Monday, 17 December 2007

The best things in life are so cheap, abuse is inevitable

The things a woman would do for vanity's sake... Three weeks ago, I took a leap of faith and went for a laser operation that essentially stripped my cheeks of their skin. Yowch! I shan't go into detail about the dead skin flakes I saw floating in the air during the op or how they clung on to the laser gun and threatened to invade my nostrils and lungs each time I inhaled, or the SMELL of burnt flesh! And the searing PAIN (which I think I took like a man)! Oh, the horror! Not that that's enough to deter me from doing it again! :)

Whetted your appetite yet? ;-)

Because I knew it'd be unethical for me to be outdoors while my skin grew back (I didn't want to be held responsible for others' nightmares, haha) my company allowed me to work from home for 2 weeks. Aww.. For the first whole week, I was cooped up at home and forced to rely on the provisions at hand and had to make my cooking as low-risk and splashless as possible (ie, no frying, stir-frying, deep-frying, shallow-frying - you get the drift). The recovery of my skin was speedier than I'd feared, to such an extent that a few times I'd wondered if I'd be able to watch it heal in real time if I looked hard enough!

The hideous post-op face obviously distorted my perception of the "after" face in that I felt much more attractive than I must have been to the unknowing eye. ;-) On the first day I finally felt presentable enough to go out for groceries (without makeup at that!), to my utter delight and dismay, I saw one of my favourite actors Jean Réno in the flesh! No way! What are the odds?!?! On the one hand, I wish I had a camera on me, but at the same time, I'd caught a glimpse of my own reflection and realised that I certainly wasn't photogenic as yet, ack!!! Fortunately, I was at a bookshop and had access to ample writing material and was able to get an autograph! Wheeee!! :)

Anyhow, grocery shopping after a week of home imprisonment was so liberating it got ridiculous, and on perhaps the fourth day in a row I felt the "need" (yeah, right) to shop, all I had in my bag when checking out were chips and Cherry Coke, which I ordinarily don't even drink much of. :) Deprivation can be such a powerful thing!

Of course, I never seemed to buy everything I "needed" on each shopping trip during my convalescence, so on my first day back in the office, after lunch with my pals, I was itching to enter a different supermarket again. A colleague who had to be back at her desk on time asked me what I needed, and when I told her I needed to scarf down some crêpe dentelle, she gasped. Not only at the absurdity of the need, but the lucky coincidence - her guy's mother happens to work in a factory that manufactures them, and told me if I didn't mind broken ones, she'd have a whole bag of crumbs to give me the next day if I could wait. :) It suited me fine since I usually crush them before eating anyway, so gleefully accepted the bag of crumbs she gave me, which came up to more than a kilo:

Hardcore indulgence, if you ask me

Initially, I ate the crumbs by the cupful, but by Saturday, I was craving a more intense caramel flavour and to make nougatine with crêpe dentelle flakes instead of the usual almond bits. I didn't succeed since I've never made nougatine before and was in experimenting mode, but was pretty pleased to end up with this:

Basically, I just dumped some sugar (possibly 300g) in a saucepan and made it melt and darken into a golden brown caramel, then removed the saucepan from the stove and dumped in a generous cube of butter (50g? 75g? no idea) and sprang back in haste while it sizzled. Proceeded to stir until the butter blended evenly into the sugar and drizzled discs and grid patterns on wax paper.

The grid patterns were a joy to eat, but the discs, well.. keeping in mind my dental travails, I didn't want to risk any unnecessary chipping and new fillings, and since they were so rock solid and too big to fit into my mouth without being broken or bitten, I ultimately had to dump them back into the saucepan and add crème fraîche (an instinctive move, really) to bring them back to a molten state, taking special care not to burn the caramel. Not surprisingly, they didn't set an hour after I'd made new discs on wax paper, so ended up with these roses des sables, really just a fancy name for cornflakes coated in caramel:

Not the ideal daily way to consume cereal!

They were too darned good I already feel them creeping onto my hips! But now that they've all been downed, I realise all the stuff that went into making them hardly cost a Euro dollar! I'm not complaining but they're definitely coming back in my kitchen! Yikes

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Main hoon kaun? main hoon con...

I was lamenting last week to a friend my flagging will and inspiration with regards to blogging due to my current preoccupations, and he kindly and rightly pointed out that blogging was supposed to be fun and should not become a "chore or service to others". Without wanting it to, I did let it become a chore, losing sight of my real reason for starting a blog in the first place (err, venting! Just kidding!) and most of all, tried too hard. Idiot.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise, really. My blog is hardly a year old and I didn't want it to die in its infancy, but by dint of flaunting it left and right to everyone I knew who would take a look, I didn't want them to come by for nothing. What happened as a result were insane behind-the-scene efforts to impress that ended up in me not posting about my time-consuming disasters at all. Dummy.

A few pals aware of my fidgetiness in the professional arena right now have suggested that I made my cooking profitable, to which I often responded with my usual "if it became a chore, I'd no longer enjoy it" (there's also my inability to stick to a theme in my cooking!). Now, why didn't I see that I was doing precisely that with my blog? :)

In less than a week from now, my wedded status is slated to undergo a major change, and in a few months (weeks?), so will my location. When my location changes, that will mean I will no longer have my own kitchen to get sloppy in, and along with that, no more digital camera and a more basic computer. To make up for it, I will be so surrounded by cheap and good food in my "new" location, in all likelihood it will be ages before I cook or even buy groceries again!

The impact of all that on what I initially intended to be a food blog is that it will impair my ability to blog about stuff I made myself, and worse, will limit the possibility of me uploading pictures since a new camera will not be in my list of priorities (a trip to Bombay is!).

Bottomline - it will no longer be just about food... By the way, "con" in French isn't what it is in English (the last word of the first two paragraphs provides an idea), but both apply to my former approach to blogging. :)

This said, I recently managed to get my hands on the 1978 version of Don, and have been whiling away lots of time on the music videos.. :) maybe it's time I got myself some Banaraswala paan! :)