Saturdate.

It’s always love having Flo come home at the end of a long day to me. We don’t always get time to do anything special on weekday evenings so when the weekend comes round, it’s nice to be able to spend quality time together.

On Saturday, after weeks of anticipation, the World Snack Fair finally came into being at Suntec City Convention Centre. We’d both been quite excited about the fair and to see what interesting snacks might be available to us. So in the afternoon, after Flo had a shower and a bit of a rest from playing football, we made our way down.

The Fair turned out to be a little on the anti-climatic side for us because most of the snacks are readily available in most supermarkets in Singapore already. Still, there was a buzz of people filling boxes with as many different snacks as possible – from Japanese corn crackers to Pocky to bottles of Arizona teas, and cookies imported from Europe. There wasn’t anything that particularly interested Flo and I until we reached the chocolate section!

With everything going at $10 for 3, Flo and I had a good look at the selection of Ritter-Sport chocolates. We chose 3 flavours that are not so commonly found in Singapore – Yoghurt, Fruits & Nuts, and Honey Almond. That made me more than happy knowing that our trip into town was not for nought. Oh the little things that make me feel over the moon!

It was still too early for dinner so we took a nice walk over to Esplanade before making our way to Boat Quay where Flo had a dinner place in mind. We’d agreed that it was going to be a Burger Challenge Night for me so while I was mentally kind of prepared (because you can never be 100% prepared), I was only half-certain as to which burger place he’d picked.

It turned out to be The Burger Bar by Fat Boys.

And we managed to snag a lovely table right along the Singapore River!

It wasn’t too challenging as we were able to either choose from the main burger menu, or build our own burger. The hardest part for me really is the thought of eating the bun, and calorie-laden sauces, and greasy meat patties, and mounds of cheese… OK so that’s just about everything.

Flo built his own Beef Patty Honey Oat Bun Burger with Caramelised Onions, Jalapeños, Lettuce, Tomatoes and BBQ Sauce. I had a bite of it and I have to admit that it was gooooood.

I went for the Big Bello without Pineapple (I don’t get pineapple in savoury foods to be honest), and added Jalapeños to the Balsamic Grilled Mushrooms, Grilled Peppers, Caramelised Onions, Pepper Jack Cheese and Chipotle Sauce Combo, all squished within a Wholewheat Bun. So yes, it was a vegetarian burger but a burger no less and the portobello was incredibly ‘meaty’ and satisfying.

I will admit that I took off the top bun but I did have some of the Truffle Fries my dear boyfriend seems to have a penchant for.

It was fun being able to sit across from Flo and enjoy a burger with him. I guess there’s always a form of bonding in the simple act of eating the same food together. I hope that the next time we have a burger together, I’ll be able to ‘level-up’ and have something meaty between the buns. Pun, not intended! I think.

We had a really good weekend overall although poor Flo was aching quite a bit from all the football. We relaxed on Sunday with a facial, and ended the weekend with good ol’ Sashimi and Sushi. Now it’s back to the crunch but the upside is, there’s always another weekend to look forward to!

Advertisements

Thinking Thoughts.

One of the reasons it took a while for me to seek professional help again was because when I was attending counselling sessions back when I was in an in-patient, then a day patient ED programme, I felt that the psychologist and I were merely going in circles.

Each session would be a poke into my past and each time, it appeared as though there was a new revelation as to why I’d developed ED. It never seemed as though we were going anywhere and eventually, I wondered whether it was even necessary for me to know why I had developed anorexia in the first place. I figured that perhaps, like a tree, there were many roots leading to its growth, and which root supplied the most nutrients? It’d be hard to tell. Similarly, I thought the same with respect to my ED.

So, I left the programme and I stopped attending counselling sessions.

What made me want to look for professional help again was because I felt I needed that extra boost mentally and emotionally in my desire to recover not just physically, but in all aspects, and to maintain that recovery.

Wednesday afternoon, I had my second appointment with Dr. A and as I reflect back on the session, I realise that it is important to identify events in my past that have contributed to my dependence on ED as a crutch in life.

What I appreciate of Dr. A is that she starts from the present and slowly, we work our way backwards rather than take stabs in the dark as to what might have affected me so greatly as to use ED as a coping mechanism. And it’s interesting how suddenly, she will identify a pattern that screams exactly how my mind works. Of course, there’s a side of me that wonders if perhaps it is a case of her putting an idea in my head and then me fitting a scenario in to make it work, rather than the other way around. That’s probably the cynical side of me though.

One of the cycles we identified that I seem to be stuck in is this one:

Triggering Situation -> Overwhelming Emotions -> Avoidance Behaviours i.e. ED, Leaving the entire situation -> Feeling Better; Temporary Relief

So… I may get into an argument with someone close to me and rather than sit with the negative emotions until it tapers off, I get overwhelmed and scared by them. Rather than face up to them, I might choose to run away from the entire situation or/and fall back onto the ED to feel safe and to numb my emotions. It muffles everything from around me and I feel better, only I am aware that the relief is only temporary and I can only run for so long. Eventually, running away may lead to me being left with no one and nothing.

The idea then is to work on preventing or minimising triggering situations, and if they do occur, then I need to learn to manage the overwhelming emotions that might come along with it in a way that is more constructive than destructive.

Dr. A and I spoke about when my high feelings of anxiety may have first appeared and I mentioned how in the past, there were times when I would upset Mum and she would give me the silent treatment. Mum has changed over the years after I mentioned to her how bad it made me feel. However, until today, it is something I cannot sit with when I know that someone might be upset with me and chooses to turn the cold shoulder onto me.

We identified that the feeling of helplessness and the idea of not being able to understand or control the situation in terms of how to make it better may have contributed to this notion that I feel of myself being weak. And again, this idea that ‘I’m weak’ plays out as well strongly when my ED symptoms emerge.

The other evening, I stubbornly refused an extra slice of bread at dinner as much as Flo pleaded. Meal times have been increasingly difficult for Flo, I know, with him often having to coax me into eating more and reminding me the reasons why I want to get healthy.

On hindsight, I could have had it, but in that moment, all I could think about was how ED would berate me the rest of the evening for that extra indulgence. It also made me think that if I had eaten that bit more, I would have lost, and Flo, won. Twisted logic but logic all the same – I am weak.

As such, I overcompensate for my feelings of lacking by using ED to make me feel in control, to make me feel that I am able to be more disciplined than everyone else who shovel spoonful after spoonful into their mouths, that I am somehow, more superior.

When negative emotions hit me, I choose avoidance by running towards ED’s embrace and pretending that I feel nothing by shutting out the rest of the world so that only I exist, with ED. All I need to think about is what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and that, becomes my escape.

The last form of weakness Dr. A touched on was ‘Surrendering’ and that can be through overindulgence of food. That is, “What the hey! I’m weak anyway so I might as well just give in and eat”. I don’t see this so strongly in me but I can understand how it might be linked to the idea of weakness as well.

Anyway, our next session we’ll be trying to unpack this box that is labelled “I’m Weak” and repack it into a box that is filled with strong emotional reinforcements. In doing so, we hope to enable me to grow into a healthy adult that the helpless child in me is searching for.

And on a more positive note, as much as the thread of weakness threatens to unravel my being and spin into the clutches of the ED forevermore, I am also aware of the latent strength I possess that has yet to come to the fore on a more permanent basis. Still, it does appear every so often, reminding me that I can push ED thoughts away and enjoy the moment. Yes, ED is merely a thought.

Friday evening, I met Flo for a lovely Japanese dinner at Sakuraya Fish Mart at Parkway Parade. If you can’t tell already, we’re quite big fans of Japanese cuisine. This restaurant was cool in that they have fresh slabs of fish laid out at the front counter and you can pick the ones you want and the sashimi chefs will slice them fresh and have them sent straight to your table.

Flo and I chose the Yellowfin Tuna and Shime Saba Sashimi. The tuna especially was so fresh and clean in flavour. So good!

We also shared a portion of Ika Shioyaki (Salt-grilled Squid), Salmon Nigiri and Unagi Nigiri. I decided not to take pictures of every dish we ate because I wanted to bask in the pleasure of Flo’s company and enjoy our time together.

We ended our evening out with some of ol’ MacDonald’s Chocolate Fudge Ice-Cream Sundae. I’ve not had one for more years than I can count!! Ok, so it’s not top-notch quality ice-cream but it was quite nostalgic and it felt good being able to share that little cup of chocolatey, vanilla soft-serve with my man. It felt good being able to tune out the ED voice and not care about calories, even if only for that moment. It felt good just to be… present.

On the way home, I told Flo that even though I know that there is still work to be done with Dr. A in healing myself emotionally, and to some extent psychologically, I already feel more positive towards physical recovery. More so than ever, I am starting to ache for the family I would love to have with Flo. Sure, as we all know, it will not be easy going getting to where I want to be, but as long as I am heading in the right direction, that is most important!

Embrace.

The irony that at the bottom of this article about Liza Golden-Bhojwani and how she learned to embrace herself after struggling with anorexia as a runway model is a link to “‘Healthy’ Foods with Hidden Calories“. Similarly, it boggles my mind how flipping through a Fitness and Health magazine often means having to see advertisements of slimming ads or weight loss supplements being placed alongside “Why Quick-Fix Weight Loss Solutions Don’t Work”… which is one of the reasons why I stopped reading any kind of magazines apart from ones about Food and Travel.

I digress.

I really enjoyed reading about Liza and how she let go of her days as a model and as a model with anorexia. It can’t have been easy allowing her body to finally return to its natural state while also giving up her modelling career especially as she was booking jobs at some of the most high profile fashion shows.

wp-image-999256449jpeg.jpg
Recently, as a result of my struggle to let go of the ED, there has been more friction between Flo and I especially at meal times. I can understand from his point of view how having me refuse that extra slice of bread, or that extra piece of cheese, so stubbornly may indirectly appear to be a refusal as well to embrace the future we envision – a future together, building a family together. It’s not true. But I can see too that my actions say otherwise.


Why is it that embracing another person, giving comfort, showing love and acceptance to another person feels so much easier than embracing oneself?

It’s kind of like forgiveness. How do you know when you have truly forgiven a person because you can say you have but still feel this little wedge in your heart whenever the person comes to mind. Similarly, how do you know when you have truly learned to embrace yourself?

The Trouble with Youth.

The trouble with youth is that we think we will be young forever; that our bodies will always be limber and our beauty will never fade; that our skin will always be taut and our bones will always be strong; that we will always have Time on our side and that it will never run short. At least, most of us think that anyway.

It’s funny, scary, and sad how we are often blinded to subtle changes that go on around us – the birth of fine lines that start to deepen over time; the gentle sag of skin that pulls further with age; the new strand of white hair that blends amongst the growing population of white hairs.

Then BOOM!

One minute we’re basking in our prime and the next, we stare at ourselves in the mirror wondering how Age has caught up. In my mind, I’m still think of myself as young and somewhat childish at times. Then I scroll through Facebook and see friends already having their third child at 30. Ok maybe just the one who started pretty early, but many are settling nicely into married life and a fair number are starting to pop out babies.

Then I look at me and see myself still struggling along, still flip-flopping about gaining weight and still being afraid of whatever it is I’m supposed to be afraid of according to the ED. And I know, I know, that I only have so long before I turn around and wonder where I let my years go to, and cry over the babies I always wanted but never had – all because I allowed myself to continue being consumed by ED.

It stops now, I say. When’s now?, ED asks. Because my ‘nows’ appear to be a spot of light that I keep chasing, but not daring to catch.

To The Point.

About a quarter of 2017 has passed and while I try to keep my blogposts light and upbeat most of the time, I also think it’s important to share some of the things I have been going through in terms of ED and recovery.

The truth is, in recent weeks, my default feeling towards myself is fat. I know how untrue it is but it’s tough knowing that a couple months back I was bone thin and that, in a warped way, gave me some sense of reassurance. From what? I don’t know.

It’s obvious that I have gained some weight but the struggle now to keep moving forward is getting increasingly difficult. More than anything, it is mentally draining to push myself, and to not push myself. The former because ED snidely tells me after how ‘bad’ consuming this or that was for me and how much weight I’m going to gain from the extra mouthfuls of food; and the latter because I end up going back and forth with ED over what’s safe to eat, how much to eat, when to eat…

I can see that stress makes me run quickly towards ED. And with the changes that PB is undergoing now in running the canteen at the autistic school, thus resulting in my having to adapt to a new kitchen in another area of Singapore, as well as keep up with the quantities of muffins they need every day for the students and teachers, it has been quite disconcerting to me. ED as my form of control has been somewhat removed and as much as I initially felt like running away from the whole situation, I recognise that that just isn’t how I should deal with my fears.

I was initially baking the muffins from home while the kitchen stuff was being settled and as much as I would have happily continued this arrangement, it just wasn’t feasible running around all the time getting ingredients and having to get the muffins delivered to the school before 8.30am every morning.

So as agreed, I threw Timidity away and went in for the first time last Tuesday to bake in the new kitchen. Sure, it was different. And OMG the air-con was beyond freezing. And I had to make do with the ‘wrong’ muffin trays. But 3 hours later, I had all the muffins ready and yes, I survived. I know that the next time I go in, I’ll be more familiar with the kitchen and eventually, it’ll just be what it is and I’ll be laughing back in wonder at how I could have been so anxious about the change in the first place.

In terms of bingeing, I haven’t been indulging in that behaviour although sometimes, I hanker after an extra slice of toast with Peanut Butter and drizzled with Honey. When I do give in to that craving, I feel a huge sense of guilt hanging over me that is difficult to shake off. It feels like the harder I fight, the harder ED clings on.


Flo has been a wonderful assurance to me and never fails to tell me how beautiful he thinks I am every so often. Every weekend, we try to challenge me by having him think of where to go for dinner and not let me know. I wanted him to keep it secret because I didn’t want to allow myself to fret and look for menus online in a bid to see if there are any ‘safe’ foods for me there. Flo has been fair towards me and while it is scary to some extent, it is also quite exciting looking forward to new places to dine at.

In other news, I finally met up with this friend I met online, Sol. We’ve known each other quite a few years now and kept trying to meet up since the end of last year. I put it off each time because, well, because I couldn’t bear to bring myself out of the house to meet a new face and to possibly eat something ‘bad’. Shameful I know. And I will admit that I was anxious about meeting Sol for dinner at Ô Comptoir even though I’ve been there multiple times now.

But…


I did meet her. We did have dinner. And Time flew right past that before we knew it, it was time to run back home lest Flo began to worry. He almost did with a text checking to see if I was still alive. Lol. I’m glad that Sol and I finally made dinner happen and that we got on so well with each other even in real life. It’s yet another reminder of the social aspects ED tries to deny me of, and that allowing LIFE to happen can bring forth more life – this time in the form of a new friendship!

For Love.

I believe I can safely say that after his love for me, Flo’s next love is for bread. Ok. Squeeze his beautiful sister, family and close friends in, thennnn you have bread! I know that my dearest boyfriend can be quite particular about bread what with him being from Germany and having bread as a daily staple in almost every meal. They have breakfast rolls specifically for mornings, and breads consumed only with cold cuts and cheeses in the evening.

I was determined to try and give Flo a taste of home since he often laments that bread here in Singapore is not quite up to his standards. Our local bakeries are usually stocked with buns that are Japanese-inspired and tend to be fluffy and light with sweet or savoury fillings within. Artisan breads are generally more pricey and sometimes lack the denser crumb that he pines for.

Having had some success with my Pumpkin Bread, I felt confident about baking more kinds of breads and found a straightforward recipe from LilVienna for Sunflower Bread. I liked that it had Rye, and that it also incorporated Wholemeal Flour into the dough so at least I knew that we were not only eating bread without all the weird stuff that goes into the commercial ones, but also bread that has a higher nutritional content.


When it came out of the oven, Flo mentioned that it looked very much like the ones they have back in Hamburg. Of course, it was music to my ears but just 5 minutes later, as I struggled to remove the loaf from its tin, I feared the worst. I thought that perhaps the dough hadn’t cooked through and was still stuck to the tin even though I was sure I’d greased it. I worried that I might end up tearing the bread in my effort to release it and end up with a broken loaf.


In the end, I left it in the tin about another 30min before it popped out with little resistance. I was so relieved I did my dorky happy dance for Flo.


We had this toasted the next morning with Peanut Butter and Honey (I like PB with honey!), and Nutella.


And we had it another evening with Shaved Rosemary Baked Ham, Parma Ham, Salami, Brie, Cheddar and Emmental, served with Gherkins, Carrot Sticks and Sliced Red Bell Peppers. It was apparently a typical German dinner and very nostalgic for Flo. I enjoyed the experience although I felt that it was quite a bit of salty food for one night.


I find this bread to be really versatile for me simply because I’m not particular about what toppings go on what kinds of breads. So I had this for a few breakfasts and even for lunch simply with a Sunny-Side Up on top.


When toasted, the sunflower seeds yield a beautiful nuttiness that emanates through the moist crumb of the bread. The crust has a lovely crunch that I loved and the bread itself had a nice chewy density to it.


It was so good that I decided to make two more loaves the other day – one with Flaxseeds and the other with Pumpkin Seeds. I learnt this time that flaxseeds are perfect mixed into the dough, but not so much put on top because most of the ones I placed on top happily popped right off. Sunflower seeds though are much better at sticking to the dough as a topping.

Without further ado,


German Bread (Yields 1 Loaf):

510ml Lukewarm Water
30g Honey
7g Instant Yeast

180g Bread Flour
220g Wholemeal Flour

180g Rye Flour (I used Dark Rye)

80g + 20g Toasted Sunflower/Pumpkin Seeds or Flaxseeds
10g Salt

  1. Mix water with honey. Add yeast and let sit until bubbly – about 5-10min.
  2. Stir in bread flour and wholemeal flour.
  3. Add rye flour in 2-3 additions. Use a wooden spoon or a D-Scraper because the dough will be quite tacky.
  4. Add 80g seeds and salt. Mix well.
  5. Pour into a greased loaf tin and try to even out the dough as much as possible. Top with more seeds (but not flaxseeds – don’t say I didn’t warn ya!).
  6. Cover lightly with a damp cloth and let prove for 45min to an hour. Preheat oven to 230 deg C.
  7. Bake 10min before lowering temperature to 200 deg C and continue baking for another 30min.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for 20-30min before removing from tin to cool completely. Don’t slice the bread while it’s still warm or the texture might be a bit gummy.  Ideally, allow the bread to sit until the next day before you cut it up to eat. 🙂

So while I’m on a bread roll here (pun not quite intended), I’m going to try and make some of them breakfast rolls Flo was describing to me as we tucked into our Sunflower bread. He mentioned Weltmeisterbrötchen in particular aka World Champion Bread that’s supposed to be one of his favourites. For you, my love, I’ll try. If it’s successful, I’ll be sure to run here to blog all about it!

JooC Crew.

I’ve mentioned before that one of our couple friends have moved in down the road to us about a month ago although granted, down the road is still a good 10-15min walk away. We spent this last weekend with them first having dinner together Friday evening at a Vietnamese restaurant Flo and I think highly of. It’s called Long Phung and while the ladies serving there are quite intimidating with their loud, shrill voices as they scream orders to one another, it does make the atmosphere rather authentic.

We ordered a few dishes to share – the ubiquitous Fresh Summer Rolls and Flo’s favourite must-order Rare Beef with Lemon. Also, there was a portion of Fried Chicken Wings marinated in Fish Sauce that the three of them enjoyed.

Flo and I also ordered a bowl of Pho Tai aka Sliced Beef Pho to share between us. The broth was so rich and comforting, and the noodles very slurp-worthy.

Following our enjoyable dinner, we invited Alex and Amanda over to spend Sunday afternoon with us so that we could play Kung Fu Panda on PS4 together. Flo and I also planned to cook a dinner for the four of us.

 

It was an unofficial German meal with beautifully tasty Pork Sausages from Huber’s that Flo cooked perfectly. We also had Steak and some stir-fried Garlic Spinach for some greens, as well as Baby Peppers with Feta and Gherkins on the side. Alex and Amanda also brought over some delightful Hams and Cheeses that we had with crackers.


It heartens me that Flo gets on well with Alex, and Amanda of course, since Amanda is someone very dear to me. Funny thing is that our age range amongst the four of us is between 25 and 33. It’s not particularly huge but it’s not altogether small either. Yet, we laugh a lot together and have similar interests that enable us to make conversation that can go on and on and on. And even when that dies down, we’re able to bask in each other’s company and watch Russell Peters on Netflix to unwind.

wp-image-1646473546jpeg.jpg

Thinking about how Alex, Amanda, Flo, and I are so different in our backgrounds and have varying character traits, yet are able to come together and get on like a house on fire reminded me of this bowl of Bibim’Cauliflower’Bap I made for Flo and I the other day. The individual elements of this bowl so separate in how they are cooked manage to become a whole, cohesive flavour bomb once mixed up and eaten altogether.

I was really proud of how this dish turned out although I think in future, I’d make this if there were more people at dinner because the little components, while easy to make, is tedious to prepare because there are quite a few. Also, as I couldn’t get my hands on fresh beansprouts, I decided to use up the last of the kabocha I had left instead. Bibimbap is pretty much a dish you can put any kind of vegetable into, but this was my rendition of it.

Bibim’Cauliflower’Bap (Serves 2):

1 head of Cauliflower, Grated*

100g Lean Minced Beef
1 Tbs Soy Sauce
1/2 Tbs Sesame Oil
Pinch of Sugar
1/4 tsp Garlic

125g Spinach
1/2 tsp Garlic
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tbs Sesame Oil
1 tsp Toasted Sesame Seeds

150g Pumpkin, Cubed
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

60g Carrots, Julienned
1/4 tsp Sea Salt

50g Shiitake Mushrooms, Sliced
1/4 tsp Sea Salt

2 Eggs

Gochujang Sauce:
2 Tbs Gochujang
1/2 Tbs Sesame Oil
1 1/2 Tbs Water

*Alternatively, you can just used your choice of steamed rice. Flo mentioned how next time I ought to challenge myself and use white, or even brown rice. Perhaps I’ll do a mix of both as a start.

  1. Cook cauliflower rice – I bake mine in the oven for approx. 11min before stirring and cooking for another 6-8min.
  2. Marinade minced beef with soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and garlic for at least 30min.
  3. In the meantime: Make gochujang sauce by mixing gochujang, sesame oil and water together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Blanch spinach in boiling water then rinse in cold water to cool. Squeeze out excess water before mixing through with garlic, sea salt, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Set aside.
  5. Coat pumpkin cubes with olive oil and sea salt. Bake for approx. 30min or until tender.
  6. Place julienned carrots and mushrooms into individual foil packets and season with sea salt. Fold the packets to close and toss into the oven with the pumpkin cubes to cook for about 10min (This was my lazy idea so that I didn’t have to take turns sauteeing them). Remove and open foil a touch to release steam. Set aside.
  7. In a heated pan, cook minced beef for 3-5min until thoroughly cooked. Set aside.
  8. Fry egg to your preferred doneness.
  9. Place cauliflower rice, or plain steamed rice, into a nice, big bowl. Place beef, spinach, pumpkin cubes, mushrooms and carrots around the rice. Put your egg on top of the rice and top with as much gochujang sauce as you like.
  10. Stir everything up and enjoy!!

It certainly goes to show that variety can make for beautiful things. The mixing of different elements in this bibim’cauliflower’bap brought out the best in each ingredient as they worked to balance each other out – from the sweet kabocha to the earthiness of the mushrooms; the crunch of the carrots against the softness of the spinach; the light gaminess of beef offset by the spicy kick of the sauce. In a similar vein, I think the same can be said for Alex, Amanda, Flo and I in our friendship as individuals, as two couples, and as a group. And that in itself, is a very beautiful thing.

Oh! And I titled this post the JooC (like ‘Juicy’) Crew because we’re all now residents of the Joo Chiat vicinity. Although we’re also known as ‘Cumberland, Brockwurst, and the two Chilli Padis’ since Alex is from UK, Flo from Germany, and Amanda and I from this sunny little island. Lol.