Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to make Yogurt! (using the rice-cooker)

In one of my earlier entries I wrote about the hubby's adventure in yogurt making. We love yogurt because it has many health benefit though not many Malay/Asian dishes use yogurt as an ingredient. Thus, we don't find that many kinds of yogurt here in Malaysia as you may find in other countries. One of the ways that we use yogurt is in smoothies (we love that in the mornings!). Anyway, since those early experiments in yogurt-making, the hubby has 'fine-tuned' his method and now we have yogurt every-time (or whenever he has time to make it..!). Some people use the oven or cooler or heating pads or whatever to keep the milk warm in the final process but the hubby uses the rice-cooker. Actually we have a rice-cooker which does not keep the rice fresh very long in it after cooking so I refuse to use it (wasting good rice!) and now we have another one (the 'old-fashioned' one with the take-off lid that makes easy washing) Well, so now the hubby has found a use for it - yogurt making!
So. if you have that kind of rice-cooker lying around why not try your hand at making It's so easy and the hubby doesn't use thermometers and sterilisers and what-nots.. Okey dokey, let's start:

1) First, you'll need to fill the rice cooker with water and turn it on; like so:

This is the kind of rice-cooker that I mean..
2) We use powdered milk (the low fat kind) but if you want to use whole milk, you may do so..or if you want to use the regular milk you will need 3 mugs (we're not making a lot of yogurt - just to last us for about a week or so for our smoothies). 9 tablespoonfuls of powdered milk into the pan:

There you may use your regular tablespoon - not rocket science
3) Then we add in 3 mugs of water:

Regular drinking mug..
4) Whisk the milk mixture thoroughly and heat it up on a stove. Turn it off when you see it starts to bubble at the edges and just before it boils over.

On the stove - make sure you watch it or else it'll boil over..
5) In the meantime fill in your sink with water:

Sink filling in..
6) Put your pan of milk in to cool in the sink. Let it cool until you could dip your finger in without scalding yourself (it would take a few minutes). You don't want the milk to be so hot that it'll kill the bacteria that we're going to add in after this..

Pan sitting nicely in the sink..
7) OK..when the milk is about ready (lukewarm), we add in the 'starter'. This is yogurt that you get from the supermarket. You just need a small tub that they usually sell; make sure you get the 'natural' one and not the flavoured kind..

Add it all in..
8) Whisk the 'starter' thoroughly with the milk..

Whisk, whisk..
9) Have an airtight container ready (Tupperware would be ideal) and pour in the milk/yogurt mixture.

Pouring it in..
Putting on the lid..
10) Now, immerse the container into the rice-cooker that has been filled with water and heated up. You need to switch it off when the water bath is about lukewarm.

Now you see why you need to have an airtight container..
11) Snap the lid shut and wait for about 8 - 12 hours (you can do it at night and by next morning, InsyAllah, it'll be ready)

This kind of rice-cooker is a good insulator and will keep the milk at the right temperature for the process to complete.
Ta daa...
You may find the resulting yogurt to be rather watery at times. That's OK; all you need to do is to spoon or drain it off, but don't waste the liquid! It's called whey and very nutritious; full of protein. You could add it to soups or use it to make bread or whatever...
(Actually, I've never tried my hand at making the yogurt myself.. I usually watch (and take pictures) as the hubby makes it. But I think I'll have a go at it one that I have this entry to guide me..or the hubby to make me! I always say: if you have somebody to do it for you, don't bother to learn it, just keep the person happy doing it for!)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rallying for Syria!

Last Friday we were back in Klang to check on the old house; the hubby had to attend a meeting on Saturday and a lot of other things to attend to on the Friday. Got news on Facebook that 20 or so NGOs were going to hold a peaceful rally for Syria after Friday prayers on the 16th.. so, (yey!) I had to join them - some friends were planning to travel together from Meru to the Tabung Haji in KL where they were going to start the walk to the Syrian Embassy. We got on three cars and drove to Kelana Jaya LRT station.We took the LRT to Ampang Park which is just a few metres away from the Tabung Haji building. The last time I did this was for Palestine (2010 blog entry: What I did Last Friday) - when I was a little bit younger? Anyway, this time the walk to the Syrian Embassy was much longer (it seemed like forever to reach our destination...) and the sun was beating down relentlessly... But now I understand crowd psychology - having a shared objective gives the individual the strength that you thought you never have! So there I was waving a poster and chanting: "Freedom.. freedom.. Syria! Allah..! Suria..! Huria..! Wabas!" On reaching the Embassy (which of course was locked with no one about) I was quite relieved to be able to sit down on the kerb while listening to the speeches (and catching up with old friends who came as well!). It was on the return journey that my legs appeared to be heavier and my tiny little handbag seemed to weigh down on my shoulder like lead...We made a number of stops along the way to rest (and eat ice-cream! The ice-cream man seemed to know just where to lurk...) and reaching Ampang Park LRT station was just heavenly; a cool welcoming place! Some of the pictures below I got from FB; you can tell by the quality (sharper and clearer - expensive camera..*sigh*)

Here we are at the station...: 
In front of the Tabung Haji building: waiting for Friday prayers to start..
Friday prayers
Start of rally
The front lines - obviously I didn't shoot this..
Didn't realise this many people attended when you were part of the crowd..!
I caught this one
Save Syria!

Way to go sistaahz!
Nearly reaching the embassy
You can see from the perspective that I took this sitting tired..
Despite the tired feet and sun-burnt skin, I am very glad to be able to show support for my brothers and sisters in Syria. What they are going through are much more horrible... 
I did mention in another entry (The Spring in Syria) that it reminds me of another rally that I attended in the 80s in London. Hubby said I got the information wrong; it wasn't about Sabra and Shatilla (it was like ages ago and my memory got fuzzy..) Sabra and Shatilla was about the Israeli army that massacred the Palestinians in a Lebanese refugee camp (we must have had rallied for that as well, I think..). Anyway, I Googled and the one that I attended was actually about the massacre in Hama which: "occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army under the orders of the country's president, Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth operation against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad." God, these leaders must have thought they'd live for ever! Like father, like son... Basyar al-Assad..your days are numbered..!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Three Weddings and a surprise..

 Yesterday we did 3 weddings in one day. The first one was in Paka, which is about 100 km from our home in Kuala Terengganu. It was the wedding of the daughter of friends of ours. We started off at about 10 in the morning and arrived around 12. The journey took longer than usual because of the increase in traffic due to the start of the school holidays (Terengganu being the favourite holiday destination...). Didn't take any photos of that wedding though, having to rush to the next one back in Kuala Terengganu (another 100 km drive - hubby drove all the way... sometimes in a 'trance' because of the warm weather and a full stomach... lol).
Next wedding was 'family' (refer to 'A Wedding in Terengganu') - wedding of the hubby's uncle's wife's... bla bla... two sons (double wedding..). This time around they were hosts and the event was held at the Conference Centre at Taman Tamadun Islam (Islamic Heritage Park). It was almost 4pm when we arrived (it was supposed to end at 5pm so we were still ok). Of course we could only manage some fruits and teed-bits. Here's a picture of the happy couples:

The boys resplendent in their traditional costume (the brides' wardrobe are more modern, I think..but matching colours though)
The last wedding was at a 'neighbour's' - not exactly next door but another block perpendicular to ours. I don't actually know them but the hubby knows the husband from the neighbourhood 'surau' where he goes to pray. Since the card says the feast is until 6, we did this one last of all (arriving around 5.30 - still good). And surprise, surprise we met two couples that we know; one from when we lived in Kuantan (1998-1999) and the other one lives in Kuala Terengganu itself (and a member of my own Happy Circle...) Apparently Zi'ayah's husband (from Kuantan) is cousin to Fuzi (my friend in KT) and both of them are nephew and niece to the host... MashAllah, what a small world! A picture of us:

Couldn't believe meeting them there!
These last three pictures are the gifts wedding guests received from the hosts.. the traditional one is the bunga telur or a boiled egg presented wrapped into silk or paper flowers but these days people are giving away other stuffs according to one's whim and fancy... you can even make a substantial collection from these gifts!

From the wedding of our friends' daughter  in Paka..
...the family in KT (not mug for drinking, this..)
...the neighbour's
What a tiring day....!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mukhayyam Dakhili

'Mukhayyam Dakhili' is Arabic for indoor camp. That's where I was last weekend; attending a training programme (for ladies only) organised by the NGO that I belong to (IKRAM). The camp was held at Anguilla Beach House Resort, about 20 minutes from our home. It's a lovely place; comfortable rooms and the food was good... The programme started around 11 am on the 4th and ended about 2.30 pm the next day. The first day was more of a physical and out-doorish type of activity while the next day was filled with talks. We were quite worried at first because a couple of days before, it was raining on and off (with high winds). In fact the morning of the day we arrived it was blustery and wet. But Alhamdulillah, the weather cleared up in the afternoon...and the next day!

Anguilla Beach House Resort - by the beach..
Pretty landscaping
Well, the first activity was ice-breaking and yours truly and another friend were given the task of coming up with ideas and managing it and also the team-building after that.. (Thank God for Google!) Here's one activity which was quite effective in breaking the ice: The ladies pair up, look into each others' eyes and say: "I love you sister (or name of the person) but I just can't smile". The other person says the same thing and they have to remain serious. Whoever smiles or laughs first will be out of the game...Hillarious! The winner finds another partner and it goes on until only one person remaining. However we had 5 winners who were quite serious in remaining serious..
Trying not to smile, trying not to smile..
Two of the winners (God, they're both headmistresses - and, no wonder)
The first team-building exercise was the 'Helium stick', so-called because it tends to float up no matter how you try to bring it down. The stick is just an ordinary lightweight rod but when a group of people hold out their fore-fingers together to lower it down to the ground without anybody's finger leaving the get one stubborn rod which keeps floating upwards.. (it's the upward pressure of everyone's fingers which is greater than the weight of the stick) Brilliant! This teaches the group about teamwork: strategics, patience, leadership, concentration...
All right, everybody concentrates..
Oh's rising again!
Ok girls, lower it slowly, slowly..
Next is the 'group-hugging' activity.. the tightest group-hug wins! This emphasizes communication, cooperation, patience as well as issues pertaining to physical proximity...

OK gang, are we tight enough?
Help..I'm gonna fall..!
Time to measure the length of tightness.
Next on the programme was the treasure-hunt/explorace activity (I didn't get to take part as some of us had to help fascillitate..*sigh*). There were 6 groups and they had to find clues, solve puzzles, recite a surah from the Quran from memory, answer quizzes and find stuff for cleansing apart from water.. (one of the groups used my camera for documentation, so I have their pictures to blog):

Finding the first clue 'washed ashore'..
Putting together the 'text'-puzzle
5 things to cleanse with (Please God, help me not to ever have to resort to using them..)
Answering the quiz..
Unfortunately this group didn't win (but they got a hamper anyway!) but we had fun and learn many things in terms of working together. The next day we sat indoors for talks session and after lunch and prayers we had the closing ceremony with prize-giving and cleaning up and straight to postmortem (for the committee members) before heading home exhausted..but contented for a programme having achieved its intended objectives..or most of them anyway!
Listening to a talk on the second day..
The participants nearing the end of the programme