Notes on Cooking

A review.

This book, Notes on Cooking, is a delightful read and can be devoured within a few hours. But it will leave you on reflection mode for days, weeks or even months to come.

The writer, a chef herself, gave an abundance of tips and ideas to the craft of cooking, not forgetting the essential points.

And I realised, to my utter shame, that I have done a lot of things WRONGLY!

I wish I could list everything here, as a reminder to myself and also additional knowledge for you but I guess I won’t do the writer a disservice. Get hold of the book! You will find yourself wanting to know more about cooking and to do it right.

Reading the book a second time, there are two points that spoke to me currently:

1. Work from your strength.
This is especially relevant as I have been thinking about ‘what’s next’. I mean, I would still go on cooking and baking but I’m thinking of specialising in certain stuff. And I need to know what’s my strength. I don’t wish to master everything because I know it’s not quite possible in my lifetime but surely I can be good at a few things and perhaps aim at perfection for ONE?

2. Embrace the mundane.
The writer encouraged us not to bemoan the pedestrian tasks but to find pleasure in them, be it peeling a carrot, steaming rice, prepping, cleaning.

Cooking is not about convenience but the pleasure earned through creation and in giving pleasure to others. Shortcuts are tempting, even necessary from time to time. But she wrote, “…if you reply on pre-cut vegetables, pre-marinated meats, and canned sauces, you are not cooking. You are assembling.

How true! Normally I would try to avoid using pre-mix or ready-made sauces if I can. How else would you experience the joy and wonders of cooking and baking if you depend on those? For example, I would never have realised the magical power yeast holds when baking bread or how easy it is to whip up a Hainanese Chicken Rice without depending on commerically-made sauce. Obviously, we would have our equal share of agony too when things don’t go right but it’s all part of learning.

There is another point which she listed – Preside happily over accidents. Get in the habit of celebrating errors and seeking lessons. Every mistake is a chance to turn misfortune to education and, in some cases, discovery. She cited a famous example: In 1889, Stephanie Tatin left her apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long and risked drying or even burning them. She rescued the dish by covering the apples with pastry to protect them as they finished in the oven, then turning the dish upside down, with its apple base now on top. The result became a classic: tarte Tatin, upside-down apple tart.

I love this book. I’ll try to pen down more thoughts as I cook/bake.

Is the Bible True?

The important thing about religion, any religion, isn’t whether or not you agree with it.
That’s why I squirm when people ask questions such as “Why didn’t God do things this way, or that way?”

I think the question is valid, but there are a few things we should recognise.
1) We will never know everything about God and his decisions until he chooses to fully reveal to us.
2) Assuming that the God in question is omniscient and omnipotent, then the only approach of such a question has to be from a position of curious humility and not in self-righteous questioning.  For we may not understand what God is doing, but if we know our God is true, then it is evident that He knows better than us anyway.  To believe in an omniscient and omnipotent God and yet think that you have a better idea on how to do things is simply the height of arrogance.

Therefore, the pertinent question isn’t “Why did God do this or did not do that?”
The question to ask is “Is this God true?”  “Is this religion true?”
And thus, for the purpose of Christianity, you ask “Is the Bible true?”
While the roots of Christianity lie in the Old Testament (OT), its heart lies in the New Testament (NT).
It is, after all, in the NT that the person and deity of Jesus is revealed, and so it is relevant, if you are asking questions about Christianity, to first of all explore the authenticity and reliability of the New Testament.  Here are some questions you may be asking:

1) Who wrote the various books of the NT and were they in a position to provide true testimony of the person of Jesus?
2) Would these authors falsify truth about the person of Jesus for their own ends? What checks and balances were in place to stop this from happening?
3) Were these books reliably preserved since the time of writing? How do they compare with other ancient documents that we use as historical documents?
4) Are there other historical sources outside of the NT that confirms or contradicts the books of the NT?

I have, thus far, read a couple of books on this.
The first is ‘More than a Carpenter’, by Josh McDowell. Perhaps more famous for his other book ‘New Evidence that Demands a Verdict’
The second, which I am in the midst of and which drove me to write this is ‘The Case for Christ’ by Lee Strobel.
Both authors had set out on a journey to disprove Jesus, but found that the evidence they found demanded a verdict for the other side instead.

I will, over the course of this post, do my best to summarise points from Strobel’s book and answer the few questions listed above.

1) Who wrote the various books of the NT and were they in a position to provide true testimony of the person of Jesus?
Of the larger books of the NT, the authorship of the 4 gospels are as follows.
The first gospel was written by Matthew, also known as Levi, a tax collector and one of the 12 disciples of Jesus.
The second gospel was written by John Mark, a companion of Peter, one of the most prominent of Jesus’ 12 disciples.
The third gospel was written by a physician known as Luke, who also wrote the Acts of the Apostles and reads as a historical account written for a patron Theophilus.
The fourth gospel was written by John, again one of the 12, and whom, along with James and Peter, was one of three of Jesus’ favoured disciples.
So of the four gospels, two were written by men who were by Jesus’ side almost every day of his ministry. One was by a companion of one of the 12, and Luke specified that he was recording from those who “from the first were eyewitnesses”. (Lk 1:2)

2) Would these authors falsify truth about the person of Jesus for their own ends? What checks and balances were in place to stop this from happening?
Considering that early Christians were persecuted for their faith, it seems unlikely that these authors would happily put their name to a falsehood that would condemn them to death.  It is an oft repeated argument that early Christians must have truly believed in Christ to put their lives on the line the way they did.
As for checks and balances, Mark was thought to be written around AD 70s, Matthew and Luke around AD 80s, and John around AD 90s.  All within the lifetimes of other eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and ministry.  If indeed there was falsehood in their writings, these should also have appeared as refutations.

3) Were these books reliably preserved since the time of writing? How do they compare with other ancient documents that we use as historical documents?
Related to the previous question, it is interesting to note that of historical documents from ancient times, the NT books are thought as the most reliable by far for two reasons:
– They were written by contemporaries of Jesus. In comparison, the earliest records of Alexander the Great were written more than 400 years after his death.
– There are more than 5000 NT Greek Manuscripts that have been recorded about 200 years after they were originally thought to have been written. In comparison, the historical work with the next largest number of copies is the Iliad by Homer. 650 copies that were composed only in the 2nd and 3rd Century. More than a thousand years after the original.

4) Are there other historical sources outside of the NT that confirms or contradicts the books of the NT?
Josephus, a 1st Century historian, mentions in one of his works, completed about AD 90, that the high priest Ananias “convened a meeting of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a a man named James, the brother of Jesus, who was called the Christ, and certain others … and delivered them up to be stoned.”

In AD 115, the Roman historian Tacitus mentioned that “Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.  Christus, from whom the name had its origina, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our prosecuters, Pontius Pilatus.”

In AD 137, Phlegon, a Greek author from Caria wrote that in the fourth year of 202nd Olympiad (ie. 33 AD), there was “the greatest eclipse of the sun” and that “it became night in the sixth hour of the day (noon)”.  Agreeing with biblical accounts of the sky turning dark at Jesus’ death.

While these accounts are not written by Christians and therefore do not portray Jesus as God, they do show that there was a person Jesus who was crucified by Pilate, during which the sky turned dark, and after which entire masses of people started a religion bearing his name, claiming that he had risen, that he was God, and placed so much faith in their beliefs that they were willing to be persecuted and even suffer death for it.
Thus ends this entry. I take no credit for it as all information has been pulled out from “The Case for Christ”.
I would urge that you, gentle reader, pursue reading this book in its entirety, and make your own conclusion about Jesus.

If you listened to me, and Christianity was a sham, you would have wasted perhaps a couple of days of your life.
If you didn’t listen, and Christianity was true, you would have lost all of it.

Our first snowfall!

“Look! It’s snowing!”

Both of us have never really seen such a nice snowfall. Although Ken has studied in Oxford for a good couple of years, it didn’t really snow like this. Me? I’ve been on a snow-capped mountain in NZ and perhaps encountered very light flurries recently, but nothing beats now. It’s just perfect! I’m dreaming of a white Christmas and I’ve got it! This is a great gift!

What did we do? We went out to play! I mean, take pics. =p



But you know what? Christmas will be magical and splendid as long as you are spending it with your loved ones.

I <3 BPL

Have I told you lately that I love Boston Public Library?

I love her for her huge collection of books. I could find 70% of the books that I wanted and today I was able to borrow the books that I originally wanted to purchase. Good job for delayed gratification!

I am not a voracious reader like my sis or Ken. I am not even a reader to start off with. I only starting getting engrossed in reading when I was around ten years old, an age that was deemed too late (according to some studies) to instill a love for reading (read ‘gone case’). So, get your kids started on reading when they are young before it’s too late.

I feel my sis and Ken read more for pleasure while I read for information. They devour novels while I, magazines, biographies and more recently, cookbooks.

Today, I was overjoyed with the number of books in my bag. While I was about to proceed to the checkout counter, a fire alarm sounded. We were to evacuate the building! Oh no! I have not borrowed the books! NOOooooo! I spent so much time looking for them and I’m not going to depart from them!

So, catching every minute with people evacuating the library, I went to the self-checkout counter, fumbling over the books. My heart was pounding and I was hoping that the machine would not be switched off. I was almost done except for two new books which I could not find the barcode! Oh no! Well, at least, I had the majority of them!

I left the building in a haste. Seconds later, sirens were heard and two fire engines arrived. Is it a drill? Hmm.. I was preparing to leave when I realised, to my horror, that I did not complete the whole process of my loan. I did not log out! Arghh!

So, I waited, along with a crowd of people in the cold. It wasn’t long before the firemen came out, with smiles on their faces. Ah! It’s nothing serious. I went back in again and managed to borrow the last two books which I left behind.


Books in my bag:
Notes on Cooking
Life is Meal
The Sharper Your Knives, the Less You Cry
The Pleasure of Cooking for One
The Sweet Life in Paris
A Homemade Life

=) I’m a happy girl!

On Prophecy and Christmas

An interesting thing happened yesterday which I will have to go back several days (and even weeks) to explain.

About a week ago, Lynn went for a celebration of Christmas lights, which you can read more about on her faithful blog.
I, being caught up with work, and never being much of a Christmas lights person, decided not to go.
However, when Lynn was thinking about what could be discussed with our friends on the trip, I suggested Old Testament (OT) prophecies of Christ’s birth.

To be fair, I do not think the prophecies of the OT is a good place to start for someone to come to the faith.
It is, in fact, easily dismissed so long as one does not believe in the authenticity of the Bible.
So if you are interested in whether or not Christianity is TRUE, I would suggest first looking to find out and convince yourself on whether or not the Bible is historically accurate. Start with the New Testament (NT). That is, after all, where the heart of Christianity lies.

I suggested to Lynn some OT prophecies that foretold of Jesus being the messiah.
One of them was from Genesis 49:10, and was about the blessings that Jacob gave to his sons, specifically, to Judah.

“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.”

It was interesting that Jacob should bless his fourth son with such greatness and kingship.  Even more so when, at that time, Joseph was second-in-command only to pharaoh throughout all the land of Egypt.  More likely then that Joseph would rule, than any of his brothers.  Triply unlikely when we realise that the only record of Judah prior to these blessings is in Genesis 38, when he unwittingly thought of his own daughter-in-law as a prostitute and slept with her.  Hardly a candidate for greatness and kingship.

Nevertheless, it came to pass that David was of the tribe of Judah, and from David to Jesus, no other tribe ever took possession of the kingship of Israel.

The interesting thing is that last Saturday, while preparing for some  party games on Sunday, I suggested this very verse as the answer for the main quiz.
And on Sunday morning, the preacher brought up this very verse as the first prophecy that he wanted to touch on.

More than a coincidence I think.

I submit this verse, and the many prophecies in the OT, for your reading.
If you like, the Book of Daniel is one book of the OT so heavy with fulfilled prophecy that some scholars believe that it must have been written AFTER the fact.
What you believe would depend on your thoughts on the authenticity of the Bible.

I think that will be the subject of my next post. Whenever that might be. =)