This is for Rosalynn

Looking to eat something other than plain rice that I have been eating for most of my meals, I trawled cyberspace for some aromatic rice recipes. Risotto was my first choice but it specifically called for the Italian Arborio rice to be used. That rice is as foreign to me as the Italian language. Remembering that Rosalynn had given me two boxes of Spanish Saffron, I settled on cooking Saffron Rice. I did not have two of the ingredients which were Basmati rice and ghee. In place, I used the rice that I eat everyday and butter and olive oil. The aroma was nice and buttery but it was a little lumpy. I could have added too much fish stock. As much as I liked it, I have to restrain myself from cooking such rich food every week. I could see my LDL levels rising with each spoonful of rice that I took. It is a pity that the nice things in life are always those that we need to avoid. Here is the modified recipe:

Saffron Rice
1 cup rice

4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil

1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
3 cloves

1 large onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, julienned
2 cups fish stock

1/2 tsp ground coriander
6 cardamom seeds

1/2 tsp saffron, steeped in 2 tbsp boiling water
1/2 cup sultanas

1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp sugar

Wash the rice thoroughly. Soak it in clean water for fifteen minutes. Heat butter and olive oil in pot. Add cinnamon stick and cloves and saute until the spices’ aroma are released. Add onions and saute until fragrant. Stir in rice until it is thoroughly coated. Add fish stock, carrots, coriander, cardamom, sultanas, salt and sugar. Bring to boil while stirring constantly. When it is boiling, lower heat to simmer. Add saffron with the water it was steeped in. Transfer the broth to cook in an electric rice cooker. When it is cooked, fluff the rice with a pair of chopsticks. Serve warm. It tastes best when eaten with curry.

Dull Day Turned Good

Boredom is the theme of the day. When I am bored, I get all fidgety, anxious and depressed. Raiding the fridge did not yield any comfort food or at least one that could calm me down. The three cans of 100 Plus looked inviting but I was craving for something with a stronger flavour. The lone Heineken sitting beside the trio beckoned but I do not drink beer during the day. They make me tipsy fast. I regretted having depleted my cache of frosty cold Vanilla Coke and A&W Root Beer too soon. There I sat, feeling dull, mineral bottle in hand, fulfilling my daily plain water intake quota, and mentally listing down the junk food I am going buy on my next shopping trip.

Although it had been raining on and off the whole of yesterday, the winds felt dry today. I know it because my palms and the soles of my feet are not feeling like they normally should. They are a tad smooth. Small items required more effort to pick up and grip. My feet kept slipping off the footplates. I am glad that Dr. Liong, my urologist, changed my prescription from Ditropan to Detrusitol. These two drugs are used to relax an overactive bladder. They both produce similar side effects in me, namely dry mouth and blurred vision. These problems are exacerbated during the dry season. The side effects from Detrusitol are far less pronounced. I get through the day with very little discomfort as compared to the days when I was taking the former. Now, as I think of those side effects that had made me so miserable, I am thankful for little blessings that have been coming my way. My dull day did not seem that unexciting anymore.

Moonlight Memories

Back in the days when Bayan Lepas was still a wide expanse of muddy padi fields, there were no Tamagotchis, Gameboys, PS2 and computers to occupy our leisure time. The two forms of electronic entertainment were the radio and black and white television with two channels. Now, Bayan Lepas has become the Silicon Valley of the East. I can live my wildest fantasies in computer games while channel surfing the television and replying to an email from half a world away, all at the same time. Times sure have changed. Nevertheless, I still miss those good old days when as kids, all we had to play with were mostly what we could find from around the vicinity we were playing at.

Parents back then were creative. They could make simple toys that kept us entertained to no end. It did not even cost a lot. The materials were easy to get, mostly things we used everyday. One of the more impressive homemade toys that I remember was the spinning water caltrops. This weird looking nut is also known as lin kok in Cantonese. It is only available from the market during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The shell is black, hard and looks like the horns of a bull. It is cooked by boiling in water. Some effort is needed to crack it open to reveal the edible nut inside that tasted faintly like chestnuts.

The materials for making the spinning water caltrops is simple. All that is needed are a few water caltrops with really hard shells, a lidi and a length of string. On the other hand, making it needs some patience as the nut inside needs to be removed bit by bit. I have forgotten how it was made but it was fun when it I was playing with it that time. It may seem to be a mindless toy to children now but during those times it was something novel for us during the Mid-Autumn festival apart from parading the neighbourhood with our lanterns.