Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy 50th Malaysia...Merdeka itu Bebas!

Although grateful to our forefathers who obtained our country's independence through negotiations & without bloodshed, one really wonders whether there really was no bloodshed... or history intentionally wiped off the forgotten heroes.. I suppose our leaders have done somewhat good since then. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been given a good education throughout my adolescent & adult life. A land which seems not to discriminate genders. Women are equally successful as men. And I might add, equally paid too! No doubt, environment plays a part in moulding a person into what they are. I salute the mothers of war stricken places, the mothers of palestinians - my prayers go to them who have experienced tremendous lost in their quest for independence and freedom!
Dibawah adalah sebuah nukilan Professor Muhammad Salleh...untuk di rasai bersama...
merdeka itu bebas
bebas
berdiri bersama pohon purba hutan
menengadah ke langit
mendengar bunyi nyanyian awan
dan ayun dahan
menghirup wajah hijau cakerawala
dan wangi nafasnya.

bebas berbaring
merenung sudur belantara berkembang
dan bunga bersemi selepas hujan

bebas memanjat gunung pagi
dan mengikut renang ikan diulu
dan menyauk matahari dimuka air.

merdeka itu bebas
bebas berjejak pada pasir dan tanah
leluhur
bebas berenang bersama penghuni karang
dan menghormati keindahannya

bebas bangun dengan ciap purba
serta bau padi dan ubi di paya.

merdeka itu bebas
bebas kembali ke teduh kampung
atau terbang ke sempadan bangsa-bangsa.

bebas berfikir dan bebas merasa
bebas membesar dari kata
dan bebas dari bendung kuku
dan dompet peniaga dan banknya

bebas menyanyi lagu sendiri
menarik nasib di baris dondang sayang
dan lebur dalam irama cair sayirnya
bebas menyusun kata -
yang tumbuh dari tanahair maruah

merdeka itu bebas
bebas untuk bangga bahasa ibunda
dalam lidah terpelat atau bunyi terasmi.

merdeka itu bebas

bebas dari kemiskinan
dan dari kekayaan yang dicuri dari
hutan dan manusia tidak berdaya

merdeka itu bebas
berkata dengan hujah sendiri,
dan menyata pertimbangan yang dikumpul pada diri,
meletus dengan gagasan yang
datang dari gelegak hati.

merdeka itu bebas
bebas untuk bekerja
menyempurna wujud
diri dan tanahair

merdeka itu bebas
bebas berkayuh di sungai jernih
menambak tanjung
dan membersih pantai
mengilir di sungai sejarah
hingga ke muara dan samudera.

merdeka itu
bebas membina rumah maruah
melukis jiwa tercerah
dengan warna sendiri

bebas itu merdeka
bebas
menghadapi cermin bangsa
berdiri didepan kacanya
menerima senyum atau derita
wajah di dalamnya.

bebas duduk di pondok
di tepi sawah
atau bukit yang memanjat ke langit
bebas tumbuh bersama padi, jagung,
ubi dan kambing.

bebas itu merdeka
bebas dari dihina perbezaan,
bebas dari lidah dan tangan
kezaliman
kerana kita berdiri di tanah leluhur
dan sejarahnya.

muhammad haji salleh
1-4 ogos 2005

Monday, August 20, 2007

Birthdays...

A reminder of our existence...
A time to count our blessings...
A cake made out of love...
No presents necessary...
Just thoughts and well wishes...
That really mattered...






Happy Birthday to me!...



Thank you to all who remembered..

Friday, August 17, 2007

Haymarket, Boston

Many have told me about Haymarket that operates every Friday & Saturday in downtown Boston, where one can get various kinds of produce at very - very cheap price. But, I had not the chance to go until last Saturday when Sabri offered to bring me & my son there. One thing about living overseas, away from home, is that we never run out of good friends. Hubby's away for 3 weeks but groceries still got to be done...sigh! Located on and around Blackstone Street, Haymarket is made up of a maze of outdoor stands selling everything from fruits and vegetable to sugarcane to fish. Halal meat & chicken can also be found there. Alaaa...macam pasar malam! As my children had finished almost everything stocked up in the refrigerator, Sabri's offer was very welcoming indeed! Riuh rendah di Haymarket is nothing new to this lady yang dah biasa dengan pasar2 malam kat every Seksyen di Shah Alam tu.
"Buck a box!", "Dollar a pound!", "Buck a box!", "Dollar a pound!" ..each vendor squawking away to attract - itu lah yang dilaungkan oleh peniaga2 yang masing2 cuba menarik perhatian pelanggan - those passing in front of their stalls. I was told that they don't like customers to pick the produce themselves. Yells and cynical remarks would be the normal sounds there at Haymarket. But, surprisingly that morning they did not mind me poking my fingers at the fruits or membelek2 the vegies... must be it was still early and they were not too tired!
Getting there: Haymarket is right around the corner from Quincy Market. On the subway, get off at the Haymarket stop on the Green and Orange lines or the Government Center stop on the Blue and Green lines.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Prof. Muhammad Salleh Poetry Reading at Grolier's

The show began after an introduction of our esteemed National Laureate Professor Muhammad Salleh, by Professor Makita - a Professor at one of the Us here who originate from Nigeria. I have never been to a poetry reading before, atau dalam bahasa kita deklamasi sajak - it was my first experience and I think I sort of like it. Once a while we have to work our right brain. Don't you think so? Obviously the rest of Prof's audience seemed to like his poetry reading too. Well, maybe not so much for the two girls in the frontmost seats - Atiqah & Ava Saulnier who were somewhat lost in space!.
Surfer 2
The rest of us were transported by Prof to zaman kesultanan Melaka..,kisah percintaan Hang Jebat dengan Dang Anum.., experiences on Oxford Street.., University life at Ann Harbor.., kehidupan ber-sawah dengan anak2 raja(semangat padi).., our fallen Meranti, Chengal,.., and lots more of his pen-ed ideas; telling his life stories, the many poetry conventions he attended and jokes in between each of them. It was a first time thing too for Grolier, the cosy little poetry book shop located behind Harvard Book Store to receive a Malaysian poet. And Professor Muhammad Salleh paved the way for many more Malaysian poets to come. His opening sajak during the reading : MyLand.......Negaraku

Negaraku
bermula dengan awan tinggi
dan berakhir sebagai ombak menepuk haluan
negaraku
bangun sebagai titik embun
dan bermalam sebagai sekawan kunang-kunang

Negaraku mengalir dari setitik hujan
dan berakhir sebagai muara merah

negeriku menyayup pada hijau hutan
dan berakhir dipermaidani kuning sawah

Negaraku
berkeliling laut
tapi berhenti di tepi matahari

Negaraku
diaslikan oleh Aslian
dan bawakan kebukit oleh Kadazan

Negaraku
berhuma di bukit
dan bersayu dipasir lombong

Negaraku
kelapa sayup dilidah laut
dan bakau liat di pantai selut

Negaraku
indah seperti pemberian kasih
apakah yang dilakukan padanya?

Melaka 24.1.99

Sunday, August 12, 2007

US Driving License...

My son just got his US driver's license on August 8th. Although we don't own a car - accept yang office punya, - which he is not insured to drive - a driving license is very important here as it also acts as a picture ID for him. Not enough with Social Security #, some places even shopping malls - Macy, JC Penny, Bloomingdales.. ask for a picture ID if we request for their card. To get a driving license here you need to take ujian teori and praktikal macam kat Malaysia jugak. He failed the first time in his Theory ...katanya, soalan mengarut2, tak ada langsung pasal memandu. Contoh: What is the penalty if you get caught DUI - driving under influence ? Banyak la lagi yang dia rasa remeh-temeh ..to me, he's just being overly confident. And too lazy to go through the book! But anyhow, he got through to the practical test and passed - to my relief! As for me, due to my visa type I can't hold any sort of license. My passport is in my handbag all the while for identification. I know we can convert our Malaysian driver's license to an international license - which we have to renew every year!, at the consulate. But the nearest is New York City, which is like 4 hours away kalau tak jam. Oooops...boleh apply on-line ker? Anyway, I don't need to drive, do I? Thank god, I have friends like Sairah & Yasmin here. They know Boston like the back of their hands...and my....... Schumacher pun kalah dengan both of them!
NASCAR 2
I am not much of a driver, I need well planned (drawn, if possible) directions to anywhere. Those who know me back home will remember that this lady only knows her way from Shah Alam to Jalan Pantai Baru and back! Well, occasionally to Mid Valley MegaMall with an Uncer load of noisy 'mak2 budak'.. (missing u guys...)
So much for being a career lady back then! Brows

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Slide.com

I am so thrilled!! Seronok nyer... I managed to create my own 'slide' - alaa...the moving pictures you see at the bottom of my blog's desription. If its too fassst, or too sssslooow, or tooo LOUD!! just click on the symbols (-), (+) or the (speaker symbol)...kalau rasa beserabut sangat.. tekan jer 'pause' (II). Kalau nak create 'slide' sendiri pun boleh..click jer la ... Make Your Own..
And for you fellow bloggers out there, click on the blogbanners...they are FREEE!!..

Enjoyyyy!
Spaz

Friday, August 10, 2007

Garlic Scalloped Potatoes

There are many ways to make this simple, satisfying potato dish. This method is among the easiest and can be modified in infinite ways. Its so easy even a 9- year old can do it!. These warm and delicious garlic scalloped potatoes are the perfect addition to any hearty dinner. I got this recipe from "Entertaining" by Martha Stewart - the 'Guru' for home making. Even after a brief stay behind bars ( accused of insider trading her corporation's stock ) she retained her ability to earn money. While it may not be at the rate she had before, she is still worth $638 million, good enough for number three on the Forbes list behind Oprah Winfrey ($1.5 billion) and J.K. Rowling - author of Harry Potter ($1.0 billion).
Okay, lets get back to the potatoes..

One tip, which was told to us after we finished making this dish for the first time, is use a shallow casserole dish! The one we used then, ended up stacking the potatoes a little too high and we had to add a half hour or so to the cooking time. The potatoes absorb the liquid as they cook, the cheese melts (if you want to add cheese), the top gets browned. What you don't want is crispy browned on top and not-cooked-enough potatoes inside. If you need a faster cooking time, someone recommends boiling the potatoes first for a few minutes.

Garlic Scalloped Potatoes
Serves 14 to 20
3 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
2 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pints heavy cream
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Rinse sliced potatoes in cold water. Pat dry in a towel.
3. Rub a shallow earthenware dish with garlic cloves and butter well.
4. Arrange the sliced potatoes in layers in the dish, seasoning between each layer with salt and pepper.
5. Dot with remaining butter and pour cream over potatoes.
6. Bake until cream has been absorbed by the potatoes, 1 hour and 20 minutes.
7. Increase heat to 400 degrees. Cook until top has browned, about10 minutes.

Serve immediately.

sedap!!! tu sebab makin montel.. Perfecto

Friday, August 3, 2007

Yasmin's New England Boiled Dinner Recipe

My good friend Yasmin has provided us her recipe for New England Boiled Dinner as follows ....
The main ingredient of New England Boiled Dinner Recipe is Corned Beef. So below is a homemade Corned Beef recipe plus some information pertaining to Corned Beef.
Homemade Corned Beef Recipe
It's easy to make your own corned beef at home. Just plan ahead. The beef brisket will take about 3 weeks to cure. You can also use bottom round roast in place of brisket, if you wish.
INGREDIENTS:
4 quarts water • 1 cup salt • 1 teaspoon saltpeter (see note 1 below)
• 2 beef briskets, about 4 pounds each (see note 2 below)
• 12 garlic cloves • 3 tablespoons pickling spices • 8 bay leaves
PREPARATION:
Boil water. Add salt and saltpeter, stir to dissolve and set aside to cool. Place brisket in a large crock, zipper-style plastic bag or other non-metallic container. Pour salt water over meat and add garlic, pickling spices and bay leaves. Meat should be submerged; use a weighted jar to hold meat under pickling solution. Refrigerate or set in a cool place for 3 weeks. Drain and remove bay leaves before cooking.

Note 1:
Saltpeter is known commercially as potassium nitrate and is used to give the meat a pink coloring.
Note 2:
Bottom round roasts may be substituted for the brisket for a leaner corned beef. What is corned beef brisket? Where is the corn in corned beef? It's a curing process. What is corned beef brisket? Brisket is the most common cut used for corned beef, although other cuts can also be used. Corned beef is beef that is cured in a salt brine, often with spices. Some meat-packers actually inject the brine into the arterial network.
The term corned comes not from the vegetable corn, but from the English term corn, meaning any small particle, such as the coarse-grained salt which was used for curing.
In your market, you'll most likely find the newer style of corned beef, a rosy red color, vacuum-sealed in a bath of brine. Old-fashioned corned beef is more grayish-pink in color and more salty.
Luckily, most of today's corned beef is processed without nitrates (saltpeter), which used to be used as a preservative against botulism and to maintain the bright red color.
What is brisket? Brisket is a beef cut taken from the breast section beneath the first five ribs, behind the foreshank. It is a tough cut made tender by a long cooking process. With a little bit of time and the proper cooking method, even the toughest piece of meat can be made palatable. Brisket is one of the least tender cuts of beef, but it can be made tender and the flavor is tough to beat.

Fresh brisket is an inexpensive boneless cut that requires long, slow cooking to break down the collagen in the connective muscle tissues achieve tenderness. The long piece is cut in half for marketing. You'll find it sold as a flat cut or a point cut. The flat cut is leaner, but the point cut has more flavor due to a bit of extra fat (called the deckel).

Corned Beef Brisket Storage and Freezing:
Frozen corned beef may be cooked without thawing.
Brisket Storage and Freezing:
Fresh corned beef is usually sold vacuum-packed in brine with a "sell-by" date. It may be refrigerated in the package up to seven days beyond the sell-by date.

If you make your own corned beef, it should be tightly wrapped and stored five to seven days in the refrigerator. Vacuum-sealed corned beef can be frozen in its original packaging up to one month before cooking.
Hint: There is no need to thaw frozen uncooked corn beef before cooking. It can be popped right into a pot of simmering water. Cooked corned beef may be refrigerated up to five days and frozen up to two months.
Beef Brisket Cooking Tips:
Brisket requires long, slow cooking.
Brisket is usually prepared using a braising method, with a liquid that produces wonderful gravy.
I recommend choosing the more flavorful point cut and removing any excess fat from the gravy after cooking if you need to do so. You'll need to plan ahead when cooking fresh brisket as it will need a minimum of 2 to 3 hours of cooking in a slow oven (usually 350 degrees F.) Better yet, use a slow cooker, and let it cook all day. Some recipes call for quickly searing the meat before beginning the braising process. It's really a matter of personal preference. Do be sure to place the meat in the pan fat-side up for baking. If you are on a low-fat diet, resist removing the fat until after the brisket is done cooking.The fat not only releases flavor, it also protects the brisket from drying out on top. The texture of brisket requires slicing across the grain through the long fibers into thin slices. Slice it any other way and you may chew longer, but the flavor will still be great.

Now here is the New England Boiled Dinner Recipe:
http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/001819new_england_boiled_dinner.php

Thursday, August 2, 2007

25th Anniversary at Portland, Maine

I Wove You 1hb Ogos 1982 tarikh keramat dimana berlangsungnya penyatuan dua hati, dua jiwa & dua keluarga dari Selama, Perak & Kuantan, Pahang. Tak ku sangka pulak ulangtahun perkahwinan yang ke-25 ini kami raikan di Portland, Maine. May we have many more good and happy years together...The first thing we did upon reaching Portland was looking for the Visitors Bureau. It's like our own Tourist Information Centers (TIC) of Tourism Malaysia - formerly known as Tourist Development Corporation(TDC). http://www.tourism.gov.my/. Hoping the same goes with all our TICs, Visitors Bureau has tons of information in the form of brochures, gifts as well as helpful personnels. They even have an on-line research center (PC with an internet access); limited to 5mins per visitor, when the place is packed. We were introduced to the Lighthouses of Maine - 60 lighthouses altogether marking its shoreline. West Quoddy Lighthouse, the eastern most lighthouse in the United States, marks the point where the sun first rises each day in this country. Cape Neddick Lighthouse, better known as "Nubble Light," and Portland Head Lighthouse are two of America’s best-known and most visited as well as most photographed lighthouses. We were there at Portland Head and I think I am beginning to get 'hooked' on lighthouses; - love their architecture and history as well as them functioning as 'guiding light' to ships in the ocean, not to mention those ship-wrecked! Double click on the images to get a better view.
The park neighbouring Portland Head is very well maintained & we saw a few big, white tents which signified a wedding reception was coming up. Imagine getting your vows made, or merely just getting your tummy full with friends and family in the cool, ocean breeze with the sound of crashing surf. Angin sepoi2 bahasa dan ombak memecah pantai! Can't help putting that in...he..he.. It would be nice... well, unless it rains!
Since it was almost dinner time we headed for the Lobster Shack - very well recommended by the Visitors Bureau, Boston's Chronicle and the internet! - at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth just 8 miles south of Portland. The queue was unsurprisingly long but the children were well occupied playing on the rocks of the rocky beach below. Anyway, our Lobster Dinner was well worth the wait! The park was named for the two 1828 lighthouses located at the end of Two Lights Road. One is still a working lighthouse, though not accessible to the public, and the other is now a private home.
A view of one of the Two Lighthouses from the Lobster Shack.

Ram Island Lighthouse off Portland Head.
Portland, one and a half hour from Boston is Maine's business, financial and retail capital and the largest city in the state. Seascapes and cityscapes blend harmoniously in Portland, perched on a peninsula, jutting out into island-studded Casco Bay.
Double click on the map of Maine to get a better view of where Portland is located.
Ranked nationally as one of the ten safest and culturally most fascinating US Cities, Portland sees 3.6 million tourists who visit each year. Statement ni di ambil dari Portland's website.. he..he.. A view of the rocky coastline below the Lobster Shack restaurant.


One of the restaurants at OldPort Harbour in Portland..
Overall, it was a quick one day tour of Maine, which we glad we made this summer..

A Friend in Buckfield, Maine

It was either going to the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland - where we could eat lobsters as much as we wanted; for free!, or going to visit a young single mother living with only her 7 year old daughter in Buckfield, Maine - a small town jauuuh macam Selama, Perak!. Thank goodness for Google Map..
Sunshine
Well, of course Tini and me opted for the latter. ANyway, Rockland is like 5 hours away and we have only one day to see Maine. Nalil's words " I can live without food, or harta but not my religion!"; keep ringing in my ears and I am glad the feisty-ness and braveness of a Muslim is proven in this Singaporean lady yang ber-kampung di Negri Sembilan.
A bit on the Town of Buckfield, Maine - as of 2007 Buckfield(04220)'s population is 1,802 people. Since 2000, it has had a population growth of only 5.30 percent. So, we can see the remoteness of this town and I believe Selama, Perak is more populated - even without the family of arwah Haji Zainal Abidin Bin Omar ... The median home cost in Buckfield is $171,600. Which is relatively very cheap compared to Newton, Massachusetts! The half acre land and cosy home which Nalil and Liana live in at the moment was bought 20 years ago for only about USD24k!
Overall, Buckfield cost of living is 90.05. The cost of living indices are based on a US average of 100. An amount below 100 means Buckfield is cheaper and above 100 means Buckfield is more expensive than the US average. By the way, Nalil grows her own tomatoes, pumpkins, egg plant, mint leaves, and peppers; the blueberry and blackberry shrubs grow on their own - must have been blown by the wind or brought by the birds.

There are not many Asians in Buckfield and Nalil is known to be the only Melayu there. 98.73% of people are white, 0.00% are black, 0.33% are asian, 0.28% are native american, and 0.66% claim 'Other'.

Underneath the apple tree beside Nalil's house.

We had a great time at Buckfield and thank you to Nalil and Liana for their grand hospitality.

After dzuhur prayers we left Buckfield and headed for Portland where the lighthouses and lobsters await us..