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Saturday, March 30, 2019

46th Birthday

My 46th birthday came and went in a modest and simple fashion. No chi-chi day-long celebration and no fancy gifts. Everyone was busy on my birthday - my hubs, my daughters, my mil and even myself.  But I'm happy as I had a sumptuous and intimate dinner with my family, at a fancy restaurant 😁

Dinner was at Stone Nine by Jiro Shabu @ Old Klang Road. Other than a crazy 45-minute wait for the food to come, we nonetheless enjoyed our personal hot pot Japanese shabu-shabu with premium assortment of meat and toothsome array of specialty dipping sauces to go with the meat.

My visiting SIL from Hong Kong surprised me with cakes from Just Heavenly Cafe @ Bangsar.

I think I have never shared any baby and toddler pictures of myself with everyone eh?  In commemoration of my 46th birthday, I'd like to share with all and sundry my birthday photos taken over 4 decades ago! 😍

Me on my 2nd birthday with Raymond, my elder brother, my sexy mum and my por por in our first house in Moonlight Park, Ipoh.  I can still remember the address by heart, though we moved from the house when I was 12 years old.  My birthday gift was an inflatable Bugs Bunny toy 😁.

Me on my 4th birthday. Mum was preggers with Roy, my younger brother. My birthday present that year was a doll that could blink her eyes and that doll slept next to me on my double bed together with a bunch of soft toys until I was 12 years old!

On my 5th birthday, Roy my younger brother was 11 months old. Next to my granny was Molly, our part-time helper cum nanny, who was only a teenager. She would come over to babysit us whenever there was no adult at home.

Hope you've enjoyed this brief walk with me down memory lane πŸ’—

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Ice Plant

We had our first taste of Ice Plant vegetable at Copper Mansion Restaurant during CNY this year. The Ice Plant was one of the ingredients in the 'loh sang' dish along with fried crispy salmon fish skin and other vegetables. It was the best 'loh sang' that I had ever tasted - super fresh and  delish.  I couldn't get enough of the Ice Plant and asked the waitress what vegetable it was and she told us 'suet choy' (ice vegetable). I thought that it was iceberg lettuce but it's not, though the texture is similar to lettuce.

A month later, I stumbled upon Ice Plant at my regular organic vegetable stall at the night market.  The seller was raving about it and gave me 100% reassurance that I would love the Ice Plant.  The leaves consist mainly of water/juice and are slightly salty. The texture is very smooth and crunchy  and chock-full of nutrition. But the price tag is very hefty - RM15 for a small punnet. I can chomp down the entire pack myself. They are so juicy and refreshing that I can eat them on their own without any salad dressing.

Ice Plant is named so because of its cool frosted look. The Ice Plant is a unique vegetable that originated in South Africa. Tiny crystalline beads of bladder cells filled with salt water cover its stems and leaves, which not only makes the ice plant a lovely decorative succulent (look how it glistens in the sun!) but renders it a fascinating culinary ingredient.

Nutritional Value
As it is mainly made of water, the ice plant is low in calories. What it is high in, though are vitamins A, B and C, mineral salts, and isoflavones – a class of phytochemicals that help protect the body against breast cancer, menopausal symptoms, heart disease, osteoporosis and a host of other disorders.   The juice of Ice Plant leaves have antiseptic properties that may be used topically for infections or taken orally for digestive problems. The Ice Plant makes a great addition to any diet, whether you are health conscious or not.

Cass' dinner of Korean rice, homemade kimchi, avocado, sauteed mushrooms with curry leaves, cauliflower, braised pork and Ice Plant.  Super healthy and yums!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Iron Studies Report

The Iron Studies report for Alycia came out yesterday. I was shocked to see how low the readings of her Iron and Ferritin are.  This explains why she looks so pale and sallow.

Surprisingly though, Alycia's energy level is still pretty high. She comes home at 5-6-ish p.m. on most days, takes a rest, then goes to the gym, tennis lesson or Kickboxing class. She does not complain much of feeling tired.

After the clinic staff Whatsapped the report to me, I immediately forwarded it to my friend (Dr. G) who is a hematologist and sought her advice.

Dr. G's advice is for Alycia to take iron capsule (Sangobion) twice a day for 8-12 weeks, after which a full blood count and Iron Studies test need to be repeated. She said that the readings are common and she's not too worried about it.  For now, I just have to ensure that Alycia takes her iron capsules and eats more red meat and green leafy vegetables.  If however the repeat tests show mild anemia with normal iron level, then another test is to be done to check for Thalassemia.

Meanwhile, I've enlisted the help of the mil to boil red dates tonic and red bean sweet soup for Alycia. She has no issue downing red bean sweet soup but with red dates tonic, the mil and I have to coerce her to drink it, just like how we used to feed her medicine when she was a toddler!🀯

Monday, March 18, 2019

Suspected Thalassemia Minor / Trait

Last Saturday, I took Alycia to the clinic to have a complete blood works  done (pee tested too). For the past one year or so, her skin has turned sallow (skin skews yellow). She used to have the perfect complexion - snow skin with rosy cheeks.  I was pretty sure that she was low on iron as she's not been eating nutritiously since a year ago up until now, as she has been staying back in school almost everyday. By the time she comes home in the evening, she eats very little of what the mil cooks. She tells us that she's already eaten in school and God knows what she eats in school. I know she's a carb lover and loves pastries, buns, pau and snacks.  Whenever there's  soup, she will come up with excuses to avoid drinking it.  She dislikes soups and fish (except for salmon and cod. Expensive taste bud this girl has!). She does not like Chinese style of cooking and the mil only knows how to whip up Chinese style dishes. She tells us that she eats 'chap fan' (mixed rice) in school almost everyday and has already grown sick of Chinese style dishes. Thus, she does not have balanced meals on most week days.

At the height of having a huge fibroid with super heavy menses two years ago, I was severely anemic and my skin was sallow too. So that gave me the cue that Alycia is also low on iron. Her menses can be pretty heavy at times.  She turns a deaf ear on me whenever I ask her to eat red dates, wolfberries, beet root, drink nutritious soups and eat nutritiously. She can be pretty stubborn.

Long story short, this is Alycia's blood works report, collected today:

My guess was spot on!  Alycia's moderately anemic.  Also, her blood seems a tad 'abnormal' and at the  look of this report, the doctor opined that Alycia could have Thalassemia Minor / Trait. His advice was for me to bring the report and consult a hematologist.

Cass has a classmate whose mother is a hematologist at UMMC. When I got back from the clinic, I quickly Whatsapped the report to her and sought her opinion.  Thank God for her kind heart, she replied me very quickly and advised that an Iron Study blood works be done to see if Alycia's low on iron. If she's low on iron, then she can be treated with iron supplement. If however her blood is not low in iron, then another blood works has to be carried out to determine if she indeed has Thalassemia Trait.  No fresh blood was needed for this test as the lab can still use the sample blood that's still at the lab.  I asked our GP to go ahead with the blood test.

This aside, everything else looks good and normal.  Cholesterol reading is normal - praise Lord Alycia does not have Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH), an inherited condition of high cholesterol.  Blood sugar is normal, pee is clear, liver and kidney functions are A-OK and cancer marker is low.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Happiness In My Balcony Garden

Pretty blooms found in my tiny balcony garden these few days!

Little things like the occasional flowers that sprout out from our plants often put me in a good mood 😊🌺🌻🌹

Three precious flower buds on the Prosperity flower.

This is the second time that this plant has bloomed.  We bought this plant for RM10 at a church charity sale over 3 years ago. When we bought the plant, it only had 3 green leaves on it and was on the verge of dying. After a year of TLC showered on it (with plenty of water, sunshine, egg shells and fruit peel), flowers bloomed!  Cass and I were delighted. Cass loves this plant and has put in a lot of effort taking care of her 'adopted baby'. She chose this plant from among many other types of plants.

White flower on Kaempferia galanga/ sand ginger/ cekar/ resurrection lily plant.

This is the second time that our sand ginger plant bloomed  a single white flower with a known lifespan of no more than one day. The flower only opens up during the day and usually withers after 1 day. But this flower broke the record and it lived for  about 3 days! I thought it withered after just a day but the next morning, the flower 'resurrected' and lived for another 2 days!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

12345 Pork Belly

After my initial success with cooking 12345 Pork Ribs and not having enough ribs for myself, I was raring to cook this dish again the next day.  This time, I used pork belly and it was still yummo. Personally I prefer spare ribs as it's not so meaty and ribs are more tender.  The girls have mixed preference though.  To please everyone, the next time I cook this dish again, I will use a combination of both cuts ~ spare ribs and pork belly!   But I guess it will be another few months before I take over the kitchen as the mil is now back from Hong Kong and I am having my LONG leave as chef! πŸ˜€

This dish is so appetizing that Cass who does not fancy rice helped herself to a huge bowl of rice. But it's A-OK as I only buy low GI rice (parboiled and organic Basmati).

Always hiding her face behind her novels during meal times. If her dad was around, he would have forbidden this!

So to all the fans of black vinegar pork trotters, this dish is very close to it. And it's as easy as 12345 to dish it up πŸ‘

Monday, March 4, 2019

Steamed Spare Ribs With Yam (Using Philips Pressure Cooker)

The time of the year is here again for my yearly pap smear and ultrasound scan of the breasts. It's something that I DO NOT look forward to.  I've got an appointment to see my gynae this Wednesday to get this dreaded thing done.

What's the worst thing about a pap smear to you? Mine is not so much about opening up for a torturous 30 seconds or so for the doctor to get things done but  waiting for the results.  If the results are normal, my life continues as usual BUT what if something suspicious is seen? Just thinking and typing about it give me a complex already! We just have to accept the ebb and flow of life being a woman.πŸ’ƒ

For a moment, I couldn't decide if I wanted this title to be 'The Dreaded Pap Smear' Or 'Steamed Pork Ribs With Yam Using Pressure Cooker'; and if this post is solely only going to be about my fears about my impending pap smear or on both the pap smear and my new recipe.   I guess I'll incorporate both into one post 😁

So here you go, here's my Steamed Spare Ribs With Yam Using my Philips Pressure Cooker (PPC):

It's my first try cooking this dish and first try steaming a dish with my Philips pressure cooker. I had to turn to You Tube for a few tutorials before trying out this dish. As usual, I tweaked the recipe, by using only ingredients that I am comfortable with, like using organic miso to marinate the spare ribs instead of using oyster sauce or taucu (fermented soy beans).

Ingredients (for 5 servings)
Spare Ribs
One small yam
Chopped garlic
Organic miso
Organic potato starch or corn starch
Organic brown sugar
Chopped spring onions
Sesame seed oil
10 tablespoons water

Wash spare ribs under running water for at least 5 minutes. You can also blanch it with hot water.
Marinate spare rib with potato starch or corn starch, miso, chopped garlic, brown sugar, pepper, sesame seed oil for a few hours.
Marinate yam with organic miso for a few hours.
Place pork ribs and yam in a heat proof dish. Add 10 tablespoons of water on the plate of dish so that your dish gets some sauce. You can put more water if you prefer more sauce to go with the ribs and yam.
Pour in 1 cup of boiling water into PPC.  Put steaming rack into the PPC and the plate of pork ribs and yam on top.
Switch PPC to Steam mode and cook on KPT 25 minutes, valve turn to SEAL.
Manual pressure release.