Cooking with Love.

Since the 11th of Feb, when my world suddenly seemed bleak for a moment, I feel a world away to how things felt to be only a month back. Funny how a single month can change so many things. Right now, I feel like I’ve found my centre. That’s not to say I wasn’t happy before. I was. And I still am. Only perhaps, in some way, I can now say that I’m really starting to love myself in the true sense of the word. Not just from outside in, but from the inside out.

In the last month, I’ve started some TCM treatment to help with fertility. In doing so, I’ve made friends with the young partners of the clinic. It’s located right across the alley (not road. Seriously it’s just a back alley), from my back gate so it literally takes a minute or less to hop over. Through tonics and acupuncture, my sleep has been a lot deeper, I feel so much more energised, and way more alert that I ever thought possible. To be honest, I used to think that my sluggishness was normal. Now, I realise what feeling real energy is like and it’s amazing. I’ve also started to perspire like a real person. Flo used to be amazed at how I could walk out under the sun and not break into sweat – apparently it’s not very healthy at all. Well, now I find sweat pooling between my boobs when it’s hot out.

Every morning, I’m up together with Florian and I no longer need to sleep in some more after he goes off to work. I fix him breakfast, then I get ready to taken Kawaii out for his 40min morning walk at around 8.30am before it gets too hot. When we get back, I get ready for yoga just 2 minutes away and I’ve been going 4-5 times a week. I love the stretch, but I love going into Shivasa (dead corpse pose) the most at the end of each class. That’s the one where you like down on your back and let go of all your muscles and relax. I enjoy Hatha, and Vinyasa, with and without infra, and omg! Aerial yoga I love! I also went for a restorative class this week and enjoyed that too, just to get my muscles relaxed after the more intense classes. I’m keen to try kinetic next week if time permits but all in all, I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt since before ED, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

Perhaps it is practising yoga together with TCM, and having Kawaii around (totally falling in love with him by the way!), that has helped me so much. I feel so much more positive in general, and I’m simply happier than I have been for the longest time. I’m also finding so much joy in being amongst friends, and thriving on their energy. There are still uncertainties that lie ahead of us (Flo and I) especially this month but I want to stay relaxed and keep calm; knowing that whatever happens, will happen, and we will sail through it together.

With all the energy I’ve been experiencing lately, I told Florian that I wanted to cook for our friends one of the weekends recently. The group of us totalled seven and Florian worried a little that I wouldn’t be able to cook enough for everyone, or that I would end up over-stretching myself. Of course, we asked Les and Zen to settle the cheeses and crackers, Pascal came with salami and olives, and Piwen and Gab brought wine. Zen also bought an assortment of four cakes from Rive Gauche for sweets.

img_8159

I’d bought all the ingredients needed Friday, and Saturday, while Flo gave Kawaii a good shower, I swept and mopped our home before prepping for dinner. Then at 4pm, I started on our lightened-up Cottage Pie, decided to make a Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Mash in case the sliced potatoes atop the minced beef mix didn’t provide enough ‘carb-fill’, and Roasted Balsamic Vegetables.

It was actually really quick and easy.

  1. Make Cottage Pie filling. 
  2. Slice washed potatoes using mandolin. Boil remaining potatoes for mash. 
  3. Wash and cut eggplant, pumpkin, red and yellow peppers and onion into chunks. Throw in some fresh corn kernels since we had an ear to use up. Olive oil, balsamic, sea salt, pepper. Toss. Throw into oven for 45min. 
  4. Throw in garlic bulb with olive oil, wrapped in aluminium foil as well for 20min. 
  5. Put cooked filling into casserole dish. Top with sliced potatoes. Brush with butter. Salt, pepper. Throw into oven for 45min or until potatoes brown. 
  6. Mash potatoes with roast garlic, rosemary, a dash of milk, a dash of cream, a pat of butter, sea salt and pepper. 
  7. Keep everything in warm oven until guests arrive. 

I enjoyed it. And Kawaii was good as gold sitting on favourite (and only) blanket, at his favourite corner, enjoying belly rubs whenever our friends popped by his space to give him some love.

After our mains, we whipped out the assortment of lovely cheeses Zen had selected, along with delicious honey and wafer crackers. Together, we had gherkins, olives and salami. It was like having German dinner, after dinner. Oh, I forgot to mention, I also baked bread. The Swedish kind with lots of different seeds. Like pumpernickel. But I cheated and got the box from Ikea to try so it was a simple case of adding warm water into the box, shaking it like a polaroid picture, and dumping it into a baking tin to proof before baking.

img_8160

I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of being able to cook for friends I love, and watching all the food I’d prepared before polished off. Either it was really good or they were really hungry and I didn’t prepare enough. Haha. Whatever the case, I really enjoyed dinner, and even more so their company – catching up, learning more about each other, sharing stories, laughing together. Old friends, new friends, they all make my heart full. As we get older, it’s not as easy forging new friendships so the ones we have become more valuable and the new bonds we form, are ones we try to nurture as well. 

The high from cooking led me to another simple cooking path in part because I was adamant about choosing the healthier, though slightly more troublesome, option. I’ve never cooked stock from scratch before and last Tuesday, Flo suggested I make a seafood stew so we could use up the rest of the bread we had left. Since I’d bought fresh prawns for the stew, I decided to try my hand at using the shells to make the stock.

I chose to go a little healthier, discarding the heads (yes I know I know, where all the flavour and mojo is, I’m sorry!), and frying the shells along with onions, garlic and some peppercorns. Then I added in hot water, let everything come to a boil before simmering for half an hour.

img_8174

I really wanted to do a step-by-step pictorial on how I made the stew but after this first one below, I kinda forgot… Anyway, I didn’t have fresh tomatoes with me so I sautéed onions, garlic, sliced bird’s eye chilli, and some yellow pepper, along with some thyme, rosemary and threw in a bay leaf as well. I made about 250ml worth of stock.

img_8176

Then, I added in the prawn stock with a dash apple cider vinegar (instead of white wine), 1.5 tablespoons of tomato paste and let everything simmer. Then I realised that more tomatoes would be heartier so I added about half a cup of diced tinned tomatoes and let everything cook down a bit before adding chunks of sea bass and the de-shelled, de-veined prawns. Was tempted to buy scallops or add in some mussels but what we had in the pot was already more than enough. I could have reduced it a bit more to make it thicker so that it’d cling more to the bread but it was dang tasty!

img_8177

So I could have toned down on the chilli or perhaps use chilli flakes next time instead. I think it was on the spicier side for Flo. I was really proud of myself and seeing that stock isn’t that difficult to make, I might start making chicken broth at home from now on too. At least I can be assured that only natural ingredients have gone into it. In fact, with this seafood stew, I didn’t have to add any salt at all. I added half a teaspoon of coconut sugar to tamper the tang, and black pepper to season. That was it. Best kind of dinner for cold-ish evenings! Also, cooking with love makes everything taste even better!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s