Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Parpadelle with Prawns & Basil

I was contemplating something light for a late lunch last Sunday, but was too lazy to line up in the heat to take away at my local joint. So I dug up stuff from the kitchen and came up with this:

4-5 bundles of parpadelle (you can get a box of Barilla's from Carrefour or other hypermarts)
1 clove garlic
As many prawns as you like
Some basil leaves
1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree
Salt & pepper to taste
Put the parpadelle in boiling salted water for about 4-5 minutes. In the meantime, clean and remove the shells from the prawns and chop up the garlic. Heat up a pan with some olive oil (or if you're lazy like me, drain the pasta and reuse the pot). Keep some of the pasta water for making the sauce. Fry the garlic until fragrant and throw in the prawns. I threw in some basil leaves too. Once the prawns start to turn colour as they cook, put in the tomato puree and some of the pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Give it a minute and then put in the pasta. Stir to coat the pasta with sauce. Plate, garnish with a few basil leaves and serve.

This dish took just 10 minutes to prepare, and the best thing about it is that I'm already reaping the rewards of having my own basil pot! :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The recent general elections have been a real eye-opener for me. As with the rest of my fellow Malaysians, I was in shock and awe at the sheer scale of the opposition's victory. In some states, even the tables were turned; the opposition is now the ruling goverment, and the previous goverment is now the opposition. How incredibly unprecedented. And how historic it is that we have finally made that first, important step towards a 2-party government. A government that has better conscience, and leaders who serve the people instead of protecting the interests of a select few.

We are no longer held back by fear, and we have transcended the barriers of race and religion to achieve the same goals. Malaysians have certainly come of age, and more importantly the coalition has shown (for now) that the country can have a multiracial/multireligious band of leaders working together for a higher cause. I hope that this will be the path to councils and goverments that are truly merit-based; leaders who are right and able to do the job irregardless of race or religion.

Much has been said, printed and blogged on about the elections and the huge array of statistics that come with it. Numbers, facts, rumours and analyses can be discussed to no end. But the one thing that struck me the most, and that really opened my eyes is this word - Power.

Power of the people
This election has been one of, if not the most significant and crucial elections in the history of Malaysian politics. Long have the people suffered in silence, stifled without a true voice in the parliament to demand for their rights and to scrutinize biased bills/policies/laws that benefited few and caused anguish to many. But now everyone has had enough. People have banded together to achieve a single aim; deny BN the 2/3 majority it has held for decades. In each individual's mind, the aim was simple and clear. If they vote for the opposition, there will be a chance. If they don't, then nothing might happen at all. A simple aim, but collectively, it's absolutely amazing how this has translated into such immense power and influence. The sum of all parts is definitely greater that its components. I think now Malaysians have realized that as citizens we hold real power, that we can decide who we want our leaders to be, and that we can influence and make changes for a better future. As we come of age, we must also mature and learn to use that power effectively and wisely.

Power of the media
Besides the swing of votes, the one other thing that has changed tremendously this time around is the access to media. Where previously we relied solely on the television and newspapers, the campaigning and results were largely dominated by text messaging and the internet. In fact, the results were circulating throughout the technosphere much faster than traditional media. While BN were very visible on the papers with their achievements, the opposition were in my opinion much more savvy, using the internet to its fullest potential while still reaching the masses with their ceramahs. With the proliferation of blogs, webmail, social networking sites and instant messaging, the opposition had the power to reach out to so many potential voters that traditional media can't. Coupled with the fact that the more tech savvy voters out there are of the younger generation who are better educated, I think this made another decisive factor in the results. This generation is more exposed to world issues than ever before, and they are more opinionated as a result. They will not take mere words and marketing blindly when it comes to political issues. The new generation of voters is a completely different beast, and I think BN has failed to realize that fact.

Power to act
The coalition now has the muscle to push for real change and voice out the plight of the public. They now have the power to ensure transparency, improve welfare and do away with corruption. No doubt, all these are not issues to be resolved overnight, but there have been some encouraging indicators with the push for open tenders and a Freedom of Information Act. Let's hope that there will be better news to come. The coalition has been elected by the people to be their proxy; a chance to act on their behalf ; a chance to walk the talk. If they do it right, the people will continue to support the cause and be right behind them. Else, we will just be back to square one in the next elections.

Now is the time for the coalition to prove themselves to be the right choice. It is time for real work and real battles to begin; the elections is just a start. It won't be easy, with no shortage of obstacles and it will be a big responsibility. But that's what you get with power.

Syabas Malaysia, and all the best to the stewards of a new dawn!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Herb Project: Basil

I've been trying to experiment with growing my own herbs from those sold in small packs at the supermarket. I heard that you can root them by just cutting and putting the herbs in some water, not unlike how you'd put your flowers in a vase. Sadly, both my naive attempts ended in clumps of dead leaves.

So I started looking for potted herbs, but they were quite hard to find. I finally got my hands on some basil last weekend at a higher-end supermarket chain. Whee!

It's quite small and fragile at the moment, but I'm hoping it will grow and be the first nice plant in my planned herb garden!

If anyone knows where to get other types of potted herbs please let me know! :)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

To curse without cursing

A friend of mine thought me this, and I found it really funny, hehe. Next time you feel like scolding someone in Hokkien but don't really want to curse, try this phrase:

"Lu lao bu sai skuter long tiao!!"

Translation: "Your mother ride scooter langgar tiang!!"

Hokkien is such a colourful dialect. :)