ordinary and oddinary

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Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Apple detox diet

I’ve been eating non-stop since Friday night.

I started preparing for the lunch from Friday night. Sweet potato mash salad tastes best when served cold. I also pre-steamed prawn shitake mushroom because I wanted to taste to see whether it was worthy of serving it or not. Oh I made Kimchi as well as it required a few processes. Kimchi and bulgogi (Korean marinated BBQ beef) were upon my friend’s request for the hot pot party for Sunday lunch.

Saturday meal was great. On Saturday evening, I sliced a big rump steak beef. It just began to thaw so that I was able to cut them thinly and easily. I marinated 1kg of the meat and put it in the fridge overnight.

Sunday was a hot pot party at my friend’s. Oh bless her. She had prepared all different kinds of food – fresh shrimps, chicken thigh marinade, pork meatballs, rice noodle, various vegetable, and so on- which were enough to feed the army! They were so yummy and juicy. The lunch started at about 2pm and finished just after 6pm.

After three day & nights’ non-stop eating binge, I was understandingly tired last night. I was dozing off while I was watching ‘Puss in boots’. What a shame.

Today, to soothe my overworked stomach, I’m doing a one day apple detox diet. I’ve never done it before but it doesn’t sound too overwhelming. Basically you eat just apples all day. It doesn’t matter how many you eat, but eat apples only. I can drink water and infusions. On the way to work, I’ve bought 1 kg of Golden Delicious and I’ve eaten two so far. I may buy a bit more later.

I’ve been to the toilet quite a few times already and I’m feeling alright. 



Mission accomplished!

Saturday lunch was a success.

My parents-in-law enjoyed it so much and Mark’s dad even asked me what I did to the drumstick to make this splendid flavour.

Oh, I bought an organic carrot cake and mint chocolate for dessert. Since they love red wine, I chose a bottle of Chianti Classico Uvaggio Riserva and a Mateus rosé .

I’m physically tired but mentally super-energised. 🙂



Long-term investment vs. Child

Last Friday, I had an appointment with my financial adviser to review the endowment policies we’ve had for the last 8 years. They could be doing better but at least are growing at 5-7% per annum. Given the current economic crisis spread around the world, it’s not too bad. Our strategy is a bit aggressive (80% funds 20% cash).

Initially we started it as a 20-year long-term investment plan and later linked it to the mortgage loaned for the flat we purchased together in Gibraltar. I remember we opted for the maximum contribution of tax-deductible in this long-term investment policy and I have to say my heart sank when I first saw a big chunk of monies automatically deducted from our joint account.

About a year after the commencement of the policies, I quit my job. I had loathed my job, yet didn’t quite figure out what I really wanted to do either. So the break was a bit prolonged. Money was tight. Mark’s sole income wasn’t too bad, but by no means enough to enjoy life. For the first time I was awfully tempted to surrender the policy, thinking ‘If I had the money in my hand, I would feel less constrained..Oh god 20 years..Was I out of mind or plain stupid?’

But my better judgement won and I kept it alive. After 4 months’ break, I finally decided to join an accountancy firm. Money was still tight as I was working and studying at the same time earning peanuts. Somewhere along the line, we even bought a house in Spain. It was a self-inflicted (!) uphill struggle, hence my temptation lurked about for a quite while.

And at one time, when I saw seemingly better products around, I thought to myself I might be better off trading my policy and invest elsewhere.

Well, it wasn’t always bad.
One day, that year’s annual statement arrived and I found out that my chosen products outdid considerably! Yay, I wasn’t bad, I’m an investment genius! Ha ha I couldn’t help feeling smug. 😉

Then my career started taking off and so did his. Finally we were able to begin to appreciate our endowment policies and it didn’t feel like a burden any more.

When I finally get the large sum in 12 years time, I will probably be glad that I haven’t surrendered. I will be proud to stick to the initial decision and not to deviate from it. Well, I know I still have 12 more years to go in order to validate my statements though. 🙂

Looking back, I think committing to a long-term investment plan like my endowment policy is kind of similar to having a child. When you have a child, you are bound to struggle. You may face regrets and wish you’d gone down to the different road. Then the child grows. He brings joy to your life and makes you experience something wonderful you’ve never imagined before. Then he causes trouble and expels from schools. After backbreaking rebelling, he gets to a good uni… The list can go on forever.

However, at the end of the day, you will feel that ‘I’m so glad that I’ve had my child.’ in the same manner as ‘I’m so glad I’ve kept my endowment policy.’

A tiny wee bit radical? Well, you know what I mean. 🙂

Looking after myself

I do a list of things to look after myself.

Well, I wasn’t always like that. To put it mildly, I was my own worst enemy. I felt it was selfish to spend time and money on myself and I believed there were more important things in life. The big change which completely shook my paradigm came along about 5 years ago, July 2007.

Mark and I were a happy couple. We had been married for 4 years by then and were  busy working young professionals. It all began when Mark was complaining about frequent dizziness. He also described that he didn’t feel balanced when he was walking. We went to see different doctors and he took a series of tests.

Mark was diagnosed with brain cancer. He went through one intrusive operation, chemotherapy then radiotherapy. Finished? Oh no. The nasty tumour came back in October 2010. He had to undergo another gruelling surgery and focused radiotherapy.

From the first operation, Mark’s health has never been fully recovered. He goes to the physio three times a week and walks with a walking stick. His short-term memory is not perfect (his was never anyway for his defence! :-)). His speech has slurred and when he tries to project his voice, it cracks.  He takes an MRI every 6 month.

Despite all, he’s doing well.

He works fulltime and fortunately his intellectual prowess for his job has remained intact. We still have a good life together and try to live our lives to the fullest. I have no doubt that his super positive attitude helps a lot.

Now back to me.

Well, I think it was around his second recuperation,  that’s when I started thinking about taking seriously good care of myself. Mind you, as you can imagine, I’ve had my emotional rollercoaster along the way to reach where I am now. When you’re not looked after, you cannot look after anybody. When you’re exhausted, you cannot energise others. Ultimately when you’re not happy, you cannot make anybody happy around you. Quite the opposite.

Hence, this is my list of tested-proven activities, which I call ‘looking after myself’.  

  1. I take supplements – Multivitamins, Co enzyme Q-10, Flaxseed oil and Lecithin. Lecithin wasn’t my usual one but my friend gave me and decided to have a go.
  2. I go to the gym after work during the week and train about 1 hour. You can’t beat the warm shower after a work-out!
  3. I take a flamenco dance class every Friday. This is truly enjoyable and I do feel like a professional dancer with my skirt and shoes on. I’ve made some great friends from the class and tend to go out for a drink afterwards.
  4. I eat healthy. Well this is not a special regime I’ve taken in, because being Korean, I’m not a great fan of fatty or greasy food. However, I make a concerted effort to eat healthy and delicious food and refuse to eat for the sake of getting full. I love seafood, vegetable and beans.
  5. I drink at least 3 bottles of water, which works out at 1.5L per day. I drink a couple more in summertime. I don’t drink fizzy drinks (I don’t like them, so not a problem.). I drink tea but rarely drink coffee.
  6. I look after my appearances including  proper skin care, body image, fashion and hair. I’m a 5’2” and always maintain a UK size 6-8 /EU size 34-36. I’m happy and confident with the way I look.
  7. I buy the most expensive chocolate box at a supermarket shelf occasionally just for myself and savour every bite.
  8. I take regular massage, at least bi-weekly. This is the most luxurious and indulging gift I give to myself.
  9. I buy a Spanish magazine of my choice every Saturday to enjoy with a nice cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit. It makes me catch up all the latest gossips and feel refreshed.
  10. Most importantly, I cherish my own company and I do whatever I feel like doing without interruption at least one evening during the week.

Trust me – “Without ‘me’, there’s nothing. I’m the most important asset.”

Indultos a los fritos (Pardon to fried foods)

There was an article on abc.es today that fried foods are not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases according to a research conducted in Spain.

As pointed out in the article, this should not be extrapolated to other countries where there are other types of oils used for frying compared to olive oil or sunflower oil which are majorily used in Spain. Reversely, it means if foods are fried in olive or sunflower oil, they are healthy enough, doesn’t it?  Here goes the article.

Los fritos no se relacionan con un mayor riesgo de patologías cardiovascular

Al contrario de lo que siempre se ha pensado, comer alimentos fritos en aceite de oliva o en aceite de girasol no se relaciona con un mayor riesgo de padecer enfermedades cardiovasculares o de muerte prematura, de acuerdo con una investigación de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid que se publica en British Medical Journal (BMJ).
1) padecer: to suffer
2) muerte prematura: premature death

Sin embargo, los investigadores, coordinados por Pilar Guallar-Castillón, subrayan que debido a que el estudio se realizado íntegramente en España, un país mediterráneo, donde se utiliza el aceite de oliva o el de girasol para freír, los resultados probablemente no pueden ser extrapolables a otros países donde, por ejemplo, el mismo en otro país donde se emplean otro tipo de aceites para freír alimentos.
3) subrayar: to underline, to stress
4) íntegramente: entirely
En los países occidentales, la fritura es uno de los métodos más comunes de la cocina tradicional. Cuando la comida se fríe adquiere más caloría debido a que el alimento absorbe la grasa de los aceites. Se sabe que ingerir grandes cantidades de alimentos fritos puede aumentar algunos de los factores de riesgo relacionados con las enfermedades del corazón, la como presión arterial alta, el colesterol o la obesidad,; no obstante, hasta ahora no se había analizado en profundidad relación entre los alimentos fritos y las patologías cardiovasculares.
5) la fritura: frying, fried food
6) ingerir: to ingest, to consume
7) presión arterial alta: high blood pressure
8) en profundidad: in depth

Hábitos alimentacios

Los autores entrevistaron los métodos habituales de la preparación de alimentos en 40.757 adultos de edades comprendidas entre 29 a 69 durante un periodo de 11 años. Ninguno de los participantes tenía enfermedad cardíaca al inicio del estudio. Se preguntó a los participantes acerca de sus hábitos en la preparación de los alimentos y sobre su dieta.
Durante el seguimiento hubo 606 eventos relacionados con las enfermedades cardiovasculares y se produjeron 1.134 fallecimientos.
En un país mediterráneo, donde los aceites de oliva y girasol son las grasas más utilizadas para freír, y donde se consumen grandes cantidades de alimentos fritos tanto dentro como fuera de casa, señalan los autores, «no se ha observado asociación alguna entre el consumo de alimentos fritos y el riesgo de enfermedad cardiovascular o muerte».
En un editorial que acompaña a la investigación, Michael Leitzmann, de la Universidad de Regensburg (Alemania), afirma que el estudio explota el mito de que «freír los alimentos es en general malo para el corazón», pero subraya que esto «no significa que el consumo frecuente de fritos de pescado o patatas fritas no tenga consecuencias para la salud». En su opinión, aspectos específicos de las comidas, como el tipo de aceite usado, son muy determinantes.
 9)determinante: crucial

I know what you did a few weeks ago.

A few weeks ago, I caught something that was devastatingly disturbing and indescribably seething at the same time.

Some f&*$ing psychopath keyed my car.

Three on the bonnet and one on the driver side of the door. Also how they were done showed that it wasn’t an accident. At that moment, if Genie had come and asked my one and only wish, I would have gone for getting his hands mutilated. I was that angry. And I think I might know who did it. I can’t prove it but my intuition tells me who the culprit is.

That night I couldn’t find a blue badge parking lot in front of my place. As they are not designated, any blue badge holder can park in those demarcated area. So I first drop off Mark and ushered him inside the communal gate, then I drove a bit further up where I encountered another blue badge space. I parked my car and walked down.

And my car was found scratched the next morning. Is it a coincidence? My bet in on the car owner who ‘privatised’ that parking space. Now my beloved car is vandalised and my fleeting rage soars up every morning .

At first I was thinking about taking my car to the garage. Then what if somebody scratches again? Also I know that it could be quite costly.

Hence my second best solution is fix-it-myself. I googled it and visited quite a few websites. From what I’ve read, it’s not too difficult to repair scratches. It’s a relief and a bit of confident boost.

The website I’m going to follow is this one.
As I’ve got a mission to accomplish this Saturday, this has to wait till next Saturday. Until then I’m going to study the website thoroughly and procure those essential items for the grand job.


** Last Sunday I pumped my tires at a petrol station in Los Barrios for the first time. I was quite impressed with myself and seriously considered becoming a mechanic. —- Yep, I’m staying with my job. lol

** While I was walking on the main street, I found a lovely poster about an upcoming Tango Show in San Roque. Since I’ve got guests to entertain (Sandra’s birthday party, remember?), I’m not sure I will have energy to go at the end of the day. It’s very tempting though.

Mission: Sandra’s birthday lunch 28/01/12

I’ve already invited my in-laws for lunch this Saturday because it’s Sandra’s (my mother-in-law) 62nd birthday. At first we were going to take them out for a nice meal then I decided to invite them to our flat in Gibraltar. As we’ve already made a plan for Sunday, we’re staying in Gib for this coming weekend (We normally go to our house in Los Barrios at weekends).

I like her very much. She’s the ideal mother-in-law. She doesn’t interfere yet is always there for me when I need her. She never makes Mark choose between her and me. I feel like she’s just a very good friend of mine. We can have a fulfilling talk about any topic and our conversation is never downstream from her end.

I openly say to Mark that my dad is a better dad than his but his mum is a downright winner. Therefore whatever I do for her is always from the bottom of my heart.

We’ve already bought a present for her. It’s a nice bangle and a gift voucher from Tous. I know she’s set an eye on a new bag so I hope she finds a real nice one.

Back to the lunch plan. (Sidetracked again!)

Sandra doesn’t eat red meat. Hence I picked a fish dish and a chicken for the main course.

Melba toast with courgette and onion pate.
Piquitos (Spanish breadsticks).

Shitake mushroom filled with chopped shrimp in soy sauce salsa.
Maple salmon.
Roasted chicken drumsticks with whole garlic cloves in red wine vinegar reduction.
Sweet potato mash with chopped eggs, peanuts and raisins.
Tomato onion olive salad.

Something chocolate.

Mateus Rose / Chianti red wine

I found the recipes from the internet. Chances are I will probably improvise here and there. Except baking (even them sometimes), I do not strictly follow the recipe.

I did some shopping yesterday but I need to buy meat, fish and vegetable close to the date. Thursday will be fine. Also I’ve promised to prepare Kimchi (Korean spicy cabbage pickle) and beef bulgogi (Korean bbq) for a my friend’s hot pot party the next day, I will have to make sure to include all necessary ingredients when I go to Morrisons.

This is exciting stuff.

I don’t think I would ever get tired of cooking for my loved ones provided that I’ve got plenty of time. Cooking & baking is highly therapeutic and rewarding and satisfy my number 1 personal need (appreciation/recognition), ha ha. 🙂

Heidi Klum and Seal divorce

Heidi Klum and Seal are separating.

When they got married, people talked a lot about their marriage: How amazing they were, how pure and noble his love for her was, how ‘sacred’ their relationship was, etc etc. Throughout their seven year’s marriage, they have had three children between them.

I know it’s none of my business but I do hope their three children don’t grow up with feelings of seriously confused identity.

Preparation for the trip – 2

4) Nocilla

This is Spain’s answer for Nutella. I have to say I score this higher than Nutella. Nocilla is hazelnut chocolate spread like Nutella, but it tastes like more chocolatey and softer to spoon. As far as I know it is sold only in Spain and outsells Nutella. If you go to any supermarket in Spain, you will know what I mean. You can spread it on a toast but you can eat it as a Lindt chocolate substitute. Mark likes it firm from the fridge and I like it at room temperature.  I like the Duo one (blue) as you can have two great flavours in one jar!

5) Turrón

Turrón is typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts, and usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake. It is consumed as a traditional Christmas dessert in Spain. There are two types of Turrón in Spain. One is hard (Turrón duro: the one you can see whole almonds) and the other one is soft (Turrón blando: golden block in the photo). I like both and they are very very delicious (=fattening)!

6) Tomate Frito

Many years ago, when I was invited to one of my Spanish friends, she cooked a bowl of pasta. It looked like an ordinary tomato based pasta at a first glance. However once I tasted it, oh dear, this was a road to the new world! obviously it was tomato sauce but it had an incredible depth to it. I didn’t know what it was. The colour was slightly orangey and smelled a bit more fragrant but there was nothing more than I could tell visually. Later I asked her how she made it. She said it was very simple because she used a pack of tomate frito and a bit of herb. Tomate frito. That’s the first time I was introduced to this delightedly fried tomato sauce.

Wikipedia says:
Tomate Frito is a pureed tomato sauce  with a hint of onion and garlic, that can be used as a base ingredient or enjoyed simply for its own flavour. It is distinct from most tomato sauces because the tomatoes have been fried, and its ingredients include a small amount of vegetable oil.

Yes, tomatoes have been fried before they were made to a sauce. Come to think of it, I once watched an Italian cookery program where the chef was making a tomato sauce from scratch. He started frying tomato in olive oil. By doing this, the tomato sauce reaches another level. So aromatic and sumptuous. This comes in a pack like below, I use Orlando or Apis most of the times.

7) Maltesers
This is not a Spanish confectionery but I read it somewhere that Koreans like this one very much. So I’m going to get some from Morrisons.

8) Ventresca de Atun (Tuna belly)

Ventresca de Atun is high grade belly cut tuna packed in olive oil and it does taste mesmerisingly succulent. I once bought this (Oritz brand one) to make a special tuna salad for Mark’s dad’s birthday and remember it was quite pricey by a large notch compared to normal tinned tuna. Since then, if my budget permits, I choose this one over others and make a great salad with pimiento asado.

Well, I will have to start shopping soon. 5-10 of each, I’m thinking.

Preparation for the trip – 1

I’ve already started the countdown to my Korean trip.
This is my itinerary.

From Gibraltar
To Heathrow (London)
Depart 17 Mar 2012 14:55
Arrive 17 Mar 2012 16:55

From Heathrow (London)
To Seoul ICN 
Depart  17 Mar 2012 21:00 
Arrive 18 Mar 2012 16:50

It’s a 2-week stay and I’m going divide my time with the family and the friends. My plan is to spend the first week with the family and friends in Daegu then the second with my good friends in Seoul. With a bit of ambition, I would like to take a few classes (short & sweet baking) as well.

My nephew (my brother’s first born) was born on 14 November, 2011, hence it’s going to be the first time to see him in person. Thanks to the iphone, I’ve had no difficulty to fully enjoy my little additions (I’ve got two more nieces from my sister.) though.  People ask me if I’m excited to see him for the first time. Then I answer ‘yyyyyyyes!!!!’ on autopilot. Well, yes I am but it’s not like when I went to cinema to watch ‘Back to the Future’ for the first time kind of pure and raw excitement. I’m happy for my brother.

And my parents. I think physical distance increses psychological closeness. Of course I miss them and I am immensely grateful for everything they have done for me. I feel sad to see them getting older every day. I find it strange yet interesting to see them adjusting to their roles (grand parents, parents-in-law, retired people, etc).

It’s also a bit difficult to view them objectively when they do or say something in a different role suit as I’ve only known them as my lovely parents. Well I guess it’s not just about my parents. My sister, my brother and even I myself have all had to accept different roles as our lives go on. Sometimes two roles of equal importance clash and call for an immediate solution. And I have been witnessing this a lot lately in my family.

That’s that.
Now fun stuff!

Though they say not to bring anything back, but I do enjoy their lit-up faces when I give the right stuff to them as a present. This time I’ve decide to buy yummy Spanish snacks. There are a wealth of great foodies I’d love to introduce to my family and friends. However, some of them are not viable to carry with me. I’m not going to smuggle a leg of giant  Jamón Serrano or a wheel of Queso Manchego this time. Hmmm they are yummy by the way. 🙂

My shortlist is as follows:

1) Olives

I’ve tried a few brands and to me this tastes the best. Fragata is not too salty and comes with various flavours. I can get them at Morrisions in Gibraltar or Carrefour in Spain.

2) Dulce de Membrillo

This is a quince paste that is practically the national snack of Spain when paired with Manchego cheese or sheep’s milk cheese. A quince is a hard fruit that looks like a cross between an apple and a pear. Dulce de Mebrillo is less jellylike and has got more texture than a normal marmalade. I accidently bought one for diabetes and it was surprisingly nice. It was still sweet enough for me. I cut it in a nice bloc and eat it as its own when I feel like eating something sweet after dinner.  

El Quijote brand is found everywhere and it costs me about 2 euro or less I think.

3) Pimiento del Piquillo

Wikipedia says ‘ Piquillo peppers are hand picked during two harvests between September and December. They are roasted over embers, which gives them a distinct sweet, spicy flavour, more akin to bell peppers than chile peppers, despite their small size. They are then peeled and de-seeded by hand, before being packed into jars or tins for sale.’ I love stuffed piquillos with cheese.

Another pepper I can’t live without is ‘pimiento asado rojo y verde tiras’, which is translated to be ‘(fire) roasted red and green peppers strips’. They are absolutely delectable. I make a gorgeously refreshing salad with onions, pepper corns, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. It comes in a packet like this and I normally get it from Mercadona. They are available at all supermarkets in Spain, of course.

<To be continued>

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