It’s not even a month, yet I’m feeling like I have been at my new employment gig for ages! Like aged cheese, just not as smelly. How is that even possible?
Is that good or bad?
Well, I simply don’t know.
It’not like I have figured everything out; far from it. Except aged, smelly cheeses. Those I figured out that I don’t like them. Work wise, figuring things out will take me at least another 6 months. At the very least 3 months.
Now barely into my 4th week, I’m still sussing things out (as do my colleagues, me). Or dipping my toes in so to speak. Or blatantly put, not to unknowingly step on anyone’s toes as I try to figure out the organisation’s matrix.
Apart from the people, local nuances and processes, the work, the scene, the set-up and even personalities that are emerging from my interactions are all looking too familiar. I’m thinking, that’s probably the part where I feel like I’ve been there for ages. Strangely enough, my colleagues expressed the same sentiments too!
All in all, so far so good. I’m taking things slow, but at the same time, I’m feeling anxious that after more than 3 weeks, I haven’t accomplished anything significant. I know that I need a bit more time but it’s just that I’m itching to get started. Preferably knee-deep to be able to make a difference.
And that’s just me being impatient.
We are now exactly 30 days away before 2017 comes closing in. That’s not too many days away and yet, November has been nothing but eventful. It was a month of mixed bags filled with new beginnings, of transitions, of camaraderie, of a surrender to an expiration and of resilience to embrace fluidity. (Stories for next time, I promise!)
And of hope.
Once again, this December comes with a purpose. A purpose that would calm the restless soul within. A rite of passage that holds the heart and designed to strengthen the mind. A time to look onward and beyond.
A leap forward. To celebrate life events and all the mighty experiences that come with it.
I just wish I have more time to blog and think about the things I want to write.
It’s getting chilly and some mornings get really foggy here in the Netherlands, but no matter what, we can always count on the sun rising up. The sight can be quite pretty!
Till I get my head (and having a little more time) sorted out, here’s to a wonderful December to you all!
You see, award nominations cannot be more incredible especially since it came from one of my most favourite bloggers: Eric aka Stomper Dad.
Mind you, it was not just one, but two; and in fact almost every time he gets a nomination from others. How super cool is that right?!
For a small-time blogger like me who sometimes writes crappy English grammar with typo errors, I could not feel more honoured for the recognition. I think I’m almost feeling guilty since I hardy ever get to nominate him first.
Here’s a big, fat thank you to you Eric – both of which I have never gotten before! Yay!
It may be a “Mystery Blogger Award” but my nominator certainly is no mystery here as you already know.
Okoto Enigma writes, “Mystery Blogger Award”is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.
To know that somehow my blog inspires and motivates is HUUUUGEE. It’s super-wow and I cannot stop smiling!
Rules For The Nominees:
Display the award logo on your blog. √
List the Rules. √
Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog. √
Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well. √
Tell your readers three things about yourself. See below
Answer five questions from the nominee. See below below
Nominate anywhere from ten to twenty bloggers. OK!
Notify the bloggers by leaving a comment on their blog. For sure!
Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, including one weird or funny question. hmmmm…
Share the link to your best post.OK!
3 things about me
I used to drink my coffee with lots of sugar until about 5 years ago.
I now love drinking my coffee black and actually think sweet coffee tastes AWFUL!
What is your best trait? I have no problem laughing at and with myself. A lot.
What would you do if you won the lottery? Pay off our mortgage immediately, send retirement money to my parents, go on sabbatical for 6 months and invest/save the rest
You see a car veer off a bridge. Do you jump in the water to rescue the driver? If I can swim really well, yes! But I’m afraid I’m the one who may need rescuing!
What is your blog mostly about? Life, kids, food/recipes, humour and everything else in between.
Ben and Jerry want to make an ice cream flavor in your honor. What do you taste like? Minty with a hint of cherry and chocolate!
If award is not your thing or if you already received the nomination and not up for it, treat this as my tribute to you for sharing your stories to inspire and motivate to those who need that little bit of jolt/joy/enlightenment in their lives:
Ask three questions to your nominees. Right on it!
This award does sound pretty cool and I get to nominate up to 7 other bloggers! Without further ado…
Answers to the 3 Questions I was asked…
What’s your favorite Disney movie and why? Alice in Wonderland. It’s timeless. So much human truths in there.
What are some of the names you wanted to name your kid(s) that your significant other said no to. Eddie as in Eddie Vedder (from Pearl Jam) but because the name reminded Silver Bullet of a guy he really has a dislike for, it was completely banned and no amount of convincing would make him change his mind.
Which band would you want to have create the soundtrack to your life? I gotta go with Muse.
My new-found love for making Japanese Cheesecake pushed my curiosity further to make the cheesecake a little colourful and with a variation of flavour. But I did not want to stop there.
How could I when I have a pack of Mascarpone cheese still in the fridge, waiting to be used and was also about nearing its expiry date? Great excuse for another cheesecake experiment and here’s the kicker: I have no clue if using mascarpone works and or how this was going to turn out. For all I know, it would be a disaster and I would swear off making any sort of cheesecake for the rest of my life!
Using the same base recipe from the Japanese Cheesecake, I went about this task as gently as I could:
The marbling didn’t quite work out as I would like it to be after baking and truth be told, my cake almost went SPLAT! By splat!, I mean big mushed-up, porridgey SPLAT! the moment I tried to invert, flip it over and pull off the paper at the bottom.
That was not all – some water from the water bath got to the cake and got the bottom pretty soaked up. And when that happens, it just is not funny. I already almost cried when the cake almost, almost went splat. This whole blueberry mascarpone cheese experiment thing was becoming a total disaster!
Such a vulnerable cheesecake needed some quick thinking and with the 5th gear engaged in my brain, I thought I’d shove it into the freezer. That saved the cake. And my day! I mean, the taste was gorgeous…I can’t let how the damn thing looked spoil my mood!
Here we go if you are interested in giving it a shot:
Marbled Blueberry Soft Cheesecake
Light, compact and creamy cheesecake using Mascarpone chesse with a lovely tinge of natural blueberry flavour that would leave you craving for more!
50g low fat milk, cold (you can also use full cream milk)
2 tspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
30g flour, sifted
10g corn flour, sifted
Salt (slightly more than a pinch)
2 tspn vanilla extract
Half tspn cream of tartar
35g superfine (or castor) sugar
Pre-heat oven to 200 degree celsius, use only top and bottom heat without the fan.
Line the bottom of a 6-7 inch (I used 7 inch) round cake pan with wax paper. Grease the sides with baking spray. Set aside
Reduce the fresh blueberries into a sauce by simmering the berries in a heated pan. Mush them all up and set aside to cool.
On a heated stove, prepare a double boiler (water in a pan over heat with a bowl over the pan. Make sure the bowl is steady)
Put butter, cheese, sugar into the double boiler. Use a hand whisk to whisk till all is soft; making sure the sugar is dissolved. With mascarpone cheese,the texture would be a little curdled and not creamy smooth. Remove from heat. Set aside
Add in the cold milk. Whisk everything together
Then add in the yolk, one at a time. Make sure the mixture is cool enough as you would not want a scrambled egg yolk in the mixture
Whisk until smooth then add vanilla, salt, lemon juice. Whisk again
With the same whisk, fold both corn and regular flour into the mixture till fully combined.
Split the batter into 2 separate bowl. Fold in the blueberry sauce into one and the other leave as is. Set aside
in a separate bowl with a whisking machine, whisk the whites at low speed till foamy. Make sure the bowl is clean and dry
Add ceam of tartar and whisk at high speed. When the bubbles appear smallish, gradually add in sugar
Whisk the mixture till it forms a soft peak.
Still using the same whisk, gently fold half of the whites into the batter prepared earlier with one-third portion at a time.
With the last third of whites, switch the hand whisk to a plastic spatula. Continue to gently fold in till smooth.
Repeat the same steps for the one with blueberry batter
In the round pan prepared earlier, first scoop a big dollop of the white batter and then the blueberry batter on top. Repeat till all of the batter from each bowl is used up
Tap the pan to release the bubbles (I dropped the pan from a height of 3-5 cm)
Prepare a water bath for your round pan. Bake for 17 minutes at 200 degree celsius then reduce the temperature to 135 degree celsius for another 30 minutes till the top gets brown.
Switch off the oven. Leave the cake inside the oven for about 15-20 minutes
Remove from the oven.Wait for a few minutes if the cake has not pulled away from the pan
Otherwise, use a thin spatula to ensure that the cake has pulled away from all sides. Remove from the mould.
Invert to peel off the paper from the pan. Then invert it back to cool (see note below)
Cut the cake. Serve with fruits on the side!
Using mascarpone cheese makes this cake super soft and creamy. To ensure that the cake will not become a mush when inverting to remove the paper at the bottom, I suggest that you leave the cake in the freezer for half an hour first to harden it up.
Ask the kids where they are from and they would say “Thailand”. By virtue of that, they (me included) would immediately be labelled as being Thais.
Then comes the question of where the kids were born and the answer would obviously be Thailand again.
Another stamp to certify that we are definitely Thais with the perceived ability to speak mostly Thai because…
...we come from Thailand,
…the kids were both born in Thailand and…
…their mom looks visibly Thai.
When all the niceties have been satisfactorily answered, we usually are given “the once-over”.
So we must be Thai. We have to be! Case closed.
That’s pretty much indicative of the look I often get anywhere I am in the world that would make me feel like I’m being appraised. A look I usually would abandon dismissively with a smile. (That said, I would love to know what goes on in their heads as they throw me that classic once-over, appraised look from head to toe especially when Silver Bullet is with me)
Except that “we must be Thai, we just have to be” aren’t true and the case is not close. I then realise that this identity labelling thing bugs me. I cringe each time Spud and Squirt nod to people’s acknowledgement that since they come from Thailand, they have a Thai mother and that make them half-Thai with a Dutch father.
As this observation of identity crisis becomes more prominent with each passing day at every encounter possible especially in the earlier months of our move, so has the growth of my discomfort. I even got kids of about 8-11 years old pointing their crude little fingers at me, at us, at our home, shouting “Thailand Mudder” (Thailand Mother) or I’m hearing “something, something, Thai” whenever they passed us by.
It made me uncomfortable, I admit. I don’t like labelling. Especially if and when inaccurate.
It also makes me wonder what parents tell their kids about us, about Thailand and about me whom they thought is Thai. Or perhaps, short of thinking of them being rude, it was just me speculating stuff in my head and that it was actually nothing at all.
Yet, both Spud and Squirt too did not know any better when they have to respond to “where are you from and where were you born” questions. They are not wrong when it comes to answering right either. Still, when they respond verbatim, I wonder if the kids, ourkids get judged by the incomplete information they have given to the adults.
This is when my inner patriotism comes alive.
As when it comes to being mistaken for a Thai just by the sheer virtue of our long-term residency in Thailand, verified by the birth of the kids over there and compounded by fact that I do look like any other Thai (or Filipina, or Indonesian or Hispanic or insert ethnicity here) on the street, I refuse to allow my Singaporean DNA be over-shadowed.
Just because we lived in Thailand once upon a (prolonged amount of) time and it happened to be the kids’ birth country, do not make us all Thai; especially not the kids. Plus because there is not even an ounce of Thai blood in us, I can’t let this identity crisis slide.
It got both Spud and Squirt confused initially, too – symptomatic of being Third Culture Kids (TCK) both bearing a badge of culturally-confused identity and ethnicity. For simple, young minds, they too found it hard to grasp the concept that their being born in Thailand and has always lived in Thailand all their lives till recently, somehow did not make them Thai.
To them, it does not make sense because:
Papa was born in the Netherlands and that makes him Dutch
Mama was born in Singapore and that makes her Singaporean.
Given the same circumstances, how are they then not Thai?
It not hard to see their point, really. And it was not at all hard to explain that their national identity comes from being a direct descendent of their real Papa and Mama regardless of the country they were born in. In their case, they are not even allowed a Thai Citizenship even if we wanted to; for the very obvious reasons that their parents are not Thai.
While the term TCKs may not be as relevant since they are now being uprooted to their Papa’s native land and already are embracing more Dutch, it dawned on me that Spud’s and Squirt’s answers to seemingly simple questions of where they really come from in relation to their birth country and their parents’ origins would inevitably require some elaborate, sometimes unnecessary explanations.
Yes, unnecessary. I could let it slide. Forget about it. Let them think what they want to think. Explaining it takes too much effort.
But I can’t.
It’s a matter of pride. It’s the inner calling of wanting to retain whatever part of me that’s left even after I “quit” on my birth home more than a decade ago.
And I’ll repeat it a hundred times if I need to because while I respectfully embrace the various cultural diversity we have adopted as part of our life journey, third-culture or not, the little imps can never be Thai.
Just like I could never be Dutch or Silver Bullet being Javanese because he’s married to me.
Simply put: Let’s call a spade a spade. We could change our passports and “naturalise” so to speak, but really, think about it. When it comes to the crux of it, we could never claim the ethnicity birthright of the kids being Thai and me being Dutch…neither by descent nor proximity.
Because that would just be weird. After all, I am still a Singaporean. It was where I was rooted, it’s my DNA and no one can change that fact.
For the kids, there is no question about it – it is their rightful right to own part of their roots through their direct lineage while learning to be a responsible global citizen. It’s in their blood. They can deny it but they cannot ever run away from it even if they want to.
What are your thoughts about being “culturally confused” and the impact of a possible identity crisis for kids growing up in a third culture? How do you explain to your kids about their cultural identity? Do you think the identity matters?