Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Year of Meat Book Review

Ruth Ozeki (1998) My Year of Meat. NY: Viking. (Kindle version: 2013, Cannongate Book) 

Once started reading, I could not stop... Even on the gruesome part about slaughter house and hormones in beef industry. As a newly convert vegan, the part about cows in cages and their last walk to their death is very upsetting.

The book is an eye-opening, but also a reflection on media industry. As an ex-documentarian, I relate very closely to this book. As a mixed ethnic and multicultural woman, I feel even closer to Jane - and to Ruth Ozeki, the author of this stunning book.

The part about Akiko is disturbing, especially because I know the mindset of abusive husbands backed by paternalistic society that institusionalised the stereotype of the submisive wive. Akiko's experience of abuse almost made me puke.

One touching story is how stories told from the heart, by everyone in a small conmunity, woke a girl from her coma. 

Two thumbs up for Ruth Ozeki...! I read her books backward from the latest to this first one. Does not matter, all are enlightening! Can't wait for Ruth's 4th book...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Birthday Party and International Women's Day 2014

I went to a birthday party today. The little girl is turning two, her mum is my good friend. I thought shopping for a birthday present was going to be fun. I was wrong.

I went to three shops for the right present. I did not know how difficult it would be to find good quality educational toys and books for a girl. Years ago when my son was a toddler, there seemed to plenty of books and toys that would stimulate his young curious mind. From dinosaurs to space shuttle, from police cars and trains to aeroplanes and ships.That was in late 1990s.

I don't know why book publishers today have to write "for boys" and "for girls" on the cover?! I absolutely hate this! I hate the fact that producers and publishers dictate us consumer. I would buy books for boys if it were for my own daughter, but as this is a birthday present for my friend's daughter, I could not risk it. 
Another thing that made me angry is that books for boys have all the exciting titles like "I dream to be a fireman", "When I grow up I'm going to be an astronaut". Books for girls? "I dream to be a fairy", "Handbook for little princess", "Disney Princess dressing up activity book"...

For goodness sake, this is 21st century and they expect girls to have unreal occupations like fairies and princesses while boys fly aeroplanes and wear all the cool gears?! At least my grandmother's occupation as a housewife in 1940s was a real occupation! Be a fairy?! I am sure what the industry meant to say was, "Dress like a fairy (and buy our range of fairy dress and accessories)."

I ended up buying her a set of building blocks and a book about fireman - I was tempted to write "firewoman" with permanent ink but I did not. Though hoping that her parents would read her my card, I did write this, "Happy birthday my darling.  I wish you will reach your stars. Dream high. Be a fighter pilot, be an astronaut, be anything you can dream of. And don't you sit around just waiting for a prince to come, that is yucky yealks!" 


I am glad the little girl lives her building blocks. During the chaos of the party - including the time when a little boy decided to pour washing up liquid into the fish pond causing lots of adult got wet in operation saving nemo - the little birthday girl happily built her own tower.

Happy International Women's Day!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Toge Goreng

Bologna, Italy, has spaghetti bolognese; Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, has "toge goreng" �� Literal translation is "fried bean sprouts". The name does not do justice to the dish.

Toge goreng is fine street cuisine for people from West Java. No other part of Indonesia has the main ingredient which is "oncom".  Oncom is the by-product of tofu. Soy bean tailings (left over) from tofu production is fermented using Rhizopus oligosporus or Neurospora intermedia var. oncomensis. According to Wikipedia, oncom is the only human food produced from Neurospora.

Unlike spaghetti bolognese, toge goreng is 100% vegan. It is the food I missed the most from Indonesia. What a miracle that my friend found a food boutique that sells oncom. Hmmmm.....����

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

chocolate dates ball

Inspired by "nakd" chocolate date bar and raw vegan cake by an instagramer @fully_vegan (

I made these as little balls like chocolate rum balls that I used to like, except these are coated with desicated coconut instead of milk chocolate sprinkle. Healthier, happier! 

1 cup chopped dates
1 cup raw cashew
1/2 cup raw chocolate
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup ground almond
2 tbs agave nectar/golden syrup
Desicated coconut for dusting

1. Soak the dates and cashew for a few hours.

2. Put all ingredients together in a food processor except desicated coconut. (As I don't have food processor, I used hand blender on the soften dates and cashew first, then mixed the rest of the ingredients).
3. Add ground almond is too wet. 
Make little balls (or big balls, which ever you fancy)

4. Coat with desicated coconut. 

5. Freeze for a couple of hours. 

Ready for some nice but naughty nibble!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Indonesian Vegetarian

I went to Indonesian Christmas party today, catching up with old friends, sharing stories, and at the centre of this gathering: sharing food!

The little problem that I faced was that I have recently decided to become vegan and gave up all animal products. There is no cencept of vegetarianism not to mention veganism in Indonesian - and most South East Asia - culture. When I lived in Indonesia, being vegetarian means not eating meat. I, like most Indonesians, never fussed about how the food was cooked. If there is a bit if meat in the stew, just took them out and eat the vegetables. Being fussy means troubling others and we Indonesian don't like to trouble others.

So today, seeing old friends and a table full of authentic Indonesian food (and after hours of writing essay I was hungry...!) I decided to forget veganism and be Indonesian. Gosh what a wonderful taste authentic Indonesian foods are! ���� My best friend Heni made "soto mie", noodle soup with sliced springrolls, vegetable and all sorts of cow's inside. 

As an Indonesian vegetarian, this is what I did: I 'donated' all the meat and parts of dead cow on my plate to whoever next to me. I never met the girl next to me, she is one of the new Indonesian student in Manchester. But it does not matter, she was very very happy and grateful for the extra meat...! 

This reminds me of my mutual symbiotic relationship with a carnivore friend called Patrick. He hates vegetable and I don't eat meat. During our days of working on the streets of Jakarta, we always sat next to each other for lunch. Whether street vendor's  "nasi bungkus" or posh meals during seminars in five star hotels, if the meal was prepacked, we just swap meat and vegetable. Win-win!

So even though I'm keeping my vegan lifestyle as consistent as possible, I am still in my heart, an authentic Indonesian. And the Indonesian way of being vegetarian is not to make a fuss and to make the person next to you happy ����

Merry Christmas!

Ps. This is Heni's daughter Chinta (Indonesian word for Love). I vote her chocolate-smeared face as the definition of happines.