KL Morning Gridlock

Traffic jams become more bearable when there are photo opportunities like this one.

KL gridlock

Good morning, world, from hot, humid, beautiful Malaysia!

P.S. The best camera is always the one with you.

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10 Lessons I Learned From Running

runner_quote

1. Never underestimate uncles and aunties! You just might end up eating their dust. They may be older, but they can outrun you and outdo you in terms of stamina and sheer staying power.

2. Be on time! If the flag-off time of a run — fun run or marathon (or anything in between) is stated to be 7 a.m., it will be at 7 a.m. so you better be there a good half hour, at the very least, beforehand.

3. You’re never too old to start/try something new. I used to run on and off but only got seriously into it when I was *gasp* approaching 42 years old. Let me tell you something — that feeling when you outrun kids more than half your age? Absolutely priceless! :D

4. You never know what you are capable of doing until you give it a try. So far, I’ve done many 5 km runs, with the farthest being 10 km, to date. Me? The wimpy kid who’d pass out after standing too long under the sun during school assembly? Now capable of doing 10 km runs?! If someone told me back then that I’d be able to run 5 km for leisure on a weekend or have a “quick” 2 km jog around the neighbourhood, I would have laughed hysterically at the ‘absurd idea’.

5. A little progress is better than no progress at all. As the Malays say, sikit-sikit, lama-lama, jadi bukit, literally “little by little, after some time, (small efforts) add up into a mountain”. When I first started running, my lungs felt like bursting within the first minute. But I just kept at it — running as far as I can, then walking briskly to catch my breath and allow my heartbeat to ease a bit, rinse, repeat. Before I knew it, I could do 1 km, 2 km, 5 km…

6. Sometimes, you fall off the wagon. You miss a run or two. Then an entire month goes by, with your running shoes accumulating dust instead of mileage. But you know what? You can always start back again, even if it means starting again from zero. As a friend used to say “Just shut up and run”!

7. Listen to your body. It is normal to feel some discomfort when you first run, usually because of incorrect technique or posture. Read up, ask the pros, use ice packs/hot packs after your runs, and see if things get better. HOWEVER, there are some other types of pain that you just cannot ignore. Know your limits, and if you get injured, respect your body’s need to recover. Case in point: I had recurrent heel pain but I chose to ignore it until the day I ended up hobbling in pain. Turns out I had plantar fasciitis. It took almost a year for the pain to fully go away and for me to slowly start running again. Thank God, I’m healed now. Lesson learned the hard way.

8. Someone will always be faster/stronger/better.  Even if you run with the speed of a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, you’re infinitely better than all the couch potatoes in the world combined.

9. Fancy gear won’t make you a runner nor make you run faster/better/stronger. The only thing you really need to invest in is proper running outfit — well-fitting running shoes and sportswear that remain comfortable no matter how much you sweat.

10. Running will, at the very least, teach you how to estimate distance. I used to simply stare blankly when my husband would describe a turnoff to be 100 meters away. Now, when Waze tells me to keep left in 200 meters then turn right in 100 meters, I can now gauge the distance, thanks to running. Here’s how it happens — when you’re running and panting and absolutely dying to have a drink of water, and the road signs indicate that the next water station is in 100 meters, multiply that experience several times, and very soon, your body will be able to tell, more or less, how far 100 meters is!

 

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Kuih Lapis (Layered Steamed Cake)

Kuih lapis is one of many traditional Malaysian bite-sized desserts (kuih, pronounced as ‘kweh’) that can take many forms and tastes (from sweet to savoury to spicy). The word ‘lapis’ means ‘layer’ and the name comes from its construction — layers of alternating colour that result in a nice stripy pattern after cutting.

This version results in the soft and slightly sticky version. After having compared several versions of the recipe, apparently, you should increase the amount of tapioca flour (tepung ubi) if you wish a ‘springier’, firmer, and shinier version. Recipe adapted and translated from Sinar Kehidupanku’s blog.

 

Kuih Lapis (Layered Steamed Cake)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rice flour flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (*original recipe was 1 cup sugar)
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk (I used 1 small tetra pack of Kara coconut cream and added a bit of water to fill up 1 cup)
  • 3 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • food colouring and flavouring of choice

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the 3 types of flour, sugar, and salt. Add the coconut milk and water.
  2. Mix everything and pass through a sieve (optional). Divide into 3 parts and put inside separate bowls.
  3. Add a different colour into each bowl. You can add in flavouring, if you wish. Leave one bowl without any food colouring if you want a white layer.
  4. Heat up your steamer. Lightly oil the bottom and sides of your pan. (I used a round 6-inch pan.)
  5. Pour in 1 cup of one colour and steam for 5 minutes or until the layer firms up.
  6. Pour in 1 cup of the next colour and steam for another 5 minutes.
  7. Continue the layering and steaming until all the batter is finished. Steam the final layer for about 20 minutes.
  8. Once cooked, remove the pan from the steamer and leave to cool for an hour or so to allow the kuih lapis to firm up. Make sure the kuih lapis has completely cooled down before cutting into bite-sized pieces. Use a plastic knife, such as those ‘knives’ you get for free when buying a cake from the bakery.

Important notes:

  • When removing the cover of your pot/steamer in between layers, take care not to allow any of the water that has condensed under the cover to fall into the kuih lapis.
  • Make sure each layer is firm before adding on the next layer in order to achieve a nice and even stripy pattern (unlike my first attempt!).
  • If you want to make the top layer look flawless, burst any bubbles that form on the surface using a toothpick prior to final steaming.

Selamat mencuba! :)

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My Little Dragon Turns 3!

dinosaur

Ahh….where did the time go? My little peanut of a boy is now a running, talking, screaming, giggling, chatting, (pretend) reading, scooter-riding, YouTube-browsing, smartphone-scrolling three-year old who loves construction toys and knows his dinosaurs.

Me: Look! Stegosaurus! (pointing at the purple dinosaur)
Little Dragon: No. It’s (a) triceratops!

Oops! Looks like the Mama needs to brush up on her dinosaur knowledge :P

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Quick & Easy Sausage Pasta

This is one of my go-to recipes when the kids and I are craving for pasta but:

a) I’m too tired.
b) I’m feeling too lazy.
c) I don’t have any fancy-schmancy ingredients in the freezer/pantry.
d) All of the above.

This recipe so easy, you’ll find that the hardest part is actually boiling the pasta.

 

Quick & Easy Sausage Pasta

sausage pasta

Ingredients:

- 1 pack of pasta (I prefer spaghetti for this recipe)
- garlic, crushed & chopped
- 1 tin of button mushrooms, drained & sliced thinly
- mixed herbs of choice
- 1 pack of sausages/hot dogs, sliced thinly into discs
- salt & black pepper
- olive oil
- knob of butter

Method:

1. Cook the pasta al dente. This is important. If you overcook it, it will turn to mush later as you try to mix it. Drain and set aside. Do NOT throw away the pasta water as we will need some of it later.

2. In a large non-stick pot with handle, pour in some oil olive and a knob of butter. Swish the oil and butter around to melt the butter over medium heat. The butter adds a nice flavour to the dish; it’s totally fine to omit it altogether.

3. Saute the garlic briefly in the oil/butter mixture. I deliberately did not specify how much garlic to put in because it all boils down to your personal preference. My family loves garlic, so I can use easily half a head of it for this recipe!

4. Add in the mushrooms and lower the fire. Sprinkle generously with herbs of your choice (I use mixed herbs, or oregano, or basil, or whatever I have on hand). Cook just long enough for the mushrooms to absorb the taste of the butter.

5. Add in the sliced sausages and stir around just to brown the sausages a bit.

6. Dump the cooked pasta into the pot and stir away. You might want to add some of the pasta water to make it easier to stir the pasta. Add olive oil as needed.

7. Season with salt and black pepper and continue stirring just long enough for the flavours to come together. (Remember, everything’s already been cooked, so there’s no need to cook it any further too long!)

8. Serve and enjoy. You’re welcome! ;)

A few quick notes:
- Linguini and angel hair will probably work with this recipe, also.
- Fresh mushrooms will surely taste better.
- If you’re doing Meatless Mondays, try making this with ONLY the mushrooms, omitting the sausages.

 

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