Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spicy Fried Tempeh, and How I Miss My Mom

I haven't written for quite awhile. Had a moment where I find it hard to process my thoughts into words. I miss having my mom around, so there's an adult to talk to during the day when my husband is at work. Ironically, I didn't have a good relationship with my mom as a child. We rarely talked, except when I was talking back. I didn't know why she was so.. bitter and unloving. I'm not going to elaborate, but I discovered something when I was 16. She's been holding so much burden by hiding someone else's secrets just so we, her children, won't lose respect for that "someone". To make long story short, since then, I see her in different light.

Funny how my mom lives thousand miles away from me, but her voice is always in my head. Making comments. Sometimes it's a nice one, sometimes it's mocking me. When I was playing puzzles with my son, her voice in my head said "Start with the sides first, then you just fill in the middle parts". After how many years, the memories just flooded back. Like that one time she told me how God would punish me in the future, by making me marry the boy I socked in kindergarten "so watch out, don't hurt people". 

While driving to my grandmother's house, we would pass a river. A really dirty one. There were people brushing their teeth there, taking a dump, taking a bath, using the water to cook their meals. I was (and still am) grateful that we have proper plumbing, so using the dirty water wasn;t necessary. Then I saw something else, I'm sure they've been there forever, but didn't notice til that day. There were two men, in their underpants and wifebeaters, stomping something inside a barrel with their sweats dripping down. Undoubtedly using the dirty water, too. My mom noticed me looking at them, said nonchalantly "Oh, they're just stomping on the soy beans that they'll turn into tempeh". My 8-year-old self, who love tempeh so very much, got so disgusted and wouldn't touch it for the next 5 years. While my mom swore she never said that, I'm sure it was her selective memories playing tricks on her.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dark Chocolate Truffle Shortbread Bars

I've been feeling down lately, due to the weather and delay in schooling. I try not to whine about it, but sadly, I have to wait until next year to go back to school. While I'm disappointed, our decision is the best for our family. Talking about, isn't it spring already? Why does the fall/winter weather linger around, I do not know. Whenever the weather is icky, I feel icky too. I'm much happier during summer time.

We, human, have no control over Mother Nature. If only we could prevent natural disaster, if only we could change the weather. Sadly, we can't. Don't be discouraged. One thing we can control is ourselves. So to cheer us up in this gloomy weather, and trying to cope with news of natural disaster, something as simple as chocolate shortbread bars could help. I won't say that it'll cure our heartaches or make us forget all calamities. But it does help. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Collard Greens, The Indonesian Way

Yesterday, I experienced an impulsive longing for home. Yes, even after 7 years of living here in Seattle, the home to my guts is still Indonesia. I miss street vendors selling snacks, while it might be unhygienic, it was cheap and satisfying. My dad used to say, whatever food that is sold in a kaki lima, it's gotta be good. It's like the fast food of Indonesia, minus the trans fat.

I especially miss Padang food, where they'd take out several dishes at once upon your arrival. So you just pick which dishes you want. You don't even have to wait to order. There's a saying, hit the ground running. This is "hit the chair eating". Or if you decide to get a take-out, they'll wrap your food in banana leaves. Hot food + banana leaves = heaven. I think the hot food helps permeate its fragrance.

I usually like their rendang, cooked brains and cassava leaves in coconut broth. But since it was an impromptu lunch, and I didn't have cassava leaves in hands, I tried using collard green. It has the pleasant bitterness that cassava leaves offer, I didn't expect it to work this well. Served over hot rice, it felt almost like home. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Puffy, Chewy and Delicious Scallions Pancakes.

Most of my girl friends' weakness is always desserts. When choosing snacks, sweets will always be the number one choice. As much as I love chocolate, I find myself craving for salty, savory snacks almost every day. Sometimes the snacking urge is so sudden, I need a quick fix. Opening a bag of chips isn't it.

The other day, my son and I were reading the dimsum book, with beautiful illustration that never fails to whet our appetite. We stopped at the scallion pancakes recipe. Last time we had it, it was about 3 months ago. He wanted it, I wanted it. The decision was made, "scallion pancakes for brunch!", we cheered. Beside being so delicious, it is fun to make, too! These puffy golden pillows would make a great appetizer. Cut into smaller wedges and serve with toothpicks if you're feeling fancy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

His Favorite Cinnamon Buns

Between March and April, we've been to IKEA for copious amount of time. With each visit, my 4-yr-old son would ask for their $1.25 cinnamon bun. He loves it so much, sometimes waking up, the first thing he asks is "did you make cinnamon bun today?" 

He loves helping me in the kitchen, but the only thing he helps me with from start to finish is cinnamon bun. When making other treats, halfway through, he'll announce that he's bored and would rather do something else. Eminently, when it comes to this puffy sweet bun, he waits for the dough to rise, even reminds me to check on it every 30 minutes. Roll the dough up with his tiny hands and tell me whether I cut them too thick or too thin. He wants to make sure it comes out perfect. While he prefers savory food, dark chocolate and anything-cinnamon-flavored top his favorite snack list.