The Origin Of Love

WARNING: Possible navel lint ahead.

It’s amazing how a spot of illness can bring out the snivelly, self pitying, weakling in me. That’s when I think to myself, screw this self sufficient, independent woman crap, I just want someone to look after me. I want someone to tuck me under the covers, stay up and check in on me occasionally, rub Vicks on my congested chest, make me a hot drink. I want hot toddy, sympathy and a warm hug on the ready, despite the streaming snot, clammy sweat and woozy protestations of “I’m better now” while stoked up on antihistamines.

Times like these, I ask myself, what was so wrong with me that I can’t find and be with someone who doesn’t just bring out the best in me but who also wouldn’t run away screaming the other way at seeing the worst of me – and I don’t just mean while I’m ill either.

Once in a while, I hit a pothole of realisation – if I want someone to do that for me, I’ve got to be willing to go that distance for that other person too. And worse, I’ve got to be able to go that distance for the other person without expectation that that same person was willing to do that for me. Because that’s the meaning of love, isn’t it? To be able to give of oneself fully without expectation, and if you get something back, well, that’s a bonus.

It makes me wonder though, how many partnerships or marriages are truly like that? In a world where there’s never something for nothing, do we always venture into relationships expecting something? And is that why we’re constantly disappointed?

I know someone whose partner is currently battling for his life and I look at how my friend has stuck steadfastly by his side, staying up and nursing his partner through the night not because he is obligated but because he wants to continue to be with this person and I suffer not a little twinge of envy. To have found someone who’s been in your life for almost 20 years, and to want to continue to fight for more time to be with that person, that must be something.

By the very same token, I look at another friend who has been married for almost 20 years; he’s never strayed, ever, but on the odd cold dark night of the soul, with one too many vodkas in him, he admits quietly that he loves her but she’s never been and never will be his soulmate and that if they had been older when they met, they might not have married.

I would love to have the former, but would I settle for the latter, like so many others? Is it worth it? As I get better, my answer becomes firmer. No. There are some things in this world we shouldn’t settle for. And if I can’t give as good as I get, then it’s also not fair to the other party. And that’s not the one for me. And so I continue to make my own hot toddy and nurse my own cough and cold.

The ingredients for a hot toddy: 

  • Half a cup of water
  • A shot of whisky
  • A tablespoon of wild honey
  • A lemon quarter & a slice of lemon

Heat up the cup of water, add the whisky and honey. Squeeze the lemon quarter, pop in the slice of lemon. Stir. Sip slowly.

Sometimes, though, I don’t want that lingering warmth. So I turn to an alternative. I settle for hot ginger and Coke. And I hope that this will be the only time I settle for something less. Almost as effective in warming up a congested chest but, still, less.

The ingredients for hot ginger & Coke:

  • A cup of Coca Cola
  • Three to four slices of ginger

Bring the Coke to a boil, toss in the ginger, boil for a minute or so. Decant, sip.

Then I sit and ponder the night away on the phrase “It’s not you, it’s me”.


Note: No pictures this time around; I wouldn’t recommend trying to take pictures while woozy. 



What’s going on?

It’s been a most peculiar few months.

From burnt out apathy to chasing a new dream and facing a new big hill of hope; from sailing on still, slightly sentimental waters to hitting hysterically emotional rapids with submerged rocks and from waking up smiling and on a high to staying in bed, curled up under the covers, trying to hide my tears even from myself.

Internally, there is hope yet doubt, optimism yet uncertainty, confidence yet fear. Externally, on some days, when reading the news, I feel a near breakdown of faith in humanity and the state of the country and I think screw evolution, let’s aim for revolution.

What the hell is going on? PMS? Peri-menopausal stress? Is it biological? Physiological? Psychological? Mental? Emotional? Am I finally really losing it?

Time passes fast, I’m rushing to pick up supplies, driving from Kuala Lumpur to Klang and back again. I’m cooking for mother, filling backlogged orders for clients, trying to keep up with paperwork and, late at night, staring at a blank screen, willing myself to vomit out clogged up decades-old emotions putrefying inside. Self-therapy seriously sucks sometimes.

I realise I’m neglecting myself a little, then more than a little. No time, no inclination to eat full meals. I eat on the run or not at all. This cannot go on. If this roller coaster is to continue, I have to have real sustenance.

What’s fast, easy to whip up, won’t go bad in the fridge too fast? What vegetables will stand the test of time yet remain tasty?

The answer was easy.

Tomatoes: always tasty, extremely versatile, a good source of vitamins, and energy, a super food.

Cucumber: High water content, vitamins and provides that essential crunch needed in a good salad.

Corn: Raw, of course, complex carbs, check. Another super food, practically.

The base ingredients for Trinity Salad

  • Half a punnet of red cherry tomatoes
  • Half a punnet of yellow cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • One Japanese cucumber
  • Baby corn, can be substituted with raw sweet corn


  • One teaspoonful of Straits Heritage Foods (SHF) Sambal Belacan
  • Juice from half a lime or lemon or whatever citrus you have on hand
  • Splash of olive oil

Chop up all the vegetables, whip the vinaigrette ingredients together, toss everything into a bowl.

Time check: 5 Minutes.

A base trio of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, Japanese cucumber and baby corn
Alternatively, for more chewiness, substitute baby corn with raw sweet corn

Ingredients for Trinity Chicken Salad

  • About 150gms of chicken fillet. Always good to have in the freezer. After buying, split it up into singleton portions of about 150gms into separate freezer/Ziplock bags and freeze. Make sure the chicken pieces are dry when you pop them in. Freezer-burnt chicken, no matter how much you cook it, tastes awful.  
  • Marinate chunks of chicken fillet in teaspoonful of SHF sambal belacan with a splash of oil. Toss into hot pan. Stir fry until cooked. Toss contents of pan, chicken, oil and all into salad trio. Mix.
  • Stuff the tossed Trinity Chicken salad into pita bread, or any flat bread. Or just bread. Or eat it like that. Whatever.
Marinate chicken chunks in a teaspoonful of sambal belacan and oil then fry off
When cooked, pour into trio of vegetables and toss
Stuff tossed chicken salad into pita bread

Ingredients for Trinity Tuna Salad 

  • One can of tuna in olive oil.
  • Open can, drain half of the oil, plop tuna into bowl, add teaspoonful of sambal belacan. Smash everything together with a fork. If you’re feeling fancy, squeeze in a splash of lime.
  • Plop smooshed up sambal belacan tuna onto trio of vegetables. Mix. Eat as is or use as sandwich filling.
  • Optional, if one is craving protein: Boil an egg or fry up a sausage or if really hungry, do both. Arrange nicely in bowl. Then smoosh everything together. Also therapeutic, if one is repressing some level of aggression.
Alternatively, to make life easier, use tuna. Toss tuna in vinaigrette of sambal belacan, oil and splash of fresh-squeezed lime juice. Then toss tuna into salad trio.
A quick yet healthy meal
Dress it up with fried chopped sausage and a boiled egg


Experiment with other vegetables or proteins, canned, fresh or otherwise. The key here is fast, fast, fast, 10 minutes or under.

Beats ordering in fast food again.






Chicken Congee for a Hurting Heart

Too many people of note have passed away in the last month.

Terry Pratchett finally met DEATH and, hopefully, Binky.

Lee Kuan Yew is finally, hopefully, reunited with his wife, Kwa Geok Choo.

Pak Mie is, hopefully, by the Rainbow Bridge, being greeted by the furry friends that he saved and looked after while they were here.

Closer to home, my uncle boarded the bus as well, leaving a wife, three children, assorted grandchildren and four siblings, one of whom was my mother.

While Pratchett, Harry Lee and Pak Mie made an impact on me, it was the passing of my uncle that brought home the grief the living feel, when I saw my mother crumble and weep when I had to break the news to her. I thought she would recover over the next few days but I was wrong. She took his death badly and did not eat or talk for days after his funeral.

Dad and I bought food – mum did all the cooking at home – but still, she did not eat. In my worry, I took to cooking for her, hoping to tempt her with food so that she would at least have some sustenance. Or at least, if nothing else, try what I had cooked up.

Finally, little by little, she began eating. But stomachs shrink and gastritis sets in when one doesn’t eat for days. So I made her chicken congee, hoping that this would tempt her to eat. Not just any chicken congee, but with one enough flavour that, I hoped, would awaken an appetite and soothe a hurting heart.

(Most of us would call this porridge, because to us, porridge is made from rice, but if I call it porridge, bananas and other non-Asians might think its oats or some other grains, hence my use of the word Congee. But congee or porridge, it is comfort food, and that was what I felt mum needed.)

The ingredients for Chicken Congee for a convalescent 

The ingredients: garlic, shallots, ginger, minced chicken (seasoned and marinated) and spring onions for garnishing
  • Two to three shallots
  • Two cloves of garlic a thumb-length of old ginger
  • A cup and a half of rice
  • About 150gms of minced chicken
  • A couple of sprigs of spring onion or chives, depending on what’s at hand
  • Cooking oil
  • A teaspoonful of sesame seed oil
  • Light soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Step One: Prep (About 15 minutes) 

  • Marinate the minced chicken in a teaspoonful of sesame seed oil, light soy sauce, a few pinches of pepper and a pinch of salt for about 15 minutes
  • While the chicken is marinating, wash the rice
  • Peel and finely chop the shallots and garlic
  • Peel, slice and julienne the ginger (tip: it’s easier to scrape off the skin with a spoon. Wash the skin off occasionally in running water and peel until ginger is relatively clean)
  • Cut of the ends and tips of the spring onion and cut into about 5mm lengths
Finely chop the garlic and shallots, wash the rice
Peel and julienne the ginger, which will be used as part of the saute trio as well as garnishing

Step Two: Cooking (about half an hour to 45 minutes)

  • Heat about two to three tablespoons of oil in a pot
  • Once oil is heated, toss in the chopped garlic, shallots and half the julienned ginger
  • Toss in half the minced chicken and saute with the shallots, garlic and ginger
  • Saute until fragrant and the garlic and shallots are translucent
  • Stir in the rice until it is coated in the oil
  • Add four and a half cups of water – it should be about three parts water to one part rice
  • Add the rest of the minced chicken in little balls or pinches
  • Let it boil and then let it simmer for about half an hour; but check to see that the rice is not drying up
  • Once cooked, serve in a pretty bowl and garnish with the ginger strips and spring onion
Stir in the rice when the saute ingredients are translucent
The finished product – flavourful chicken congee garnished with ginger and spring onion

Mum had a small bowl. She liked the garnish of ginger – said it added spice. Of course, she had to make a comment on the unevenness of my julienning. But then again, I was just glad that she finally began eating something.