Yelly Writes

Nearly over the threshold

The year is nearly over…my laptop clock reads 23:16.   I’m not really feeling super but I’m so staying up and watching the fireworks from London.  If I lived near Southbank…heck, if I lived in London, I’d be soooooo there, braving the crush of the crowds (and I have a slight phobia of crowds, so me braving any sort of crowd is a huge thing!), the cold and quite possibly the rain!

Most people spend the day contemplating the events of the year, what they’ve done, what they haven’t, what the wanted to do.  I’ve spent most of the year wanting to shout out “Stop the world, I want to get off!”  My year has been excessively busy with a shedload of events and lots of traveling from one end of the UK to the other.  A lot of people will be looking back at their year with regret because there are things they would have wanted to not do and I did sit and think about my 2012.  I looked at everything that’s happened and I asked myself whether if I regretted anything.  I’m glad that I am able to say that  I do not have any regrets.  Not a one.  Well, maybe just the one:  not being able to go home.  That’s the biggest regret really of the past 3 years.  I haven’t been able to go home.  Apart from that, I really wouldn’t want to change anything.  Because I think I came into my own in 2012.  I’ve learned a lot about who I am, what I can do, what I can take, how far I’ll go to achieve things, what I’m willing to sacrifice.

I can look at the mirror and smile at myself again.  Really smile at myself.  Because I know who I am now, I know exactly what I’m worth and I know I won’t settle and I won’t allow myself to be underappreciated.

2012 has flown by, with its share of joys and heartaches, with its bouts of being too busy to think and days when homesickness was heart-rending.  But I’m glad for the quick passage of time.  I often found myself marvelling at how quickly the year was passing by.  But in a way, I was also grateful for it.  Not being able to think for being busy can be quite the blessing.

So at 23:50, I will end this entry with a poem by Joanna Fuchs.  The next entry will be tomorrow, in 2013!

I’m writing this in a state of shock,
Watching the clock—tick tock, tick tock,
Advancing, approaching, relentlessly,
A brand new year; Oh, can it be?The calendar says the same thing, too;
Time races, vanishes for me; Boo hoo!
No, wait! If time flies, I’m having fun!
A year of fun! It’s gone! It’s done!I now embrace the blur of time,
Because it simply means that I’m
Too busy with pleasure, joy, delight
To mourn the passing days’ swift flight.So I’m wishing you fast, happy days,
Pleasuring you in myriad ways,
Filled with happiness and cheer,
Oh Happy, Happy Bright New Year! 

Yelly Writes

The Reading List for 2013

I finally have my reading list for 2013 (HURRAH!).  The goal is to read these books, and add a few more.  Although, the first book in my list is fairly ambitious, even when you factor in the fact that I do read parts of it everyday as part of my daily devotion!

This is my reading list for 2013:Stack of Library Books

  1. The Bible — yes ALL of it!
  2. The Jane Austen Miscellany by Harry Berry
  3. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  4. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  5. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  6. The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language by Mark Forsyth
  7. I Remember Nothing and other reflections by Nora Ephron
  8. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
  9. Room by Emma Donoghue
  10. Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace
  11. How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
  12. French Lessons by Ellen Sussman

I wanted to make sure that I read books by authors that I’d never read before but I couldn’t resist adding a Philippa Gregory book because I love her books so much!  I’ve discovered that I love historical fiction and this was all because I started reading PG’s books.  I started with The Other Boleyn Girl and was hooked!

Some of the books on the list are already on my Kindle and have been languishing there for ages.  I haven’t had the opportunity (and if I’m honest, most of the time, the inclination to read!  Bad, I know!) to read them yet, so to encourage (read: prod me with a red-hot fireplace poker!) me to read them, I’m adding them to my list.

One book a month, except the Bible because I plan to read that everyday, although the Bible is still on my list of 12 books.  There are 1189 chapters in the Bible and 365 days in a year.  If I read 4 chapters a day, I’ll finish reading the Bible from cover to cover.  Big ask, yes, very definitely.  But I am determined to achieve this particular goal because, as a Christian, I am determined to be able to say that I’ve read the bible.  Properly!

As they say, each approaching new year prompts people into a frenzied goal-setting mindset.  My goal is simply to read more.  I’ve always loved to read.  It’s just giving my reading a little direction!

Yelly Eats

Stollen from scratch!

So the goal for the holidays, really, was to make stollen from scratch.  I made stollen once before, but it was from a Mary Berry mix.  Everything was prepped for me so all I had to do was mix everything up.  I was determined to find a recipe I could follow that was as close to Mary Berry’s as possible.  I searched for a stollen recipe but suprisingly couldn’t find one in my numerous books (to be completely honest, I didn’t really look very far!  Ha!).  But as luck would have it, Edd Kimber’s book Say It With Cake has a wonderful recipe for stollen.

Stollen proofing

I added a little tidbit:  I soaked the dried fruits in brandy overnight.  Makes for an interesting taste.  It called for nuts in the recipe, but I didn’t have any to put in so I did without that.  And because I like my marzipan spread through out the bread instead of in a big lump in the middle, I rolled my marzipan flat so that it would be distributed throughout the loaf.

Stollen baked

I was quite surprised at the size of the stollen though.  It came out bigger than I thought!  But it did look so pretty when it was dusted with icing sugar!

Stollen dusted

I was quite pleased with how it’s turned out.  The stollen came out beautifully!  Am now not too afraid to make breads, aided of course by my Kenwood chef (obviously not paid advertisement, although, I would love it if Kenwood took notice and gave me free stuff!  Ha!).   I wanted to learn how to make stollen mostly because of my dad.  He talks about the time when his entire family lived in Vienna and stollen eventually filters into the conversation.  It has always been a dream to bake something that reminded my father of happy times with his parents and siblings.  A few more practice sessions so that I can develop my own take on stollen!  But until then, Edd Kimber’s recipe with my own tweaks to it will do me just fine!

Stollen

Yelly Eats

Turkey hash anyone?

The turkey we bought could have easily fed 10 people (or so it says on the packaging!).  So our tiny fridge is filled to the brim with leftover turkey and the trimmings: roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips, steamed brussel sprouts and lots of beautiful gravy (I say beautiful because all the skin and bones from the chicken thighs purchased in the past have been languishing in my freezer for the sole purpose of making amazing gravy for Christmas!  The gravy was in a word BEAUTIFUL!).  I’ve made a beautiful turkey and leek pie from the leftover stuff before but my favourite leftover standby recipe really is turkey hash.  This is definitely a no-brainer.

You simply dice the leftover turkey meat, potatoes, carrots and parsnips and slice the brussel sprouts in half.  Dice a large onion and you’re ready to go.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil (olive or vegetable, it doesn’t really matter) and sauté the onions until they are transluscent.  Add the turkey meat and stirfry until the meat is heated through.  Add the chopped vegetables and stirfry until the vegetables are heated through.  Add a cup of frozen peas, although this is optional.  Pour about 2 cups of gravy (if you have it, although one cup will do beautifully).  Stir until the gravy is mixed through properly.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I add a liberal sprinkling of tabasco sauce to add a kick to the hash.  I think the spicy tabasco sauce helps kickstart you the morning after a healthy helping (or two) of Christmas Day feasting.  Cook for a further 10 minutes until everything is piping hot and serve.

It might not be a pretty dish but it certainly is a tasty and brilliant way to use up leftover turkey, roasted veg and gravy!

Turkey hash

Yelly Writes

Tis the season!

Christmas will always require celebration for me.  I grew up with my mum drumming into me how important Christmas is, how important it is to celebrate the occasion of Christ’s birth.  Growing up in church has made Christmas a more spiritual occasion.  It was all about the birth of the Saviour, the Word being made flesh.  It has always been the day of the year that reminds me most of God’s love, grace and mercy.  That’s why, no matter how small, Christmas had to be celebrated, there had to be a tree, there had to be decorations to celebrate it, there had to be presents to share and there had to be a Noche Buena at midnight!  There should always be an effort to be made for Christmas because all the gift giving and all the food preparation is part of the celebration.  It is one of , if not the most important days in the Christian calendar.

Whatever you do today, however you celebrate the season, whatever your faith, have a wonderfully happy and very blesssed Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Yelly Writes

21-12-2012

I spent quality time with the document scanner in the office today.  I had what seemed to be a shedload of documents to put into the system!  I spent the better part of 2 hours sitting in front of the document scanner feeding document after document.  How exciting is my life!

There was a lot of discussion about what the Mayans predicted to be the end of the world.  Some people interpreted the end of the Mayan calendar to be a prediction that the Mayans made–that the world would end at 11:11AM on 21 December 2012.  Someone at work was genuinely worrying about it being the end of the world.  I don’t know the details of the prediction but there was talk that a black comet would come and strike the earth, but that no one would be able to track this particular comet because it couldn’t be seen because it was black.  There was were several news bits about this town in southern France that was supposedly safe from destruction because of the presence of aliens underneath!

I had a good giggle about it because, well, it all seemed a bit silly to me.  People were worried about the world ending, and instead of living their life as it was their last day on earth, making every second count, some people were petrified and not doing anything at all.  Now, if today was your last day on Earth and you did nothing because you were afraid, wouldn’t you want your last day to count?

I wrote to my mom tonight and told her about the Mayan prediction and was slightly surprised that she didn’t know about it.  I guess it wasn’t as featured on the news in Manila as it was here in the UK.  I said that I went on with my day, knowing that we wouldn’t know when end of times is coming.  Only God does and when that happens, I know where I’m going.  But that until then, we needed to live a life pleasing to our God.  That was what matters.

I admit, it would be good to know when the end of days is so that you are able to tie loose ends, do what you want to do, tick off things from your bucket list, tell loved ones how much they matter and all the other things you do to “prepare for the end.”  I think what we need to remember is that these are things we should be doing this everyday.  But we don’t know when the world will end or how it’ll end.  It’ll come “life a thief in the night.”  Everything is just conjecture.  All you just do is live each day to the fullest, making sure that everything you do counts.

11:11AM

Yelly Eats

Food for the gods, a Filipino tradition

I grew up enjoying food for the gods during Christmas and I always thought that it would be such a complicated recipe because, well, at the time, you couldn’t exactly buy the ingredients from your local supermarket.  It was such a treat when people gave us a box of these lovely sweet treats and I remember when we were handed one each after dinner so that we could make it last.  This was before my Lolo Ani opened a bakery and started baking these in huge quantities and we had food for the gods on tap every Christmas!

Food for the gods are really date and walnut bars.  I don’t really know why they’re called food for the gods, maybe because they are scrummy and so wonderfully to eat!  I’ve tried several recipes and after a few tweaking exercises, I may have cracked it.

I brought this to work today so that I could share it with my officemates.  I am merely continuing the Filipino tradition of giving away food for the gods at Christmas!

Here’s my recipe:Food for the gods aka date bars

Ingredients:

150g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
225g brown sugar
125g unsalted butter, melted
150g walnuts, coarsely chopped
150g dates, coarsley chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder together with a balloon whisk until well combined.  Add walnuts and dates and mix with a spatula until the dates and nuts are well-covered with the flour mixture and well-distributed within the flour mixture.  Doing this will ensure that the dates and the nuts do not sink to the bottom of the mixture.
  3. In a mixing bowl (am using a free standing mixer but you can also do this by hand with a balloon whisk), combine melted butter and sugars and beat until the mixture is smooth and almost creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time, making sure that the egg is well-combined before adding the next one.  Add the flour-date-nut mixture in quarters.  Mix until everything is well-distributed and you cannot see any flour.
  4. Spread mixture in a greased 17.5cm x 26.5cm (or thereabouts) pan lined with baking parchment (I learned that lining the baking pan with parchment is good because it makes it easy to release the cake from the pan) and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  This recipe makes up to 24 squares.