Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rawa Steamboat in Johor Bahru and A Wedding in Singapore

On occasional basis, I like eating all-you-can-eat steamboat, especially when I have just starved myself for few good hours. Moreover, I particularly love a steamboat restaurant that also provides a DIY grill, in other words, it is a steamboat cum grill restaurant.

Last week, my husband and I were invited to a good friend's wedding (buffet lunch) celebration in Singapore so we decided to spend a night in Johor Bahru and cross over to Singapore in the next early morning for the wedding.

When my husband asked me what I wanted to eat for dinner when we were in Johor Bahru that evening, I specifically instructed him to bring me to Rawa Steamboat (and Grill) Restaurant located at Taman Gaya, Johor Bahru. I had been there once long time ago and liked it very much.

The all-you-can-eat steamboat price per pax has increased by RM 0.50 since our last visit 
but the new pricing is still reasonable, I think.

Shortly, last Friday evening at about 6pm, my husband and I set foot at Rawa Steamboat Restaurant's premise once more. After we were seated, I quickly started 'shopping' at the restaurant's mini perishables supermarket to get all the free flow (halal) ingredients like fresh veggies, fish balls, meat, seafood and noodles for our steamboat and grill party of two. Oh, how I love the 'all-you-can-shop' part when I am at an all-you-can-eat steamboat restaurant as I could let my greed nature loose in grabbing and piling every single thing I see in front of me onto my plate.

And then the fun feast began.

Me and all my food after I 'shopped' for them.

 Our first round of steamboat and grill: Enjoying the cooking process.

 The marinated meat and seafood ready to be cooked.

 Four different sauces for dips.

The healthy dessert: Sliced watermelon that I waited for so long.
Should have taken the free flow lolly ice but there was no more space in my stomach.

Our table: Some 1.5 hours later.

My husband and I realized that both of us are no longer in our puberty phase. At this age, too much food would not make our bodies grow vertically but surely will add some inches on our bodies horizontally. We don't really want that. We both are already too old to gorge all the food like a cow. Therefore, my husband and I only lasted for two rounds of steamboat and grill until we finally gave up all the free flow food, drinks and desserts. We also did this partially because we were sort of reminded by the pearls of wisdom about dining at all-you-can eat restaurant stated at Rawa Restaurant's giant price list board behind me. It says: Eat as you want, don't waste the food. It basically subtly advises us to just give up eating when we are already full. Quit shopping or cooking the stuff at the restaurant any more although we have kind of paid for everything.

The steamboat restaurant before we left: Full house.

And this concluded our hearty dinner.

In the next morning, as planned, we headed to Singapore. I was already on my dress and make-up, so ready to attend my best friend's matrimony at 11am. Who knew and expected that when we reached Singapore immigration check point, the immigration officer spotted the expired road tax sticker on my Father-in-Law's car that we borrowed that day! He forgot to renew it and silly us, we didn't bother to check it either before we left home.

Alas, at about 10.30am both husband and I were 'kicked-out' from Singapore and escorted by a police officer to go back to Johor Bahru. Thank God, my husband's uncle in Johor Bahru managed to help my husband renew the car's road tax albeit it was Saturday.

Once this road tax issue was settled, husband and I drove back to Singapore. That morning alone, we both received two immigration stamps from Singapore and Malaysia immigration offices on our (running-out-of-empty-pages) passport books.

At last, few minutes later, we made it through Singapore again. We managed to reach Hilton Hotel, the wedding venue in Orchard Road at about 1.30pm. Lucky it was a buffet wedding celebration as we missed about three quarter parts of the wedding itinerary. When my husband and I just started eating, the bride and groom were already standing by the function room's gates to personally thank and say good bye to all the guests.

The last bits of the wedding party. 

On the bright side, I eventually attended my best friend's wedding (thanks to my husband who was very patient and calm in handling the car's expired road tax and his 'angry' wife at the same time). I was so grateful that I actually followed my husband's "better late than never" principle instead of my sullen principle of "might as well not going to the party at all as it is way too late".

At the end of the day, I felt very happy to be in Singapore that day and celebrate my good friend's big day. Further, I was really glad to catch up with some of church friends too when we were there.

The desserts at the wedding venue, the Hilton Hotel Singapore.
Some gastronomic entertainments for my husband.

My husband and I indeed had a long day in Singapore and Johor Bahru last Saturday, dramatic on some levels in fact, but very meaningful in the end.

Pregnancy Memento at 14 Weeks and 4 Days

This is me (and my tummy) at 14 weeks and 4 days of pregnancy. The below photo was taken by my husband earlier today.

14 weeks and 4 days pregnant.

Am I growing or what?

Erm, I definitely need a hair cut too!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Road Trip to Mersing and Tanjung Leman, Johor

Earlier this month, my husband took me to Mersing and Tanjung Leman in Johor for a 4D3N weekend trip. Well, it was actually not quite a holiday for us since my husband had to work during his stay there. I spent most of my days in the hotel room, doing my own work stuff.

It was my first time spending some time in the town centre of Mersing. All this while, I always felt that this place called Mersing was so remote, small and boring. I mean the fact that we can actually circle the town center by car in less than 10 minutes was actually my main point here. There's nothing much there. My perspective about this place slightly changed when I realized that there were lots of foreign tourists staying or transiting there since Mersing hosts the jetty to go to the famous Tioman Island. This place turns out to be not that pathetic!

First thing first, to get to Mersing, we have to go through a rather long road trip, about 2 hours by car from Johor Bahru. During this trip, palm oil plantations (on our right, left, front and back sides) were pretty much the main views that we're going to see.

A wild boar I spotted in the palm oil plantation on our way to Mersing.

I didn't explore much things or places when I was in Mersing. Moreover, sadly I must say that I was not so much impressed with the local food there except the Western Food that we enjoyed at a restaurant called The Port (forgot to take the photos of the good food served there as my husband and I were starving already) and the Fish Ball Noodles from Restoran Hai Soon that my husband and I tried right before we left Mersing. We had fish ball noodles for lunch at the below restaurant which is ran by an auntie and an assistant (who speaks Hokkien all the time).

Don't judge this restaurant by its look. 
The auntie's Fish Ball noodles are quite something, in my opinion.

Lunch: I ordered Fish Ball Dry Bee Hoon

This fish ball soup makes a big difference with the whole thing. 
The secret of its heavenly taste is probably the fried pork skin cooked with the soup.

This said, I surely am going to request my husband to buy me this noodle again on our next visit to Mersing. My advice, when you happen to visit Mersing and decide to eat at this stall, please order the auntie's Fish Ball Bee Hoon Soup and Dry Fish Ball (Home-Made) Yellow Noodle.

Before we left Mersing, my husband offered me two options to spend our Saturday afternoon and Sunday in (1) Tioman Island or (2) Tanjung Leman. Since I thought that my pregnant body could not take so much turbulence from a boat ride to Tioman Island, I went ahead with his second choice.

Moving on, off we went to Tanjung Leman and we spent the night in a four-star hotel which my husband helped in building it a couple years ago, the Felda Residence Tanjung Leman. I've actually visited this hotel for many times when it was under construction but when I was there some two weekends ago, it was my inaugural time in spending the night there as a guest.

The Felda Residence, Tanjung Leman, Johor.

My husband and I didn't do much either during our overnight stay in Tanjung Leman but relaxing by the beach behind the hotel and had some serious Malay culinary tour. 

Me enjoying the breeze at the beach behind the hotel in Tanjung Leman.

Dating my husband at the beach. 
The waves was too strong and the ocean water was too dark for a swim!

My husband and I planned to swim in the hotel's large swimming pool but had to kill the idea since the hotel's swimming pool at that time was infested with some kind of algae that made its water green (and obviously I didn't want to dip my body in there and deal with skin diseases later on).

 The swimming pool at Felda Residence, Tanjung Leman. 

To cut the story short, here are the photos of some of the cheap Malay food galore that my husband and I got to enjoy when we were in Tanjung Leman.

Saturday dinner: Halal Chinese food from Tenggaroh 2. 
All these for RM 20 something (only!).

Breakfast round 1: The famous Malay Prata from Tenggaroh 3. 
Two pratas and drinks at RM 3.80 

It was my first time in eating the prata with the curry dip since I usually could not take the Indian curry taste. However, this one has some beef taste in the curry dip and it was so good.

Breakfast round 2: Lontong sayur from Tenggaroh 2.

The night before, my husband kept on singing praises of a local popular Mee Rebus from Tenggaroh 5, Tanjung Leman. However, when we hunted for one, we were not able to taste it as the seller already ran out of the food when we got to the stall. Bad luck or what?

I guess that was about it for our short weekend trip in Mersing and Tanjung Leman. On Sunday afternoon, after we checked out from the hotel in Tanjung Leman, we decided to head home to Seremban. On our way back, my husband had his favourite Wild Boar Noodles in Kluang for lunch.

Wild Boar Noodles from Kluang. 
I don't like it because it is cooked with lots of ginger.

What a short trip with not much activities but lots of driving and food, I guess. But that's the beauty of a road trip, right?

Making Chocolate Orange Marble Chiffon Cake

It seems like it's been forever since I last baked or blogged in the past few weeks. Yes, I have recently been very lazy on these two departments (blame it on my pregnancy hormones) and this is why I was on baking and blogging hiatus.

Feeling guilty about it, I decided to bake something this morning and also planned to blog about it if the cake result turns fine. Since my Mom-in-Law just bought lots of fresh oranges from the neighbourhood Pasar Malam last night, I thought of making use some of the fruits for the cake. As you might have known, for baking, I prefer to utilize ingredients that are readily available at home.

After browsing some ideas of cake recipes that utilize oranges, I decided to just make a chiffon cake with the oranges as I have all the ingredients ready for chiffon cake this morning. Some orange cake recipes I found in the internet need sour cream, plain yoghurt or thick cream and I currently didn't have any of those. I mean, honestly, there is nothing worse than starting a recipe only to find we have to go down the street for some missing ingredients. It just kills the impromptu baking mood.

Here are the final result photos and recipe of the Chocolate Orange Marble Chiffon Cake that I baked this morning. For the basic Chiffon Cake recipe, I used the Whole-Egg Pandan Chiffon Cake recipe that I have tested many times but I substituted the pandan juice and coconut milk with fresh orange juice instead.

A slice of Chocolate Orange Marble Chiffon Cake I baked today.

 
Can you spot the orange rinds in this soft and melt-in-the-mouth cake?

Chocolate Orange Marble Chiffon Cake

Ingredients:

Group A:


  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 100gr Castor Sugar
  • 115 ml Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 140 ml Fresh Orange Juice (from 3 medium oranges)
  • Grated orange rinds from 2-3 oranges
  • 200gr Self-raising Cake Flour
  • 1 tbsp Milk Powder
  • 3 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1- 2 tbsp Good quality Cocoa Powder, sifted
  • Orange food colouring, if desirable

Group B:

  • 6 Egg Whites
  • 100gr Castor Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cream of Tar-Tar

Tutorials:

  1. Cream the egg yolks and sugar (Group A) by using high-speed mixer.
  2. In separate container, lightly combine the canola/vegetable oil, fresh orange juice, orange rinds and vanilla essence by using spoon or fork. Pour this mixture into the egg yolk and sugar mixture by using spatula.
  3. Fold the flour and milk powder into the cake batter by using spatula. Mix well and set aside.
  4. In separate bowl, mix egg whites and sugar with high speed mixer. Add the cream of tar-tar slowly into the mix. Keep on mixing until we get stiff egg whites with soft peak - this means the mixture doesn't fall back under its own weight.
  5. Combine the egg white mixture to the orange cake batter by using spatula.
  6. Take some of the cake batter and mix it with the cocoa powder. 
  7. Add few drops of orange colouring if necessary to the other cake batter.
  8. Alternately pour the orange and chocolate cake batters into a tube pan. Do not grease the tin.
  9. Bake the cake for about 50-55 minutes in a preheated oven. Keep a small fire throughout the baking process and do not attempt to open the oven lid before the cake is baked for at least 45 minutes.
  10. Once done, let the cake cool down completely before releasing the cake from the tin. Use a sharp thin blade to take the cake out from the tin.

This is my first time in experimenting a chiffon cake recipe with fresh fruits and I am so glad that it turned out really nice. The cake has strong tangy and citrusy aroma from the fresh orange juice and rinds. Also, I always feel that the taste of orange in a cake is best coupled with the bitter-sweet taste of chocolate (re: from the cocoa powder).

 The Chocolate Orange Marble Chiffon Cake: Fresh from the oven.

The inside of the Chocolate Orange Marble Chiffon Cake: Love the marble swirls! 

Can't wait to have my husband taste the cake and give his verdict whether some of this cake are worth given to our nephews later!

P/S: Orange rinds can taste quite bitter, so you might want to refrain from using too much of them in the cake batter, which is okay too. Also, don't grate the white part of the orange skin to reduce the bitterness. Also, this cake is best consumed within 2 days to guarantee its freshness.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Becoming A Mother: Are You Afraid?

Becoming a mother indeed makes me feel blessed, happy and excited beyond words especially since I struggled to get pregnant for many months. Pregnancy is indeed a privilege for almost every woman out there.

However, after I got pregnant, often times I do get cold feet about becoming a parent soon. There will be new responsibilities, pressures and changes in my life. I mean changes are good, but they not always easy to get along with in the beginning, are they?

Me and my latest nephew. 
Notice my eye bags even before I experience those sleepless nights yet?

Here are some instances of the things that I fear and ponder in becoming a parent - some stuff that have occasionally been flying around in my head for a while.

  • Giving birth. Normal birth is confirmed to be so painful on all levels, but it promises faster recovery for the mother. Let's not talk about episiotomy just yet when planning to give birth naturally. On the other hand, I heard that C-section is the new 'normal' as its process is relatively faster and painless. However, I can't imagine my tummy being cut open with a sharp knife. Which one to do? I am still thinking.
  • Gaining those extra pounds. Will I be as big as a house when I am very pregnant later? After I give birth, will I ever fit into my skinny jeans, short pants and cute little dresses again? I say never to obesity issues again, ever.
  • Stretch marks. Stretch marks are not pretty. Will my efforts in applying stretch marks lotion on my tummy every day, as soon as my pregnancy hit 8 weeks gestation age, eventually pay off after I give birth?
  • Being confined for a month. You probably know how I despise ginger and some other Chinese herbs so much. I never like them. However, should I follow the postnatal Chinese confinement diet, that means I have to be quarantined at home and only consume lots of traditional Chinese food, soup and tonic brewed with ginger (my number one enemy) and other bitter and smelly Chinese herbs - three times a day, for a month. So hard, right?
  • Breastfeeding. Albeit the fact that breast milk has the optimal nutrition for the baby, I heard the pains during breastfeeding are understatement? True or false? I am so joining the coming breastfeeding seminar in the hospital to find out more about this.
  • Taking care of the baby. I worry of those inevitable sleepless nights which may lead me to postnatal baby blues and surely give me more severe panda eyes and episodes of disequilibrium. I can't be sure either if I could pass the so called mother's physical and emotional strength tests in single-handedly dealing with the baby's endless cries, screams, poops, pukes, excessive saliva, etc. My true colours are recently revealed when I have to deal with crying and puking infants plus screaming, whining and out-of-control (nightmare) toddlers - I pass them over to my husband the soonest possible. I don't quite last 15 minutes in entertaining one kid. My love and affection to (other people's) kids are proven to be not just that deep yet. Hope this law would apply differently when it comes to my own brood.
  • Money and career. Will I still be able to earn money after I have a child? Can I still do what I do now and be financially independent like what I have been in the past five years or so? Being a full-time housewife takes a lot of courage (and dollars too).
  • Relationship with the husband. How is our marriage life going to be after there are not just the two of us in the picture any more? Can I handle the two of you?
  • Privacy, "me time" and freedom. I am not sure if I am ready to wave goodbye to all the privacy, "me time" and freedom which I very much worship as soon as I give birth. Can I still shop, travel, eat and do the stuff I like whenever I feel like doing so after I have the little one following me around?

And the list goes on but that is life, isn't it? 

I mean despite all these alarming fears and bottomless worries, there should be some ways for all mothers (and fathers) to overcome these parental issues, correct? Behind all these potential sorrows coming ahead, there should be some absolute joys of becoming parents on the way too, I believe. I am certain that people associate baby as bundle of joy not for nothing. Furthermore, some people are also in good faith that motherhood is so much fun! That's why some people keep on procreating, I guess. Parenting must really be that fun. Having a child grows you as a person and takes both of you and your partner to a whole another level of (a better) life, so to speak.

What about you? Are (or were) you afraid of becoming a parent?

Opening the Pregnancy Book

Hello, March!

As scheduled, when I am about to cross my pregnancy's first trisemester, the most critical period of the pregnancy, my Gynae finally opened the Pregnancy Book yesterday morning.

Wonder what the so called Pregnancy Book is?

Pregnancy Book is generally a personal maternity record given at every booking appointment with the Gynae. It is basically a piece of card folded into two, with lots of tables in it and contains overview of the mother's pregnancy progresses (including the monthly prescribed medications/vitamins). The book is for the mother to bring home after the Gynae's visit and we ought to bring it with us to subsequent antenatal visits.

Here's a little further explanation on what happened to me yesterday when I was about to get my first ever Pregnancy Book. After I checked myself in to the nurse in the hospital yesterday, even before the Gynae arrived, the nurse asked me to take a urine sample and then, she weighed me. Prior to this, during my monthly Gynae's visits, none of this was ever done - the Gynae only did the ultrasound scans on my tummy.

Moving on, when it was finally my turn to see the Gynae, she measured my blood pressure and wrote all the numbers into the Pregnancy Book. The Gynae explained that from now on, I have to bring this Pregnancy Book whenever I see her every month; must not lose the book as it's going to be one of the important documents to settle my child's birth certificate paperwork later on; and even carry the book whenever I travel long distance as medical record in case I have to urgently see doctors when I am away.

My first Pregnancy Book.

As written in the Pregnancy Book, at 11 weeks and 3 days gestation age:

  • I have gained 2,5 kg to date
  • I have normal blood pressure at 100/60 
  • I have no diabetes problems, as diagnosed from the urine test.
  • My baby is doing well, although I forgot to ask the exact height/weight of the baby thus far and am unable to read the Gynae's writing on the baby's current measurement stated in the pregnancy book

Also, yesterday my Gynae has started to prescribe me with pregnancy multivitamins and edible fish oil/DHA (to ensure the baby is as smart as his/her mother, at least!) which I previously did not take. During my first trisemester, I only took folic acid and progesterone pills regularly (although I stopped consuming the latter a couple weeks ago).

My pregnancy multivitamins and fish oil capsules for the next 30 days.

Last but not least, here's the picture of my unborn baby taken yesterday. He/she was resting when we did the ultrasound scan, so the baby didn't do much water ballet shows for us to watch like the other day

In yellow circle: Baby at 11 weeks and 3 days.

The Gynae's showed my husband and me the baby's beating heart, spinal bones, facial bones, hands and legs. I discovered that Daddy was so mesmerised to see his unborn son/daughter 'jumped' a little inside the uterus for the first time! Magic?

My next Gynae's visit will be at the end of this month and I really hope that we could find out the baby's gender by then. #prayinghard

Doctor bills: RM 123 (for the Gynae's consultation fee, urine laboratory test, multivitamins and fish oil capsules).