Tag Archives: Northern Arizona University

My Friends Can Cook

20 Dec

Recently a girlfriend cooked Chicken and Lamb Briyani Rice for us, complete with side dishes and lovely garnishing. Hubby and I really enjoyed the meal and the company. It has been awhile since we had this dish, what more home-cooked. And this brought back memories of my first encounter with Basmathi rice when I was at college, the rice being the trigger here.

Over the Summer during the dinosaur era, I had a Pakistani housemate who took over the room from my previous housemates. It was a tad complicated as we were in between housemates but eventually, the living arrangements worked out.

Now during that time, the grad student would cook the one and only thing he knew, Basmathi rice and Curry Chicken. He had great skills cooking the Basmathi rice in a pot over the stove, with the rice always coming out fluffy and not burnt, and very yummy after tossing it in butter. But it’s the preparation of the chicken that I can still remember vividly until today.

He would cut the whole chicken to just eight pieces, no more no less. I asked why and he reasoned that it has to last him four days because he simply does not have the time to cook daily with his busy Summer schedule. With the chunky pieces rationed to one piece per meal for two meals a day, I thought it was the most convenient planning ever!

Compare that method to the preparation taken by the girlfriend on the meal she cooked for us, everything was bite size, flavored with exotic spices and very detailed in presentation. I’m not complaining but just marvelling at the efforts taken by her to ensure that the end results are perfect.

Whether the meal was cooked in simplicity for a hectic Summer schedule or meticulously for an afternoon leisurely lunch, both methods resulted in awesome tastes and I feel privileged to have friends who can cook for me.

Tonight another girlfriend will be cooking for me and I am so looking forward to the occasion and catching up with her on life.

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The final presentation complete with raisins, nuts and quail eggs

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Vege side dish

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Raita side dish

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Papadum side dish

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Dhal with lamb side dish

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Ball Room Dancing

20 Sep

I was pleasantly surprised when M1 told me she signed up for Ball Room Dancing as one of her classes this Fall. Ball Room Dancing?! How fun is that?

I don’t recall when I was in college that such classes existed. The most fun classes I had were Drawing 1 (Art 120) and Ancient Life (GLG 201, Geology in other words). I can still recall the drawing class during my first Fall semester – the whole class went on a little excursion one lovely day to the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, just off the campus perimeter. We were all seated under the shady pine trees, chatting away, enjoying the breeze and sipping Coke while sketching the mansion. It was quite an experience, something I still remember until today dinosaur years later.

The highlight of the Geology class during my second Spring semester was a field trip to the Grand Canyon to look for trilobites in the terrain. It was pretty exciting as the whole class was behaving more like high school kids chatting away noisily in the bus on our way there. I think I did discover some trilobites. That’s about as much fun I had.

Now for M1, ball room dancing…. hmm, definitely something very different and certainly sounds very fun. Classes begin for the Senior this Thursday.

Bag of Books or Bricks, Part 2

19 Sep

Unlike M2’s heavy school bag, when I was in high school, I remember I would try to avoid bringing any text books to school. I simply didn’t want a heavy backpack to deal with and even conspired with my friend who sat next to me to share the textbook, blatantly defying the teacher who specifically said no sharing. We basically took turns to bring the Math textbook to school.

Sometimes we will leave our subject text books in school or even hide them in the class cupboard! Ahhh… those were the days.

When it came to college, thank goodness for me being an art student for I did not have much text books to lug around. But I had art materials though and I did have a locker at the Art Department to keep my supplies. And this helped especially during winters when I had to trudge through the snow.

Sometimes situations today trigger those nostalgic memories. Sigh…

Dang! She’s Good, Part 2

18 Sep

I don’t recall English classes during the dinosaur years in high school was fun although I remember the teacher back then was nice and I liked her. Homework assignments were dull and boring. Ho hum.

English classes during college was certainly more fun and entertaining. But as far as I can remember, it was all about writing, creative writing and more writing.

Unlike M2’s recent English class assignment. It certainly was very different and a lot more fun because the class had to cook. English class, cooking? Go figure!

The teacher grouped the students and each group had to choose a country to research on culture, economy and food. How this related to the language was probably the written and oral, and definitely perked up the class to stay interested.

The students then had weekly show and tell sessions and the ultimate presentation was the food; each group had to cook something during class at the Home Science workshop to showcase the country’s food.

M2’s group chose Thailand. It was all very interesting (they made Pad Thai, Banana pancake and Thai Iced Tea) but what impressed me more was the cooking menu that M2 drew.

Such meticulous details and skill! Even I can’t draw like that I must admit. I think the girl has potential to pursue art, specifically illustration.

We Love Sandra Boynton!

4 Aug

Sandra Boynton is my all time favorite illustrator and author for children’s book. I discovered her books while working in New York City back in the early 90s, after graduating from college. I am proud to say I have quite a sizeable collection of her titles.

My collection were read by M1 and M2 in their early years, and even me occasionally these days when the mood hits.

When M1 was a toddler, I taught her to read ‘But Not the Hippopotamus’. The child was amazing. She could recite the whole book with full of zest and expression without a glance at the pages. The only thing she struggled with was the long word ‘hippopotamus’ which came out as ‘neh-neh-neh-tamus’.

When M2 was 19 months’ old, she had her exposure to Sandra Boynton too. Multi-tasking at such an early age, she’s engrossed with ‘Barney’ on the TV while attempting to read ‘Doggies’ at the same time. You have to turn up the volume, ignore Barney and listen to her carefully.

Adorable is all I can say. Sigh… why do they grow up so fast?

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Memory Fail

5 May

I have been sharing my painting efforts on Facebook and some of my friends on that platform have been following the progress. Out of the blue, my American housemate from my college days mentioned that she still has a piece of my work hanging on her wall!

Initially she shared the picture on my wall and I complimented her that the picture was pretty and asked was it her effort? To my surprise, she wrote that I painted it for her in college. Oh my goodness.

Memory fail here because I don’t recall. This must be the pre-Monet days where I still used the brush because the strokes on the painting didn’t look like a palette knife effort.

And what’s even more amazing was that apparently I did another piece of a cabin subject and sold it to the owner of the cabin! Super memory fail here again.

How can I have forgotten such significant moments?

The Ride, Part 2

20 Apr

The lady motorbike rider I wrote about recently reminded me of my encounter with this mode of transportation dinosaur years ago. It was during an interim period and I was working while waiting to go off to college. I was an artist for a publishing house that produced educational books for children.

In the mornings, Dad would send me to work as my office was close by his office. Days when I finished early I would go home with Dad. But there were nights that I had to work late and I didn’t want Dad to wait nor did I want to take the bus home. Luckily, I had a co-worker who lived in the same town and I would go home with him. On his motorbike.

So there I was on a couple of occasions, sitting at the back of his motorbike, clinging on to my dear life as he hurtled along the highway in the night to send me home.

It was downright scary whether it was the first time or second time because being hit by the wind on the face constantly was foreign and rather terrifying. Then there was that firm death grip on the bar behind my seat throughout the ride to ensure I remain on the bike. And the awkwardness to stay balanced, tilting along and not against when he tilted the bike to turn…

Quite an experience. After those couple of rides, never again I rode on a motorbike.

One of Mine

7 Mar

I love this painting that I did many years ago. Sometimes I see clouds above the mountains, other times it’s the ocean and the horizon. It gives a sense of calmness regardless of what I make it out to be whenever I look at it.

I took a painting class in summer during college and it was rather enjoyable. Like every other student, I started off using sable brushes but somehow I never did master this tool. Instead I prefer the palette knife.

Naturally, this two feet by four feet oil piece was completed using just the palette knife and no brushes at all. And it used to hang behind my sitting space at the old office. I hope to have it up at the new office in my room soon, one of the few places that can have big paintings up.

  

Serial Eater, Part 2

29 Aug

Looking at M2 eating Honey Bunches of Oats made me want to eat cereal too, so I bought a box that comes with almonds. This is where our tastebuds differ slightly. She prefers with strawberries while I am into nuts.

It made me also recall my college days and cereal eating habits, which is highly not recommended. I think I would balk if my girls ever did what I did.

I think it was my Junior year and whenever I had 8.00am classes, I was never on time waking up, thus leaving very little time to get ready. Everything had to be super quick and breakfast was always stuffing my face silly with cereal then washing it all down with one or two gulps of milk. 

With five minutes to spare, I would be scrambling out of the apartment, zipping across the main road on my Giant mountain bike to get to campus and still be on time for class. Amazing. 

What’s even more amazing was that this routine was repeated just about for every 8.00am class during that one semester.

  

Carrots are Good, Part 1

13 Aug

I like carrots, not for its vegetable goodness but what it’s suppose to represent: rewards, as in the saying, dangle the carrots in front to get the results you want, you know.

M1 and M2 are both very carrot-, I mean, rewards-oriented. I think this is very good to spur them to dream big, study hard and do well in school. Little exams with good results will yield little rewards and big (main) exams yield a bigger windfall, it’s very clear cut.

Last year was a critical year for M1 to sit for her mid-high school exam, while M2 was to meet the target of staying in her current class. The big fat carrot: a trip to USA to visit the many places that they have only seen in magazines and travel documentaries: Disneyland, Universal Studios, Sedona, Sunset Crater, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, LA and San Francisco, just to name a few.

It was very inspiring to me to see them so motivated in their efforts to achieve what has been set out for them. There was icing on the cake as well! They get to buy whatever they fancy with their pocket money earned. Indeed a good deal for them, that is.

The big plan was set in motion early last year and the trip dubbed, “The Great Adventure Road Trip to USA”. However, in June, there were hiccups, dissatisfaction, anger, threats and tears as setbacks were encountered; targets were way off! Plans had to be restrategized to recuperate from the shock and disappointment. But the two young adventurers persevered again with their efforts and finally, determination and hard work paid off!

M1 did very well and M2 met her targets, in short. And so, in November last year, our big fat carrot was savored and brought many happy moments and memories for all. Looking back at those priceless moments, I would do it again without hesitation, that is, to plan another carrot-incentive trip to spur the girls on.

Well done!

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The four adventurers!

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