ordinary and oddinary

I write therefore I exist.

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Never let facts in the way of truth.

‘Lie to Me’ is one of my favourite TV series. I own the season 1 on DVD and watch them over and over again. I know they are two more seasons available on DVD but I’m kind of saving (?) them, if you understand what I mean.

It’s amazing. Every time I watch them, there’s something I didn’t think about earlier. Last Saturday was Dr Lightman’s timely appropriate quote ‘Never let facts in the way of truth.’. It got me thinking. Does it or can it apply to every situation when you need to dig up truth? Does that mean facts are just a means to an end – truth? Lying is justifiable then as long as it’s use to obtain truth? To what extend is lying acceptable then?

It’s a poweful yet paradoxical quote, isn’t it?
 

 

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Frustrated in the middle

It’s frustrating to hear family feuds when you’re miles away. Since you cannot see what is really happening, It’s totally your call to judge and process the situation based on the information given i.e. emotion-laden complaints which are innately rich in subjectivity. Oh, you ought to be really careful not to take sides. The impact is heavy on me. I take it seriously and think and paint many times over. Honestly I don’t know how the protagonists back home really think about it. Was it just a momentary annoyance? Or was it a serious issue that could crack the whole family in a matter of time? I’ve been having some nasty headaches since last Friday. Usually my mum doesn’t talk about things in details but my sister gives me a ‘volcanic summary’ every now and then, just to keep me in the loop.

This is what I’ve been informed.

The family dynamic has changed a lot since my brother got married a couple of years ago and their first child was born last year. It’s because my sister-in-law (SIL) and my family had very different expectations from one another from the start. There has been a string of episodes that my parents or my sister simply didn’t understand why. Since my sister is very close to my parents and influential to them, they find my SIL’s behaviours unacceptable. If I take what I hear at face value, she comes across as an immature and spoiled kid who only claims her rights ‘extensively’ but forfeits obligations. On many occasions, she wants (or requires) financial and physical help from my parents or my sister but doesn’t seem to give the respect and treatment that they deserve. Rather, she takes it for granted and resents that my parents can’t give her more.

I’m frustrated. I need to act as a middleman as if I didn’t know anything about it. I just listen to them and cheer them up. I don’t want to be seen on one particular side but I don’t upset my mum and sister either. I get on well with my SIL. She seems quite comfortable chatting with me. I think it’s because we have got no real conflict of interests and I’m way too far away, almost like a stranger.

But one thing I’m clear about is that marriage in Korea has a serious flaw in the system. Once you’re married, you are an adult. You marry somebody you love and you do not expect your parents to financially contribute along the way. If they do, you’re grateful but they are not obligated to do so. It goes the same to the parents. You have to let go of your children when they marry. You respect them as adults and don’t put your child in a position to choose between you and his or her spouse.

España protesta ante el Reino Unido por la visita del Príncipe

This is disturbing.

I know there is a political issue between Spain and Gibraltar, but  so what? What is the big deal in this case? The prince Edward couple is going to visit to commemorate the Queen’s 60 years reign and the Spanish foreign minister protests to the embassador of UK expressing .  Spain doesn’t want to recognise UK’s sole sovereignty over Gibraltar and continuously finds a moment to challenge it. I love Spanish culture and people and all, but this political propaganda is not something I take with open arms. Back off.

http://www.abc.es/20120510/espana/abci-exteriores-gibraltar-protesta-201205101347.html

Exteriores convoca al embajador británico para transmitirle su «disgusto y malestar»

El Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores convocó el pasado martes al embajador del Reino Unido en Madrid, Giles Paxman, para expresarle su protesta ante la anunciada visita del Príncipe Eduardo de Inglaterra. hijo menor de Isabel II, y su esposa a Gibraltar.

Paxman fue recibido por el director general de Política Exterior para Europa, Santiago Cabanas, quien entre otros asuntos le hizo ver el «disgusto y malestar» que ha causado en el Gobierno español la noticia de que los Condes de Wessex realizarán una visita al Peñón para celebrar en este territorio el 60 aniversario del Reinado de Isabel II.

«En el curso de la conversación y entre otros temas, tuvo ocasión de trasladarle el disgusto y malestar del Gobierno por la prevista visita de Sus Altezas Reales los Condes de Wessex a Gibraltar entre los días 11 y 13 de junio», señala un escueto comunicado de la Oficina de Información Diplomática.

Esta misma mañana, el ministro de Exteriores, José Manuel García-Margallo, evitó hacer una declaración de protesta ante los medios de comunicación. «Estamos en eso. Hay que hablar con mucha gente antes de hacer ninguna declaración sobre ese tema», respondió cuando los periodistas le preguntaron si España protestaría por esta visita

Bahlsen’s ‘HIT’ biscuit

 Recently, I’ve been developing a bit of sweet tooth for this biscuit called ‘HIT‘. When I arrive at work, I make a cup of tea and bring two of them from the kitchenette.

  

 
 
This biscuit ‘HIT’ is made of two biscuits sandwich with a cocoa creme filling. They are so crunchy and light. The biscuit itself is not too sweet or even savoury yet not dull either, which enhances the delectable cocoa cream flavour. It’s just perfect harmony between them. I normally bite off the top biscuit to enjoy its gorgeous crunchiness and then move on to the bottom half biscuit with the cream like an open sandwich.

  I googled the brand of this biscuit, ‘Bahlsen’ out of curiosity. (I google almost everything I come across anyway!) Bahlsen is a Hannover-based German confectioner with a history of over 120 years, which makes a range of biscuits and cakes. Come to think of it, another favourite of mine ‘Choco Leibniz Dark’ is Bahlsen’s too.

  Though Morrisons has a reasonably large selection of Bahlsen’s, I cannot help thinking about the flavours of other unavailable cakes and biscuits (i.e. PiCK UP!) which I’ve seen on their website.  Until then I’m gonna try other Balsen’s biscuits which I can get around here first. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.   🙂

Dried anchovies with onion chutney

Is anybody familiar with dried anchovies? See below image I’ve googled.

Koreans eat them a lot. They stir-fry them with soy sauce or chilli paste (gochujamg) if they are small in size or filleted, and they use them to make fish stock for further cooking. You can eat them raw as well because they are just dried fish. They are naturally salty (or maybe salted), hence it’s eaten with a bowl of rice. Why am I suddenly talking about this? Here is my reason – my beloved mum has been sending me bags and bags of dried anchovies from Korea and I don’t know what to do with them, well I didn’t know.

Korean meals cannot be completed without a bowl of rice. In other words, if you don’t eat a bowl of rice, almost all Korean cooking becomes slightly awkward and confined. I guess this applies to Asian cooking in general. 

As I posted a few times, I’m a fast fast cook. Even when I make rice, which is not more often than making pasta or potato dish, I tend to cook it in a sauce. It’s difficult to define my cooking style – I mix different spices and try various methods.

When I stayed at Hotel Barcelo Punta Umbria about two weeks ago, I really enjoyed their onion chutney with cheese & water crackers at the buffet restaurant. The chutney was made of beautifully caramelised onion, sultana, and unforgettable cinnamon taste. It went wonderfully well with different types of cheese. While I was having a full plate of that, I thought to myself, this combination of salty and sweet would/could work well if I replaced the cheese with dries anchovies!

Upon arriving home, I’d been thinking about it but hadn’t put it to the test till a last Thursday. At first I was going to make stir-fried anchovies plus chutney then mix them together, but I decided not to do that way. This is how I did.

1. Pour olive oil on a hot pan and throw a few cayenne peppers to get spiciness out.
2. Scoop out the peppers and pour anchovies. Be careful not to burn them.
3. Mix them a spoon of molasse and brown sugar.
4. Move the mixture to the side (I think it would have been better if I had moved it out of the pan completely and mixed later on because the result tasted slightly burnt.) and fry red onion slices on low heat.
5. When red onion is being cooked, mix it with the anchovies.
6. Put vinegar and cinnamon stick & sultanas.
7. Keep stirring them till all is well mixed and cooked and leave it on a low heat for a while.

It was quite tasty say the least.
It was versatile enough to accompany rice, legume, or even slice of baguette. Oh, it goes fabulously well with a glass of red wine too.

I’m so glad that I’ve got a way to use up the sleeping-in-my-freezer anchovies and actually love them. 🙂

La compra semanal (weekly shopping)

I go to Mercadona almost every Saturday to do weekly grocery shopping. I try to keep the budget at about £30 worth in Euro. With the current strength of £, it works out about €36. It doesn’t vary much what I buy. I can leave Mercadona with two fully loaded large shopping bags, which is very satisfying. I buy eggs, bread, Spanish hams & sausages, fruits & vegetables in season, rice, pasta, legumes, cereal bars, milk, nuts, etc. I also buy frozen stuff at time and it lasts a few weeks.

Most of products at Mercadona is ‘marcas blancas (supermarket own brands)’. I don’t necessarily buy supermarket own brands at other places such as Morrisons, Carrefour, Hipercor etc, rather in some cases, I avoid them. However, I really like Mercadona’s. Not that I feel that I am deprived of choices, I would actively buy their brands even if there were choices that I could make. I trust their quality and taste.

Today I came across this article on ABC.es and more and more Spaniards are buying ‘marcas blancas’ and the price is a deciding factor due to the crisis. I’ve got my doubts about it whenever I go shopping in Spain, but well, it says 1/4 of the Spanish population is unemployment. I spotted Mercadona in the article and it instantly gave me smile.

Earlier retirement

These days I think a lot about early retirement. I’ve already made my mind up to retire (at least) in 12 years time, in my late 40s, but I’m inclined to (well, would love to) do it in half the planned time. The timing of 12 years was prescribed on the basis that my mortgage and the corresponding endowment policy would mature in such time. Also my Spanish mortgage, which is a capital repayment, will be nearly cleared off as I’m overpaying it every month.

When I reach my pensionable age 60, I’m entitled to receiving approximately £550 per month from the government (at the current rate). It will double when Mark reaches 65. Therefore, when we both are pensionable age, we will receive about £1,100 (or worth by then) per month. I think it’s good. As Mark and I have a private pension each, I’m pretty sure they will sum it up nicely by the time we retire. Therefore I’m not particularly concerned about our finance after 60.

However, my desire is to retire well before this time. Every day I feel what matters to me is the time, the ‘youthful time’ left for me. I need enough money to be able to enjoy my time and I feel compelled to find the balancing line between both.

In conclusion, I need a monthly disposable income of £2,000 to enjoy life provided that I’ve got no major liabilities, i.e., mortgages. One thing to point out is that I don’t mean to stop working altogether. I would like to find something, which is something I can be of help to others, and do it with my full heart in, not for the money. Once I’m financially stable, I won’t need to even get paid. Unless you are born a saint, I don’t believe you can be truly charitable to others at the expense of your own poverty.

Let’s say that I can get £2,000 as a 5% interest of my savings every month. It means I will have to have almost half a million £ in my account. (Here I’m not considering amortising the capital.) However, this income will not be sufficient to cover my mortgages and living costs if I shall retire in 6 years time. So my revised plan is to retire in 10 years time. I will have to save at least half of our joint income to realise this dream. Well, I’ve already consulted with Mark, so it’s our dream!

Of course there are many variables, either positive or negative, hence it could be silly to set out the retirement plan like that.

Don’t get me wrong though. I have no intention of sacrificing the present for the future either. I’ve allocated even a larger portion of budget for our lifestyle enhancement. We will travel more and experience more this year. We’ve taken all bank holidays off together already. Depending on Mark’s scan result next week, we’re going to Marrakech, Madeira, London and many more.

….I must admit the biggest and the most scary variable is Mark’s ongoing health.

Guisantes con jamón (petites pois with jamon)

 I went to Huelva region two weeks ago for the long weekend and had a wonderful time. I stayed at a hotel in Punta Umbria and had a day trip to El Rocio and Vila Real de Santo Antonio (Portugal).  Huelva is very well-known for its beautiful pork based food and seafood and it totally lived up to its name. I had to go on an emergency diet since I got back because I had eaten a whole week’s worth of food  for just three days’ stay over there!

This [Guisantes con jamón] dish was part of ‘menu del dia’ that I had at Bollullos del Condado. It was a small village on the way to Punta Umbria. There were a handful of big restaurants along the long street and obviously attracts locals and tourists.

I didn’t think it would be much of a surprise but boy, how wrong I was.
It was rich and delicious. And from the glance of it, it couldn’t be hard to make. Hence, I did make it just from my memory when I got back home and it was as good as the one I had had in Bollullos.

What you need are frozen petites pois, diced jamon, a few garlic cloves, one onion, one egg, a cube of chicken stock and some olive oil.

First , pour some olive oil in a pan and fry chopped onion & garlic till brown. Next,  throw petites pois then diced jamon in the pan. When they are well coated with the oil and aroma, pour some water just enough to cover the contents. Drop a half cube of chicken stock and leave the pan for a while. And then, turn off the heat and put one egg in. Once you put the lid on, the egg will be cooked from the remaining heat and you can serve the dish.

Voila, so easy isn’t it?

I found a recipe site which more or less confirmed that my experiment was quite good. The only difference was that I poured water in because I wanted to use the rich salsa to dip a couple of baguette slices.

D.I.N.K

I’m currently a DINK (Double Income No Kids).

Well, they say ‘Never Say Never’, but this is most likely permanent. Nobody asks me why I don’t want children or when I am going to have one. Come to think of it, when I was a little bit younger, I was asked by some people around or I was given ‘Oh really, Why?’ look on my ‘I don’t think so.’ comment. I usually answered ‘I’m happy the way we are’, or something along the line.

Not that I need to formulate an answer to an important exam question why I lack motherhood, but I would like to look into myself about this matter.

My’ latest’ theory is this.

Since Mark got critically ill (and still ongoing) back in 2007, I’ve become overwhelmingly scared of uncertainties. I know nobody knows what happens even in the next few hours, however, we all unconsciously believe that we will be fine and have a normal life. You know, when you marry, you have ‘healthy’ children, and live happily after. You don’t really think about the otherwise i.e. husband prematurely dies, left with young children or even your child born disabled, etc etc.

So I’ve decided to minimise the source of self-inflicted uncertainties especially if the decision will have lasting and irrevocable consequences. You won’t have child-related problems, if you haven’t got one. Though the joy of having children may offset all the agonies that may bring, I feel I’m going through enough pains and I don’t need countermeasures to mitigate them, rather I doubt that it’s enough to make the life balance positive. Not just for my happiness or benefit of becoming a mum, but it’s another human being that we create and bring out to this world to look after I’m talking about.  That’s immense responsibilities. I know too well that ownership comes with the hefty price.

I’m pretty occupied with Mark and my own life. I don’t think I will have enough energy to devote to somebody else.  I know Mark’s opinion is not as strong as I am, but I need to be more realistic and selfish in this matter.

…There’s a lot more to my decision, which goes back years to years, and I will write again when I can articulate it.

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