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Archive for the ‘Reminders’ Category

We managed another road trip with my parents on Thursday but this time, we weren’t as ambitious as before. It was a straightforward 40-ish minute drive to Cliveden, an estate now owned by the National Trust.

Cliveden actually means “valley among cliffs” and has been home to dukes, countesses and a Prince of Wales! Amongst others, of course. Its grounds are huge and its gardens are gorgeous. The day we went was another amazingly beautiful day, perfect for all the families who came with their little ones for a picnic and to run around.

The vastness of Cliveden made me wonder just how its past inhabitants used to get around. By horse? Carriage? Walking? And what if they needed to find each other? 

There was also an area where The Dollhouse was situated. They had these little tree stumps together with a big stump that doubled as chairs and a table. Dad got quite excited being able to sit on one of the stumps.

We continued further in to a large fountain also known as The Fountain of Love where the shell supports three females who are being seen to by Cupid. Yes, I actually try to do some kind of research on these things especially for those who are interested.

I’m sure there were a lot more to Cliveden that we missed out on simply because it was so big and we didn’t have enough time to explore every nook and cranny.

From this shell fountain, we walked up the long driveway leading to the mansion that now operates as a 5-star hotel.

We didn’t enter the hotel but we did walk round its terrace which gave us a bird’s eye view of the parterre. At 4 acres, this is possibly one of Europe’s largest formal gardens.

How cool is that?!

After reaching the parterre, we decided to try and loop back to the car as tummies were beginning to growl. We kind of overshot one of the turns but in doing so, we managed to get a nice shot of Flo and I amongst the tall trees with not a person in sight (behind us). We were all wondering actually, why the crowds had thinned out.

Mum, I think, was getting tired, so was a little annoyed that we had to walk the extra way to get onto the right path back to the car where lunch was waiting for us.

Olive Bread with Serrano Ham. 

Hopping back into the car, we continued on in search for what is allegedly the oldest freehouse in England. Mum and Dad were brought there by a good friend of theirs before and it wasn’t far off from Cliveden. Only… it’s located in a rather remote area so finding its exact location required some trial and error, before resorting to some old-fashioned help, before getting confirmation from Googlemaps which decided to come through for us only after we’d already asked for directions.

Rickety, uneven floors and a low ceiling greeted us at their entrance.

And the interior did feel quite dated with all the random paraphernalia seemingly gathered over the years, decades, centuries?

The place did look old, but whether or not its as old as the over 900 years that they claim to be, I’m not so sure.

Age aside, it still looked sturdy as a rock and while the boys had their pints in hand to cool them down in the afternoon sun, Mum and I settled for coffee.

We decided to have our drinks out in the warm sunshine even though the inside looked very cosy and intimate.

We managed to make it home much earlier this time around which was nice. Our day felt quite relaxed and it was great being able to spend more time out in the fresh air. Being home early also meant that dinner was served hot and fresh out of their pots and pans.

Grandma made my favourite Spinach Curry!! And Mum’s favourite Braised Chicken with Lily Bulbs and Shitake Mushrooms.

I know, I keep saying that Grandma made my favourite this and favourite that. That’s because they’re all my favourite and just as the flavour of Mum’s cooking is unique to herself, so is Grandma’s. Replicating the taste of her cooking would be a near impossible feat!

Also, on many previous trips, owing to my ED, I refrained from eating Grandma’s food what with the oil and salt and blah blah blah. I would buy my own food and cook them to my liking. So I think that being back this time around and allowing myself to enjoy grandma’s food also made her so much the happier. And there were times after dinner where I’d feel as though I’d overindulged but at the end of the day, it was a real treat being able to eat her familiar cooking so f*ck ED because it was worth it.

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… And almond cake.

But before I get into the nitty gritties of my latest kitchen experiment, I had the privilege of baking Kim’s birthday cake albeit a little early since I’ll be away on her actual birthday.

She requested an Apple Walnut Cake with Peanut Butter Cream but as she’s pregnant and currently having to watch her sugar intake, I made this with 60-40 Coconut Sugar to Caster Sugar ratio, and refrained from adding sugar into the cream since peanut butter already has some of its own. I did drizzle more plain, melted peanut butter on top since peanut butter is love and who doesn’t want more of it?!

Kim’s special in that she was the one who recommended Dr. A to me. She’s a real inspiration to me and is someone I love and admire. Kim and her husband are both outstanding people not just in their accomplishments, but also in character. I know that both of them have gone through challenges in their lives, individually and as a couple, but God is faithful and they are now being blessed with a soon-to-be-born daughter whom I cannot wait to meet!

Now, this is actually a scheduled post and right now, I’m probably biting into a Currywurst and walking around Planten um Blomen in Hamburg with Flo. I’ll definitely be writing about my virgin trip to Hamburg as well as my 3484239th trip to London (first trip there with Flo though!) when I get back. In the meantime, I wanted to share this Date and Almond Cake recipe with you.

The Muslims are about to begin their fasting month and it is often the case that they break fast by eating dates. I have never fasted for religious purposes before, and I won’t even try to compare my ED days of extensive restriction to what my Muslim friends go through annually. I respect their steadfast dedication to their beliefs so what better than to demonstrate that than by baking a cake using dates!

Also… I just wanted to bake something different.

The beauty of this cake is that you get crunch from the almond nibs, a bit of chew from the dates, a hint of spice from the cinnamon, all smacked in the middle and on top of fluffy, vanilla cake!

Date and Almond Cake (Yields 1 8″ Round)

150g Finely Chopped Dates (I find it easier to cut them using a pair of scissors)
100g Almond Nibs
90g Brown Sugar
5g Cinnamon Powder

250g Butter
180g Caster Sugar
Vanilla Extract
3 Eggs
290g Plain Flour
7.5g Baking Powder
125g Milk

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line an 8″ round baking tin. 
  2. For the filling and the topping, mix dates, almond nibs, brown sugar and cinnamon powder together and set aside. 
  3. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Then add in vanilla and eggs one at a time. 
  4. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately, starting and ending with the dry mixture. 
  5. Pour half the batter into prepared tin, then sprinkle half the date and almond mixture on top. Pour the second half of the batter on top to cover, before topping with the rest of date and almond mixture. Gently press the mixture down into the cake batter so that they ‘stick’. 
  6. Bake for 75min. If the top starts to brown too much, cover with foil for the last 15min. 
  7. Allow to cool before removing from tin. 

This cake is perfect for sharing amongst friends and family. Have it as it is, or if you’re feeling indulgent, drizzle some salted caramel sauce or honey on top. This cake has so many different textures and flavours that work incredibly well with each other. Definitely stick to the dates but if almonds aren’t your thing, switch to walnuts or pecan nuts. Not into cinnamon? Try ginger or cardamom!

Chances are, this cake isn’t going to last you through to when I return from my little Eurotrip. I’ll be back though so don’t you forget me!

And a quick update:

I saw Dr. A one more time last Monday because I wanted to get a little ‘booster shot’ before leaving for Europe. After a couple good weeks, ED is trying to hit on me again which is expected since that’s what bullies do. I’m anxious about how meals will be while I’m away but apparently, our body reacts to fear and excitement in exactly the same way. The only difference is how we perceive the situation. In other words, I may actually be excited about the different foods I’ll get to try especially in Hamburg – tasting things that Flo grew up with. Will I fall in love with them? We’ll just have to wait and see…

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Flo and I had another cooking session together this past weekend since we figured after our salmon dinner the other time, that we’re pretty good cooks. And food cooked with love tastes even more awesome.

We decided to go for something relatively simple but fun – Vietnamese Summer Rolls. Only, we switched things up a little by making beef bulgogi and because I couldn’t find the thick vermicelli noodles often used in the filling, I went for enoki mushrooms as fillers instead.

I sliced up some tenderloin steak the night before and did a quick, easy bulgogi marinade  for the beef to sit in overnight. I found the recipe on My Korean Kitchen although I scaled down the portions and used less sugar. I also used Asian pear instead of the apple but Ooooh the flavour was really good anyway. Flo did the cooking of the beef slices which was perfect. They were not too sweet and very tender.

We also grilled up some prawns before having them, sliced up some red onions, and julienned a carrot. Flo did most of the handiwork this lunch, while I plucked the mint and basil leaves off their stems.

Flo also made the sauce while I made sure he got the measurements right. Keeping in with the idea of Korean-inspired Vietnamese Summer Rolls, we made a Gochujang dipping sauce. I find that gochujang is already sweet by itself so we left out sugar in our recipe.

Flo was exceptionally generous with the garlic so you can imagine how lovely our breaths smelled after we were done with our meal. We both tried to make photogenic summer rolls but for some reason, our rice paper kept getting really sticky no matter how quickly we dipped it into the lukewarm water. Yeah, I’m blaming the rice paper and not our wrapping skills in creating not so pretty looking rolls. Still, they were very tasty with the herbaceousness from the mint and basil, that gentle kick of spice from the gochujang dipping sauce, the smokiness of the prawns and the savoury sweetness of the beef.

This week has also been very busy for me. It’s been cakes galore with Mother’s Day being on Sunday and then lots of birthdays the rest of the week. It looks like May is a popular month for babies to be born.

Also, because I’ll be leaving to Europe on Sunday where I’ll meet Flo who’s going a couple days earlier to attend a wedding, I’ve been trying to meet the extra orders from the cafes I supply to so that they’ll be able to have enough cakes for the two weeks I’ll be out of action. The kitchen has been buzzing with activity and the closer it’s getting to the end of the week, the more tired I’m getting and the more excited I am to go on my holiday. I’m half-dreading the work load when I return but I’ll leave that for when I’m back.

I guess the tiredness has also made me feel a bit more bleh about the physical changes my body is currently undergoing. When I’m tired my brain automatically translates that to feelings of fatness. The fact is though, that as big as I may feel, it’s probably because I feel like I haven’t yet got on top of all my orders even though I’m currently on schedule for all my tasks. The process of still wading through my work makes me feel as though I’m not in control but in reality, I am. In reality, based on what I’ve set myself to do each day until the end of this week, I’m right on the ball.

In order to make light of my negative feelings, I decided to get some dark chocolate. The last time I made Rye Brownies, I used 70% dark chocolate and I felt like going darker might not be a bad thing. After all, once you go black…

Anyway, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, has been proven to improve blood circulation, raises good cholesterol, protects the heart aaaaaaand is good for brain function. It also makes people happy.

90% Cocoa Dark Chocolate! I was contemplating 99% but I think that would have been a little hardcore. Instead, I used 160g of this dark chocolate and mixed it with 40g of 60% dark chocolate to use in my brownies, while reducing the amount of sugar so that the recipe yielded a more bitter brownie with just enough sugar to sweeten the deal.

I added orange zest into the brownie batter for a touch of tang as well as some shiro miso for that hint of salty umaminess. Then I threw some white chocolate buttons on top to caramelise while the brownie baked in the oven.

Bitter dark chocolate offset by fragrant zesty orange, followed by a wave of subtle miso, and finished with a light caramel flavour from the sweet white chocolate. So rich and so decadent.

90% Cocoa Dark Chocolate Orange Miso Brownies (Yields 1 8×8″ Square):

200g Dark Chocolate, Melted
200g Butter
115g Sugar
3 Eggs
50g Shiro Miso
1 Orange, Zested
50g Plain Flour
50g Cocoa Powder
85g White Chocolate Droplets, to top

  1. Preheat oven to 175deg C and prepare an 8×8″ baking tin.
  2. Cream butter with sugar, then add miso paste and orange zest in to blend. 
  3. Add melted chocolate.
  4. Incorporate plain flour and cocoa powder until just mixed.
  5. Pour batter into baking tin and scatter white chocolate droplets on top – the oven heat will caramelise them.
  6. Bake for 20-25min, then remove from oven to cool before cutting.

Again, as with most of my recipes, you can play around with the ingredients. You can omit the orange zest or use a less intense chocolate. However, what I really love about these brownies really is the boldness of the dark chocolate that really stands out. This is a brownie for serious dark chocolate lovers and less for the kiddies. Give it a go and you may fall for it hard just like I did.

 

 

 

 

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Food challenges are part and parcel of ED recovery, although there are other factors that may contribute to the ED and need to be dealt with concurrently.

My appointment with Dr. A last week went well and it was quite a light-hearted session. I shared with her about how I think that things are going well for me and how I feel better equipped mentally to handle food situations most of the time. I also shared with her about how reframing my negative feelings have helped me to feel more in control of my emotions, as well as my own well being.

I am becoming increasingly aware of how my body has changed over the last few months. Pictures that I used to think looked ‘chubby’ now make me cringe a little at how emaciated I actually looked, how tired, lifeless. And current pictures are sometimes a touch bit challenging to look at even though I have to admit that they look a lot healthier and I am a lot happier. Learning to accept my body is a work in progress, but so far, I’m not hating it.

One of the things Dr. A asked me during our session was how I think I’m doing on a scale of 1 to 10 with regards to recovery. I told her that I think I’m a 7. I’m handling my fear of carbs a lot better and I always try to incorporate some carbs when I make dinner for Flo and I. I’m able to consume carbs as part of my lunch meal even when dining alone – which is often the case on weekdays, and every week I try to push myself a little harder by incorporating something more into that meal.


I still find it difficult when facing a variety of food choices and usually opt for slightly safer options when at the hawker centre. For example, I go for soupier dishes and while some are much nicer in a soup form, other dishes taste better when eaten dry. Like wanton mee (wanton noodles). The other day when Flo had his wanton mee dry, I went for the soup version. Truth be told, I hadn’t had wanton mee for so long and never in my life before ED had I ordered wanton mee soup before. So yeah, the soup version was a little bland and not very exciting at all. Also, I guess I would struggle to bring myself to the hawker centre or food court if not for Flo, preferring instead to prepare something at home.

Dr. A then posed a challenge to me. Her challenge was to have a plate of dry wanton mee, and finish it all by myself before our next session. If I wanted to, I could try it alone, or I could have it with Flo.

Was I up for it? She asked.

Immediately, I could feel my brain whizz in panic – OMG! Calories. Carbs. Fat. They put lard in the noodles don’t they? All that sauce to mix into the noodles. Can I do it? Should I do it?

And then I took a deep breath and thought about all the big meals I’ve had that’s sure to put a little plate of wanton mee to shame – in particular, that Omakase meal. I decided that it was just ED instilling fear in me, when in reality, I have faced much greater food challenges before and managed to overcome them.

So Sunday lunch time, we met Amanda and Alex for lunch at Haig Road Food Centre before our Diablo 3 Marathon. I did queue up for my plate of wanton mee. For a good 15-20min. Wedged tight between two old aunties – one who liked her bum rubbing against me, and the other who liked her belly resting against my back.

I did order my plate of wanton mee – $3.

And…

I did finish my plate of wanton mee.

I did enjoy it but after seeing and tasting a little of Flo’s wanton mee that he ordered for the other stall he’s been eager to try but has never been open every single time we went until this last Sunday… I think his plate of noodles tasted that little bit yummier. The grass is always greener on the other side it seems.

Whatever the case, I made it through the plate of noodles and am none the worse for wear because of it. Life is still going on and I don’t think I’ve gained one-ton from the won-ton. Get it get it??? Hurhur..

In other news, we had Mum and Dad over Saturday evening for dinner. Flo cooked the German Bratwurst we bought from Huber’s which turned out nice, porky, and very juicy.

Alongside, we had a bit of cheese and cold cuts, as well as the lobster I managed to get at 50% off!! I get so happy when I find good stuff on special. Of course, it was a little lobster, and getting it out of its shell was my only contribution to dinner. Still, it was done meticulously and with a whole lot of love.

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Like most people, I hate failing. The only difference is that sometimes, I fear failure even before I try to take that first step into doing something that scares me, or appears difficult to me. But the fact is, failure is part and parcel of life. And to reframe the idea of ‘failure’, perhaps it might be better to see it as a small success in reaching the peak of successes.

A few days ago, I was excitedly exclaimed to Flo that we would be having a wonderful, sumptuous dinner that evening cooked by yours truly. It was going to be a Korean-inspired Jambalaya. Or maybe Jumble-laya would have been a better name for what I made.

I used whatever I had in the kitchen instead of stocking up on items I might not use up so quickly – seafood, gochujang, brown basmati rice, pumpkin, red spinach… And I followed what appeared to be a simple recipe tweaking bits and pieces of it as I went along.

The myriad of spices that wafted through our home spelled a flavourful, comforting meal. Only, when I checked my jumblelaya, I realised that my rice was still a little on the crunchy side. So I let it sit a while more in the simmering pot of goodness, going back a while later to find that it was adamantly refusing to cook through.

I was far from being pleased as pie and wasn’t too keen on serving it to Flo. But there was not much else I felt I could do to salvage the rice and also nothing more in the fridge to serve as dinner. So I reluctantly plated up, praying that it would still be an enjoyable meal for us both.

Flo, my number one supporter, said that it was delicious even though the rice still had some crunch. And I also found myself lapping up the sweet from the pumpkin, tanginess from the tomatoes and the spiciness from the gochujang. The rice didn’t hurt the overall dish altogether but at the back of my mind, I kept trying to pinpoint what I did wrong.

I scoured the internet post-dinner, scratching my head as to how I can do it better, do it right, make it perfect the next time around. Then I decided that in my next attempt, I’m just going to cook my rice separately and then mix everything up at the end. It might mean an extra pot to wash but at least I have less room for error.

The perfectionist in me thought many times about whether I wanted to share this ‘failed’ try at Jumblelaya with the Internet, but it is a good reminder to me that I am human and it’s ok to make mistakes whether in cooking, or at work, or at school. From failure we learn and that’s what’s most important. We grow as individuals and we try to take away lessons from where we went wrong.

I’ll be back to whip up another round of jumblelaya for sure so watch this space!

In other news, as much as I hate messing up at cooking, what I hate even more is messing up at baking. So thank goodness when my Poppy Seed Cake came out of the oven in all its princely gorgeousness.

We’re used to having poppy seed cakes with lemon or orange, but this cake highlighted poppy seeds as its main ingredient without any other flavour, apart from a touch of vanilla, to taint its nutty crunch.

Poppy Seed Vanilla Cake

70g Poppy Seeds (You can reduce this to 50g if you prefer less poppy seeds)
120g Milk
240g Butter
190g Sugar
3 Eggs, Separated
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
240g Plain Flour
10g Baking Powder
2g Fine Salt

  1. Preheat oven to 175deg C and line a 9×4″ loaf pan.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring poppy seeds and milk to the boil then set aside to cool.
  3. Cream butter with sugar. Then whisk in egg yolks, vanilla and poppy seed mixture. 
  4. In a clean mixing bowl, whisk egg whites until they develop stiff peaks. 
  5. Fold dry ingredients and egg whites alternately into the wet mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. 
  6. Pour batter into lined tin and bake for 45-50min until top is golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
  7. Cool cake in tin for 10min before removing. 

And just because I felt pretty the other day…

Hello. And good day to you! 

 

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It’s been quite a crazy few days but such is life.

Flo and I were treated to some of Mum’s lovely Chicken Curry last week. I made some Spinach with Garlic to go with the Brown Basmati Rice I cooked as well. Flo’s quarter-Indian blood clearly shone when he ladled spoonful after spoonful of curry over his rice, almost drowning it. The only ‘ang moh’ (Caucasian) thing that got me quite tickled was that he wasn’t used to having bones in the chicken. Still, he quickly picked up the art of eating chicken off the bone using a fork and a spoon.

I’ve not had Mum’s chicken curry in so long because of the ED and I hesitated even wanting to have it. But diving into Mum’s lovingly cooked food filled me with flavours of nostalgia. They were familiar to me in the way only Mum’s cooking can be, and even with an infinite number of curries all over the world that many might say is the best, to me, Mum’s ranks as #1. No contest!

Last Monday being Labour Day or May Day, I had another day of Flo with me! We had a really good weekend that consisted of rest and activity in equal measure – sleeping in, shopping, binge watching Scrubs, comedy night… So when Monday came around, Flo wanted to stay in and play his Game of the Moment – Horizon? I think that’s what it’s called.

We were thinking of popping downstairs to get lunch but in the end, I mentally scanned through the bits and pieces of food we had in the fridge and decided that he could play a little longer while I fixed something up.

I made a quick Shakshuka with Prawns thrown in, Avocados on top as well as some crumbled Blue Cheese, served with sliced, toasted Rye Bread. Nothing fancy but still quite delicious if I do say so myself!

Just yesterday, I received a call from my gynae’s clinic regarding my pap smear results. Apparently I have some abnormal cell changes that require a week’s treatment followed by another pap smear in 3 months’ time.

It kind of sucks visiting the gynae’s clinic more often than most people and perhaps part of it may have been my own fault because of my poor eating habits thereby creating a lower immune system. Perhaps as healthy as I may appear externally, in the sense that I don’t often fall sick, I may not be quite so strong internally.

The results aren’t particularly anything to worry about but for sure, it would have been a lot nicer to have had good results without any complications. Needless to say, I didn’t have the biggest smile on my face leaving the clinic after picking up my course of medication, but one thing that did manage to put that smile back on were these Brondies I made. I dubbed them Brondies because they’re a hybrid of Blondies and Brownies. Perfect for days when you cannot decide which one to go for!

I did quite a bit of honey for sugar substitution, and decided to incorporate some Earl Grey Tea into the blondie. The result, I am happy to say, was a beautiful blend of floral aromats just strong enough to hold its own against its rich, chocolatey counterpart. The toasty Walnuts on top did their job of providing some texturally contrast as well as imparting a lovely nutty flavour to the brondie.

Brondies (Yields 1 x 8×8″ Square or 12 pcs)

Earl Grey Almond Blondie Layer:
75g Butter, melted
45g Brown Sugar
45g Honey
1 Egg
60g Almond Flour
60g Plain Flour
1 Sachet Earl Grey Tea 

Brownie Layer: 
75g Butter
90g Dark Chocolate Chips
50g Brown Sugar
50g Honey
1 Egg
30g Cocoa Powder
40g Plain Flour

Chopped Walnuts (Optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180deg C and line an 8×8″ baking tin.
  2. Prepare blondie layer:
    Melt butter and stir in sugar and honey. 
    Whisk in egg.
    Incorporate almond flour, flour and earl grey tea into wet mixture until just combined. 
    Set aside.
  3. Prepare Brownie layer:
    Melt butter with chocolate and stir in brown sugar and honey. 
    Whisk in egg. 
    Incorporate cocoa powder and flour into wet mixture until just combined. 
  4. Spread blondie layer into the base of prepared in. 
  5. Pour brownie batter on top and try to spread over blondie layer as evenly as possible.
  6. Top with chopped walnuts and bake for 18-22min until just set. 
  7. Let cool before slicing. 

As with most of my recipes, these are easy to play around with. You may omit the earl grey tea from the blondie layer and choose instead to add in white chocolate chips. You could put in a caramel layer in between the blondie and the brownie. Candied almonds would go really well in this recipe as well or you might even want to throw in some Rolos just for the fun of it.

We don’t always know what life is going to throw at us but I always believe that whatever happens, everything will always turn out well. We just have to have a little faith and trust that rainbows will come after we’ve weathered the storms. And if there’s anything I’ve learnt through baking, it’s that wherever there’s cake, or brondies for that matter, there are always happy smiles! 

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To most, being asked to gain weight would be a cause for celebration. For me, and probably the majority of those suffering from ED, it can create a lot of anxiety and fear. A lot of my ED days especially in the early years involved planning meals to a tee. And I would plan around those mealtimes so that I would be distracted from the thought of eating and ignore any whimper of hunger that my stomach might be sending to my brain.

When I started to get treatment, eating out made me highly anxious.

What was on the menu?
What if there’s nothing I want ED wants to eat?
What if everything there is calorie-laden?
What if they eat too early? Too late?

And those thoughts would turn into

Hmm.. Maybe I won’t go. I’ll just stay at home to eat. Or maybe I’ll meet my friends, say I have something one and come home for dinner. Or maybe I’ll eat then meet my friends. Or maybe I’ll just tell my friends I’ve eaten, and tell Mum and Dad I’m eating out, and then not eat at all!

As I went through phases of recovery, I would push myself to go out for meals with friends or family. It wasn’t easy and often, I would back out. Over time though, I realised that there would always be something on the menu for me that I felt comfortable with. That didn’t mean that I had got rid of ED. It just meant that ED gave me ‘allowances’ and I constantly opted for safe foods while marvelling at how my beautiful friends could eat such ‘sinful‘ food, clean their plates, and still be far from overweight.

Funnily enough, that’s how I used to eat too, before ED. But over the years, ED blinded me to what normal, healthy, balanced eating is, and pulled me into its deception that I was different, that I was better because I could resist temptation, that I was strong because I was not greedy, that I needed less to be more.

The last week or so have been challenging but also rewarding. Flo has been pushing me to finish my food, carbs included, and while it doesn’t make me ED feel good, I know that it is only to my benefit.

Last Friday, I had a lunch date with Mum and I was hankering after Japanese! So Sushi Tei it was. Usually, I’d order my usual seafood soup and Mum would go for a main, and we would share a mini roll. While a part of me was pulled towards sticking to what’s usual and comfortable, I found myself swerving away from that lure and suggesting that we order a few dishes to share instead.

We had a Vegetable Miso Soup which came piping hot and wrapped itself around us in a lovely warm hug.

We also shared a Shirasu and Kani Tappuri SaladBaby Sardines, Crab Flakes, Seaweed and an Onsen Egg on a bed of fresh Salad Greens with Sushi Tei’s house dressing on the side, and a Mini Golden Roll. The sweet mango and fried jumbo prawn combo never fails to delight, nor make me feel guilty. But it was so good!

And that gorgeous, perfectly cooked onsen egg! With the sweet chunky flakes of crab! This was love.

With my gorgeous Mama! It was a wonderful day out with her as we scoured the malls of Orchard Road looking for something for Aunty Aud’s birthday – we came up empty-handed in the end. But it felt good spending quality time with Mum and then going for tea before we parted ways to head home.

Days like these remind me of how infinitely blessed I am to have a mother as beautiful inside as she is on the outside. Mum’s strong, self-assured, confident and still, she has a heart that is rich in compassion and love. While we do not always see eye to eye on everything, there is a whole lot of love between us!

The same day, I had a long-standing reservation with a quite recently-opened restaurant a short bus ride away from where Flo and I live. Flo and I met at FireBake in the evening where it was already quickly filling up with hungry customers.

We started off with their Bread board which is what FireBake is known for. 4 slices of sourdough bread – Dried Fruit, Rye, Wholemeal and White, alongside fruity Greek extra virgin olive oil and Norwegian Butter.

As any mother would say of her children, they were all special in their own way. The rye sourdough had a lot of character with its intense sour, nutty flavour, while the wholemeal and white were lighter and chewier. As for the sourdough fruit slice, it reminded me a lot of Fruit cake, which isn’t a bad thing for some – almost like dessert.

For mains, I arrowed straight for the Cured Norwegian Salmon with Bread Crust, Dill, Leek and Pickled Onion. The cured salmon was perfectly cooked and not too salty at all. The bread crust had some garlic powder in it I believe and reminded me a lot of something I must have eaten when I was a kid. It was different having the salmon with a breaded crust instead of crispy skin and I found myself missing that.

The vegetables while well-executed were a little on the oily side to me. Honestly, I was tempted to stop eating halfway because I felt like there was too much food on my plate, but with Flo’s encouragement, yes, I did finish everything. ED had regrets for sure. On my part though, I can’t say I had any because the salmon was simply on point.

Flo’s hunger took him to go for the Rangers Alley Stripling 300g which came with Jerusalem Artichokes and Chimchurri Sauce. It came medium rare as requested and was well-seasoned and juicy.

Flo did comment after that it was a little tough to chew on and for some reason, he was lusting after lots of water after the meal. The artichokes though, were an interesting side to the meal – they were earthy and had just a touch of sweet, almost like a cross between a potato and a parsnip.

We were seated at their counter so we had a good view of their open kitchen where all the action happens. I’ve worked in hot kitchens before but I have to say that an open kitchen is probably a lot more pressurising with nosy customers like me watching the cooks’ every move. Moreover, the head chef has to be more calm and controlled in this kind of environment, and the one running this kitchen most definitely was. Kudos to him and his team!

It was an enjoyable meal and while we’re not sure when we’ll head back again – simply because there are too many places around our area to try and also, the crowd here was quite insane, I have my eye on the Pumpkin dish when it happens.

I walked home from FireBake that evening just to get moving and to help digest dinner. Flo took the bus because he was due for his evening run that day. He’s currently beginning training for a half-marathon in August!

On Sunday, I had my first KOI tea other than sugarless green tea.

I finished it! I had a Plum Green Tea and Flo had his usual order of Milk Tea. They used our Chinese Preserved Sour Plum I think so my tea had a nice balance of sweet and tart even with no added sugar.

Still not done with food hurdles, we had dim sum at Imperial Treasure Yi Dian Xin (Paragon) for dinner since we were in town and Flo loves these Salted Egg Custard Buns.

Without a doubt, these are exceedingly guilt-inducing for me with their rich, luscious, molten lava filling, and I can usually do without them. But the boy wants what the boy wants and so we placed an order of these charcoal buns after we had cleared our baskets of the more traditional dumplings.

These were good albeit a little on the sweet side. The dough did a good job in countering the sweetness though and while it wasn’t a big portion, it was still quite indulgent to me. I ED felt bad but it was nice being able to share something Flo enjoys and not have to stick to ordering food that only I am comfortable with.

Sunday, Flo and I went downstairs to Haig Road Food Centre for a local breakfast of Chwee Kueh (Steamed Rice Cakes with Preserved Radish), Old school Siew Mai, and a Red Bean Bao. Kopi O for him. Teh O for me.

 

When Flo saw this stall the day before, he got so excited about this breakfast. Altogether, the food alone cost us $3 in total! He likes chwee kueh and I wanted to order soon kueh but they apparently didn’t have it that day. Hence, the two siew mais and the red bean bao.

These siew mai are a little different from the ones you get at restaurants in taste. It tasted of childhood and nostalgia to me so I wasn’t sure if Flo would like it, but he did! The bao was ok. Not amazing but the filling was hot and molten so yum! Also, the chwee kueh were actually pretty good considering that they’re not like, a famous stall or anything. The preserved radish was not too oily and the kueh was soft with just enough bite and bounce.

We returned to the food centre for lunch again.

Chicken porridge was cleaned out of its bowl.

And for dinner, we headed to Esplanade where Flo had a surprise lined up for me. I couldn’t fathom at all what it was because I was sure no musicals or theatre performances started at 9pm.

Anyway, we had dinner at Alter Ego first. It’s a place I’ve been wanting to try for a while but because I’d never been before, I was always fearful that the food would be too heavy or too generous in portion for me.

I had the Original Poke Shaker consisting of Original Shoyu Salmon on Sushi Rice, served with Lime Avocado, Spiced Roasted Cashews, Pickled Seasonal Veggies and Ikura.

Similar to mine but with the nice, delicate crunch of kale chips. Also, the salmon was bathed in a creamier marinade that boasted a bit of a spicy kick. Just a bit.

With bellies filled, we headed just around the corner to where my surprise was. My sweet boyfriend and got us tickets to watch Harith Iskandar, the funniest man in the world (at the moment), live, as one of the highlights of SG Comedy Fringe!

Never have I ever watched stand-up comedy live before and I was really excited. I was also very impressed with Flo for thinking to come watch this. I loved Sam See, who opened for Harith. He’s Singaporean, gay and very witty, and he engaged the crowd with spontaneous humour which is something not easy to do.

Harith himself was extremely funny. He touched on many topics that Singaporeans and Malaysians alike could identify with and I think it is the fact that we can relate, that we are able to find the humour in his monologue. He was engaging and present, and when the power went out for a bit, Harith was a trooper and we, as the audience felt no lacking as he carried on making us laugh.

It was an awesome night with my awesome boyfriend!

So these food hurdles have been teaching me quite a lot recently. There are times where I feel guilty, greedy, fat, uncomfortable, panicky even, after I clean my plate, but more and more, I am also beginning to care less about how many calories I might have consumed, how much more weight I am going to gain, how much fat I have accumulated.

I am beginning to relax more and enjoy the process, and see the future in a much more positive light.

I am beginning to embrace my womanhood and embrace the fact that my life is so much more, and will be so much more, when I am in good health. Already I can feel the positive effects of recovery on my thinking.

I am beginning to differentiate my voice from the ED voice. In other words, I believe that I, Natalie, am becoming stronger, more in control.

Sure, ED thoughts still try to hold me back. So right now, Flo’s encouragements help give me that extra boost in getting over those food obstacles. But in time, I know that I will have the strength to get over them myself. It will happen. 

This may be a very food-centric post, but every one of these meals was an achievement for me and I’m proud that I have been able to eat more carbohydrates (which act as fuel for the brain!) and finish my food. At the end of the day, I want and need to have a healthy relationship with food and with myself so that when I have children, I can be a good influence to them through my actions, and not just my words.

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