Let’s Get Bloomin’

Spring Panzanella - Asparagus, Peas, Radish 03
I am thankful. Looking at the women in my family, I don’t know how I arrive at my pregnant silhouette. 36 weeks and 10 kgs heavier, my weight gain is largely concentrated in my protruding belly. Yeah, okay, my hip, ass and cheeks are widening as well, as my husband likes to pinch them whenever I ask “do you think I ate too much?” So I’m not complaining. But what is getting me is how big my tummy is. It’s driving me CRAAAAAAAAAAZZY. Do you know how difficult it is to save that piece of chocolate on the floor from the 5-second rule??? I couldn’t roll myself off the sofa, I couldn’t tie my shoelace and whenever I thought, yeah I can unplug the phone charger, I realize I can’t even reach the socket with bended knees! How frustrating! Though to be fair, I need to mention the benefit too. The best thing about my belly is that I have a larger body surface to catch food crumbles for after snack that’s kinda nice (H would cover his eyes whenever I have Homer moments like this).

So I really can’t wait to get back in shape. Not shape shape like supermodels quick, but just getting back to my old life where I can climb the stairs without huffing and puffing, where I can get out of my red reading chair, where I can paint my toe nails again without straining any muscles. That and wear some nice clothes too. My clothes, not H’s that don’t even cover my belly.

Asparagus
Garlic Parmesan Croutons 02
Spring Panzanella - Asparagus, Peas, Radish 05
So this morning, I woke up determined to get my body back. I went to the market and spent some good money on fresh vegetables. I huffed and puffed and lugged the bags home. I made this for lunch. Spring is here so let’s get blooming. (more…)

Watching The Moon

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

― A.A. Milne

Ham & Cheese French Toast 02
Ham & Cheese French Toast 03Ham & Cheese French Toast 04

It feels like we are back in time, back to when we were dating. When we were constantly separated by time, by continent and sea. Just before my world went to sleep, I stayed up and waited for you. Praying the internet would work this time and I would not get frustrated that I couldn’t hear every other word you say. What is a second or few? That was how long it took for me to hear you and vice versa. Do you remember, one day you tried to console me about our separation by looking at the moon? You said we would be together by the next full moon. I always had to stretch my head and look for it amidst the skyscrapers, while you could easily see one whenever you step out of your cabin. Two years and 20 hour flight later, I stepped out of the duane and finally.. finally you became a constant sight.

So whenever we are separated, I watch the moon. And I know, by new moon, you will be home. With me, with us.

Be safe, my love.

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And In That Moment, We Were Infinite

Tofu & Tempeh Salad with Peanut Sauce 01
Peanut Sauce 02Tofu Tempeh Salad 4Tofu Tempeh Salad 5Tofu Tempeh Salad 7

I’ve been religiously following a documentary called Baby Boom, showing what happens in the largest maternity ward in Ile-de-France (where Paris is located), who counts 4,200 births every year or over 10 babies every day. 50 cameras are installed all over the hospital recording the midwives, couples’ journey from their arrival at the hospital until birth of their baby, including interviews with parents-to-be and occasionally, their families. I love the show so much, not only because it is insightful on how my delivery is going to be but also because I understand that every birth, every baby is special. I get that now. Everyone has their own story and the producers/editors of this documentary are able to capture the deeper side of each story, eg. how much more sensible the midwives are towards 16-yo mother-to-be, the different futur papa (those who can’t stop smoking, those who talk to the baby in the belly to come out, come out and play, those are more anxious than their partners, etc). At times the stories are funny (dad fainting as soon as baby laid on the mom’s chest, dad eating pizza in the birth room while mom struggles with contraction), at times heart wrenching (baby not breathing, new parents praying together after delivery). It’s a wonderful documentary and according to my spanish friend, similar program exists in Spain. So if you get a chance to see one, I’d recommend watching it.

Anyway, here’s a simple salad that I like to treat myself to. Made simpler by the ready made peanut sauce. The Indonesian Embassy in Paris has a canteen/mini mart that’s open to public, so you can go there to have lunch or just stock on ingredients like this peanut sauce, tempeh, candlenuts, sweet soy sauce, sambal ABC, Indomie etc. This is a big portion of salad for one, good to make when you want to clean out your fridge.

P.s. The prawn crakers is a must. You have not lived until you eat prawn crakers dipped in peanut sauce. (more…)

Make It Good

Air pollution in Paris : Eiffel tower through a haze of pollution in Paris

Photo source: AFP, via Le Monde

The past few weeks, Paris has seen very sunny winter: weather hitting 19-20 C during the day while it dipped to 3-5 C in the coldest mornings. We were overjoyed, obviously. We started to ditch the heavy cloaks, queuing for ice creams & sorbets during the day. The parks were full of people strolling and picnicking. It was the mildest winter, no snow to date and we were happy. We had enough of the cold weather. Then the smog happens. The Tour Eiffel disappeared. All public transports were free for 3 days. And today, only odd plate number vehicules can roam within Paris & its immediate surrounding.

Having lived the Indonesian forest fire and been to Shanghai on numerous occasions, there’s no comparison or reason to complain. The current pollution is bad, but it is still below their levels.

On the good side of things, I have been enjoying what the doctor calls high metabolism rate. Every girl’s dream: to be able to eat everything without putting on weight. I can see the finish line, starting to get the hospital bag ready and washing the tiny clothes. Ready or not, this little baby is coming! The only damper in my mood is the nightly leg cramps.
Baked Chicken Curry Puff 3
Curry Puff filling
Anyway, here’s one of my favorite snack, curry puffs : the cousin of samosa. Sometimes I also add boiled eggs. I usually make the dough myself, but this time round I use the ready made puff pastry. You can fry them or bake them, they are equally good. (more…)

I Dreamt of You. And Now You’re Here.

Few weeks ago, H & I tried an Italian restaurant that’s constantly packed with people. I’m curious because their menu isn’t particularly interesting (inviting comfort food, probably.. but original? not really). However I like how deceptively inviting their deco is. Fresh herbs in pots as center pieces for every table, yellow warm lights, floor to ceiling windows on all sides perfect to sky-gazing or people-watching, low benches as well as high tables. So we gave it a shot.

Fettuccine with Ginger Lemon Confit & Salmon

Long story short: the food was decent but it’s unlikely that we’ll return. It’s not a place that one lingers (solo, probably.. but not for double dates and especially not with children). However, I did come home with a recipe of some sort of the pasta I had. This is it. My new found love. A really good change from the usual pasta dish: light yet bursting with flavors.

You can make your own lemon confit (or what I call cured lemon). Stuff the lemons with salt and keep away for weeks or months. But in any good supermarket in France, you can find it in the Middle Eastern/North African section (not as firm as the one I had in the said restaurant, so maybe gourmet supermarket would be better). The pâte can be found under Regional produce section.

Citron Confit & Pate
Fettuccine with Ginger Lemon Confit & Salmon 2
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Baking is Love Made Visible

Apricot Jam Biscuits

“Nothing can make you look more like an accomplished baker than a beautiful- and symmetrical- assortment of rolled biscuits. The little cutter does all the work and we get to take all the credit. .. Sandwich biscuits are the biscuit lover’s dream, the politest way to eat two biscuits at the same time without appearing greedy.” (Nick Malgieri, bake!)

Of all my cookbooks, I probably trust Nick’s the most. His recipes consistently turn out well for a novice (and stubborn) baker like me. His explanations are well ordered and simple, measurements are well recorded, variations are noted down, as well as remarks on serving and storage. The pages are clean, making it easy to navigate. Each chapter starts with a master recipe like sweet pastry dough, flaky pastry dough, shortcrust pastry/ crusts, etc followed by the various recipes using the dough. So it does get me awhile to attempt some of his chapters when I am already overwhelmed by the numerous steps on the master recipe. Wait for me, salmon avocado tart.. I’ll get to you one day.

Bake by Nick Malgieri

Having said that, I had no issue like runny spinach tarts. The fruit tart dough is perfectly flaky, his biscuits are indulgences. I have never heard of him before this book, which I bought one fine day while walking in Cape Town, he seems very low key as compared to other pastry chefs.

Anyway, these sandwich biscuits from the bake! cookbook are heavenly. I love how it is paired with apricot jam, creating sour and sweet combo. I don’t know how the Swiss eat it, but I love to dip it in my black coffee. I feel guilty for posting so many of his recipes here, so I’m just going to recommend you to buy the book. You can also go to his website. He offers plenty of recipes there too.

p.s. Here‘s an old interview of Nick by David Lebovitz. See how down to earth the man is, just like his recipes!

Where It Began

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Sweet Soy Sauce Pork 1

It is almost 15 years since I left Indonesia, though it certainly didn’t feel that long. We didn’t exactly part ways in a cordial term and so it has marred my view of the place where I had amazing childhood, when the most important thing was to jump the highest, cycle the fastest or catch the fattest fish. I do go back several times over the years, less and less frequent as I grow older and live further and further apart. However, in every city that I have lived, there are always Indonesians inviting me to their dining table or sharing the home shipped ingredients that have sailed through many oceans.

Most Indonesians I know don’t eat pork, so you’ll hardly come across this dish unless among non-muslim families or regions like Bali or certain parts of Sumatra. There is a cousin of this dish using beef, called semur sapi, which is basically beef & potato stew using sweet soy sauce. H doesn’t like it much because the spices (clove & cinnamon among others) are much stronger.

J’aime bien,” he said of this dish, I like it. This is a typical Indonesian food, you don’t know what meat you are eating, but at least it tastes good.

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