Friday, 14 June 2013

The Daddy Heroes In My Life - Happy Fathers' Day

What Dad Taught Me

As we honor our Fathers this weekend on Fathers’ Day, I had decided to write this blog post to honor the most important men in my life whom I think are possibly the best Dads in the world.

Dad is truly my hero.  Everything that I am today, I owe it to him.  Dad held 2 things closest to his heart – his family and his political beliefs.  So I grew up with the notion that life offered me only 2 things worth fighting for – my family and my right to an opinion. 

My tenacity and never-say-die attitude were all aspects of Dad that I grew up with.  My conviction to always stand up for what I believed in and to not be afraid to lend a voice to these beliefs, were all nurtured by Dad.  When Dad was incarcerated for his political beliefs that fell outside the approved pantone code of that whitewash dished out by the establishment, he taught me that oppression was the worst form of abuse that should never be tolerated.   When I saw him being led away by the clipboard-toting establishment lackeys when I was 8 years old, not because he was a criminal but because he did not share the same political convictions,  I “found my voice” that day by telling these lackeys how wrong they were to label an ideological difference as a crime. I was then just 8 years old.  Ever since, I never stopped lending my voice to a cause I am passionate about. 

I Found My Dad In My Hubby

David will deny this vehemently.  However, he is somewhat like Dad.  A typical Scot steeped in traditional family values, David is extremely protective of the family and will do anything to ensure we are not in want of anything.  Even though Joel is his step-son, that term was never used in or outside the home.  To David, Joel is his son.  In his paternal role, be it the disciplinarian, the counselor, the best friend, or the teacher, David was first and foremost Joel’s “Pops”.  David was the one who taught him to swim, the one who taught him to ride his first bike, the one who comforted him when he failed his exams, the one who counseled him when he had girlfriend issues, the one who taught him how to shave, the one who gave him money so he could go repair his bicycle tire, and the one who baked him a cake for one of his birthday parties.   My Dad did all that for me and it was heartwarming to see the world’s best stepdad doing that for my son. 

Just like Dad was feisty and tenacious, David is the same.  He stands up for what he believes in and his ego never gets in the way of what he needs to do when he believes in it.  When Dad did not approve of our marriage many years ago, David visited Dad 4 times with the aim of convincing him about how serious he was about me.  Each time, Dad would chase him out of the office and told him to leave.  David never gave up and was very persistent.  He told Dad, “I don’t care if you dislike me, but I want you to stand behind your daughter because she deserves the love and support of the most important man in her life.”  I will never forget that because that tenacity had since been nurtured in Joel.

When Joel had to navigate his "Gaylord Focker complex" a year ago, when he was allocated to a nursing course which was not his first choice, it was his tenacity that turned that complex to a situation where he found his aspiration.  He said, " Mum, I am going to be a Nursing Director at the hospital and when I have saved enough, I will one day open my own private nursing care business." I am so proud that David taught my son to have guts.

Dads Are Heroes

Joel and I feel very blessed to have Dad and David in our lives.  

I am at the stage of my life when I am juggling multiple commitments, managing mounting workload, leading a team and running my Tarot consultancy.   This is the time I need these men in my life most to hold my hand as I walk along this journey to find my bliss.  

Joel is at the age now where he needs a Dad most.  He is managing the intense workload at nursing school braving days of grueling training at the hospital as well as doing projects at campus. While doing so, he is at the age of discovering strong friendships and developing a relationship.  Dad carried me through the challenges of my varsity days, when I discovered boyfriends and when I had to maneuver through the challenges of a divorce and a second marriage.  So likewise, David is carrying Joel through his challenges too.

Indeed, Dad and David are our heroes.  I grew up with so much of Dad in me.  I am certain that Joel, having grown up with so much of David in him, will one day, be the best father ever too…..BUT NOT TOO SOON PLEASE, JOEL.

About the writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 43 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketeer at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 19 year old son.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the term when translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head".

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Ash Family's Culinary Adventures

Domestic Bliss

David and I had been enjoying a little semblance of domestic bliss in the past couple of weeks.  No, we were not attempting to make babies, to the relief of Joel.  We had been busy in the kitchen, exploring our inner Gordon Ramsay and Nigella Lawson. We got reacquainted with our kitchen appliances and utensils again.  Previously, we bonded only with the refrigerator when David peered into it 173 times a day to look for food.  Even the blender was no longer a tool solely used to fuel our evenings with exotic cocktails.  We have been baking breads, scones, cupcakes, cookies, whipping up jams, chutney, spreads and experimenting with different types of bruschetta toppings and canap├ęs.

That’s not all!  I have also been channeling both my favourite food writer, Nigel Slater of BBC's famed Simple Cooking program as well as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of the River Cottage series by growing my own herbs and vegetables.  I have been using them in my cooking by getting  recipe tips from Nigel on Tweeter too.  So far, I have got an array of herbs and vegetables growing by my window sill like rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, chilies, celery, bak choy and water convolvulus.  The list may be expanded soon to include oregano and chives.  Nigel made a suggestion about sprinkling lavender flowers on roasted tomatoes and cheese on toast.  I would probably need to grow a pot of lavender soon.

Anyway, I did promise some of my friends, a couple of recipes from the Ash Family’s culinary adventures, so here they are:

Spiced Pineapple Compote

·                     2 pineapples - peeled and grated (do not use a blender)
·                     1 cup water  - scented with juice of 2 oranges and a tablespoon of orange zest)
·                     cup brown sugar
·                     sticks cinnamon , 2 star anise and 4 cloves

1. After grating the pineapple, put the pineapple, water, juice, zest and spices in a pot and cook over low to medium heat until the pineapple mixture is soft.  This takes about half an hour with intermittent stirring.
2. Stir the sugar into the pineapple mixture and continue cooking till the mixture thickens over slightly higher heat for another half an hour. Once the mixture has thickened, leave to cool in pot. 
3. When sufficiently cooled, spoon the compote into sterilized jars with tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator.

Raisin Scones

·                     2 cups Self-raising flour
·                     2 tablespoons brown sugar
·                     1 teaspoon baking soda
·                     1/2 cup butter
·                     1 cup raisins
·                     1/2 cup buttermilk
·                     1 egg white beaten

1. Combine, flour, baking soda, and sugar in a bowl
2. Rub in butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs, then fold in buttermilk and raisins.
3. Knead mixture on floured surface, then shape them into circles and flatten slightly.
4. Brush the top of each scone with the egg white and then bake it in pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes.

David and I really enjoyed tottering about in our kitchen and our little herb garden like a couple of geriatrics in a wee cottage. I guessed this was another outcome of that pre-empty nester syndrome we had been experiencing with Joel spending a lot more time out with his friends.  Our housekeeper Evelyn has not quite bought into our recent spate of culinary adventures yet as she had to deal with the massive cleaning up afterwards.  I had to force her to sit and watch Heston Blumenthal on TV in the hope that she could feel thankful that we had not attempted to stuff and roast a pig on a spit right in the middle of her pristine kitchen or attempt to recreate a menu from Medieval Europe using Bailey as yet.

About the writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 43 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketeer at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 19 year old son.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the term when translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head".