Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We would like to wish all our readers


Enjoy all the trick or treating, costumes parties or whatever you have planned tonight.

Have fun, be safe and remember to look behind your will never know what's lurking in that dark corner behind ya ;)


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Traditional Spaghetti Carbonara

When I was staying in the International Students dorm during my first semester in university, I had to opportunity to get to know many people from different countries and backgrounds. It was an eye opening experience for me, having the ability to learn first hand about people and places that I have never been before. I used to hangout lots with this group of Italians and I learnt how to make the traditional version of this dish from them. They went on to explain that unlike the American version, it doesn't contain any cream. There is a lot of debate about the origin of this dish but they stand firm on their believe that it was invited in Rome by the soldiers who only had eggs, bacon and noodles when they were out at war. Hence they mixed it all up and the pasta carbonara was born. There are no exact measurements of the ingredients, just a lot of eyeballing ( in Malaysia, we can it agak agak laaa). This is because they have learnt it from their mothers, who in turn learnt it from their own mothers. Hence I have taken some pictures to make explaining the steps a whole lot easier.

It's a really quick and easy dish to prepare. All you need is spaghetti, bacon, eggs, Parmesan cheese, onions, black pepper and parsley.
First, you need to cook the spaghetti in boiling water until it's al dente. Remember to add in a little bit of oil and salt in the boiling water. This is to prevent the spaghetti from sticking to each other as well as to flavor it a little.

Sounds easy so far, right? Good. While the spaghetti is cooking, cut the bacon and onion into little pieces. It doesn't really matter how big or how small the bacon pieces are, do you think the soldiers really cared about that back in the day? :P

Next, crack one egg and one egg yolk into a bowl. Depending on the size of the egg, you might need two eggs and one yolk. Beat the eggs and then slowly pour in the grated Parmesan cheese into the bowl. Continue to mix the cheese and eggs until it thickens. Make sure it is not too watery and you know that you have put in too much cheese when it becomes lumpy. This might be a little bit tricky and requires some eyeballing, but you will get the hang of it after a while.

Once the spaghetti is done, drain it and set it aside. Using the same pan/pot, cook the bacon and onions until it turns light brown. You will know its ready when you smell the 'oh so yummy' smell of the bacon that will give you a heart attack by just inhaling the aroma.

Once it's cooked, turn off the heat and toss in your spaghetti. Mix it up well and then pour in the eggs & cheese mixture. Quickly mix it all up. The heat from the bacon and spaghetti will cook the raw eggs. Now it is ready to serve. Dish it out and sprinkle some parsley and black pepper.

There you go. A plate of hot spaghetti carbonara. No frills, no gourmet ingredients. Just a simple traditional recipe handed down by word of mouth through the generations. Hope you like it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gearing up for Halloween

Boy, I just love Halloween! Who doesn't? You get to dress up and be anybody/anything you want to be, scare the socks outta people (and not get into trouble for it) and the best of all, stuff your face silly with tons and tons of candy!!
We have been in the Halloween mood relatively early this year. Yup, we've already gotten our pumpkin and also stocked up on candy.

Yesterday, we even went out to buy a Halloween cake for dessert after dinner!!

This year, we will not be dressing up in a costume. Yes I know. I hear some people asking why??? Well, I don't know. Maybe next year :P To make up for it, here are some old photos of us in costume, as Count & Countess Dracula and as the 60's Grease couple.

Not being in costume doesn't mean that we are not celebrating Halloween. OF COURSE we are! We'll be heading down to Greenwich Village to watch the 35th Annual New York's Village Halloween Parade. It's listed as the nation's largest Halloween celebration and they expect over 2 million people to show up. The theme for 2008 is "Ghost". For those of you who know me well, I bet you can feel the excitement brewing in me! I'll remember to take lots of pictures and post them up here to share it with all of you!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh What A Beautiful Morning

I woke up early this morning and noticed that there was this 'reddish light' coming from behind the curtains. Thinking it was some sort of alien invasion, I drew open the curtains and this is what I saw.

Isn't it beautiful? I just stood there in awe for a few mins. In our busy lives, we sometimes fail to stop and notice the wonders and beauty of God's creation. The sunrise and view is there every morning (granted some days more magnificent that another) but we are just too busy doing our own little thing to notice it. The same goes for God. He is always there but we take it for granted that He will always be there and only go to Him when we need something. When was the last time you just paused and spent some alone time with Him? I know it's been a while for me and I would like to thank God for giving me this lil reminder on this oh so beautiful morning.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Free Fries!

There was a sale for Ore-Ida fries a few weeks back in Pathmark, the usual place we go to for our groceries. I believe it was 50% off. Ore-Ida always pride themselves to be "the better fries", not just regular but tastier, crispier and better than the rest. Which explains their tag phrase...

We bought a big pack of Golden Fries, from their 'The Classic' variety. Kevin decided to cook some up the next day and upon opening the bag, this is what he saw....

More than half of the bag was ICE! Not just that, a lot of the fries were broken up into pieces!! We were quite shocked to get such low quality fries from a well known brand. After cooking it up, the fries remained soggy and it tasted terrible. Yes, the ads were right when it says that this is not just Alrighta. It's not just Alrighta, its Terriblela :P
We went to their website and gave some feedback about how disappointed we were about the quality of their product. In less than 24 hours, we received an email from the Heinz Customer Resource Center saying that they are really sorry that we are not satisfied with their product. They went on to explain that from our description, it appears that the product may have been mishandled and gave a detailed explanation of what might have happened. The email ended with them asking us to give them a second chance to prove themselves and thanked us for bringing this to their attention.

I soon forgot about that incident...until Kevin received this in the mail.

A letter from Heinz! This is what we got inside.

Coupons for free fries!!! Looks like they were serious when they asked us to give them a second chance. I'm very impressed and very satisfied with the way the customer service handled this matter and of course I will give them a second chance. Will give an update about the quality of the fries, second time around, after I have tried them. To give Ore-Ida a fair chance to prove themselves, I will not get it from Pathmark but another grocery store.

UPDATE! We went to another grocery store to get another bag of fries and guess what? No ice in the bag and it tasted grrreeaaattt! It's not just's Ore-Ida! I'm glad we gave them another chance :D

Sunday, October 26, 2008

W. - The Movie

After all the hype about the new Oliver Stone movie, we decided to head to Loews in Jersey Garden to catch W. It was released just last Friday (17th of Oct) and Josh Brolin plays President George "Dubya" Bush.
I walked into the cinema expecting it to be another great Oliver Stone movie and I walked out saying "What?!?!". For once in my life, I just do not know what to say. Maybe that's what the "W." actually stands for. "What?!?!" I looked over to Kevin after the credits started to roll and ask him what he thought of the movie. He just shaked his head and said "I really don't know what to think".

I am not saying that it's a bad movie but I'm not saying that it's a super great movie either. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I was expecting too much. The movie was just a very unbiased documentation of the life of President Bush thus far. I would have expected it to sway a little bit more, especially with the release date so near to the upcoming elections.

Josh Brolin did a good job in getting into character. I believe they didn't want to put on too much make up to make him look like President Bush but they wanted the audience to see the Presidents mannerisms and character show through his acting. That was exactly what Josh Brolin did. Looks like he sure came a long way from Goonies to playing the part of the President of the USA. The other cast members also did a very good job in bringing out the characters. I especially liked Richard Dreyfuss as Cheney and James Cromwell as George Sr. Another thing that stood out in the movie was the soundtrack. Looks like Stone really has the knack of choosing the 'correct' song for each scene.

Overall, the movie had a great director, really talented cast members, good soundtrack but somehow, that special 'x' factor wasn't there. I just can't place my finger on what's missing. This movie had the potential of being an Oscar nominee but after watching it, I don't think that's gonna happen. A little bit disappointed, but hey, life goes on. Oh well, at least the nachos and popcorn tasted great :P

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lemon Pepper Catfish Fillets

When I was growing up, my grandmother was the head chef of the house. She would whip up the yummiest dishes effortlessly. A lil bit of this, a lil bit of that and before you know it, a whole meal would be ready in no time. After she was called home to the Lord in 1999, the whole family would just eat out everyday. I started to experiment with cooking when I moved to the States in 2002. Initially, I cooked because I had to. It was way too expensive to eat out all the time and I was sick of eating instant noodles and canned pasta. I slowly realized that I actually enjoy cooking and begin to cook more and more. Over the years, I have learnt to make fast and simple meals that doesn't burn a hole in your pocket. From time to time, I will share with you some of our favorite home cooked meals and maybe you can try to make them too!
This is a fairly easy and quick meal to make. The sides are buttered broccoli spears and instant herb rice. You can pretty much substitute them with any other sides that you like. To make the broccoli, just steam or boil the broccoli spears until its crisp and tender. Then toss it in melted butter and sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese. For the rice, I used Lipton Instant Rice. There are many other flavors, just follow the directions on the packet. Below is the recipe for the fish.

Lemon Pepper Catfish Fillets


  • Farm Raised Catfish Fillets
  • Zatarain's Lemon Pepper Fish Fri
  • Milk
  • Egg


  1. Mix one egg and milk in a bowl
  2. Wash fish fillets in cold water and dip fillets in milk mixture, drain off excess moisture
  3. Pour Lemon Pepper mix into a ziplock bag or any small plastic bag
  4. Roll or shake moist fish in the bag until evenly coated
  5. Fry fish in 350F oil until light golden brown
  6. Remove and drain on absorbent paper.

There you go. It's as easy as it gets. I would sometimes use McCormick's Cajun seasoning instead of Zatarain's Lemon Pepper. That works great too. More simple dinner recipes will be coming your way soon!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Introducing: KAYLEE TAN KAI LI...

NEWS FLASH!! There is a new addition to the family! My cousin Adrian and his wife Shanice just had a beautiful baby girl a few days ago. Yup, I'm an aunt once again! That brings the count to 5 nephews (2 from my side and 3 from Kevs) and 7 nieces (4 from my side and 3 from his). Below are some of the answers to the who,when,where,what questions. The photo of baby Kaylee was taken a few hours after birth.

Full Name.................Kaylee Tan Kai Li

Meaning of name.......Kai = victorious, Li = smart

Date of Birth.............20th Oct 2008

Time of Birth.............6:15pm

Place of Birth............Sunway Medical Centre, Selangor, Malaysia


Some updates from the family. Both mummy and baby are doing fine. Kaylee has been admitted back to the hospital due to a little bit of jaundice. Nothing to be overly concerned about. Just pray that everything will be fine and she will be discharged soon. Big kor kor Greg is very excited about the new arrival. No signs of him being jealous yet, in fact, Adrian told me that he "sayang" the baby lots! Here is another picture of Kaylee with the proud Daddy.

We are really excited and happy about the birth of Kaylee. Can't wait to see more photos of her in the days to come. To Adrian & Shanice, we would like to wish you a big


Thursday, October 23, 2008

New York Aquarium


We have been wanting to visit the New York Aquarium for the longest time but never really got around to it. When we found out about Bank of America's "Museums on Us" promotion, we jumped on the opportunity to head out to Brooklyn to visit the aquarium. The "Museums on Us" promotion is pretty good actually. Anybody who has a Bank of America card, be it credit or debit, gains free admission to over 70 museums nationwide every first weekend of the month. The NY Aquarium happens to be one of the participating museums.

The NY Aquarium boast over 350 species of aquatic life, with exhibits featuring over 8,000 animals. It is located on the south section of the Coney Island boardwalk, just next to the Atlantic Ocean. Our day started off pretty early. We had no problems in finding the aquarium (just punch in the address in the GPS) and was really pleased to get a parking spot right next to the entrance in the aquariums parking lot. Feeling really happy about that, we wondered where all the other cars were. We found out later that if we were to drive a down the street, there were many other private parking lots and street parking that cost between $5 - $8 per day. We paid $12 at the aquarium. Oh well, at least we got to enter the aquarium for free ( Admission fee is $13 for adults and $9 for children). Another way to get in with a discounted ticket is to go on Friday. This is when they have Friday Afternoon Specials. You can gain admission by paying-what-you-wish. Keep this in mind if you are planning to visit the aquarium.

Here are some photos from the Conservation Hall as well as Glover Reef.

We then visited the Sea Cliffs. This is a 300 ft long rocky coastline that exhibits marine mammals (sea lions, seals, otters..etc), penguins and fishes. There is an outdoor section as well as a underwater viewing area.

Next up: the Aquatheater to watch a sea lion show.

Our last stop was the Alien Stingers exhibit. The whole exhibit is in total darkness. We managed to see all kinds of cool colors emitting from the jellyfish and other sea creatures.

Overall, we had a very fun and educational morning. I was really glad that we managed to pull ourselves out of bed early on a Saturday morning to visit the aquarium. After that, we decided to head out to the boardwalk to explore the ever famous Coney Island. What did we see? What did we do? Well, that's reserved for the next post :D

New York Aquarium
Surf Avenue & West 8th St,
Brooklyn, NY 11224
Tel: 718-265-FISH

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Kevin loves all kinds of roasted seeds, be it sunflower, pumpkin..ect. We managed to save up quite a lot of fresh pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin we carved yesterday. As promised, here is Kevin's super easy recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds.

Podany's Pumpkin Seeds


  • big bowl of raw pumpkin seeds

  • butter

  • salt


  1. Preheat oven to 325F.

  2. Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water. Try to pick out as much pulp as possible. Note: It's easiest to clean when you have just removed the seeds from the pumpkin, before the pulp dries.

  3. Dry it off with a kitchen towel.

  4. In a big mixing bowl, mix the seeds with melted butter. Sprinkle a little bit of salt in the mixture.

  5. Spread the pumpkin seeds evenly in a single layer on a baking sheet. We sprayed on some PAM (non stick cooking spray) onto the baking sheet first to prevent the seeds from sticking.

  6. Roast in oven for 45 mins. Remember to stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

  7. Allow to cool for 20 mins before eating.


We prefer the original roasted pumpkin seeds taste. However, some people would sprinkle some Lawry Seasoned salt or garlic powder to the mixture before roasting. Another variation is to sprinkle cinnamon and sugar onto the seeds 10 mins before you take it out of the oven.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How to Carve a Pumpkin

It has been three days since we bought our pumpkin and we decided that we better carve it before Halloween is here and gone ( yes, I know...slacker is my middle name :P). I was chatting with my dad on MSN Messenger the other day and he told me that it cost around RM160 for a pumpkin in Malaysia! Now I know why this tradition of carving pumpkins for Halloween never really took off back home. This is the 3rd pumpkin I have carved (or more like watch Kevin carve) since I came to the States. It's a pretty new tradition for me since Halloween isn't really that big in Malaysia. So, this post is for all my Malaysian friends and family. Don't waste your money on RM160 pumpkins. Let me take you on a step by step tutorial on carving a pumpkin. By the end of this post, it would have felt like you have carved your own pumpkin!

Firstly, you need to get yourself a pumpkin! It doesn't really matter how large or how small it is. It usually cost between $4 to $7 for an average size one. Clean the surface of the pumpkin with water and a paper towel. We bought a pumpkin carving kit for $4. That is optional, of course. A good knife and spoon will work equally well.

The first step is to cut the lid at the top. We cut it out in a shape of a star, with one of the points longer than the rest. This is to make replacing the lid back onto the pumpkin easier. Also remember to angle the blade of the knife towards the centre of the pumpkin to create a ledge to support the lid.

Try to clean out the pumpkin seeds and stringy stuff as much as possible. Do not throw away the pumpkin seeds. You can make some really yummy roasted pumpkin seeds with that. I will post up the recipe for it later in another post. Then, using a spoon or scraper, scrape the inner pulp away from the area you plan to carve until the wall is approximately 1" thick.

You can either use the drill to poke out the pattern you would like to carve or just draw it onto the pumpkin.

Now you can start carving your pattern. Remember to push the cut out pieces with your finger and not the saw blade. It can be quite hard to saw at certain places, so it takes a little bit of patience and skill.
Lastly, make 4 chimney holes on the lid to allow heat and smoke from the candle to escape. Just put a candle in the middle of the carved pumpkin and VOILA!

So, what do you think?

Monday, October 20, 2008

NYONYA - Grand St. branch

I've heard a lot about NYONYA, about how it's the more affordable version of the famous PENANG chain of restaurants and it also claims to serve authentic Malaysian food in the heart of Manhattan. "Affordable", "authentic Malaysian food" and "heart of Manhattan" don't usually come in the same sentence. Therefore, we decided to check that place out for dinner last weekend. It's located in the northern part of Chinatown, almost bordering Little Italy (between Mott & Mulberry St.). There are some parking garages on that street but street parking can be a problem. I would recommend that you take the subway and get off at the Canal St. station.

We arrived fairly early and the place was already getting pretty packed. Be prepared to wait for a table if you are planning to go during peak hours. The decor of the restaurant is nothing to shout about, mostly wood and bamboo with a few 'aquariums' with fresh live seafood. Not a place to go for a romantic date but more of a family oriented atmosphere. The staff were friendly and quick in sitting us at our table. From the looks of the menu, the prices ARE affordable and there is a wide range of Malaysian noodles, rice as well as dishes to choose from.

Kevin ordered his favourite, Char Koay Teow (of course) and I tried the Indian Mee Goreng. They both cost $6.50 each. We also shared a plate of popiah ($5.75) as an appetizer and I had soya bean cincau ($2.00) while he had a pepsi ($1.50). Chinese tea and water is on the house.

The popiah was a bit of a disappointment. It didn't really taste like the popiah I know and the popiah skin was wrapped too loosely, thus making most of the ingredients fall out when you pick a piece up. I would give it a 2 out of 10. Kevin's Char Koay Teow was pretty authentic. The portions were very large ( I think it was equivalent to 2 plates of the char koay teow we can get back in Malaysia). It had large prawns, squid and fish cakes, fried up with a little hint of spiciness. I think it deserves a 7 out of 10. My Indian Mee Goreng was out of this world! In my opinion, it taste better than some of the mee goreng I had back in Malaysia. It somewhat reminds me of the famous mee goreng in Tg Tokong, Penang. Soggy, a little bit sweet and not too spicy....just the way I like it. The portion was very large too. I only managed to finish half of it and I doggy bagged the rest for supper later on :D Rating? A whopping 9 out of 10 (if it had peanuts and sotong in it, then it would have been a 10/10)!

Overall, the food was good and the price was affordable. The whole meal for two came up to less than $25. They do not accept credit cards, so remember to bring cash. There was one tiny thing that left a sour note. After we paid, the waitress demanded for a tip, even told us how much is the minimum we need to give. I feel that we should be allowed to decide ourselves how much to give or to even give at all. We are not morons or creatures that lack social grace. I am sure most people know what to do when it comes to tipping and we wouldn't need somebody else to dictate how much we should give. Would we go back to Nyonya? Most probably, but maybe to another branch that doesn't have rude waitresses.

NYONYA - Grand St. branch
194 Grand St,
New York, NY 10013
Tel: (212) 334 3669
View map

Hari Raya Bazaar in the city

I received an invitation email a couple of weeks back to the Hari Raya Bazaar organized by the ladies of PERWAKILAN New York ( Ladies' Association of the Permanent Mission of Malaysia in New York). I was kind of excited about the whole concept, it's pretty much going to be like those regular bazaars that we have back in Malaysia during the ramadhan month. The thought of home cooked Malay food made me decide that we HAVE to go check it out.

We headed to the Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the U.N. on East 43rd St at about 2:30pm. The bazaar was supposed to be from 1-5pm. The minute we entered the banquet hall, the familiar smell of spices, curry and everything good about Malaysian food just hit us. For a moment, I totally forgot that we were in New York City, but it felt like walking around the Taman Tun bazaar back in Malaysia. Even Kevin noticed that familiar smell and commented that it smells like Jelutong (a mamak near my parents house in PJ).

There were about 10 different stalls selling various kinds of Malay food and desserts. They had nasi lemak ( with sotong rendam, sambal ikan bilis and chicken rendang), lemang with beef rendang, laksa johor, mee rebus, fried meehoon, nasi dagang, cucur udang, satay as well as yummy desserts like lepat pisang, pulut inti, sago gula melaka, a few different kinds of bubur and a host of other things.

The layout of the banquet hall was set up with stalls all around the sides and long tables right in the middle. In my opinion, the hall was way too small for such a big event and there wasn't really much space for people to move around, let alone get a seat at the table. Below is a photo of the people standing in line at the Nasi Lemak stall, wayyy too many people :P

By the time we arrived ( about 2:30pm), the food was almost gone. The bazaar was supposed to be from 1-5pm! I guess we must be a little bit more 'kiasu' and turn up at 1pm the next time around. Maybe the organizers should look into a bigger venue and more food next year :D

Overall, I think that it was a good effort by the ladies. It's a great way to introduce authentic home cooked Malaysian food to our American friends as well as giving us Malaysians the opportunity to get a lil dose of 'home' when we are so far away, in a foreign land. I will definitely look forward to coming back next year for more!