Tuesday, February 25, 2014

No Goodbyes...Just Cherished Memories

Few months ago my mum's second sister passed away from cancer and I was blessed to see her during her last days. Yesterday, 23rd Sunday 2014 at 10.10 pm Malaysian time, Cancer took mum's youngest sister away from us too. I was in Holland when I received the news. Words are inadequate to express how one feels at times like these but I was relieved that she was finally at peace and no more in pain.

Though she never showed it but she was suffering in silence. She always put a strong front and helped others with council and in any way she could. She led a full life of helping others and right to the end she was still counceling and giving. Aunty Betty was a dedicated nurse and councillor...she touched many lives and was an inspiration to many.

Aunty Betty with one of her grandkids

Those we love remain with us for love itself lives on, and cherished memories never fade because a loved one’s gone. Those we love can never be more that a thought apart. For as long there is a memory, they’ll live on in our hearts. They walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard but always near...still loved...still missed and very dear. Wherever they are....They will always be in our hearts. With sincere heartfelt sympathy...I wish my cousins and our family members the peace to bring them comfort, the courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in their hearts. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Expat in Belgium

It's been few months now in Belgium and I have connected with other Malaysian families only once through a pastry class organised by the Malaysian Embassy. The was fun and more of a gathering connecting with other Malaysians and of course had a good spread of Malaysian favourites. The most important thing is that this one crucial meet made me feel not so alien anymore. I am adapting well and surprisingly, I love the cool weather....I can do anything at all without kicking up a sweat and it somehow gives my skin a healthy glow. 😎😊😘

The Malaysians I met that one time all live a distance away, far from train stations and they are busy with their own lives busy with family and kids. Most of them are posted to Belgium on a 2 year contract by the Embassy. What I would love to have now are friends living close by to where I live...ones who I can connect with in real time at ANY time....as companions for shopping, exploring common interests...those who are familiar with the train routes to help me familiarise with it so that I will be a little more secure taking it on my own without getting lost......companions that I can meet up with for coffee occasionally.

I have no complaints of boredom or being alone though....my time is well filled up with lots of stuff in house now too and I do meet up with the BTB group once or twice a week during their rehearsals and gigs and sometimes for pizza and chat. The beauty of this group is that it consists of a Mauritius, two Belgians and a Dutch...and with myself thrown in....that makes a mini cosmopolitan 'muhibbah' group!

On the note of Pizzas...it's really amazing that the Turk pizza and snack shops can be found in almost every area. I have to say that the pizza I had last week was way better and tastier than Pizza Hut or Dominoes pizza back home in Malaysia. They had many varieties ...100% Halal...with or without meat and many of which are suitable for vegetarians as well.

The kebabs, burgers and grilled meat plates are also simply delicious..and of course halal...and it's even double or triple the serving size than what we get back home.

The weekends are never boring...there is always something to do or somewhere to visit. I realise though that it is VERY necessary to learn either Dutch or French...best if both, to be able to move around with ease on my own and be independent. Not everyone here is able to speak English and sometimes I have to rely on sign language in supermarkets...lol. I am living in a Flemish area, so learning Dutch will be first on the list. I am also in the midst of paperwork with the commune for preparations to live in Belgium...yes I have finally decided to live in this Country that I once complained so much about being boring and slow paced. I guess my priorities or rather, my needs, and perspective of life has changed to a certain degree. It's really all in the mind and I am very grateful to my family and friends for giving me the support to make solid changes in my life. When the mind is closed...everything seems impossible and scary.....but when you keep an open mind, you will be able to see so many possibilities and positives. 

For a start, I have been exploring the different food stores that sell specific ingredients and  food items be able to bake my speciality cakes and cook typical Malaysian dishes whenever I crave for such :)

Chocolate Cheese Brownie Bars

I am now an expert though at the art of improvising ingredients to get almost the exact taste of certain Malaysian dishes. Typical home made 'sambals' and special 'rempah' and curry mixes are not a problem either as I have discovered an Asian supermarket in Brussels which has a wide variety of spices and speciality ingredients from various countries. 

Photos of my various travels, adventures and foods are shared on Instagram @sweetsharings and these include snaps from previous visits to the beautiful medieval towns in Belgium, France, Germany and Holland. I should start a private online photo blog as there are thousands more which are not on IG either....all for future throwback posts. 

My focus now is to get started on my Language classes. Feeling quite eager and enthusiastic about it. There is not much else to tell just yet as I am still with baby steps exploring all possibilities of having a quality and fulfilling life...apart from the Spiritual aspect that is. I have to admit there are many moments when I miss home very much...especially my girls and family...but belief and trust in God keeps me strong. Keeping myself busy creating in the kitchen is an escape that also helps a great deal with coping and adapting. 

Nur Diyanah Magness

Saturday, February 15, 2014

How to Make Spinach Cream Sauce

Traditional Method

  • 1/2 stick of butter (aprox 115 g) 
  • 4 tablespoons (45 g) flour
  • 1/2 whole medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg (optional) 
  • 2 tablespoons (45 g) butter
  • 350 g baby spinach
    • Prepare  your ingredients.
      Cut the onion in half. Make vertical slices very close together. Then, rotate it and cut it the other way to dice it.
    • Mince your garlic finely. Once you think it's small enough, do it a teeny bit more.
    • Grab a pot for your cream sauce. Put in 1 stick of butter over medium-low heat. If your stove runs a bit colder, put it on medium.
    • Once the butter is melted, add in 8 tablespoons (90 g) of flour.
    • Immediately start whisking and cook for five minutes. It should turn golden brown.
    • Add garlic and onions to your roux. Stir together to combine and cook for another minute.
    • Slowly add in the milk. Whisk constantly. Cook it for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. It should start to thicken.
    • Sauté the spinach. If you have another pair of hands at your disposal, make him or her whisk the cream sauce while you do the spinach.
      • Put 3 tablespoons of butter into a pot and let it melt.
      • Throw in as much of the spinach as you can. As it heats, it will shrivel and shrink and you'll be able to add more. This may take a few additions. Stir it well, flipping it to cook it evenly.
      • You want to stop cooking the spinach when it’s completely wilted but not mushy and overcooked.
    • Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to your cream sauce. By now it should be thick like gravy.
      • Spoon the spinach into the cream. Stir it gently to entirely incorporate the greens into the creaminess. Try it before you deem it too creamy or to vegetable-y. Also, if you want to spice it up, add some cayenne or chopped green chillies after adding the garlic. 
    • Serve as is or puree in food processor if you require a finer or pureed consistency. 
  • Quick & Easy Method
    • 1 (10 oz) bags of chopped spinach
    • 1 (8 oz) boxes of cream cheese. Note: (1/3) less fat cream cheese is recommended
    • 2 tbsps (45 g) of butter (optional)

    • In a medium size sauce pan or pot, prepare the spinach according to directions on the bag or box, or just wash and drain fresh spinach. 
       Place 3 tablespoons (45 g) of butter in with your spinach over medium heat
      Add in the cream cheese. Stir well till cream cheese has mostly melted. Switch to low heat and allow the cream cheese to blend in well with the spinach, while stirring continuously.
      Remove from the heat, stir, and serve or leave to cool a little before placing in food processor to puree to the consistency you desire. 
      I had it pureed ...serve over the Salmon. 

Recipe adapted from WikiHow

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