Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

To my Irish friends,

"May the road rise to meet you,

"May the wind be always at your back,

"May the sun shine warm upon your face,

"May the rain fall soft upon your fields,

"And, until we meet again,

"May God hold you in the palm of his hand."

Palm Sunday

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord
Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble tremble tremble…”

Two sentences evoke so much emotion in me, my mind reflects on the One who died to set us free, I have never been able to sing along to that hymn without tears streaming down my face.

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, for us Catholics, it marks the onset of the very solemn Holy Week.

I got to church in time for the start of Mass where palm fronds were blessed with holy water, the priests garbed in red and gold brocaded vestments, the somber congregation filling out all available space. The mood was somber as Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

In his homily on Palm Sunday, Pope Benedict urged the faithful to follow God with the innocence and purity of a child's heart.

"To recognize God, we must abandon the pride that dazzles us, that seeks to push us away from God," he said. To find God, he said, "we must learn to see with a young heart, one which isn't blocked by prejudice and dazzled by interests.”

How do we retrain ourselves so that our actions and decisions are not ones of self interest and biasness? I do not recall when and where in my life that I learned all these traits… is it a classic case of nature vs nurture? Or is it a result of graduating from the school of hard knocks?

In as much as I ponder, I do not know the answer, what are your thoughts on this? How do we perhaps change one little thing about ourselves so that we may live a little better?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

30 years ago today

A little girl was born, and she grew up to be me! Yes, I am 30 today... I know age is just a number and frankly, I am not one who is touchy about age/weight, I'll tell you the truth if you ask! However, it does amaze me how quickly time has flown. I will do a series of post when things are not too crazy to walk through the highlights of the progression of my life in the past decade, there were a lot of sweet moments/memories and what was hopefully the hardest, most painful experience in my life, EVER. It is important that I remember and hence, I want to spend some time to reflect upon them.

As my hubby was going to be out of town for the next month, we had an early birthday dinner. I was pleasantly surprised when we pulled up at Outback Steakhouse. What's so special you say? This was where we had met the for the first time and he even picked out the same exact booth we sat at. It was heartwarming sitting there and reminiscing about how it all started.

Fried mushroom as an appetizer, probably very bad for you [not as bad as the blooming onion though] but really yummy!

As usual, Mr. J has his medium rare steak, fries and wilted spinach.

I had a yummy grilled salmon over wild rice, grilled pineapple and baked potato. Absolutely yummy.

Before digging in, one for the photo album, us 2 years [and 40 lbs] later!

I saved all my birthday cards and opened them this morning, I just LOVE cards and keep each and everyone of them to Mr. J's chagrin! And this year, I received a good bounty, each and every one made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Thank you all, you know who you are!

Of course a gift completes every birthday and this year, I finally got what I have been drooling over for months!!! It was on our wedding registry but it was understandable why no one purchased it, if you're familiar with performance cookware, you'll know why!

Pretty cards all in a row.

My babies, waiting to be unwrapped!

I know, it's pretty sad but I love cookware and I can't tell you how excited I was to get this!

Cannot wait to use my new lovelies and create more memorable meals!

But alas, for this chef wannabe, it was cereal and soy milk for dinner as I am trying not to eat too much when I get home as it's usually almost 9pm.

Well that was my 30th birthday, I wish my husband were home to be with me, that would have made it perfect!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Busy weekend.

I know it's almost mid-week but it's been a crazy week so far and this weekend was no different. It's the audit busy season all through May-ish so as usual, we worked on Saturday and a little on Sunday but I managed to get errands in there.

On Saturday after work, it was to the following places;

Old Navy to get some summer gear.

Linens & Things for spring bedding.

Wild Oats for our weekly groceries.

Target just because :)

By the time I got home, it was 10pm, so it was straight to bed for mel.

On Sunday after church, I had a Nasi Lemak craving so as soon as I got home, what else but to slave over the stove to satisfy that craving.

On the menu was Tamarind Prawns, Ikan Bilis Sambal, Nasi Lemak [Coconut Rice], fried ikan bilis, hard boiled egg and cucumber slices.

Ikan Bilis [Anchovy] Sambal

20 shallots
20 dried chillies [soaked in hot water]
2 stalks lemon grass
3 slices ginger
1 inch fresh tumeric
1 inch shrimp paste
Handful dried anchovies, rinsed and drained
2 red onions, sliced into rings
Golf ball sized tamarind paste

1. Blend first 6 indgredients to fine paste.
2. Heat 2 tbsp oil, fry anchovies till crispy. Set aside on paper towel to drain.
3. Add blended indgredients and cook till oil separates.
4. Add tamarind water to taste. Bring to boil. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Add salt & sugar to taste. Add fried anchovies.
6. Add onions and cook to desired done-ness.

Nasi Lemak [Coconut Rice]

The amount of coconut/liquid should be the same amount as you use normally.

1 cup jasmine rice
1 tsp fenugreek [halba]
4 shallots sliced
6 slices ginger
salt to taste
Coconut cream

Tamarind Prawn

This was made on guestimation.

I used 1 lbs of cleaned shrimp, stirred with golf ball sized tamarind paste, sugar and fish sauce. Do this while the pan is heating up, add 2 tbsp oil. As soon as the pan is hot, dump shrimp and stir fry till cooked, this should take like 5 minutes. Simply yummy!

And of course for my husband, Pecan crusted chicken with bourbon sauce and a simple salad with strawberries and macadamia nuts drizzled with balsamic vinegar dressing.

Pecan crusted Chicken
1 chicken breast [marinade with salt, pepper & 1 tsp Grey Poupon country dijon mustard]
2 tbsp pecan, chopped finely & mixed with 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1/2 stick butter, melted

Bourbon sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp Worchestshire sauce
1 tbsp Grey Poupon country dijon mustard
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp bourbon
2 tbsp cold butter

1. Coat chicken with pecan mixture, drizzle with melted butter, just enough to make crumbs stick.
2. Heat enough of the melted butter in a pan and pan fry the chicken
3. In a small sauce pan, combine soy sauce, mustard, brown sugar and Worchestshire sauce until bubbly. Add bourbon and bring to boil, remove from heat and stir in cubed butter.
4. Drizzle sauce on chicken and garnish with green onions.

My personal chef...

Well, almost! :) I came home to a little surprise, my dear hubby making me dinner! Now now ladies and gentlemen, this is a VERY rare occurance because since my husband and I moved in together, he has kind of lost touch with his 'foraging' instincts! Shopping for groceries, prepping and cooking a meal from start to finish seems to be a talent he no longer needed... but then again, during the good old bachelor days, it was sausage on the grill or cold pizza, please don't ask where he gets his daily veggie intake cos I never found out.

So anyways, I came home to see groceries laid out. Not to criticise though but my dear husband didn't know that we had everything but the ricotta and spinach! However, minor detail though :)

Here's the chef of the day cleaning up and looking very much like a house husband... [as much as a bull in a china shop].

Putting on the finishing touches...

Voila! Ready to go into the oven.

It was at this juncture that I went upstairs to our office and started preparing our tax returns. Waiting on one more statement and we're ready to file! WooHoo! This is my first time filing our return myself, we usually paid someone to do it and this year, I decided that since everyone assumes that I am a tax expert just because I am a CPA, why not try... after all if it didn't work out, I can always pay someone to do it. Anyways, it turned out to be pretty easy, we're pretty organized and file everything away throughout the year and Turbo Tax definitely rocks!

Anyways, the meal was delicious, served with yummy, crusty garlic bread... thank you honey, I really love little surprises such as this! You never cease to show me by your actions what love really is. I'm happy :)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Association Dinner

That's what we were up to last weekend! We attended the Tennessee National Guard Association dinner. It was a whole weekend thing where we stayed at the Music City Sheraton from Friday to Sunday, with mixers on Friday evening, convention for the members of the military on Saturday morning/afternoon [means shopping for the spouses!] and then we dress up and meet for a formal dinner in the evening.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, meeting new friends, catching up with old faces. I am a new military wife so it never fails to astound me how genuine and accepting members of the military are to each other, I have yet to meet anyone from petty officer to the general himself who have not welcomed me with open arms. I can understand now why they say the military consists not just of personnel but a family.

Mingling with other officers and their spouses just leaves me dumbfounded, it certainly takes a special breed of individuals to sacrifice so much out of their lives for the sake of the freedom of their nation whom they hold so dear... Land of the Free and Home of the Brave indeed!

The food was excellent [did not snap any pics as I was shy!], entertainment was provided by these amazing songwriters;

L-R: Gordie Sampson, Caroline Dawn Johnson and Brett James

These guys are Grammy Award winners and write for big names such as Kenny Chesney, Reba McIntyre, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood etc [YES! These are country stars, can't escape that being in Nashville! Amazing talents though.]

The weather this week...

Has been insane! I have been looking forward to the onslaught of spring but it seems to be an oasis, never to be reached... especially when you wake up and it looks like this outside!

Even my kaffir lime [limau purut] plant looked unhappy, I am sure between the 2 of us, the plant is in dire need for summer to come so it can be outside and happy!

But then as if a rainbow after a storm, I was paid a visit by this handsome little fellow. I don't know what kind of bird he is but his beauty against the stark canvas of the usual wintry blah, is astounding. It is as if he's telling me to hang on, sunnier days are in the horizon! Thank you Mr Sunshine for the visit.

Driving to work, looking at the pool longingly... hurry up summer!

In the mean time, it's back on the long road of winter :(