Busy Bee Housewifery

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My nanny has really become quite a “farmer” lately and often brings me produce from her yard.  This morning she brought me a couple of vine ripe heirloom tomatoes.  They looked so enticing that I wanted to bite into them and eat them right away.  But my better sense prevailed and I decided to make a salad for the family to share.  I can’t think of a better gift than home grown vine ripe produce.

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2 tomatoes

1/2 English cucumber

2 avocados

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar glaze (I think Lemon juice would have been fresher tasting but I was out of lemon)

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

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When the produce is this fresh, simplicity is the best way to go.  You can taste the food’s original flavor.

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Because I am between projects, Peter and the girls just think that I have all the time in the world to run all their errands for them.  This is the problem with freelancing.  People think you have more time than they do.  Just as I sat down with a book, Peter called me to go buy a broom for him.  What for? I asked.  For my golf travel bag.  Please make sure that the stick is longer than my longest golf club so it will absorb the impact and protect the clubs if the bag is thrown down by the handlers.

I have been asked by a Chinese film company to adapt an internet novel into a screenplay.  I thought that writing would be a perfect job because I wouldn’t have to leave home. But at home I’m never alone enough to write even when I’m alone.

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He didn’t ask me to run any errands for him then.

Audrey came home from school very anxious about the League of Creative Minds debate that she will attend at Stanford University this Saturday.  The topic is the coalition against ISIS, and she will represent Iran’s position.  She needed my help but I was equally ignorant on the issues.  Thank goodness for Google.  We could easily access all the information at our fingertips.  However, she still had many unanswered questions when she was reading the online material about the ISIS crises.  Angela decided that it was time for her to give both Audrey and me a basic history class on the Abrahamic religions, starting from the birth of Ishmael.  Audrey got more and more confused and asked more and more questions. She did learn a word that was repeatedly used in all the articles on ISIS: quagmire.  As you can see, I had a lot on my plate before I got to cooking dinner.  I am glad I chose a very easy and quick recipe from rasamalaysia.com.

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1 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks (I used thighs and I halved the recipe for only two people)

One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped

5 garlic, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon sesame oil

3 heavy dashes white pepper

Pinch of Chinese five-spice powder, optional

Pinch of salt

Method:

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Add the ginger and garlic to the chicken and gently rub them on the chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients to the chicken, stir to mix well so the chicken drumsticks are nicely coated with all the ingredients.

Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. ( I marinated for 60 minutes)

Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Line the chicken on a tray lined with baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until the surface turn golden brown and charred. (I used the toaster oven at 375F for 17 minutes and broiled the chicken for about 3 minutes in the end.)P1050004

What Is a Mother to Do?

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I slept horribly and woke at 4:30 in the morning.  Eyes barely open, I began baking muffins at 5 am — letting the methodical and mindless whisking of the ingredients comfort and sooth me while my mind went back again to last night.

After dinner, Audrey brought up the sleepover that she had mentioned sometime ago.  And I said no I don’t want you to go. She argued that I had agreed to it earlier and I retorted that I changed my mind. I reasoned with her that she’d be too exhausted to do anything the next day and she had so much on her schedule.  Audrey got very upset and teary, and said that she had it all arranged with her friends.  I became angry and told her that she didn’t know her priorities.  Audrey shouted a promise is a promise and I muttered something like if she chose to be a failure in life she could do whatever she wanted.  Immediately I regretted but it was too late.  The words have already left my mouth.  Audrey went up to her bedroom and after a few minutes I went up to talk to her.  There was an angry sign on her door that read: “Sleeping!  Stay away!  My failure in life is contagious!” I felt awful but decided to respect her wish. 

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Audrey got up earlier then usual too.  All silent and sullen.  I went to hug her and she pushed me away.  I apologized and she walked away.  I repeated my apology and told her that I loved her a dozen times before she finally relented to let me give her a hug. I got her the muffins and told her to pour some milk for herself while I got dressed.  When I came back from my bedroom, Audrey had fallen asleep at the breakfast table.  My heart broke when I saw her sitting there, head resting on her folded arms.  Like me, she had slept very poorly last night.  Even though she posted the sign for me to stay away, she was expecting me to knock on her door. 

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Never go to bed angry, a very wise friend once said.  I went to bed feeling like a terrible mother.  And she went to bed feeling hurt and angry. Both of us had very little sleep.  Now that the tension had finally eased, at least to some degree, she was relieved and dozed off.

My girls are excellent children most of the time though they have their issues now and then, but who doesn’t? So often I don’t know what is the right thing to do with them. As a matter of fact, I feel clueless.  How do I prepare them for a world that is ever changing, and with increasing speed?  I lean toward tradition when there is nothing else to rely on. There is a proverb in Chinese: 以不变应万变— answer all changes with non-change.  Be steadfast, I tell myself.  But to exactly what?

Perhaps I should just leave them be and hope they will find their passion somehow and pursue it wholeheartedly without anyone nagging them.  That’s the only way to be happy, isn’t it? — to pursue one’s passion and to create one’s meaning.  But what about Ivy League universities?  Isn’t Ivy League the goal?  I see my husband, with his prestigious training, working long hours everyday, always behind schedule, always exhausted.  He is one of the best doctors in the city, but he seems to be losing his passion for the profession because of all the changes occurring in medicine which require him to be more of a scribe than a physician, to do more documenting than doctoring. Do I want my children to be grinding all the time so they can go to their next elite school and the next after that?  Then what?

I don’t have the answer.  Sometime ago, I wrote down a quote from some  pre-Socratic philosopher, “How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?”  I suppose I will have to let the unknown challenge me but not frighten me.  I will let its mystery drive my search and not daunt me.  Perhaps when and if I find the answer, it will no longer matter.

Perhaps to love them, house them and feed them is all that’s required of me.  And feeding them healthy, nutritious and delicious food is something I know how to do.  This is a comforting thought. 

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Recipe In the End

With that thought, I went grocery shopping with Angela, who didn’t have school today.  When I saw her reaching up the shelf in the baking isle, I thought she looked very mature, which scared me.

It seemed only yesterday that she was a three-year-old who couldn’t stop asking why.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup oat bran

2 bananas

1 grated large apple

1 grated medium carrot

1/2 cup raisins

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp xanthan gum

3 large eggs

Baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes.

The muffins are very moist without any added oil because of the almond flour.