Thursday, October 1, 2009

Can You Smell It?

We still remember November 2007 when some politicians and public marched to Majlis Bandaraya Alor Setar to hand over a memorandum on the issue of uncollected garbage in Alor Setar. The politician chided the council, in the name of the people of Kedah, for this act of negligence and vowed changes.

It has been almost 2 years since that event, and a year after his party became the new state government, still, nothing has been done. The rubbish seems to pile higher and in some places, spread wider. What's shocking is the fact that the same politicians chided the public for being responsible in creating too much garbage. Well, I guess whoever the state government is, it's just the same. The theatrics' over, nothing done, just finger-pointing actions taken.

It's embarrassing that during Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, relatives and friends from out of state keep asking why most places in Alor Setar stinks. They are not from Kedah, that is good enough, what about the people who lives here? I go out to the grocery shop, there's stink coming from the huge trash bin by the road; I went to Pasar Malam, the stench was quite unbearable as i destroyed the aroma of food being sold there. In some places, you can't even see the water in the drain as the surface is saturated with bottles, plastic, diapers, wasted food and every now and then, dead animals.

In certain areas, garbage has not been collected for more than 3 months. So you can actually imagine how it looks.

I do hope the state government would actually stop politicizing and actually tackle this issue. Kedahans use to mock Penang as "Darul Sampah", but at this moment, we are getting closer in wresting that title from them.

The rainy season is coming up fast, that's not a good sign if the state fails to take care of the

situation. Garbage might just clog up the drainage system, and we don't want that to happen, do we?

Do something, or we might end up "stinking in the rain."

My Private Stash - Misai Kuching

It has been more than a year since I planted my first Misai Kucing. Not that many, about 6 pots, but I have harvested them more than 3 times. Since I make my own Misai Kucing tea to my own design, I never buy any of those pharmaceutical products anymore.

What is the Misai Kucing plant? Well, here's a brief description of it:

Misai Kuching (Orthosiphon Stamineus) is a medicinal herb found mainly throughout South East Asia and tropical Australia. It is believed to have antiallergic, antihypertensive, antiinflammatory and diuretic properties. It is used as a remedy for arteriosclerosis (capillary and circulatory disorders), kidney stones, diabetes and nephritis.

It is trusted for many centuries for treating ailments of the kidney, bladder stone, urinary tract infection, liver and bladder problems, diabetes, rheumatism and gout. It is also used to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.

Misai Kuching has a mild diuretic action, so it is very useful for flushing the kidneys and urinary tract. It also relieves spasms of the smooth muscle in the walls of the internal organs, making it valuable for gallbladder problems. Researchers have found it to be mildly antiseptic as well.

Misai Kuching (misai kucing) is also known as Kumis Kuching (kumis kucing) or Remujung. Other names for Misai Kuching are Orthosiphon Stamineus Benth, Orthosiphon Aristatus, Orthosiphonblaetter, Indisher Nierentee, Feuilles de Barbiflore, Java Tea, Javatee, Kidney Tea, Koemis Koetjing and Yaa Nuat Maeo.

The plant is from the family of Lippenblütengewächse /Lamiaceae / Labiatae.

One thing about making your own Misai Kucing tea, it has a very distinct flavor and/or aroma. There are people who treat it like normal tea, with milk, honey and/or even lemon/lime. Me? I like it plain, no other additives and flavorings, it is refreshing.

After some research, I managed to make Misai Kucing tea on my own. Let me share it with you:

1. Harvesting

The leaves are harvested, usually along with its branches. Take care to leave some so that it can grow back. This will ensure continuity. The leaves have to be cleaned first, first by submerging them under water for a minute or so to remove dust, dirt and grit. Then use running water to clean them.

Leave it overnight or so to ensure the water dries off from the leaves.

2. Drying

Spread the leaves on a clean, flat surface and leave them out under the sun for the whole day. Every 2-3 hours, turn or spread them to make sure all the leaves get the proper heat.

3. Picking

Once the leaves are dry, it is easier to strip the leaves from the small branches. If there are flowers, do not discard them. Put them along with the leaves.

4. Oven-Roasting

This particular process seals the flavor and gives the leaves a unique smoky flavor. Depending on the heat of the oven, which should be around 150-180F, roast them on a flat baking tray between 8-20 minutes or until the leaves are fully dry/roasted.

5. Once the roasting is done, leave for about 2 minutes, then you can start crumbling the roasted leaves into powder. It doesn't

have to be fine, just make sure your hands are clean. Place them in a clean, dry container for storage.

Enjoy it. 

Note: I was reminded by my cousin that I did not specify the fact that you should always use the plant that hasn't produced any flowers yet. This is true, but if certain other brach of the plant has, don't worry about it. I usually cut off any flowers that starts to sprout, leaving only one. A check with another friend who is doing the same thing confirms this.