Thursday, 19 June 2008

i was feeling down . . .

I don't know what got over me the other day, but I just felt really low. I have been doing ten minutes of exercise every morning as soon as I wake up (in my desperate attempt to lose a bit of extra weight in time for a friend's hen do at the end of the month), but on that day, I couldn't even be bothered to stretch my toes. I was supposed to do some yoga during my lunch break (it was a homeworking day), but I pigged out on crisps and chocolates instead.

By evening, I was feeling so low and frustrated with my sluggishness that I decided to do something that never fails to cheer me up—cook a Filipino dish! After a quick rummage through the fridge and the kitchen cupboards, I managed to cook this:

This is bistek Tagalog, but instead of using beef, I used a pair of yellowfin tuna steaks (bought from the frozen food section of Waitrose, which meant they were a lot cheaper than they would be if I bought them fresh). Bistek derives its name from the Spanish bistec, which means "beef steak." I used to think that this is how all beef steaks were cooked, marinated in soy sauce and kalamansi (Philippine lemons, which actually resemble limes) juice, then cooked in the marinade along with onion rings, which give the dish a hint of sweetness. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that Westerners cook their steaks in a less imaginative way (in my Easterner's opinion anyway).

Anyway, this was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits up—soul food that brings me back to the place I love most. I definitely felt a lot better after cooking and eating my bistek. The tuna steaks were lovely, and absorbed just the right amount of the marinade to give them the sour-salty flavour. Bistek is simple enough to make, and I normally don't follow any measurements when I prepare it. Here's how I cooked my tuna bistek. Needless to say, this will apply to other "bistek-able" things, such as beef and pork chops. Just make sure to slice your beef and pork chops thinly to help them absorb the marinade better. They'll need more time to marinate as well, although the longest I have marinated them is three hours, and they've still come out really nicely flavoured.


dark soy sauce
juice of half a lemon
medium onion, sliced into rings
2 tuna steaks, weighing around 300 grams

Combine some dark soy sauce and the lemon juice in a bowl. Put the steaks in the bowl and cover and store in the fridge for about an hour. Heat up a little oil in a frying pan and cook the onion rings gently, until they're soft and transparent. Remove from the heat and set aside. Fry the tuna steaks in the same pan for about 4 minutes on each side. Add the marinade, bring to a boil and simmer gently for a few minutes. Add the onion rings and let them absorb some of the sauce before turning the heat off. Serve with rice and steamed vegetables. Enjoy!

Tonight, I shall attempt to cook squid adobo. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

how to feed your baby doll: a lesson from sofia

First, position your dolly and take her nice clothes off because if you don't, if she's anything like you, she'll end up looking grubby after her meal.

Aim as close as you can for her mouth. If you can't put the food in her mouth, any other facial orifice will do.

If the food doesn't fit in your dolly's mouth (or the alternative orifice), trim it down to a suitable size by biting bits off.

Hmmm, actually, this tastes very nice. Yum.

Give your dolly a cuddle for watching you patiently while you ate her food.

Continue eating your dolly's food until you're satisfied, making sure to cuddle her at the same time.

Don't forget to drink your milk!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

a lull

A month of hectic work timetables, stressful waiting-for-s-to-get-done-with-his-exam, and watching Sofia make her way to toddlerhood has passed. I've done a lot of data work and administrative stuff and evaluating other people's data problems and sorting out solutions for them, and now we've entered a quiet phase at work. I'm spending the week just going over old publications and sprucing them up a bit. I'll try and enjoy this because I know that in a week's time, it could all go mad again.

S took his exam a couple of weeks ago, and is now just waiting for the results. In the meantime, we're making up for lost time by spending more time together as a family.

We still haven't planned our summer holiday though. I think we'll concentrate on decorating the house first in time for the arrival of our new lounge furniture, which is this set from Furniture Village. Our friends' eyes widened when we told them we chose the set to come in brilliant white. Yes, you read it right. We might happen to have two small children, both known to be unable to resist smearing nice clean surfaces with mud, tomato sauce, milk, chocolate, crayons and paints, but we're not going to let that stop us from having brilliant white leather furniture. We've insured the set, just in case, and I'm psyching myself for a new house chore—cleaning the set at least once a week!

I'd like to paint the lounge walls a pale blue, to make it look nice and bright. S wants to make it even brighter by painting the walls off-white. I'm not sure about that; I don't really want the lounge to end up looking boring and antiseptic. I told S that if we were to go for white walls, we'd have to get some bright and bold accessories, but even after I showed him photos of an all-white room with bright green accessories, he said he'd still be happier with white walls. I don't know how else to convince him to go for pale blue instead.

As for the dining room, we're thinking of stripping the carpet off and replacing it with hardwood. Because we have a toddler who insists on feeding herself and ends every meal by throwing food on the floor (as far as her arms can reach, so the food lands on the carpet, not on the splash mat under her chair), our dining room carpet is extremely grubby. We could either invest in a Vax or just change the flooring to make it easier to clean up the little madam's mess.

Little miss mess maker grabs master mess maker's schoolbook because she thinks she's a better reader than he is

I'm also getting a tall and wide bookcase with glass doors to store my books, a cupboard to serve as our art cabinet (an idea from The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule), and, if we manage to save enough money, a digital piano for Lucas. S and I think he's nearly ready for piano lessons, so we're thinking of signing him up for some lessons in the summer. I'm so excited for my boy, as I had always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument when I was a child, but my parents couldn't afford either a musical instrument or the lessons. S's parents were very musical, but did not teach their children to play music, so S feels sad about that. Hence, we're making up for what we didn't get by making sure our children have the option of learning music. And of course, Sofia will be taking ballet lessons too. (I've already asked around, and the ideal age to start is 3. Two long years to wait!) And S would like Lucas to take martial arts classes too. So yeah, our children will be busy. :)

Anyway, I must go back to work, and squeeze in some housework as well. (Can you tell that I'm working at home today?) We've had a lot of rain here in Cambridgeshire, but the sun has decided to come out and say hello today. Apparently, it will go into hiding again, and there'll be even more rain on Friday, when I have to be in the office. Ah, the British weather. No wonder the British people can't help but talk about it! :)