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Oh don't worry. Whales don't eat clownfish, they eat krill.

Currently Reading: Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdom (Series)

tales of the five hundred kingdoms

Lately, I’ve been going through my collection of high fantasy novels, taking a break after all that vampire stuff for a while. My current reading list includes the first four books from the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdom series by Mercedes Lackey. This series is basically a re-imagining of the different fairy tales that we grew up with, like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. Add in a dash of romance, magic and battles, you get the wonderful series

The Fairy Godmother
The first book of the series gives us an introduction to the Five Hundred Kingdoms and how the Fairy Godmothers steer the Tradition, which is the magical force that determines how things turn out, into the path of least danger and hopefully happiness. This story tells of what happens to a girl who was supposed to be the Cinderella of the kingdom, but due to circumstances that prevent her from fulfilling her role in the Tradition, ends up being a Godmother.

Being the first book that started me on the series, I have to say, this is my favourite out of the lot that I have. Strong female characters who are on equal footing with their partners, are always a good read.

One Good Knight
This is like Clash of the Titans. Ya know, princess being offered to the creature as sacrifice to protect the kingdom? What if there’s more to it than just simply to keep the kingdom safe? This book introduces dragons, a very special knight and a very smart princess.

Once again, you have strong, smart female characters. See a trend here?

Fortune’s Fool
Katya, seventh daughter of the Sea King, is the eyes and ears of her father on dryland. When she meets Sasha, the seventh son, Fortunate Fool and Songweaver of the King of Led Belarus, sparks fly and they fall in love. As always, something happens and they get separated, leaving Katya to figure a way out the danger she’s in and Sasha, finding a way to get to her, with help from unexpected places.

I’ve never heard of the folklore of the seventh child until I read this story. I don’t know much about it other than the fact that the seventh child is granted with special powers or gifts.

Totally not relating to this story, the only seventh child I know of is Seventh Son of the Seventh Son by Iron Maiden.

The Snow Queen
The Snow Queen, Godmother Aleksia, is falsely accused of stealing men and killing whole villagers. When she discovers that an imposter had claimed Aleksia’s title as her own and is the one causing all the disappearances and deaths, Aleksia goes out to fix the problem herself.

I don’t know much of the story of the Snow Queen other than she takes little boys who are naughty. That’s about it. To me, this is the weakest of the four books. The ending was abrupt and hurried.

As I was looking for pictures of the book covers, I discovered that there’s a fifth book in this series, The Sleeping Beauty, which I’ve yet to read. I think a trip to the book store is in order the next time I’m in town.


Coffee time
Image from antwerpenR

I love coffee. I love everything about it; the taste, the smell and even the different types of it. Even the effects of caffeination is something I enjoy.

I speak really fast.

I ramble.

I feel like dancing to anything catchy (I would too, if I was alone).

I feel like writing.

I feel like running around and just doing silly things

What I don’t like is the effect of a caffeine crash.

That’s when I can’t breathe, I can’t hear very well, I get palpitations, the shakes and on rare occasions, the runs.

That still doesn’t stop me from drinking a heck load of coffee, I’m an addict that way.

Friday Foods: My Mother’s Rendang

It’s been a really long while since I posted a recipe for this column. Things have gotten a bit hectic but fear not, here’s a recipe for you.

Beef Rendang
Photo by arnold | inuyaki

One of the dishes that one must have for Eid is rendang. There are many variations of the dish, using many different types of meat. I have an aunt who makes turkey rendang. Anyway, this dish is rather easy to make, that is if you don’t take into consideration the amount of ingredients you need.

1kg of beef, sliced
5 tbs coriander
1/2 tbs fennel
1/2 tbs cumin
20 dried chillies, cut open and soaked in hot water for at least 10 minutes
4 fresh chillies
3 lemongrass
6 cloves of garlic
3 shallots
1 large onion
2 inches turmeric
2 inches ginger
2 candlenuts
15 cloves
10 cardamom seeds
2 inches cinnamon
2 star anise
400ml coconut milk
100g kerisik
4-5 slices of tamarind, soaked in water
1/2 cup oil
1 turmeric leaf

Boil the beef with a stalk of lemon grass, a clove of garlic, sliced, and half an inch of ginger, sliced.

In the mean time, ground the fennel, cumin and coriander, and set it aside.

Drain the soaked chillies and put it in the blender with the fresh chillies, garlic, shallots, onion, turmeric, ginger, candlenuts and the bottom 2 inches of the remaining two lemon grass. Fill half the blender with water and blend all the ingredients until you get a smooth paste.

In a wok, heat up the oil and fry the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and star anise for a little while before adding in the blended ingredients. Mix in the ground spices and fry until the paste is dry, lumpy and fragrant. Add in about 1 tablespoon of salt and about 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, depending on how sweet or salty you want it.

Add the fried ingredients into the pot of beef that is boiling and stir in the coconut milk, the drained tamarind and the kerisik. Slice the turmeric leaf into the pot. Pound the remaining stalks of lemon grass and add it into the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer until the beef is tender and the gravy has thickened.

Serve hot with white rice.

So Apparently, You CAN Make Chilli Without The Pre-mix

A while back, I posted about my modification to the McCormick’s chilli recipe. Yesterday, I discovered that I could actually make chilli, without using the pre-mix at all and I have to say, it tastes better too.

Dude picked my up from work and I thought, since it was nearly dinner time and what I have at home isn’t suitable for his slow-carb diet that he’s trying out after reading The 4-Hour Body, I thought, why don’t I make him dinner. The fastest thing that I could make was chilli and I could add in an extra helping of kidney beans for his carb intake. Unfortunately, the supermarket that I went to didn’t have the pre-mix and I’d ran out of it at home. So I thought, screw it, I’ll just see what I have at home and I’ll just wing it.

It worked out!


300-400g of mince meat
2tbs chilli powder
2tbs paprika powder
2tbs cayenne pepper
1-1.5tsp cumin
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomato
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can kidney beans, drained
2 tbs oil
salt to taste

Heat the oil over a large flame and dump in the onions and garlic. Sweat them out until their nice and soft and add in the chilli, cayenne and paprika powder. Fry the mixture until its lost it’s ‘fresh’ chilli scent.

Add in the meat and fry until the meat is fully cooked. Add in the cumin, tomato and beans. Mix and bring to a boil. Taste and add salt to your taste.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until it’s mostly dry, depending on how you like your chilli. Turn off the heat and serve.

Simple, huh?

Frankly, I’m Rather Sick of Mussels

mussel meal

One of the benefits (downside?) of doing a research project on mussels is that what ever mussels that do not fit the requirement for my project, either too big or too small, I get to take home or give it away to someone else. Since Dude had been helping me with not only the transportation of the darn things, he also helped me clean them and put them in tanks, it’s only natural to give him the mussels that I don’t need. What we didn’t expect was how much mussel there would be left over.

Dude took them home and cooked them and shucked them. He ended up with a kilo and a half of mussel meat which he then made into various dishes. Five days on and he still has a big bowl of mussels left and he told me that he was also getting tired of having mussels.

One very awesome benefit of dating a man who not only cooks but is also imaginative in the dishes that he comes out with, I get to taste his cooking. On one of the days that I was at his place, he made Korean mussel soup with rice cakes for me and a mussel salad for him, to go with his rice cakeless Korean mussel soup (He’s on a diet. Don’t ask.)

As good as the salad and soup were, I could barely finish it since it was day 4 of us eating mussels and I was not a great fan of bivalves in the first place. I’d only eat them if the taste of it was covered up by a lot of garlic butter sauce, like at Manhattan Fish Market.

So yes, day 4 and I’m already not looking forward to the next batch of mussels that will be coming in a few weeks. Urgh.

Why did I choose this in the first place?

So Not Ready For This


Tomorrow, I’ll be heading down to school to start with my research project. As I lay in bed this morning, thinking of the things that I need to do, I realised that I’m superbly unprepared for it. My tanks aren’t set up, I haven’t mixed the sea water and heck, so many other minute details that I need aren’t even done yet.

For the umpteenth time, I wish that I was a full-time graduate student instead of a part-time student trying to juggle school and work at the same time. I don’t have time for anything and now I’m starting to realise why my peers and my seniors before me took time off from work for a couple of months to do their project.

I’m scared. Very, very scared that I’m not able to finish my experiments and writing up my thesis by end of next year. I feel the panic starting to set in and I haven’t even started anything yet.

I know that I’ve been procrastinating a lot and yes, that’s my fault but now that it’s really starting, just thinking about the scale of the work that I’ll be doing, really scares me.

I’m just hoping for more time. Need a time turner. Like seriously.