Saturday, October 28, 2006

Behind every blog, there's a story to tell

Smoked salmon, avocado, organic cherry tomato and creme fraiche on table water crackers + Smoked salmon, avocado, organic cherry tomato and creme fraiche on table water crackers. Watercolour effects using Photoshop.

There're thousands of cooking blogs out there, so why mine? Just like the name of my blog, cooking is healing for me. If there's shopping therapy for most women, then on top of that, there's also cooking therapy for me.

Everyone knows that food has healing properties. If you eat the right food, you get to prevent diseases/ailments. But this blog doesn't just talk about eating right, it's about the action of cooking itself.

For me, cooking heals stress, cooking heals pain, cooking heals emotions and loneliness, cooking even heals relationships and love. And most importantly, cooking is a huge part of my life and soul.

Coming from a horticultural background during my undergraduate days, I have had intense interest in plants since I was a young kid. Ironically though, I do not have green fingers. Plants don't thrive when I try to grow them. But, I guess I am still of use, since I can make "dead" plants edible and look enticing to be eaten.

As far as I could remember, I started my adventure in cooking when I was 6 or 7. While other girls in my neighbourhood played chef using cookery toy sets, my toys were the smallest wok you could find, and burning small pieces of wood chips under the wok between two stacks of bricks, and oil, salt, and pieces of vegetables stolen from my mom's refrigerator. I would hide in the backyard and quietly finish my cooking while my parents were out or busy attending to something else.

However, my REAL cooking experience started when my father insisted I should take up home science (more like home economics to be precise) instead of the Commerce option when I entered secondary school. As much as I wanted to do Commerce for the sake of better "prospect", I am glad that I had to follow his order. Since then, I have not been separated from cooking and the art and love of food.

I wasn't a popular student in home science cooking classes as I always insisted to do something different as compared to my partner (two of us shared a cooking workstation). Every year, we had this thing called "Canteen Day" in school where the students would take over the canteen ladies job as we would prepare food to sell and collect money for contributing to the school. I remembered making sardine rolls and some other stuff every year. And when other kids did not get a chance to celebrate their birthday in a big way (I lived in a semi-rural town) , or had their parents organized their birthday parties for them; I had always organized and cooked the food for my birthday parties every year from 10 years old until I left my hometown 8 years later.

When I was studying in the university, my love for cooking and food never faded. Besides studying plants, I had deep interest in making food taste and look good. And thanks to health concerns, I've experimented with all sorts of diet, from "normal" to low-carb to vegetarian to vegan to raw vegan (yes, no animal protein or dairy, and all the rest were eaten raw). Well, let's not go into the boring details of my health problems.

I like to create art with food, making them look, feel and taste good. Cooking for me is a true combination of science and art. Knowing what you eat and what benefits/disadvantages your ingredients bring to you is not less important than making the food you cook look appetizing and taste good.

Stir-fry chicken with ginger and leek on organic basmati rice
Stir-fry chicken with ginger and leek on organic basmati rice

With my current busy work schedule and hectic lifestyle (I'm a English-Malay-Chinese translator/interpreter and run a translation/interpreting agency), the art side of cooking naturally dominates over the science, as I no longer practise my horticultural knowledge except for knowing veggie/fruit names, choosing the right or ripe types and storing them properly. Well good enough I suppose. At least my knowledge is not dumped into waste. Oh, not forgetting I use it for my translation and interpreting work as well.

Regardless of how busy I was and am with work, I always find time to cook. The busier I am, the more I miss my cooking time. Hundreds of people have asked me, since I like cooking so much, why don't I have a career that has to do with cooking.

Well, I've always had the fear of losing my passion if I make cooking my full-time job. The analogy is like having a lover outside a proper marriage. You get married finally, enjoying the thrill of a new life together with someone. You have a good husband that brings back the bacon, pays the bills, takes care of your children's expenses, and satisfies your emotional and physical ;) needs occassionally.

But you need more than that. When marriage becomes a big part of your life, it becomes routine somehow. There're always kids to attend to, house chores to be done, and etc. etc. A married life no longer has its passion like it first began. This is the time you look for other excitement, something fun outside marriage ;) Same happens to cooking for me. I will rather keep it as a "lover" outside marriage than the other way round, so that I will always miss and look forward to that little excitement ;). Not that I am endorsing extramarital fun (Hey, I'm a loyal and faithful person!), just something I use to keep you reading my post hehe...

In this blog, I'm sharing my culinary journey and my recipes created wholeheartedly with passion and soul. As much as I can, I try to create recipes from scratch or come up with something after being inspired by a great chef, a special person, a delicious dish, a spectacular restaurant, a wonderful travel journey, or an inspiring cookbook/cooking show. As much as I've enjoyed creating the recipes, I hope you will be inspired and have fun with them, to come up with something of your own. And when you do, listen and see with your heart, and you will feel and understand the healing magic of cooking :)

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