Tag Archives: Chinese

#14 ~ Dating your Dissertation

Last Friday I took myself on a date. The usual time of empty cupboards had come back around (these things don’t change that quickly, but progress is being made). I figured I had two options:

1) Go to sleep

2) Drink water and go to sleep

The only problem with aforementioned options was that I was meant to watch a show that night with a friend.  I knew if my head touched the pillow I wouldn’t even make the curtain call. So I threw on a jacket, straightened my outfit, applied some lipstick (hey why not) and cycled into town. The local Chinese restaurant was the joint I was to grace with my presence, wonton noodles the lucky dish that was to nourish my somewhat lethargic body. Sat by the window, order given, the laptop lid was flipped open and headphones encased my ears.

I like spending time with people. I do. I mean, I can make myself laugh (I have a wicked sense of humour that only I seem to get), but sometimes other people’s banter does the job too. I enjoy listening to people, even giving advice, but deep down I’m a closet introvert. I need space, partly because I live in close proximity to the multitude of thoughts that swarm across my mind and sometimes seep out of my mouth when i’m sleeping. I’m an active daydreamer, my mind slipping from reality to possibility (today I walked directly into an oncoming van totally oblivious to its steam-roller capacities). So there I sat, wonton noodles on my right, a glass of water directly in front, my laptop and the audio track I was transcribing from at the tips of my (somewhat sprained) fingers. For the first time in a long time I felt quiet.

Still.

The noise began to recede. And I live in a lot of noise. The noise of emails, Facebook notifications, the constant, often mindless updates on Twitter. The noise of pressure, obligation, of commitments. The noise of fear and anxieties. The noise of desire, a deep longing, of jealousy, insecurity – it’s a bloody cacophony of sound, exacerbated by the people or messages that carry that noise like a body, weighty, loaded and ever-spreading.

But there, alone, I was quiet. My mind at times was unfocused – silly desires would take my attention from my screen to the window and back again – but for a few moments I was oblivious to the world. Inconsequential (except perhaps to the staff who knew my presence was more money in the coffers), but I was small, remote, petite even. Quiet.

I miss that. The stillness. Sometimes you can find it amongst people. The ability to sit, gently, and not speak. Too often though we’re afraid of the noise that roils off our bodies even when our lips are sealed – so we unseal our lips and let incessant chatter ramble forth.

But what I liked more was the focus.

As a creative person my focus can be intense, but often fleeting. Even in the course of writing this i’ve switched direction, pondered a few months into my future, worried about an upcoming competition, grazed a bit of the avocado lying on my table and considered re-logging into Facebook. And those are only the distractions I can remember. In the 90mins when I chowed down most of my meal (then spent the next 20mins recovering from indigestion and the after burn of the chilli oil I had carelessly poured across the entire dish) I was focused on my work. I had streams of thoughts linking arguments I hadn’t even fully articulated (I told you, I flip quickly), and a narrative arc that even got me excited for the viver. But my focus is fleeting, and therefore my conviction lacking. Unlike my sister who is a completer, i’m a spitfire. When the spirit leaves me, my hands stop moving, the punches stop falling, my eyes go dead and next thing – i’m out. I’ve lost. Lost focus, lost my drive, lost my engagement with life. It happens. I feel my body and mind drifting apart and then I want to give up. To just sit down and float, and breathe, and be still once again. To be intimate with me and my thoughts.

And that’s the thing. To do ANYTHING in life, to even complete my dissertation, I have to be PRO-ACTIVE. Sure i’m active, i’ll make grand plans, and sometimes, if the timing is right i’ll get to the end of them (while letting almost everything else fall to the wayside), but a lot of the time i’m not the initiator.

In sparring I have really good timing. I have a strong punch. But i’m afraid of hurting the other person, and of failing myself, so I often don’t leap into the danger zone, and when I do, apparently I don’t commit. So I don’t win, and weaker fighters get the point, because they were proactive.

I want to lose this fear of failure. To banish it to the darkest corners of existence. To be brazen. I’ve been socked in the eye, winded, jabbed in my gut, had my tendons ripped and shins bruised – I can take pain, but I take it from a defensive position, not from offence. I’d like to try being offensive for a while (not the insulting type). I’d like to try sticking my neck out and seeing what happens. Of being a completer.

Maybe then the piles of work that are growing each day would start to diminish.

Maybe then I’d batter my opponents

Maybe then that acquaintance would start being a friend.

Maybe then i’d stop being afraid, because i’d look up and realise  – i’d done it. I’d made it happen.

Who knew such thoughts could occur when one went on a date with their dissertation?

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#12 ~ Broke Friday Meals – Noodles

So it’s Monday, I know, but it doesn’t mean this recipe can’t keep still be of use. As mentioned in my previous post, I survived for almost 2 months on various presentations of the same dish – instant noodles. Below I will chart 3 of the best and easiest ways to make noodles still appear edible after the umpteenth time of consumption. But first, a shopping list.

Considering Broke Friday Meals are for just that – Broke People at the end of a working week, all the ingredients i’ll be listing should be within any good supermarkets basic range. Of course if you have more money to spend you might just do that and be more ethical in your shopping, but if you’re scraping pennies, these menus should help you to at least subsist.

Core Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of Instant Noodles (I prefer Koka which should cost about 20p per packet, but you can get basics for 11p).
  • Some remnants of an onion or a leek – you don’t need much

Extra Ingredients

  • 1 egg ( you can get a pack of 6 for under £2 which means 1 egg should  = 30p or so)
  • Tin of mackerel/sardines/tuna – again should be around the 99p mark and it’s good protein
  • mushrooms and sweet peppers (these could be half dead leftovers, or fresh basics, which puts it at around the £2 mark – a pack of mushrooms is around £1 and a pack of 6 sweet peppers is around 80p-£1).

Cost:

Basic should be no more than 50p in total. If you want added ingredients you’re looking at a split cost (you won’t use e.g. every pepper in the packet) of around £1.50

Miso Noodles Method (Noodle Soup):

  • Place noodles in a bowl with the sachet of seasoning (if no sachet, improvise with All Purpose Seasoning, Salt, Black Pepper and/or Curry Powder)
  • Boil some water in a kettle
  • Pour water over noodles until it is just covering (if you want it extra soupy add more water, but be aware the flavour will be reduced).
  • Place a lid over bowl, wait till noodles are soft.
  • Eat
  • Time: 5mins max
  • If no kettle, do the same thing in a pot and leave on stove for appx 5mins also

Microwave-Fry Noodles:

  • Place noodles in bowl with seasoning and water just covering
  • Place bowl in Microwave for 6mins
  • Water should be absorbed leaving hot, well seasoned noodles
  • Eat
  • Time: 6mins max
  • If no microwave, do the same thing in a pot, just use a little less water so it absorbs faster without becoming mush

Broke Bibimbap Method (stolen from the exquisite Korean dish, Bibimbap):

  • Fry onion/leek leftovers with a little bit of oil (if no oil use water until onions/leeks are soft).
  • Add peppers, mushrooms and seasoning
  • Boil noodles in a separate pot/microwave/kettle and bowl
  • When noodles are soft add to frying pan (try not to add the water with it)
  • Sprinkle seasoning over the concoction
  • Add fish/meat supplements if you so wish/have
  • Once cooked through (noodles should start sticking to the bottom of the pan), crack egg over the stir fry. Leave to fry a little (depending on how much you fear salmonella), then transfer to plate/bowl
  • Eat
  • Should take 10-15mins max

Now that you know the basics, there’s a wide variety of meals you can make depending on what’s at your disposal. You can also add vegetables to the Miso Soup or Microwave-Fry extra, or boil an egg separately and add to either of the dishes – you get the idea, go experiment. You can also find your perfect softness point for noodles, whether it’s closer to al-dente or more like pulp.

Don’t ever presume this is the authentic way to either cook or eat noodles of any kind. Once you have money treat yourself to some authentic Korean, Chinese, Japanese or Singaporean food and savour the quality of their cuisine whilst apologising for butchering it in your poverty. But while your poverty remains, this is a cheaper (and to all accounts far healthier and faster) form of consumption than the £5 McD meal, even with the extra burger from student discount, or the sandwiches, or baguettes or w/e else you might wish to buy. It is also surprisingly filling either with the Miso Soup form (hot water fills you up quickly) or in the stir fry form as noodles swell.

Got a better way of making Instant Noodles tasty, put it in the comments section below.

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