Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ties of Kinship

Yesterday we decided to drive all the way to Taman Murni, on the way to Kajang. Its like going to he other side of the world, so to speak. It does seem far if we do not use that route often. As usual we rushed off without any breakfast so we decided to stop at a row of small stalls to check the place out.

Cheap and Tasty Fare

Alhamdulillah! This stall right in front where we stopped was bursting all over with every kind of delicious looking food. My brother went straight for the Malay friend bihun (rice vermicelli)fried with some chili and I took a banana leaf wrapped nasi lemak (fragrant coconut cream rice with some friend peanuts, cucumber and a sweet and slightly hot chili sambal. Could not resist the hot crispy flour and veggie fritters so we had that too. Iced coffee as went down really well - have to admit that it was not a very healthy breakfast but there was not not much choice (excuses excuses).

Actually I also bought some lontong (pressed rice and vegetables in coconut gravy) for my dad (his favourite food lately) and my brother tried a fried otak otak popia and I also tried some beef bihun soup laced with hot chili padi sauce. This is already brunch, not breakfast.

Visiting Ah Kum

She is my late mother's best friend and sister in law. They were each other's confidantes when we were just little children. She is now 82 and we visit her every few months (should be more frequent) but we really need a few hours just to get there and back.

Maintaining Ties of Kinship

We go there to maintain ties of kinship and to continue the warm relationship my mother had with her. Ah Kum is a very cheery and positive person, full of kindness and though she did not have much money (uncle was sick for a long time and she had to raise the kids herself) she is a very rich and warm person. All her poor relatives from villages would use her house as stopover and she had to find money to buy food to feed them. She could never refuse anyone of them.

She used to tell my mom "I may not have money to help the needy but I use my time, skills and energy to contribute". I feel sad she is not Muslim yet. Sometimes the behaviour and attitude of such people are much better than those who claim to be Muslim. Allah knows best.

This lady has self dignity and never announced her need for help. She would share her problems and joys with mother and be there for each other.

Dignity in Poverty

Yesterday we had a long conversation. Reminiscing old times. She remembered my mom and shared this with me, about her poverty and how she felt sometimes :

"One day your mother asked me to visit her as she needed my assistance. I had to walk from Kampung Baru all the way to Bukit Bintang where she stayed. I was too shy to tell her I needed money to travel there. Walked with my eldest child in my hand, just kept walking until we reached there. Do you know how far it is from my house?" Yes it is really far.

"My daughter was really tired and kept asking me to travel in a trishaw (rickshaw with a bicycle at the side). I told her I could not as I had only 5 cents in my purse. I figure that may mean around 5 dollars (ringgit) these days. I told my May that we could not afford that ride."

"Just then a plan flew overhead. May then said why don't we ride in that plane if we cannot ride in the trishaw? I felt so sad and overwhelmed that tears just poured out from my heart. "

Those were her exact words.

Tears Just Poured Out from my Heart

I am touched by her phrase that tears come from heart and not from the eyes. People with all the comforts of this worldly life will not know the pain and suffering of the needy. Yes my Ah Kum was dignified even in poverty. She kept repeating that only my mother shared her food and clothing with her. Others just took everything for granted.

She said an aunt was even angry with her for accepting my mother's help. I never knew that - how can people be so mean. If they think its wrong then they should make effort to help instead of criticizing.

So Hard to Break the News

Now my mother has passed on I do try to maintain ties of silatul rahim with her friends and there is another favourite aunt in Singapore who has to be informed of my mother's passing I dread calling her as she would be very sad to hear this. When I finally called Ah Kum, about 2 months after my mother passed away, she burst out crying over the phone. She kept asking why I did not tell her my mother was seriously ill.

How can I tell her?

How can I tell her that? She herself is already elderly and would need her family to take her to the hospital. If they had no time she would be even more upset. She would have to walk a great distance to reach the ward. And they do not lend their wheelchairs to anyone other than patients. I did not want to trouble or alarm her.

Its Taqdir - Allah is Most Merciful
to take her away from worldly suffering

I had been rushing to the hospital daily and then the hospital transferred her to another place, which turned out to be a disaster. She had a stroke there and they did not even realise it. Its such a shame. I accept its taqdir (fated) but it tells us about the quality of service and attitude towards patients, especially the elderly.

I never expected my mother to go just like that, hardly 3 weeks after her heart treatment. I know we can go anytime but we always have hope....

Are the Elderly worth less than the Young?
What gives them the right to judge?

Are the elderly not worthy of better care and treatment? All the old folks have a rich history and had many achievements which may be forgotten through the years. They raised their families and made many sacrifices. Some were heroes and heroines in their own way. Now people just call them old people. They do not have much time or respect for the frail and aged. Do not forget that one day, we will be considered as plain old people too.

Did Anyone Really Listen?

Everything seemed fine and organised at the hospital but being a training hospital, every doctor who wanted to speak to me did not have any idea at all about their new patient. They asked the same old questions and were not really listening to me about her special needs. Even after I had written a lengthy report to explain her particular condition and background. Wonder if anyone read it at all.

Do People Go to Hospitals to Live or to Die?

Just hope they do not continue to treat others in this way. I accept what has happened but do not deprive others a fair chance of surviving though the date of our departure in this world is predetermined by Allah SWT. People do not go to hospital to die - they go because they want to live. At least let them live well until its time to go. That's all I ask.

Creamy Onion Soup Recipe

Haven't made onion soup for years! Its quite delicious served with some crispy garlic bread floating on top of the hot soup. Serves 4 with some fresh green salad and extra bread.

Creamy Onion Soup

12 oz onions - finely sliced.
Melt 2 oz butter and cook gently over low heat, stirring until soften and golden brown -
about 10 minutes.

1 and 1/2 level tablespoon of flour - sprinkle in and stir again until it is absorbed by the butter.

1 pint water - add in slowly, stirring all the time
Season with salt and pepper and bring the soup to boil.
Reduce heat, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes until onions are soft.

Now add in 1/2 pint milk and stir again.
Reheat until almost but not quite boiling. Serve very hot.

You can sieve it or add in a little cream for a thicker soup.
I quite like the soup without cream so perhaps just replace the milk with water.

The quantity for the liquid can be adjusted to suit our own taste. Do not add all in but add more if necessary. Onion soup should be a little thick but light. Does that make sense?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

PDFM Open Day Gathering Menu and quick recipes

Utterly Buttery Butter Cakes

Made 3 utterly buttery buttercakes today. I could not find salted butter and decided to experiment to find out the ratio of salt to flour for the cakes. Alhamdulillah my estimation was good and the cakes were not salty but tasty. I love real buttercakes.

Ratio of salt to add to unsalted butter

tip : 3/4 level tsp of salt to 20 ozs unsalted butter.I used lots of egg in my recipe so its just nice.
Practical and quick method - blend 20 ozs of slightly softened unsalted butter with 3/4 tsp salt and check for taste. It must taste like the usual salted butter. Do not make it too salty or the cake will be salty too. Just a touch of salt to bring out the flavours.

For garlic bread spread : Cut out 2 1/4 oz (1/4 block) of softened unsalted butter
place it in a small container and mix in 1/2 tsp salt. Stir
well. Add some freshly ground black pepper and add a tsp
or more of freshly minced garlic. Stir well and add more
garlic if desire. Keep this covered in a small container.

Easy to prepare garlic bread in a mini toaster - just butter the
number of pieces you wish. No need to heat up the electric oven.
I like this method as it saves energy. French loaf and even
sandwich bread slices are fine.

Sautee sliced mushrooms or cucumber, zuchinni or capsicum slices
using this quick garlic spread..

Breakfast on Open Day

Something light like curry puffs and sweet Malay kueh (steamed cake) for a quick breakfast before the President's address.

Guess I need to make extra cake for Sunday's Open Day at PDFM. Maybe I should bake them early in the morning so the guests can have some really hot cake for breakfast. People don't eat cake for breakfast, do they?

Chinese Food on Open Day

We are serving some Chinese food for lunch - looking forward to that. We could not get the char kwey teow seller to cook for us but found something better, insha Allah.

If I have time maybe I will make some caramel pudding as I like having some too.

Classes and Activities in English

Looking forward to the talk by Uztaz Mazlee - in English as PDFM conducts activities in a language understood by most of the members. We sometimes tell visiting speakers to speak in the language that is most helpful to the listeners. Even a combination is fine so long the message is delivered clearly.

Converts Association Open Day this Sunday 27 Feb

We've Moved!

Alhamdulillah! We are now at Bandar Sri Damansara, a nice quiet area with plenty of parking space. People come and go, things change. Our members are living in different areas, really far from our new place. Two in Ampang, one in Rawang, two in Shah Alam and another in Kajang. Alhamdulillah there are several of us still in Bandar Utama and Tropicana. They do make effort to do activities together but not as often as we like.

Address at : 21-2, Jln Meranti SD 13/4, PJU 9, Bandar Sri Damansara.

Its easy to get there :
Going from Taman Tun towards Ikea, go straight towards toll to MRR2 nearby.
Keep left and immediately after the toll turn into Bandar Sri Damansara at small road on left.
At the traffic lights turn right and keep going for quite a distance. You will then see shop houses on the right , across the road.

After passing McDonald's keep right and turn at traffic light.
Keep going straight, past the small hawker stalls, fruit stalls and the low cost apartments and school. When you see the last row of shophouses on the right turn into the Yukie Restaurant and Restaurant Al Bayinah. PDFM is on same row as Yukie, in bright green.Next to purple shop.

Insha Allah you will not miss it. Its very green !!! :) Now I know why our President chose this colour - can be seen from a distance. We may have tents and canopy on Open Day.

Open Day

Life goes on. We are having Open Day to introduce ourselves to the new neighbourhood. Perhaps we can share our facilities with the residents, especially reverts and school children.

Persatuan Darul Fitrah Malaysia is a convert and dawah association. Our main activity is convert support, silatul rahim and seeking beneficial knowledge. We also raise funds for the needy and have 'actively ' helped to take care' of several convert families for the past 10 years.

Some Families assisted by the Association and individual members
Case 1

Almost blind reflexologist and his wife. She became alienated from her family because she chose to marry a partially blind man who also happens to be Muslim. They have a young child, living in difficult conditions as it is difficult for him to earn a decent living.

Case 2

Security guard who has 3 children. 2 of his children have done quite well in the recent exams. He finds his salary insufficient and had been asking for help everywhere for the past few years. We recently gave him some start up capital to buy ingredients to cook and sell nasi lemak etc.

Case 2

Convert brother who gave up a well paid job as a bouncer as his wife convinced him to seek a job that is more appropriate for a Muslim. After resigning he could only obtain a job as a driver. Plus overtime he earns only around RM1000. With 9 children it is very difficult for him to make ends meet. We try to help the children in their education and some milk for his baby. However we can see he has a very happy family and they practise Islam together.

Case 4

Sole bread winner of a family with 3 kids. Husband in jail and terrifies her even when he is behind bars. Pending judgement, she leads a very insecure life and tries hard to support her children on her own. She is very sickly and suffers from asthma and bodily aches all the time. Insha Allah her faith is strong but there were many difficult moments because of her trying circumstances.

Case 5

Revert who does not have family support. She has SLE or Lupus, an autoimmune disease. She has to walk with a metal bar in her leg as her bones are brittle and weak. She will have fainting spells and be carried off in an ambulance from the office from time to time. Every 5 years she has to have the metal removed and a new one inserted. She had to withdraw her EPF money to pay for the metal etc. This sister at one time resorted to borrowing money from money lenders who threatened her.

Case 6

Elderly Chinese revert with no family. He is an asthma patient and sometimes sleep at different masjids. It is sad to see our brothers and sisters struggling on their own. Last Sunday I met him and he voiced his frustration.

He said he tried to show people his note that states he is very ill and needs money to pay for his medical prescription. We know he is genuinely sick as he had an attack and had to be sent to he hospital in an ambulance while visiting Perkim Bangsar.

Apparently the medication he got from hospital was not helping him. He said no one bothered to read his note and they ignored him. He was at a special talk by a famous guest speaker. It is sad because the speaker was just talking about charity and why we must give as much as we can to help the need and to promote Islam.

Apparently these people just came only just to listen. Its sad as they were busy with their own friends. Islam is not like that. He looked pale and haggard, a great change from the last time I saw him.

At one stage we 'adopted' some orphans (in a small way) in Kuala Terengganu. Most of the children have grown up now and we are interested to reactivate our support there insha Allah. May Allah make our hearts generous and be willing to share with others.I do believe the more you give the more you will get in return. Allah knows best. He is the best Provider.

These people are poor, not so educated and lack opportunities of getting knowledge and support. Knowledge, support and kindness can increase their iman. When they practise with knowledge insha Allah their rezeki may also increase.

Success Stories - people who survived their tests

There are several success stories of people who rose above their challenges . There are also those who try hard to be independent, they are patient and have do not like to ask for charity. If they are needy and do not ask, we have to find them and give them help. Muslims should be proactive and not wait to asked or make people beg.

Some judge those who ask repeatedly and refuse to help even if they can easily afford to. They feel that the money the possess belongs to them. Actually all rezeki comes from Allah and we are not the true owners.

Wealth does not belong to us

We only actually own what we have spent on our food and clothing. Any wealth left by us did not belong to us at all. It now ' belongs' to those who inherit from us. Any wealth spent on charity and in the way of Allah belonged to us and the rewards will be sent ahead of us. This is our true wealth because Allah will compensate us greatly for spending in His way.

Talk by Uztaz Mazlee - do not miss it!

Join us this Sunday at 9.30am. At 10.30 am there will be an hour talk by Uztaz Mazlee in English. There will be a Q and A session after that so fire away!!!

Chinese Lunch

We will break for lunch at around 12.30am, something simple but we are happy that we managed to get Chinese fare. Being Chinese we are never tired of eating halal Chinese food though we also enjoy Western and Asian dishes too. Pot luck welcome too. We are so blessed in Malaysia - we can choose any food we like and can choose halal. Alhamdulillah!

Comfortable and Friendly

Come over to have a look at our place. Its simple but comfortable. We have a fairly good library and magazines and books that cover other areas like health, cooking, sewing and parenting.
Look out for our cooking sessions - some sisters are already impatiently waiting for our announcements.

Past Cooking Demo Achievements

In the past our members shared their favourite recipes and we enjoyed the fruits of our labour after the demonstrations. We learnt wantan noodles, dry with soya and oyster sauce, and also with steaming hot soup and soft dumplings. We did lasagne, delicious fish curry, mushroom soup, garlic bread and hot buns. Also trifle, pancakes, creme caramels, butter cakes, chocolate cake, pizza, phyllo pastries with feta cheese and pine nuts and spinach,and sausage rolls.

Mediterranean baked chicken, baked lamb, Moroccan chicken dishes, strawberry meringue cake, cookies, Chinese dumplings, kueh ang koo, chicken pongteh, fresh egg noodles, prawn mee and evenIndian dishes like dalcha, tomato chicken and mutton keema .

We encourage members to take turns to share their favourite recipes. Sometimes we get together to cook dinner and share some ideas and knowledge on health and exercise.


Members can make suggestions on how to make the organisation more interesting and beneficial to the community. We are considering a photography club where members can take outings to take photographs. Travelling, eating, shooting and appreciating Allah's creations - multi purpose and great for all ages!!

Our usual Uztaz , Ezry Fahmy volunteers once a week at 6pm every Saturday - if you have any questions regarding Islamic finacing or syariah, he is the right man to approach. We discuss all sorts of topics ranging form Islamic financing, riba, gold and muamalat. He is taking a short break to prepare for his wedding. Classes will resume mid March.

In the meantime we will continue to hold Saturday gatherings and friends are welcome to come by to join us. Do give us a call become coming. An sms is best. Get our numbers when you come for Open Day.

Ladies Pampering Day

Sometimes we need to spend a couple of hours just pampering ourselves and relaxing. We help to apply henna on each other's hair, do neck massage, cook, eat and relax ... We discuss cooking, do counselling, give advice, motivate, share knowledge on Islam and health. There are lots of things to do on pampering day. No fixed rules, just learn to relax and let the stress of working and responsibilities melt away.....

Health Activities

Sometimes we meet and eat only healthy food, like salads, fruit juices etc. We talk about healthy recipes, ideas and even invite some friends to talk about bekam and acupuncture. Two months ago we had a bekam session with male and female therapists to help us. Alhamdulillah!

Join Us to Help Ourselves and Others

These are just some activities we had carried out. The Association is just an empty shell if it is not filled with people who want to learn and share with each other. Join us to seek beneficial knowledge and to serve Allah SWT by serving mankind. Encourage children to love Islam and become good citizens who are happy to contribute to society.

Giving charity, seeking and sharing knowledge and giving moral support to each other keeps us strong, healthy and happy insha Allah.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mariamah KL Launch

Mariamah Launch

Alhamdulillah! Mariamah KL will launch on 3rd and 4th March 2011. Beautiful new garments from our new collection.

Beautiful Abayas

Mariamah abayas are refreshingly simple and modern, well cut and hang beautifully. They are simply elegant and fun to wear.

The clothes are tasteful and suitable for almost all occasions. Yes, you can wear a Mariamah outfit from morning to night. To work, to shop, to attend even formal functions. Dress up or dress down, marvellous! Easy wearing, comfortable and elegant - what more do we want?

3rd (Thursday) and
4th March (Friday )

We have chosen 2 separate days. We have chosen 4th instead of 6th as some people are unable to come on Suday. Do give me an sms or email me for further information. Join us for coffee and cake. (Insha Allah I shall bake a buttercake for the occasion)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why the Silence????? It's Deafening!!!

Yeah, been so busy the past 2 weeks that I totally forgot about my blog. Actually I do not remember I have this blog most of the time. I only sometimes remember when I am about to turn in for the night. By then all I want to do is catch up on my sleep.

People tell me they read my blog, some even say they enjoy reading it. But they do not bother to follow - I can accept that, there are just too many blogs and FB to go through.

But it would be great if someone could leave some constructive and positive comments and feedback. Writing by myself and reading it myself is really boring, I do not really need to do that.

I need some interaction. Please remember the words are written by a living human being, sharing her thoughts, in fast flow writing. Sometimes it may not sound too pleasing or cosmetic but its meant to be that way. Bare and Naked thoughts, sharing about somethings that I experienced and some thoughts that may benefit others. There are other more controversial issues, but definitely can't publish that here!!!

I do not have all the answers - who does? But maybe the values I share may make someone out there reflect upon their own direction. Or maybe they have something valuable to share with me. I guess I too had not been making comments in blogs I read.

Are we all keeping quite for the same reason? That we are not ready to comment or critique someone? It can be done in a kind and gentle way. Or spontaneously, which is what I often do, and then wonder if the person would take it personally or be overly sensitive? I guess some have, though that means they will be missing out on sincere sharing. I do not like to beat around the bush- gets nowhere except going round and round...

If our answer or sharing is positive, sincere and of general benefit, maybe we should get over our inhibitions and start interacting! Sharing positively is good and we can make new friends when we contribute sincerely and humbly. So, what say you? And you and you...????

Do Not Presume We Know All The Answers

Assuming We Know

I'm not talking about some big issue - just about our amazing ability to presume many things casually. More than twice I saw a nice Malay kopitiam close its doors early, around 5 pm. I thought, "Poor thing, can business be that bad? They let the staff close shop though the complex closes at 10 pm?." " Shouldn't they try to sell as much as they can instead of giving up?."

Usually the shop did look kind of empty whenever I passed by it. Maybe it was off peak hours, I didn't notice.

Anyway, we decided to have a late lunch there, around 4pm. The food was really nice and prices reasonable. By 5pm they were beginning to close the doors. I was really surprised as there were at least 7 people eating at that time. I was curious and asked the waiter why were they closing.

"Kami ada katering" came the reply. Oh! That's a pleasant surprise. I was happy to hear that they were actually closing because they had too much business to handle, not the other way round.

Common Sense

It just needs some common sense to promote proper public relations. All they need to do is put out a sign that says they are closed because of catering orders. Or take a part time staff to serve customers. Nobody likes to go all the way to a restaurant only to find it closed - AGAIN!

Simple Solution

Sometimes it only needs a simple action to improve the image of a company. A glass can look half empty or half full. We should present a positive and honest image to the public. That is the Islamic spirit. Insha Allah to conduct business in an honourable way, at a reasonable price with good service and quality.

Book Preview at Zu's Home

Mid night Baking Again

Alhamdulillah! I managed to finish baking a chocolate marble butter cake past midnight for the book preview the next day. I am so blessed to have such kind and wonderful friends who helped organise this event for me. Zu, her sister Zawiyah and Yasmin took the trouble to organise and sponsor all the delicious food for brunch. I truly appreciate their thoughtfulness.

How an Idea Grew into a Book

Yasmin shared with the audience about how the idea of the book began. She further emphasised that it is also an ongoing dawah effort to share and motivate our sisters to dress modestly.

Joy of Dressing

I talked about transition and journey of writing the book. I also mentioned the joy of dressing in a way that pleases Allah SWT. We must never forget our identity! We are Muslima, walking Ambassadors of Islam.

This is because people often judge Islam from the behaviour of the Muslims. Just as there are good Muslims and there are also bad ones. People usually overlook contributions of the good ones and remember only the bad or evil behaviour of others who are probably very ignorant. Muslims with true knowledge would never want to disobey Allah SWT deliberately.

'The Beauty of Covering Up' as a Gift with a Message

Most of the ladies who attended the preview were already dressed modestly. Yet they took the trouble to attend the preview to support our dawah effort and to enjoin silatul rahim, sisterhood in Islam. And they gave further support by buying the books for their own collection and some for giving away as gifts with a message.

Brunch was a Tasty Treat!

Brunch was quite impressive! Of course the beautiful surroundings and tranquility of the beautiful home created a very cosy ambience. Sister Rayhana brought a plateful of pastel coloured mini cupcakes - so cute and appetising!

Zu and her sister sponsored the potato lasagne, tuna puffs, Malay kueh, drinks and even the eco friendly disposable plates, forks and spoons! Yasmin cooked fried mihun (rice vermicelli) and brought sausage rolls and cream puffs etc. Wasn't that a real treat? This is Malaysian hospitality.

Clothes and Scarves

Zawiyah was my first customer. She selected a Chinese long dress in brilliant greenish blue woven fabric that was light and cool. A guest bought a matt golden brown long dress with smocked effect and beading. It was a new piece from Dubai.

Quite a number of scarves were sold quickly. I managed to source some of the latest designs just two days before. There are so many wonderful choices these days that the scarf industry is thriving at a great speed. I made sure they are reasonably priced to encourage more people to cover themselves beautifully.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chinese New Year

Gong Xi Fa Cai - Kong Hee Fatt Choy - Wishing You Prosperity

All meaning the same. I had forgotten my blog again - been busy baking Filipino Moist Chocolate cakes the past few days. And managed to complete my Fondant Orange Buttercake for hantaran. Taking cake orders are beginning to stress me. I like people to bite into tasty soft and fresh cakes. Some of my customers want to collect them early and send the cakes a few days later, at their own convenience. When people consume the cake they may find it not as nice as the last time they had it. Little did they know that the cake was sitting quietly in some corner for a few days in transit before they were delivered.

Watch Out for Preservatives in our Home Baked Foods

Some cooks and bakers do resort to preservatives and stabilizers. Yes, do not think all home cooked food are healthy and nice. A supplier once told me even housewives buy preservatives for their goods. And some of them buy the cheapest kind, probably lowest quality. I shudder at that thought. Always trusted 'housewives' but now some of them have become hardened businesswomen.