Tag Archives: cooking

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.

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.)”

Hunting, gathering and Googling

I am actively avoiding food porn. No more cruising the aisles of glossy cookbooks, or sitting glassy-eyed in front of TV cooking shows. Instead, I am trying to cook from my own, quite substantial collection of cookbooks and clippings.

The picture below is from my school cookbook. Haven’t cooked many things from it yet, as they are mostly hideous… [Click image to view recipe for “Ham banana rolls with cheese sauce”. I scanned it in big, so that you can print it out and cook it yourself. If you dare.]

Recipe for Ham banana rolls

Please let me know if you attempt to cook this. I'd love to know what it tastes like.

The trouble is, my recipes are not particularly well indexed and, in geek-speak, need better metadata. So despite having a lot of cookbooks, I often have to Google particular recipes. (Perhaps my husband, who doesn’t often read my blog,  will create a lovely database of my recipes?)

When I first met the wondrous Internet, the entire office shared one email address, and it was actually “E-mail”. I’d read about The Web in very attractive Wired magazines, but didn’t appreciate the amazing bounty of information out there until I saw the recipe sites.

For my younger readers, this is what web pages used to look like:

Vietnamese recipes from 1996 Internet

Note the lack of images, videos, advertising etc etc

Brought to you by the Interweb – Herb haters

Went to a fab restaurant this week, where we had: “Buttermilk pannacotta, with coriander jelly, pain d’epice, pineapple granita”. Sounds odd, but it was delicious.  I just found a site for coriander/cilantro haters http://www.ihatecilantro.com/ .