Chapter 2 : February 2017

It is the first day of March and almost closing the first quarter of 2017. I closed February in a way with so much positivity. February had been a month where I ate the most ‘Lou Sang’. For you readers who have no clue was Lou Sang (or Yee Sang), it’s the picture on top. It’s really popular in Malaysia and Singapore. It’s not a Chinese tradition but in my definition, a Malaysian Chinese New Year tradition.

Lou Sang when translated means Prosperity Toss. This dish is to usher in good wishes for the new year. This year, I tossed for happiness. I know, me being a Chinese who wished for happiness and not for prosperity. Well to be fair, people find it difficult to believe that I’m Chinese because I don’t sound like one when I speak and neither does my skin colour pass as one as well. 2 months into 2017 (and now starting the third), I can’t thank God enough on giving me little blessings. It wasn’t all sunshine though and there were times where I hid under my blanket and feel like I just don’t want to face the day.

Then there are days where they beat all those down times. Breakfast with my grandparents, dinners with my family and laughing at moments with close friends. And there were times where my favourite songs will come on in the car on my way home and that itself, makes everything enjoyable. With reminds of Lou Sang where everything in the dish comes in different taste but once tossed/mixed together, it’s delicious. I guess that’s what I learn in just 2 months of 2017.

You got to step back, and be thankful that everything that has been given to you, they all serve a purpose. Just like Lou Sang where the fish, different vegetables and sauces and crackers to top it all off. I wish I could tell you what each colour meant on the plate above but all I know it’s somewhere between the words ‘longevity…happiness…love…luck…health’ and it goes on. So here’s to another chapter of 2017. I don’t know what March will hold but hey March? I look forward to see what you have installed for me.

Maybe that’s all you need ; to pack everything and board that plane. Maybe that’s what you need ; that one way ticket. For what your heart needs is also what your mind, body and soul needs. You’re blessed and loved but there you are. You’re sitting on beach, earphones in your ears and listening to Mozart’s Symphony No 31 in D Major. It is getting late and you should probably drive back home before anyone notices that you were away. You look up at the sky and watched the stars twinkle. You took a deep breath, feeling everything within you.

The exit wounds, the little parts you once mended with terrible sewing skills and constantly beating of your heart. Tears streamed down your face and hugged your knees closely to your chest, burying half of your face. You told yourself that maybe, just maybe if you kept telling yourself to fake it…fake it long enough…you might actually make it. You wiped your tears and muttered to yourself softly,

“Who in their right mind would want to love you when you’re finding it difficult to love yourself?”

When someone is nice to you, you actually question their intentions. You’re so used to being used…so used to be emotionally bullied and you’re just scared. You’re afraid that if you love again, that person will leave ; be it a friend or a lover. You’re no stranger to one of those days where you’re lying in bed with a broken heart, wondering if you can even make it pass the day without breaking down. You’re no stranger to pain. But you are a stranger to when someone is nice to you. You don’t know how to react to it and you even wonder whether you deserve to be treated as such.

Maybe that’s why you built yourself to be bulletproof. You’ve badly fallen apart and you know what it is like to be beyond broken where you hit the rock bottom of hell. And maybe that’s why you built yourself to face anything ; to stand tall. To be independent and to pick yourself back up ; to be selfish. Slowly, you stood up and sniffled. You walk to your car and half way, you turn around and watch the waves gently crashing on the shore. You took a deep breath, almost a sigh. Tucking the little strands of hair behind your right ear, you continue your way to your car ; driving into the night.

Well, you’re not running away from responsibilities or problems. Maybe that’s what you really need…to start a new book while putting back the current one back on the shelf.

Tortellini Recipe.

Last week during lunchtime, as I was walking out of the office for lunch, I had the sudden urge of wanting to eat gnocchi and tortellinis from my favorite restaurant. So then, a thought ran through my mind that went “Why don’t I make my own tortellinis so I could put whatever filling I want in them?!” And…I came home with a bag of flour, eggs, mushrooms and I was on an adventure to make my own tortellinis. I searched for recipes about pasta dough and honestly, they really do remind me of ‘Pan Mee’ except for pasta, it has more eggs  than water in the dough. Rolling the dough was a real arm workout but hey, if the Italians can do it, I believe I can do it too!

As you can see in the picture above, my tortellinis were in different sizes because I didn’t know how to properly wrap it. But fret not for it’s been a week and I’ve been better at making pasta now. Practice makes perfect, right? The best part about tortellinis, you can fill in with anything you want. Minced meat, vegetables or cheese and you can serve it with whatever sauce you prefer as well! Yes, it’s that easy. Even I didn’t expect it to be this easy! I’ll write in the recipe for the filling I’ve made which is mushrooms & herbs.

SO HERE’S MY TORTELLINI RECIPE.

INGREDIENTS (Pasta Dough)

  • 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (or Tipo OO Flour), plus extra for dusting
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl (or on a clean surface if you prefer), mix the flour and salt.
  2. Add in your eggs and the oil.
  3. So here’s the fun part. You have to rub your palms with oil and start kneading the dough on a flour-dusted surface. Knead the dough until it no longer sticks to your fingers or when it’s smooth and elastic. The dough shouldn’t be too wet or dry so if it’s too dry, tweak it a little by adding water or if it’s too wet, add more flour. Once it’s done, wrap it with cling wrap tightly and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
  4. Use a rolling pin (or a noodle machine) and start rolling your dough. If you’re using a noodle machine, divide your dough into tiny balls to be rolled into the machine.
  5. For tortellinis, roll it to about 1mm thick.
  6. Use a round cookie cutter (I used a metal cup for this) and cut the flattened dough into circles.
  7. Place your filling in the center of a dough circle.
  8. Dip the tip of your index finger into water and brush half of the circle dough.
  9. Fold the circle into half (As shown in the pictures above).
  10. Brush one tip of the half circle with water, and fold it in making it look like a little dumpling.

If you’re not going to eat it immediately, put the tortellinis into the freezer and it will last for 1 week! If you’re eating immediately, boil your tortellinis in salted water for about 10 minutes or more (this depends because it doesn’t necessarily means that if the tortellini is floating, it’s cook. So to be safe, just lift one up and try it first to see if the dough is cook). Serve with whatever sauce you prefer. I love mine with mushroom or chicken soup. If you like yours to be in white sauce or tomato sauce, go ahead 🙂

 

PS : This dough recipe is pretty versatile. You can make raviolis, linguine, tagliatelle and lasagne as well! All you just have to do is cut into the desired shapes that you want and you’re good to go. You can even add spinach or other food coloring if you want. You can make colorful pastas too.

 

Mushroom & Herbs Filling

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 clove of garlic (minced or chopped)
  • 200 grams of oyster mushrooms (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 can of button mushrooms (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 carrot (cubed)
  • 2 teaspoons of Rosemary
  • 3 teaspoons of Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • A pinch of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce (Depending on your taste buds, you can add more if you like)
  • Extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a non-stick pan on medium heat, grease it with olive oil and sauté the garlic.
  2. Add in the mushrooms and carrot. Sauté them and add in the rosemary and parsley.
  3. Add the pinch of brown sugar to the mushroom and carrot along with the light soy sauce.
  4. Stir fry until golden brown and serve! 🙂

 

 

 

All visuals and words belong to Win W.™ unless stated otherwise.

Simple Chocolate Cheesecake

For the first time ever, I was being paid for this cake. I was excited because if there’s one thing I pride about is the fact I really do make amazing cheesecakes. The rest of the cakes, I’m not that confident but when it comes to cheesecakes, whether it’s non-baked or baked, I’m confident about making it. Honestly, I didn’t start out with measuring anything and I just go with the flow but right now…I’m pretty good with the measurements and believe me, this takes 1 hour tops.

SO HERE’S MY CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE RECIPE.

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 grams of cream cheese, softened (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of whipping cream (or heavy cream)
  • 200 grams Oreos (or digestives biscuits)
  • 5 table spoons of melted butter
  • 1/2 cup of melted chocolate (You can use semi-sweet or dark chocolate. I used milk chocolate)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup of cold water
  • 20 grams of unflavored gelatin
  • 150 grams of white granulated sugar

INSTUCRTIONS

  1. In a 9-inch springform pan, line it with parchment paper. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until fine crumbs. Combine the melted butter into crumbs until they’re fully coated. Transfer the crumb mixture into the springform pan and press it down using the back of a soup spoon or your hands to form an even and firm crust.
  2. Whisk the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. (I use a small blender to do this.)
  3. In large bowl, place the softened cream cheese with the sugar and whisk it until it’s fluffy and light. Add in the sour cream, melted chocolate, and vanilla extract. Combine the whipped cream and fold into the mixture.
  4. In a small bowl, stir the unflavored gelatin with water. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 1 minute or until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool down before pouring it into the cheese mixture.
  5. Fold in the gelatin to the mixture as well until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  6. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the springform pan and even out the top with a flat spatula. Let the cheesecake set overnight or for at least 4 hours in the fridge.
  7. Serve when ready to enjoy! 🙂

All visuals and words belong to Win W.™ unless stated otherwise.

The Valentine’s Day Speech

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

When I got invited to speak to all of you tonight, I actually looked at the photojournalist and said ‘You have got to be kidding me, right? You ask your most single best friend to speak about love and relationships to all these people?!’ Then I was told that I am the youngest in this ballroom and that everyone here is a couple, so the pressure’s real.

First and foremost, Happy Valentine’s Day, from me to you lovers.

My grandparents live with me. This year marks their 57th anniversary. I grew up understanding what love really is. My grandfather was a very poor English teacher and could barely even afford undergarments for himself, let alone take any girl out on a date. My grandmother was the Dame of Sabak Bernam and she’s the daughter of a wealthy businessman. It was one afternoon where my grandfather set his eyes on my grandmother after he finished teaching. He asked his colleague who that young lady was and the first thing his friend told him was ‘Thong, you will never get her. She’s the Dame of Sabak Bernam! Everyone knows who she is and there are so many rich guys who are after her.’

My grandfather was in for the chase and shyly, he asked my grandmother out. He was so poor that the two of them shared a bowl of kuey teow soup on their first date. He was so poor that my great grandfather (my grandmother’s dad) has to give my grandfather money to take my grandmother out. My great grandfather didn’t allow my grandmother to date my grandfather because he was so poor. Sneakily, my grandfather would call the shop behind my great grandfather’s shop and the shopkeeper would call my grandmother over to answer the call from my grandfather. My grandfather obviously won her heart not in ways where money is involved but in actions and always loving my grandmother. I’ll spare you the details but fast forward to me being born. My grandparents currently live with me and even until now, my grandmother still makes sure that I’m dressed properly before I leave the house and my grandfather would still check on my spelling and grammar despite being in his late 80’s. They don’t have the best marriage but they can never live without one another. When my grandmother had her knee surgery, my grandfather patiently waited for me to come home from work to fetch him to the hospital so we could visit her. He even asked me if his collar was neat and with his almost toothless smile, he was an excited husband to visit his wife in the hospital. Were there arguments? All the time. Every single day, even till this very day. My grandfather loves her not for the way she danced with his angels, but for the way the sound of her name could silence his demons ; and vice versa.

Love, to me, is a verb. It is when you give unconditionally. I’m no love guru but I know that if you love someone, you will put in the effort and the hard work. And you do it because you want to, not cause you need to. It is when two people accept each other’s flaws. That’s how my grandparents are still keeping their marriage strong back home. It’s a lot of work and it’s…messy and difficult but it’s all about giving and taking. Love is the home that calms the hurricanes within you and brings joy to your soul. Love gives the body life. I speak Hawaiian and the word ‘Aloha’ means ‘love’ too. It means kindness, unity, agreeable, humility and patience. I really think that’s what love is about. It gives your soul peace as well. Would I say that I’m good with relationships? No, I won’t because I’m not. I don’t think anyone is. No relationship is perfect but that’s the point of it. If you’ve not read A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks, he took a little quote out from the Bible that says

Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous.Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.’

If you know my grandparents…they endured so much. My grandfather still talks about my grandmother like she’s a queen. My grandmother still talks about my grandfather that he’s the world’s greatest gentleman. They’ve been through so much ; being parents to 5 children and being grandparents to 9 of us grandchildren. All the years of working together and being a team…they are the definition of relationship goals and the ultimate dynamic duo. They still look out for each other when they cross roads, make sure one of them don’t get left behind when we’re in a mall and pray for one another every night. To other people, they make love look so easy but as their grandchild, I know what they’ve been through. To be completely honestly, my grandmother did tell me that it was difficult because they were poor and there were times she wished she did marry a rich man instead because then life would be easier for her. But she never complained and every day she knew why she fell in love with my grandfather despite it all.

Beau Taplin once wrote in The Fiction of  People : ‘Often, when we have a crush, when we lust for a person, we see only a small percentage of who they really are. The rest we make up for ourselves. Rather than listen, or learn, we smother them in who we imagine them to be, what we desire for ourselves, we create little fantasies of people and let them grow in our hearts. And this is where the relationship fails. In time, the fiction we scribble onto a person falls away, the lies we tell ourselves unravel and soon the person standing in front of you is almost unrecognizable, you are now complete strangers in your own love. And what a terrible shame it is. My advice: pay attention to the small details of people, you will learn that the universe is far more spectacular an author than we could ever hope to be.

No one told you the messy part of love.The arguments and the disagreements and the days where you both will feel like you’re in hell. But it’s the forgiveness, acceptance and strength. You can love someone for the clothes he/she wears or the car he/she drives. But to love someone nakedly…that really is something. Naked here means loving that person instead and out ; flawed nakedness. For better and for worse. It’s really blessing, to be loved and to receive love. It honestly takes a lot to love. Loving someone is a choice and that’s the most courageous thing one could ever do in his/her life.  It means you’re willing to give someone your fragile heart and that…that is bravery right there. One thing I’ve learned from my heart is that a heart is more than just an organ that gives the body life. It was made to love and to mend whatever that is broken inside you. Magnificent isn’t it? How the heart can do wonders. On the canvases behind me, you see two anatomical hearts I’ve painted. As you can see, the two hearts are stitched together and it actually becomes one big love shape. This is an abstract of two real hearts that were taken and sewn together in a hospital. I just created an art of it. It actually takes two wholes to be one. You love a person for the soul that lives within him/her. You love the person because despite all the flaws he/she has, you chose to love the person.

I leave you with a quote from by E. E Cummings, “Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star.” So love with all kindness and gentleness.

Thank you.”

 

– The speech I gave on Valentine’s Day.

All visuals and words belong to Win W.™ unless stated otherwise.

⌈ Two best friends, two 4-wheeled drives, the bright moon, a cup of chai latte and a cup of hot chocolate. The night sky was shimmering with stars above them as they sat on the roof tops of their cars, looking at the moon’s reflection on the lake. The lady was dressed in an oversized dungaree and an old bikini top beneath it and her hair was messy despite it being tied-up while the man was dressed in ripped jeans and a dark blue Polo shirt.

Have you ever liked or have a little crush on someone even though you’ve not met that person before?” he asked.

“I know you have because we were all there when it happened” she replied, taking a sip of her chai latte.

And you told me to go for her. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. He’s right, you know. The guy you met on your trip.

“And what is he right about?”

That not all guys out there just want to get into your pants. If you didn’t have to fly home, I think he would have loved you. But yeah, he’s right. You’re my best friend and I totally agree with him that soon enough, you’ll meet someone who just wants to lay in bed with you and watch Mulan or Notting Hill.

She laughed at what he said and just shook her head.

Oh you laugh now,” he said. “But you really do deserve the best, okay? You’ve given so much to everyone around you. Remember I told you that I’ve never met my girl in person before? We talked over phone and because I was work overseas, we only spoke over the phone. When we actually met up, I remember after that, the first person I called was you because I didn’t know what to do. I told you that she and I had a lot in common…like our views on life.

“And I told you that if you don’t go after her, you’ll probably lose her forever.”

“And…not to doubt myself. Thank God I listened to you because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be engaged to the love of my life right now. You know…I prayed really hard because I didn’t know if it was the right thing to do and I didn’t know whether she even liked me. You are right for telling me that if it was mine, it will be mine. Who knows! You’ll meet a someone you’ve never met in person before and you two will fall in love or something. Because that’s how weird life is. Hey, after all God does work in mysterious ways! Thank you for talking me down from jumping off the ledge. On behalf of the rest, thank you for teaching us all how to love.” He lifted his paper cup of hot chocolate.

She lifted her paper cup of chai latte in the air and smiled at her best friend.⌋