Sunday, January 31, 2010


1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup HERSHEY'S chocolate chips - I use ordinary choco chips :)

Heat oven to 170°C. Grease baking pan. Melt butter in microwave. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs and beat well. Add cocoa; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 15 mins, sprinkle choco chips. Continue baking until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan about 40 mins. Cool completely or frost if desired. Cut into squares. Enjoy! :)


Friday, January 22, 2010


Here is a stress management technique recommended in all the latest psychological texts:

Picture yourself near a stream.
Birds are softly chirping in the crisp, cool, mountain air.
No one knows your secret place.
You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called "the world".
The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.
The water is clear.
You can easily make out the face of the person you're holding under the water...

There now.....feeling better are we?

Well there we go again good people! It’s stress time! I have seen this going on at work…several friends approached me on this issue lately. So I would put up a posting on the subject I guess. What is stress? Well we have our each every own picture of it. But let’s go technical a bit here. Those aggravating mental assaults, things that go wrong and did went wrong, what goes bump in the night even in dreamland…ever had that folks? Stress is disruptive and has a cumulative effect on your brain and its functions. Your ability to learn and later remember what was taught would be affected and that would be bad if you are a student going through life without pay day yet. What we learn in the day would be store in our RAM side of the mind. It is only short “flash storage” there. When we sleep at night, the mind would download all that was stored in RAM section into our HDD or hard disk drives for permanent memory. We may recollect these information for future usage. But then again, if we are stressed we won’t remember anything that was at all.

As science gains greater insight into the consequences of stress on the brain, the picture that emerges is not a pretty one. A chronic overreaction to stress overloads the brain with powerful hormones that are intended only for short-term duty in emergency situations. Their cumulative effect damages and kills precious brain cells. Dumb dumber dumbest at their best. The term "stress" is short for distress, a word that had evolved from Latin that means "to draw or pull apart, drawn asunder."

Look, I don't care how hectic your schedule is,

I don't care how fast you want to go,

You have just got to learn to use the elevators like everyone else does.

When you hit that stress spot, when you blew your top and when you went berserk, inside your body all system is on full alert for World War 3! Your adrenal gland would release a substance that would act as instigator to your brain, and the substance is known as cortisols. Cortisols would travel devilishly into the hippocampus section of the brain and from here, these cortisols would re-enact Karate Kid part 1 to 3 all in one showing. What prevent this from happening are our hormones. Hormones that would be deployed on full deployment and they would swiftly track down these rebel cortisols one by one and send them to the bladder for immediate purging (nangis sampai terkencing bagi kanak-kanak) or sometimes mostly for adults we just sweat them all out. Children has lesser controls over the whole process as oppose to us adults. So go easy on them the next time they wet themselves in a tantrum.

You have now returned to calmness again, you have arrived to a state of body, mind metabolic equilibrium which is known as homeostasis. When a perceived threat has moved over and away from you, your brain shall initiate a reversal of the whole process described earlier and this would also disperse various biochemicals throughout the body. But you see, the state of homeostasis is only obtainable when there is absolute balance (equilibrium – I hate that word) between the agitating agents mentioned earlier and their counter measures mentioned earlier as well; the cortisols and the hormones. If for any reason they fail to strike a deal for peace and demilitarization somewhere in there, than you would continue to experience imbalance that would drag on to other parts of your life. To your sleep pattern, your relationships, your eating habits – everything! And it would change you in no small ways. As we age, it even gets worst. Once you have activated your stress response cortisols, the brain would actively keep them ready for efficient faster redeployment again (should they be needed) just in case. And this would make you tense and fidgety at the very least 24/7/365.

Stress has its purpose on our body developments. When you are stressed out, your body releases norepinephrine. The function of this substance is to make us think more positively, it makes threats or problems or even danger looks less a threat and more a challenge that you want to overcome. It is when you feel that you would like to overcome that fear for a greater goal or accomplishment, it gives you confident and it helps you to remember things and it also helps to develop our thinking faculty much further. It’s like the saying, “once beaten twice shy”.

Stress management is the key, not stress elimination. The challenge in this day and age is to not let the sympathetic nervous system stay chronically aroused. This may require knowledge of techniques that work to activate your relaxation response. Some kinds of acute stress are beneficial. For example, Ohio State University researchers found that stress from engaging in a memory task activated the immune system, whereas the stress from passively watching a violent video weakened immunity. Ever had that feeling like when you stepped out of a cinema and you suddenly feel like coming down with fever but recovered quickly soon after? The result produced by the Ohio State University suggest that time-frames and work pressure, even if the are totally annoying for a short time, could be a good thing that helps strengthen the body's defenses for the long run.

I think that overcoming a stress would make us better person, more weathered and less edgy on the edge. On the whole, none of us could avoid stress. Maybe we could lessen it, but no way could we eliminate them all together. So the key here is managing stress, effective stress management. How do you do that?

Well it is a known fact that stress causes reductions in productivity, increases managements chores and it would in the long run destroy anything on its path if left untended. The key to de-stressing in the moment is getting away from or removing your self from the stressor. Developing new habits which regularly remove you and distract you from stressors and stressful situations and pressures is essentially how to manage stress on a more permanent basis.

Hehehe! Hohoho!

Humor is one of the greatest and quickest devices for reducing stress hence the saying “laughter is the best medicine”. Humor works because laughter produces helpful chemicals in the brain. Humor also gets your brain thinking and working in a different way - it distracts you from having a stressed mindset. Distraction is a simple effective de-stressor - it takes your thoughts away from the stress, and thereby diffuses the stressful feelings.

Therefore most people will feel quite different and notice a change in mindset after laughing and being distracted by something humorous. So laugh yourself silly at any chance you get! Do not be afraid to laugh out loud in the office!


Go for a short quick really brisk walk outside. Yes, actually leave the building. Change your environment. Walk away from the stress point. Breathe in some fresh air and smell the atmosphere. Trees, rain, flowers, freshly cut grass - doesn't matter - stimulate your senses with new things.

Go get a big cup or a bottle of water. See, when we drink we need to go to the toilet to take care of business and that helps when those wandering angry substance gets purged out and flushed down for good. Anyway, drinking water is always good. I am talking about plain mineral water. This is why you must keep your body properly hydrated by regularly drinking water (most people need 4-8 glasses of water a day).

Take a quick nap. It is nature's way of recharging and re-energizing. A quick 10-30 minutes sleep is very helpful to reduce stress. Sleeping in the day is not lazy or un-productive.

Extreme sporting activities

Take up a new hobby, do what you like as much as you could. Include the family along in it. That would really help in so many ways.

Crying as a “de-stressor”. Whatever the science behind crying, a good bout of it does seem to release tension and stress for many people. Of course how and where you choose to submit to this most basic of emotional impulses is up to you. In the middle of a staff meeting or during an important presentation is probably not a great idea, but there are more private situations and you should feel free to try it from time to time if the urge takes you. Try scheduling one. If by the time you reached that time frame and you feel silly doing it then just ignore it. That means you have already unstressed yourself somewhere along the line from the actual stress point to getting there. It’s like telling yourself that you would distress somewhere later, and with that in mind the brain readily absorbs stress around. But seriously, don’t catch a cough or flu doing it.

Well these are some of the ways to unstressed yourself. It was written with much shortened lines here and there, but I am sure that each of us has their own de-stressing activity to do. Gardening, sleeping, washing the car, watching TV, taking a walk, jogging, or to just read a book as a means of un-stressing. I have a few of my own really. But frankly, at home is my place to relax. So for me, home is always my sweet home and in the kitchen you can find much loving. Alhamdullilah.


Monday, January 18, 2010


Another lazy sunday :( So, I had this for breakfast AND lunch!

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
3 tbs cocoa
6 tbs cream
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped almond

Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs; beat. Add remaining ingredients except nuts and beat thoroughly. Fold in nuts. Pour into square baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

SEJARAH CROISSANT - fakta sejarah yang semakin dilupakan :(

Minggu lalu selepas menghidangkan Shaqshuqa, makanan yang sering dinikmati semasa Zaman Kerajaan Uthmaniah, saya terpanggil untuk berhijrah pandangan ke Cordova pula. Pada era pemerintahan Kerajaan Uthmaniah, roti kirpfel (kip-fel) mula diperkenalkan dan dipercayai di sinilah bermulanya acuan croissant (kwa-son). Sebenarnya sudah begitu lama saya hendak menulis tentang isu ini tetapi tidak dapat meluangkan masa. Jika kita perhatikan kepada bentuk croissant ini, kita akan dapat melihat bahawa ia berbentuk bulan sabit dan juga makna croissant adalah bulan sabit yang asal perkataan Peranchis manakala dalam bahasa Inggeris pula ialah crescent. Namun tidak dapat dibuktikan dengan jelas siapa ambil perkataan siapa, adakah Peranchis dahulu menggunakan croissant ataupun Inggeris dulu yang menggunakan daftar perkataan crescent. Namun itu tidak penting di sini, saya bukanlah pakar bahasa. Saya juga bukanlah pakar sejarah, namun saya ingin menulis serba sedikit tentang fakta sejarah yang saya tahu tentang roti croissant ini.

Sejarah roti kirpfel ini dapat dilihat bermula pada tahun Masihi 732, sewaktu bermulanya usaha-usaha untuk menjatuhkan Kerajaan Uthmaniah oleh pihak Roman. Daripada kegemilangan pemerintahan Kerajaan Uthmaniah di Semenanjung Cordoba (Spain) hingga ke peperangan Vienna, pelbagai usaha telah dilakukan oleh pihak Roman untuk melemahkan kepimpinan Kerajaan Uthmaniah ini. Akibat daripada kekalahan Battle of Tours, maka tentera Islam telah terpaksa berundur hingga ke Turki (Turkeya) dan selepas menandatangani perjanjian Stefano (1877) dengan Russia, maka empayar kerajaan Uthmaniah hanya kekal ke Turki. Di sini pihak kepimpinan Uthmaniah telah menaikkan bendera Islam bercorak bulan sabit bagi Turki dan ia kekal hingga ke hari ini.

Kemudiannya, pada sekitar tahun 1683 telah dijadikan sebagai makanan keagamaan oleh pihak Polish dalam agenda politik mereka untuk mengingatkan rakyatnya tentang perjuangan tentera Polish menentang tentera Islam yang telah membawa kepada kekalahan dan pengunduran tentera Islam ke Turki. Mereka juga menganggap croissant sebagai simbolik apabila mereka boleh menelan ‘bulan sabit’ yang terdapat pada bentuk croissant. Setiap tahun di Sepanyol dan Poland terdapat suatu acara iaitu para pelakon akan melakonkan semula peperangan Vienna yang telah menyebabkan Kerajaan Uthmaniah tewas di tangan Putera Eugene of Savoy dan selepas babak lakonan ini mereka akan memberikan croissant percuma untuk dimakan oleh para hadirin. Namun, pengaruh Islam kerajaan Uthmaniah telah berjaya dikembangkan ke Eropah hingga ke Kosovo (Bosnia) yang kekal sebagai sebuah negara Islam hingga ke hari ini.


Monday, January 11, 2010

BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING - with classic custard sauce

Bread and butter pudding is a traditional dessert popular in British cuisine. It is made by layering slices of buttered bread scattered with raisins in an oven dish into which an egg and milk mixture, commonly seasoned with nutmeg and sometimes vanilla or other spices. It is then baked in an oven and served. Some people may serve it with custard or cream, but often the pudding under the crust is moist enough to be without sauce.

10 slices bread
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar/castor sugar
2 large egg - beaten
1/4 cup raisins ;)

Generously butter the bread and cut/tear it into 4. You may also trim the crusts from bread and save crusts for another use. Place in a large baking dish and cover with milk. Let it rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 175 C. Beat sugar and egg together until smooth. Pour into prepared dish and sprinkle with raisins. Bake in preheated oven 60 minutes or until set.

Classic Custard Recipe : 1 cup milk - 1 tbsp vanilla - 4 tbsp sugar - 2 egg yolk (lightly beaten). Put the milk in a pot and bring to boil. Stir in sugar and egg. Heat gently and stirring all the time until the mixture is thick enough. Add in vanilla. Serve hot with bread and butter pudding. Voila!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jom Sarapan Dengan SHAKSHUKA - shaqshuqa; Arabic: شكشوكة‎

Originally enjoyed by rulers of the Uthmaniah Empire

Usually served with pita bread - apa2 roti pun sedap :)


1 1/2 bungkus daging cincang - paket kecil
5-6 biji telur ayam - mengikut diameter non-stick pan
8 biji bawang besar - dipotong dadu dan dikisar - nisbah 5:3
5 ulas bawang putih - kisar
1 1/2 inci halia -kisar
5 biji tomato - dipotong dadu
1 senduk sos tomato
3 batang cili hijau (kalau suka) - dihiris
3 sudu besar rempah sup
4 sudu besar minyak sapi - boleh guna minyak lain :)
Sedikit daun sup dan daun bawang - hiris kecil
Sedikit bawang goreng
Garam dan serbuk perasa


1. Tumis 1/2 bahan-bahan yang dikisar dengan 2 sudu minyak sapi dan minyak masak di dalam kuali.
2. Setelah naik bau masukkan 2 sudu rempah sup.
3. Masukkan daging cincang - pastikan ia tidak berketul-ketul.
4. Masukkan garam dan serbuk perasa - biar masin sedikit
5. Masak sehingga daging empuk dan airnya kering. Ketepikan.

1. Tumis baki bahan-bahan yang dikisar tadi dengan minyak sapi dan minyak masak.
2. Masukkan rempah sup dan goreng lagi sehingga naik bau.
3. Masukkan bawang yang dipotong dadu.
4. Agak-agak layu masukkan tomato pula.
5. Masukkan pula sos tomato.
6. Taburkan garam dan serbuk perasa - imbangkan dengan rasa masin daging cincang (Lapisan B) tadi.

1. Ratakan LAPISAN A dalam non-stick pan
2. Tabur LAPISAN B rata-rata di atas LAPISAN A
3. Tabur pula daun bawang,daun sup dan bawang goreng di atasnya.
4. Pecahkan sebiji telur di dalam mangkuk dan tuang perlahan-lahan atas LAPISAN B. Buatkan lubangnya terlebih dahulu, supaya telur tidak merebak dengan banyak - rujuk gambar. Letak telur di bahagian tengah dahulu.
5. Buat sedemikian sehingga semua telur siap dituang atas LAPISAN B.
6. Tutup non-stick pan dan biar telur masak dengan api yang amat perlahan - supaya LAPISAN A tidak hangus.
7. Setelah telur masak - mengikut kesesuaian - telur cair atau telur keras, tabur lagi daun bawang.
8.Boleh juga ditabur keju parut di atasnya - yang ini optional :)
9.Makan dengan roti pita, roti peranchis ataupun roti biasa.

Boleh juga buat cara lebih mudah iaitu masak lapisan B dan C semua sekali. (tak perlu asingkan). Lepas tu ikut cara 4 hingga 9. :))


Sunday, January 3, 2010


In 1939, world famous archaeologist Dr. Indiana Jones was cornered by circumstances into an excavation deep into Iraq and Turkey leading to the Ark of the Covenant. Within the Ark of the Covenant lies the fountain of youth, the holy grail of power. It was said that; he who posses the power shall lead an invincible army, and thus it was the focus of an absurd fascination by Hitler’s Nazi. Prompting our legendary Dr. Indiana Jones played by the dashing Harrison Ford to the rescue, saving the world from Hitler’s chic mustache and in the process earning George Lucas and Hollywood USD145 million in 1981. That was off-course the Hollywood block-buster epic “Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark” I was mumbling about.

This week I am working on a similar themed paper. But lets go to Hollywood again, except this time we go to the 2012 Doomsday studio section of tinsel town; the new block-buster thriller movie that’s raking in the hundreds of millions for Hollywood. In this movie, we were shown a world that was suddenly facing polarity changes and these changes had affected the earth’s cycle and sequence of normal practices that we have all come to taking for granted. Continents perished when the sea rises far above and beyond the shorelines, cities, civilizations, indestructible military might were all lost instantly to the sea that swallowed everything mankind has come to know, and the world has recycled itself, and replenished itself yet again.

But for me, it’s all about protecting the environment and preserving humanity. A reminder that we humanity must play good to our host mother nature and running our civilizations effectively. But what if – just say what if – the Inca’s got things right? Just say that 2012 Doomsdays happens and then after all the sea swallowing episodes and continent perishing chapter gets done, after the Hollywood credit roll, and humanity need to start anew and evolve again, just how do we go about doing it when all the crop has disappeared?

Well enter “The Doomsday Vault” in the Artic Mountains of Norway. And it gets exciting from here on!

Seed Bank Is Being Built: Ark of the Lost Crop!

In a cavern under a remote Arctic mountain, Norway will soon begin squirrelling away the world's crop seeds in case of disaster.

Dynamited out of a mountain side on Spitsbergen island around 1,000km from the North Pole, the store has been called a doomsday vault or a Noah's Ark of the plant kingdom. It is the brains child of soft-spoken academic from Tennessee, the United States, who is passionate about securing food for the masses, and will back up seed stores around the world that are vulnerable to loss through war or disaster.

A 20m-long concrete entrance still under scaffolding, juts out of snow-dusted mountain above coal-mining town of Longyearbeyen. It is reached by a switchback road rising to 120m above the sea level, offering spectacular views of the fjord below and snow-capped Arctic mountains beyond.

Visitors descend through the mouth of a gently sloping 40m steel tube into the frosty cavern which smells of new cement and is dotted with portable lamps as work progresses for February's opening.

There's aren't going to be any better storage conditions than what will be provided here. This is a safety deposit box, like in a bank, where you put your valuables.

Although this is one of the world's most northerly settlements, an electric freezer will be used to keep the seeds in the three-chambered concrete-lined vault at minus 18C. If the power fails, permafrost will still keep them frozen, but not as deeply.

The project is at the heart of an effort by Fowler's foundation, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, to safeguard strains of 21 essential crops, such as wheat, barley and rice. Rice alone exist in about 120,000 different varieties. Ultimately, it is part of the world battle against hunger, as crop insecurity mainly hurts poor nations.

"Crops important to the poorest of the poor have really been neglected," an official at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has provided financial support was quoted as saying of the project, more often referring to such varieties of crops and seeds as "orphan crops" because they have no one to take care of them.

Diversity For Evolution

The aim is to preserve genetic diversity, needed by the plant breeders in the future to produce varieties able to adapt to challenges like climate change. Crops consist of numerous species. If such a store had existed 10 years ago, the seeds would have been needed about once a year as seed collections have been wiped out - for instance by a typhoon in the Philippines and war in Iraq and Afghanistan and those are samples of man made catastrophe.

Eventually, the vault will have capacity for around 4.5 million bar coded seed samples and it hopes in its first year to collect half a million. Not all seeds can be stored by freezing. Banana, the world's fourth or fifth most valuable crop, is one example. The longest viability under these conditions would be that of sorghum - about 19,500 years. Other varieties will need to be replaced more frequently.

"Extinction happens when a species loses the ability to evolve." Seed Packets

Norway is contributing some 50 million crowns (US$8.6mil or RM30mil) to build the cavern, a sum which Development Aid Minister Erik Solheim said was a pittance for what is gained.

"I consider it a development issue. Poor African countries have fewer resources to protect their genetic heritage than rich countries," he said.

The Gates Foundation, the philanthropic giant created by the founder of Microsoft, has given a US$30mil (RM105mil) grant to Fowler's effort, including money for packaging seeds in their countries of origin and shipping them to the vault.

Some of Gate's money has gone to develop a new style of seed packet, a small silver-coloured pouch made of a special foil and layers of other advanced materials to keep seeds dry and frozen - the "Rolls Royce of seed packets".

The Gates Foundation is also helping develop two software systems, one to help manage seed banks and another to link them globally so that plant breeders can find what is available.

"Seeds are almost the software of natural world that has taken millions of years to develop, and we don't know how we will need them in the future," - those words came from the Gates Foundation. Well, I say we should also include all the recipes found on blogs!


Saturday, January 2, 2010

WARM SCONES - Happy New Year!

These scones are juicy with raisins, and the slight tart taste of buttermilk. With all the raisins, these biscuits are a sweet treat even without any toppings or spreads. You can enjoy them all on their own.

Round and flat scones - the original shape!

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 egg - lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3-4 tablespoons butter/shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup raisins/roasted almond @ both ;)

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut butter/shortening into the flour mixture until the mixture forms crumbs. Add sugar, buttermilk and toss well. Add raisins/almond. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Knead lightly until smooth. Pat dough to a 3/4-inch thickness. Using a glass dipped in flour, cut out biscuits. Place biscuits about 2 inches apart on baking pan. Preheat oven to 200C. Bake about 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve warm with black or white coffee :) These scones are so delicious and tender when warm. Or just simply a light delicious treat at any time of day.

Plain scones @ buttermilk biscuits!