Birthdays in March – mum’s and mine


Both mum and I not only have our birthdays in March but also in the same week. I am 16 this year, Alhamdulillah, and my family members had given me wonderful presents.

Mum gave me a lot of her Australian, American, Canadian and New Zealand stamps wrapped in a lovely silver coloured box. My dad bought me stamps at the stamp fair and an A3 sized document file which I now use to keep my stamps in. My sister Aeshah gave me some Vietnamese stamps featuring dolphins that are missing from my collection and lots of odds and ends that I could use for my craftworks. Anisah gave me a number of her drawings and Ali gave me a hairdryer, a ‘Snoopy’ clock and a watch.

My parents gave me a beautiful birthday card with a picture of a flower drawn by mum (the artist), using soft pastels. Ahmad Ali gave me three birthday cards for he enjoyed card making so much that he couldn’t stop making them… Abang Muhammad sent me a birthday card too, all the way from Chicago together with lots of gorgeous U.S.S.R. stamps.

My mother had a marvellous birthday too. Again, most of her presents were stamps from all of us. I secretly looked through her stamp albums and picked out stamps that I own but is missing from her collection. I’m delighted that she was thrilled to receive the stamps that I gave her. I also gave her some Machin stamps (the British definitive stamps with a picture of Queen Elizabeth’s head – mum simply love them, she has a few pages of those lovely stamps in her stamp album and wishes to own as much as she could). Aeshah gave her stamps too. Anisah gave her an envelope with a picture of a cat that she ‘bought’ for 6 stars (our play-money currency) from my little brother.  And Ahmad Ali gave mum a beautiful egg cup and a special Machin stamp(the 1840 Anniversary Machins) with pictures of both Queen Elizabeth as in other Machin stamps and Queen Victoria as in Penny Black.

That night,we had pizzas from Domino’s Pizza for our dinner. Everyone love Domino’s Pizza and we celebrated most of our birthdays with them. It was only last month when we had pizza for my little brother’s birthday!

Yummy!!! Chili Con Carne!!!


Can you guess what did I have for dinner last night? CHILI CON CARNE! And how I love the taste and the aroma of Chili Con Carne eaten with French loaf and butter… especially when it was about a month since mum last cooked Chili Con Carne.

Mum's scrumptious original Texan chili (Too tasty for words!) ;)

Mum's scrumptious original Texan chili (Too tasty for words!) 😉

Chili Con Carne is a Texan-Mexican food and it is very popular among the Texan as well as the Mexican. In fact both the Texan and Mexican claim that this scrumptious food originated from their native lands!

Chili Con Carne can be eaten with French loaf, tortilla, plain crackers or add it to your hot dog and it’ll turn your plain hot dog to a Chili dog! Anyway, the Chili in the Malaysian A&W Chili dog does not taste like Texan Chili at all.

We ate our chili with French loaf and unsalted Lurpak butter (Mmmm....)

We ate our chili with French loaf and unsalted Lurpak butter (Mmmm....)

Chili Con Carne is also delicious with baked potato but one of the most popular ways of eating Chili Con Carne is to eat it with tortilla chips, melted cheese, sour cream and jalapeño peppers. The Mexican named this ‘finger licking good’ recipe nachos! The Mexicans also eat Chili Con Carne with corn bread or steam rice.

Chili Con Carne is also delicious that we can enjoy it in so many ways. My mom tried dipping some left over banana fritters (or in Malay we can eat ‘pisang goreng’) in her Chili Con Carne and she said that it tasted good! In fact maybe we can even enjoy Chili Con Carne with naan, prata or even chapatti ;).

Ahmad Ali (and everyone else too) loooooooooooooves Chili Con Carne!

Ahmad Ali (and everyone else too) loooooooooooooves Chili Con Carne!

As our late American friend Professor Muhammad Al-Mahdi (the founder of Khalifah Institute) said it is almost impossible t buy the original Texan or Mexican Chili Con Carne in Malaysia. In fact my mum learnt how to cook Chili Con Carne after learning how much Professor Muhammad Al- Mahdi missed his favourite food; something that he had not eaten for more than twenty years since he became a Muslim. Used to live in Texas, Professor Muhammad Al-Mahdi used to tell us that the only thing he missed about America is the taste of original Texan Chili Con Carne. How good is mum’s Chili Con Carne? Well, Professor Muhammad Al Mahdi rated my mum’s Chili Con Carne as the second or third best in Texas and the best outside America! And when somebody else him Chili Con Carne he always knows that it was not cooked my mum! 🙂

Mangosteen


Wow! The fruit season is back! I just love this time of the year when I can enjoy all kinds of fruits; some of which are not available through out the year. And what an awesome sight it is to see fruits of different shapes and colours being sold all around Kuala Lumpur – mangosteen, durian, rambutan, duku, dokong … just name it!

I really love the mangosteen! Although its name is MANGOsteen, it has no relation to mango. This exotic fruit is also known as ‘The Queen of Tropical Fruits’. It was believed that mangosteen was originated from the Sunda Island and the Moluccas and later on was brought to Thailand and Burma before being planted in other parts of the world.

The exocarp (the outermost layer of the fruit) of juvenile mangosteen first appear very pale green or almost white before its colour changes to a darker shade of green and upon ripening the colour changes to reddish purple and finally to dark purple. One can tell precisely the number of segments of the white edible endocarp (the part that wraps the seed) inside the mangosteen even before opening the fruit. At the bottom end of the fruit, there is a type of flower shaped scar which number of petals is similar to the number of segments (of the white flesh) inside the mangosteen.

The white flesh of mangosteen is very tasty and can be described as sweet, tasty and citrusy with peach flavour and texture. Mangosteen is not only tasty but is also full of vitamins and minerals. Mangosteen is very rich in anti-oxidant which can lower the risk of human diseases. It is also rich in vitamin C, B1, B2, B6, potassium, iron and calcium. Test tube studies proved that mangosteen contains xonthones (anti-cancer effects), anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic. The rind of mangosteen can help to stop diarrhea, bladder infections, gonorrhea, skin rashes and cooling effects.

This exotic fruit is very expensive when available outside its tropics. Nowadays we can have mangosteen juice, mangosteen jam, frozen mangosteen and canned mangosteen apart from the fresh fruit. I’ve never heard of  mangosteen juice until Sept 2006 when we saw a huge billboard advertising the juice in Kalamazoo. And when mum pointed at the billboard I was speechless… What? Mangosteen juice? In America?

Anyway I just realised that I’ve never tried mangosteen picking… Mum said that atuk has some mangosteen trees in his orchard but I’ve never been there yet. May be one day I should make a visit to the orchard and try mangosteen picking.