Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Perfect snack

I made chocolate bark the other day. It might not sound like a big deal to you, but it was a revelation for me. What I did was:

  1. Melt the remainder of a 70% dark chocolate bar (~100 g) and 100 g semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave.*
  2. Drop in a pinch of chili powder (serbuk cabe).**
  3. Stir everything together.
  4. Spread it out on a sheet of baking paper (recipes advise 1/4-inch thickness, but I winged it).
  5. Sprinkle brown sugar or what-have-you (usually something crunchy, or sweet or salty, or both) on top.
  6. Leave it to harden in the fridge before breaking the thin slab into bite-sized pieces.

*I used the shortest express time on full power, which was 30 seconds for this microwave. YMMV. Also, check after you microwave it the first time, as the chocolate bar actually melted but held its shape.

**Recipes usually call for cayenne pepper, but this is a Malaysian household.

Things I would do differently:

  • Make more of the stuff, as Enfant Terrible discovered it and kept sneaking pieces of it.
  • Use more chill powder. There was actually no kick.
  • Leave out the brown sugar.
  • Use pretzels or potato chips, or the perennial favourite: coarse sea salt (but maybe not, as microplastics have been found in the stuff. Que sera sera).
  • Use a silicone spatula!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Split second

That's all it takes for a boy on a scooter to go from zooming down a slope, a banana in one hand, to sprawling, dazed, on the asphalt with elbows and knees scraped after losing his balance.

Also the time taken for you to have a bite of banana muffin and for your kid to spill her strawberry yogurt drink on herself (gasp of surprise/horror included).

Thursday, March 15, 2018


I dreamt that I was Idris Elba. The complete and utter self-assurance of just being in "my" own skin was amazing. I want to be like that in real life but the feeling is fading too quickly.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Decluttering snag

I bought into the whole minimalism thing and have been psyching myself up to clear clutter from my house. Although I might not have 20+ years' worth of junk, I'm still loathe to let go of all the clothes I haven't worn in years and will never wear again (because they are ugly or don't fit).

(Keeping the clothes is really stupid because, realistically, I only wear 5-6 pieces a week, and that's if I go out. I cycle between 3 sets of house clothes and pyjamas to boot. I don't need a wardrobe, just a drawer! The perks of not being a socialite, I guess.)

I did manage to assemble the menagerie of glass and plastic jars I've accumulated though, and I fully intend to give them away or recycle them. The only problem is, looking at their cleaned and shiny selves, the vague ideas I had of using them for some craft project or other have come creeping back like a bad habit.

I see why people favour the fast and furious approach to decluttering now.

Friday, March 9, 2018

An internet tip that actually works

Using baby oil (or any other oil) instead of soap or shaving cream to shave. It's great: you don't have to step in the shower, and you just wipe off any excess. Clean your shaver well, of course, but that's about it! You don't even have to buy artisanal bespoke-concocted stuff (Truefitt & Hill's pre-shave oil will cost you RM145 [!]). Awesome stuff for a stingy so-and-so like me.

ETA: It seems like the hair is growing back more slowly.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Easy-ass apple butter

I made an apple butter thing and it's pretty nice, so I'm feeling very pleased with myself. It goes like this:

  1. Apples: peeled (if the skin tastes bad*), cored, and quartered.
  2. Enough water to just cover them after you've placed them in a pot.
  3. Bring the apples to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer until they're soft enough to mash.**
  4. Return to a simmer, add cinnamon, cloves, and/or nutmeg, if using (to taste).
  5. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most, if not all, of the liquid has evaporated.***
  6. Add a sweetener**** if needed (to taste).
  7. Place in sterilised glass containers and cool before storing in the fridge.

*The Red Delicious apples we'd bought were anything but, hence this attempt.
**You can use a food processor for a smoother result, but I just used a fork because I used only 2 apples.
***For me, it took about 45 minutes.
****I used a half teaspoon of honey, although the recipes I found called for brown sugar or maple syrup.

Spread on buttered toast.
Drizzled on oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream, what-have-you.
Condiment for savoury items.
Whatever tastes good to you.
Eat it neat by the spoonful (easiest).

The apple butter I made is a light gold-brown, like solid cider, I suppose. The pictures in the recipes are all dark brown, which could either be due to the longer-ass cooking time (up to overnight if you use a slow cooker!), or the use of the abovementioned spices. It tastes like concentrated apples and is unbelievably sweet, but not cloyingly so. Also, it's a dream on buttered toast or with (cream) cheese spread. Alas, I am out of bread (although I have a quick recipe for that...).

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Pregnancy unexpected: Perioral dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a thing that can happen in pregnancy. It's an itchy red rash around your mouth area and it makes you look like a damn slob. Not everyone gets it, and treatment varies from antibiotics to dermatological medications. In my case, it appeared to have been triggered by spending some time in bright sunshine.

Anyway, I had Betnovate cream, which had been prescribed for dermatitis elsewhere (I actually do take care of myself, ok, but this was one of those mysterious things that can happen to you pre-pregnancy), and I figured it would help. Here's the thing:

DO NOT PUT BETNOVATE ON YOUR PERIORAL DERMATITIS. (It even says so on the contraindications!)

My itchy, red, unsightly rash became an itchy, red, unsightly weepy rash.

I have a master's in medical science and I did that.

Some frenzied Googling later, it looked like calendula and vitamin E would help (nothing could make the rash worse than it already was). Mothercare sells a calendula balm (in stick form); yes, it's meant for babies, and Watson's or Guardian sell a generic vitamin E cream.

And hurrah, they worked. The balm stopped the burning itchiness and dissipated the redness, and the cream prevented scarring. However, I still had to endure about 2 weeks of (bright pink) skin regrowth and flaking. Thankfully, that has all faded, and I now use the balm and cream on my other dermatitis, as the Betnovate doesn't seem to work anymore (and you're not supposed to use it for very long anyway), and this combo does.

PS: I am not a doctor. Your mileage may vary.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Time flying

Enfant Terrible was registering us for a race the other day and needed my personal details. He entered my IC number on the eletronic form, then paused.

"How old are you this year?" he said. 

Quick mental arithmetic done, I said, "36. Why?"

"I'm wondering if I'm supposed to enter you in the women's open or women's veteran category."

"Well, I think they take the age you're at as of 31 December in the last year."

"OK, women's open then."

"But think of how good my chances of podiuming will be if I'm in women's veteran!!"

"... next year lah."

It's gonna be great. The best!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Nostalgia: Part ??

Triggered by a breakfast radio broadcast, I'm currently longing for the 1990s so bad it actually aches. Life was simpler back then: I didn't have deadlines to meet, bills to pay, or a child to care for.

On the other hand, my hours are no longer bound to a school bell, I can afford pretty much what I want (or need; same difference), and I have a lovely family. 

No harm having a 1990s-themed party though. Forget the hippies, it's time for Gen X!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Workaround: Part X

I have the free version of a Blogger app. I can draft posts in it but will have to pay like RM20 for the full version in which publishing is enabled. RM20 isn't much (a mains at a mid-range eatery; a starter/appetizer at a high-end eatery) but then I'm Malaysian and therefore funny about money like that.

(AKA penny-wise, pound-foolish.)