Bun in oven

Hey fishy fishy

I don’t know what it is about Lunar New Year and/or pregnancy that allow people to say the darnest things. Seriously. It’s like all inhibitions fly right out of the window once you are pregnant and women feel free to talk to you about things that ought to be private. Throw in the festive season and wham! loads of weird stuff come your way.

This year, the comment that takes home the prize is from Mr Thick’s aunt. We were at the in-law’s for lunch on the second day of LNY and over the dinning table, his aunt suddenly pointed to the packet drink sitting next to my plate of food and said, “You can’t drink this during confinement.”

I smiled and nodded. (I secretly detest people who tell me what I can or cannot do/drink/eat during pregnancy or confinement.)

She added, “You must be good and not eat nonsense food. For instance, stay off prawns for one month.”

Mmmkay.

And then she continued, “My friend ate prawns during her confinement and she smelt fishy down there.”

My brains exploded.

The rest of our dining companions, by the way, were made up of men: my father-in-law, Mr Thick and his two uncles. Who were all looking gravely at us.

OH. MOTHER.

The organised chaos

A little low on fuel

My mind snapped to wakefulness this morning at 5am.I don’t know why, it just happened.
I tossed and turned and tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t.
My body was aching and creaking in all sorts of ways from the activities of the past two days.
My left hip was sore, my lower back was grumpy, my feet were tired.
The little bubble in my belly flipped around a couple of times, as if to say, morning mama!
In the end, I got out of bed at 615am and decided to make breakfast.
French toast, it was decided on the spur of the moment.

I came to work and was excited about my tutorial today.
There were chocolate bars that I had wanted to share with the kids.
But only half of them turned up for class, the other half decided to stroll in some 45 minutes later.
They were rushing to complete a project, they explained, but I had none of it.
Threw them out of the room and carried on.

And now, here I am, tired and cranky.
But, as they say, the show must go on.
Lessons to be carried out. Lessons to be planned. Essays to be graded.
The next couple of weeks will be a little tough.

The organised chaos

Hot choc love

So Christmas is, erm, so 2011. Heh. But I was going through my photo archives on Flickr and I realised that I hadn’t written about the afternoon tea pack that I had put together for my friends. And I kinda like those pictures a lot (even if they are spike-worthy since they are not sharp)! So here you go.

I had wanted to make/bake something again this year, like what I did with the homemade strawberry jam last year. That had marked a turning point for me: I realised that buying presents can never really be the same as making something by hand. But between birthing classes, spending time with loved ones and running baby errands, I didn’t have the luxury of time to stew over the stove or oven as I had intended and decided to be a little less ambitious with my goal.

But I was adamant about putting my own little touches to the project, even if I am not exactly the most crafty of persons. And since I love having afternoon tea so much, I decided to turn that into a gift for our friends.

We got plain mugs from Ikea and initially, I wanted to try DIY glass etching but meh, no time. And I didn’t think people would like to receive tacky, gaudy coffee mugs screaming “MERRY CHRISTMAS 2011!!” so I left the mugs as they were.

I then spooned individual servings of hot chocolate powder topped with a mountain of marshmallows (cos that’s how I like mine done) and stashed each mug with a sachet and an earl grey tea bag (cos, erm, I love earl grey). Tie a jaunty bow onto the mug and then pack them into cute Father Christmas paper bags. Voila! An afternoon tea pack with love!

After Christmas, I came to the conclusion that I would really not like to receive thoughtless gifts anymore. Receiving something that you know wasn’t bought with a lot of thought or heart feels sad and a present that is bought because you need to gift someone with something is quite a waste of money. Goodness knows how many things are now stowed away in our storeroom because they aren’t things we can use or like.

For Christmas this year, I hope we can do something with a difference with our money, instead of buying meaningless presents.

Bun in oven, Letters to

The 30-week belly (and a letter)

Dear Tiny Human,

And just like that, we are coasting into the final stretch. 10 more weeks or so until you make your appearance.

People have been asking me if I am prepared and ready for your entrance into this world. How do I tell them that I have been ready since two and a half years ago? How do I tell them that I’ve been longing for your arrival since the day I tossed that box of birth control pills into the bin and decided to try and make a baby? How do I tell them that the very faint notion of you being in my life was the driving force behind my survival during our trek into the big, scary jungle of infertility?

I smile, and tell them that I am as prepared as anyone can be.

Your dad and I have talked about how our lives will change once you are here and, there is no fear, no worry, no anxiety. We know that our financial situation will change drastically, we know that our lives will be turned topsy turvy, we know that our days of having glorious uninterrupted sleep will end. And yet we take it all in our stride, we just know that we will get through it eventually.

As we always do.

One of the things that I love to do every night is to wind down the day with you. We sit, you and I, in the dim light as the room fills sweetly with the scent of my favourite aromatherapy oils. Sometimes, I read you a book. Or I will plug in the Bellybuds and let you listen to some music. Most days, I’d play you songs from the Glee soundtrack before bringing down the tempo with Rockabye Baby! Lullaby renditions of The Smashing Pumpkins. Or you could be listening to the HypnoBirthing affirmations with me. And then I’d get your dad into the room and he’ll tell you stuff like how he’s looking forward to watching football matches with you in future. He’d put his ear to my belly and laugh, saying that all he can hear is my stomach juices.

And then we’d poke you a few times to elicit some reactions from you – okay, I am usually the one poking you, sorry – before turning in for the night.

We always talk about we hope you’d be this and that. Like, oh, let’s hope he sleeps like me and looks like me and all. But ultimately, we just want you to be here with us safe and sound. And then we will embark on this new and foreign journey together, you and me and dad. We’d figure this parenthood thing out together. With you.

So have some patience with us, just as we will try to have patience with you.

Love,
Mama

Arts & Entertainment

Time to go

This video may be two years old but it’s been making the rounds on my Facebook.

Last Minutes with ODEN from Eliot Rausch + Phos Pictures on Vimeo.

My cats are considered young – they are not yet three. But we know, deep within us, that there will come a time when they will go and that we will outlive their little lives.

It’s something I try not to think about too much but it’s there at the back of my mind.

I call them brats, yell at them when they are naughty and sigh at the expensive food that they eat. At the same time, I love them with all my heart and buy them the best food we can afford because I want them to live happy, healthy long lives with us.

They have been our babies long before the nugget came along.

Anyway. I sobbed my eyes out when watching the video. It’s beautifully shot and intimate.

Enjoy.

Everything Else

Last year’s Christmas eve…

We had some friends over for dinner and I put together a mis-matched meal for five.

I’m not terribly creative when it comes to table settings and you can so see it! The colours don’t go, nothing matches but ah well, it’s charming in its own quirky way.

And those drinking glasses – I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. My godparents used to run the snack/drinks bar at The Cathay before its current incarnation when I was a wee kid and my mom worked for them. I used to spend my Saturdays at the stall, scratching lucky draw cards and getting snuck into the cinema for a free movie.

In fact, the very first movie that I can remember watching on the big screen was The Fly, which SCARED THE SHIT OUTTA ME. The visuals of the protagonist metamorphosing into the fly was seared in my memory for the longest time.

Anyway, back to the glasses. When the owners of The Cathay decided to close the cinema, my godparents had no choice but to wind up the business and these glasses are what remained of the stall. Last year, I decided that they would belong to me and my mom was all too happy to pass them on. SCORE!

Foodnotes

Thomas Keller’s Favourite Simple Roast Chicken

We had some friends over for dinner on Christmas eve and while I was thrilled to be cooking up a storm in the kitchen, I was also aware that I wouldn’t be able to spend too much time there, thanks to the nugget. If I am up too long on my feet, the back starts to creak and the calves begin to protest.

Pfft! There goes all my idealistic notions of being mobile right to the day I deliver.

To keep things simple for myself, I decided to roast up a chicken since you can’t really go wrong with that. And since I have had my ad hoc at home cookbook for a while now and haven’t really been utilizing it, I decided that we would have a Thomas Keller meal for the evening.

But while surfing the net for the roast chicken recipe found in the book at work one day, I chanced upon another Thomas Keller recipe that was even more alluring: the chicken needed no marinating and would require only salt and pepper for its flavour.

Say what? Sold!

On the day itself, I let the chicken sit in the open for a good two hours before drying it thoroughly with paper towels. I then trussed the bird for the first time in my life. Yes, I is noob cook who thought trussing was difficult but it really wasn’t at all!

When the oven dinged and I took the bird out, I was impressed. For one, the colour of the chicken was simply perfect. Secondly, the meat fell off the bone oh so easily. And when we dug in, everyone was amazed that I had used nothing but salt and pepper because it tasted that awesome. The breast meat was juicy and tender while the skin was nicely crisp. I thought we would have enough leftovers for chicken sandwiches for the next week but it was devoured completely.

Absolutely a winner!

Thomas Keller’s Favourite Simple Roast Chicken

What you’ll need

  • 1.3kg farm-raised chicken
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp minced thyme (optional – I didn’t use it)
  • Unsalted butter to taste
  • Dijon mustard to taste (I didn’t use this either)

How to make:

Preheat the oven to 230 degree Celsius. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird.

Now, salt the chicken – try raining the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a saute pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone – I don’t baste it, I don’t add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don’t want. Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I’m cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip – until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook’s rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be super elegant.

Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You’ll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it’s so good.