NOT a food blog
I am an accountant, and to a certain extent, I fit the stereotype associated with accountants. I am an introvert and I am risk-averse. Change is something that I view as an absolute last resort. At this point, my friend, Fatboybakes, will probably sputter out an incoherent string of words that will probably include “guffaw”, “roll eyes” and “delusional”. Public events scare me. If you don’t want someone to be your friend on Facebook, tell them you’re an accountant. *crickets* Oh look, there’s Jules…I haven’t seen him in awhile…ta! It’s worse if you’re an auditor. You may as well whip out your mobile phone and exclaim, “Oh dear, my boss is trying to reach me!”, then seek out the darkest corner and play Candy Crush alone for the rest of the evening.
When you’re forced into a situation of change, you have no choice but to swim. What used to scare you at night now scares you even when your eyes are wide open. Everything becomes amplified. and soon you become your worst nightmare and you begin to do things that are destructive because you think that when you’re hurting, the whole world will hurt with you.
The fact is, and this is clearly evident in the current times, people have short term memories and what may be sensational this hour will be old news in the next. We live in a disposable world. People, objects, memories…they’re all replaceable.
The remedy? Embrace the change, acknowledge the cause and problem, and fill that void.
To put things simply, I cooked. I cooked ferociously, day and night, and even when there was no one to eat the food, I’d still cook.
When Bongo Lee told me that she was throwing a birthday party for her brother, I offered to bake the birthday cake. But here’s the thing – my track record, as far as baking is concerned, is pitiful. If you have been a reader of this blog since its inception, you may have laughed at some of my struggles (links HERE and HERE). The oven has always been my enemy. Nevertheless, I wanted to do this. There was no back-up plan.
I’d been meaning to try the butter cake recipe from WendyinKK’s blog, named after her friend, Mrs Ng SK, who gave her the recipe, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to try it. It was past midnight when I took out my pans, feeling somewhat intoxicated from the drinks and hokkien mee that I had consumed earlier at The Moon Bar, and I became Nigella, boobs and all. Adamant that this would not be a repeat performance of my 2008 baking disasters, I followed the recipe to a T. A couple of hours later, I was staring at my masterpiece. It was a work of art.
The next morning, I had bigger ambitions for the cake. I had this sudden brilliant idea that I would sandwich the cake with lemon curd, then coat it completely with lemon butter cream. My only problem was that the existing cake was too low to be sliced horizontally into two. Solution? Bake another cake for the top half. So with barely a couple of hours to go before my lunch appointment with my parents, I set out to bake the second cake. This time, Nigella did not materialise. I was Usain Bolt as I moved at lightning speed. In a little over an hour, my cake was done. It was another masterpiece. I set out to my parents’ place, pleased as Punch.
When I got home after lunch, I decided to slowly work on the construction of the square cake. After whipping the lemon butter cream and preparing the lemon curd, I assembled the cake. It looked somewhat lopsided, but I figured that the butter cream frosting would take care of that. So I painstakingly coated it, layer after layer, with the frosting. I was meticulous, adding a millimetre here and a millimetre there, but after the umpteeth time of frosting, chucking it in the fridge, then frosting it again, I realised that the cake was destined to look like an amateurish effort at best.
I looked at it sadly and made the executive decision not to serve it at the birthday party.
I am an accountant, and I have this idea of perfection, the devil being in the details and all, and I thought it an abomination to serve something so imperfect to people I barely knew. I wanted to disappear into a corner and play Candy Crush.
It wasn’t just a cake to me. It was a projection of the unspoken insecurities and a desire for affirmation.
A couple of days later, I served it to some friends. They tried it and said that it was good. I got the affirmation I wanted, but I realised that I was doing it the wrong way.
I am studying the book of Jeremiah now and the following verses in Jeremiah 29 have been seared into my heart –
11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Maybe there is hope for me yet.
In my office of a hundred odd people, it is easy enough to spot the person who has just been to the loo. With all the newfangled gadgetry in the world, and despite the major renovation of the office toilets a couple of months back, the changes seem to be merely cosmetic. Mind you, I am thankful that we’ve moved from the ancient look of the 80s (think cheap white fluorescent light above soft board ceilings) to classy maroon tiled finishing, chrome taps and soft warm hidden lighting. What irks me is the leaky bidet hose which splashes water into my leather heels; I’ve found a new position while sitting in the loo now – my left foot is raised about a foot off the floor to avoid the leaky hose and my body is contorted to ensure that I don’t fall off the seat. It’s quite a workout. I can’t avoid the second problem, though. The bloody taps are water bombs in disguise. Don’t be fooled by the elegant appearance; nay, these taps gush like a man ejaculating after a 60-day abstinence and cover your entire chest with enough liquid to douse a fire.
It was divine providence that I would be meeting an old friend for lunch just after encountering yet another harrowing session in my office loo. One learns to be dignified in such conditions. Look him in the eye, give him a strong handshake, and stand at an angle so that he does not see that you’re a candidate for a wet t-shirt contest.
We had decided to walk to Chinatown to have lunch. A brilliant idea as the strong gusts of wind from the passing vehicles would ensure that my chest (dress) would dry by the time we reached our destination.
Now pay attention to what I’m about to share with you. If you’re looking for an Indian meal that will make you shed tears of joy (well, to be honest, you’ll also be tearing up with all the dust from the nearby MRT project), then you’re at the right place. At the intersection between Jalan Tun HS Lee and Jalan Sultan stands a narrow shoplot bearing the name Yong Bee with a pa kua mirror above the entrance, but you won’t find any Chinese food here. You will see a smiling Indian man with a thick MGR moustache standing behind trays of hot curries, peratals and stews. You can tell that the food is freshly cooked from the steam emanating from these trays. A queue will start forming at 11.45 in the morning, and the food is all but gone by the time he closes at 3.30pm. The sweet and savoury mango chutney that he makes is so good that I can eat it with plain rice and die happy. His mutton peratal is tender and cooked in a rich and thick sauce perfumed with coriander and turmeric and ginger. Everything is decidedly homecooked and reminds me of mum’s cooking (especially that mango chutney!!).
Go early for the best stuff. Open Mondays to Fridays for lunch only.
Oh, I should let you know that the kiwifruit blogging competition is over. I ended up in 5th place while my arch-nemesis, Fatboybakes, stood at 3rd. Congratulations, Swee San, on winning the super prize. This social media thing is just not for me. Nevertheless, it was good fun getting the creative juices flowing. I can’t believe I’m saying this but….*gasp*….is FBB….*gasp*….my muse?
Did you know that the kiwifruit acts as a meat tenderizer? There are so many ways to tenderize meat. You could physically tenderize it with a meat mallet, or you could use natural tenderizers, like the kiwifruit, to tenderize it. Kiwis, like papayas and pineapples, contain enzymes that apparently break down surface meat fibres, so I put it to the test and got myself a sirloin from Jason’s to do the experiment. Unlike FBB aka the Arch Nemesis aka Tangechi, I am not “atas” at all, and will gladly eat a cheap cut for the sake of science.
I spent a grandiose amount of RM18 for that slab of meat.
Using half a kiwifruit (which is all one needs – any more and it would be a waste), I rubbed the kiwifruit all over the sirloin, but the fruit was very ripe and disintegrated in my hand. There is a picture on my SD card of the raw meat with green glob and tiny black seeds all over it but I’ve decided not to share it here. Unsightly is an understatement. Ordinarily, when you see green stuff on your meat, you’d be inclined to throw it out anyway. After half an hour of checking on it in the fridge, I decided to just wipe off all the kiwi from the meat using a paper towel. Try not to leave the fruit on the meat for too long as the meat may become mushy.
With a squeaky clean piece of meat (yes, I removed every single seed), I sprinkled on some steak rub that my friend, Adle, got me from Montreal. Good stuff to mask any lingering kiwi flavour (unless, of course, you enjoy the flavour of kiwifruit on your meat…no one’s judging you). While cooking the sirloin, I tossed a simple salad made with momotaro tomatoes, kiwifruit and a balsamic dressing. By the time I was done, the steak was ready.
And the verdict? The meat was tender, so I can conclude that my RM18 experiment, admittedly an amateurish effort at best, was successful.
At least I have evidence to prove this theory, unlike a certain Tangechi who put up a picture of a heart, purportedly mine, and alluded to it being hard. Tell me, can an angel’s heart be any harder than a summer’s breeze? A gentle caress of butterfly whispers? Bordier butter on a crisp piece of toast, melting on the tongue, then filling the mouth with the scent of a thousand flowers?
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.