January Miscellany 2015

All I did in January was cooking and reading. The days were grey and short. I went to the office in the dark and got home in the dark. The air was chilly. With a deep breath, I could feel where my lungs were. Good books and hearty food kept me away from feeling too depressed. I also read that people need more calories to cope with the coldness. That’s my best excuse for eating without any sense of guilt. I just ignored the fact that the author was talking about mountaineers going up and down the Himalayas.

Some of you might remember, one of my Christmas presents was a Jamie Oliver 15 Minute Meal recipe book. I was experimenting with it the whole of January. Here are some of the results.

Left – Sizzling beef steak, hoisin prawn & noodle bowls. From Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals. Right – Shepherd’s Pie. From Jamie’s Comfort Food.

Left – Crispy parma pork, minted courgettes & brown rice. Right – Pasta pesto, garlic & rosemary chicken. Both from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals.

Left – Chicken tikka, lentil, spinach & naan salad. From Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals. Right – Scrumptious Sticky Toffee Pudding. From Jamie’s Comfort Food.

There are a few more I tried but didn’t take photos of: Chicken dim sum, coconut buns, cucumber pickle & hoisin sauce was the first one I tried and it was the worst of all. On the page of beef stroganoff, fluffy rice, red onion & parsley pickle, I wrote a comment that says: “preparation is not too complicated; more veg please!” Sausage fusilli, creamy garden salad had a simpler comment: “tastes OK”. Glazed pork fillet, cajun-style pepper rice & BBQ sauce just came off the hob. I like jotting down notes in the recipe book. What I like, what I don’t like, what spice I added to adapt it to my taste, etc etc. Most importantly, how long it actually took me to make (never in 15 minutes as you might have guessed). Pork dishes taste better in general. Beef is really difficult for me. Chinese dishes are all disappointing. Maybe I should write my own Chinese recipe book since I’m actually Chinese, so I won’t complain about Jamie’s recipes!

Being the only month that the Metro is my major way of transport to everywhere, I suddenly had a lot more time standing and doing nothing (while being moved forward). So I read. Here are the books I finished or started in January.

You probably have seen my post about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up here. The Makioka Sisters is an interesting and beautiful one. I’ll tell you more about it later.

Fruitfulness Of The Frontline is very easy to read and makes me think. It’s positive and encouraging. So when I think, my thoughts are not too heavy. Some books make my head go heavy, and then eyelids follow. Those books are useless to me – they can talk about the greatest theory or the deepest thoughts, but if they don’t deliver in an accessible way, they remain in the pages. It’s a shame, for me and for the author (…but maybe they don’t care about ordinary readers like me). I’m still reading Every Good Endeavour, which is more serious and academic. I probably will have to read it again.

The month was finished with a great film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. An even better film for attracting tourists to Iceland than Interstellar. We laughed at the STA Travel flyer in the box. A great way to advertise though! I particularly like the music from the film. The film soundtrack has been playing constantly as the background music today.

Our year of walking and travelling starts in February. House cleaning and tidying is another key word for early spring time as my family always did when I grew up at home. I can start cycle to work again, seeing some daylight in the morning and some familiar faces of dog walkers. There are some plans for the garden too. Hello February.






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