Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Acelora...!

For almost two decades, it was just a plant with beautiful flowers. The fruits were allowed to fall all over the ground. The birds enjoyed them. My dogs...the fruits were teeny weeny balls to them. To me, this plant gave me flowers I enjoyed and showed off. I knew it was not a common plant, as I have not seen it around. Many visitors asked about the fruits on the plant and on the ground. My answer would always be the same. They are some kind of sour mini apples and I think they are poisonous! Ah well, the girl whom I bought it from told me this plant would bear me small-sized apples (no mention of mini-sized). With a price of rm 12 (or was it rm10?), I did not bother to find out more. My husband's friend visited us one day and was curious as to why I allowed the fruits to drop all over the ground. He told me that they are edible. My reply was immediate...Oh, these are mutated apples; they are very sour and mini. (I thought he made a mistake.) He looked aghast to hear my answer. No! This is an acelora plant. Apparently, he did not get it cheap and had been hunting for more plants. Acelora...huh? I have my hubby's friend to thank for this piece of valuable information. Malpighia emarginata is a tropical fruit-bearing shrub or small tree in the family Malpighiaceae. Common names include acerola, Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry and Wild Crape myrtle.The fruit is a bright red drupe. Drupes are in pairs or groups of three, and each contains three triangular seeds. The drupes are juicy and very high in vitamin C, a good source of vitamin A (beta carotene) and other nutrients. They are also good for the skin. They are divided into three obscure lobes and are usually acid to sub acid, giving them a sour taste, but may be sweet if grown well. The above picture showed the fruit placed on a teaspoon for comparison. It looked tiny. One mini apple. I told my hubby this is some kind of a pocket dynamite. It is just a small berry but packed with so many nutrients. Now that I know of the nutrients in this mini fruit, the birds are not happy. There had been none so far on the ground. I left almost no ripen ones on the tree. Some days though, I do leave a few berries on the tree for the birds. (I try to be kind.) There is one thing I need to do. I still need to read up more on gardening as the last I took a bite of the still tasted sour! :o)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dog is Home & Safe. Yes, Home!

Neighbour told me when I got home that the dog was release. You know she (referring to Ah Pek’s daughter) came back very quickly, he said. I looked at him and asked, where is the dog now, what happened to it? I do not know was his reply. I thought it was your stray dog, he continued. Mine? I replied no, mine is a male and not a female. It looked like your dog and I am sure that was the dog that 'pooed' in the middle of the road in front of my house. My answer (which I already had in my mind the night before) was this. To neighbour I said, Have you noticed that there is a black dog that used to live here on this street? It belonged to the house a few houses away from you. I just realised that there are only two dogs now in that house. Still, neighbour said it is my dog. I do not think my stray would have lost its ‘doghood’ just by wandering into Ah Pek’s house and got locked in, I said to him. Sheesh…I do not know what else to say. To the neighbour the important thing was with the dog released (he was not bothered how the dog will survive later on) he would not be disturbed anymore. I have a sense of relief (of sorts) as I would not be disturbed with phone calls to tell me this…the dog is barking again, you know.

[Daughter got back and dog released yesterday morning. I thought that was a rather immediate return.]

Apparently, she got complaints (over the phone). What she mentioned surprised me (or did it?); neighbour has chided her once too many times over food she left for the cats or strays. It seems the place would look untidy and it will attract more strays. Both daughter and I knew this mother cat and her kittens were not strays. First, a family moved and left a female cat. Then, a Tomcat left behind by another family. That was how the litter of kittens appeared. Mother cat and three kittens lived (and had been) under the drain between neighbour’s and Ah Pek’s house. They have since grown into beautiful cats. I think it really would not be a 'heavy' job to take the empty containers and throw them into the garbage bins (instead of complaining). Daughter does not live in the neighbourhood. She was born kind.

By the way, the dog is safely HOME. Yes, it belonged to the occupants of the house a few houses away from the mentioned neighbour. Neighbour asked me this question, if it is their dog why they did not come looking for the dog. My reply was…There are some who are happy that their dog go out, was lost and not come back. This is ONE OF THEM. Do we not ‘love’ them? Neighbour and I have no issues so far...except the strays. The world is not perfect. For now, I will just continue and take my...walk. :o)**It is still a mystery how the dog got locked inside.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kefir is like yoghurt

I was given about two tablespoonfuls of the kefir grains to start my first small tub of kefir. Kefir is like yogurt and in my opinion better as it is homemade and free from preservatives. My son eats his with a teaspoon of blueberry or strawberry jam. I decided to follow what he did and it tasted great. You can also have it sweetened with honey or add it to your cereals or baked potatoes and even salad.(Picture above showed the curds and whey. I tilt the container to show it clearer.) Nutritional Facts (I obtained from the web) of Kefir-- It is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity. Interesting Facts of Kefir dates back to the shepherds of the Caucasus Mountains. They discovered that fresh milk carried in leather pouches would occasionally ferment into an effervescent beverage. Its uniqueness from all other cultured milk products is the presence of more than three species in the culturing process. Kefir is also known as Snow lotus. Some call it Tibetan mushroom, which may cause confusion for some folks, as the kombucha mushroom is also known as the Tibetan Mushrooms as well as the Manchurian Mushroom (and a host of other names)Kefir grains (grains in the little container-pic above) can be added to low fat milk or full cream milk and left undisturbed for eight hours to make Kefir. The mixture should be left for more than eight but preferably no more than 12 hours. As the longer it ferments, the more sour the kefir will turn out. I always leave mine at most 9 hours (all depends on the weather). Our humid climate is a plus factor for this kefir making. Sieve out the grains from the curds and whey after eight hours. Try to use all plastic wares for the sieving and storage. I used stainless steel sieve (picture above) as I did not have a plastic one available when I first made the kefir. I have since used plastic sieve. You can tell when the kefir is ready when the curds and whey are visible. Kefir and grains are to be stored in the fridge separately.:o)

Ah Pek died...

Ah Pek (old uncle) left this world about two months ago. In the house he used to stay, there is a dog. Ah Pek and I have just a 'Hi' and 'Bye' relationship but I love to watch him as I pass him by. He used to sit under the tree without any shirt (ribs showing) and feed the stray cats. I would not be the only one who would miss the sight of him, the cats will too. I could hear a dog barking…barking away in the distance (since Saturday). Funny, I walked past this particular house almost every night to reach the place where I feed the strays (one left now) and I did not see or hear any dog. I just got a call from a neighbour telling me that there is a dog in the house (next door to him) that has been vacant for quite some time. This kind neighbour was away for Ching Ming. My heart missed a beat when his tenant described the dog. Description fitted one of the dogs I have been feeding (the one spotted after the Council ‘killing’ spree). I ran to the vacant house. I called, whistled…shook the gate. There was not a tinkle. Funny neighbourhood I am living in the house opposite (this vacant house) and the one next have occupants. What are they? They do not see or hear anything. Why do people choose to live ‘in their own world’? My heart feels so heavy….Ohh! It has been a week since the Council came. Then and again, how did a dog managed to get into a vacant house?! I pray that somehow you (the dog) managed to scale the wall and is alive somewhere. This is the continuation. A friend was good enough to trace the telephone number of Ah Pek's daughter. Oddly enough, she said she was not aware that there is a dog in the house! So now I have to feed the dog until she comes back(she went interstate) to let the dog out? That will be in a week's time. Just now, neighbour told me he threw over a piece of meat for the dog. Oh, he had the dog fed! (He was so proud of himself) One piece of meat? How big was that piece of meat? I really do not think it weighed a lot. Maybe I should ask if that piece was enough to fill up all the cavities of his teeth. (I know this man.) But, I would sound rude. He ended the conversation with this..."Okay yah, so you will feed the dog." Is there even a more convenient suggestion? Sometimes I think I want to give them a pox on their face for being so 'LOVELY'. Can you imagine a dog left without food and water for two months and yet, no one noticed, no one felt anything for the poor dog. What is even more amazing is that I have to feed the dog by having my hubby climbed over a six-foot gate. All this neighbour could do to help is lower a bowl of food into the house from his house. They share a wall and it really is not a problem...just a matter of currency spent. It would not be much and that I am very sure. Besides this problem I have had complaints that my stray dogs poo in the middle of the road. My stray dogs stink, etc. I was even asked to stop feeding the strays. This way they would go away!! Geez, how people think only of and for themselves. Grrr...What neighbours I have. I am thinking I will start wearing sunglasses half the size of my face for I am all ready to scorn, stare and glare when I meet him on the street. I am so tired...! **The reason why he was kind enough to call me and call Ah Pek's daughter...the dog was barking and barking. Oh! Ah Pek why did you leave without saying goodbye...the cats will miss you. R.I.P.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Life is like Coffee...

Life is like Coffee Movie: "Do you know people that just seem to be happier in general? Do you say to yourself, "I want to be more like them"? Often, the happiest people in the world don’t have the best of everything...they just make the best of everything!"

Penang for Japan

Penang for Japan Disaster Relief Charity Drive held @ Straits Quay on 27 March 2011. This charity drive was jointly organised by the Pink Hibiscus Club and Enhance Education. What you are about to see in the pictures below will speak for itself. The time taken to get this event going was about 2 weeks. The response was overwhelming and the people who turned up, beyond expectation. A local daily reported that over 5,000 people turned up for the event!

Customers arrived even before the opening ceremony. Cup cakes, muffins, biscuits, brownies, etc. found just in one of the designated area. There were many more types of goodies found all around.Picture show the arrival of the Chief Minister of Penang, YAB Mr Lim Guan Eng who officiated the opening of the event.The President of Pink Hibiscus Club, Ms. Emi Yamazaki presenting her speech.It got too emotional for Ms. Emi Yamazaki and tears flowed. Many in the audience shared her grief. I saw many red eyes around me. Japan, Penang shares your grief.Our Chief Minister, YAB Mr. Lim Guan Eng presenting his Support, Sympathy and Solidarity speech. It is SSS and not SOS as he stressed in his speech.
The many reporters who covered this event.Picture above show characters out of a movie and they are here to 'guard' and 'protect' all the VIPs and others who are at this event. Everything has to go smoothly and safely. Ahaaahaa...(I am only joking.) I loved these individuals in costumes.

Consul-General Tetsuro Kai from Consulate-General of Japan (in Penang), presenting his speech.This is just one of the donations received.Visitors having their picture taken with a 'robot'. What great ideas these organisers have up their sleeve!
My favourite is this little one. He looked spooky but cute (in my eyes). Someone mentioned to me that he is one of the characters from Star Wars (the robot too) but I am no Star Wars fan. Therefore, I do not know the name of this spooky one.Every Japanese at this event did their part. That includes this young boy who looked so serious. I told my friend that he is 'blowing for his supper' (not singing). Ermmm...not exactly for his supper but for his compatriots back in Japan. There was a donation box placed near his foot. His concentration had me awed.Everyone had a part to play. These cute girls were folding origami cranes (I did not ask if they were for sale) and at the back of them are second hand attires for sale. Children from the Pink Hibiscus Club performed the Yosakoi and Pompoko Dance.A violin performance.This man sang the song 'Kitakuni No Haru' (Spring in North Country) and the audience went oooh! Dressed in a Happi coat I think he duped many into thinking that he is a Japanese singer. (Yours truly and friend included) He really did look like some famous Japanese singer. We had a good laugh when he spoke in English. He is a Malaysian. Japanese have a very distinctive way of speaking English. Of course, if you have spent a decade or so in Malaysia then you would speak differently. Everything was very well thought of for this event. This is the jumble sale area. You can find dolls, clothes, shoes, books, bags and many other things.Yay...the little girl loved our jelly. Yes, the fruit cocktail jelly made by my friend (she got me into this event) and me. Take a closer look and you can see cakes made by us as well. [The little containers and tins of fruit cocktail were donated by Chris of Blue Reef.] A nice feeling flowed through me as I stood and watched the sales. We did something to help...a wee bit and I felt happy. Down this line, you can find nasi lemak, fried rice, fried noodles, mixed fruit juice, yoghurt, etc. You will never imagine the varieties of food available for sale, all in the name of charity. Everyone at the event was spoilt for choice.Grandmother, mother, sister, daughter,...everyone helped in the making of onigiri balls for sale. I do not think it could be any fresher.Even clowns came to help make the event livelier.There was even an auction sale. Items for the auction were donated by the generous public. RM1,000...going one, going two, going three. Sold! The man in the white shirt (with hands behind his back) got his bid. RM1,000 and he topped the amount up with another thousand. One man with a big heart.The starting amount was RM100 for this Sesame Street set (collectors' item). Going One...Two...Three...Sold to the man in the pink shirt for RM600.

The event was scheduled to end at 6:00 pm but by 4 pm, my legs were giving way and my eye bags were showing. I left before the Musica Sinfonietta Orchestra played. Yes there was even an Orchestra performing. That was how elaborate this event was. The last I heard the collection for this Charity Drive was RM260,000 and still counting. That is a lot of money. Hip...hip...hurray! I am still hoping and praying that PinkHibiscus Club will put in a note saying...a little for the animals. :o)**The total collection is still not known. I think it will be announced in the local newspapers at a later date. .