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Father dear,

One more year has passed. Reading back on the old love letters, I realise I go into each year knowing very little; save that it is going to be full, and potentially difficult. It has only increased in fullness and difficulty; this year could be the hugest yet.

Still You save, You sustain through the dark nights and tearful days. In wrestles with work dissonance and someone else’s suicidal tendencies, the lost months and its repercussions, and the heavy helplessness of the last year, each year has come and gone – and what do I have to show to You?

You are God almighty, maker of the heavens and the earth. The skies declare Your glory, but I am dust. I wish I had more to offer You; evidence of a more graceful life, growth of the Spirit’s fruit, maybe. But it seems I’ve only barely managed to hang to Your coattails, and then only to survive. And the year ahead?

Father, the past year was hard. There was good and You blessed but – I also remember the instability, the discouragement of a marriage so affected by another institution. Why do I have to feel grateful I see John on the weekend, how is it their policy decides which couples are reunited every evening and which are disallowed? And the thought that it could be worse yet –

You know my prayer; I also know You sent Your Son to the cross. If You should send me to mine, and I should die, I know You have the power to resurrect me from any death. But it hurts so.

Happy birthday to me, You are the best gift I could receive. I could not live without You. If I sound hopeless, You know I’m not. I trust in You for the year ahead; I don’t know what it looks like, but help me. Help me to praise Your name.

Amen.

PS I love You very much. know You love me too.

IMG_20150119_212708

once in awhile, out of the 20-odd tabs I have opened in the window behind this, comes a winner. This is one of them. Ladies and gentlemen, behold, the ayam likku (galangal chicken). It’s super simple and crazy yummy off the stove. Mince shallot, garlic, lemongrass, and galangal, fry them for about 20 minutes, add turmeric, coconut milk and chicken, stir, cover and let cook for 30-40 minutes. Voilà! Done! the only downside is its time requisite; mincing the stuff took awhile. I suppose you could blitz them if you have a blitzer; although, having said that, I’ve heard it say blitzing doesn’t give the same flavor as hand-chops. Your call.

Credit to ‘Babe in the City’ for the recipe – http://babeinthecitykl.blogspot.sg/2013/09/merdeka-open-house-2013-ayam-likku.html

This makes maybe 3 keepers. Definitely lo bak, ‘possibly burmese’ chicken, and now this. Considering pumpkin soup (easy stuff) and my handmade dumplings (only these take an insane amount of preparation and time) too. I should have a Wok of Fame kind of post for these gems.

Note: point of comparison between the two chicken dishes, since they both feature turmeric and garlic heavily. This dish is much richer, to the point it can be jerlat, probably due to the coconut. Also, it’s a dish for the day, whereas the other keeps well and possibly tastes better after sitting in the fridge for a day or two. I conclude that the ayam likku is for the time when your tummy wants something mega satisfying and Right Now Today Satisfied kind of thing. The other dish is still really flavourful but compared to this, more in the lightweight category plus it has heaps of gravy; not that the ayam likku falters in comparison; it’s a dry dish but the fried aromatics *really* pack a punch. Just a matter of preference I suppose, whether one wants bolder or homey-er going-ons. Go try!

Typing, pausing, catching myself, deleting, typing again. things get better with a book and jay chou paused on grooveshark, and hubbasaur on the phone, but this afternoon was difficult.

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‘so if you get posted to cazaux, it’s better i don’t come?’ 

‘what’s the order of preference? job in cazaux, then singapore, then study in cazaux?’ 

aiyoh, darling, why you cry?’ ‘i.. tried not to.’

I type out fragments of our conversation because reflections are out of my reach. Must I really journey the next season apart from you, must I be left at home?

_______________________________________________________

Yet these are what-ifs, so-ifs. 

These are what I know: God’s goodness is worth trusting in, all struggle is worth their pain in Christ, and it is all about Jesus. it is all about Jesus. regardless whether i am with him or we – or otherwise – regardless circumstance, all we are is for His glory; it will always be about Christ. and this truth is big enough to hold us, our situation, and every one of its possibilities.

I don’t know what the coming future looks like, but I know God has always, always been faithful. I have never been shortchanged by God, never. The mountains themselves could shake and fall, yet my God holds true. and He has us in His hand.

the artful question

January 12, 2015

reunited with my car and thinking of the heart. mr attn (i call the car mr attention) now vibrates with unflagging regularity at 100km/h; I pretend I’m an off-road driver going to mysterious places, then. It’s not too difficult in the blackness of the night when stretches of the highway are flanked by bush, lit only by headlights. I wonder if I will miss these drives when the time comes to be reinstalled home. perhaps; i believe i will. there is a wild liberty to flying past darkened roads, unknown shapes, in muted orange-black silence, and the concentration of navigating roadworks amongst all these.

We straddled a catamaran on saturday, while towering plumes of smoke stretched across the CBD. 6650 hectares burnt; but not enough to be a topic of conversation among locals. makes me wonder, these differences.

you and i, collide

January 10, 2015

edit 1 – Nov ’14: since i have some time (waiting to be told where in joondalup to go and then), i shall update what i’ve done so far with this list: see #1, #4, #7, #10.

Edit 2 – Jan ’15: #2, #3, #5

in a bid to increase my focus on the upcoming exams (as opposed to enticing recepies), i will gather all them enticers and settle them here. in no particular order of merit, then

1) curry veggie http://wokkingmum.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/curry-vegetables.html

to cook this week, or,… – i guess to cook this week. i think. means buy the ingredients at viet grocery shop tonight after netball.

Post-attempt: very happy with the results, even if this is labour-intensive. It’s also quite the rich dish, so I’ll probably only make it from time to time. Note: it was quite thick, might have been the extra candlenuts I added. Actually I added more than twice of everything because Beechboro’s lemongrass comes in bunches so I wanted to use up more, but anyway the lemongrass was really subtle (read: I couldn’t taste any of it), so if I do get round to doing a second curry next week before I fly home, I’ll use up all the lemongrass. Having said that, though. I’ll probably just donate the lemongrass and gigantic cabbage to housemate who liked said dish very much. Pictures below! IMG_20141120_163402 IMG_20141120_184112IMG_20141120_200607 Good stuff. I also have a little video but maybe another day..

2) stir-fried french beans

http://wokkingmum.blogspot.com.au/2009/08/french-beans-with-sesame-seed-sauce.html

only because i’m so terrible at stir-fried veggies. So terrible, i tell you. my veggies have been a consistent failure. sigh.

Post-attempt: I’ve cooked it twice since returning here! Not too bad, also cuz my standards were very low to begin with haha. I need a guinea pig to verify. I basically cook it with garlic and dried shrimp first, then add the sauces and eggs when the beans are nearing done cuz I find beans take pretty long to cook. I liked it when I left the eggs for awhile, so it was like omelette pieces and with the brown-burnt look in places, yknow. But yeah definitely need a tester. johnnnnn.

3) vietnamese spring rolls

http://steamykitchen.com/34185-vietnamese-spring-rolls-with-orange-almond-sauce-from-the-blender-girl-recipe-video.html

because we have developed a taste for them. and he asked me to try making some. this one will have to wait till we’re back from home, i think! plus i need to find out how to make the traditional sauce. this version too haps for me. and the innocent hubby thinks the sauce is “just sweet sauce”. we’ll see!

Post-attempt: IMG_20141129_135809

here it is! Not too bad right? This was the nicest one, made by featured laptop-staring person. Give credit where it’s due heh. But yeah my sauce was quite fail, pfft. Also, the downside is it doesn’t keep well, but has more ingredients than can be made for just two people. So I’d recommend this for a family party – unless you have pro rolling skills then you can bring it to a party party – unless your family’s really judgy thenn- you can bring and share with us. whee.

4) stir-fried bak choy (kailan?)

http://steamykitchen.com/2112-bok-choy-stir-fry-recipe.html what’s the difference between the two?

Post-attempt: it was satisfying enough! maybe as I make more of this I’ll improve? It’s linked with #10, by the way. I just added pan-fried pork belly to it (:

5) stir-fried french beans the second

http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/stir-fried-chinese-long-beans-with/

i’m clearly in earnest about my stir-fried veggies. also, why are stir-fried long beans so popular? i’m not the greatest fan, but they pop up again and again. ah well.

Post-attempt: See previous beans post for comment. point of interest – my new fail is tau geh. And I suspect the new housemate snucked a few of those when I was putting the sauces back in the fridge. I don’t know what to say about that man.

6) chocolate date cake

http://www.bonappetempt.com/2014/03/video-attempt-chocolate-date-cake.html

although my hopes of making thai tea cheesecake have been unfulfilled because of the lack of thai grocery shops in Perth :(

7) the dilemma

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-yogurt-at-home-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-125070 http://www.bonappetempt.com/2013/06/blueberry-pancakes-with-ricotta-and.html#comment-form

should i make cheese, or yoghurt, with my leftover milk that expires the day after tomorrow? i can’t decide! and i actually need to make a decision. argh.

Post-attempt: I made yoghurt! Well. A yoghurt drink more like. It said check after 4 hours, and I did, and it was firm to the touch, so I whisked it as per notes but as I did so it turned out that appearances were deceptive; it was still setting and therefore rather watery. Left it overnight but there was no difference; think I killed the process by my violent (according to the bacteria’s standards) jostling. mmm. I had some after lunch today, it’s like very soft yoghurt with bits of cheese in it. Quite nice actually. And completely unfindable outside. huzzah.

8) Fesenjan: Persian Pomegranate Walnut Chicken Stew

http://shesimmers.com/2010/03/fesenjan-persian-pomegranate-walnut-chicken-stew.html

middle eastern, apparently. will make it when i come across pomegranate molasses – as likely as thai tea leaves, or unlikelier. sigh.

9) pork stuff

such as: aunty pm’s charsiew (i intend to do this.. after christmas?) and celeste’s siew yoke (siao bak?) and this: http://shesimmers.com/2012/05/baked-pork-tenderloins-with-gravy-coconut-rice-and-carrot-som-tam.html in order of

– and omgsh, can i just say, look at what i found while searching for how to spell siao bak (!) http://happyhomemaker88.com/about/ i see where more hours are going… – anyway-

10) uh. where was i. tonight’s dinner?

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/10/stir-fried-broccoli-pork-belly-my-thai-recipe.html

although that means i will have to prepare my pork belly before i leave home tonight and because i’m soo slow, i anticipate that’ll take 45mins or so. not to mention washing up. oh man. what about my exam prep?

Post-attempt: see #4

mannn.okay well. one step at a time. we’ll see where i am at 5pm. i suppose i could always eat a mango or two post-netball instead! hmm hmm. you know what – after these distracting nuggets are here and out of my system, i’m wondering how i got so enamoured with them in the first place. gosh. sounds like the crash after a high. i don’t know what’s going on. lemme go back to cognitive behavioural therapy’s technique of debating irrational beliefs, and decide whether it clashes with roger’s non-directive counselling theory.

January 3, 2015

It’s been a tough week. I’ve been kept to a room most times, limited by the lack of a car. And now, potential trouble ahead. ‘these images just stay, one day they could slip out’. 2015; what a beginning for you and I. I’m keeping this to look back in December- I trust I will see God’s faithfulness in this, as I have all my life.

I would be nothing without Him, and His Word. Here goes:

therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. 

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance

Psalm 32:6-7

January 1, 2015

It’s the first day of the year, I’ve been in the same room for the past 14 hours, kindness is a choice. A dying man told his daughter it is a privilege to be loved and it is a privilege to love; it is my privilege to love while cooped in the same room for five days now, I know what I can choose. Can I just say, though, it’s hard to stay in the imposed confinement and hear laughter and voices outside, knowing they move around freely, can walk where they wish. It’s hard not to mind.

So I listen for footsteps and differentiate each voice, placing a face beside sentences. I’m not always successful. And, it’s new year’s day, the rolling on from Christmas, these special days, but I had macs for dinner on the latter, and instant noodles today. If beginnings set tones, my year looks frightful.

So I mourn for the loss of freedom, the loss of special days. The loneliness in each. How quickly the intention of kindness whisks away, when one is otherwise engaged.