birthday reminiscence

The 9th of June every year has always coincided with some holiday or another. The past three birthdays were spent in the UK as I was studying there, and I always did something or other. The first year in 2013 on my 20th birthday, I went punting on the River Wear with my corridor mate, Eiffel. It was a brilliant sunny day and I had a good laugh at Eiffel not being able to punt very well. We then walked around Durham and had a nice meal.

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Me punting on the River Wear

On my 21st birthday, I took an hour train ride to the medieval city of York and spent time with my bestie, Aliyyah. It was another beautiful sunny birthday! We went to a chocolate factory and learnt about Rowntree’s history whilst nibbling on free samples. I got excited when I walked through The Shambles a.k.a. Diagon Alley, hoping Hagrid would appear. He didn’t, but it felt magical nonetheless.

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Me standing in the middle of The Shambles

A day after my final exam ended in my final year, I hopped on a plane to Munich. There I joined my other bestie, Dinie, and her brother. A week of travelling in Europe! On the 9th, which was the third (or was it fourth?) day of Ramadan, we were in Rome. We took in the sights and sounds but had to resist the taste of pizza and 90 cents coffee. It was the best birthday yet.

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Me with Dinie at the Colosseum

This year, I’m in Malaysia. The 9th of June fell on a Friday, a working day, but I had decided to take the day off because no hell way was I going to get stuck in the office the whole day. So, I spent the day basically at home relaxing. Quite a contrast compared to previous years but I think wouldn’t have it any other way. It had been a long time since I was at home for my birthday so it was a good change.

I spent the morning watering the plants and absorbing the vitamin D. The afternoon was spent editing videos, watching YouTube videos, editing and posting photos on Instagram, replying thank yous to people who sent me birthday wishes, keeping tabs on the UK snap election, and rolling on my bed. A pretty chilled birthday.

For dinner, my mum, brother and I went to BMS Organic, which is an organic vegetarian restaurant. I brought along my cake that I had ordered. It was a raw vegan cheesecake by Aesthetic Eats. I loved every bit of it and I was amazed by how it was absolutely raw! I was also given another cake — a vegan chocolate cake — by a colleague at work. That was a total surprise but a much appreciated one.

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The chocolate cake that my colleague surprised me with
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The raw vegan cheesecake with a personalised message!
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creamy!

We then went to watch a movie, The Mummy, because my mum loves Tom Cruise. I think it wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t very great either. I liked the message of sacrificing oneself for the one you love, albeit a bit cliché. All in all, I was glad to spend time with my mum and brother (and my gorgeous plants). I definitely had a pleasant birthday.

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Sambal Tempeh | VEGAN

I realised that I haven’t put up a recipe of my current favourite dish so here you go!

ingredients

2 cloves of garlic

3 cloves of shallot

1/2 of big onion

2 tbsp of blended red chilli

peanuts (optional but recommended)

tempeh (cut into small pieces)

salt

sugar

oil

method

  1. Blend the chillies (however much you want – you can keep the extra in the fridge). Alternatively, you can use chilli paste but I can’t guarantee it wil be as tasty.
  2. Crush the shallot and garlic using pestle and mortar.
  3. Add oil to the pan and heat it. Fry the tempeh until golden brown.
  4. Take out the tempeh and put it aside.
  5. Fry the crushed shallot and garlic.
  6. Add the blended chilli and continuously stir for a few minutes.
  7. Add the cut big onion.
  8. Add the cooked tempeh back in.
  9. Add peanuts if you want some crunch!
  10. Add salt & sugar to taste.

Because this is not baking, you can adjust the measurements according to your taste. That’s why I prefer cooking rather than baking – you can just throw in anything and however much you like! Except for salt, of course.

This is absolutely delicious and if you do try to make this, let me know!

PS: more tips in the caption underneath the pictures below!

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cut the onions and garlic into small pieces
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crush the shallots and garlic
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before blending the chillies, remember to remove the seeds unless you can stand the heat! Also, soak the chillies in water for about an hour so that it’s a bit creamier.
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remember to fry the tempeh first before frying everything else!
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fry the shallot and garlic
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add the blended chilli/paste
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add the cut big onion
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finally add the tempeh
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enjoy!
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steamy-licious!

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Vegan Meetup @ LN Fortunate Coffee

It had been months since the last meetup in October and I was starving! I mean, not only for delicious vegan food, but I was also starving for great company. And by great company, I mean those who share similar values of caring for the Earth and the animals, and who emanate good vibes and pure compassion.

I need more of that in my life and so when I found out about this meetup and knew that I’ll be free on the 25th of March for a wholesome lunch, I absolutely couldn’t resist.

This was my second time stepping into LN Fortunate Coffee. I loved the interior design. Parts of the walls were covered with wood and the rest were painted white. The tables were also made of wood with matching chairs. Overall, this cafe had a minimalist vibe, very neat and clean, and it felt homely.

This meetup (as well as other vegan meetups, I’m sure) was proof of how beneficial and great social media is. The event was created on Facebook and those who wished to go can mark themselves as “Going”. This would enable the event organiser to inform the cafe the attendance a couple of days prior to the event. Very useful and efficient.

The 30 or so people came. The atmosphere was abuzz with delightful chatter. I felt like I was meeting old friends although some of them I’ve known for only several months and the rest for the first time. I liked that I didn’t have to explain myself as a vegan and that the conversation could progress further than “where do you get your protein?”.

While waiting for our food (I ordered lasagna), Raw Chef Yin gave a presentation on raw vegan food. She teaches people on how to make those healthy meals. Her creations are ingenious and delicious — all without heating up food above 45 degrees C (I think). She even brought samples for us to try out like Vanilla Coconut Bites, Cucumber Cumin Crackers, Vegan Sambal Belacan, Chocolate Sauce, and different flavoured Water Keffir (Passionfruit, Jasmine, Chrysanthemum). All RAW and all SO DELICIOUS!

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picture by Raw Chef Yin

 

While devouring our delicious food, we had a good chat with each other. I got to hear more about Chef Yin’s experience with raw food and also Jeremy’s (the cafe owner) business on green energy. It’s really inspiring listening to other people’s stories and what amazing things they have done in their lives.

I also had waffles with matcha and coffee ice cream for dessert. I mean, who can resist this?

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I think I spent about 3 hours there and it was one of the best lunches (if not the best) I’ve had this year so far 🙂

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With Rina (left) and Chef Yin
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With Jeremy the cafe owner

At around half past three, a few of us decided to go to Publika to check out the Eco Festival. It consisted mostly of booths selling environmentally-friendly products and also some performances. There was a booth selling freshly made vegan wraps and cookies by the amazing Davina aka Davina Da Vegan. Very catchy name 😉 We tried her hummus wrap and also the tempeh roll. They were SO good!

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Davina Da Vegan

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So yeah that was a fun Saturday! It’s always so nice to meet up with fellow vegans and I always wish that I could see them more often. The time with them will always be cherished and I’m eternally grateful for their presence and positive energy.

Be kind and love one another. Embrace the vegan vibe!

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Sustainable Consumption & Production | #BB4SCP

On the 1st of December, I had the opportunity to attend a 3-day workshop or conference organised by WWF Malaysia and EcoKnights. This was the first youth conference on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) in this country. Therefore, I was one of the pioneers, which was obviously a great honour.

Most of the participants were university students, which was not a surprise since that was the organiser’s target group. But anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 could attend. I fit into the category just fine and so I asked permission from my employer to attend this conference as part of the training hours that each employee is given.

Thankfully, my colleague also attended the conference so at least I had a familiar face to go to. But really I got along with the attendees there that I hardly felt alienated. We all shared a similar interest in conserving the environment albeit in different ways. And that was enough to create an easy friendship.

The first day consisted of ice-breaking sessions and various introductory talks on the topic of sustainability, namely sustainable wood, palm oil and fishing. I might write individual blog posts on each topic, as it is difficult to summarise such big and important topics. But generally, the talks given highlighted the realness of climate change backed up by science facts. And most of the impacts we see today are the direct result of human intervention.

We were indeed active participants. Many of us asked questions and give our opinions, which was quite unlike the general perception of Malaysian students. But then again, we were not the typical sort. Our minds are progressive and our hearts compassionate. Even so, those of us who preferred to not speak our thoughts had a chance to write them onto sticky notes that were put on a designated wall and probably collected by the organisers for future perusal. In any case, they made a point that our thoughts will – and must – be heard.

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my contribution

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On our second day, we were split into two groups for an outdoor excursion — one group was to visit a wet market, and the other to the headquarters of the Energy Commission. I was in the latter group, which was a relief because I wouldn’t want to go to a wet market to witness various sea creatures being sold as food. As the only vegan at the conference, I don’t think I could bear it regardless of them being caught sustainably.

The Energy Commission or Suruhanjaya Tenaga was located in Putrajaya. It is known as the Diamond Building because of — you guessed it — the Diamond shape of the building! Well, actually you can’t really see it from the ground but looking at aerial shots of the building, it is indeed a Diamond.

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Shine Bright Like A Diamond! (image from http://www.p-perdana.com)

What’s special about this building is the green technology incorporated into its design. There are photo voltaic (solar) panels on the rooftop, which contribute to 10% of the energy consumption. There were also water tanks on the roof to harvest rainwater for irrigation for plants grown around the building. The rainwater is also used to supply water in the toilet.

The Diamond structure of the building was purposeful. Sunlight is able to be reflected from the ground and into the building without the heat because the walls lined with glass windows were at an angle, not allowing direct sunlight to enter. The dome in the middle of the building allows an abundance of natural sunlight to enter thus minimising the need for fluorescent lamps in the building. Furthermore, the white painted walls play a role in reflecting sunlight within the building. Basically, good lighting (for selfies) can be got almost everywhere in the building!

The building was no doubt specifically constructed to be efficient, reflecting the profile of the Energy Commission. A couple of talks were given mostly about energy efficiency and renewable energy. I was very much interested in where Malaysia is going in terms of renewable energy and so I was quite pleased on hearing that solar energy is taking root. What many may not know is that solar panels can be installed within the home compound such as on roofs or on a considerably sized land, and you may use the energy generated or effectively sell it to the grid and you would only pay a lesser amount for your electricity bills.

There are of course certain conditions to installing solar panels. For example, if you use more than a certain amount of energy from your solar panels i.e. more than 72 kWh, you would have to let the energy commissions know. That means you can’t really live off-grid in luxury. You can live off-grid without the need to tell anyone if your energy consumption (from solar) is less than 72 kWh. At least I think that’s what they meant.

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On the final day, we headed to Encorp Strand Mall for the public forum. There was the guest of honour, Jens Brinckmann, who is from Germany and currently works at the German embassy in KL as a counsellor for economic, commercial and environmental affairs. One thing to note is that this event was supported by WWF Germany. Hence, the presence of Herr Brinckmann.

A few other speakers gave their talks: Thiagarajan Nadeson, the head of market and education at WWF Malaysia, who summarised the role and importance of SCP nationally and internationally; Benjamin Loh, manager of WWF Malaysia who spoke about sustainable palm oil; and Oga Chan, a community builder, who presented about the various sustainable small businesses and efforts in this country.

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the fair and getting know the various ecocentric small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Biji-biji is by far my favourite because they are geared towards upcycling materials and turning into bags or wallets — embracing the ethical fashion. They also teach woodworking and simple electronics engineering for a greener lifestyle.

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I really enjoyed this event and I’m truly grateful to have experienced it with like-minded, environmentally aware and passionate people. Not only was this my first time attending an event focused on the environment, but it was also my first experience living in a dorm with 11 other girls – it was great!

This conference really fueled my passion for being a guardian or khalifah of the Earth. I got to learn more about the environmental issues in Malaysia and the move towards sustainable consumption. I also got to watch Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, which I had been wanting to see for many months! It’s crazy to think that despite it being produced 10 years ago, it is still very much relevant.

So with all the knowledge I’ve gathered, it is now my duty to spread it around. It is so important for each human being to care as much for the Earth as they do the people they love. This is simply because without the fertile land we currently live on, there can be no people to love.

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for more info about the event, visit the BB4SCP website!

Chocolate Chip Cookies [VEGAN]

I took this recipe from this blog, which the author got it from this blog! I made only minor alterations—I doubled the quantity and added cocoa powder 🙂

Below is what I did, yielding about 40 yummy cookies.

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ingredients:

  1.     4 cups all-purpose flour
  2.     2 tsp baking soda
  3.     2 tsp baking powder
  4.     1 tsp salt
  5.     1/2 cup cocoa powder
  6.     1 cup coconut oil
  7.     2 cups brown sugar
  8.     1/2 cup plant milk (I used soy)
  9.     2 tbsp vanilla extract
  10.     1 cup chocolate chips

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)

method:

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celcius.

Combine the dry ingredients (numbers 1 – 4).

In a separate bowl, mix 6 – 9. I used a whisk but I guess you can just use a big spoon. The mixture will be liquidy.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix well. The dough will be crumbly, which is perfectly okay! Here you can add in the chocolate chips. I had a short supply of those so I added them after I’ve rolled the dough onto the baking pan. But if you have loads, just mix them in! 

I then added the cocoa powder. I didn’t add in earlier because I wanted the cookies to have a marble pattern. 

Roll the dough into a tbsp sized balls and place them on an ungreased baking sheet and flatten them out with your palm. Again, the dough may be crumbly but smoosh it together and it will be fine!

Bake for 10 minutes (and only 10 mins max or else it will burn!). Let the cookies cool and they will harden up a bit. 

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VERDICT

The cookies were soft like Subway cookies. Nicely sweet and with a tinge of saltiness. I was not quite satisfied with the chocolate chips — they didn’t melt at all! So I might try a different brand next time.

I brought the cookies to my cousin’s brithay celebration. I did intend to bake something for that occasion and I settled upon this simple snack. And they were praised by many! One of my cousins liked them so much that he couldn’t quite believe they were vegan. Or maybe he was just teasing me… :p

Thank you Vegan Housewives for coming up with the recipe. It’s super simple and delicious as well!

So, what are you waiting for? Fill up your pantry and get baking! Good luck and enjoy x

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