Posts Tagged ‘urgency’

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Cooking in 2012 – July: Brazilian pork and rice.

July 28, 2012

I must confess that I nearly gave up on my cooking project this month. As July ticked by, I thought “oh, I really can’t be bothered to do this cooking thing anymore. I genuinely hate it, I can’t think of what to cook, so why put myself through it for another 6 months?” Even typing that sentence, the words resonate with me to the extent that I will probably have the same inner monologue for the remaining 5 months.  Luckily, I am fairly stubborn so I’ll probably make it through the rest of the year just to avoid the guilt of not fulfilling a goal I set for myself. Plus it does make me feel more self-sufficient and provider-y. Nevertheless… roll on 2013!

Anyway, the conundrum of what to make this month was finally solved last week when I was in Peterborough with Toby’s parents, who had the Times weekend edition. One of the supplements had a couple of interesting articles – one was about a diet (I don’t believe in diets unless they are sensible enough that they could become a lasting fixture of everyday life – in which case, they probably don’t count as a “diet”. But I digress.) that claimed to boost one’s energy at the same time as helping to shed the pounds. The other was about Brazilian food being “the food of the summer”. There were 6 recipes (plus a couple of cocktails) that all seemed to be pretty appetising – I ended up taking the whole supplement back to London with me, and this weekend I finally decided to bite the bullet for July’s meal and make some marinaded BBQ pork and rice.  Or, as the Times called them, “Brazilian fried biro biro rice” and “Pork tenderloin on a churrasco”. I presume that a “churrasco” is a barbecue; I’ve not the foggiest what “biro biro” refers to (perhaps the crispy shallots?). But anyways, here are the recipes:

I did a few things differently – we altered the measurements, nearly halving everything because I was only cooking for Toby and myself. I didn’t use parsley because I’m not a big fan; I didn’t make the crispy shallots because it sounded like too much effort and I was using the rice as a side rather than a main in its own right; instead of pork tenderloin, I used pork medallions, which meant that I didn’t have to butterfly them (conveniently enough, as I don’t know what that involves). I used white wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, and paprika instead of dried red pepper flakes. We didn’t have a barbecue available, so we fried the pork medallions on a gas hob instead.

I suppose it is proof of my slow but acknowledgeable growth in cooking that I was able to take a fair amount of both recipes in my stride. Things that I didn’t know and have now learned include:

  • Pork is cooked when the meat is the same colour all the way through. You don’t want any pink in the meat; unlike a steak, ‘rare pork’ isn’t a thing.
  • The reason why one is supposed to wash rice before cooking it is apparently it makes it less starchy, and thus clings together in the pan a bit less.
  • Washing spring onions is quite an involved job, because mud and earth can hide quite deep down in the stalks.  If, like me, you are impatient, wash the onions quite roughly and thoroughly, and then if there is still residual mud, just cut the damn stalks off too. You’re still left with plenty of decent onion.
  • When frying, the definition of “enough oil” is so that the bottom of the pan is coated in oil.

In the picture above, the last tiny bit of the recipe has been missed off by my camera, so it basically says: melt some parmesan on top of the marinaded pork just as it’s finishing cooking. Then, when you serve it, spritz some lime on it – the lime actually adds a really summery feel to the whole dish. Here is the rice and pork as it was cooking, followed by the finished product:

I was quite pleased with the exotic, yet rough-and-ready aspect of the dish. I also liked that the burnished taste of the marinaded pork added something to the rice as we ate. It was pretty yummy!  I guess that I admit that I am getting better at cooking, and in that sense I am fulfilling the goal of this whole project. My confidence is growing in the kitchen – although Toby still offers me help, support and a sense of urgency as and when required! Next month is Jack and Katie’s engagement party, and we are expected to “bring a plate” (sadly, this means bringing a plate which has food on it for guests to share – I found it odd that one might randomly bring a plate to a party, until Toby explained the concept to me.  I have only hitherto been familiar with bringing a bottle. Perhaps this says more about the kinds of parties I have previously frequented!) – so if I’m smart, I will help out during the preparation of this dish and that will be August done. Let’s see what happens!

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regret.

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!  Here’s to the next decade!  Last night I went to Panache with Hannah and Alex to dance the night away.  And I certainly did! The music was generally very good (though it did prove just how dire music is at the moment, since the older hits from the earlier part of the decade, and even hits in the past 3 or 4 years stand head and shoulders above most of what is released today), and we all seemed to enjoy ourselves.  We bumped into a couple of people we knew from school, and I generally ended up feeling very old (I am 24, the others were all 20 or 21) but it was a nice impromptu reunion with people whom I actually didn’t despise at school (generally, the idea of a school reunion fills me with dread and revulsion).

However, on my journey home from Hannah’s house today, I was thinking about some things that I need to get a grip on.  After the afternoon’s passed and I’ve relaxed at home, these things don’t seem quite as urgent as they did at the time, but I still think it’d be good to write them down just so that I have a record of what I was thinking (or wasn’t, as the case may be).  I know that when we went to the club, I looked good and I felt good, and I had drunk some but I wasn’t smashed.  However, by the end of the night, I was embarrassingly off my face.  I remember being aware of it, not being able to focus my eyes, coordinate my limbs (my dancing, usually pretty decent, had deteriorated into a bit of a joke) and slumping in the seating area while Hannah brought me water.  In the taxi home, it was only shame and finance that stopped me from vomiting all over the back seat (motion sickness really gets to me when I’m drunk – I know that it’s motion sickness because as soon as I get out of the car, I’m fine – and I wasn’t sick at all that night nor in the morning.  It’s happened before when I first met Mike and we went to the student bar and then he drove me home – I wasn’t sick then and I wasn’t about to start now).  I wasn’t going to have to pay £70 for the privilege of being sick in a moving vehicle, and I wasn’t going to embarrass myself by not being able to control my own basic bodily functions.  But it was a close one!  Somehow I managed to wake up and not feel hungover – a small miracle, but also not really the point.

I also drank so much that although I was perfectly happy and I didn’t do anything embarrassing, I sorta did behave flirtatiously with one guy who was dancing up against me and vice versa (it was all unwitting but funny) – but more seriously, I ended up slightly coming onto one of the people we bumped into from my old school later in that evening.  After a while, I gave up which was a really good move, because in the morning I just was like “OMG WHAT was I thinking?” The guy is ok, but somewhat immature and really not that attractive.  It would have purely been because he was there, and because to try and take my mind off Mike, I would be distracting myself by whoring myself out to other people.  As has been proven over this Christmas break, that’s not the way to go.  I’m worth much more than random forced encounters, and I’m certainly worth much more than lowering myself to the standards of any average-looking person. And Mike is better than that, and it’s sorta a disgrace to try and replace what he means to me with the first random who shows an interest.  Plus, I get frustrated at the fact that I have to make effort and chase these people – why isn’t anyone chasing me?  I like how I look more than I ever did before, so why is it suddenly so difficult to find someone?  I’m in Gucci, Armani, Prada – most guys my age don’t know what those even are.  And I guess I answered my own question – I try to be solid gold on the outside as well as on the inside (I know that I have a good heart) but I try too hard and it goes unappreciated, and I forget my earlier wisdom of being ice king and not easily won.  Overall I’m glad that nothing happened, and I’m mortified that I even entertained the thought.  I thought about giving up alcohol, but that would never happen; lo and behold, I appear to be staying over at Mike’s on Monday night, so drinking will definitely happen then anyway!

Alcohol also makes me (as it did during the Christmas party a few weeks ago; although last night I was about 3 times as drunk) seem to run off in random directions.  Hannah and Tess went missing during one period of the evening, and I spent half an hour pushing through people in the club in an effort to find them – it turned out they had gone to the kebab van without telling anyone!  Then I ended up helping a girl who was in tears, had acquired another girl’s phone but had lost her own, and needed a lift from her friend but didn’t know where to meet him.  I was out of the club wandering around Broadmead for half an hour with this girl who clung to me tighter than a starfish on a rock, who was using my phone (luckily I’m on contract so it was fine) and smoking my cigarette – she was appreciative, but it’s not something I would ever have taken the time to do had I been sober!  And I hazard a guess that if she had been sober, she wouldn’t have been in that situation anyway 😉  The moral of this post seems to be that alcohol is messy!  And it is.  But I suppose that compared to what could have happened, it was all pretty harmless.  I did have a good time, and I didn’t do anything wrong or bad.  We got there and back in one piece, I wasn’t sick anywhere, I didn’t embarrass myself (as far as I’m aware) at Hannah’s house in front of her parents, and I don’t appear to have lost anything vital.

But the reason why I wanted to write this post was to say more than “don’t drink too much or you may act like a twat”.  Everyone knows that.  I just wanted to say that although it’s not a complete excuse, alcohol made me forget myself.  It made me forget my own sense of dignity, which I nearly compromised by being sick, by pulling someone below my station and ultimately, by forgetting that I am worth more.  I guess I’m disappointed in myself because I felt and acted weak last night, and I should be strong – most of the time, I am strong.  But last night, I forgot that a meaningless encounter won’t hold a candle to a strong friendship and infatuation with a close friend; I forgot that I am a good person inside as well as on the outside, and I shouldn’t settle.  I deserve more, so why did I entertain settling for less?  That’s my first regret of 2010 (I start early!), but I hope that it’s something I can do something about. 🙂

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killing time.

September 16, 2009

So it’s 9:38 according to the clock in the corner of my laptop, and I’m writing this post from work (WordPress is blocked by the NHS so I’m writing it now and will post it up this evening when I get home… by which time the future tense will be present) because I am conscious that as I’m staying with my grandmother so that on her return from Italy, she’s not immediately in an empty house, I wouldn’t be able to blog.  I started work at 8:30, and less than an hour later, I’m already bored and without very much (read: nothing) to do.  I have tweeted from my phone (Twitter is also blocked at work! Damn those pesky IT people) and texted Hannah; I am listening to Brandy (Never Say Never) on my iPod with Mariah Carey (Rainbow) queued up; I am going to gaze at my Gucci bracelet and possibly email a picture of it to my parents in Barcelona, because they taunted me over the phone by telling me how many designer boutiques they had been past.  No need to rub it in!

So writing this blog post in advance is tantamount to me killing time, which seems to be a lot of what I do at work these days!  (As I type, one of my colleagues is demonstrating his juggling skills, so it’s obviously not just me. 😉 ) It’s certainly a step up from my previous job, where there was always a sense of urgency for rarely a legitimate reason, but it dawns on me that often, what we do in life is kill time.  Reading American Psycho on the bus, Patrick Bateman describes how he spent the majority of his summer “in a stupor, sitting either in my office or in new restaurants, in my apartment watching videotapes or in the backs of cabs, in nightclubs that just opened or in movie theatres or in new restaurants.”  Basically, we distract ourselves by doing things which seem “special” to fill up the time, except we spend so much time socialising or going places to socialise or entertaining ourselves, it’s depressing when I start to think how little we actually accomplish that matters.  What am I trying to do with my life?  Well, I work to save up money so that I can buy jewellery – as much as looking good is important to me, and as much as making yourself feel special is something that cannot be underrated, it hardly matters in the scheme of making an impact on the world.  I save up money so that I can have driving lessons to get a car so I can travel.  Okay, that’s important in terms of job skills and life skills.  I am starting university on Monday to gain a qualification in Careers Guidance, so that I can help younger people realise what their options are, both educational and vocational, in order to get to where they want to be.  That does count as making an impact.  In the meanwhile, the only other important thing I do that could potentially touch and enrich people’s lives is my music, writing and producing and singing songs, practising piano and guitar so that I can accompany myself, and lately completing my album booklet and taking pictures of myself and photoshopping moody dark/neon scapes to complement the whole mood of the album.  I guess that I am trying to enrich my life at the same time as trying to touch other people’s lives and make a difference, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But it’s how much time we kill in between doing those things.  I mean, nobody, not even Beyoncé, can work 24/7, and we all need some down time and some “us time” and we all have the right to enjoy our lives and have some fun.  Not everything is so serious, and as I’m growing older I’m learning to realise that more and take things a little easier when it’s okay to do so.  In between laundry and checking on my nan’s house and turning on the fridge and watering the plants yesterday, I watched a few dvds and ate Dominos pizza. But the amount of time we waste is just insane, because we don’t even realise that we’re doing it.  And yet, talking to Ebony on Monday, I was talking about the unspoken pressure put on us by older generations that although I am 23 and she is 24, we should have managed university and got a steady job and be on the way to buy a house and drive and be looking to get married in the near future.  The world is a different place now, and the economy means that jobs and money and affordable decent places to live aren’t as easy to come by as they once were.  I consider myself lucky to have finally escaped retail and got a position in an office where I feel comfortable, am better paid and often do a lot less 😉 I also get to use my brain a lot more, and I feel more valued because of that.  But there is a tension between it being okay to kill time, and then a sense of urgency that before we know it, we will be 30 and single and still living at home and a failure at life.  Please!  I have no intention of letting that happen, and although sometimes life happens beyond your control and deals you a bad hand, I’m determined to make a bid for independence and career success very soon.  I am making moves towards that with my new university course and increase in money, which will hopefully get me a driving licence and a qualification with real job prospects come the end of the next academic year.  But it’s hard to keep a sense of urgency in perspective when it’s also so easy just to kill time and do things which seem unavoidable but are semi-unnecessary.  I don’t know where to find that balance or how to achieve it, but at least I know it needs to be done.