Monthly Archives: February 2010

LOVESPEAK

Standard


XVIII

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

From Sonnets by William Shakespeare.

My DailyLit

Advertisements

STEWING IN LAMB AND MACARONI

Standard


‘I AM famished!’ thought Vivienne, her stomach echoing her thoughts with a loud and embarrassing rumble. This, she noted with despair, despite having a hearty – though unhealthy – breakfast at McDonald’s just before heading to the office.

Not that she wanted McDonald’s; she wanted lamb and macaroni stew – the one that Nigella made on TV that day. She could think of no place else to get it (unless she went banging on Miss Lawson’s kitchen door and risk getting stewed herself). Damn that woman for always turning her into a hungry monster each time she watches the show.

The more Vivienne thought about it, the more convinced she became that there was only one way to go about it: she would just have to cook the dish herself.

It didn’t seem too difficult, really. She’d go shopping that night and pick up the essentials.

“All I need are a few things,” said Vivienne over a long distance phonecall to her best friend, Joanna who lived in Singapore.

Vivienne had known Joanna since she moved in to the house next door back in the sleepy town of Ipoh 25 years ago. They warmed to each other the moment the bespectacled, bright-eyed Joanna introduced herself, and the two had been inseparable ever since.

“Viv. You haven’t cooked in a while. Are you sure you want to do this? Plus, you’re so accident-prone, what are the odds of you not setting fire to the kitchen?” her friend responded.

“Oh ye of little faith,” Vivienne retorted.

She’d show Jo. One way or another, this cookout was going to be a success; life and death depended on it!

She drove to the supermarket with her boyfriend, Caleb, in tow. Good old Caleb who always did the cooking at home, and who did not bat an eyelid when she announced her (very rare) culinary intentions.

All she needed were onions, garlic, celery, some herbs, tomato, carrots, and macaroni.

“Are you sure that’s all you need, babe?” Caleb asked doubtfully.

For a moment, she felt indignant that Caleb seemed to question her abilities. Then she realised that he was just being concerned. After all, she had decided not to tell him what exactly it was that she wanted to cook. She wanted it to be a surprise.

She recalled the phone call with her best friend.

“Does Caleb know? Do you think he’s gonna let you conjure a disaster in the kitchen?” Joanna had demanded.

“He’s not as critical as you,” she replied tartly. “Besides, he doesn’t know what I was planning to cook. I want it to be a surprise. He’ll love it.”

There was a short pause before Joanna responded.

“Just be careful in the kitchen, OK? Right, gotta run. Dinner. Later, babe.”

**********

LATER that evening, Vivienne slaved away, chopping and blending alone in the kitchen at her apartment. Caleb had been banished to his own pad.

“This is easier than I thought,” she mumbled to herself.

She took out the largest pot she could find in the kitchen and then heated up some olive oil in a skillet to brown the meat.

And then it struck her.

She had forgotten to buy the lamb! No wonder it seemed so easy.

“Aww…shit. No, no, no…how could I forget the main ingredient?” she groaned, sinking heavily on to a stool near the stove. And knocking the skillet handle in the process, causing the pan to fall on to the floor in a loud clang.

“Fuck!” she yelled, jumping to avoid the splatter of hot oil. This was turning into a disaster. Joanna was right. And Caleb probably figured this would happen.

At that moment, the phone rang. It was Caleb.

“Babe. You OK?” His voice was a mixture of concern and mirth.

“I’m fine!” she snapped.

“No, you’re not. Open the door. I’m right outside.”

“What? How did you….” But Caleb had hung up.

There was nothing else to do but to let him in. Caleb stared at the mess in the kitchen. From behind, Vivienne studied his profile. Tall, lean and with wavy dark hair, Caleb was a nice-looking bloke with a charming grin. She saw him take a deep breath as he surveyed the carnage. Caleb could be a little anal where cooking was concerned.

She squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for the rebuke – except that she could only hear a deep and long chuckle. She opened her eyes tentatively and saw Caleb looking at her with amusement written all over his face.

He held out a plastic bag.

“You forgot this,” he said, trying to contain his mirth before dissolving into a fit of laughter.

She opened the bag and stared. Caleb had brought fresh lamb shoulder from the butcher’s, all nicely cubed.

“You forgot this when we went to the supermarket that day. Hey, I pay attention, you know?” he explained.

“How did you know? I didn’t tell you!” she spluttered.

He smiled and put his finger to his lips, then drew her to him. “Let’s clean up; we’ve got to get ready,” was all he said before leading her to the kitchen and ignoring her frantic protestations. Fifteen minutes later saw the kitchen back in shape.

And then the doorbell rang.

“Who’s there?” Vivienne spoke into the intercom a little edgily.

“Open up,” came a brisk – and familiar – voice.

With a little yelp of delight, Vivienne opened the door to find her best friend standing outside. There was an expression of wry amusement on Joanna’s face. Vivienne looked at Caleb and then back at her best friend.

Joanna had arrived in Kuala Lumpur early that morning. She had wanted it to be a surprise and had called to inform Caleb of her plans.

“So. You didn’t kill yourself in the process,” she said with a grin after a round of hugs. “But my money is on Caleb helping you clean up some mess or other. Looks like you didn’t manage to get round to the cooking after all.”

Vivienne smiled ruefully before giving Caleb a mock accusatory stare.

“Well, that tells me I’m right. C’mon, let’s go out. I am famished,” said Joanna.

‘Yeah, so am I,’ Vivienne thought. “Except that all I really want to eat is lamb and macaroni stew. Like the one Nigella made on TV that day.’

‘Just as well,’ thought Caleb. ‘I hate lamb anyway.’

***********

Note:

Here’s a recipe for lamb and macaroni stew:

LAMB AND MACARONI STEW

Ingredients:

Lamb shoulder, cubed and lightly seasoned.
White onion
Garlic
Celery
Bay Leaves
Dried Oregano
2 cans tomato
Carrots
Fresh Oregano
Macaroni
Feta cheese
Bottle of white wine

Method:

1. Brown lamb cubes (don’t fully cook), then set aside.
2. Blend chopped onion, garlic and celery, then fry mixture in lamb oil.
3. When slightly translucent, take out half the portion, throw in lamb cubes and cover with remaining mix.
4. Sprinkle in dried oregano and bay leaves, and pour in tomatoes.
5. Stir. Pour in white wine.
6. Add a jug of water. Mix, cover pot with lid and leave on low fire for two hours.
7. Later, bring the stew to boil, then pour in the macaroni.
8. Dish out.

Garnishing:

1. Chop fresh oregano and knead with feta cheese.
2. Sprinkle on top of stew
3. Serve

My DailyLit

The Strange People We Call Parents: My Dad

Standard


I PAID dad a visit yesterday. It’s been more than a year since I had shown up at his house without my brother in tow.

Funny, I didn’t dash off in an hour as I had initially expected; by the time I left his place, it was already 2pm. I had spent almost three hours chatting with my old man. What a wonderful surprise.

It’s rare that our visits extend beyond the two-hour mark, even with Colin around. My brother is a busy man and has to juggle his visits with dad (and me) around his business appointments. I, too, am usually stuck with work, but if I have to be honest, I would admit to feeling rather awkward during visits with dad. Often, I would not know what to talk about, preferring to let Colin take the lead.

I’m not sure how this awkwardness came about. We had always been close. Dad used to be the first person I turned to when I needed advice and when I was sad. We used to have long conversations on the phone when I was in university. Yes, dad was – and still is – a very wise and funny man. But, things happened along the way, resulting in a split family, lots of anger on all sides, and resentment on mine. That’s in the past, but I guess we all carry hurts from our past to our present lives.

Dad has a new family now, and I have a half brother and half sister. It’s hard for me to reconcile with this fact; I keep thinking in terms of the original family. Perhaps that is a contributing factor to the “strain” (for want of a better word) that I feel where my relationship with dad is concerned.

Colin seems to be more at ease around our dad. Then again, my brother is quite a remarkable guy. Put him with the King and he’d have no problems; they’d probably be best buds within the hour, given my brother’s brand of charm.

Looking back, I think I have allowed my own negative perceptions to get in the way of my relationship with my father. Yesterday’s visit was a confirmation of that: I had a pretty nice time and was reminded of all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful things about him (which just proves that we are all human, and shows me that there is a lot of my father in me).

Dad usually comes across as a very intimidating man (tall, strong and assertive – you know the type), but get to know him a little more and you will find a wicked sense of humour lurking beneath the cynical exterior. He is intelligent and has a very sharp and analytical mind. He also has a very sharp tongue. I admire his sarcasm and hate it (when it is leveled at me) in equal measure. Don’t attempt an argument with dad unless you are damned sure of yourself. He is a perfectionist, and a downright expert in the guilt-trip department. He can be a tad touchy and cantankarous at times, but that, I guess, comes with age. Dad can be bossy: he is always right. He can also be very persuasive and you can get fooled by him if you don’t know your subject well enough. Case in point: he once convinced me that MJ had changed his name to Michael Ross because of his close relationship with Diana Ross. I only discovered that I had been duped when I found dad in the kitchen, totally convulsed in laughter. But, that’s dad with his practical jokes. He is very protective of his family, especially the women: all my boyfriends were afraid of meeting him and I was not allowed to go out for gatherings (especially if there were boys around) until I was much older. He still gets annoyed when I travel to late on my own.

Although my mother played a bigger role in bringing me up, I cannot deny my father the acknowledgement that he deserves in my upbringing.

I love him and I know I would not be half the woman I am today without him.

We all need our daddies.

P.S. Yes, he does have a firearm 🙂

Long Hiatus

Standard

I totally forgot I had this blog!!

Just a brief update:

Boring day today. Hot all day, and now, it’s suddenly pouring cats, dogs and their relatives. It’s been work, work, work all the way, now that we are down to only two staff on the desk and we’re both on leave for Chinese New Year. Gonna miss working with Sarah. She’s so efficient!

Had pork sandwiches for lunch, made by Mister Sandwich Maestro. Oh, so sedap gillerrr babi!!!!!

Can’t wait to leave the office and rest for the next four days!

Happy Chinese New Year, all!