Saturday, January 31, 2009

Letting it all hang out

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. I love to cook and equally, I love to gaze through my “window” (no glass, just security bars) at our ancient mango tree which attracts brilliant little birds such as flowerpeckers, sunbirds and tailor birds.
If the super-trim, minimalist kitchens installed in the new homes of my sister, Jillian, and sister-in-law, Ilona, are anything to go by, my 50-year old kitchen is (not surprisingly) hopelessly out of date. I was stunned to use drawers that slide back effortlessly on rollers, and to have loads of bench space. But although Jillian’s kitchen has a small walk-in pantry where everything is arranged on shelves so you can see at a glance what you’ve got, everything else in both kitchens is hidden away. Not in old-fashioned cupboards where you can fling open the door and see several shelves of stuff, but in those whisper-quiet sliding drawers.
Want a coffee cup? Pull out a drawer. A mixing spoon or a large ceramic platter, a grater or a glass? They’re all in those damn drawers! And as each drawer holds only a fairly small amount (and I could never remember of what), I kept going from one to the other in search of the elusive item.

I have decided that I really appreciate aspects of my tiny old kitchen (apart from its bird-watching opportunities). I enjoy seeing what I want hanging up there, whether it’s my bamboo ginger grater or an antique brass draining spoon with the original owner’s name engraved on the handle.

It gives me great pleasure to see my copper pots hanging on the wall (even if they do need a shine), and it gives me a sense of continuity to be cooking traditional Asian dishes with the various coconut spoons or clay pots that would have been used when my kitchen was new.
As a Timorese friend once remarked, my kitchen is “seperti dapu nenek-ku” (it’s just like my grandmother’s kitchen).

Friday, January 23, 2009

On Holiday with My Family & Other Animals

The Land of the Long White Cloud (aka New Zealand) surprised us during our holiday with three glorious weeks of sunny weather, one of which we spent surrounded by family at lovely Furneaux Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds (at the tip of the South Island).

We took advantage of the sole drizzly day by having poker lessons from the Master (James) and 8 year-old Phoebe proved to be a real whizz! Our week together slipped by with bush walks (I'd forgotten how gorgeous the NZ native forest can be), dips in the freezing sea or under a waterfall for the foolhardy, kayaking, tennis, trying to decide which is the best Kiwi beer and — for Tiffany — hours spent conquering a horrendously difficult jigsaw puzzle.

New Year's Eve marked a special occasion for Mon Capitaine and me: the 25th anniversary of our meeting at the Singapore Yacht Club. Although the evening's celebrations didn't go quite as planned, we decided we each definitely want to "sign up for the next 25 years", as Jean-Francois put it.

I promise that my next posting will be about "other animals" and places rather than solely focussed on my family. But it was so special to be with them again that I want to see them all up here on my blog (Tiff hates being photographed, hence her limited presence here).