Wednesday, 21 March 2012

an appreciation.

I nervously entered the exam room.
So clearly conscious about the fact that, this was going to be, arguably one of the most important moment of my life, I shivered. The spine tingling shiver was beautifully orchestrated with equal part of fear and excitement, and travelled deep down into my blood stream. 
I felt sick. A vague awareness of the possible success was the notion that I tried to remember to suppress the wet saliva hitting the back of my throat. The waves of emotions that came and went without warning was the only driving force of this significant moment that I just wanted to get over and done with.
And luckily, I passed the test.

I couldn't possibly tell you how I felt.
Driving back to work that morning, I cried, I laughed, then I cried, laughed again and I sighed; a sigh of relief that it was all over, at least, for now.

I wanted to thank Toby that day.
Not because he spent all his evening rustling up fresh pasta on the table that particular day, but for feeding my sensitive soul with comfort and lending me a huge place that I call shelter in his heart for all these years.
Not for the bunch of flowers that put a smile on my face that particular moment, but for his beautiful thoughts that makes me blossom every day in day out. Not because he cheered a glass of champagne with me late into that night, but for waking up each and every morning with such an endearing faith of believing in me.

I want to thank him for all those little kind gestures of everydayness that makes me feel privileged, alive and most importantly, loved.

Beetroot and Chocolate cake (adapted from Abel and Cole Recipe Ideas)

for cake
200g beetroot
125g plain flour
15g powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
200g olive spread, room temperature
3 eggs, separated
150g dark chocolate, grated
1 zest of orange
pinch of salt 

for sour cream frosting
120g dark chocolate
1 tsp instant coffee
175g sour cream
30g coco powder
30g icing sugar
50ml creme de cassis

This is a cake for chocolate lovers. The surprising ingredient, beetroot helps to moisten the texture of cake to another level and the rich dark chocolate sour cream frosting gives you the most luxurious velvety richness. This is a proper afternoon tea time cake.

Prepare your beetroots first by peeling them. Chop them up in small squares so it doesn't take you too long to cook them and put them in the sauce pan with some water to cover with a little pinch of salt. Cook them for around an hour or until tender enough to Pierce the fork through. Drain them and whizz them up in food processor to make smooth puree.

Preheat the oven to 190º.
Cream the olive spread and sugar until pale and fluffy then slowly add the egg york little at the time. Now shift all of your dry ingredients (flour, powdered ginger and baking powder) into the creamed mixture and fold them carefully.
Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff like meringue. Spoon the egg whites, about one third of it, into the flour mixture and fold gently. Continue folding in the egg whites until they are all mixed well.
Now add beetroot puree, grated chocolate, pinch of salt and zest of orange. Stir in carefully.
Use greased and lined cake tin and bake them for about 50mins.

Meanwhile make the sour cream frosting by melting the chocolate over barely simmering water with coffee. Once all melted, set aside to cool.
Mix in all ingredients to melted chocolate and beat them until they are smooth spreadable consistency.

When cake is done, cool them down before transferring.
Cut the cake in half in the middle and spread some frosting like sponge sandwiches. Place the top part carefully and spread the rest of frosting generously. By doing so, you'll get layers of lovely textures when you bite into it.

And eight years on, this journey of our life together, for what it is worth, is quite beautiful.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

I am not going anywhere

The problem of talking about the stuff that is close to you, too close to your heart, is I think, that often, your emotion kind of overrides ones consciousness and more than often there is a danger which the speaker may become too attached and end up focusing on the sentimental values of the subject matter rather than the matter itself.

This is my problem.
I have been babbling about what is up with me lately on this screen for the last few days, in an attempt to write a post to share the important news. For the last few days, and I am not joking when I say Days, it has been six days to be quite precise, I found almost impossible to get pass the first few sentence.
The thing is though, I am trying to talk about something that is not only very close to my heart but also a very big deal; a huge deal. To talk about such is really overwhelming and I didn't quite know where to start.

Well, as some of you might already know, I have been living in London for quite some time. Over the past 12 years, I had to learn to speak English, learn to understand the culture and learn to grow up; try to grow up as a good resident of Britain.
You could argue, I didn't have to learn to speak the language, if I had chosen to live near by Korean community. And to tell you the truth, for a little while I did in fact lived in New Malden; a small town in Surrey where you'll find most things Korean. But soon, I realised it wasn't for me. I wanted to feel part of London, so to speak. 
I remember going into the bank to open a bank account and feeling slightly humiliated by the lady who found me a little difficult to understand. Experiencing what I could only recognise as dismissal of my rather inadequate performance in communicating, I promised to myself I'll never let that same feeling to hurt me again. 
I tried really hard to speak well. I wanted to speak, so no one can ever tell the difference that I wasn't actually born and bred hear in London.
I am not sure whether I have kept my promise but fortunately enough, the same incident does not happen to me anymore.

It's been a tough journey to get here and a very long one too. And here, I mean by, where I feel possibly more home than back home, Korea. I am comfortable with my surroundings. What was so new and shocking back then isn't alien to me anymore. 
A naive young girl who landed London with a little clues of what was ahead of her life has finally grew up and London has become an essential part. It is part of me, part of my adult life that I want to celebrate.

The dilemma of adolescence and the confusions in values of my life as youth has come to an end with my status in London as a staying guest.
I am preparing myself to become a proper resident and possibly to gain the British Citizenship in near future.
Strange thing is though, although I never doubted that I'll get here, I am kind of frightened of the slim chance that it might all fall apart. I am not confident all again.
It was so easy to talk about this stuff in the past but now it is so close, I can't seem to be able to rationalised it. And to even think of the possible failure really terrifies me.

Toby tells me we're not going anywhere until I pass this test.

Triple Cooked Chips (Inspired by Heston Blumenthal's)

some potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into thick chunky chips
frying oil

For making chips, I found King Edwards or Maris Piper works well at home.
Triple cooked may put you off with all the work involved but it is actually quite easy and worth  the effort. My method doesn't actually fry the chips twice. Instead, I fry once then bake them in the oven. I just prefer it this way.

First of all soak your chips in cold water for 5mins or so to remove starch. Rinse well under running water then simmer them in salted water for 7-9mins. Chips should still hold its shape.
Drain them well and lay them onto baking tray. Put them in the freezer for 30mins or so to dry them out. You can leave this in the fridge over night instead if you're not going to use this straight away.
Heat your frying oil to high temperature and fry the chips until lightly coloured.
Now, place your baking tray in the oven and wait until it reaches the highest temperature. Carefully remove the baking tray to place fried chips, put them back in the oven, drop the temperature to 200º and bake them for about 20-30mins or until chips are dark golden brown around the edges.
Sprinkle some sea salt to taste and the rest is entirely up to you. Good helpings of tomato ketchup, a dollop of mayo, a drizzle of malt vinegar or perhaps all of these. Whatever it may be, I am certain you will enjoy these quintessentially British chips.

And now, back to my study of 'Life in the United Kingdom; A Journey to Citizenship'.

In 1948, people from the West Indies were invited to come and work in Britain as well as workers from Ireland and other parts of Europe.
Until 1857, a married woman had no right to divorce her husband.
In 1918, women over the age of 30 were given the right to vote and in 1928, women won the right to vote at 21, at the same age as men.
A census has been taken every ten years since 1801, except during the second World War.
The UK is divided into 646 parliamentary constituencies.
There are 78 seats for representatives from the UK in the European Parliament.
The National Assembly for Wales, or Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), has 60 Assembly Members.
The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth, which currently has 53 member states.
Schools must be open 190 days a year.

And 75% must be achieved to pass the test. 
I hope I pass because, I intend to stay here for good this time and that is, for sure.