Well, I am back. My brother came down to Singapore last Saturday to attend a wedding. He drove back to KL on Sunday morning and I followed along; husband did not come along because he is away on a working trip. Don't know what the media is saying about the weather, but Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in KL was completely free of haze. In Singapore the haze is still lingering, coming home to the burning smell is a bit of a rude shock.
Since my last trip home was not too long ago, the dogs and little nieces and nephews could still recognise me. My 22-month old nephew has already figured out how to use the DVD player, he was not too happy watching Stuart Little and decided to switch to his favourite Barney cartoon, all by himself, now no appliance is safe from his inquisitive little hands. On my first night home, I watched all three instalments of Infernal Affairs (IA), in Cantonese. It's just one of those things I like to do in KL, watch a Cantonese movie that is, because in Singapore the movie censors like to pretend that every Chinese person speak only Mandarin, and movies shot in Cantonese and other dialects are dubbed into Mandarin. Infernal Affairs is not really a trilogy. IA II is the prequel, and IAIII is the sequel. IA II was my favourite of the three, as the storyline covered why all the characters behave they way they do in the first movie; it also showcased Francis Ng, one of the more under-rated HK actors. The next two days were given to shopping excursions with my mum and sisters. In between these jaunts, I managed to read THREE books. Growing Up a Shaker by Sr Frances Carr was a quick 60 minute read, while Calvin Trillin's Feeding a Yen occupied me nicely on the bus trip to Singapore, but it was the adventures of Trinket Wei in the English translation of the famous Louis Cha's novel Deer and Cauldron that kept me transfixed and entertained, finally I understand why all my Chinese-educated friends were so addicted to mo hak siu shi , or Chinese kung-fu novels. The book was also quite foodie-friendly, because the main character also happens to manage the Imperial Kitchen, so there are plenty of food references to drool over.
Which reminds me....at dinner on Sunday I got to try for the very first time, Second Sister's Mother-in-Law's famous Fried Spring Roll. These are rather big rolls stuffed generously with crunchy vegetables and all sorts of goodies, and eaten with a killer home made chilli sauce. The chilli sauce, which I did not take a picture of, but it was in the sauce jar next to the rolls, is so special, everyone had their own way of incorporating as much of the sauce into the roll as possible, Mummmy's was to make little slits along the roll to drip the sauce into, Brother likes to pour and bite, and me, I dipped.
Third Sister also happened to be clearing her freezer. She usually has plenty of food on hand because she has a small catering business, and unlike me, when she clears her freezer, it is not at all unusual to find that she has excess crab meat to use up. Which she did by making delicious Crab and Caramelised Onion Quiche. Most of the quiche were sold off, but she kept one for the family.... mmmm, smooth custard and sweet juicy crab meat.
And before I knew it, it was time to return to Singapore. Mummy gave me a jar of Yuk Si (pork floss) which she made herself. No MSG or oyster sauce, and very tasty.
Back to Singapore
I took a picture of the nearly-new NICE 2 bus. NICE is the name of the bus company, which is clever really, because their buses are rather nice. They started off with single deck buses and when they brought in new double-decker buses, they called them NICE 2. These buses ply the KL-Singapore route, and tickets are RM60 each way. Quiet, air-conditioned and spacious, with a nice 'hostess' on board to hand out bottled water, boxed lunch, orange juice drink and a smiling offer of hot coffee or tea too. Lunch today was a decent version of Nasi Lemak, with the egg boiled just right and the sambal mildly spicy.
At the rest stop along the bus route, I avoided the flytrap-zones of the food stalls and checked out the shops. My food radar zoomed in on the little supermarket and we scored some tasty Malaysian snacks.
I used to eat these Preserved Limes when I was a child. Sweet and sour with the seeds giving a bitter jolt if one is not careful, it is eaten as a snack or made into a refreshing lime drink.
This is Shat Kek Ma, a sort of Crispy and Sticky Egg Cake. I like.
And this is Heung Peang, also known by other names like Beh Teh Sor and Pong Piah. Notice the garish packaging which has not changed much in over 30 years. This Tiger brand is not too bad, the pastry was flakey and crunchy and the maltose filling, though not terribly generous, was still fresh and had not hardened to the point of fracturing one's teeth.