I was reminded by my friend and some kids at church that two Sundays ago was my first Mother's day (I thought Mother's day was for a mom that has born baby?) Some kids made cards for me. How cute!
This past few months, there are some people, through cards or in person, told us that we would be great parents. I know them well and know that they are so nice, but that sentence made me wonder. Will we be great parents? Can we? How to be great or even good parents? What if we can't be great parents? Since I only need to work and write thesis, I have free evening time and have time to ask some friends about parenting and ask about baby essentials we need to buy. Baby stuffs are overwhelming. Great, safe, organic, non-toxic stuffs come with price. Unfortunately we don't have unlimited budget to always get the best for our baby. Wait, the baby hasn't even born yet and we can be great parents? Surely it makes me ponder.
Fortunately I have some friends including my academic advisor who is also my "life" advisor to remind me to make things easier. They basically said that we can do as much and leave the rest to God. What works for others may not work for us and the other way around. Whatever we think is the best for our baby may not be something he likes. As long as we do our "best", that's enough; and sometimes our best may not look best for others.
I made martabak manis (Indonesian pancake with chocolate and cheese filling) that weekend. The recipe I got online was so promising. The owner of the blog where the recipe was posted said that it was an easy recipe but promise great result. I also found other person using that recipe with great picture, so I was so convinced that it would be like the one I had back home. I was wrong! My martabak manis was so dense without texture and tasted just okay. It probably is like being parents, no recipe is foolproof. There are too many variables in becoming parents, too impossible to be shaped to a cookie cutter.
I am sometimes convinced that being parents can't be that hard. Million people have done it for thousand years, right? But there are times when I worry about this new chapter I am about to embark. It may take us a while before we find our personalized recipe, one that works for us.
I made martabak manis again the next weekend using a different recipe. The result was much better that time but still different than martabak I got from street vendors back home. Healthier I supposed
Memories about my dear uncle often linger in my mind. Initially, I diverted my thought to something else when I remembered him so I didn't get sad. Then I realized that it is a great thing that I remember his love, care, greatness, and sweetness. I wonder if I would be able to paint similar memories on people I love. Will goodness the only thing they remember about me when I depart from this world?
I was reminded of him the most last Christmas. He was a choir director as long as I knew him. In many church events, there would be his picture... ehm... his back because he was conducting a choir. My sisters and I often joked that people knew his back better than people knew his face. One of many hymns that reminds me of him is Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. The first time I heard this piece was when it was sung by the choir he led. Years later he had polyphonic cell phone, a kind of cell phone that was still very uncommon that day. Guess what ring tone he had? Handel's Hallelujah Chorus! He let me and my sister played with his awesome cell phone I think I heard more Hallelujah Chorus last Christmas than the previous Christmases (or I did notice more?)
Flower also reminds me of him. Before I moved to the States, I wanted to take floral arrangement class. Other than my parents, my uncle was a great supporter. He wasn't a flower person but he wanted me to have some skills that could be useful in the future. He was right. I have helped arranging flower for several friends and relatives' weddings.
I made this rose apple pie, which reminded me of him. I used this recipe for the base. The flowers were made out of red apples that were thinly sliced using a mandolin. The sliced apples were then microwaved and arranged to form the roses. The "flower" arrangement reminds me of Valentine flower arrangement I learned in the floral-arrangement class.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you -Philippians 1:3
After doing some research and asking Mike, my baker friend, I decided to get a baking stone. The stone, which is placed at the bottom of the oven, help distribute the heat evenly so thick crust can be formed before the bottom of the bread is over toasted. I should have gotten the stone earlier, because I kept trying recipes but never got "sexy" crust like what were shown on the recipe's pictures.
Some discussions about baking stone also slowed down my decision of getting it. Baking stone costs about $30-ish, can be higher of lower depends on the brand. Some people said that unglazed ceramic tile can be used to save money. People that chose the tile believed that the tile didn't have toxic chemical since it's unglazed. I thought about going to that route since a ceramic tile from Home Depot or Lowe's can cost less than $1 each. After thinking about it more, I decided to get one that is graded for food.
Baking stone has been sitting on the lower rack of my oven since it arrived in our apartment. I leave it there even when I use the oven to bake something else other than bread. It is big and heavy after all and wasn't meant to be moved a lot. I have tried some bread and the tile indeed helped creating crusty bread. It is not a magic wand though. Other than the stone, there are also many other techniques in bread making I haven't mastered yet.
My heart has been aching for knowing that my dearest uncle has been in ICU for several weeks. He is a person with a big heart full of love enough for everyone around him. I am lucky that I get a big share of his love although I am sure people close to him feel the same. He treats me and my sisters like his own daughters; and he is like a dad to me. I can't think of a moment when he wasn't involved in my big decisions.
He always presents in my joyous occasions, and more importantly, in my down times. I could expect his phone call following my call to my parents when there were sad/happy moments I needed to share when I was in college far from my hometown. He called me very often even for a moments sounded silly but he knew I needed encouragements such as when I was bitten by a stray dog. When I was in elementary school, he and my aunt often picked my up from school. One day, he brought me to one of his project which was one of the biggest hotel in town at that time. I remember how special I felt especially since he let me play with an elevator! There are too much great things I've experienced and learned from my uncle. I am so sooo blessed to have him in my life.
Now that he is sick, I can not be with him. He called me a week ago saying that he was fine and I didn't need to worry about him. I know him and I know how I would break his heart if he knew I've drained my tears since morning.
This dish I made yesterday, chicken soup, was a dish grandma would make everytime we were not feeling well. Grandma believed chicken soup was very healthy, and I believe that. I found out that its simple neutral ingredients, which are ginger, cooking wine, and salt, are just perfect to warm unwell body. In fact, it's all I can take when I am not feeling well. I remember my uncle as I am cooking and having grandma's chicken soup. I pray for his recovery and wish him well.
First of all, my apology for not updating this blog for over a month. I am at my other home right now, have been savoring my time with my family and relatives. Here at my parents' house, food is readily available, sounds redundant to me to cook. So, I've been on a cooking hiatus, except when I want to learn new recipes.
Initially, I was irritated with the weather and told myself not to go home during rainy season like now. It rains almost everyday, not mentioning some intense tropical rains, which cause flood and traffic jam paralyzing the city. Aside from the excessive un-managed stormwater, I love being here during Christmas time because it also means loving-water vegetables and fruits are in season.
One vegetable that only exists at the end of the year is boros. Boros looks like lemon grass but smaller, shorter, and softer. This grass vegetable may be an "acquired taste", because I know many people who swore not eat it. This veggie also loses it's fame. Most people my generation I asked either didn't like or never heard of it. However, Boros is a tradition in my family. Grandma used to make pepes boros in large amount then shared it with her four children and their family.
I had never had a chance to cook it myself, so I was happy when my aunt was happy to pass down the recipe. That Saturday, I picked her up and brought her to my house. Some of my relatives came to see the cooking demonstration also. I treasured our little reunion while following the cooking process then closed with enjoying the final product.
The ingredients for pepes boros are boros, pedo (salty fishes), shallots, garlic, coriander, candlenuts, tamarind, egg, stinky beans, palm sugar, and salt.
Two weeks ago, hubby was upset about something related to his work. I tried to convince him that everything would be ok, but he didn't really buy it. He wasn't upset about me, so I couldn't do anything to fix the problem.
In the morning while preparing his lunch, I got an idea of making bento. I got the idea from some websites showing creative and funny bentos. But mine wasn't so great. I didn't have bento tools nor the ingredients, so I used what I had. I shaped the rice to a circle, then added several vegetables to form Mickey Mouse's face. I knew it wasn't perfect, but I had hoped it could have cheered him up.
At noon, I asked him if he had opened his lunch box. He told me that he was eating and almost done. I asked him if he liked the Mickey Mouse I made. He didn't understand what I was talking about. Then I explained if he saw a Mickey Mouse-shaped rice. He was confused. He said he ate his lunch while working on his computer, so he didn't even look at the food. Ergh!
Btw, some people asked how to cook tempeh. The picture above is one example of a dish that has tempeh as one of the ingredients. It is stir-fried vegetables and tempeh. The vegetables included red, yellow, and green green peppers, okras, and tomatoes. I'll post the recipe sometime.
Have a great and safe long weekend everyone! See y'all next week!
Hubby brought mails and a USPS box he just collected from our mailbox downstair. He asked me if I had ordered something online. Not recalled anything, I read the sender's name. Wow! It is a famous patisserie I often heard from some food blogs. I opened the box briskly. Haha...it is macaroon! Pam, a friend of mine in Indiana sent me that sweet surprise because she read my blog.
Thanks, Pam! Now I've tasted the so called macaroon.
Summer break still one month remains, but now I've started working on campus several days a week. We've been back to our morning routine this past few weeks, preparing our lunch box!
Grandma always prepared my lunch everyday when I was in elementary school until first year of middle school. She packed double lunch box when I had extra curricular such as modern dance or band practice. What a lucky girl I was to have grandma who loved me so much. She always woke up before 5 in the morning, boiling water, cooking yummy food, and preparing our lunch. She cooked three times a day, so we always ate fresh-from-the-wok food for every meal. Since we eat rice three times a day, there's no such thing as ready-to-use food such as ham, cheese, and bun. Also at that time in my country, canned food wasn't common except sardine, spam, and some fruits. Even if we had had those food, I doubt grandma would have preferred to use it over cooking food from scratch.
I would eat lunch that I brought on the second recess. School started at 6:30 am, so the second recess would be at 10.30 am if I remember correctly. I would eat in classroom with my friends who happened to bring lunch. Eating food that I brought wasn't considered as real lunch because I'd have lunch after school. I just realized that in those days, I have four meals a days. It is hard to believe that know eating rice for breakfast seems weird and too heavy. Remembering those days stirs my heart. It reminds me how I took grandma for granted. Those days I often ate at vendors outside school's fence with my friends although I knew grandma had cooked and was waiting for us at home. Mom was a teacher, and my sisters is only a year older than I am, so we almost always went home together. Often I found grandma fell asleep on the couch waiting for us.
That lunch-box thing became less preferable for me as I went further into my teenage world. Going to school's cafeteria with friends meeting other friends bringing my own wallet was a sign of growing up for me. It felt good! I don't thing I bring lunch when I was in high school. Nothing can beat the joy of having free lunch with my ex-boyfriend. Haha, he is now my hubby
College world changed my mind. I lived by myself in a city with no family or relatives. I had to survive with monthly allowance my parents gave me, although I sometimes called dad asking for more I started bringing food once in a while to save money. Grandma and mom liked to send me home food, so I brought what I got for lunch. Bringing food from home also helped me from getting bored with cafeteria's food. There were a lot of great affordable food in there, but eating them everyday made me sick of them. I did the same thing after I graduated and worked at an architecture firm, although actually I preferred going out with my friends taking break from office busyness.
Now on my journey as a student here in the United States, bringing lunch from home isn't an option. That's the simplest and wisest way to stay in our budget. I am happy that hubby and I have the same perspective about bringing lunch. Besides the saving reason, one and only concession available in my building is a overpriced chained bagel shop. If for some reason I have to buy food, the closest and the cheapest food would be Subway, $5/foot long then share the price if my friend wants to have the other half.
Usually we will bring leftover food from the night before. I would prepare the food after dinner, but when it us hubby's turn, he would do it in the morning. About Three years ago, we replaced our plastic container to the glass one after been convinced that plastic could harm our body if it's heated in certain degree. We microwave our food, so we use glass container for our main food. As you can see from the picture, our containers are different in size, and you can guess which one is hubbys. When we have cake or snack, we put it also in our lunch bag.
In case you are wondering what food we brought on the picture, it was a mix of soto, nasi ayam Semarang, and opor lebaran. I blamed my homesickness
"Kue ku", or ang koo kueh is a common treat for baby's full moon celebration. It also becomes part of daily snack that's famous with the term jajan pasar. Growing up, I got exposed to this kind of food especially from grandma. I remember she always made red-dyed eggs for my sisters' and my birthdays. Nowadays, having this treat for full moon celebration (ma gwee) seems to be outdated for most people. The old meaningful tradition has been replaced with "modern" ones like decorated cake, fancy pudding, or cake ice cream. As for dad, it is important to him to continue this culture of giving out everything red to friends on my nieces' full moon celebration. However, considering people might not like old-fashioned Chinese snacks, he agreed to my sister's plan, giving out cakes to her relatives and friends.
Until now, mom still preserves cultures inherited from her mom. Old fashioned snacks almost always presence in our house. By exposing those to her granddaughters, hopefully they can treasure their family culture and be proud of it. I think knowing their identity and family background is important for them so they can learn from the history and do better for their life. Food is a powerful tool to introduce a culture.
This past days I'd been wanting to make this kue ku, although it'd never been my favorite food. Greasy, sticky, bright red, and sweet are attribute I always gave to this delicacy. I read some recipes online, some required either sweet potato or potato, some required a lot of glutinuous rice flour. What I had 1/4 bag of glutinuos rice flour, and full pack of skinless green mung bean. No time for another grocery shopping this week, I substituted potato with mung bean. I think it worked. Although the pattern is not clear that might cause by too soft dough (and I couldn't fix it because I had no more flour), I like it much more than I like ones that I got from traditional market. It is not greasy, nor too sweet, nor too red. Isn't it the art of homemade cooking?! You have the control of what you are making!
Mung bean mixture: 300 skinless mung bean
1 cup sugar 1tsp salt
Heat water in a pot (about 1.5 as much as the mung bean), add the mung bean, sugar and salt. Simmer until soft. Keep simmering until water almost drains out.
For the Skin: 350 gr mung bean mixture
160 gr glutinous flour
Drops of food coloring
Use the rest of the bean mixture for the filling.
Take a small lump of mung bean dough. using hand, flatten it into a round shape. Spoon a teaspoon of filling into the dough, pinch the sides of the dough together and form it to a ball. Coat the ball lightly so it doesn't stick to the mould. Press the dough ball into the mould, knock the mould gently to dislodge the dough. Place it on a piece of cleaned banana leaf. Repeat the same process to the rest of the dough & filling.
Steam with medium heat covered for 5 minutes, then open the steamer's lid. Continue steaming for another 5 minutes. Over steaming will make the dough expand and wash out the pattern.
A great friend of ours introduced a community farm, member of Community supported Agriculture (CSA) to us last Thanksgiving. After looking at their website, we instantly agreed to become a "share holder" of their farm.
"In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing." -USDA
We kept getting updates about the farm progression since then, and had been excited for the local, organic veggies we would get. In a year, we'll get veggie supplies for at least 30 weeks. I've been excited. I'll be vegetables that are not common for me. Hence I have to learn new stuffs and new recipes. Turnip, nappa cabbage, mung bean sprout and bok choy won't be the main green supplies nourish our body. By supporting CSA, we are not only supporting local farmers and local economy, but also making better choice for our health by consuming no-pesticide food. For global scale, supporting local product also decreasing demands of long-travel food, which mean less need of gas, less pollution, better environment.
Finally, today was the first day. We picked our friends house as our pick-up place. From now on that place will be our Saturday morning destination. Expectedly, we got a box of vegetables that some of them I had never seen before. We were excited. We just finished our yummy first salad made out of local and organic veggie from a farm we support.
Are there local farmers around your place? They may need your support.