Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My favourite recipe : “Red velvet cupcake”


I first saw it on the television in one episode of D.C cupcakes. I was intrigued by the deep red colour and its’ widespread popularity these days. I bought one at Bisou and it tasted great. My friend, Suzlina baked this and posted her cute R.V. creation on Facebook. I think it is time for me to make my own!

What you need:

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Van Houten)
  • 1 1/2 cups corn oil
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color / water-based food colouring red and pink
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk (see note for alternative)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda / sodium bicarbonate
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • Cream cheese frosting (see note for preparation)

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celcius.

2. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.

3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is mixed well.

5. Mix in food color and vanilla.

6. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk. Whisk well.

7. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (don’t be surprise if it foams!) and quickly add the mixture to the batter. Mix for another 10 seconds on medium speed.

8. Fill up cups about three-quarters full. Do not delay and bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.

9. Transfer cakes to wire racks to cool .

10. Top up the cakes with cream cheese frosting.

Note : Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

The recipe makes about 20-25 cupcakes

Note : Cream Cheese frosting recipe

Versatile, tangy, and quick to prepare, the frosting has a soft consistency that's ideal for toppings swirling. You can use it as a choice for topping many other cupcakes.

What you need:

  • 8 ounces unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 12 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

What to do :

  1. Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy. This will take around 3 minutes.

  2. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then vanilla; mix until smooth.

The recipe above makes about 4 cups of frosting.

Note : Don’t have buttermilk? Use this simple substitute. It will only take 5 minutes!

What you need:

  • Milk (just under one cup)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice

What to do:

1. Place a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.

2. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.

3. Let stand for five minute. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for.

Credit to Martha Stewart for the original recipe and Suzlina Ibrahim for baking advise.

Monday, June 20, 2011

One wedding, few birthdays and a funeral

Yesterday morning at 3 am, I received a call from my sister. A relative had died.
Every time my family called me, I get this jittery feeling that something is not right. True enough, another family member has left us. I was so sleepy but I could not return to my slumber. What if I did not wake up the next day. Am I ready to meet my Creator?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Family time – visit to the National Science Centre Part 1

The school holidays are finally over and my only achievement was taking the children to Le Meridien last week for one night stay. They enjoyed the hotel stay and the 5 inches deep wading pool but then another week in the house drove them mad.
Work is demanding. Half of my team was unfortunately on medical leave and another helper that I have to beg for was busy with another commitment. Not their choice, but it just my luck. With the workload that I have and having to do most of the things by myself left me with no choice but to forgo my time with kids. Please forgive me kids, I promise I’ll make it up to you guys next holidays!
I was searching for places to take them to and then I thought of the dinosaur exhibition at Pusat Sains Negara (the National Science Centre). Perhaps, they might enjoy dinosaurs!
We went there early in the morning to beat the crowd. However, we were lost trying to figure out the way around the DUKE highways. Later we found out that it is actually super easy to go there. Good, next time I can get there in 20 minutes!
When we arrived there, I was amazed by the number of people. It was only 10am and I have to go up and go down, and back at the car park nearby the entrance. I was surprised to see a wading pool and a mini water park there. I wished I had brought some towels and clothes for the kids to dip in!
Then we have to go up the stairs and everyone was complaining.
Fortunately the air-con inside the lobby was cool, pheww. Imagine if you arrive during the hot sunny afternoon!
The kids spend some time at the touch pool and marveled at the fish at the aquarium. I have been here so many times that I could not be bothered.
While they were busy, I went to purchase the tickets which was highly affordable. Hey, it is only RM 6 for adult. The dino exhibition costs RM 10 but it is all in.
There were many new exhibits on my way to the main atrium. It was quite interesting. The kids enjoyed the multimedia touch screens. The one below have multiple squares that breaks and disintegrates leaving swirling watermark.
multimediawonders1 multimediawonders2
The second one just beside it was less popular. You create multiple floral prints when you touch the single flower.
Then we entered a section which have exhibits on life sciences, astronomy and physics. The kids kept themselves busy trying out everything and they certainly do not need my help! Wind power anyone?
Physicist at work, trying to comprehend Bernoulli principle.
Next up! The star attraction  - dinosaurs in Part 2

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Macam-macam Bahasa : “Apakah maksud poyo?”

Poyo. Saya rasa perkataan itu sendiri adalah “poyo”. Ia bukan sahaja diguna dengan berleluasa, tetapi jika kita tanya si pengguna perkataan, mereka jarang sekali dapat memberikan makna yang tepat! Mari kita semak interpretasi “poyo” di kalangan rakan-rakan saya.

- bersikap gedik

- macam bagus

- sama maknanya dengan “you are so lame”

- berlagak cool tetapi tidak menjadi

- suka buat lawak bodoh

- cuba menonjol diri dengan menarik perhatian orang.

- selamba bodoh (whatever this means!)

- mengada-ngada

- “Awak adalah poyo kerana tanya soalan ini”

- seperti baru bangun tidur/ “mamai”

- enthusiasm shown by an individual but is disliked by another

- “hampeh”

- sesuatu yang tidak dapat digambarkan dengan kata-kata tetapi perbuatan

- bercakap lebih dari kemampuan melakukannya, exaggeration

- sesuatu perlakuan yang membuat orang lain sakit hati

- perbuatan dan percakapan orang yang mengada ada

- grandstanding, show-off

- berlagak power

Itulah dia, ada pelbagai interpretasi “poyo”. Jika kita lihat kembali pelbagai respons di atas, ia seolah-olah seperti kata sifat yang digunakan untuk menggambarkan seseorang yang selalunya membayangkan sesuatu yang negatif. Pernahkan anda dipanggil “poyo”? Menarik jika kita fikirkan pelbagai erti yang dimaksudkan oleh pemanggil nama itu. Lebih mudah agaknya jika kita bertanya sendiri, “kenapa anda panggil saya poyo?”

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Movie review : “Super 8”


Super 8 is a summer blockbuster that is earnest and not filled with pop-culture references or product placement. The effects is spectacular and relevant to the plot, and they have an intimate quality, rather than seeming too far from reality. What is left with the audience is a moving story,  strong performances, well-developed characters and genuine thrills.
Some sort of strange encounter is happening in the small town of Lillian, Ohio, in the summer of 1979. First comes the train crash, a marvel of screeching wheels and fiery, flying freight cars that a group of aspiring filmmakers just happens to witness while shooting a low-budget zombie flick on Super 8 film. Then the neighborhood dogs go missing. Then the electricity goes out — and then the appliances and wires themselves disappear. Finally the military takes the whole place over, led by Noah Emmerich.
Throughout the big action of the final half -the town's forced evacuation, alien disruptions by the alien, the kids' efforts to film their movie and their subsequent adventures, Abrams still finds time to brought forward some of the characters' emotional struggles : between Joe (Joel Courtney) and his deputy sheriff dad (Kyle Chandler) struggling with the death of Joe’s mother’s month earlier, between Alice (Elle Fanning) and Louis (Ron Eldard), who are revealed to be more a complex character than initially indicated, and even between Charlie (Riley Griffiths) and Joe about their competitive feelings for Alice.  
The young actors who probably had never appeared in a feature film before, are total naturals. They bounce off each other with effortless, goofy humor. All the personalities in the group come together brilliantly and each one’s best qualities being heightened in interaction with the others. Some in the most impressive performances are Abrams’ lead, Joel Courtney, who perfectly immersed the purity of youth layered with the dawning of adulthood. Elle Fanning who shows incredible acting chops in her ability to portray the pain of a broken home balanced with the uncontainable desire to wander into life’s mysteries. Also worth mentioning is Ryan Lee who’s a great source of comic relief and Kyle Chandler in his best work on film ever.
If you watched the trailers, you will notice that it never reveal anything more than you need to know.The movie keeps the escaped creature neatly under wraps, keeps the momentum going, revealing bit by bit until the final act. You will see everything happen through the kids' eyes and feel like you're part of the movie. That's a feeling that comes with great storytelling and engaging characters.
Although technically, it looks almost identical to a Spielberg film from three decades ago, Abrams also tells a story that's very much its own entity. Abrams has captured the spirit of growing up and flawlessly unified it with a gripping, action-packed, science-fiction excitement. As writer and director, Abrams effectively conveys a mood — a mixture of innocence, fear and ultimately hope. He also captures a familiar sense of childhood loneliness, a need to escape and belong and the adventures that can spring from that yearning. It is a sweet and sad side story that balances well without being too melodramatic.
The idea that being a part of a film can provide a gateway to an exciting, new life — regardless of which side of the camera you're on is infectious and inviting. That feeling carries through all the way to the closing credits, so make sure you stay in your seat for the full payoff as they reveal the final full version of the Super 8 movie the kids endured so many distractions to make.
Rating 4 out of 5

Monday, June 6, 2011

Memartabat Bahasa Malaysia : “Penggunaan Awalan Pinjam”


Dipetik dan diadaptasi dari Tip Bahasa, mStar, 5 Jun 2011


Berikut ialah beberapa contoh penggunaan imbuhan awalan pinjam yang betul. Contoh yang salah di dalam kurungan.

1. antiagama, antidadah, antikomunis, antilelaki, antisosial (anti agama, anti dadah…..)

2. anti-Israel, pro-Amerika, pro-barat (anti Israel, pro Amerika…)

3. dwibahasa, dwibulanan (dwi bahasa…)

4. pascaijazah,pascamerdeka, pascapenerbitan (pasca ijazah…)

5. prakata, prasejarah (pra kata..)

6. sosiobudaya (sosio budaya)

7. subkontraktor (sub-kontraktor)

8. tatatertib, tatasusila (tata-tertib, tata susila)

Selamat berbahasa!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fakta Sains : “Haiwan apakah yang mempunyai jangka hayat terpendek dan terpanjang sekali?”

Sebelum kita menjawab soalan ini ada beberapa perkara yang perlu dipertimbangkan. Perkara-perkara itu termaksuklah; bagaimana kita boleh mebuat perbandingan yang adil di antara semua haiwan, bilakah jangka hayat bermula dan berakhir dan akhir sekali, apakah yang sebenarnya harus diambil kira dalam penaakulan kita.

Pertimbangkan bahawa ikan dan reptilia tertentu ternyata akan terus hidup selagi jangka hayat mereka berhenti disebabkan faktor kematian yang bukan semula jadi. Jika ini berlaku, adalah ia mungkin hidup sebagai haiwan yang tertua? Mungkin jawapannya ya.

Namun begitu, haiwan seperti itu hidup di alam liar. Kita tidak boleh melihat mereka untuk jangka masa yang diperlukan untuk menentukan jangka hayat mereka. Pergerakan haiwan bergerak juga menyukarkan kita untuk menilai usia mereka. Kita menentukan jangka hayat biasanya melalui haiwan kurungan kerana kita dapat mengenal pasti usia mereka.

Jadi, jawapan untuk persoalan tentang jangka hayat haiwan adalah dibuat berdasarkan dari taakulan pemerhatian melalui haiwan dalam kurungan. Haiwan dalam kurungan yang mempunyai jangka hidup paling lama adalah kura-kura raksasa (177 tahun).
Haiwan yang mempunyai jangka hayat terpendek pula adalah lalat Mei atau Mayfly (1-24 jam). Lalat Mei cepat berkembang biak seolah-olah kewujudan mereka di dunia bergantung kepada kuantiti dan bukannya kualiti.
Tetapi, ada beberapa haiwan juga yang tidak kurang hebatnya.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Berita Harian Online | Laporan Khas: Penonjolan watak 'hantu' dalam filem Melayu dianggap keterlaluan

Berita Harian Online | Laporan Khas: Penonjolan watak 'hantu' dalam filem Melayu dianggap keterlaluan

Artikel di atas keluar di dalam Berita Harian Online pada Sabtu 3 Jun 2011. Ia mengulas tentang produksi filem seram yang semakin meningkat semenjak beberapa tahun lepas. Saya lampirkan di sini kerana amat tertarik dengan kupasan isu elemen seram dalam filem Melayu.

Di Malaysia, para pembikin filem tempatan mengambil kesempatan dengan populariti filem seram kerana inilah yang akan menarik pengunjung pawagan buat masa kini. Pada tahun 2011 sahaja, hampir 90% dari filem yang ditayangkan di pawagan mempunyai elemen ini.

Namun begitu, telitilah artikel yang membawa kita memikirkan kembali sama ada perkembangan ini membawa kepada suatu yang positif atau tidak kepada masyarakat kita.

Saya sendiri bukanlah peminat filem seram Melayu tetapi populariti dua filem, "Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah" dan "Khurafat" membuatkan saya ingin tahu dan melihat sendiri apakah yang membuatkannya sungguh popular. "Hantu Kak Limah" sudah menjadi seolah-olah "pop culture" dan menjadi ikon perbualan ramai. "Khurafat" pula mencapai kutipan yang mengkagumkan.

Paling terbaru di pawagan buat masa ini ialak "Karak". Trailernya sahaja menggodak keinginan saya untuk menontonnya.

Cuma yang membuatkan saya terfikir, kalau betullah hantu dan jin boleh menyerupai apa sahaja kecuali yang tidak menakutkan, bagaimana pula dengan cerita dari mereka yang pernah melihat dengan mata kepala sendiri? Adakah mereka sengaja mereka cerita atau pun khayalan akibat terlalu percayakan elemen mistik?
Apakah pendapat anda?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Movie Review - "X-Men : First Class"


X-Men : First Class is a fun rejuvenation of the Marvel superhero-action-film series and will surely have fans wanting even more.

The movie unveils the epic beginning of the X-Men saga and a secret history of the Cold War that brings our world at the brink of nuclear war. As the first class discovers, harnesses, and comes to terms with their super powers, alliances are formed that will shape the eternal war between the heroes and villains of the X-Men universe.

After a prelude showing the very different childhoods of privileged Charles Xavier and Nazi death camp prisoner Erik Lehsherr, we were brought in the Sixties-Cold War, and humans are just beginning to learn of the existence of mutants among them.


Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), the Nazi camp doctor and mutant responsible for the murder of Erik’s mother and for torturing and experimenting on the boy, has assembled other mutants, including telepath and diamond-faceted Emma Frost (January Jones), Shaw is bent on the extinction of the human race.


The grownup Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender), become a team, along with Raven, also known as Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) and other “good mutants” to thwart Shaw’s bid to start World War III.


Overall, “X-Men: First Class,” looks fabulous, demonstrates a highly evolved pop movie sensibility and is the best “X-Men” movie since “X-Men” (2000). McAvoy and Fassbender bring genuine acting chops to their roles, and while Jones presence is something to look at. Jason Flemyng’s mutant Azazel is a fierce creation, while other casts bring freshness to the series. It is also an adventurous origin story, a prequel that takes the superhero outsiders back to their roots, with a special mention on a decent origin story of Professor X and Magneto. There were some nice little cameos that will delight avid X-Men fans.

Matthew Vaughn has directed one of the best Marvel adaptations and has shaken the cobwebs off the franchise and confidently delivered this prequel as a first class blockbuster. Impressively directed and superbly acted, it is an entertaining prequel that gets everything right – a retro 1960’s style that is both campy and sexy, a thrilling ride of action sequences, updated special effects and a moving script with a right does of humor.

I am giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars.