In pursuit of.

I left my day job.

I am sitting by the window in my kitchen/living that overlooks my side turn wall which has many objects that Toby and I have accumulated over the past 12 years of our life together.

I see the ‘no smoking in the marquee!’ blackboard sign that Toby wrote for our wedding festival. The garden wire that holds the thing together is looking a bit rusty, but my memories of the glorious summer of 2013 that marked our togetherness in a true style of us-ness are still going strong.
To the left of the blackboard, it’s a vintage art deco mirror that was delivered broken which we felt too sad to throw away. It’s covered in dust and million pieces of Toby’s facial hair shavings, but still, it looks very happy to be given a second lease of life.
To the right, is a small blue pretend vintage metal signage that says ‘chickens for sale here’. We picked it up few years ago from our local garden centre. Back in those days, my mum used to always ask me about the prospect of possible offspring and referred her future grandchild as ‘a chicken’. She is funny like that.
We even subtitled our westival’…and then there will be chicken(s)…’, and here we are. We do have a 14 months old chicken. And Toby says we’re not allowed to call her dual heritage as it makes her sound more like tomatoes.
The thought of our chicken and us playing mama, dada and Kiki, never fails to make me laugh. It fills every empty holes in my bones and keeps me warm, whole and complete.
I never thought I would say this.
But indeed, having child does change you.
I suddenly started to see the world in a different way.
Even with my sleep deprived frazzled brain and forever twitchy eyes, I’m somehow a bit more generous, more forgiving and much more empathetic than I’ve ever been.
The balancing act of working on the project-life, Kiki and having a bit of life can sometimes feel nothing more than just negotiating my way through million different types of guilt. More than often I worry if I am being selfish by asking her to play on her own for a moment.
Some days will go so slow that I get fed up at clock watching every other second. Some other days will fly by and I would be wondering where the day has gone. And yes, for sure, my occasional but desperate wish for Toby to come home and rescue me, from our pretty evil eyed, non-negotiable little terror, that resembles nothing but me and my partner in crime is arguably the lowest point of my mothering game that I would not be boasting about on my cv.
But deep amongst these unpredictable day to day craziness, just as I feel like I’ve used all my reserves and wonder I might not be cut for this, I see the little human I created singing the twinkle twinkle in the language that she only understands, but somehow assures me that I am doing good and that we will, very soon, be able to speak the same lingo.
She reaches out for my hands and gives me the slobbery smacker. Nice.
And that, the triumphantly delightful moments that swings by out from nowhere, to reaffirm you, indeed you’re working on life, is what makes it all worth it. Hard work but so so special.
Then you start to sense and see the real frame of time. Even with oh-I-am-so-exhausted state of mind, you realised you’ve never been so clear about what is important in life.
And you really don’t want to waste a single minute on doing things that no longer feels right to you.I suddenly have that mother thing; the natural animal instinct of wanting to protect my own tribe; wanting to provide all I can for the better survival of my brood.
As I watch my little terror bastardise away the box of tissues, spice drawers, television remote control and anything and everything she can get her hands on, I realise that this little tiny human is learning everyday from the way we do and live.
I can’t think of better way to teach her, than setting up a good examples myself by living my own life to its full potential. So she can look back when she’s a bit older, to know that her mother was an inspiring woman, who taught her by bettering her own self.

Coconut Oil Roasted Masala Potatoes and Fried Egg
Serves 2 as brunch

350g baby potatoes, quartered
good extra virgin raw coconut oil, such as Vita Coco
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp onion seeds
pinch of chilli flakes
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, grated
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 fresh lime juice
some fresh chilli, finely chopped (optional)
handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
couple of eggs for frying

Well, good people at Vita Coco had sent me their coconut oil to try.
Although I don’t tend to do product reviews as such, since I already am a huge fan of good organic coconut oil, I gave it a go.

If you’re already familiar with coconut oil, you will understand that the depth of coconut flavours in oil varies depending on brands. Some of you might prefer stronger coconut flavour and others, like myself might lean towards milder ones.
Vita Coco’s new extra virgin raw coconut oil is very good.
It has distinctive coconut flavour but when used in Indian-esq recipe, it compliments the dish really well. It makes deliciously creamy porridge and wonderful to cook thick banana pancakes with. It’s a goodun.

This recipe on the other hand is good all arounder to have it up your sleeve. It can cure badass hangover, nurture stinking cold or just simply fill those hungry holes.
I am adding fried eggs on top but poached will be healthier option if that’s what tickles your fancy. You could serve this alongside with some roasted meat if you wanted to man up, or add some bacon rashers instead. Fried or grilled fish coated in some tandoori style spices  will also go very well with this.

Set your oven to 180º and put your baking tray in the oven with a good spoonful of coconut oil so it can get really hot.
Quickly boil potatoes for 5 mins with little salt, drain, and let them cool down a bit.
Dry roast cumin, fennel, coriander seeds until they release the aroma and ground them in pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
Put potatoes, ground spices, onion seeds, chilli flakes with some salt and pepper, mix well with spoon as the oil will be hot, and roast them for good 25mins or so until they appear slightly crisp on the edges.

While potatoes are cooking, place medium sauce pan or frying pan big enough to hold all of your potatoes, over low heat. Put little coconut oil, mustard seeds and gently fry the onions until they’re soft and golden. Add sliced red peppers, garlic and ginger. Fry them till peppers are soften a bit then add tomato paste and cook them down for another 5mins or so. You may need a little more oil at this point just so you can cook the paste a bit.
Add a splash of water enough to loosen the sauce and simmer for 15mins with the lid on. If the mixture dries out, just add a little more water.

Now, add your roasted potatoes into sauce, chopped chilli and coriander can be added at this stage as well as splash of lime juice to freshen things up. Give the whole thing a minute or two to mingle in the sauce over the low heat.
Season to taste and serve them with fried egg.
Good sprinkle of Dukkah adds a good texture but that is just my preference.

 

I positioned myself directly opposite to those three random but meaningful nicknacks to cheer me up, as I badly sketch up some designs for my new adventure. Tomorrow my sewing machine arrives. I’ll position it exactly where I am. 
As I rustle my way into this world of unknown, I am sure there will be doubts, fear and maybe some tears. But I hope the familiar surroundings, especially the chickens for sale signage will remind me why I’m braving and of course, that I am a mother.

we made the fire.

You know, I was going to babble you about the fishing trip that my dad used to take me to when I was younger. I tried hard to jog my memories back and tried my upmost to write them all down here, so I can share those magical moments with you. But I found it hard. It’s proven rather difficult.

Such a moment, that has been wrapped up tightly with so much emotions, isn’t the kind of thing you can share by talking perhaps.

Growing up, I didn’t have very good relationship with my dad unfortunately. 
It wasn’t until very recently that I have learnt to understand him for who he is really. I’m pretty sure he will say the same about me.

I think we were two strong characters with very different ideas about way of life. 
We used to argue day in, day out until he shouted ‘Under my roof, my rules!’. 
I was so desperate to get away from that roof, the roof that sheltered me for all the wrong reasons. What he expected of me seemed so far from what could be achieved or what I wanted to pursue. I just wanted get out and do my own thing so desperately. And that desperation eventually brought me here, to London.
I remember my dad yelling at me once, that he didn’t believe I will be able to last here as I have been a quitter for all those years he remembered. He more than often used say I give up things too easily. It was so harsh things to hear, I know. But that was my dad. And I know why he said that. 
He knew if he said that, I would work harder and make sure I last, just so I can prove him wrong. He knew his daughter too well.
The man with very few words congratulated me on my first return visit home, almost 3 years after landing in London.

My first camping trip few weekends ago reminded me a lot of the fishing trip. 
Being out in the wild with very little convenience, gave us a chance to appreciate each other’s company. Hearing nothing but the birds singing, we could hear our voices better. Looking after the fire that kept us warm and full, we learnt to be patient. Searching for the stars in the dark, we found each other in different light. Walking along the muddy woodlands, we spent time helping each other. We made an effort to talk. Not to upset each other, not to demand anything but just to keep each other’s company happy. 



Sweet lentil and goats cheese salad
serves 2

for the salad
80g puy lentil
1-2 shallot, finely sliced (save little bit for the dressing)
some cooked and pickled beetroots, thinly sliced
some mild goats cheese
some olive oil
salt and pepper

for the chilli and coriander dressing
some finely chopped shallots
1 1/2tbsp cider vinegar
1tsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of crushed chilli
handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1tbsp olive oil

This is simple and humble plate of food that is perfect served on its own as a light lunch or as a side with beautifully grilled meat. Gently fried shallots add lovely sweet flavour to the lentils whilst shallots in the dressing keeps the dish fresh and light.

First of all, cook your lentils with plenty of water and pinch of salt for 20-25mins. You want them to be cooked through but still have a bite to them. Once ready, drain well.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the dressing except the olive oil. Set it aside. Add the olive oil in when you are ready to bring things together.

Now, gently fry the shallots in little olive oil until dark golden. 
Add the well drained lentils to the fried shallots as well as the sliced beetroots.
Bring things together by dressing them generously with prepared chilli and coriander dressing. Season with black pepper.
Plate up, add your goats cheese, drizzle little more dressing over the salad and tuck in.



I treasure the fishing trips with dad. It is one of the very few memories that is not tainted with anger. Every moment I can picture of those trips has an ordinary father and daughter loving each other the way that I saw in others.

I am not going anywhere

The problem of talking about the stuff that is close to you, too close to your heart, is I think, that often, your emotion kind of overrides ones consciousness and more than often there is a danger which the speaker may become too attached and end up focusing on the sentimental values of the subject matter rather than the matter itself.


This is my problem.
I have been babbling about what is up with me lately on this screen for the last few days, in an attempt to write a post to share the important news. For the last few days, and I am not joking when I say Days, it has been six days to be quite precise, I found almost impossible to get pass the first few sentence.
The thing is though, I am trying to talk about something that is not only very close to my heart but also a very big deal; a huge deal. To talk about such is really overwhelming and I didn’t quite know where to start.


Well, as some of you might already know, I have been living in London for quite some time. Over the past 12 years, I had to learn to speak English, learn to understand the culture and learn to grow up; try to grow up as a good resident of Britain.
You could argue, I didn’t have to learn to speak the language, if I had chosen to live near by Korean community. And to tell you the truth, for a little while I did in fact lived in New Malden; a small town in Surrey where you’ll find most things Korean. But soon, I realised it wasn’t for me. I wanted to feel part of London, so to speak. 
I remember going into the bank to open a bank account and feeling slightly humiliated by the lady who found me a little difficult to understand. Experiencing what I could only recognise as dismissal of my rather inadequate performance in communicating, I promised to myself I’ll never let that same feeling to hurt me again. 
I tried really hard to speak well. I wanted to speak, so no one can ever tell the difference that I wasn’t actually born and bred hear in London.
I am not sure whether I have kept my promise but fortunately enough, the same incident does not happen to me anymore.


It’s been a tough journey to get here and a very long one too. And here, I mean by, where I feel possibly more home than back home, Korea. I am comfortable with my surroundings. What was so new and shocking back then isn’t alien to me anymore. 
A naive young girl who landed London with a little clues of what was ahead of her life has finally grew up and London has become an essential part. It is part of me, part of my adult life that I want to celebrate.


The dilemma of adolescence and the confusions in values of my life as youth has come to an end with my status in London as a staying guest.
I am preparing myself to become a proper resident and possibly to gain the British Citizenship in near future.
Strange thing is though, although I never doubted that I’ll get here, I am kind of frightened of the slim chance that it might all fall apart. I am not confident all again.
It was so easy to talk about this stuff in the past but now it is so close, I can’t seem to be able to rationalised it. And to even think of the possible failure really terrifies me.


Toby tells me we’re not going anywhere until I pass this test.



Triple Cooked Chips (Inspired by Heston Blumenthal‘s)


some potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into thick chunky chips
frying oil
salt


For making chips, I found King Edwards or Maris Piper works well at home.
Triple cooked may put you off with all the work involved but it is actually quite easy and worth  the effort. My method doesn’t actually fry the chips twice. Instead, I fry once then bake them in the oven. I just prefer it this way.


First of all soak your chips in cold water for 5mins or so to remove starch. Rinse well under running water then simmer them in salted water for 7-9mins. Chips should still hold its shape.
Drain them well and lay them onto baking tray. Put them in the freezer for 30mins or so to dry them out. You can leave this in the fridge over night instead if you’re not going to use this straight away.
Heat your frying oil to high temperature and fry the chips until lightly coloured.
Now, place your baking tray in the oven and wait until it reaches the highest temperature. Carefully remove the baking tray to place fried chips, put them back in the oven, drop the temperature to 200º and bake them for about 20-30mins or until chips are dark golden brown around the edges.
Sprinkle some sea salt to taste and the rest is entirely up to you. Good helpings of tomato ketchup, a dollop of mayo, a drizzle of malt vinegar or perhaps all of these. Whatever it may be, I am certain you will enjoy these quintessentially British chips.

And now, back to my study of ‘Life in the United Kingdom; A Journey to Citizenship’.


In 1948, people from the West Indies were invited to come and work in Britain as well as workers from Ireland and other parts of Europe.
Until 1857, a married woman had no right to divorce her husband.
In 1918, women over the age of 30 were given the right to vote and in 1928, women won the right to vote at 21, at the same age as men.
A census has been taken every ten years since 1801, except during the second World War.
The UK is divided into 646 parliamentary constituencies.
There are 78 seats for representatives from the UK in the European Parliament.
The National Assembly for Wales, or Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), has 60 Assembly Members.
The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth, which currently has 53 member states.
Schools must be open 190 days a year.



And 75% must be achieved to pass the test. 
I hope I pass because, I intend to stay here for good this time and that is, for sure.