Hello. My name is Zinny. I just finished a science degree and am currently doing my postgraduate studies.

Having grown up in Malaysia, food has been an important facet of my life. My grandmother always made delicious Malaysian food. Her curries were well known and I have fond memories of my siblings and I standing in the kitchen with her rolling 'kuih siput', an addictive, spicy, crunchy snack. Every Chinese New Year, my family would travel 2 hours to where she lives for the reunion dinner, where she and my aunty would prepare a feast for the whole family. On New Year's Day, my cousins and I would wake up to the smell of rendang, which my grandmother would have been lovingly labouring on since the crack of dawn. Relatives and friends would travel from afar to visit and enjoy this dish, served with pulut, which is sticky rice stuffed in bamboo. 

The culture of sharing food and having dinner together as a family is heavily emphasized in my family. Although my dad would often work late and arrive home way past dinner time, on the weekends, we'd often go out to restaurants and cherish those times together as a family. After moving to New Zealand, the opportunity to spend time with our extended family has decreased dramatically. However, within my immediate family, the tradition of having dinner together still continued. Malaysians are so good at cooking. The culture of sharing food is often the highlight of social gatherings. Families that have migrated from Malaysia or Singapore to Auckland became our new extended family. 

Because of health problems, my mother became very aware of the importance of food from when I was of a very young age. She catalyzed the change in our family's diet and we began to eat healthier. Since I was a little girl, I remember all the phases that she went through and I remember her friends would always joke about how she'd always have new treasures to share with them when they meet up. First it was barley grass and alfalfa. My mother would lovingly plant our own wheat grass and alfalfa, though the birds would often come and have their share in the crops! I suppose even they know the benefits of these super foods. But gosh, the cleansing effects of wheat grass juice was so potent that I would always throw up after drinking it. It was quite a nightmare. I don't think my body could handle that much of it. The alfalfa phase however persisted for well over ten years. We'd eat alfalfa with everything! 

After that came the kombucha phase. The bubbly, zingy taste of it was quite delicious. It was our version of fizzy drinks. Back then I didn't know what it was, but now I know that those large, slimy, thick discs were actually fungus. It was fascinating watching that jar of kombucha on the countertop happily growing and and bubbling away, then every night my mother would harvest its delicious juices for us to drink. Unfortunately, we had to give them away when we moved to NZ. 

Another great change that my parents brought to our diets is introducing brown and red rice. Like all normal people, it took a while to get used to. We started by mixing small portions of brown or red rice into our polished white rice. Gradually the portions increased and eventually we omitted white rice completely. Nowadays we'd all take brown or red rice over white rice anytime! I often find white rice bland and the texture too 'empty'. It doesn't have the same wholesome mouthfeel and heavenly fragrance as brown or red rice. 

Over the past 10 years, my family has also cut down on our meat consumption. Most days we'd cook vegetarian dishes. Inheriting his passion for the culinary arts from my grandmother, my dad would often experiment with different combinations of ingredients to create delicious and nutritious food for us. Whoever said vegetarian dishes are bland and boring have not tasted my dad's food. When friends of mine or my siblings come over to our house for dinner, they'd always comment on how good the food was and that if they could eat food like that everyday, they'd happily be vegetarians too!

So, having been heavily influenced by my family regarding the art of eating, it's only natural that I too develop that same passion for food. In my undergraduate years, my love for baking was solidified when I and a bunch of friends worked together to build up the university Dessert Club. We'd often bake into the late nights in our quest to prepare for events. Our goal was to always use good, quality ingredients and to educate people about how good natural food can taste. During the years when we 'reigned', we would never condone packet food or ready-to-eat food, always making all food from scratch. The feedback was always amazing. 

Now that I have stepped down from Dessert Club, I decided it was time to venture on other journeys. This blog is a place where I can explore and share the things I love - baking, cooking, the importance of good and natural food, photography and my beautiful home, Auckland. Hopefully it will give me the motivation to improve my crafts and to explore paths that I have been too timid to tread. I hope you enjoy your stay here! Happy reading :)

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