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Penang News, Issue #001 --Air Travel Tips, Penang Recipes and Penang Offers
January 15, 2008
Hello

Finally I made a start in the first issue of Penang News for my readers. What a great beginning January, the start of the year and the commencement of all things good. If you want to hear bad or worse news, you have the newspaper or our telly or CNN to help you.

Here, I keep to my world, the world where musings are kept on the positive note and I wish you good breathing people a “HAPPY NEW YEAR”. To those who buys bonds and shares, “May you have a bullish or Ratty year!”

What can you find in Penang NewsLetter # 1?

  • Musings
  • Popular Request
  • Travel Tip # 1
  • My Island Penang Offers # 2
  • Penang Recipe  # 3 - Traditional Nyonya Kaya

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Musings
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Today, I have spent a couple of hours deciding what to write on my first Penang News for you. Maybe you can help me thought out how to handle being bombarded by a bunch of information you would like to follow, but it will steal your time for more important and valuable things to do.

Giving and sharing information, advices, guidance is one of the highest valuable things I love to do. When people are satisfied because of things I do, quite frankly, I'm the happiest person in the whole wide world.

On the other hand it is not easy to satisfy everybody, and that make me sad me sometimes. I know, some people tell me things like, "Who cares? Just be yourself, Pearl, and don't care about whether other people are satisfied or not." So long as you are happy and satisfied. Sounds familiar?

To me, that is a real concern. I know we are living in countries where people use words like “Empowerment” or “Independence”.

Well maybe, give this some thought. People from Asia at least live differently. And these words are strange to us. Maybe words like sharing, concern, gratitude, solidarity and community are words we are more familiar with. When you meet such people, after a couple of seconds you are their friend immediately.

And over all I want to make a difference. That is one of the reason I build my website. The travel industry is a very huge one. Everybody says he or she has "the best" for you and for everybody.

By the way, "for everybody" is impossible. No product out there is for "everybody." It is impossible inventing a product everybody wants.

But this is another subject, and my site is not about “for everybody”. It is about Travel, Food, Customs, heritage, Penang, Malaysia and maybe the world.  Sharing these is one of my passions. ;-)

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Popular Request
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So, for the first issue of my island Penang News Travel Guide, I will keep it short and share what is in store this year. I know from request Penang Food is somehow still top of the list.

So I must get down to more articles on food for you. I have been busy cooking and kitchen testing lots of recipes and photos of food are just waiting for me to compile. There were even demands for cooking tour for expatriates and I wished I have more hands to fulfill this request.

My friends and I are trying very hard to find the time to do this exciting cooking tour. So look out for this, it might happen. And as promised, an E-book will be out in February for those subscribers who got two friends to subscribe my Penang Newsletter.

Secondly, festivals and interesting places in Penang takes second and third placing but I will concentrate on mostly unique and personal places of interest.

Yes, I'm still sweating… :-)  I think you'll like it. I mean, you'll LOVE it! This keeps me on my toes.

Air Travel Tips #1

1.    Travel around South East Asia using AirAsia. It is easy and inexpensive as Ryan Air and easyJet in Europe. Our locals consider AirAsia, the Greyhound bus of air travel. Everything, from choosing an assigned seat to extra costs for trips is covered.

2.    Considering the trip from Bangkok to Penang takes 22 hours by train, and air ticket was $130 vs. $300 quoted on Expedia for a flight on Malaysia Air or Thai Airlines, I can live with middle seats on aging Boeing 737s and bottles of water.

AirAsia's Web site (www.airasia.com) is like a candy store for travelers. Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are the major hubs, with daily flights to destinations such as Bali, Hanoi, Rangoon, Singapore, Macau, Siem Reap and some of the Thai and Malaysian resort islands.

So far, the service seems efficient. Book your flight before you leave home, and it is also easy to book last-minute. And if you booked way ahead, you get really cheap flights, as low as 9.99.

A new community airplane (http://www.fireflyz.com.my), started late last year. Here too, you can check, as periodically flights from Penang to Thailand or Asia can be as low as RM0.99cts to RM10.00. I am not joking!

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My Island Penang Offers # 2
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A two day Thaipusam tour is offered by Chandra, my husband. Get to observe and understand why Indians or some other races does these penance and sacrifices. It will open your eyes to another understand of the human world, of people's cultures and customs.

http://www.my-island-penang.com/Thaipusam-Tour.html

Relax in a colonial setting hotel in Batu Ferringhi. Penang Lone Pine Hotel is supremely peaceful, the rooms are huge, the staff congenial and the sunsets superb. The name, however, is misleading: there is no lone pine, just a row of casuarina trees

http://www.my-island-penang.com/Lone-Pine-Hotel.html

Get to know our beautiful Penang through its culture and people. Our Penang Festivals are colorful, you are sure of coming back to us. So two days in Penang is not enough.

http://www.my-island-penang.com/Penang-Festivals.html

Christmas is just over but visiting St Anne Church do bring back memories of Jesus Christ dying on the cross. I am not a Christian but we are very tolerant race in Malaysia.

http://www.my-island-penang.com/St-Anne-Church.html

Penang's idyllic charm and leisurely pace of life is one of the many attractions that pull not only tourist but also investors to the island state.

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Penang Recipe # 3
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For the next 12 months, I will add a special kitchen tested recipe. Also I will share with you some excellent recipes and dishes. Selected dishes  from my cooking mentor, the one and only beloved Datuk Lim Bian Yam. With my Nyonya rich heritage, cooking is indeed my passion. Having the know-how about Nyonya cooking, I still attended Datuk Bian Yam cooking class way back in the 80's. Going to Datuk’s classes is like being in my mother's or aunt kitchen.

A handsome man in his seventies now, Datuk Lim Bian Yam never fail to make us laugh. I thoroughly enjoyed his cooking lessons. It is not easy to forget the lessons and the jokes. How we laughed and quipped over our local Nyonya jokes.  Learning the finer points of flower arrangements, table settings really gave me an edge in entertaining.

Those are good times and as I proudly shared them with you, my readers. I have mixed emotions cooking these well loved traditional recipes. Friends who popped in or are invited to share our meal never failed to enquire when I will finally guide them to cook. Comments like "Excellent Dish", "Simply Divine", it is “WOW” or it is a "die for".  Honestly, Malaysians are not known to comments in this manner. If it is good, they just smiled or said “delicious or nice”. You know what I mean if you are local.

Ahh, of course, it is not only Nyonya food I will share. It will be Malaysian dishes and recipes, all in a great package. Here goes the first Penang Recipe for Penang News

Nyonya Kaya

Traditional Nyonya Kaya or Srikaya

 

Nyonya Kaya is our local coconut creamy jam, well blended with caramel granulated sugar and chicken or duck eggs. Home baked Kaya is eaten with bread (roti) or Pulut Tatai, a steamed glutinous rice dessert. Kaya in Malay means 'rich" or wealthy.  How about that?  In the old days, the Hainanese serves roti and kaya in the Kopi Tiam or our Chinese coffee shops or stalls.

For the Nyonyas, this sweet dessert is a "must have" during weddings. A variety of Nyonya kueh or cakes will be served to the groom entourage and one of it is the Pulut Tatai top with Kaya. Well, like in all Nyonya cooking, dishes cooked the Nyonya method is tedious and long so one must have patience. But as the old teacher also advised us, cooking opens up your eyes to patience and dedication. And it leads to perfection.

But Datuk Lim Bian Yam, my cooking teacher and mentor says this, if you have not cooked it more then 10 times, do not call me to ask for advise. It only shows you have not practiced enough! Those are his words and I never forgotten it  that until today.

There are two variations . Brown Kaya, you used caramel sugar to enchance the matured rich brown color. Screwpine or Pandan Green Kaya, you pound or liquidize  pandan leaves. Squeezed 10 leaves of screwpine for color.

Penang Recipe # 1, Traditional Nyonya Kaya

Ingredients

1.10 - grade A eggs (approx 20 ozs) 

2. Add 15 to 20 ozs granulated sugar 

3. 12 to 13 ozs Coconut Milk (Santan)

4. 1 oz Gula Melaka or Brown sugar

5. 4 T'sp granulated sugar to cook as caramel (for brown Kaya)

6. 3 to 4 Screwpine leaves (Daun Pandan)

(Wash it clean and make a knot before cooking)

7. 1/2 t'sp salt

8. 10 screwpine leave, blend to extract juices.

Note: Adding the juices to the coconut milk, it must not exceed 13 ounces.

Utensils : Measuring Cup, Double boiler or Rice cooker or Slow Cooker, Oven if baking.

Method:

In a measuring cup, break 10 eggs (1) and measure roughly 20 to 22 ounces.

Add 15 to 22 ounces of granulated sugar (2). Add Coconut milk(3), Gula Melaka (4) or Brown Sugar and salt (7).

Stir till well blended and sugar dissolved.

Get rid of the impurities or sediments through a sieve or a muslim cloth.

Cooking

1. Double boiler

Over the gas or electric stove, fill up the bottom pot with water and boil water. Once water is boiling, add the sieved mixture and the screwpine leaves (6) in the upper pot. Keep stirring to avoid sticking to the sides of pot. Keep stirring for approx 40 to 50 mins. Turn off heat or fire. Keep it covered for half hour for santan to glace the Kaya.  Kaya will shine beautifully

2. Slow Cooker

Pour the sieved mixture in a slow cooker and cooked for 3 hrs.

The trick when to add the caramel?

In a saucepan, add 4 T'sp of granulated sugar (5). Over low heat, let the sugar melt and caramelize. This should be added 15 mins after for the double boiler method. For the slow cooker method, add after 2 hours of cooking.

Pearl's Kaya is baked.

Pour the cooked Kaya into a 7" cake tin. Baked Brain Marie style in the oven. Wet newspaper to 3 to 4 inch thickness, weight it down with a baking sheet. Bake for 30 mins in a 400 deg oven. This Nyonya Kaya can be cut and stack on top of bread or Pulut Tatai.

I think your satisfaction will help me getting over a time like this.

And by the way, do you know what the highest form of human pleasure is? So if you are well ....pleased, there is a form in here. Do write to me and let me know you better.

So, enjoy your day. :-)

Warm regards,
Pearl

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