Health Goddess

Food revolution

Have you heard of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution?

If you have not, you should go read about it. In a nutshell (see, I am trying to stop using “basically” in my sentences), Jamie goes to Huntington, West Virginia, to try to change the relationship that these Americans had with food. He picked that city because it has the highest rate of obesity, heart problems and diabetes in the US.

When we first started watching the show, we were HORRIFIED. The elementary school that Jamie was working on was feeding little children unhealthy food like pizza and chicken nuggets. And that was just for breakfast! It was just AWFUL seeing the wee ones scoff down the processed food so happily and heartily. And in another episode, none of the children knew their vegetables. They had all the names of veggies like potato, tomato and cauliflower mixed up, and they had never even laid eyes on them before. The lady in charge of food services in schools even acknowledged that fries counted as a serving of vegetable.

It was UNBELIEVABLE. And it made me realise just how blessed we are.

The government, despite all its badassness, has done a marvellous job in promoting healthy eating.Our mothers are used to working with fresh produce and meat. When I was young, I hardly ate out or had fast food because my mother believed firmly that no food is better than home-cooked food. We seldom bought frozen food products because she knew that they were probably full of chemicals and preservatives that aren’t good for us.

As a young adult, I am conscious of how much my mother’s beliefs are influencing me. Sure, I had chicken rice today. But I removed all the skin and the fat, I didn’t finish the rice, and I ordered an additional serving of vegetables. I am human, I have cravings for sinful foods too but I believe firmly in moderation.

Unfortunately, this is something that is not shared by my food-loving, weighty husband. He is lucky to have a mother who loves to cook for her children and is a great cook. The problem is, she can be undiscerning with the way she prepares her meals. Most of the time, the meals are meat heavy and can be deep-fried. I was also very concerned when she bought us a packet of MSG when we first moved into east end.

My in-laws adore their son, obviously, and they are very fond of feeding him with lots of food. It’s their way of showing their love. They make jokes about his weight – he’s roughly the size of a barn. NOT. YET. – but deep down they don’t really care because they love him.

But I do. It’s something that I am working on, and it’s because I love him too. I think our relationship with food needs to change.

Anyway, if you could catch Food Revolution, please do. It’s hard hitting, mind-boggling and very, very inspiring. And it’s wonderful that a chef like Jamie Oliver is trying to change the world, one step at a time.

The organised chaos, Werk

Getting to know me

I’ve been on a training course for the past six weeks, spending both my Fridays and Saturdays in a room learning about the business and leadership skills.

It’s been tough, admittedly, especially when I have to wake up before 7am on Saturday mornings. I don’t sleep well on week days and love sleeping in on weekends, so by Sunday night, I feel flat and tired.

But besides the fatigue and excessive imbibing of caffeine, it’s been a great ride so far. I’ve acquired knowledge, made great friends and more importantly, I’ve gained insights about me along the way.

During our first session, we did the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. I first did the test when I was 16 and unsurprisingly, my results were the same – I remain an Introvert iNtuition Feeling Perceiving. Basically, it means that I internalise my thoughts, prefer to add context and meaning to things, look at human emotions and feeling when making decisions, and am open to changes and options.

But what really helped was seeing how my preferences (that’s what they call it – preferences rather than personality) has affected the way I handle situations. I’m not very easy to get to know, I don’t give myself credit (I see everything good that I do as “accidental”) and I tend to get emotionally blackmailed into doing things I don’t wish to do, a chronic weakness of mine. Now that I understand how and why I do the things I do, it makes it so much easier to wield my weaker arm and learn to approach situations differently.

When we were discussing career goals in another session, my immediate reaction was, I have ZERO ambition. I had no clue where I wanted to go. I only knew that climbing the corporate ladder was not my objective in life. I wrote that I wanted to be happy with my work, whatever I was doing. I had no idea what whatever was.

But during the session, when we were forced to think hard about it again, I wrote down the following: To become a yoga teacher. Or write a children’s book. To be a better photographer. And then I realised that yoga, writing and photography were the three things that I had repeated quite constantly when talking about what I liked and wanted to do.

It was like a light had suddenly shone on my cobwebby mind!

Now all through my adult life, I have hated my speaking voice. I CANNOT listen to my voice on my voicemail without cringing (which is why I no longer record voicemail messages). It didn’t help that when I was 17, I found a note with a handwritten exchange between two choir mates bitching about how crappy my voice was.

But today, as we were forced to stand in front of the class and speak at length, my instructor and coursemates told me how nice I sounded. That I had a musical tone to my voice. That it carried across the room effortlessly. That I had a voice like an announcer’s. That I was such a convincing presenter that they wanted to sign up for yoga classes (my topic) IMMEDIATELY.

You wouldn’t believe how that made me go WOW? REALLY?

Just goes to show how little I think of myself sometimes. I shouldn’t even be surprised at how good at something I am.

Light rays shining through
Foodnotes

Happy meal #20: Beef burger

Luckily for me, a Fairprice Finest opened at one of the malls near our home recently and in it is a counter stocked with meat from Culina (and eco-friendly Seventh Generation cleaning products but that’s another story for another day).

I popped by the supermarket one night after work with absolutely no idea what I should cook for dinner. And then like a siren calling out to me, I stopped by the meat counter and saw, on display, slabs and slabs of juicy raw meat. Mmm, possibilities! In the end, the minced beef’s temptation was far greater than the rest – it even drowned out the desire for wagyu. WAGYU! – and we had the menu for the night.

Beef burgers with grilled peppers and mushroom
Serves 2

What you need:

  • 250gm of minced beef – lean or regular (I used a mix)
  • 11/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 11/2 tsp soya sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 3 small onions, 1 diced and the others chopped into rings
  • A handful of bread crumbs
  • 2 burger buns
  • Unsalted butter
  • 5 small Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 red capsicum pepper, deseeded and chopped into thin slices
  • Blue cheese (Optional)
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  • Mix the minced meat with the diced onion, diced carrot, soya sauce, bread crumbs and Worcestershire sauce, and then season with freshly ground pepper
  • Shape into patties and then leave aside
  • Heat up a griddle pan and lightly brush patties with oil. Place patties into the pan, together with onion rings, and fry for about 2 minutes each side (it cooks the meat through so if you prefer medium cooked beef, fry it for a less than 2 minutes)
  • Remove the patties from the pan but keep the onions in it
  • Stick the capsicum into the pan with the onions and sprinkle a dash of olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes and then set them aside
  • Fry the eggs sunny-side up and at the same time, toast your buns and spread butter on both halves
  • Stick the mushrooms onto the griddle pan and sprinkle some salt and pepper into the pan. Grill them for about 3 minutes on each side
  • Assemble your burger – patty, egg, onions, blue cheese between the bun
Ready to be fried
Sizzling in the pan

The blue cheese was really, really awesome. It added so much depth and richness to the meat. I had grabbed it in the supermarket without thinking of adding it to the burger, really, and it was Mr Thick who put two and two together. The sweetness of the onions and the oomph (there isn’t any way for me to describe the taste) of the cheese was just a potent combination.

And I’m glad I bought the griddle pan from Ikea (cheap and good). Don’t you just love the grilled marks on the meat? Yums.

A very fine beef burger
Everything Else

Vote for me!

A little shameless ad here: I’ve sent in my entry for the HP Me and My City contest because…well, I get a chance to win a trip to New York City.

So if you could just pop over the site and vote for my entry, I would be super grateful! You’d need to sign up though (BUGGER) and my entry is currently on page 4 of the gallery.

And well, I didn’t put up any sexy pictures of my friends and I partying as many other contestants did. Mine is a moody night shot of Haji Lane. I’m sorry, I know that’s such a dampener but seriously, you wouldn’t want to see me in sexy outfits.

Thank you very much in advance!
(Sending lots of hugs and kisses your way)

Travel

Baby, we’re cruisin’

Husband and I have always wanted to go on a cruise.

At the risk of sounding like geeks, we’ve always wanted to go on a cruise just for the fun of it. It’s sort of like on the list of 100 things we have to do before we die. Very cheesy but we like!

To celebrate the end of his reservist and his birthday, we decided to book ourselves for a cruise and have a relaxing holiday. Star CruisesSuperstar Virgo sail to Malacca/KL was the only one that fitted our schedule so that’s the one we went for.

We were seriously excited before boarding the ship. It was an adventure! On sea!

Splurged on a room with balcony
Haven't had a picture taken together in a while
Going past an oil refinery

The next morning, we roused ourselves up before 7am to catch the sunrise.

Sunrise from the balcony

We had most of our meals at Bella Vista, which is a Western restaurant that, oddly enough, served Chinese food as well. Due to the large percentage of Chinese elderly onboard, the Chinese restaurant was ALWAYS full and had queues that seemed neverending. Which worked out fine, we enjoyed the food at Bella Vista and could always get a table by the window. AND it was awesome to leave the table after eating and NOT have to pay.

Because the ship served six meals a day – breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper – we ate almost six times a day. Just because we could.

Oh, one thing that I have to say: I tasted the MOST VILE coffee while on the ship. We were chilling out at the Galaxy of the Stars lounge one afternoon and decided to order us some caffeine (which we had to pay for). I had a latte but from what I had drunk, I could have very well told the waiter that I wanted drain water mixed with mud and milk. Not that I have actually drunk that concoction before, I assure you.

A coffee most vile

Just for fun (and because it’s free, well, technically we paid for it), we decided to go for the ship’s musical performance titled Rasputin. I have to say, it was the most amusing and international musical I have ever seen. All “Rasputin” did was dance around the stage, accompanied by a pair of Chinese contortionists, a group of Chinese acrobats and men on stilts. It was pretty hilarious.

Before the show started

When the ship finally rolled towards Singapore on our last day, I felt a little sad. Life on a cruise, even on one as cheesy as Star Cruise, is peaceful, even if it’s a fake, plasticky sort of quiet. I mean, I really liked sitting in the jacuzzi doing nothing.

Surely that’s life.

Out at sea
Foodnotes

Happy meal #19

Ever since I was a kid, instant noodles has always been a comfort food for me. During the school holidays, my mom would go to work and leave behind a plate of ingredients and a bowl of clear soup for me to cook instant noodles in. It wasn’t the most nutritious of meals but at least I ate and the ingredients were fresh.

I never used the MSG included because she said it was bad and as time went by, I started becoming more experimental with my noodles. I would blanch them and then toss them in a concoction using soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce and fried shallots, depending on my mood that day. You could say that it was the start of my cooking days.

These days, I try to save the instant noodles for nights when both husband and I are hungry and bread does not suffice. Some days, however, I just want to go home to a bowl of pipping hot noodles and one night after work, I decided to just rummage in my fridge to see what we had left and come up with my instant bowl of comfort.

Instant noodles with pork chop and cabbage

For the life of me, I cannot remember how I cooked the pork chop. I think it was panfried with sesame oil and soya sauce but it was taken err one month ago so my memory is fuzzy. I blanched the noodles, shredded cabbage and fishballs and then topped it with the pork chop and the gravy. Noodles tah, if you will.

‘Twas good!

Two of Us

Married life #9

One evening, on the way home in a bus…

Me: You don’t buy things for me anymore. You used to buy me things. Like clothes, bags and wallets.
Him: I’ll go shopping with you and then you buy your own things.
Me: You don’t buy me jewellery.
Him: I do!
Me: One ring.
Him: Two rings.
Me: Two in 10 years. That’s sad. I want one every six months!
Him: You only have so many fingers.
Me: I only have one body and I have a closet full of clothes.
Him: You…have a good point. I can’t argue against that.
Me: Can I elaborate on my point?
Him: No, I don’t want to hear it.
Me: You only have one butt and you have many pairs of boxers.
Him: Shuddup.