My mother used to tell me that cooking isn’t a man or a woman’s job. It’s a person’s job. It is in everyone’s personal interest to learn to cook and feed oneself and not be dependent on going to the restaurant or fast food (in truth, my mother always had the fear that someone would spit on her food ordered at the restaurant).
Growing up, I had always had home cooked meals. I often skipped school lunch and waited to have late lunch at 3PM at home instead, where cold rice (cooked in the morning) and some odd dried meat my mother cured herself was waiting on the table. I used to say, “why can’t we just go out to eat? I’m so tired of your cooking!”
But when I left for college and all I had were cafeteria food or take-outs, I would yearn for my mom’s cooking. I missed the smell of jasmine rice, waking up on a cold night. I missed the pungent smell of mudfish or tamarind paste used to make soups. I missed the frying smell of garlic and oyster sauce.
I didn’t always cook growing up. In fact, I never had to lift a spatula. I helped out around the kitchen, cleaning vegetables, boiling water, using the pestle and mortar to make traditional paste. The best I could cook was packaged ramen with fried eggs. I would make rice and my mother would complain that it was too hard or too soft, never perfect for her. She never let me actually stand over the oven and stir anything—just taste the food. But she was insistent that I would remain in the kitchen to watch her cook.
As my first care package in college, my mother shipped a rice cooker (the expensive Tiger brand) that I still have to this day, 12 years later. I learnt to cook simple meals, buying cooked chicken from the cafeteria, boiling egg in the dorm, and adding soy sauce. Eventually, when I left college, I started experimenting cooking various dishes. My post-college job wasn’t intensive enough to keep me happy that I often came to my lonely apartment in the basement and started to research for recipes. At the time, the only site I knew was allrecipe.com. When I eventually got my own apartment and the internet started to boast more recipes, I tried out baking.
The first few times, I baked, I failed miserably! I even hurt my eyes at one point when I added alcohol to a cake and then continued baking. That really hurt!
Living alone was silent and I found cooking, reading recipes, baking, and receiving something from the oven was a solitude filler. It kept me warm, it kept me busy, it made me happy. Every Sunday, I would bake and cook. Meals upon meals. It would be enough food for me and my dog, though eventually, I brought leftover to share at work.
And when I get upset, tired and world weary, I turned to baking, to cooking, to testing out new recipes. Sometimes, even a simple recipe like baked eggs is enough to take me away from the mundane life while feeding myself, which I know is a luxury unto itself.
Here’s a recipe that I found on Pinterest that is a good start for baking and curing yourself of the weariness thrown your way.
Cupcakes for Two. (Check for full recipe here at the site How Sweet It Is)
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons melted butter (substitute with apple sauce)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp heaped teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons milk (I used plain soymilk instead. If you have vanilla soymilk, don’t add vanilla)
Note, I used the leftover egg yolk to make custard, recipe here.