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Christmas Oatmeal


It’s December! For many of you, that means that Christmas is in the air. In the Philippines however, Christmas season officially start when the months end in “-ber”. That means, for us, Christmas starts in September, when the shopping malls and their ilk let the first decorations out and the first strains of carols can be heard over their PA systems. By December, the season is in full-throttle, steam-rollering its way over us, both guns blazing tube amp.

Before you throw eggnog and Scrooge McDuck at me, hear me out. In truth, I DO like Christmas! It’s the hyper-consumerist roller-coaster ride it has become over here that I am not too fond of. And all the over-bright wrapping and trappings that, more often now, overshadow everything else. Plus the growing number of people that seem to be more stressed then celebratory. Is something stressing you about Christmas? Take a good and honest look at what that thing is and perhaps (I’ll bet) you can skip it this year. Or at least part of it. Really. Do what you want! It’s Christmas! ;)

December is, in actuality, my absolute most stressful month at work with year-end reports, transitions, and trying to keep business going while everyone else is rushing off to holidays. Scurrying to buy Christmas presents marie france bodyline? Choosing between holiday parties? Cooking up a storm? Christmas cocktail hangovers? Oh, how I would much rather be doing all that! Christmas is my respite, my reward.

It is also the season when you can buy freshly roasted castañas (chestnuts)…so it can’t be all that bad ;)

Christmas Oatmeal

1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1 apple, chopped into small dice
1/2 cup peeled roasted castañas/chestnuts Domestic Helpe, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons raisins
A couple of dashes cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves


- Heat the milk and water in a pan until tiny bubble appear on the side and the milk is hot but does not come to a boil. Add the oats and stir. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 10-15 minutes add the apple, castañas/chestnuts, raisins, and spices. Stir and cover. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until oatmeal is to your preferred consistency. Add more water if it becomes to dry.
- Serve warm.

One of the things I love about this time of year is when the castañas vendors come out, stirring their huge vats of nuts. A warm, freshly roasted chestnut is true bliss – and, at this time of year, bliss that is easily had. I’ve infused this oatmeal with what I think of as Christmas flavors***. This is perfect to have on a cool December morning, although the weather does not seem to be cooperating these days.

Christmas does not have to mean a trillion lights and over-organized parties, and spending until your wallet whines (unless, of course, you want to…that’s fine too). It can be about your own traditions, your own ways of celebrating, with the people you want to celebrate. It can be the time of year when you give everyone an extra hug, or tip the waiters more than usual, or enforce pajama weekends and air guitar competitions, or just add a little spice in your morning oatmeal. It’s really up to you. Just do it with joy in your heart and everyone around you will be better for being in the presence of a joyful person. Happy December everyone!

***I've used some of the same Christmas flavors, like the castañas and the apples, in my column in the December issue of Yummy magazine which is out in newsstands now. If you are hereabouts, you can pick up a copy!
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Breakfast Quinoa Cereal


Sometimes I feel that the only time I can hear myself think is early in the morning, when the world is still asleep. Then, there is no one to interrupt the steady train of important musings that go through my head like: What is the meaning of life? What will we have for dinner? Should we be making more long term investments discounted gucci handbags? Should I get a new laptop? When will I finally make no-knead bread? Why can’t we all just get along?

In the silence of the early hours, the answers to these questions seem almost within my reach...if not staring right at me. (Love, tinapang bangus*, yes, yes, next week, start with me). As the day wears on, the din of work, errands, cooking, washing my snazzy new top, coordinating schedules drown out all but the most persistent of thoughts (what will we have for dinner?). Don’t get me wrong, I do love the wonderful clamour of friends and loved ones, but we all need a little quiet time (me-time) for just us.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for this body to get out of bed in those early hours, so these important questions are often left unanswered. (Hence the lack no-knead bread on this blog or sophisticated financial instruments in my life – although I’m happy to report the new laptop did make it). Most days I just launch myself head-on into the racket of everyday.

This breakfast is good for both – early-waking, slow-blooming days, as well as rapid-rise, hit-the-ground-running days.

Breakfast Quinoa Cereal
(adapted from culinography – original recipe here, along with quinoa preparation)

1 cup prepared quinoa
1/2 – 3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey (or to taste)
Dried fruit and nuts (the amount depends on how chunky you want it and the kinds are up to your taste – I used a small handful of raisins Sculptra, dried figs, walnuts, and pine nuts)

- Place prepared quinoa in a small saucepan with milk, butter, honey, dried fruit, and nuts.
- Simmer, stirring often, until thickened slightly...about 5 minutes.
- Garnish with extra nuts and honey if you want. This will feed one hungry person or two regular ones :)

I learned about quinoa through (where else?) food blogs and, as I love grains of all kinds (although quinoa is technically a seed – but I love those too), kept my eyes peeled. I found some last year in ThreeSixty, and organic grocery in Hong Kong, and have since found it in a health food store here...and have been loving it from that day. For someone who has eaten (white) rice with almost every meal of her life, it is liberating to suddenly have more choices! Especially one as pleasingly nutty and springy and cute (little curlicue!) as quinoa. And did I mention healthy? And ancient (referred to as the Mother Grain by the Incas)? Learn more here and here.

I’ve had quinoa in other savoury preparations but when I saw this breakfast dish I knew I had to try it! And Michelle’s enticing photo was proof that resistance would be futile. I’m glad I didn’t resist. Earthy, comforting, fortifying...with a steadfast “back-to-basics” quality with every bite. Not to mention delicious! This is a simple recipe with which you can play -- add spice when cooking (Michelle uses cinnamon) or top with fresh fruit before eating!

Whether you wake at the crack of dawn or the last possible minute, this breakfast can be had by you. Just prepare the quinoa ahead (and you’ll have extra for quick meals too...a good thing this) and mix everything in a small saucepan the next morning, which really doesn’t take much time at all Code 9 Neogen. Just enough time to ponder one or two of life’s all-important questions :)

Other quinoa breakfasts:
101 Cookbooks
Morsels & Musings
Closet Cooking
Food Blogga

*Tinapang bangus is smoked milkfish...much loved in our household!

Bellamy repeats call for Origin shift


Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has urged the NRL to follow the lead of rugby's governing body SANZAR and put the competition on hold to allow State of Origin to be played over three successive weekends preamp.

The recent tour of the British and Irish Lions prompted the suspension of the Super Rugby competition to allow the three Test matches against the Wallabies to be played.

Bellamy wants the same thing to happen in the NRL after his side - shorn of Origin stars Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Ryan Hoffman - were smashed 39-0 by Canterbury on Sunday.

The biggest question on everyone's lips at ANZ Stadium was why a repeat of last year's grand final was being played in the middle of Origin in front of a crowd of less than 17,000.

Bellamy conceded he is more vocal about the situation because his side lose so many players during Origin, but said he hoped the ARL Commission will revisit the possibility of stand-alone games.

"Origin takes a lot out of your players everyone knows that and accepts that," Bellamy said.

"It takes them a little while to get over the emotional (side of it). It's a tough thing to come down for or get up again, depending on the result.

"I've found with our guys, the last couple of Origin series, it's probably taken a little bit longer.

"Origin seems to be getting bigger and bigger and with that comes a bigger emotional leftover at the end."

"I think we could learn a bit from rugby who cancelled their competition for a couple of week for the Lions tour custom embroidery."

The premiership-winning coach refused to use the loss of his star players as an excuse for the loss but expressed surprise that the NRL had scheduled the game for this weekend.

"You'd have to ask the people who put the draw out," he said.

"We always like to miss just the one game without our rep players but this year was different.

"I am disappointed and a touch embarrassed. We got hammered, we got what we deserved.

"It's strange to have a grand final replay without Origin players."

The result edged Des Hasler's side back into the top eight as they leapfrogged the Gold Coast on points differential thanks to the comfortable win.

Melbourne remain in third spot but are now seven points adrift of leaders South Sydney who did not play this weekend.

On Saturday night, Penrith, wooden spoon favourites at the start of the year, consolidate their spot in the top eight with a hard-fought 17-10 win over struggling Parramatta.

It was the Eels' seventh straight loss and a second successive wooden spoon is looking a certainty for Ricky Stuart's side National research center.

On Monday night, Manly get the opportunity to crank up the pressure on under-fire North Queensland coach Neil Henry in Townsville to complete a reduced round that kicked off with Cronulla beating Brisbane on Friday night.

風的傳說


仿佛複制得N年前的場景,風輕輕掠過我的清醒,將一片雪花再次寫入掌心,那么純潔晶瑩,連周邊的絨花都透著絲絲令人無可抗拒的感動。我驚疑雪的溫柔,雖然這將預示春天會紅著臉,映照在我的體感裏。但,我生怕一瞥回眸會摧毀夢的世界--畢竟雪的孕育需365個日出日落!拉出去的身影很長很長,宛如思緒,卻不敢隨意收斂腳步,哪怕些許的顫動,無疑會驚醒熟睡的machine made sequin embroidery雪花。讓她在甜美中睡會兒,不要打碎她幸福的笑翳……

風,使勁撕扯著我的N年前。盡管有些驚懼,然風是無情的,它可以隨意自己的勾當,任意擺布你的喜怒哀樂,甚或春夏秋冬的場景轉換,你只如遠離母親的嬌兒,在風的肆虐中任你無能為力。她來了,突然得讓我手足無措,堅定如鳳凰涅磐。那是一次演講比賽,無論口才與氣質,仰或聲情與舉止,在我評判的標准裏,絕對值得培養。其後的接觸,她沒有辜負所有人的期望,以她特有的清純與勤奮,贏得了單位的贊賞。望著那朵潔白的雪花,我將滿腔的擔心與希望完全托向蒼茫的天宇,甚至希圖上蒼將雪花飄向恒久,她是聖潔的,是上帝賜予的心動。

一切是從講故事開始的,天南海北,古今中外,傳聞軼事,經典傳奇無所不談,她的愛好與涉獵令我歎服,對於舞文弄墨遠非愛好所擬。特別她的寬容與隱忍更是讓人無可比照,而她的家則是她永遠的痛,我不忍觸動那顆受傷的心,僅只溝勒出她的輪廓:靚麗可人,溫情嫻淑,果敢中始終透示著理性與執著。在她的世界裏,羊群裏的大灰狼絕對是現代板的灰太狼,不設防的角落綣縮的總是受害者。在她向我哭訴中,我無奈剪下天邊的那一輪紅日,包起她顫抖的聲音,任由紅色的玫瑰凋零在無情的黑暗裏。望著她孱弱的身軀,真想上前去給她一個支點,好讓她催動陷在泥土裏的腳印。但,沒有,或許本能的自私讓我悔恨至今,我只有灑脫著兩行熱淚,默默的,默默的凝望著身影的漸漸小去。我知道,她踉蹌的腳步無疑會磕碎所有的燈光,而稱之為“家”的門裏,充盈著漫無邊際的寂寥,沒有任何溫情與財富。夜空,由於她的離去,不再明亮,最後一顆流星瞬間劃破了我的手掌,沒有血,只有痛。轉天,我拿出她送我的電動須刀,像按緊一支蛋糕上燃燒的蠟燭,許下一個足以讓春天釋懷的夢,關於風的撕裂與夜的瘋狂後,泥土裏頑強的wine tasting綠色,那是一片盎然,一幅山水。她的生命就在於不屈不撓,像梅,如荷。

風匆匆經過我的杯口,於是,思念便將情緒慢慢調濃,蒸騰起縷縷霧色,把天空鋪展成一個又一個的夜,又將每個夜晚裝幀為一本精美的書稿,盡管沒有任何文字,但總想聽到熟悉的翻頁,以至那輕盈的風聲。愉悅、委屈乃至尷尬她都會第一時間或傾訴或眼神送達我意外的欣喜,聽到她滿可令房間躍動的清脆,我會坦然遊離茶杯,靜靜欣賞她眉宇間閃現的文字,而當將一切在流動的空氣中轉化為正能量的時候,一塌糊塗的淚臉即會瞬間綻放出五彩繽紛。那時,我腦際突閃一個詞:“天使”!於是,把時間放在微笑裏,靜靜的聽,細細的看,最終將她的故事緩緩注進杯中,升華為一團碧綠,無疑,我開心著她的開心。

幼時聽大人說,世間有一位永不會老的老人,牽著你的手關愛你一生一世。我不信,絕對,那不是生命的邏輯。近暮,徹悟--我們生活在時間裏。從手指間逝去的光陰可怕中交織著殘酷,五個年頭的相識、相熟到交心,可謂超音速。那是一個慶幸她終有歸宿的傍晚,手指間的短信剛飛出視線,一聲淒婉的哭聲透過聽筒將一簾薄暮撕得粉碎,一片片尖刀似紮上心頭。剛入新房的新娘從天經到地義豈可受此殘忍!我憤而起身,將水杯狠砸在窗邊,滄桑人間,芸芸眾生,何不容得一個嬌弱女子。勸慰,開導動情了滿天星鬥,隱隱間,有種心悸的預感。曾經,虔誠於廟堂觀殿,祁福禱祝;曾經,默念於白晝輪回,幸降於斯。我生命中缺不得她天真且頑皮的爽朗。無數次,佇立窗前,看迎風飛舞的雪花,像極了遠方的你,窗上的冰花,慢慢凝實成一個女人的溫婉;也無數次,登高遠眺,賞天邊翱翔的飛鳥,讀懂了你,山上的嫩綠,久久地呈現出一個女人的廣袤。

然,揮之不去的,受傷為何總是你。多少次,記下文字的沖動被扼殺,傾聽聲音的奢望被壓制,但夢中縈繞卻無能為力。那是一個山草樹木,水天一色的世界,勢利、金錢被驚濤蕩滌得幹幹淨淨,只有一朵豔荷,在魚兒的喜戲中把滿臉的愜意無私灑向太陽,任微風把枝幹搖曳成動聽的歌謠,飄出很遠很遠。曾記否,那個正月,我倆對坐酒摟,從不飲酒的我,趁著思念淺嘗了一盅醇烈,熱辣燒得手臉通紅,慚愧於你將愁煩盡釋杯中,那刻,我深知毫不做作的你給了我太大信任與天空,沒有雜念,不摻溫柔,盡只開懷酣暢。相互間通透如兩個玻璃體,心跳的共鳴扔下滿桌狼藉。而今,玫瑰莊園裏還會否有你的身影,就像酒杯中流動的那幾縷詩行?數載一晃,在暮鼓晨鐘的輪轉時序中守候生活,何曾忘卻過心中的季節,荷花才紅,我熠盼著秋去冬來,冬去春來。終於盼到去年的早春。小巷依在,車流還複,只是昔日醉心的Asian college of knowledge management酒摟已經匿跡返古,那抹曾守望的風景早已鑲嵌在一種名叫玫瑰的植物裏,找不到亦辯不清,不安的心總是經不起負載的承諾,不敢驚動咫尺的你,甚或觸碰我們無言堅守的紅線,於是我把它刻寫在太原的記憶裏。如今迎來了曾在心中雋永的季節,走在朔風獵獵的飛雪中,任寒意一點一點侵襲自己的臉龐,希望能從雪雨中找回幾許可以慰籍歲月的端倪。輕輕捧起一朵曾被寒冷打落的雪花,任晶瑩的花瓣從掌心一點點輕盈滑落,當這朵潔白再次與泥水重吻時,我為它們的千祈珍重,只是踅身而去時風會聽到嗚嗚的低泣……的確!雖然殤感。

你,走了,執著著你的執著,漸漸融入暮靄。然而,那份溫柔與純情卻回旋在我的心底,攜帶著醉人的印痕。當故事已遠去,餘味已過往,驀然回首,燈火闌珊之處,再難看到你的影子,我只吮吸著遺憾,在夢裏遙遙相望。也許這是一份真情的告白,也許這是一份遲到的懺悔。我似乎聽到你爽朗的笑聲,與瑞雪飄舞應和著,交織成一道絕美的風景。漠然間,我采下一片枯葉,寫下關於你的寫照的箴言:花開花落都有情,花開花落皆含淚--不公的天平!

你背起負重,向著生活,沿著簡單,把終生百萬個期冀寄與懂事的女兒,自己僅留下真誠與無暇,孤獨承受著來自任何的槍林彈雨。翻開三千青絲,我不知道哪一根可以留給你,但我明白,走過去的必是藍天白雲。於是,肆意揮霍的冬日,我在一行清雪中寫下了,贈與你的斷章,甚或,我在等,和你一樣,溫柔的寒冷,推開柴門,雪在風中依舊飄舞著傳說……

在繁華世界,盡數末世流離


1、從來不曾懷疑自己,儘管經常支離破碎--

忽略過去,並不代表徹底的遺忘,沒有誰,會平白無故忘記了什麼,電視裡所演繹的,那些因為某種原因的失憶,現實中並不多見。

轉了一圈,回到原點。再回憶很多年以內,很多東西都是驚人的相似,沒有傳說中的轟轟烈烈,沒有想像中的air conditioner cleaning平淡如水,很多事情往往是一波三轉,在即而如初。

走過又忘記,在記起,真的是一件很不容易的事,最近一兩個月,接二連三的夢見一些過去的人,偶遇後,卻如陌生人一般擦肩而過,醒來之後,有些人清晰可見,有些人已經隨著甦醒之時,慢慢的模糊,不知何故,也不想再做深究,覺得似乎沒多大意義奶粉牌子

不喜歡做夢,卻也迷上了睡懶覺,一覺睡醒又想再睡一覺,忘卻很多東西,忘卻自己需要工作,需要自己養活自己,等等,一度沉寂數月。中間也夾雜著一些不緊不慢的時間,那些,都市我的經歷,不必再提。

2、如果說夢與現實無關,那怎麼會有那麼多的夢境出現

一度夢到過很多東西,讓人無所是從。夢見很多時候的地方,有時候真想放下手頭上的事,背上行囊,去走一走,看一看。可惜自己往往都是想想,想想而已,很少付諸行動。想著會有那麼一天,我會停下手上的一切,踏遍萬水千山。

這座城市總會在不注意的時候,來一場猝雨,讓人措手不及,乾淨的天瞬息變得昏暗,一片朦朧,遠處的高樓若隱若現,或隱在霧裡,讓人看不清是否真實。

在十八樓的高層,慢慢習慣,空閒時候在陽台一角,望望遠處的baby milk powder Hong Kong事物,看看樓下川流不息的人群,渺小而茫遠,其實心中一片空白??,大腦如若斷路。

3、如果路已不遠何不待細花再開

今年的秋顯得很奇怪,不似過去的那般短,也不似詩人筆下的“無邊落木蕭蕭下”,青翠的葉子,似乎是不願離開生他養他的枝丫,也或許是明白要是此去,再會無期。

週三時有幸重回咸陽母校,在學校南區的後花園裡,滿眼的景色一如初夏,數年過去,它依舊未老,迎來了一屆又一屆的學子。坐在池邊藤椅上,突然看見不遠處一小姑娘使勁的搖著一桿樹木,妄圖想把為數不多的樹葉收為囊中,可能是不想再在下次打掃在費心神吧!看著想著,就笑了,殊不知任何事物終有輪迴,到該離開的時候,它會適時地離開??它本不想離開之地。何必勞神,我們所要做的,不過是多彎一次腰,多停留一處地,多撿拾一片樹葉而已。

4、之所以戴上帽子只是不想讓人看見我在哭

一盞茶,一杯水,一首詩,一句歌。

入冬了,思想在停滯了半年之後慢慢在甦醒,我知道,偷懶是有時限的,你不可能偷一輩子的懶,也不可能一輩子依賴一個人,也沒有有人願意讓你依賴。帶上高領,我依舊是原來的我,愛貪玩,愛在那麼些好姐妹中任意胡鬧,愛浪費他們認為在浪費的時間。爾爾……

或許是前世作孽太多,今生注定就這麼****折折,其實也沒什麼,挺好的,至少多一些事讓自己不會無聊,不會胡思亂想一些子虛烏有的事。

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