Friday, 29 August 2014

Ophelia's Shepherd's Pie

If there is any special occasion where we are required to bring a dish to share with others, I would normally choose to prepare the English Shepherd's Pie. I recently found out if you are using other than lamb's meat, it should be called Cottage Pie. Ah well, the recipe is the same. I discovered and learned the dish from my beloved aunt Polly. I only watched her did it once and then tried it on my own. It was extremely difficult to cook up the dish for the first time and it took me many hours to get it done. Over the years I have simplified some steps to make the pie easier to be prepared, hence lessened the cooking time. Well, practice makes perfect!

The ingredients for English Shepherd's Pie are as followed:
  • Onion
  • Mixed Vegetables 
  • Prego Spaghetti Tomato Sauce (I preferred Mushroom flavour)
  • Minced Beef (any minced meat will do)
  • Potatoes
  • Dutch Lady Full Cream Milk
  • Butter 
  • Salt and Pepper 

  1. Before you start cooking, peel and chop the potatoes. Then, boil them. 
  2. Chop the onion and cook it with mixed vegetables. 
  3. Once the mixed vegetables have soften, add minced beef. 
  4. Pour the Prego Spaghetti Tomato Sauce and stir all the ingredients together. Add salt and pepper. (In order to reduce the acidity of the tomato sauce, you can add a spoon full of sugar although it is optional. Some people do not like the sour taste of the sauce.) Once all ingredients are cooked, pour the whole thing into a casserole and spread it evenly as the base of your Shepherd's Pie.
  5. To prepare the mashed potato, you need to boil all the potatoes until they are really tender. After you strain the potatoes, transfer them into a larger pot. Then, mash them with a large spoon or potato masher.
  6. Add some butter to the boiling full cream milk before pouring it into the mashed potato. You can add a pinch of salt and pepper to kick it up a notch. The purpose of the milk is to soften the texture of mashed potato. Do make sure you add it little by little as you do not want to make the mashed potato too mushy. Nowadays I do not boil the milk, I just pour it directly onto the mashed potato and mix it with butter. 
  7. Cover the base or the beef with mashed potato before baking it till golden brown. Brush the top with melted butter. You will need to poke some holes before putting the Shepherd's Pie into the oven. (You would not want to see the pie burst inside the baking oven!) Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 180 degree. 
The Shepherd's Pie is best to be served warm and you might want to heat the leftover in the microwave before serving it to your loved ones. So, all the best and I hope you will enjoy my favourite English dish too!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

RWMF West Side Story 2.0

Sarawak Bloggers from left to right: Ana, Garner, me, Arizad, Veyronica, Lindy and Khairul. Not in photo: Aliey and Alyssa.

Yeah, I wrote a "West Side Story" last year. This year I decided to do the same again. It is all about my personal journey as a blogger at Rainforest World Music Festival 2014. Going back to one of the top 25 music festivals in the world would definitely make someone so stoked that you could not focus on other things days before the festival kicked off. Like everybody else, I was at RWMF all for fun and for the love of blogging. Apart from that it was a way for us to give back to our own community and Sarawak tourism particularly. Just for your information, Sarawak Bloggers did not get paid for covering the event. We were rewarded with goodie bags, free food, free beer and access to media centre's facilities. However, with great power came great responsibility. We may not need to pay for the three-days passes, but we had to write at least three articles and submit them to Sarawak Tourism Board for promotional purpose. So, it was not all play. We each had an assignment. I would not deny it was tiring but enjoyable at the same time. 

Here is a recap of RWMF 2014 I uploaded on Youtube. I had to edit the music due to a copyright issue as I was using a song by Coldplay. Then, I decided to change the music and obtained the permission from someone I followed on Vine. I am grateful Phatso Music allowed me to use all of their songs for my Youtube video.  

Passes for RWMF 2014. Made of paper. Could easily tear if you're not being careful.

I personally think the 2013 wristbands were nicer. We could wear them for three days as they were durable.

As usual you would need the media pass to go everywhere for 3 days.

Stuff inside the goodie bag. Love the official tee by Rip Curl.

I don't drink coffee, tea yes!

6 glasses of Heineken but I used none of these free tix. I gave them away! Not that I don't drink, the surrounding was too hot.

Very limited pass. One would need this for some nice photos during night concerts.

This was the most useful printed material for me during the festival. It was foldable and lots of useful information in just one piece of paper.

At the RWMF Community Drum Circle. It was a big hit among the festival-goers. 

My yearly ritual at RWMF, getting airbrush tattoo on my left arm.

Yeah, I was asked to sign it after getting tattooed.

My partners in crime. They were getting one too. 

This is where you can quench your thirst and feed your hungry tummy during the festival. Damai Central food court.

And here is our shot with Sentia and her colleague, Cyril. Tia was one of the bloggers for RWMF 2013. We miss her this year. This photo is taken by Cyril's son. 

Panoramic view in the evening at Sarawak Cultural Village.

Photo taken using Alyssa's smartphone.

A family photo before we had dinner.

Like the previous year, we had to hang out at Dewan Lagenda during dinner just to charge our phones and cameras for the night concerts. We took turn to look after each other's belongings. 

One of the sweetest memories at RWMF 2014. My friends and I had our mini reunion during the night concert. This meant a lot to me honestly. I had not met Sukri since university graduation, that was like almost a decade, wow! As for Josclyn and Mariana, met them at Mariana's wedding last year. Thanks for coming guys although it was a short reunion.

They came all the way from West Malaysia and also Miri. Terbaik lah!

Our biggest mystery solved! We finally got to meet the Sarawak Tourism Board "Michael" who has been stalking Sarawak Bloggers on their Instagram accounts, haha. He was playing the hide-and-seek game all day long before he decided to meet us in the midst of dancing crowd at night concert. If you want to 'stalk' this fella, do follow him on his Instagram @sarawaktravel . Thanks Michael for the brief meet up, now we know how you look like in real life. You're awesome!

Last but not least, I met the winner of 2013 CLEO Most Eligible Bachelor on the third day right after the first workshop. Nicholas Mak was a friendly and gorgeous lad! ;-) 

Throwback Thursday photo on my Instagram @opheliajohn . 

Adventure is worthwhile.

- Aristotle - 

Friday, 1 August 2014

Rainforest World Music Festival 2014 (Day 3)

Horomona Horo

On the final day of the music festival, I only attended the Maori Songs, Dance and Movement workshop. It was a semi-interactive workshop on the Haka and other traditional movement and symbolism. Horomona Horo created a special lyric by blending in local culture to accompany the Haka dance. The lyric included words such as 'Santubong', 'Borneo', 'Kapuas' and 'Oh ha!'. The performer did explain why he incorporated local elements into the lyric, it was to honour the Maori and Dayak ancestors as they were related in some ways. He elaborated further there was similarity in terms language, specifically in the Iban and Maori Language. During the workshop, he also taught us how to do the hongi. A hongi is traditional Maori greeting in New Zealand. It is done by pressing one's nose and forehead to another person at an encounter. It serves the same purpose to a formal handshake in modern culture. 

I also had the opportunity to mingle with the members of Nading Rhapsody right after the workshop. I was informed by Royston (leader) that the band will perform at JB Arts Festival 2014 on the 6-8th of September representing Sarawak. Their performance during the RWMF second night concert had a little surprise in stored for the festival-goers with a special appearance of Horomona Horo. I had seen Nading Rhapsody performed before and they never failed to impress me especially with their songs and costumes. Songs they sang that night were Munyi Kesulai Kesuling Lemai (Pantun Pembuka), Ngerintai Tuai (Pantun Besanggai), Sada Nading, Nimang Silimba, Gambong, Sabak Pulai and Umbas (Enough). What really caught our attention was the Sabak Pulai which was an adaptation from Pengawa Beserara Bungai or in other words the poem of lamentation for the dead. They did some changes to the lyric and the arrangement to suit their performance at RWMF. Moreover, what they really wanted to convey through Sabak Pulai was the expression of grievance for the passing of their relatives and ancestors so that their souls may rest in peace in batang mandai or heaven. Usually the Pengawa Beserara Bungai can only be carried out by the tukang sabak or a crier with broad knowledge of the rite, Nading Rhapsody however dared to give it a try at a world music stage with the intention of making it known not only to the younger generation, but also people around the world. I was once told by my Iban elders sabak was important to help build the stairway to heaven, our cries and tears would escort him or her to the other world peacefully therefore it should be continuous until the dead was buried. I used to feel awkward watching Iban women weeping endlessly while talking about the deceased like they were singing a very sad song, it made me wonder if this was necessary. Until I understood the purpose of such practice that I ceased to question if their crying was real. Sabak is not just to show we are deeply saddened by the passing, but it is also part of Iban's fading custom. 

I wished I could stay for the grand finale concert and other workshops but that was not possible. Perhaps next year I should have a different plan. I was reluctant to leave Sarawak Cultural Village but no doubt I had an incredible time at the festival this year. See you all again on 7-9th August 2015. For more stories on Rainforest World Music Festival 2014, you may visit other Sarawak Bloggers' sites:

Veyronica Law -

For more information on Nading Rhapsody, do visit their sites and . 


Nading Rhapsody and friends

With Christ Sheldon (Nading Rhapsody) and Nicholas Mak (CLEO Most Eligible Bachelor 2013)

Thanks a lot Sarawak Tourism Board for the invitation!

This is a recap video on RWMF 2014.