Thursday, April 28, 2016

Just a little Spice bebeh

Let me tell you a little story, no it's not a terribly long one, just a little one, promise...  it's about food, oooo my favourite topic!  Ok ok quick background, I grew up in  and around Hong Kong, as my step dad was a Chef in the hotel industry, and because of this we moved around a lot.  I learned to eat all sorts of strange and wonderful types of food.  So once in a while I get a bit nostalgic and want some of the more exotic stuff that I enjoyed in the Orient, and one of those little mouthwatering morsels are century eggs with pickled ginger,
in case you've not seen it, here's a pic.  Now I know it looks like a 'goth egg!', but it's actually quite delicious.
Also known as preserved egg,
They are made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls for several weeks to several months.
As an hors d'oeuvre, the Cantonese wrap chunks of this egg in pickled ginger

Finding the century eggs here in Kuala Lumpur is easy enough.  Most supermarkets sell them as well as the wet market, but finding the pickled ginger... well that's how this journey begins!  Talk about a needle in a haystack.  I searched most the main stores for pickled ginger, and couldn't find any.  I was really stumped, we use pickled ginger for a lot of our food, well this one in particular : 

Pickled ginger otherwise known as Sushi Gari
Off I went to the Japanese grocers.  They did have some kind of pink ginger pickle but I couldn't read the ingredients (obviously I can't  read and write Japanese! but I can curse, long story,  but that's beside the point!). 
I mentioned this to my girlfriend, well when I say mentioned what I really meant was to grumble and moan about the lack of pickled ginger.  My galpal said, "Daph, most people either buy from a friend or make it at home".  Well talk about a light bulb moment!   I decided to make a batch for myself. 

First, I researched the best type of pickling ingredients and started off with normal ginger root. When you pickle old ginger root its very yellow and is pretty hot! yawsaahh, old ginger root,  Next, I wanted a crunch but a light delicate ginger heat, so I  tried fresh young root ginger, it turned out pink!

Fresh younger ginger from the markets

Then I tested it on my friends and family, hey that's what they're for!,  and the feedback was good, so much so that my little Faerie Lisa suggested I retail it along with my signature chilli sauce I make which includes these ingredients :

Fire Engine Red Chillies

Garlic bursting with flavour

Taking my own advise, I've started a small home business retailing these  home made condiments, yes I've got a label too thanks to OXOLOCO. It was an exciting process, including sourcing all the materials!
Many thanks to OXOLOCO for designing my label.

I've now rolled out my first batch of both and taking orders! Both condiments contain no colouring or preservatives, the ginger naturally turns blush pink in the pickling marinade.  You can pop your orders on e mail,  that's, or pm me on Facebook!

My ©Cha Cha Chili Sauce ready to be labelled

©Tickled Pink Ginger anyone? 
I can't wait for my labels to be ready, they're in print as we speak.  It feels very satisfying because whatever the outcome, this venture fulfills two things, a creative outlet that allows me to utilise my home again as a workspace, and to make good quality products that everyone can enjoy.
Cheers and have a lovely week ahead! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Speedy Gonzales

My daughter Leilani stays calm in traffic by taking selfies!
Yet another day goes by,  and yet again I'm gesticulating in traffic, or swearing at the person who just cut me up/tail-gated me/ didn't indicate, you've been there, you know what I mean (my kids certainly do, they tell me I'm Jekyll and Hyde in the car!).  You get home or to your destination totally frazzled and either grumble about it for a bit or  have to take a few moments to calm down.   I usually wonder to myself "what's the rush?"  Will being two cars ahead get you to your destination faster?  Are you that late that you have to drive like a maniac?

Idiot driver on wrong side of the road trying to muscle in with school KIDS onboard!

There's traffic even in Marseille, but at least the view's great!

But then this attitude is not only  relegated to when ones drives, it's with everything you do in life. For example, when I started my first TV show, man I was pushing and pushing and knocking on the doors of everyone and everything.  I had to get the show out, it was do or die, now or never, what if TOMORROW never comes!!! I pushed so hard I got my sponsor on board within a month, and just like that, even after signing the contracts they pulled out!... just as we were going into pre production. Fast forward two years from that after a really bad bout of depression, a couple of very shitty jobs and 3 lawsuits, I thought well this is it isn't it, I can't go any further down.  I remember  venting to my close friends, they said "what's stopping you from doing your show now?" , "we'd love to help you".   It's incredible how faith, luck, timing and some incredible partners can change everything.  5 months to the day they said it, we had "the Art of living show" on Air.  It is all about timing, which brings me to my point.   I rushed around like a blue arsed fly and it all blew up in my face.  You can not see all the outside forces that are influencing those moments, and sometimes when you push too hard, it pushes back.  Plus my sponsors this time round were so supportive and just the best sort you could hope for.  (Yes mum, patience is a virtue )

I've got my second TV show ready, but this time I'm not rushing around, I'm being methodical, taking my time, allowing the natural order of timelines to flow so it can and will be taken up by the right people with the right attitude for the show.  I'm not saying sit back and let it all fall into your lap, ha ha ha , it that was true, I'm sure we'd all be sitting at home watching the idiot box and waiting for the phone to ring!  I'm saying it's just like fishing, you have to put all your lines in the water, be patient and when you get a bite, reel it in patiently or it will get away if you rush the process.  (Who would have thought I'd use a fishing metaphor, thank you to Xtreme Fishing!)

My wonderful friend Reza who let us use his Shop
Here's another example, (err not a fishing one ok)  I've known Lisa for years, we've met irregularly at best,  but last year everything clicked between us, friendship wise, work wise, creatively(the timing was right).   We've been slowly building towards working on several creative projects together, and individually.  One of them is for her exhibition of up cycled lamps.  I must admit I was pushing for her to have her exhibition sooner, I felt it would be beneficial to get it out faster, get the word out and push her a  little harder.  We worked out the timelines and got to looking for exhibition spaces.  But you see, yet again the timing wasn't right, pieces were delayed,  the space we agreed on wasn't what she really wanted in the end.  So leaving all that aside, I carried on with some of my other ventures and whilst having a couple of hours to kill I decided to visit an ol friend who owned a shop in one of the prime locations of the 'golden triangle' in Kuala lumpur.  As we chatted over lunch together I told him about what I was doing and how were were looking for space for the exhibition and needed sponsors as well, and just like that, he offered his place... timing yet again is everything.

She was taking pictures of the place but the cat insisted on posing!
My Celadon pot that will be used for Lisa's work!

I brought Lisa for a visit the following week and she absolutely loved it!  It was perfect for her.  This time we did delay the timing for the exhibition further into the next month where she felt most comfortable and what suited the owner of the shop as well.   Yet again here is an example of not rushing, of taking the time to plan and organise, of fate, of luck.   Now that we've got the dates locked down for Friday 13th of May! (great date)  we'll create a FB page to extend an invitation to you to come see these beautiful upcycled lamps that Lisa has called "Scandelabra" .  Stay tuned for more info on that

 I guess as we get older as well,  one begins to wonder why?  Why are we rushing around?  Is the world really going to come crashing down on our shoulders if we slowed down?  Why are you working at break neck speed setting aside what you really want to do, and sometimes all you want to do is earn a decent living doing what you enjoy and spending time with the ones you love.  We've lost the ability to "stop and smell the roses.   So what I say to you is this, take a deep breath, slow that pace down a tad and look up... what do you see?

I see you !

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Throwing down the gauntlet

Blay watching the Polar Bear on Telly

I was vegging out in front of the idiot box the other day and as I'm a big wild life/ below zero /extreme fishing fan, naturally a program about polar bears had caught my attention.  Heey! they may be the most dangerous carnivores on this earth but they're still the cutest! But that's not my point, stop distracting me!  My cat Blay, whom my son an I had found as a kitten in the car park, took one look at the Polar Bear on the screen and went straight into hunt mode.  I giggled to myself thinking "yup a little 5 pound kitty against a 300 lb bear, that's about fair... (well in Blay's head)  as my little "happy " cat sailed through the air from the couch to land in front of the telly. She then proceeded to watch the show too!

So as the documentary played on, the host of the show was waiting for the mother bear to leave her den with the cubs and move on  to a different part of the vast snow filled islands to find food as she had been in hibernation for 6 months. Thinking she was just taking the cubs out for some fresh air just like  days past, he realised she was actually leaving as she just kept walking on... and though she looked back a couple of times that was it. They just moved on.   I thought to myself, humans very rarely if ever just pick up and go.  We have so much baggage or "things" that we have to bring with us that it takes time, emotional preparation, money and organisation to do so. 

My daughter Leilani picking up and going (as far as the beach.. heh)

More pondering, the slow turning of the rusty wheels in my brain could almost be heard as I had  just been introduced to Claire Sancelot who headed the Zero Waste Movement in Hong Kong.  She had recently moved to Malaysia with her family and was trying to find her feet here.   Meeting her only reinforced my mind set of how I was living my life.  I try to recycle as much as I can, organise the meals so food waste is minimal (well when you have two teenagers in the house, there is NO SUCH THING AS LEFTOVERS!!) 

I know even though the ministry here is saying we as a nation have to start recycling NOW, they've  pushed the deadlines for implementation because the nation were (are ?) not "ready".  These are among the public responses received recently when asked on their preparedness in the implementation of the Act and I quote from   
  • “What is waste separation? I know nothing about the Act being implemented in September”. (2015)
  • “Is it true that action will be taken on home and business owners if they don’t separate the waste? It feels like a burden”.
  • “Why there has not been any news on this new regulation? I have no qualms about following the new rule as recycling is already practised in my household”.     

                          This is a Fab Video from The Plastic Coalition. 

I guess for some of us, it's easy peasy, it's something you do without thinking, but for those who still feel a bit in the dark, I've asked Claire to give me her thoughts on Zero Waste here in Malaysia.   She says  "start by refusing small items like plastic bag, straw, bottles..., carry your reusable bag, refillable water bottles.  Little changes go a long way.  We have only one planet and it cannot be recycled and right now we are destroying our living environment.   Free yourself from things, its is extremely liberating.  Happiness does not come from things"    She also quoted that clothes are the second largest polluter to  Our environment  (Ladies stop rolling your eyeballs, and men this is not the reason to continue to wear that horrible 5 O shirt OK?)   For those of you who are interested in reading more about Zero Waste, Clair has a page on Face Book ZERO WASTE KUALA LUMPUR  

Now one of my pet dislikes are the styrofoam containers we're constantly given by vendors for take away or *tapow* as we do here in Asia, so like our forefathers who were actually more eco friendly, I've gotten ahold of a tiffin carrier, especially for take away food. 

I got mine from Alibaba express

These Beauties are from India

I got this for my dad from Thailand

So I challenge you to do the same, I've also got a Facebook Page called Daph's Caf , do post your pics of your tiffin carriers there... if you dare :-p
Have a lovely week ahead. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Mini Road Trip

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A while back when I was experimenting with a product for our new business venture, Lisa the little faerie who designs my blog, mentioned a place that her mother recommended to buy the organic version.  So finally this weekend we went on a mini road trip to place called Janda Baik which is about an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur.

We zipped along in her little Swift and had to double back a few times as we couldn't find the turnings, on one of them we were actually only a hundred meters away from our destination but had turned back as it looked as if it was heading towards a dead end.  So after stopping to pick up some of the roasted chestnuts they sell along the way and checking with Lisa's mum again, we finally made it there!

The road was lined with vendors selling fresh produce, but I could not find what I was looking for. However I did stumble upon this

I picked up a bunch of these exotic red bananas to bring home for the kids to try,  as Lisa had never tried one she decided to eat one there and then!  I watched her face as she took a bite, she turned and looked at me "it's not bad, a bit tart and soft in the middle" she exclaimed.  Cool bananas! She also said they would taste perfect for "Pengat Pisang" which is bananas boiled in coconut milk So then we moseyed on further and I came across this beautiful red number


We've all seen the Rosella syrup and teas but here it was fresh and abundant.  So I got myself half a kilo of this vitamin c packed wonder ruby and managed to slip in a few packets of their fresh veg. Though I didn't get what I  originally came for, I found something I could experiment on!

So back at the cave, I decided to do my "double double toil and trouble, fire burn and caldron bubble".  I first made the Rosella drink , by boiling and steeping the flowers 

It doesn't take long to boil and what a great colour!

Straining the flowers, and it's ready to drink,  you can add sugar or honey to sweeten it
I also made some Rosella Jam!  (errrr needed some form of creative outlet!)  Well the great thing is I've created a tasty jam and we've now found someone who produces what I've been looking for, which means another Road TRIP!!! wheeeeee

My home made Rosella Jam and Drink! Cheers!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and have a great week ahead!