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Friday, April 20, 2018

Dysgeographica? Spatially Challenged? Geographical Dyslexia? Directional Disabled?

I can't drive. I can't find my way around even in places I've been to a thousand times. I can't judge distance. And if I turn left to enter the ladies or an elevator in the mall, I need to remind myself to turn right when I come out. I dare not even take a few steps away from my hotel in a strange city 'cos I know I wouldn't be able to find my way back unless I leave a trail of breadcrumbs! If I watch a Youtube tutorial on a hundred ways to tie a scarf, my brain can't register which way the scarf is being twisted or turned.  If I want to create something symmetrically, my brain can't do the whole mirror-image thing. I can’t look at a two dimensional drawing and translate it into a three dimensional picture in my head.

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image credit - https://giphy.com

When I was fifteen, I used  to ride my bicycle to my best friend's house  but was chronically lost. I had not one, but two accidents while cycling. The first was when I was knocked down by an oncoming motorcyclist when I attempted to cross the road. Luckily for me, I wasn't hurt. Just a few scratches and a bruised ego. I felt so dumb. My cousin who was cycling with me asked me afterward why the hell I crossed the road when the biker was so near. But to me, he appeared to be quite far away.
The second time, I was hit by a bus while cycling home from my cousin's house. I can't really recall what exactly happened. I vaguely remember the sound of screeching brakes and the driver alighting and yelling at me maniacally, causing a scene. I was more mortified than petrified! Miraculously, I was unscathed, not a single scratch. Perhaps the driver braked just in time. Or perhaps I have a powerful guardian angel who was working overtime, watching out for me. Ha! I bet he/she is relieved I don't drive!

The incident scarred me for life. I have since become dromophobic (fear of crossing streets) and vehophobic (fear of driving).

In today's liberated age, the idea of a non-driving woman isn't acceptable. "What? You don’t drive??!!" People would say, bemused and amused, looking at me like I am a wimp.  And when I answer that I am spatially challenged (I don't know how else to describe my condition), they think I am making it up just to find an excuse for not wanting to drive.

Recently, my younger son, Rodney, has been displaying some of the symptoms when he started to drive. He clearly has no sense of direction, lacks any memory of routes, can't find his way back to where he has parked his car, etc. He is perpetually lost just like me! Thank God for GPS!

It dawns on me now that some of his traits are related to this whole spatial awareness thing. For instance, Math. While he excels in all the other branches of Math, he just can't ace Geometry.

I feel really bad for passing this defective gene to him but now people give me more credence and understand that my inability to drive is not just a quirk of mine or that I am lazy or stupid. I know I sound like a bad mom but knowing that I am not alone in this is comforting. Believe me, I hate myself for having him inherit that flawed gene. It can be pretty hilarious when Rodney and I are out on an errand, even if it's just in our neck of the woods. It's a classic case of blind leading the blind!

Save for the two of us, I don't know anyone else personally who lacks spatial awareness. Looking back, I do remember an uncle who didn't drive. His wife was always at the driver's seat and it was a running joke between my aunts and uncles. Back in the 60s, a  non-driving male was less than a man and had no place in society. Poor guy! Perhaps, he too, was born without an internal compass.

There is no official name or write-up for our condition. Many websites lump this undiagnosed disorder with Directional Dyslexia. The writer of The Reading Well defined it as "Extreme difficulty distinguishing right from left and following a sequence of directions or retracing a path." But I disagree. Rodney and I have no problem distinguishing left from right or west from east. But we most definitely can't follow a sequence of directions or retrace a path!

I am often haunted by recurring nightmares of getting lost in a forest, inside a building, going to school, office, etc. I await the day when medical science can decipher the symptomatology, why our brains are wired differently and give us a medical term and cure for it.

Meanwhile, we have our own coping mechanisms.


Funnies .....

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Walk

Parking is always a problem for my son Rodney when he goes to his campus every day. The car park is perpetually full so he has to park his car in a shopping mall that is linked to his campus by an elevated pedestrian walkway. It is quite an interesting 6 min walk with many motivational quotes along the way. The  bridge is about  360m long and crosses over a section of a wildlife park that is part of a theme park.

Join me on this fun walk from the campus to the mall


You see motivational quotes like this spurring you all the way

STOP WHEN YOU'RE DONE, NOT WHEN YOU'RE TIRED


YOU'RE ON YOUR WAY, YOU CAN GO THE DISTANCE!


KEEP CALM, STRETCH & CONTINUE WALKING

A CIGARETTE ON ONE END, A FOOL ON THE OTHER END

BE YOUNG AT HEART - YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD TO WALK

YOU'VE WALKED APPROXIMATELY 450 STEPS! WELL DONE!



Approaching the theme park.....
 I hear screams!
 The 360-degree rotating pirate galleon.


You read it right the first time! There are LIVE tigers beneath as the walkway spans across a section of the theme park.

Can you spot the tiger?  It took a while for me to see it as I was expecting to see something bright orange. Hint - it is a rare blue-eyed White Tiger.


Can you spot the two sun bears?

DO CARDIO, YOU CAN OUTRUN A ZOMBIE ATTACK!


GET YOUR FEET READY AND HEART STEADY

Almost there.....

THE WIDER YOUR WAIST LINE, THE SHORTER YOUR LIFE LINE
Can you see the Wagon Ferris Wheel from the theme park on the right?

A view of the Wagon Ferris Wheel


The last quote
THE HEART SEES WHAT THE EYES CAN'T - TREAT BOTH WELL
Yay!!! I walked more than 10,000 steps today!

The walk

Did you complete your 10,000 steps today?

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ethannevelyn.com

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Fusion Food

I just witnessed my son, Rodney, tossing 2 slices of cheddar cheese into the pot of Tom Yam flavoured instant ramen  he was cooking. "Fusion food, Ma!", he quipped, in response to my grossed-out face.

Actually, he wasn't wrong. Isn't fusion food after all, borderless? The hubs eats lasagna with kimchi! Korean-Italian fusion, he says!

I am a big fan of fusion food, but not lasagna with kimchi or cheese with ramen though!
Fusion food is like pairing the best of two cuisines together to make a dish that's better than each on its own.  I love Bahn Mi (Vietnamese ingredients inside a French inspired baguette). Yummmmm! Cheese naan (oven baked Indian flatbread heavily stuffed with gooey melting cheese), Thai Tom Yam Pizza, Japanese-Italian fusion pasta... these are all my favourite foods.

Have you tried Chinese style baked cheese rice? Apparently, it is very popular in Hong Kong. Essentially, it's pork chops on a bed of fried rice, topped with mozzarella cheese. Chinese-Italian fusion, if you will. It's Josh's favourite.

Here's the recipe to share.

HONG KONG BAKED RICE


INGREDIENTS
6 pork chops
oil for frying

MARINADE
1 tbsp Chinese wine
1 pip garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
a pinch of ground black pepper

Coating
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten (for coating)

FRIED RICE
6 cups cooked rice
2 eggs, beaten
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp oil

SAUCE
4 large tomatoes, diced
6 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ cup chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
salt
ground black pepper

TOPPING
250 g cups grated mozzarella cheese
⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese

METHOD

PORK CHOPS
Marinate pork chops for at least an hour.
Dip marinated pork chops in beaten egg. Coat with flour.
Pan fry pork chops until golden brown. Set aside.

FRIED RICE
Using a wok, heat oil until smoking point.
Add rice and salt and stir fry for a minute.
Make a well in the middle of the wok , pour in beaten eggs. Allow the eggs to set just a little before scrambling gently. Mix the rice and egg and stir fry for another minute.
Remove from wok and  set aside.

SAUCE
In a bowl, mix tomato ketchup, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock and cornstarch. Set aside.
Sauté  garlic and diced onions until the onions turn transparent. Add diced tomatoes, followed by the sauce mixture. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
Place the  fried rice in a casserole, followed by the pork chops. Pour in the sauce and then top with the cheeses. Bake in a  preheated oven at for 220°C for  15-20 minutes or until the cheeses are browned.

Enjoy!

So what's your favourite fusion food?

My Random Musings

ethannevelyn.com

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Goat Story

Remember my goat story three years ago? He came to 'pet' me when we were visiting the village where hubby's uncle lives. Story here. I've just found out the goat's name is Manja (pampered in Malay).

Me and Manja when he was just a kid
We were driving into the village to visit Uncle Beng during the Chinese New Year when we saw Manja, now a full grown billy goat, charging head-on towards an oncoming motorcyclist and head-butting the vehicle! Next, the old goat rammed his head against a tree nearby when the man on the motorcycle chided him!

Uncle Beng explained that Manja had wandered too far off into the next village and the owner had to look for the old goat to herd him home. Manja wasn't quite ready to return to his pen and like a spoilt brat, he was throwing a tantrum!

Suddenly, Manja started to bawl hysterically as if something spooked him. He darted back into his pen on his own. According to Uncle Beng,  the old goat went weird because he knew it was going to rain. And sure enough, within minutes, raindrops came pouring down!
Manja
Apparently, Manja is one spoilt goat, hence the name. As the villagers were largely Hindu, Manja is considered a sacred animal and is honoured and revered. Hindus believe that animals may contain the souls of their ancestors or may be reborn as friends and family members. Besides, Manja's weather forecasting ability makes him even more important! He is a reliable weather vane and his predictions are 90 percent spot-on. In fact, the villagers count on him to tell them when it is going to rain. If he is near his pen, rain is expected. If he is far out in the next village, the weather will be fine!

Evidently, goats hate water. I wasn't able to google for a scientific answer. Veterinarians have not identified any reasons. Goat breeders don't have the real answer either and so far no goat whisperer has come forward with an explanation! It would be really interesting to know why.


I wanted a take a selfie with Manja but Uncle Beng cautioned that the ornery old goat was likely to head-butt me.

After watching this video, I am sure glad I didn't!



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ethannevelyn.com

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fine Dining On The Cheap

Shhhhh! I've discovered a secret for fine dining at a price that is less than a fraction of what you would otherwise have to cough out in a fancy restaurant.

The secret, my friends, lies in the in-house restaurants of culinary schools! And lately, I have been enjoying  fancy 3 to 10 course dinners at my sons' university campuses. Haha! A  10 course dinner prepared by student chefs costs less than a bowl  of soup in a five star restaurant!  I am cheap, I know!

I am a messy eater and more of a soup and sandwich girl although I do enjoy the occasional formal dinner in a posh restaurant and  ONLY with people I am really comfortable with.  Haute cuisine served up by culinary students is more fun and less intimidating.

One - You don't have to deal with poncey waiters/waitresses. The rookie serving staff are probably more nervous than you.

Two - You don't have to sweat over the confusing tableware. Nobody cares if you are eating your fish with a soup spoon instead of a fish knife. The other diners who are mostly students are too busy having fun snapping photos with their phones. Heck, I could eat my fish with a pair of chopsticks and nobody would bat an eye! Hey, I am very talented with my chopsticks! I can pick the tiniest bone off my fish with chopsticks, even a microscopic sesame seed! Fun fact -  did you know it's easier to eat spaghetti with chopsticks than a fork? All that twirling with a fork is a sheer waste of effort.

Three - You don't have to dine with pretentious guests. You won't get the death stare  if your fork clanks a little too loudly or if your escargot bounces of your plate!

Remember that famous Julia Robert dining scene? It never gets old!



Four -  Who knows, you may even experience the talents of the next top chefs before they become Michelin stars!

Five - You don't need to attend a fine dining etiquette workshop to learn about the right utensils to use. You get all the practice you need!

The downside? The RARE occasion when your steak is a tad underdone. Pardon the lame pun.

My latest experience to share. A Valentine-themed dinner inspired by Spanish Chef Elena Arzak. She is one of only six women in history whose restaurant has been awarded three Michelin stars. Arzak was named best Female Chef in the World in 2012.

THE MENU

It was a 10 course dinner - Amuse-Bouche (3), Starter (2),  Main (2),  Pre-dessert (1), Dessert (2).
The rustic bread and Spanish garlic rolls were really good. At home, just these and soup alone would make a hearty dinner for me.

Gotta love the fun names the students DISHed out for their creations.

BLIND DATE
Deep fried butterfish in Kataifi

IT TAKES 2 TO TANGO
Marinated sardines with balsamic strawberry

FIRST DAY OF SPRING
Raspberry gazpacho with melon

BUILDING CASTLES IN THE SKY
Yabbies with mangosteen and garlic

POP THE QUESTION
Baked egg with yolk veil and chicken broth

JUST THE TWO OF US
Seared red snapper with green and red parterre
KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR
Rack of lamb with pea purée, green sponge and fondant potatoes
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, SMOKE THEM!
Lime soufflé with smoked lemon ice cream
MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Chocolate sponge and mousse with orange parfait
ON CLOUD 9
Petit fours - Banana marshmallows, almond biscuits, passion fruit jellies, white bean truffles

The talented chefs

Burp! That was a mighty fine dinner. I heard that a Gordon Ramsey inspired dinner is next on their calendar. Can't wait!

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