Archive for August, 2011

31
Aug
11

WE LIKE IT HERE!

30 August 2011, Tuesday.  We left our place in Butterworth at around half hour past 6 in the morning to catch our flight scheduled at 12 noon. It’s a holiday that I planned several  months ago, when days were less troubled and airfares were sold at discounted rates.

useless photo : they're wearing crocs, i'm wearing my old school reliable sneakers....perhaps, by the time you get a chance to view this entry, those happy feet have already explored some parts of a place so rich, clean and orderly.

Time check: 1:30AM, I have to doze off now. In a few hours, we shall have a long (and fun) family day again! Our arrival was a blast. We can’t wait to seize the remaining days. :)

27
Aug
11

MY FAVORITE PHOTOS TO DATE

And so the weeklong break has come. We’re up to enjoy the Hari Raya (end of Ramadan) vacation from work (for Tina and I) and school (for Gabby) beginning today, 27th August until 4th September. I will take my wife & kid on Tuesday next week to a short trip in a neighboring Asian country for the very perstaym, but since it’s too early to pack our luggage and bags, we’re just happy to spend more time together for more than a week (repeat : no work, no school, yahoo!) and do things we’d like to do. 

De-stressing at home : As Tina’s busy preparing our meals, she also finds more time to play her favorite computer games. Gabby’s doing a cartoon marathon on TV (making me miss to watch one of the series I follow, The Amazing Race but that’s OK of course) while I go online to do a little research on our itinerary next week, making last-minute reservations and bookings (akala ko ba de-stressing?) and blogging and blog hopping in between.

I’m happy that a popular Filipino website called spot.ph featured few of my blog pictures of the Japanese restaurant back home called, Zensho, with, permission, proper credit and link to my post (back in 2009),  I was inspired to browse my photo files once more.

I chose to repost my favorite photos taken after I purchased my Nikon D7000 early this year. They may be far from your standards, but I’d like to share them again to you as my favorites to date as these captures simply make me smile when I browse them in files. Comments for improvements, particularly free tips on this hobby called photography (I consider it a big word for I am a neophyte with still so much to learn –blame my laziness to read the few photography books and magazines I acquired) will be appreciated. :)

And of course, my main reason for owning a camera is to capture moments with them with their precious smiles…

I don’t know of the technical aspects of photography yet but I like these pictures not only because of the subjects but the memories that come with them.

PS: I agree with what I have read before that “owning a DSLR doesn’t make you an instant blogger more so a photographer”.  My 2-cents-worth: It’s not really the camera that matters for it’s only a tool; it takes passion, talent and the will to learn new things for you to love and improve on these hobbies. :)

25
Aug
11

GOOD NEWS!

Good news #1 : God’s healing hands are upon my nephew…

Almost moved me to tears : Joshua's hand held by his mom (photo taken from my sister-in-law's fb).

My 12 year-old nephew, Joshua is showing positive signs a day after his neurosurgeries. He underwent 3 procedures, the third of which was done last Tuesday, evacuation of hematoma. The blood clot that was sucked out from his AV malformation that led to stroke was as big as an apple. My brother told me this morning via SMS that his son was able to move his legs and dangle them over the hospital bed railings, was able to waive at the female doctors on duty at the ICU but shed tears whenever in pain. One thing is clear now–although apparently, it will take a long (and expensive!) process, he rose above the surgical procedures done on him, including the diagnostics (dye was used to visualize the trauma), Joshua is on his way to gradual recovery. Thank you, Lord!

We will appreciate prayers for Joshua’s condition to continuously improve as he’s schedule to be subjected too to radiation at the end of next month. Thank you!

———

Good news #2 : Despite life’s challenges and stresses, we thank the Lord for a long holiday ahead!

How will you spend a paid work holiday that stretches from 27th August to 4th September? Those are 9 glorious days that include the commemoration of the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan for the Muslim community here in Penang and a perfect chance for us to spend quality time with our families.

Because Tina and I decided to take our vacation (my annual work leave) to the Philippines to celebrate Christmas and New Year, we skipped the thought of going home mid year.

Life has to go on despite its trials. 

Several months ago, I planned a trip somewhere for Tina, Gabby and I to enjoy on this year’s Hari Raya. I’ve patiently waited for a low cost carrier to even drop its airfare to a more affordable promo rate and I was successful. I just wish our 4 days next week to be spent outside Malaysia will de-stress us and recharge our spirits.

23
Aug
11

DURING OUR TRYING TIMES…

PRAYERS are all we can offer against all trials that our family has been experiencing. Unbelievably, things have been emotionally, physically and financially draining but it is only through prayers that we gain strength and could keep our sanity intact amidst things that are happening beyond our understanding.

Just last Saturday, I was informed that Joshua, my 12 year old nephew back home had CVA (cerebrovascular accident), commonly known as stroke. His case was a result of an aneurysm or ballooning and rupture of blood vessels in his brain brought about by AVmal (arteriovenous malformation); unknown to all of us, he had that intracerebral vascular abnormality since the day he was born.

Who would have thought that a very active youngster as Joshua who has been playing basketball with his team in their school and community has congenital vascular abnormality that can suddenly lead to stroke?

I saw my nephew grow before my eyes and I can personally and professionally attest that his medical history had remained unremarkable until the said diagnosis. He even engaged in a game before he had the attack at home last weekend. He was immediately brought to the ER of The Medical City in Ortigas, was admitted to ICU and subjected to diagnostic imaging procedures (CT scan, angiogram).

When I called my mom, I chanced to talked to one of my nephew’s MDs; she confirmed it’s AV mal that led to bleed. Two days after, he was put under the knife to evacuate the clots and repair the 4 intracerebral blood vessels. According to my brother (Joshua’s dad), the first operation was a success to initially repair the 3 blood vessels, and his son will be operated on for the second time (hopefully the last) today, Tuesday.

(At such a young age,)  He’s already post left frontal burr craniectomy with placement of ICP monitoring device, post embolization of left parietal arteriovenous malformation and craniotomy, evacuation of hematoma.

We ask for prayers for his uneventful surgeries and less complicated recovery.

Months ago, when my paternal grandmother passed away, one of my aunts failed to bear the situation, she also incurred stroke and until now, has been undergoing rehabilitation and recuperation. Our prayers also go out to my Tita Violy.

I need not elaborate on our other domestic problems; nothing can be more difficult than having family members with physical ailments. In my almost 35 years of existence, it has already dawned on me that life’s full of inevitable challenges but we believe we have a good Lord who’s definitely bigger than our burdens.

Life goes on.

We just have to keep the faith.

And uplift our spirits.

UPDATE : As of Tueday, 23rd Aug 2011, accdg to my relatives back home, his operation went well, the clot that was removed as per their description was as big as an apple. 72 hours post-op observation is highly critical, so please help us in praying for joshua’s recuperation. thank you po.

————————————-

About the photo above : Sunset viewed from our porch last 22 August 2011. For some, sundown is perceived negatively, i think otherwise; it’s a promise of a new hope, a fresh beginning.

20
Aug
11

IT’S ALL ABOUT FAMILY.FOOD.FUN!

PROLOGUE :

A lot of people perceive this site as an entirely food blog or a foodie’s virtual home. I cannot blame them, photos of food are apparently present in most, if not all of my posts. Although I really don’t mind to be tagged as a food blogger or a  foodie, allow me to remind everyone that Beyond Toxicity (yes, that’s my blog’s name), is a personal blog that gives reverence to family, food and fun (and thus, it’s NOT exclusively food). Thank you! :) 

Again, I don’t deny the fact that it’s flattering when people recognize BT as food blog and me as a food blogger; here’s a proof :

Exhibit A :  casual virtual conversation on facebook recently :

And while most people are at it, here’s another post about food and some things in between…

—————————

Unlike typical Filipino expats (a.k.a. OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers), I am blessed to have my wife and our kid with me here in Penang.

Whenever Tina, Gabby and I spend lazy weekends at home, it’s definitely cable TV/movie/internet browsing marathons for the 3 of us (of course, creativity works as we squeezed in laundry, washing dishes, doing homeworks for Gabby and blogging for me).  And these bumming family bonding activities would not be complete without preparing and eating our favorites!

Admittedly, I’ve only (forced myself) to cook more frequently when I became an expat (last year). Part of cooking your own dishes is buying its ingredients of course. Thank goodness, there are still pasar (bahasa melayu term) or public markets here that sell pork amidst being a Muslim state in a predominantly Muslim country. Fortunately for people who eat pork like me and my family, Penang and the rest of Malaysia have rich diversity composed of Malays (who observe Halal-dining), Indians (who don’t eat beef) and Chinese (who eat pork like us).  FYI, present cost of pork meat in my place is RM 13 (PhP 182) per kg of kasim (shoulder part), and RM  16 (PhP 224) per kg of lomo or sirloin (mura ba iyon? kamusta presyo ngayon sa Pinas?).

From my late maternal grandmother’s (undocumented) recipes, I managed to reconstruct her delicious Adobong Pork Giniling. This was one of my very first baon (personally brought food) to work and a personal recipe that I generously shared to Filipino colleagues who liked it too.

It’s a no-fuzz, easy-to-do, ready-to-go recipe that’s perfect baon to work or school.  It’s a no-brainer to figure out that it’s not perishable easily because it’s simmered with vinegar and soy sauce, and it’s so easy to eat for it’s ground pork not the usual Adobo in chunks or cubes.

If you’re Filipino or Pinoy-at-heart, it’s absolute that you love Adobo! :)

Try this recipe, and you’ll find yourself asking for an extra cup of rice!
DocGelo’s (grandmother’s) Adobong Giniling :
Ingredients : 
  • ground pork, 1kg 
  • vinegar, 1 cup
  • soy sauce, 1 cup
  • tap water, 1 cup
  • garlic, 3 – 4 heads, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking oil

Cooking instructions :

  1. Saute minced garlic in cooking oil over medium fire; then add the ground pork.
  2. Cook the pork and minced garlic for 4- 5 min then add water, soy sauce and lastly vinegar.
  3. Remember not to cover the pan and never stir after you’ve added the vinegar.
  4. Simmer for 10 – 20 minutes, set aside and can be kept at the fridge for baon the next day.
  5. When reheating it, do not add additional oil to the pan, just heat it and let the sauce mixture (vinegar+water+soy sauce) be absorbed by the ground pork.
  6. Serve it with a smile! :)

I don’t know with you but I believe Adobo in any form is best eaten at least a day after it’s been cooked. This is when the vinegar and soy sauce mixture has already been fused with the meat (chicken or pork or even veggies like kangkong or string beans). 

Additional cooking tips I got from my lola were the importance of having lots of garlic in adobo and an equal proportions of vinegar, soy sauce and water when cooking the dish. Try it and let me know if you like it too.

Imagine this scenario :  At lunch, just before I put a spoonful of rice and viand in my mouth, Tina said, “Oops, di mo na ba pipicturan?” (Don’t you want to take pictures?) I smiled. It affirms that my wife understands and supports my being a blogger, haha! :)  Sometimes, that line is uttered too by Gabby.  They’re already used to me taking pictures before eating. :) 

This one’s an Ode to Tina’s cooking : Other dishes that Tina cooked last week was that artery-clogging, Lechon Kawali that’s deep-fried to perfection. She also prepared a paksiw sauce for it from sachets of sarsa ni Mang Tomas!

Supreme crunchiness, sarap!

Then just before you think we only eat meat, consider these…
 

We also eat fibers, of  course! Only that this vegetable dish was buttered…oops! fatty again, hehe!

Anything that looks leafy and veggie on the fridge can be guisado… instant chopsuey!

Desserts on our table range from fresh local fruits –bananas, apples, lanzones watermelon, papaya or whatever is in season (I still have to convince Tina for us to try durian and myself, rambutan),  to chocolates and lately, these….

Deliciously divine : Leche flan by my one & only

(naks!)….

she steamed so many, they can lasts for a week and a half, i think… do you want some? haha!

And one of our sweet endings to our homecooked meals are nutty and sweet local chocnut!

I therefore conclude that nothing beats cooking and eating at home; dining with your love ones, dunking fork at toothsome leche flan while being oblivious about your blogging category. hehehe! :)

18
Aug
11

FROM BULLETIN BOARD DISPLAYS & POSTER MAKING CONTESTS….

….to appreciating paintings, furnitures, sculptures, photography and any forms with art, I know I have my own eyes.

A month ago, during the celebration of George Town Festival here in Penang in one of the premier hotels here, I chanced upon an exhibit of glass sculptures of a local artist whose name I failed to note, with works that were truly remarkable but only few really caught my attention(view photos below).  

Looking at my captures of her glass sculptures reminded me that once upon a time, I almost pursue my interest in fine arts.

My appreciation of art, or at least my own, initially started during class arts in Primary / Elementary school, when we’re asked to heat crayons on spoon over lighted candles then blow it over an Oslo paper; one color on top of the other. I really thought then, those moments were magical!

Then it officially flourished when I was in High School, joining and winning in inter-level monthly poster-making competitions. And in my books (and my schoolmates knew this), I only had one tough competitor, be it in poster-making or in bulletin board display contests in school, it was always neck-to-neck healthy competition with my brother (who’s now a professional private aviator–yes, none of us became artists!). I’m always proud to share the stage with him when we always bagged the medals and recognition—him as second and with utmost humility, I usually ranked first.

During those times, when white cartolina was required to be our “canvass” or base for our posters, I would bring white felt paper instead, so that my craypasses would have a greater effect.

No, I am not good at painting nor at drawing but perhaps what brought our (class’) winnings were my creative imaginations on how to interpret a theme given by the school and the remarkable assistance of my High School classmates in executing my concepts (speaking like a true blooded artist, haha! Pagbigyan nyo na, those were the days; and I just hope my HS classmates can read this, haha!).

I almost took a talent test as one of the requirements in entering the College of Fine Arts in the state university back home but it didn’t happen. Most of my High School classmates knew I would take Fine Arts major in Advertising then but it was not for me. You knew I was led in to PreMed (BS Biology) then eventually to Medicine.  The love for the arts took a back seat.

I have no regrets taking the course that gave me additional 2 letters after my surname. At least not all of us in this playing field know how to appreciate arts or culture itself. Many are intelligent but few have talents.

Going back to these gorgeous works of art, these are indeed beautiful but when it comes to glass sculpture, one Filipino name stands out –Ramon Orlina

My wishful thinking dictates me to own an Orlina someday or at least a piece of furniture either from Roberto Locsin or by Kenneth Conbonpue. ….Ah, the perks of daydreaming, haha!

15
Aug
11

HOT POT. CHINESE FONDUE. SHABU-SHABU. STEAMBOAT!

If gastronomic indulgence is a sin, then my family and I are always guilty as charged, hahaha! :)

pass the vinegar, please! yum!

Apparently, gluttony is one of the deadliest sins, but gastronomic indulgence isn’t. I believe when you only try to please your palates with a digestive feast without eating excessively, you are just being a foodie.

Enough with the defenses. Great foods are really meant to be enjoyed and the moment becomes instantly priceless when you share delightful dishes with your love ones.

If not for one of my few valued senior colleagues who generously shared his affordable eating discovery with his family here in Penang, we wouldn’t sample it too.

Along one of the busiest thoroughfares in George Town, Penang is Jalan Macalister (or Macalister Road); it is one of the places in this part of Malaysia where hawker food stalls and restaurants can be found almost side by side. With tough but “healthy” and delicious competition, one of the establishments that was referred to us by my senior fellow is Town Steamboat Restaurant. He only had good words about this eat-all-want-food place; his family’s satisfaction was enough for us to give it a try.

Popular among Asian countries, Steamboat also known with so many names like Shabu-shabu because of some Japanese influence, Chinese Fondue, or Hotpot if claypot was used, requires no skill in cooking but creativity in combining various slices of raw meat -pork, beef, fish, seafoods, veggies, noodles and other interesting ingredients simmered in a pot of boiling stock, cooked directly on the dining table and readily served hot!

tender beef strips cooked slowly on butter and sinigang na hipon or prawn on sour broth simmered to almost perfection!

 I think the affordability of the buffet in Town Steamboat Restaurant is difficult to top with its wide and varied delicious spread. The flavors are almost infinite!

Other than bottomless ice cream, ais kacang (say, ays ka-chang!), the Malaysian version of Filipino Halo-halo or vise-versa served with red bean, nuts and shaved ice…pastries and other sweets, Town Steamboat Restaurant has a  dimsum corner where you can take a volume of steamed goodies!

They got me on this one; I am sucker for dimsum and dumplings!  ….And you?

Drinks from orange, grape and lychee juices, Chinese tea and my favorite, iced cold soya are all available as bottomless and via self-service; it’s all inclusive!

after a hearty meal, must drink tea.

 You’ll never go wrong with a casual atmosphere… 
 
 
…unless you make a big deal out of an overly exposed cooking gas beside your dining table, hahaha!  
 
I think the exposed cooking gas tanks are nothing to these hungry pack…
 
 
Admittedly, I didn’t like the red and spicy broth that they also serve; we prefer the plain soup as base for our steamboat; it’s most appropriate in cooking sour broth or our very own Sinigang!
 
 
This is more we like it….
 

except those with hypersensitivity to it, who doesn't like sinigang na hipon? imagine a Filipino dish personally cooked in a Chinese-Malaysian restaurant! Sarap! Ang saya!

 
Heeding my colleague’s advice, we brought our very own, Knorr Sinigang na may Gabi Recipe Mix which made our Steamboat more appetizingly good! Now, if only Knorr could sponsor and send us here lots of their goodies, we’ll be more than grateful! Because Philippine products are rare here in Penang, can someone refer this blog post to makers of Knorr mixes? Paging Knorr Sinigang Mix, hehe!
 

We brought the mix, baby!

 
We’re definitely spending another gastronomic feast here when we find a chance…
—————————–
The first time we dined at Town Steamboat Restaurant, I only paid RM 49 (PhP 686) for the three of us –Tina, Gabby and me. Then several weeks ago, when my parents came over, we paid around RM 80 (PhP 1120) as lower rates are charged to senior citizens (age 55 and up) and only RM 4.90 (PhP 69) for kids of Gabby’s age and height. It was really a great deal! Now, if only YAKIMIX (which post continuously gives me highest blog hits per day!) or Tong Yang in Manila can top this restaurant with its price, more Filipinos back home can enjoy good food with their families and friends. But I know, YAKIMIX‘s edge are its smokeless grill, airconditioned and more comfortable ambience. 
 
——————————
Town Steamboat Restaurant. 
63 Macalister Road (slightly opposite UMNO building)
10400 George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
 



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