Category Archives: Food

For the first time

What’s the point of living through a global pandemic if you don’t learn or do some new stuff? We are finishing week 10 of self-isolation, and the COVID-19 circus is still in town. I’ve been thinking about some ‘firsts’ in our much smaller world.

I made pan-fried pork buns (sheng jian bao). These delicious buns have a juicy pork and vegetable filling, wrapped in fluffy steamed bread, and a crispy pan-fried bottom. I miss Chinatown so much, that I tried making these buns at home. Mine were ugly, looking as if they had been made by an indifferent, blind-folded donkey. Tasted delicious though.

The kids finally realised that the salt and pepper mills don’t automatically refill themselves, unlike a Hogwarts banqueting table.

I’ve been a bit anxious that people may think that I am a bat-eating virus-spreading communist*. When someone casually says to me mid-conversation that, “you just can’t trust what the Chinese say about those labs though”, I can’t concentrate on anything else they are saying from that point on. The most I can do is smile and sip my English tea. As part of my local PR campaign, I fully and publicly participated in the VE day** street party.

I cut my husband’s hair. I had no preparation or training; not even a YouTube video. He did the art direction and the bits he could reach, and I tentatively used the clippers and scissors for the rest. The haircut passed the client-facing work video call test, so it was a success!

Normally, I don’t pay much attention to the kids gaming and the rubbish that they are speaking. A few weeks ago I heard this phrase for the first time: “What an idiot. Did you see that sniper is called Rumple Foreskin***?” I was horrified, yet relieved that they didn’t think that was a cool name for a sniper.

I’ve been growing spring onions from cuttings – see pics below. I use a lot of them in Asian cooking, so this saves me from running out and having to face supermarket queues.

Yesterday, I put on a pair of skinny jeans for the first time since the beginning of March. I’ve been in massive wide-leg or comfy straight-leg for months now. I’m questioning the value of skinny jeans. Feels as if they are constantly shouting out various body parts as they constrict around them – Knees! Calves! Waist! Thighs! Bum! Can’t believe that I used to wear these all the time…

*I’m not.
**This year was the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, marking the the end of World War II.
***Am assuming this was Inspired by Rumpelstiltskin, a well-known German children’s fairytale.

Studio Arhoj 'ghost' looking after the  spring onions.

A weekend without the WWW where I was in Wales with women

Yesterday morning:  in a field in Wales, palms and face turned to the cushion-y golden warmth of the sun, noticing my yoga breath. The confidently green grass was as springy as a fresh sponge cake.

Same time this morning: right hand clicking through work email. Left hand frantically redialling the Australian High Commission to deal with an expired passport before an imminent family holiday.

I wish I could bottle up just a little wisp of those shiny happy times, to hold under my nose when I’m about to faint with dizziness and busy-ness …

valley

A view enhanced by wet muddy boots.

The weekend that was

I was in Wales for a friend’s birthday. A remote farmhouse stuffed full of alarmingly smart and interesting women. There was also:

  • Local bacon so delicious that it could be a ‘gateway drug’ for wavering vegetarians.
  • A scramble up a small waterfall. I fell in a stream, filled my shoes with mud and admired the view.
  • No WiFi or internet or mobile phone signal. No digital cave to hide in.
  • All the cakes. Chocolate, carrot, red velvet. Banoffee pie for breakfast. Giant lebkuchen (German biscuit ) in the shape of a smiling woman.
  • A happy mess of heritage, birthplaces, languages, work places and homes.

We don’t have much evidence that this weekend actually took place. No live-tweeting or vlogging or Insta-story. I just have an increased knowledge of precious gems, mindfulness and Dutch snacks; and continuing confusion over Welsh pronunciation.

Happy birthday E, or is that ê?

cake

A global birthday cake. Only slightly offended that Australia got shoved off the side.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Getting comfortable Daughter: Mum, we’re learning about life cycles at school. Me: OK. What stages are there in a life cycle? Daughter: Birth, growth, reproduction and death. Me: And what stage are you at? …

To all the ladies in the house Mother’s Day had serious expectations heaped upon it, such as handmade cards and someone else replacing the toilet paper for once. International Women’s Day? Just the same old fluff – gender parity, equal opportunities, more women in leadership, less violence blah blah…

Contradictions? Oh no they’re not!

The World Cup

I don’t generally follow much sport. However, I really did want England to win the World Cup so that we could channel our furious nationalistic energy in to football, instead of Brexit. So football is NOT coming home.  And my home is still NOT going to be in Europe.

Clean eating

Tonight I had a ‘meal of two halves’ (to borrow a sporting metaphor ).

  1. Homemade vegetarian burger, served with a large spoon of sour cream.
  2. A steak. Medium rare, served with a large shake of Ottolenghi tomato sauce.

Social life

Tonight I was meant to go to a social evening after work. Instead, I went home, listened to podcasts and filed personal emails. Like all introverts who need solo recharging, I feel refreshed and relaxed.

Feminism

I am a feminist, but I do feel quite entitled to a seat on the Tube. I mean, men have much stronger sturdier legs than me … My handbag gets pretty heavy.

Lego

I should have rebuilt my daughter’s Lego house that I accidentally smashed in the middle of the night. But I suggested instead that it was time to renovate “like we are” and she thought that was a good idea. Phew!

steak card

A genuine greeting card that I am saving for someone very special.

[Writing time – 15 minutes. Reading time – at your leisure.]

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Kids – sorry the grown-ups broke your EU  Dear kids, Yesterday some grown-ups broke your European Union. Sorry about that. They didn’t really mean to. I hope that you can fix it when you’re older. Remember to vote. Love, mum

Hype cycle of life I’ve had a few days recently when I’ve been without my phone. This made me realise how I use social media to fill all the little gaps in the day when I’d rather scroll than think or look or talk. (Introverts unite!)

Keep the water in your mouth Yesterday I found a Post-It note in the kitchen with these words of wisdom: Keep the water in your mouth.

 

New year guilt-free information cleanse

It’s Chinese New Year and it’s time to celebrate the last year, relax with family, and look ahead to the next year.

On reflection, it turns out that my husband is a very wise man who has solid advice for me, despite being part of the white male liberal urban middle-class capitalist patriarchy. (Just joking. Mostly. Luv u!!)

On politics: “We’ll be OK.”

The shuddering , sliding and shifting of world politics has been consistently  concerning for me. But husband has taken a practical view that we will survive it, and that despair is pointless.

In the more eloquent words of author and activist Rebecca Solnit: “Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and in that spaciousness of uncertainty there is room to act.” Hope in the dark

What I’m doing about it

I’m keeping the hope, but still reading the news.

We are reaching information fatigue. Last week, we couldn’t face any more news, opinions or analysis. I want a little sip of information, just to keep my brain hydrated, but the newspapers, TV and websites are coming at me with a water cannon of THINGS I NEED TO KNOW.

The ‘clean eating’ fad is ridiculous and dangerous, so I’m on an ‘information cleanse’ – applying some conscious filters to my news and information. I’m avoiding meat-based shouting opinions, fake news pumped full of refined sugar and dairy-laden conspiracy stories.

red heart nope pin

Do you see hope or nope?

 

On guilt: “Stop wasting your time feeling guilty.”

Guilt. Gilt. Only one letter difference and only one is shiny.

Husband is very quick to smack down guilt. He has a more practical sense of how we need to motivate ourselves.

What I’m doing about it

Less guilty and more gilt-y.

After the inauguration (in-anger-ation?) and women’s march, I was on Twitter, scrolling and shaking my head, contributing to the aforementioned ‘information fatigue’.

Kristina Halvorsen is one of my content strategy heroes, and I follow her on Twitter.

Kristina: My 12yo son is racked with white man’s guilt. Wants to help the world but doesn’t want to be seen as a “white savior”. Parenting is hard.

Me: I don’t want my kids to be driven by guilt alone. Maybe grateful to be in a position to make a difference?  Responsible & aware & kind?

Kristina: ME TOO

Me: I’ve got a calming facemask on & starting to read Hope in the dark. Rebecca Solnit. Want to pass hope on to kids. And skincare.

Special thanks to Sam for the recommended reading.

 

Here’s one I wrote earlier

To all the ladies in the house   Mother’s Day had serious expectations heaped upon it, such as handmade cards and someone else replacing the toilet paper for once. International Women’s Day? Just the same old fluff – gender parity, equal opportunities, more women in leadership, less violence blah blah.

Kids – sorry the grown-ups broke your EU   Dear kids, Yesterday some grown-ups broke your European Union. Sorry about that. They didn’t really mean to. I hope that you can fix it when you’re older. Remember to vote. Love, mum

 

 

Gluten-induced homesickness

Fresh sourdough toast with jam and ricotta has made me ponder moving back to Sydney. A fig Danish pastry has triggered layers of crispy homesickness. A pork and fennel sausage roll has almost brought me to tears.

Fig danish

Love is a fig danish

I have been overloading on gluten and memories at Bourke Street Bakery. I am remembering the loss of these sights and smells and sounds, at the very same time that I am soaking them up. Equal parts happiness (I’m back!) and sadness (I have to leave.)

Daily London life is so solidly full and interesting that I rarely pine for Australia. So after nearly 3 years away, this visit has been surprisingly  interrupted by ‘in situ’ homesickness.

I am missing the thing as I experience it. That doesn’t make sense. But a dark chocolate and sour cherry cookie as big as my hand does. In gluten we trust.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Where do you go when you press Home? Does your life have a ‘Home’ button? I’m back home (Sydney) after a brief visit to London (new home). My old house is empty and my new house is waiting for me.

12 reasons I don’t hate Christmas

My crying in front of the Christmas tree has been interrupted by the arrival of our online shopping order. Bags of quality produce to last us through the next few days of family, friends and festive-ness.

I’d just received one of those phone calls dreaded by expats, involving “sad news” and “I wish I could be there”.

The call itself was fine. It was only a few minutes afterwards that the sneaky waves of sadness started washing over me. An unexpectedly large wave knocked my legs out from under me, and I gave in to a little quiet seated weeping.

The shopping delivery put an end to that. As did the discovery that the luxury Madagascan vanilla custard was substituted by an own-brand LOW FAT custard.

You shall not say that you hate Christmas

It may be fashionable to declare that one despises Christmas. This year, Christmas is reminding me of the good things in my life.

Here are 12 reasons why I don’t hate Christmas:

  1. Pork, in all its many forms. Every meal is piggy.
  2. A wobbly drunk man in a novelty Christmas hat (with dangling fake mistletoe) trying to kiss strangers on the Tube.
  3. Christmas craft. I made a willow wreath.

    Willow Christmas wreath

    Willow is bendier than I expected…

  4. This is the last year that my son sort of believes in Santa. “I think it’s you putting my present under the tree, but I’m not sure. I hope he’s real, because I want an iPad.”
  5. I’m not homeless.
  6. Husband is like a Christmas cooking machine – shortbread, pavlova, potted duck, Christmas pudding, pork terrine.

    Christmas pavlova

    The secret ingredient is crumbled Flake chocolate bar.

  7. Parcels and presents and cards are outnumbering junk mail.
  8. Kids singing. Even if they’re not entirely in tune, the sound of kids singing carols is wonderful.
  9. Half price Nordic cheese domes. (I have no idea…)

    Nordic cheese dome

    I thought about it briefly, but didn’t buy one.

  10. We put aside any concerns about global warming and turn on ALL the lights we can find, as soon as it’s dark. It’s so pretty!
  11. Christmas jumpers. I bought my first one this year and have been told that it is Awesome.

    Christmas jumper

    I wore this to work – twice.

  12. Family and friends, and my health and my home.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

You ungrateful cow. Would you like a whinge with your excellent coffee today? I would. It’s almost a reflex: “No sugar thanks. (The man on the bus smelt like old sausages.) Full fat milk please. (I hate filling in forms.) Just a regular size coffee today. (Charity muggers are taking over the streets.)”

Alien fruit

On holiday, I like to relax. And take pictures of fruit.

camera + fruit + toys = alien fruit

peach and pear

Oversized luggage?

pears and alians

Take me to your leader.

garlic peach pear

Where did I leave that garlic?

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Tiny tablets and toys. It was a quiet morning at home. I was pondering the largeness of my multivitamin tablet.

The sound of one glove clapping. Hold my hand…

Let me list the ways I list

I love a good list, almost as much as an excellent strawberry tart.

Attributes of an excellent strawberry tart:

  • crisp pastry shell
  • thin layer of dark chocolate
  • velvety crème patisserie
  • fresh strawberries.

I use lists to:

  • remember the names of meeting rooms
  • make me feel guilty about the friends I need to call, see or write to
  • make my online content easier to scan (is it working for you?)
  • maintain the façade of a multi-tasking super wonder mum (there is a sub-list of the ways in which I am not achieving this).

I’ve graduated from jottings in a very nice Japanese diary (mum work), to MS Outlook tasks and pushy mobile apps (office work).  I thought this would ramp up my home-life productivity performance indicators, but it’s making my personal tasks a bit scary.

Alert – buy that birthday card!

Alert – pay the nanny!

Alert – try to find out the name of the thing that person told you not to forget!

Alert – your brother and wife are having a baby!

Reasons why I still love lists:

  • adding a task to a list is practically the same as starting something
  • starting something on my list is almost like being complete
  • if I write it down, I will clear some brain space for something else
  • ticking things off makes me feel like a Winner and an Achiever.

Hong Kong French toast – it’s not French and it’s not toast

At the top of this blog, there’s a picture of a mysterious fried square thing on a plate. It’s secret identity shall now be revealed as … Hong Kong French toast.

It’s not French and it’s not toast. It has has so little nutritional value that perhaps it isn’t technically food either. It is, however, one of our favourite Hong Kong special snacks.

Hong Kong French toast is usually:

  • 2 slices of soft, crustless white sandwich bread
  • With smooth peanut butter in the middle
  • Dipped in egg
  • Fried
  • Served with golden syrup
  • And a piece of bonus butter.

You might feel your arteries hardening a little as you look at these pictures…

hong kong french toast 1

Classic Hong Kong French toast

hong kong french toast 2

Sharing the bounty of saturated fat and refined sugar.

hong kong french toast 3

Burp.

Too lazy for words

Greetings from New York. I’ve just popped over for a high-end mini-break with husband.

If I was a proper blogger, I would be photographing my food and posting pictures up with tasting notes. Or reviewing the toenail art of the woman lounging at the bar.

But the good camera is broken and we forgot to unlock our mobile phones, so we are without Wandering Web. We are officially free to just go about tourist-ing without sending out a real-life feed of NY delights.

Use the power of your mind to imagine that the following were posted over the last couple of days:

  • The air is so dry, I think my eyeballs are shrinking.
  • Seared octopus with Umbrian chickpeas, red onion, pickled currants. (Il Buco).
  • Uptown is not necessarily uphill.
  • Gold brocade skinny jeans. (Admired, but did not buy).
  • Gorging ourselves on back-to-back episodes of The Newsroom.
  • 9/11 Memorial was perfect. Black pools of textured water – corrugated, smooth and flowing.
  • If I say “Can I eat that here, please?” he will look at me blankly and reply “To go?”
  • Oooooh, my bunions are aching.
  • $400 is too much for a toy baby standing reindeer. (ABC carpet and home).

This post was the blog equivalent of ‘freshening up’ a stale bread roll in a microwave. A more nutritionally-balanced post will appear when I’m back.

Byeeee, Lorraine