Friday, February 28, 2014

Making Siomay

I haven't been taking scenery photos for weeks because it's been mostly grey and it's even worse after some of the snow has melted away because that means it's the time for dark/brownish snow. Not nice. Plus the sun has been hiding for weeks and weeks. It did shine for a few afternoons, but it hasn't been seen again for a while, so that's also another reason. 

Anyway, considering the fact that I have some tofu and I've been bored with cooking the same food over and over again, I decided to make some siomay. Because there aren't ready made siomay skins, I wanted to try making some. In the past I settled by just filling in some paprika with meat, but this time I was bent on making the skins myself. It turned out to be pretty easy (100 ml flour**, 60 ml water, a pinch of salt, half an egg - I only used the white egg this time), though I have no noodle maker, so I only used a rolling pin to roll the dough until it was very very thin. I could only make 9 sheets of siomay skin but it was enough because I had bought some paprika as well.

* Note on the siomay skin sheets: To make sure that they don't stick to one another when you stack them up before filling them up with the meat, use maizena flour.

** I use puolikärkeävehnäjauho to make the skin.

This time I combined 400 grams of mince meat with 200 grams of pollock (fish) meat with garlic, eggs, pepper, and tapioca powder*** in my food processor. Once the mixture was done, I warmed up the steam pan and started filling some paprika with tofu and meat as well as filling the sheets of siomay skin with the meat. Normally in Indonesia they have a tougher type of tofu in which you can make a slit and fill up the slit with the meat, but the kind of tofu available here is the very soft kind, so I can't possibly do that. That's why I opted to just shove the tofu to the bottom of the slices of paprika and then covered it up with the meat. Of course one needs to eat these with sweet soy sauce, peanut butter sauce, and a dash of lime juice. YUM YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*** The amount of tapioca powder is up to you. I like adding more to make the meat combo more "chewy". :-D 

Here are some photos (those white stuff is the tofu):

My belly's very very happy at the moment HE HE HE HE HE HE HE...Experiment WELL DONE!!! :-D

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

3BT: Random Days

1. Finding the earring that has been lost for a long time. Apparently it had fallen down while we were in sauna ha ha...

2. Ordering a winter jacket online because the ones they had in the stores in this little village were either twice as expensive or didn't have a two-way zipper and finding out that the size fit perfectly, so I didn't have to return it. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSS!!!!

3. Me: "Honey, you look good!"
R2: "You look better!"

AWWWWWW moment of the day! :-D 

4. Me: "So how's the cake? I managed to mix up some of the ingredients the wrong way, so it didn't turn out the way it was supposed to be, but it's still tasty, right?"
R2: "Yep."
Me: "Of course. Guess how many egg yolks I used for it!"
R2: "Sixteen."

Me: "GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! That's correct!"

R2 started laughing like a maniac and he even had to stop eating (his shoulders were shaking and had trouble breathing).

Me: "That was just a wild guess, wasn't it?"
R2: (in between laughing) "Yep."
Me: "DOOOHHHHH!!!!" 

5. Warm rice, squid, and sambal terasi (Indo chili sauce). VERY YUMMY!!!!!

6. The sun has finally been shining for the past two afternoons (yes, it was cloudy for half a day).

7. A very warm (albeit cloudy) February and it's been above zero for days. The snow is melting rapidly everywhere. Will spring come sooner? It does seem like it. Very strange but I don't mind it at all he's all the better if the snow melts so fast without refreezing again.

8. A customer of mine gave me some meat out of the blue. Yep, meat! :-D BLESS that person! 

9. Having a dishwasher (the previous owners of the house had installed it). Even though we don't use it regularly, but every now and then when I just don't feel like washing the dishes by hand, the machine is there to help me. :-D 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Toilet Paper

Ever since I moved to Finland, I've always tried to buy the cheapest toilet paper available in the cheapest supermarket in this village. Never really thought about using the more expensive ones. The other day we went to the city and found a great deal at a supermarket. They were having a promotion: a package of toilet paper (16 rolls) + a package of kitchen paper (8 rolls) = €8.50. The current toilet paper I've been using is now sold at €3.00 for 8 rolls, so you can imagine how cheap the deal was, right?

So went back home, divided the toilet paper rolls for our two toilets, and then after finishing the old cheap toilet roll, I started using the new one and MY GOODNESS it was SOOOOOOO SOFT!!!! Almost as though I was wiping my butt with some clouds. Seriously!!!

Funny, now I enjoy going to the toilet and using the new toilet paper more than before LOL!!! Ah, what an indulgence! :-D In a way it's not a good idea to know just how good more expensive stuff can be, because then when you go back to using a cheaper kind you'll know the difference and you'll start missing the more expensive kind. But I'm going to enjoy this cloud-like toilet paper while they last! WHOOOOOPPPPEEEEEEE!!!! :-D

P.S. And I'll be on the lookout for more great deals in other supermarkets for this kind of toilet paper rolls HE HE HE HE HE HE HE...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On Writing

Sometimes words find me. I may not be actively searching for any ideas to write, but then they just come to my mind and it's like they beg me to write them. Sometimes their voices are very strong and the longer I postpone writing those words, the stronger they become and the clearer they get. They won't leave me alone until I write them down. As if they kept on saying, "Write us! Write uuuusss!" over and over and over again.

Other times I struggle to put all the pieces together into a post, because I may be still be wondering how to end the post or I may still be trying to think of all the pieces in that post and still not sure of the best way to convey what I want to say in one particular post. The subject matter may be touchy or complex or it may be about an ongoing problem to which I have no answer(s) yet. 

There are also occasions when I read someone else's blog post and then the post awakens another post within my mind. I especially love being enlightened by someone else's post that prompts me to write a post of my own. The post I read may shift, change, or widen my perspective or it may even be teaching me new stuff that I never knew before.

And let's not forget those posts that I leave half-finished in my draft. Sometimes I do get back to those half-written posts and finish them, but other times I just leave them be because the mood has changed and it's almost impossible to go back to writing with the same tone of voice or depth of feelings. It's a bit of a shame whenever I lose the chance to capture the moment (the tone of voice or the depth of feelings).

I LOVE getting inspirations out of nowhere at the weirdest time of any day, though the problem with this kind of inspiration is that they may come right before I fall asleep or even in the middle of sleep (I wake up to pee and before I go back to sleep, the words find me) and when that happens, I get too lazy to get up and write them down (especially if I have work the next day), so what I try to do is just repeat them several times in my brain and tell my brain to remember at least the gist of the post and the next day I try to quickly transform them into a post. However, I have also lost plenty of posts because I leave it too long or I don't repeat the ideas several times and things happen and the words leave me after a while. That is a shame, but at least every once in a while I read someone else's writing that does remind me of those thoughts and I enjoy experiencing those moments, as well.

There are also those rare occasions when I just click on "write a blog post" and start from scratch without any specific idea what I'm about to write. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. Sometimes my writing ideas start from a subject matter that I haven't exactly developed yet in my brain, but when I start writing about it, the words just flow out without any restraint.

All in all, I have always loved writing, but I LOVE it even more now than ever before. Writing has been very cathartic and it's also allowed me to connect with other people. Words have substantial power, not just for other people, but also for yourself. How about you? How do you find ideas to write? Do words also find you sometimes?

P.S. Here's my latest creation in the weekly challenge group that I've joined in. The incident I described below happened in High School.

Weekly Challenge: Fear

Stay calm, Amel. Picksomebodyelsepicksomebodyelsepicksomebodyelse....

He looked around the room and then I heard him say my name.


I got up from my seat, walked a few steps forward, got up the two steps of the long wooden platform, picked up a piece of chalk, and tried to think of a solution to the tricky Math equation on the blackboard.

Think, brain! Which formulas should I choose to break this down? THINK FAST!!! I don't want him to yell at me!

Famous for his temper, when the teacher yelled at us, his voice carried through the neighbouring classrooms and I certainly didn't want to be the victim of his wrath.

I started writing down the solution to the equation, though I wasn't sure at all whether it was the right one. The hand that gripped the chalk started to feel damp. Forty pairs of eyes were focusing on me.

Ugh. What next? I'm stuck!

The teacher got up from his seat, walked across the length of the room, opened the door of the classroom, clasped his arms in front of his thin body, and looked out.

I could see his movement from the corner of my eyes and when I realized that he wasn't looking at me, I slowly turned around and tried to make some frantic-yet-discreet S.O.S. signals to my seatmate because she was brilliant at Math. Alas, she had no time to help me because the teacher started turning around to face the classroom again.

I wrote something down, erased it, then wrote something else, then erased it. Tick tock tick tock tick tock...He closed the door, walked back towards his seat and sat down. I didn't know what else to write. A few seconds later, I felt a mini earthquake.

Oh no, an earthquake at this exact moment? You've gotta be kidding me! No, no, no, focus on the equation! The teacher's staring at you now! OK OK OK OK OK. Stop the earthquake already!!!! It's ruining my concentration! GRRRRRRRR!!!!! How can I solve this bloody equation?

Wait a minute! How come the entire class is so calm then even though the earthquake hasn't stopped yet? Hmmmm...but I can still feel the tremors...what the?

HOLY SMOKES! So the culprit is my own legs!!! ARRRGGGHHH!!! Help meeeeeee!!!

With legs still buckling on the wooden platform, the teacher breathed out a deep sigh and finally told me to sit down.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Warm February

This month has been exceptionally warm, with temperatures close to 0'C or even reaching 1'C. However, the sun hasn't been showing up for days on end. Usually at this time of the year I don't need to use my light box anymore (because daylight time is supposed to be 7-8 hours a day already), but these days I still use it a few times a week. It's going to feel REALLY great when the sun's finally up again (it's been cloudy and snowing).

Oh yeah, I've finally secured my summer holiday to go back to Indo with R2. The boss has told me that it won't be a problem. Phew! We haven't bought the tickets yet, but I've been browsing for hotels in Singapore because we're going to stay there 2 nights in order to rest our bodies. Glad to know these days there are several direct flights from Singapore to my hometown, so we don't have to take the bus from Jakarta airport to Bandung. It saves so much time this way and I'm also glad that Finnair has direct flights from Helsinki to Singapore. YYYEEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!

Anyway, I've been joining a Google+ online community where the members get weekly challenges. They can either post a photo, a text, or both and I must say it's been very beneficial for me to tap into my creative side.

Here's my latest post. This week's challenge is LOVE. I posted this photo along with the poem below.

You took a big piece of my heart with you
when you never came...
Yet people think that because you never came,
I have nothing to lose.
How wrong!

I had loved you even before you could have been,
I love you still even when you're not here,
And I shall love you until my last breath
Because you're mine.
Yes, you're mine...
Even when you never came...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tidbits At Work: I'm Not Crazy!

The other day I was working as the cashier in our store and then a coworker came by with her children to buy groceries. It was rather quiet at that time and before I started serving her, I pressed the button to call another cashier. My coworker turned around and then turned back at me with such a surprised look on her face and then I realized why she had that look.

I laughed and said, "I'm NOT crazyyyyy!!! It's time for my break, so I pressed the button."

She laughed, replying, "I was wondering why on earth you'd call another cashier because I saw nobody else behind me." 


Oh yeah, while talking about this theme, today after work I went to another supermarket to buy something that wasn't sold in our place. While there, I browsed around to see if they had other interesting offers or products, so I was walking slowly around the store when a grandpa stopped me by asking, "Can you tell me where the cat food section is?"

I don't remember him at all, so I don't know if he just thought I was working there (which was odd because I wasn't wearing the store's uniform and I definitely looked like a foreigner so I had no idea why he knew I could speak Finnish), but I thought that I wasn't in a hurry anyway, so I asked the worker there where the cat food section was and he asked me to come along with him.

So I did. I showed him where the cat food selection was and he told me to take some for him. I had NOOOO idea what kind of cat food he was looking for, so I asked him what kind of cat food he was looking for - dry or wet? He told me that he usually bought the ones in bags, so I picked one and he said, "Yeah, that's the one. Take some."

Again I got a bit confused because that type had three different flavours and I told him about the selection, but he said, "It doesn't matter which kind."

I picked two and put them in his cart, but he told me to take more, so I asked him how many cats he had. He said it was a stray cat that had been abandoned by somebody, so he took the cat in. How thoughtful of him! :-D

After I took about a dozen in total (they were small bags), he thanked me and we parted way. What an interesting encounter! :-D  

Monday, February 10, 2014

CNY Memories

Chinese New Year has come and gone. I didn't feel anything at all because I have no Chinese friends here, so it's kinda pointless to celebrate it on my own (plus it's too tough to try to make some of the lovely CNY cakes that I love). The other day I was talking about CNY with a relative of mine and it brought back my CNY childhood memories. :-D

You see, we lived with grandma (mom's mom) from the time when I was 4 years old until her death (I think I was around 17 years old at that time). Grandma was a Catholic and when we were younger, every CNY she'd prepare a big table. On the table there would be special CNY food offerings for those who had gone before us as well as an incense bowl (now I seem to recall she also put the photos of her ancestors on the table). She'd burn some incense and put the incense sticks in the bowl. As kids, we just enjoyed doing something like that because we could only do it once a year and we'd just mimic her even without understanding what it meant.

Because my grandma was a pretty prominent figure in her family, many relatives would come to visit us on CNY, including her elder sisters. Normally (as far as I know) the younger ones are supposed to be the ones visiting the elder ones. As young children, we enjoyed being able to meet our cousins and play with them. We also enjoyed meeting our aunts and uncles because usually they'd give us red enveloped filled with money HE HE HE HE HE HE...Oh, and let's not forget all the delicious CNY food that we'd be able to eat! My mom's family (grandma's big family) is famous for being wonderful cooks (including the men), because from ages ago, they had learnt to earn money by selling food. Even until today there are still many people who know my grandma's name related to her delicious food.

Because we weren't rich, mom would sometimes made us some new clothes (she always has a stack of cloth ready to be turned into new clothes) for the event so that my parents wouldn't have to buy new ones. 

Anyway, what I suddenly remembered while replying to my relative's email about CNY was one of the traditions that we did a few times when we were still young. Grandma bought some fake paper money and then she taught us how to fold them into something like this (when I googled them, I found out they were called joss paper). Click on the link to find more info about joss paper.

Here's a video clip on what we did back then:

I remember with the help of many cousins, we ended up making dozens and dozens of them. And after that, we'd burn them one by one in a huge tin. Of course as a young child, being allowed to burn stuff safely was fun ha ha ha ha ha...One thing I think I missed during our childhood was the dragon dance. My mom told me that when she was younger, the dragon dances used to be held on the streets and they were so beautiful. I think these days there are more dragon dances because the government has considered CNY as a national holiday. Still I'm glad for these lovely memories. :-)

Monday, February 03, 2014

3BT: Random Days

1. Me: "I want my Mother's Day caaaaakkkkeeeee!" (a joke based on Creepshow movie where the dead guy demanded to get his Father's Day cake)
R2: "But you're not a mother."
Me: "Awwww shucks...that hurts..."
R2: "That means you can have your cake every day."

P.S. The words "you're not a mother" didn't hurt me at all. :-D WOOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!

2. I broke my beloved big mug by accident (that I got for free from a flea market owner), was sad for a few days, then went to one of the flea markets here and found a replacement. It was a little bigger and it only cost €2. Here's a pic of it. YEEEEEEEEEEESSSS!!!

3. Being in touch with some new friends via FB. :-D

4. Getting an additional work shift on Sunday due to a coworker being sick. It's nice every now and then because it means getting double per hour. :-D

5. Saying the EXACT same word with hubby at the exact same time while watching a movie.

6. A brilliant ninja fight scene at the cliffs in G.I. Joe movie.