Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fried Cauliflower

Colleagues in my current workplace are married people who have a penchant for cooking. Sometimes we cook up food in the pantry for Friday lunch, and other times one of them go to pantry to make afternoon snacks. This fried cauliflower is one of the afternoon snacks that left quite an impression in me.

Here is how I make it:

Get a nice cauliflower. That harmless cute little passenger on 11 o'clock is the reason why I do the vegetable cutting and cleaning up.

Trimming the leaves, and soaking them in water later on. The caterpillar was rescued by a very competent SAR team.

Rolling them in Tepung Bumbu Sas* flour mixed with water.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Gulai Pakis, or Fern Curry

A fistful of ferns

Ferns are beautiful, aren't they? They are also delicious. Gulai pakis (curry fern) is a common dish in West Sumatra and it is usually served with ketupat (rice in rhombus-shaped coconut leaves). I often eat them for my after-Sunday-jogging meal. In my defense, I have burnt enough calorie, so I can have them for breakfast :).

I saw them on a few weeks ago, but was doubtful in placing a purchase. After several weeks had passed and they were still available in the market, I decided to give it a go. This must be destiny.

The edible parts are those that give a clear crack sound and easily broken down with hands. If the stalk is too old, it is difficult to break with hands, so just take out the leaves and discard the stalks. It took me quite some time to cut and clean them because...ferns are so cute!

Fiddlehead ferns, why are you so cute?

Once they are cut and clean (just soak them in a bowl of water and a pinch of salt, my usual procedure), it's pretty easy to cook these greens. M bought ready made curry paste and coconut milk in the market to speed things up. But of course, you can always make them from scratch. 

How we cook it:

(1) Cook the curry paste, set aside
(2) Cook the coconut milk, set aside
(3) Cook half part of coconut milk with the curry paste, stir slowly to avoid the coconut milk from breaking out. Then put in the ferns.
(4) When the ferns are tender enough, put in the rest of the coconut milk
(5) Add salt accordingly, and it's ready.

Gulai pakis at your service, Ma'am

You can also add shrimp/fish/meat or tempe or chili into the coconut milk to add more flavor. M and I decided to just go basic because that's how we prefer it. 

Bon appetit!

Friday, October 6, 2017

How To Fall In Love?

With friend at Pangalengan, West Java, in 2014.

I don't know the answer to that question, but this article in NYTimes probably can. Have a wonderful weekend ahead, sweeties.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Work Interview Stories

Not exactly a photo on work interview. Taken during the TRF-IFAD fellowship in February 2011.

I have forgotten my first work interview, I couldn't even remember which office it was. But I do remember the anxious feeling leading up to the interview time. I was too preoccupied with wearing the correct workwear and body language. As you could guess, I did not get the job. I did get better in the next work interviews, practice does make perfect.

This post is not about how to answer the work interview questions, but more about some work interview situation that could happen to you. The following are excerpts of colleagues' work interview stories, as they told me. The colleagues work in not-for-profit organizations/projects (which usually last for five years at the most), so their answers may not suitable for a profit organization's employee.

On Answering One of The Questions

Interviewer (I): Why do you want to resign from your current workplace? (Note from the editor: another type of this question is,"why do you want to apply this position?")
Job Applicant (JA): I applied this job before I got accepted at my current workplace. Also, my current workplace will be closed in the next 6 months. I would like to work in long term, I like it long.
--My comment: You said that last sentence to the male interviewer, and with a heavily-coded smile, didn't you? The comment needed no answer as my colleague grinned sheepishly.

On Dealing With Stress

I: So how do you deal with stress at workplace?
JA: I have this Whatsapp group called 'Lotte Discount Group', and the members often give updates on the latest discounted products. It has
I: How is that helping with the stress?
JA: Oh, the members are so funny, you should read our conversation yourself.
--And then I cut JA's story,"Wait a minute, you showed the interviewer the Whatsapp conversation?" I need to be panic here, because I am one of the group's members.

On Being Ignored By The Future Supervisor During The Interview

Situation: A colleague attended an interview invitation, in which the interview team consisted of one HR person and the future supervisor. While the HR person led the interview nicely, the future supervisor's mind seemed to be elsewhere as the said person brought laptop and a glass of coffee to the table, and didn't look into my colleague's face.
HR Person: Do you have any questions? (about to conclude the session)
JA: I just want to comment. I come here today before I respect the interview invitation. I allocated my precious time and spent money on transportation to come here. But I felt that my future supervisor did not respect it. I can not work with that kind of person. Thank you for the interview, but I don't think we can work together.
HR Person: I'm sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your time. (he was surprised by my colleague's brave move)
--I was almost getting a heart attack upon hearing this story, particularly on my colleague's comment. But if you already have more than 10 years of work experience, you know which office/work environment that suit your personality. And you would do as my colleague did. I know I would.

Do you have any weird interview experience? 

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Peek Into The Parents' Heart

People say that your relationship with your parent will improve after you have children. It  would take perhaps another few more years before it happens to me (Amin yra, and this is just self-affirmation, by the way). But I'm taking notes from my friends who already have children.

A friend who has a teenager son told me that she was not ready to see her son growing up so fast. Her 11-year-old son likes One Piece comic, which has sexy-clad characters. So she would censor the comic book by blurring out the bikini and other sexy outfits before handing the book to him.

Another friend confessed that she was not ready to wean her child, because breastfeeding has created a strong bond between her and the child, and she was afraid that her relationship with her child would not be as close as it used to be.

Another friend said that she had a nostalgia upon seeing her four-year-old daughter going to kindergarten. She suddenly has the visions of her daughter leaving for college, getting married and leaving her forever. To this I just had to say: Girl, if anything goes well, your daughter would not leave your house for the next 13 years, so relax.

I would love to have my own space, but the Indonesian culture would not allow a single woman lives alone if her parents also live in the same city. So here I am, a 37-year-old single woman still living with my parents.

Even though I have become an adult, I still receive text messages from M asking my whereabouts if I haven't reached home by 9 p.m. I finish work at 6 p.m., but sometimes I'd like to unwind and spend a bit more time with my self or with friends before going home.

This text message would spiraled to us having arguments with each others. They think I should be home as soon as possible, while I think I'm allowed to have some free time to clear my head before going home. It's a never ending issue.

I was complaining about my parents' annoying habit of checking me every night to a friend during a car ride with Go-Car, a local online car rental applications, when the driver's mobilephone rang for the second time. The first phonecall was his wife calling.

"Sir, you can pick up the phone. Your wife must be worried. We won't make any sound," I told him.
"No, it's okay, This is just my parents," he said.
"Well, it's the more reasons to pick up because they won't stop calling until you answer the phone," I said.

The driver picked up the call using a hands-free device, and the first question that blared from the phone was,"Where are you, son?!" I had to muster the laugh. There I was complaining about being the only child who was closely monitored by parents, but the driver, who was the youngest of three, already married and had a kid (yes, it was a long drive that we could learn about the driver's family), also experienced the same thing.

From those experiences, I can see that the notes basically say: (1) No matter how old you are, you will forever be that newly born baby/child/toddler in your parents' eyes, and (2) Being a parent means you would never be ready to see your kids go away.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Coffee Culture Hits Local Neighborhoods

I've been seeing cafes mushrooming around my neighborhood, and as a recent coffee convert, I decided to give some of them a visit.

DP House Premium Coffee
This two-floor cafe is located on Jl. Bintara Jaya Raya. I often pass it on the way to the market or when I need to go to a nearby convenience store. But it was only a few months ago that I decided to enter its front door. And boy, what I found behind the door was a pleasant surprise.

Facade view

The cafe usually has monthly promo 

The cafe has its own brand of coffee bean, and you can buy it in various size. The barista can brew the coffee in various methods: mokapot, french press, vietnam drip, and even v60. The cafe often holds discount for their in-house coffee. Normal price for a cup of java in this cafe is between Rp 30.000-40.000, but if it is on discount usually between Rp 20.000-25.000, sometimes Rp 15.000. They also serve tea and chocolate drinks for the non-coffee drinking customers. Unfortunately the snacks available is so far only french fries and cassava fries. 

The cafe has a terrace area (for smoking patrons) and air-conditioned area (for non smokers), but my olfactory sense also detected residue of cigarette smoke from the second floor (I hope they can make improvement on this). It also has a stack of newspapers  and magazines for public reading, a nice playlist from local radio and a Fashion TV running mute on an LCD TV.

Bar area

You can also head to the second floor

You can enjoy the coffee with either the magazine or the TV. Or just bring a laptop and turn on the WiFi, which is sometime slow and hiccuping, but I've been going to this place to finish my report, so I don't need a fast Internet connection. The interior has been experiencing changes from time to time, it's either the owner has yet to find a concept for the cafe or he likes to experiment with interior design.

Iced coffee

The house blend, brewed with a V60 method.

Being a tried and true introvert, I also like that the barista never tries to open a conversation with me. He simply lets me enjoy the coffee and my laptop.

This cafe is located on Jl. Taman Malaka Selatan, in front of Darma Persada University. I've come here several times to have a quick meeting with my friends. Since its location is nearby an education institution, the cafe's main patrons are students, who can be pretty loud sometimes.


Besides serving coffee, Sringopi also offers tea, chocolate and foods, such as fried rice, french fries, rawon (dark meat soup) and other quick bites. For a group of eaters, this place has more to offer (hey, it rhymes). And the prices are student-friendly, between Rp 10.000 and Rp 35.000. Usually if I come to this place I go for the tea. However, once I ordered a pot of tea there, I ended up staying up until 2 a.m. Damn, is that some strong tea or what?

Hot chocolate

There is wi-fi in the cafe. Second floor is for smoking area, and this makes cigarette smokes a prevalent condition. Everytime I went here, I always came home with my clothes smelling like I just dipped in a barrel of tobacco liquid.

Isn't funny how little we sometimes know about our own neighborhood? Now I'm trying to look closer around my neighborhood and find other gems I could have missed all this time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Stir-fry Tatsoi

Ahoy, Tatsoi!

One of the reasons I buy something is curiosity. The first string that tugs my interest to this bundle of cute green leaves is the name: Tatsoi (Brassica narinosa). It sounds Japanese, so I googled it up. Et voila, I was correct. 

I ordered tatsoi via, and when the order arrived, I was a bit disappointed to see them. The color was too dark that I thought they were wilting. So I put them in the refrigerator, and one week later when I did a weekly refrigerator clean up to see if M forgot to cook something, I found them still in the same color and shape.

That's when I realized I've found an amazing vegetable. They are stronger than caisim (bok choy/Brassica rapa) or kailan (Brassica oleracea), and other Brassica varieties which can wilt when put in the fridge for a week.

They look great in flat lay composition.

They look even cuter when photographed from the side. Those are the ingredients I use for any vegetable stir-fry: shallot, garlic, sesame oil, oyster sauce and the green leaves.

A true challenge in cooking green leaves, especially organic produce, is the cutting and cleaning process, because you may find some residents on them (bugs, caterpillars, spiders, you name it).

Cutting and cleaning tatsoi. I dip them in a bowl of water with a pinch of salt.

The easiest way to cook green leaves is stir frying them. Just heat up sesame oil and chopped garlic, put in the leaves and oyster sauce, and a few minutes later, you have it.

The taste is similar to caisim and kailan, they are families after all. I will definitely repurchase if they are available in the market.