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!

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.


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……


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。



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。






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。






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。









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[12/17 VedaSlerceBed]
[12/16 Reargoory]
[12/15 KichUncon]


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