I must confess that I am not one for domestic pleasures. When I think of heavy housekeeping, cooking and slaving in the kitchen, I prefer to go for the backseat and be hostess with the mostest.
Oh to be as domesticated as the rest of my lot! For this, I blame my parents of course.
It seems that we always had helpers at home. For the working-class we sure are a lazy bunch. In the early years, our helpers were locals and worked regular hours. Then the influx of foreign helpers into Brunei, most of whom live-in and did pretty much all the domestic chores at home. My family and I are mostly fond of our helpers; we have been lucky to have those we got along with and stay with us for years. After serving their contract every 2 years, they go back for a month or so for a well-deserved holiday from the brats in Brunei. In those days, during their absence, Mom was not be a person to be trifled with, so my father tried to make sure there were temporary helpers. So that his daughters would live another day, and so would he.
And it must be said that the main reason that my siblings and I are lacking in domesticity (some more than most) is that our Mom is Super Mom. Seriously.
However, there was that time after my A-Levels when our beloved Hindun left for her month long holiday in Central Java and my parents felt it was time for their eldest child to show her mettle with a kettle/cooker/wok/spatula/etc and be in charge of feeding the family. Every evening I would scribble down recipes from my mother and pepper her with questions. What knife should I use? How many minutes for this, how many tablespoons for that, when you say 2 shallots do you mean 2 small shallots, or can one big one do? I was never a 'fly by the seat of my pants' kinda cook so armed with my recipes for the day, I would awaken early in the morning to start cooking for lunch at noon. For a modest lunch menu, I would use A LOT of pots and pans, including knives and spoons and bowls, filling the counters. And in the sinks too. I wish that I was a breed of woman similar to my mother or grandmothers, a breed I call "They Who Can Cook With One Bowl and One Spoon'", but I know I am not. And I totally respect those who are.
Although I suppose I can cook well enough when I have to, it is never without recipes and complete ingredients. One ingredient unavailable and it's fried egg and ikan goreng (fried fish) for all. But lately I don't know what's come over me.
A few days ago I made Pumpkin and Almond Muffins, no mean feat since real pumpkins were used. Seriously. And lest you think I am blowing my own horn, perhaps it's just easier these days to be a cook, especially when you have the Internet. There are a million and one recipes for doofuses like me out there on the www. Not to mention conversion sites, like this one, which I love because who knows what 450C is on the gas oven? The recipe was for pumpkin and pecan muffins, but having no pecans, I was brave enough to substitute the pecans for almonds. I think it was a riveting moment. I have become quite the domesticated bunny.
Yesterday, I made seafood vol-au-vents. I don't even know what that means, but its French and I used mussels INSTEAD of scallops. So call me a rebellious cook, but Anthony Bourdain would LOVE me.
P.S. I can never get the blasted portions and servings right though. So we have bowls of seafood fillings unnecessarily filling up the refrigerator. And I still need to ask my girlies whether Napisan or Breeze Colour makes for a brighter wash.