The Manly Husbandly Duty of The Lord of Grumpness

This is actually something that I would like to mention on my last post, but I think Grumpy deserves a whole blog entry dedicated to acknowledge his awesomeness this weekend.

First of all, this weekend was supposed to be the kind of anniversary of the day we first met. Five years ago, we met on the city centre — taking the online advice on how to meet up with a total stranger very seriously — always meet up on a public space. We were planning on going to the place where we met for the first time, and had some coffee — or hot choco, like what we had at that time. Well, that was the plan before the game happened, so that definitely didn’t happen.

But, none of us were disappointed. Especially not me. And this is why my dear Grumpy deserves this whole entry just for him.

  1. The pink Hello Wolvie t-shirt.
    I think that’s quite self explanatory, except for the “Hello Wolvie” bit. Basically it is the cute mix between Hello Kitty, and Wolverine. Don’t snort, or I will claw you in the face… the Hello-Wolvie is incredibly cute, so if you are a kind of snobbish purist, please look away when I flaunt it, thank you very much.
  2. The Spark(y) in the Kitchen
    I learned not so long time ago, that in the UK, electrician is also called Sparky. This weekend, my husband took away their job by just awesomely FIX my oven. Yes, the brownie maker broke last week, and it would take £100++ to fix it if we call in a Sparky to fix it. But we don’t need Sparky, because we have Grumpy.
    Now, THIS is the extra special bit. Grumpy doesn’t like fiddling with Sparky’s job, because he’s been working with the UK’s Health and Safety regulation for so long, that it is already embedded in his system. BUT, he knew how important that oven for me, and how I chose it myself from Curry’s, and how I love baking with it… And he deliberately woke up in the morning before I did, and fixed it, and tried it even before I woke up in the morning.
  3. The Brilliant White
    No, I am not talking about Grumpy’s race, or teeth. Actually, Brilliant White is the label in the paint tub. I am no sure why it is called Brilliant White, because it is just normal white… But of course, you have to make white paint sounds more interesting than what it is. This weekend, Grumpy was being the man of the week again, by painting our living room.

So yeah… That’s my man 🙂

P.S. Do you know that in German, Mann is the word for “man”, and “husband”? So maybe if this entry’s title is translated to German, it would be really weird. Luckily it is not in German. Just saying…

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Feeding The Alien: The Scottish Way

Where I came from, we have numerous regional food. Each province has their own way to do rice. Each city has their own kind of soup, or broth, or stew. Every time my friend and I talked about travelling locally, we would have a dedicated time of the day to savour the rich variety of food in my planet. Culinary travelling… That’s how we call it. Somehow, though, the possibility of local speciality food in Britain never occurred to me when I first arrived here.

Of course as time went by, I learned that faraway there on the South West part of the island they have Cornish Pasties, or here in Norfolk we are quite famous for our Cromer Crab. But that’s about it.

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British people are really good at making crisps, though. They’re very creative with these…

So, when I thought of travelling within the UK, culinary travelling has never crossed my mind. Yes, we do have gazillion castles, and ruins, and monasteries, and churches, and museums, and galleries, and everything that shouts history. But food… I remember one anecdote I heard before… “British people don’t have cuisine… They have food… ” Shame that I don’t really remember where I heard that.

The lack of finesse in culinary department was also depicted in Agatha Christie’s novel, where our beloved Belgian sleuth, Poirot had to deal with British food. That’s been the running joke, of course. I do love British food, and I think some of them are simply gorgeous. However coming from a culture that worship food, I can totally understand Poirot’s frustration

Therefore, after trying several fry-ups, and fish and chips, I have to admit that I didn’t have a lot of expectation about British food. And, all those rambling was just to justify my ignorance of Scottish food.

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The ignorant me thought that Scottish food means Oatcakes

 

 

The first time I went to Scotland was just to go to a rock concert. In the B&B, I was offered “Full Scottish Breakfast”. I was excited then, but I realised that what I got there was basically fry ups which the English called “Full English Breakfast”. I am pretty sure if you go to Cardiff, they will call it “Full Welsh Breakfast”. So, I have decided for a while, so that I wouldn’t offend anyone, I might just call it “The Fryups”.

Since then, and until I went to Edinburgh last week, I never went to Scotland anymore. My knowledge about Scottish food was limited to whisky, and oat — both in oatmeal and oatcake. Ooooh, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE oatcakes. Scottish rough oatcakes, plain — just the best way to enjoy it. And whisky… well, I am not so good at handling my alcohol, so I have to be careful with that pokey stuff.

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No, I haven’t drunk it yet. That drip of 25ml is the serving size
I did try local whisky in Edinburgh. My goodness, it felt like my face and throat melt on the first sip. I have to say though, the aftertaste was wonderful… In case you wanted to try it too, I tried: Highland Park 12 Year from Orkney. I tried it in Bar 50 in Edinburgh.

If you’re into a less pokey alcoholic drink, there’s also a local product called Hollyrood pale ale. Fruity and tasty, but if I have to choose, between both, I will pick the whisky.

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This one has a better serving size…
But the best thing about Scottish food is what I just learned on my last visit to Edinburgh. And it is called: Haggis.

Okay… a lot of people would ask about what Haggis actually is, but then when I explain they would go, “eeew…. you eat that?” Seriously, why the hell not? It is probably one of the best thing I have every tried. When I had my first bite of Haggis, it was the moment I questioned everything in life, and wondered to myself: How could I live without knowing anything about this food?

Well, it was a bit hyperbolic. But I am being serious about how tasty it is.

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No, I am not joking. This is a smaller portion.
I heard about Haggis for so many years from my grumpy darling, but only when I was in Edinburgh I got the chance to finally tasted it. It was not without struggle though. Most of Scottish food was served in a gigantic portion, which I could never be able to finish without hurting myself permanently. My opportunity came when I found a restaurant who served both Haggis, and children size fryup breakfast.

I asked the lady if I could swap the bacon with the haggis. Don’t… I know bacon is tasty, but trust me, there is world outside bacon. And the swap was worth every bite, okay? And with that, I owe a huge apology to Scotland for my ignorance about your food culture. Your Haggis has opened my eyes and satisfied my taste buds.

There you go… Scotland fed me, and it fed me well… I am a happy alien.

The Late Night Baking

Last night I suddenly had this urge to go to the kitchen and bake a batch of brownie. I thought it’s going to be a sweet surprise for my dear Grumper — which hopefully could lessen the grumpiness of having to go to work without fresh brewed coffee, especially after a horrible night sleep. Afterall, I imagine, nobody could be too grumpy while munching a slice of fudgy nutty brownie… right?

Although this is not my first time baking at night, I haven’t done this too often. Usually I waited when Grumpy went to his regular meet up with his buddy, or when he’s asleep like last night. Nothing can beat the feeling of baking late at night like this…

Of course a lot of people have used creative activities like knitting, painting, baking, gardening, or even… writing to help improving their mental wellbeing. The process of producing something, the sense of achievment, or even the feeling of connection to others — when making something for others, could give this feelgood sensation. I can totally understand this.

So far, though, nothing beats the feeling of baking at night for me.

It is almost meditative.

Preparing, chopping, measuring, sifting, mixing… Pouring, leveling, folding, spooning… baking, waiting with that soft jazzy tune in the background, smelling the goodness escaping from the oven door. You know that brownie would be ready in a minute. All done without racing with dinner time, or distraction from the little devil incarnations in the form of neighbour kids playing football in out back garden. In that kitchen last night, it was only me… and the holy brownie.

It calmed me down. It lifted my mood up. And at that very moment, I thought… everybody has to try baking.

But of course, it is different for everybody, isn’t it? I know for some people baking or cooking is more stressfull than anything. Maybe if I have to… umm… doing some lifting at the gym? I would feel more furious than calm, although for some people it was their stress release. My sister plays tennis, and my brother has his Brazillian Jiujitsu. My late grandfather played music, and practiced penmanship, and my grandmother is still the kitchen goddess as she has been for decades.

What’s yours?

 

 

Sources:
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/improve-wellbeing-knitting-baking-painting-mental-health-study-tips-a7438471.html
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/03/can-baking-improve-mental-health
http://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/worklife/a9239583/baking-good-mental-health/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/baking-for-others-psychology_us_58dd0b85e4b0e6ac7092aaf8?

The Pursuit Of Betterness

I think a lot of people don’t want to admit that they want things to get Better. Saying that we want things to be better means admitting that what we’ve got today is not good enough. It’s good… but not enough.

Some people who think that making things better is just a means to feed our vanity — they might think of something trivial like: the fridge in your kitchen is not big enough, even the kitchen where the fridge is is not spacious enough. The waistline is not slim enough, the thigh gap is not far enough. The muscle is not tough enough, and you can’t run fast enough. The hair is not fluffy enough, the skin is not smooth enough.

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I need a new phone, by the way…

But I think making things better is more than getting better things. It is a sense of improvement. You might not need a bigger kitchen, but you could eat better food — tastier, more wholesome, something that actually makes you feel good about yourself better than frozen pizza. You might not need to slim down, but you live better life — getting rid of pot belly, reducing the risk of getting an early hip or knee cap replacement, or having the chance to breathe normally because your lungs are not squeezed by the visceral fats.

You don’t need to have get more money on your bank account (as good as it sounds), but you can still have a better financial security — paying off debts, everything’s insured, retirement plan’s sorted. You don’t need to be an athlete, but you can get fit– walk to the city or bike to work, or simply keep away the pints until the fun weekend with your buddies. I mean, there are plenty of ways to get better… but not many people likes it.

As one of the sanest people I have known in life, a lot of people don’t like you to get better, because it reminds them of how their life is — not good enough. It scares people because if you get better, you will raise the standard what is considered okay. It is like one student in your class that others hated so much because she (or he, but usually a she) would always over-achieve and tip the balance of mediocrity in your classroom — the one who would always hold up the recess time, and get you and your friends extra homework because your teacher used her as the class benchmark. The one that others secretly envy…

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I am short, so this is still within my healthy BMI

When I lost a lot of weight after changing my habit, a lot of people where I came from started to make comment about me over doing it. Of course some of them have a genuine concern because eating disorder is a legit thing to be concern about. But some just don’t like it because it means theis acceptable size would have to change too. Like a lot of ladies thinking that having a woman with healthy BMI as a bikini model is bad because it makes other women feels pressurised to be… in that healthy BMI.

What’s wrong with it?

What’s wrong with wanting to be better?

Ah… I think I need to apologise for not being able to understand. Maybe it’s just because I am an alien. Sometimes it takes longer to understand one thing than the other. Maybe I just need to go back observing food than human’s Lifestyle

Feeding The Alien Pt.2

I know that I said earlier that I don’t know why telly programs need to stop before announcing the top 3, but I have my suspicion. Some grumpy dude that I ended up marrying likes to rant about how short the attention span of most British telly audience, and that could be one of the reason… but of course… it is the suspense. And the adverts… obviously.

Okay… nobody cares when I am stating the obvious. Let’s just crack on… Shall we? The top 3 of food that I tried in the last 6 years in the UK are:

3. Black Pudding
I think my husband was a little bit careful when explaining what black pudding is, when the first time we bought it from Aldi. I can understand why, though.
The idea of food in this country is very sanitised, that black pudding, haggis, and offal can be off putting for some people. Heck… they don’t even like the idea of eating fish that still have head on it, or chicken that has feet attached to it. Where I come from… those are the proof that what you eat is still fresh — just slaughtered before it goes to the wok. So yeah… I can understand why black pudding could be off putting for some people.
Black pudding, my kind ladies and gentlemen… is made of processed pig’s blood… and bits, and herbs and spices, and rolled and cooked so they look like a big fat black sausage. And then you slice them so that you can shallow fry them in the pan, usually to be eaten with a proper full english fry ups. Heavenly!

2. Trifle
I think the first time I tried trifle I couldn’t really appreciate it because of the massive amount of jelly. But when my mother in law introduced me to the traditional English Sherry Trifle… boom! It was the mother of all English dessert. Dare I say that it is better than italian Tiramisu? Oh yes I so dare… Especially with those boozy sponge.
What are you getting from trifle really? There are trifle sponge… soaked with booze (+1000 pts). The next layer is custard… English custard. I love deliberately mention Creme Anglaise in front of Grumpy just to provoke his grumpiness. And the next layer is whipped cream.
Should I say more?

1. Twiglets
Aren’t you surprised? I mean, I have mentioned marmites before, but it is not the same with twiglets, really. You kind of have to pair marmite with something, but twiglets… you can just have it. It is just not so easy to find them on offer.
Do you know that Twiglets taste better when you buy them on offer?
My mother in law loves Twiglets too, and I tried to bring her some every time we go on a visit to their place. And it was hard… so hard not to keep taking a fistful of the yeasty goodness from that black bag every time she offers to share. Yes… I am every mother in law’s dream…

There you go… If you are new in the UK too, and you think you want to take your culinary adventure to the next level, those are the things you might want to try. Good luck 😀

Feeding the Alien Pt.1

One of the best thing of being an alien in a new place is that I got to try new stuff. And my favourite new stuff to try is the food. I am still discovering new tastes here in the UK, even after being here for almost six years. And the last one I tried was Hot Cross Bun… t’was Easter and I was curious — and the bun was okay.

If I have to make a list of the best food I have tried in the UK, it would take forever. So I will just pick my favourite 5 of food I have tried for the past 6 years in the UK. It is not an easy task, and I don’t care if anyone has ever bothered to challenge me to make this list, but… challenge’s accepted.

5. Eton Mess
I learned about this food on my first summer ever in the UK, and it was called so because allegedly it is originally from Eton — yes, the posh school. Eton Mess is basically strawberry, in whipped cream, and a messy crumble of meringue. I had that all summer, almost everyday… and I did blame contraception when I put on some weight when I went back to my hometown.
Eton Mess is the dessert that woke the sweettooth in me. Something that I never was. It is like a gateway drug, that lead you to a massive selection to British favourite desserts: creme caramel, apple/rhubarb/pear crumble, egg tart, banoffee pie, bakewell… No I am no cake person, but I am a sucker to pastries. And it started from a bite of Eton Mess..
What a messy diet…

4. Marmite
I learned about it just days after I arrived in the UK, it is apparently a part of the introduction to Britain for the foreign student. Yes… Marmite is quintessentially British. However, the way it was introduced, didn’t really invoke my curiosity. I mean, yes they told me it is something that either you will love or hate… but I have to say that if these people are a marketing officer, they need to be sacked immediately.
It’s just when my grumpy husband, who also happens to be a proud English grumpyman talk about what it is about to be British, that the conversation about Marmite came up again. He was aghast knowing that nobody has ever introduced me to Marmite before.
Yes, it is still something you either love or hate… I just happen to love it.
P.S. Do you know that in Malaysia, you can order Marmite Chicken? Yes… if you happen to be in Malaysia right now, and you love Marmite, and you have never tried Marmite Chieken (or Chicken Marmite? Now I am confused)… go to a Chinese food restaurant, you might be lucky enough to find one. Good luck!

Ha ha… I stop it right there… for now. I know that it sucks, but I learned from the British telly programs, that when you make lists of whatever, you need to stop before going to the top 3. I don’t know why… but I am a good learner. So… see you next time for the top 3 😀

It’s early!

Uuuuurgh! Good morning world. It’s 06.30 and it’s a Monday. that is never a fun combination anywhere in the world. 

It’s doubly difficult since today will be my first day back at work after a week off – easter holiday.

But I have brushed my teeth, weighed myself, thrown cold water on my face and am now sitting at the dining room table with a mug of real coffee in front of me. I have an hour to go from shambling zombie to vaguely human.

Did I mention weighing myself? Why I do believe that I did. You may have noticed that my beautiful alien wife knows a bit about weight loss. actually she knows a lot. She decided to find out the science behind weight control and then went for the direct method. 

She filtered out all the dietary schemes and claims from the adverts in the media and she found out a way that works. It even works for me – a grumpy bloke who didn’t really have an inclination to diet.

So what’s the secret? It’s really simple actually. Basically it’s calorie counting. You have a daily calorie goal and add up the calories of anything you eat until you hit that goal. don’t go over the daily goal and you will lose weight…. that’s it. 

It works, too. I decided many months ago that I was getting a “bit porky” (although considering the rising obesity in the UK I’m probably still not considered “overweight” by anyone but doctors). I adopted my beautiful alien wifes counting scheme and although I wasn’t as regimented or “serious” about it, I actually lost weight! Best thing is that you don’t give up “naughty food” – you just need to be aware of foods calorific content and keep an eye on the numbers. 

Of course you also probably need to make sure that your diet is balanced and you get all the proper vitamins and minerals. 

Like a lot of things My own calorie counting went out of the window a while back. I briefly became an alien in a tropical paradise and a weeks worth of amazing “foreign” food made me forget about my diet. 

I noticed though that since I stopped smoking (I consider myself as “almost” stopped) I have gotten porky again so it’s time to start eating sensibly. I have already lost a few kilos so that’s all good and promising. 

It’s now 07.00. 

I’ll have to leave for work soon. Second coffee now 🙂

It’s proper coffee too. Ground and filtered in a machine, not your instant freeze dried stuff. I realised a few years ago that it’s actually not too expensive to have real coffee. You can buy half decent ground coffee for £1 so even a coffee monster like me can have a decent brew. 

Ah… but I’m going to have to stop typing now. I need to get dressed and bugger off to work. 

At least I’m almost awake now.