.