Monday, July 4, 2011

I gotta say it!

Its been quite a while since I blogged.  I am having one of those days so I thought of listing all the things that upset me and hopefully they will not upset me so much.  If you agree with me, or have thoughts of your own, feel free to leave comments.  These are in no particular order, just things that have been bugging me.  Some things in life, you can't do anything about so some of these I live with, some I distance myself from and some I like to say something about.

Enjoy my rantings:

  • Hypocrites:  We are all guilty of hypocrisy from time to time, myself included.  I try to be perfect but fail obviously as no one is perfect.  However, I see so many two-faced people around me that sometimes I just want to say something.  They say something to me and pretend to be my friend but really they are not.  There are very few real friends in this world, so keep your loved ones close and forget about these two-facers.
  • People trying too hard to be something they're not.  You know you've met these type and with social media they seem to be on the rise.  You see them trying so very hard to fit into a group but they stand out like a sore thumb.  My motto, "be yourself".  If someone doesn't like you the way you are, they are not going to like you if you change to their 'type'.  Life is short, what a waste of time trying to be something you're not.
  • This brings me to "cliques".  Where do these groups come from?  They are a real social phenomenon. Who decides which person is in and which person is out.  Is it by color, race, fashion, religion.  Who gave them the power?  Guess what, you did.  You stop caring about them, they loose their power.  Plain and simple.
  • Abusive people.  We have all met them but we say nothing to them.  Not anymore for me.  I am sick of people using bad language and rude behavior.  I am going to speak out in public if I see it.  This is just not on.
  • People who take loans and never return them.  Been burnt many times and still burning.  These people think its their right to take a loan, object or money from you and just keep it.  This is someone else's money or thing you have, return it.  If you can't remember you borrowed it, ask the person if it is theirs.  If you don't, you know you're going to pay for it later.
  • Complainers.  We are all essentially complainers.  I complain to my husband from time to time.  But the ones I'm talking about are those who complain about every single thing.  The sun is out, its too hot, the sun is not out, its too dark, the food has too much salt or its too bland, the water is not cold enough or not room temperature.  Life is short, stop spending so much time complaining and get out there and live your life
  • People who are afraid to try new things.  When I joined college, I didn't know how I was going to do it with a family, assignments, exams, pickup, drop off from school etc etc.  But I managed somehow.  People often don't realize what they are capable of until they try.  So go out and try something new.  Do something with yourself, learn a new skill, read a new book, try a new technology, talk to a new person. 
  • One last thing...people who don't RSVP or return phone calls, sms or email.  I know you're busy but it only takes a few seconds to email.  I am busy too but I try my best to make sure I reply to all my emails and return all my calls.  I'm sorry if I ever ignored any of you, remind me or shout at me if you like.

That's all for today.  Now and get out there and go live!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

10 Things You Can Do To Be Green

  1. Turn the faucet off when you're brushing your teeth.  You're supposed to be brushing your teeth for 5 minute so why is the water running for that long?
  2. Carry your own grocery bags.  At WholeFoods you get 10 cents back for each bag you use.  You save money and the planet.
  3. Make your own cleaning solution.  Its easy, a little clorox, water and liquid soap.
  4. Make your own floor shining solution.  Even easier, a little vinegar and water and if you don't like the smell, just add a little tea tree oil or perfume oil.  Tea tree disinfects so I prefer to add that.
  5. When you're buying chicken, buy the whole chicken instead of cutup. Cut out the bones yourself and use the bones for stock whilst use the chicken for your cooking.  You can use the stock for soup or just have it as a broth.  If you don't like skin, just remove it after cooking.  You won't have to use oil or butter to make the chicken crispy and moist if you leave the skin on.
  6. When using butter in baking, use the empty butter wrappers to butter your pans.  You will save on butter.  You can also use the wrappers to line your pan.
  7. Have two bins in your kitchen.  One for garbage and one for recycle.  Most cities now have separate recycle bins, its as easy as putting the recycle garbage in the correct bin.
  8. Wear clothes again before washing.  You can also dryclean with Dryel thus saving on water and detergent.
  9. Carpool whenever you can.
  10. Make a grocery list and plan your meals so you don't have to keep running to the grocery store.  You will save time, money and gasoline with this one.
If I think of more tips, I will keep adding.  For now, these are some I came up with quickly.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A journey begins

The first time I entered the kitchen was when I was just five years old.  My baby sister had just come home and I, being the eldest, went to the kitchen to get myself something to eat.  It was not much but I found myself comfortable in the kitchen.

Growing up, I watched my mother pick fruits and vegetables from the garden and bake cakes, make ketchup and mayonnaise, anything you could think of.  As I learnt to handle the kitchen utensils, my mother gave me more and more responsibility in the kitchen.  Eventually, by the age of thirteen, I could cook a decent meal for my family.  At boarding school and college, I experimented more and more with cooking.  And once I got married, there was no turning back.  With my own kitchen and a taster, namely my husband, I experimented with recipes and tried new foods from all around the world.  Suffice to say, I enjoyed cooking.  My major, however, was computer engineering.  

After I had my first born, I decided to take a break from computing.  The break became longer and longer as I looked for jobs, interviewed and came home disappointed time after time.  The break turned into seven years and now I had two kids to handle.  I had taken the odd website work in between but nothing solid enough to get me a full time job.  I thought to myself, do I really want a full time job in a field that I no longer enjoy.  The world of computing had become extremely competitive.  Most of the work was now outsourced so what would I be expected to do.  I wanted to spend time with my children.  After all, they are home for just a small portion of our lives, then they will be off to college, married and have their own lives.  How much time do I have with them?  Eighteen years, twenty years?  This really pulled at my heart strings as I battled between full time work and stay-at-home.  

As I enjoyed cooking and baking, I used that to start a home business.  I started taking orders for simple party cakes.  This was good as it fueled my desire to spend time on my hobby and the work hours were flexible.  If I didn't have time, I could refuse an order whereas some weeks I could take five orders.  It was fun.  I even did some wedding cakes which I never though would be possible.  

When my second one came along, I thought, "there go my cake orders, no more time now".  But surprisingly, the second one was much easier to handle and I realised perhaps there was something more I could do.  Finally, after talking with my better half and doing some research, I decided to enroll at culinary school for a pastry arts certification.  Sometimes I feel like I am betraying my computer engineering degree but then maybe I am just enhancing it.

I started college 2 weeks ago.  The first day I was really nervous.  I thought the students would all be young, energetic and have much more time than I do therefore do better than me.  To my surprise, I found a varied age range in our class of 12.  From 18 to 50, believe it or not.  Men, women, teenagers.  Its quite a group.  The first week, we made bread.  I learnt a lot and thought this isn't so bad.  Then there was the quiz.  I got an A to my surprise.  I hardly had time to study with both kids vying for my attention.  The first week was tough on the kids but they have adjusted.  I think the next 2 weeks will go well.  I am enjoying studying and acing my course.  In fact, now I'm thinking perhaps a full degree would be a good idea.  I'm going to get the basic courses done first and then look into that.  But I can tell you this much.  If you have ever thought about going back to college, do it.  This is the best thing I have done for my heart and soul.  I feel alive again and I am truly happy doing this.  I find myself smiling more and I am so lucky to have a supportive family.  Without them, I wouldn't be doing this or even think about doing it.
I look forward to treating them all to lovely pastries once my course is done.  Just goes to show, there is always something more you can learn.  Good luck all of you out there with your ventures.  Make the most of them.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A month later

It has been a month since my daughter's new diet.  I see a marked improvement.  She has more energy, a better digestive system and she's hungry.  She is finally eating like a seven year old.
Through this journey I've discovered that the food industry is adding a lot of artificial and unnecessary ingredients to our food.  Recently, I had skipped reading labels for food, assuming that if it says 100% Whole Wheat Tortillas then that is what is in it.  Try reading the label the next time you're at Target, Walmart or any other store.  The main ingredients for 100% Whole Wheat Tortillas are bleached enriched flour and sugar!  There seems to be no one controlling the food labeling for the foods we are provided on our grocery shelves.  The FDA seems to have been either paid off or just not doing their job.  This lack of responsibility now brings the responsibility to us.  We have an added responsbility to our already over extended lives.  We have to make sure what our family eats is healthy and not "enriched" "bleached" and devoid of all nutrition.
It is not an easy task when everyone around you is continuing as they always have.  But remember, they don't have the knowledge you do.  It is now your obligation to inform your loved ones.  Would you let your family eat poison?  Of course not.  This is essentially the same.  The effects are not immediate but then you won't see the effects of a slow poison either.
Start your own research, look up new easy recipes.  Go to your local kitchen store and take the free cooking classes.  It takes a bit of organization but once you have a basic menu of foods that your family likes, you can repeat those.  It becomes easier to grocery shop from there on.  For special ocassions I'll make a dish requiring more effort, but for the everyday its simple things, like baked fish, home-made chicken nuggets, carrots, pickled cucumbers, cheese toast, baked vegetables, veggie burger or pasta.

I will end now with an easy recipe for pickled cucmbers.

Slice cucumbers.  Soak in vinegar and little bit of water.  Add a little salt and minced garlic.  You can put them in a jar and refrigerate.  They're better than store bought with no additives, preservatives or artificial colors.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brown Rice Flour Cake

Here is a tried and tested brown rice flour recipe I found on net.  It works well and tastes good even for those who can have wheat.

Brown Rice Flour Cake (Wheat free)

4oz (1/2 cup) butter or vegetable oil or shortening (not Crisco; instead try Earth Bound)
4oz (1/2 cup) sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract (alcohol-free)
5oz (1 1/4 cup) brown rice flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).  Grease and flour an 8" cake pan.  Cream butter and sugar until light, then beat in eggs and vanilla.  Beat in flour adn baking powder until thoroughly combined.  Note:  Alternate wet and dry ingredients for better combination.  Pour into cake pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from center.

Happy Baking!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Changing times

The world we live in has changed exponentially since we were children.  Perhaps, it is difficult for our brains to comprehend this and learn to adapt to it.  I find a sort of Luddite mentality emerging.  "Lets ban or boycott..."  I have seen the same with people removing television from their home.  Living like a hermit is certainly possible but is it healthy or is it something that our religion/way of life supports?

Over the years, mankind has said "automobiles cause deaths", "television teaches violence", "video games make people shoot other people", "internet spreads pornography" and now facebook, twitter, myspace etc.  But actually, these are all tools that the human being uses for good or bad.  You can cut vegetables with a knife or you can stab someone, do we then "ban" the knife?  Should we start boycotting every page, group or person who doesn't agree with us?  Where does it stop?

On the other hand, however, how we express ourselves has changed greatly over the years.  When this happens, we have the power of influence to make a change through this new media.  We've seen this through online petitions, web pages dedicated to making a change, mass emails to congress and so on.  However, these are all coordinated efforts.  If there is a certain issue that needs to be addressed through a social networking site then the effort has to be coordinated, otherwise, all it is doing is creating confusion.

With a recent controversy in the news, I feel the reaction has certainly been over the top.  Perhaps, if we were to ignore the person trying to get a reaction, then the person's efforts would be fruitless.  If majority of the population ignores a site, the site gets fewer hits, is less popular and eventually goes offline.  The more we share certain sites, the more popular they get, the more hits, and in the end, they end up on the news along with shows of extremism from both sides concerned.

I know everyone will not agree with me but I am a person who supports technology.  The only way forward, for me, is to embrace this new technology, learn it and adapt to it.  Yes, it is a change, from writing a letter on my best stationary and I certainly miss that.  But we have to move with the times.  How else, are we to keep up with our children.  We will definitely loose them to extremism if we do not even try to understand where they're coming from.

Perhaps, in this whole episode, there is a lesson for us.  Firstly, we should certainly think how our actions affect the technology and what will in the end get potrayed to the world.  Secondly, taking action may not be the best choice.  Sometimes, doing nothing is the perfect choice.  Doing nothing, brings down traffic, hits, popularity, stats and comprehensively marketing money.  So, in conclusion, lets not do too much, just the simple stuff, make our personal lives more constructive and go have fun with the family.  Facebook, twitter, myspace etc will still be there tomorrow.  We shall live to protest another day.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Life gives you lemons, make tartar sauce

The last couple of days have been slowly getting to routine.  We made chicken nuggets, molasses taffy, fish sticks and tartar sauce...all from scratch.  I am now equipped for a seven year old's whimsical appetite.  There is a great variety for her to choose from in the pantry, fridge and freezer so theoretically there should be no more sad whines of "But mommy, I can't eat anything!"

With both the kids birthday party coming up, I need to find a good cake recipe that my daughter would be able to eat.  I am thinking about experimenting with date cake using brown rice flour.  This will be my weekend assignment.

My other assignment, that I've given myself, is to find some websites for healthier cooking.  

As promised here are the recipes for our various experiments:

Chicken nuggets
Chicken breast boneless (4)
Half an onion
Garlic minced 1tbsp
2 eggs
Brown rice cereal

Put the chicken breast, onion, garlic and eggs in the food processor and blend until minced.  Make patties, cover in brown rice cereal and shallow fry in olive oil, about 5-7 minutes each side or until done through.  Enjoy.

Molasses taffy
2 cups molasses
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Oil or butter 1/2 cup

Heat pan, add oil or butter.  Add sugar, molasses, salt and baking soda.  Slowly cook until temperature reaches 250C on candy thermometer.  Take off heat and pour on to cookie sheet or marble.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Slowly peel edges to center and make two balls.  Pull a few times and cut off small pieces like candy size.  Once cooled completely wrap in wax paper.  Tastes better the next day.  Ours was a little burnt.

Fish sticks
Fillets of cod
1 egg
Brown rice cereal

Cut fillets into stick size pieces.  Dip in beaten egg, cover in cereal and shallow fry.  Cook through, takes about 7-10 minutes.  Enjoy.

Tartar sauce
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp sweet relish
1 tsp lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together.  Cool in fridge for an hour.  Enjoy.