Sabtu, 14 September 2013

Recipe 1: Baby Bok Choy with shallots and sesame seeds

So I'm a self proclaimed vegan who occasionally falls off the wagon into the dizzying world of seafood and other sinful food. I'm not fit to be called a vegan, it's more that I try to be one maybe 80% of the time. However I'm planning on boosting up that percentage by buying the almighty veganomicon: the ultimate vegan cookbook.

Sadly I realized housing the book in my shelf didn't necessarily made me into a 100% vegan. After buying almost 2 months ago I'm now dusting it off my shelf and planning on challenging myself to make at least one new recipe a week from the book. 

So where better to document my own progress then in my long silent blog. Let the challenge begin! 

So this is the recipe for Baby Bok Choy with crispy Shallots and Sesame Seeds. One thing about the veganomicon, it has mom pictures in it. So I have no idea if my food turned out the way it supposed to or not. I'm guessing it did, since it tasted pretty good. I've actually made this recipe almost everyday for the past week, since its super easy and fast, something that a single girl living in a foreign country to study her doctoral degree desperately needs. 

The recipe calls for relatively simple things, 
1 pound baby Bok choy (although I used the grown up size since I didn't find the baby sized one in my supermarket, and they turned out fine)
2 small shallots (peeled and sliced into very thin rings)
1/2 inch cube fresh ginger (grated)
2 tbs peanut oil (no idea where to get that, I've tried using sesame oil and olive oil and it still tastes delicious)
1 tbs of mirin or apple juice 
1 tbs soy sauce 
1 tbs roasted sesame seeds

What you need to do is basically firstly to make crispy shallots by frying then in some oil until they become golden brown, but not burned. Then you take them out of the pan. 

Put in some more oil, and Sauté the grated ginger quickly, like 15 seconds or so. Put in the green leaves and toss them around until they wilt. Add the soy sauce and mirin, stir briefly and cover the pan. Steam for for around two minutes. Remove the lid and stir a little bit more. 

Move them to your plate and add the fried shallots and sesame seeds on top. Yummy!

Senin, 04 Februari 2013

Happy Birthday Christine

Today is my best friends birthday, and I wonder how she feels.

Today is not like any other birthday, well of course no birthday is like any birthday since in each birthday you add one year of living experience to your resume, however this time this year I think is a beginning of a new era for her. She's going to have a baby.

That birthday girl is going to give birth to another human being, whom she's gonna love maybe more than herself. Whose birthday will be more important than her own.

I wonder how that feels.

Although I might be young, unmarried and no where near of having children myself, but I want to give you friend my blessings and prayer.

Let today and the rest of your life be filled with gratefulness towards the life that you've been given and the people whom you've met and loved. May your gratefulness overflow as blessings to the people around you. May you be strong and graceful for your child as your mother was to you. Life is a cycle friend, and you the daughter will become the mother. What a blessing!

I love you bestie,
Hugs and kisses
Happy Birthday.

Minggu, 13 Januari 2013

catatan minggu seorang pengecut

sesungguhnya dalam hati ini aku ragu
kaki ini diam tak sanggup maju
untuk apa aku berjuang?
sudah mantapkah tujuan
dalam otak ada tanding gulat
gelap mulai keluar memanjat
rasanya aku berselimut takut
setan pun datang menghasut
ke mana aku harus mencari?
keberanian ke mana kamu sembunyi?

Kamis, 10 Januari 2013

Vegan Broccoli and Spinach Pasta

This Recipe is an adaptation of this vegan lasagna I found on the internet. While I was making it I thought that  parts of it tasted very good even without baking, so I tried to do that this time while adding broccoli to the thing. Please enjoy this healthy guilt free recipe!

200 g pasta
1 package of fresh spinach, blanched (learn how to blanch spinach here)
1 package (around 400 g) firm tofu (not silken)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) nondairy milk (such as rice, oat, soy, almond, or hazelnut), or as needed
2 peeled garlic cloves
Juice from 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons [30 ml])
2 tablespoons (5 g) minced fresh basil (about 20 leaves) or dried basil (both can be used although from experience the fresh basil gives a much softer taste which I prefer)
1 teaspoon (6 g) salt (or to taste)
1 tsp of olive oil 
1 cup of broccoli, chopped


Prepare the pasta according to the package direction, set aside.

Squeeze as much water from spinach as possible and set aside. 

Place tofu, sugar, milk, garlic powder, lemon juice, basil and salt in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. The tofu "ricotta" should be creamy but still have body.

After the  tofu "ricotta" is ready, put in the spinach and blend only for a little while so the spinach becomes the green little texture in the sauce. 
Heat the oil in a frying pan, put in the broccoli, cook until the desired texture (I myself prefer them to be only slightly cooked, still rather raw and crunchy), stir in the pasta and last ad in the sauce. Note that you don't need to add all the sauce, just as much you think the pasta needs. the remaining sauce can still be used for dipping of other food.  

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Senin, 07 Januari 2013

Playing with snow

     I woke up rolling in my bed that morning resisting to get out of bed-it was only 5 am- too early for anything, yet I had to wake up. One of my best friends here in Japan, Stephanie, had invited me to go skiing with her lab friend, I love Stephanie so of course I said yes, on top of that my former ski experience was great, so I was pretty excited to relive those great skiing moments I had before.

     So I took my bag and went out from my apartment at around 5.30 AM, it was gonna be a well deserved break I thought. I've been in Japan only since October and I've already felt so many incredible things, I expected to be less impressed by this weird country, for this is not my first visit, but I can be proven wrong and pleasantly so. Tokyo is one of my favorite cities in the world, the energy around here is mesmerizing for a girl like me. But the best part is where I am studying. I feel privileged to the bones to be able to sit in classes with those brilliant kids in Tokyo University. All of them bringing within the a spark of ambition, confidence and dreams that is just contagious. The teachers are not less impressive if not even better, they encourage dreams and they have this ability to drive you to dream bigger, to empower you. So in short I've been happy, but my body is worn out by excitement. I needed a break.

     I met Stephanie and her friend in Shinjuku at 7.30 that Morning. to be honest I had no idea where we were going, they could have taken us to China and I wouldn't know. My ignorance surprises me. I say China because the whole thing was a totally weird and interesting experience for me. It turns out that me and Stephanie were gonna join a group of around 200 Chinese students residents of Tokyo to go Skiing. So once we stepped into the bus we weren't in Japan anymore, we were in China.

     The bus ride was 5 hours long, and eventually we began seeing a scenery I knew all to well. Hills and houses covered by snow, seemingly dead trees, snow falling--- a winter wonderland you may say. While my eyes saw all this, I could feel something change inside of me. As it did 2 years before, snow had brought out the gloomy in me. I could feel the gloomy push out to the surface.

     We still had 2 hours to ski, so we put our bags in the hotel and we took our skiing gear from the basement. Nobody however seemed very excited. I've signed up for the training course and regretted it, all I wanted was to go up the hill and do some real skiing. so when I saw two of my new Chinese friend slip out of the class to take that hanger train ride to the top, I immediately went with them.

     When we were sitting on that hanging train ride that would take us to the hills, it was like magic. All the noises went out, and all that was left was you and snow. I just couldn't believe how beautiful it was, and I was swept into silence and remembrance of those men that left me.

     One of my fathers favorite poem was a poem by Robert Frost ,"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy evening". Throughout my upbringing he would quote the final verse of that poem to me as an encouragement,

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep."

      these were supposed to be words that reminded me of my responsibility, to restrain from worldly things and remember what is important. I sniffed at that concept, really Papa,  

     What is important? 

     These questions may have no answers Papa, and you were just as ignorant of this as the rest of us. I've been lost in these woods and marveled at the beauty blessed upon me and I have loved Papa and I have lost my love. With time many things have changed and for the most part the biggest change was You leaving me, and all this I remember upon gazing at those hills of snow in the middle of nowhere. I remembered You. 

     At that time I was skiing, gripped with a certain amount of uncomfortable sadness I wanted to loose. Skiing felt good, I had control and the more speed I gained the more I felt exhilarated and I forgot for a moment. Then suddenly it happened, I really had no idea how, but I twirled and fell, and I could feel my arm somehow dislocated. I was laying face-down on the snow and I couldn't move my arm. 

     All I did was scream and pray that God will have mercy. 

Rabu, 14 November 2012

Arjuna and His Arrow

          There is a classic Vedic story of an archery class in which Arjuna with his brothers and cousins are receiving instructions from the master archer, Drona. In a distant tree, Drona had placed a wooden bird onto which he had painted an artificial eye. He then asked each young man in succession to pull back an arrow but not release it until the student described what he was seeing. The first apprentice said that he saw the bird, the tree, the surrounding land, and the other students standing around him. Drona told him to put down the bow without launching the arrow. Each subsequent student responded similarly upon being asked the same question. When it was Arjunas turn, his response was,"All I see is the eye of the bird." When asked by Drona, "Don't you see the bird, the trees and the surrounding people?" Arjuna replied,"No Guru, all I can see is the eye." At this response, Drona instructed him to release the arrow, which struck a bull's eye.

(taken from the book Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga by Deepak Chopra)

never-ending quest

              I haven't been feeling well these past two weeks, of course I am still healthy and well, but I can feel that unless I take immediate action, I might loose my center, and if that happens all things may turn spiral after that. Therefore I know I must act fast, before I lose myself in the whirl of worldly consequences. 
              Its been a quest for me for the past year to get in touch with my spiritual side. Somehow I stumbled upon the idea that happiness comes from within, that it is a state of mind, and that we all can achieve that peace within us if we only care to try grabbing it by the balls. 
              Spirituality however for me is a difficult concept to grasp, therefore I have decided on looking at things in a new perspective, for I believe that a balanced mind lies within a balanced body. I might not be able to get a hold of my mind just yet, but I can sure as hell try to get a hold of my body. Take control over my own body if you might say. 
              So I started with the basic, I wanted to know about the workings of my own body. After reading several health books I felt positive about one truth, that we are what we eat, there is no going around it. I am not an expert on this and it would be wisdom beyond my years to try to explain how our body works, but one thing makes very much sense to me, everything I eat becomes the fuel and the drive that results in who I am. There is a lot of chemistry that is going on in our body, but the end result is still us (pointing at my own heart). Our body it turns out needs a lot of nutrition to achieve that healthy state, and it turns out in a healthy state our mind will be able to think clearer, because we no longer are interrupted with the inconveniences our body experiences. 
             If we were feeling gloomy for instance, we usually have a yearning for sugary things (at least we ladies do) and that is actually because we do have a lack of glucose in our body, so we long for an instant high of sugar. Obviously the instant way is not the good way, so we bombardier ourselves with easily absorbed glucose that our body doesn't really need, what it needs instead is a steady source of glucose that comes from slow absorbed carbohydrates, such as brown rice, potatoes, etc. Imagine the possibilities, if we were to eat well, by consuming the things that we do need, we can achieve a state where we no longer need to feel gloomy without any real reason. We will achieve resilience and strength, and all this just by putting a little bit more though in what we consume. Isn't that wonderful news?
            At the time I started my quest my mind really was in such a cloudy state, I was a lost soul. But with adjustments to a healthier life style I could feel myself gain more confidence, something I really needed at the time. Obviously once I started controlling my consumption, I began to long for physical activities. I learned that at the minimum, exercise will benefit me just by creating endorphin that will keep me happy for some time, but of course there was so much more to it. By exercising we can be more energized, battle diseases  improve our mood, get better sleep and so many other things. The promise it gives to maintain regular exercise was too tempting to resist. So I choose a sport that was even more grounded in mind body relations, yoga. It delivered on its promise. 
           Before I started on this quest, I had an idea that trying to look for personal happiness is selfish and irresponsible, I would rather have spend time making other people happy. But the truth is, we can only try to deliver happiness if we are feeling it ourselves. A turbulent mind will exude turbulence, even when we mean well. After my change of life style, I started to feel different, and more positive. Somehow I quieted my judgments and started wanting to give more. So maybe finding time for yourself to find yourself is not so selfish after all. 
             Of course this state of mind is a constant pursuit  These past couple of weeks, I can feel that I am on the edge of yet another whirl down the dark cloudy path. But I take comfort in knowing that it is possible to return to that state of pure potentiality, a state where everything is possible.