random conversation

After cooking chicken porridge…

Ken: How come you didn’t take pic of the porridge?

Me: Because they are cha-pa-lan food mah. I used yesterday’s chicken and then just threw in other stuff. Nothing to blog about.

Ken: But there is a person in the kitchen in charge of making the leftovers taste and look good right?

(Ken has read some of my Rulman’s books on chefs)

Me: Yah…think it’s some manger person. Wait. I check.
(moments later…) It’s called the Garde Manger. But he’s in charge of cold food!

Ken: Yah…you wait till your porridge is cold.

Me: ???
This is a random post on a very lazy Saturday when every young college kids out there are making lotsa noise and these relatively older folks here are just chilling in front of the screen, in the presence of each other. Blah.
Oh more lame comments by the hubs and I am always the victim..=(
Me: You know, last year this time, what were we doing?
Ken: I know…we were saying the marriage vows.
Me: Nope…wrong…I was in the make-up room and my sisters were helping me with the decor.
Ken: (pause for a while & then burst out laughing) Wah…you need so many sisters to help you with the teh kor (panties in hokkien).
Me: Noooooooo…it’s decor (pronounce properly) DECOR!!!!
Ken: (laugh and laugh and laugh)
Me: ???
There was some sound coming from outside.
Ken: What’s that?
Me: Who? Who?
Ken: It’s an owl…. (and laughs)
Me: ?????

Who’s the boss?

I finally ran my first half-marathon for the year and I’m embarrassed to say this. I mean, after all, I have an upcoming marathon and am way behind my own training schedule. Of course, I could give excuses such as the move to Boston, the settling and blah blah. But, well, I’m not so kind to myself; I’m just plain lazy.

So, knowing that AHM is round the corner back home, I thought it would serve as a motivation for me to run a half-marathon as well. Anyway, I really OUGHT TO. So, the hubs accompanied me to run the first 6km and then I was on my own.

I chose a new route which provided me lots of shops to look at as I ran past them. This made running the long distance A LOT better since you could admire the displays and along the way, stopped for a while to look for some particular stuff. Oh, the joy of window shopping!

It was a smooth run until the 13km which I turned into the oh-so-familiar slopes. I have a love-hate relationship with slopes/hills. While I know it is extremely tiring to run or even cycle on slopes, they do our legs good. It was during the run on the slopes that I finally panted. Otherwise, it was all right.

Of course, into the 17km, the legs were tired and your mind as well. But it is during this time that you need to press on and tell your legs who’s the boss here. They will listen IF you do not listen to their complaints. And listen they did and I managed to sustain the last few kilometres.

I run without ipod. I used to. But as I run more, I realised I need to listen to the rhythm of my own breathing and the kind of sounds my strides make. They give you indication of how you are performing there and then and you have to inform your mind of the necessary actions to take.

It is ALWAYS interesting to listen to what fellow runners are talking when they are in a race. Some of them are inspirational while others just darn funny. Instead of listening to some dance music that could motivate you to run (no doubt), try listening to your body, your fellow runners and get the motivation to run faster when others encourage you to go on or even better, if you surpass some of them.

I’m anticipating this moment again in November when thousands run through the 5 boroughs of New York and I’m waiting to hear the cheers the supporters give and of course, the ever-encouraging remark from fellow sufferers in their breathless, weary tone: Press on! Don’t give up! You are almost there.

New York Marathon. I’ll see you on 7 November. =)

Lionhead meatballs

This is adapted from Ching-He Huang’s book. She madethis dish and named after the way it’s served, surrounded by Chinese cabbage: the meatball is said to resemble a lion’s head, while the cabbage is the lion’s mane.
It’s absolutely easy to make, a nutritious meal good for a post half-marathon run! I reduced the amount of oil though for the stock since I’m not a fan of oily stuff. Serve it with rice and you are good to go!

Continue reading

Lessons on baking

These days, besides looking at cookbooks to provide me with ideas to prepare for meals, I have been reading up on cooking and baking. No, I’m not talking merely about recipes.

Take for examples, the book Baking Boot Camp gave me insights on the use of various types of flour, bleached and unbleached, leaveners, stabilizers, blah blah and how they react with one another to give you different products. Baking, in a nutshell, is simple science- chemistry and physics – subjects that I absolutely have no liking to. =p

Chef Hinnerk as mentioned in the book, considered cooking a more artistic activity than baking because we can play around with things and change them frely up until the very last minute. Baking is more scientific. One must stick to a certain fundamental proportions in order for the product to turn out right. And once the baked good is in the oven, that’s it – we can’t tinker with it.

True, isn’t it? How many of us actually wait anxiously around the oven, pacing up and down the kitchen, checking to see if our baked stuff is all right? The timing is a guide but we need to use our senses, smell and sight and touch to make sure it turns out well.

Going on, Chef Hinnerk continued to comment that while cooking can involve a seemingly limitless number of ingredients, the basic ingredients for baking are very few (agree!). Even so, each has a distinct purpose. The 3 categories of functional ingredients in baked goods are the stabilizers (flour and egg), the liquefiers (fat, sugar and a range of liquids) and the leaveners (either natural or chemicals). Just a few basic ingredients can result in a wide variety of baked goods, depending on how they are used. Each time we substitute an ingredient, change the proportions or handle the ingredients in a new way, we will get a different result. That’s where both the science and the artistry come in.

Such information is just, but a few % of the content in the book. There is the information on conversion of measurement (I’m glad CIA advocated using scales!) which I would fail in if I were to have a class on it. I mean, there are different formulas when you convert different things (i.e. dry ingredients and liquids).

I’m just through to chapter 4 of the book and I’m overwhelmed. That, with the ‘textbook’ that I am reading – Essentials of baking – made me respect baking more. We sure can follow recipes and do up a good pastry but to understand how certain things work in a particular way, you definitely need more knowledge.

Oh yes, the following is what I have to cover for baking.
– Cookies, bars and brownies
– Quick breads
– Cakes
– Pies and tarts
– Custards & souffles
– Chocolate
– Pastries
– Breads
– Sauces, toppings and fillings
For each category, there are a few items to bake. Happy baking!

Early Summary

So here’s an early summary of the week.
Monday was a public holiday, Tuesday was LSoE’s orientation which, to be honest, was quite a let down.

The upside is that classes on Wednesday and Thursday were very nice. =)

Wednesday was “Leadership at School Level” with Irwin Blumer. Thursday was “Educational Change” with Andy Hargreaves.

It took about 10 mins to warm up to Blumer. I reached class early, looked at the people hanging around outside, saw the classroom was empty and decided to just go in. Classic introvert.
Noone followed until Blumer came in. I stood up, greeted him, and was met with a rather blank, distracted stare. He seemed quietly hostile right up to the point when class started 10 mins later and he formally introduced himself to everyone.

“My name is Irwin Blumer and there are three things you probably ought to know about me. The first thing is that I wear a hearing aid, so to me, I always sound like I’m shouting. It may not sound that way to you (his voice is really very soft…), but that’s how it sounds to me. So if you can’t hear me, you have to tell me.”

“The second thing you need to know is that I hate wasting people’s time. This course is about the practical aspects of being a school leader. If what I’m saying is not practical, you have to tell me. Otherwise, I’d be wasting your time and I hate that.”

He delivered both these lines with the exact same face he wore when I greeted him. Quietly hostile I’d call it, but what do I know…

“The third thing you need to know is that I have an amazing sense of humour. <pause for laughter> You probably don’t see it, <breaks into a small grin while he pauses for more laughter> but I do. I’ve been in education for many years now and you need a sense of humour if you’re gonna last that long.”

I like this guy already. =D

Blumer is very focused on the practical. Even in his assignments, he emphasises time and again that we need to be concrete and concise on what we’re talking about. Provide practical examples and don’t just spout theories.

Hargreaves is probably the exact opposite.

It doesn’t take long to realise that Hargreaves has an amazing mind. He has a PhD in sociology, reads widely, remembers what he reads, and is extremely adapt at connecting the theories that he has read about to real life.

Andy’s course feels a lot more theoretical to me. A lot of focus is given to exploring classical and modern theories of education as well as change.

The professors are friendly (even Blumer) and intelligent, and the classmates are nice as well.

I look forward to both these courses already. =)