Sunday, 15 January 2017

Pumpkin Spice + Apple Sticky Balls

It's probably a little too late in the season for this, but I have a sudden hankering for pumpkin spice and apples lately. Since it's rainy season out here and winter in the northern hemisphere at the moment, I think it's perfect to create a warm dish out of those ingredients. Being a girl who doesn't really like fuss, I thought of making something quite simple and fuss-free, with ingredients that are mostly easily attainable locally. So I thought why not put a twist on a traditional local dish? The initial recipe for this dish is from Bubur Candil, a warm traditional Javanese dessert. The twist here is to give the balls apple sauce filling and pumpkin spice in the porridge. Fancy a try at this recipe?

For the filling
  • 4 medium-sized apples (456 gr)
  • 8 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cm cinnamon
  1. Cut up the apples into 4 pieces each and grate them
  2. Transfer the grated apples (and all its liquid) into a frying pan and heat it up on a stove
  3. Add in the cinnamon and cloves
  4. When all the water has evaporated from the mixture, add in the sugar and mix well
  5. Leave it to simmer while stirring occasionally, until the mixture stiffens into a paste
  6. Let it cool while you prepare the balls
For the balls and porridge
  • 100 gr glutinous rice flour
  • 200 ml water
  • 1 pandan leaf, knotted
  • 150 gr palm sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice powder (for the porridge)
  • 50 gr glutinous rice flour (for the porridge)
  • 50 ml water (for the porridge)
  • salt, to taste
  • coconut milk, to taste
  1. Fill half of a sauce pan with water and palm sugar, add in the pandan leaf and heat it up on maximum heat
  2. In a bowl pour in the rice flour and add the water little by little
  3. Fold and knead the rice flour while keep adding the water until the dough is rubbery and not sticking to the bowl
  4. Take a pinch of the dough, spread it out wide on your palm and add the 1/2 tea spoon of filling in the middle of the dough
  5. Enclose the filling by folding the dough and roll the mixture up into a ball
  6. When the palm sugar has melted and dissolved into the water, put the balls into the sauce pan
  7. Once the balls have floated on the surface, it is ready to be transferred into a separate bowl filled with water
  8. In a separate container, mix the glutinous rice flour and water for the porridge until the flour dissolve
  9. Add that to the palm sugar mixture along with the pumpkin spice, mix well
  10. You may add the salt to compliment the taste of the sugar
  11. Once the mixture has mixed well, return the balls back into the sauce pan
  12. Bring the mixture to a boil then remove from heat
  13. Serve with diluted coconut milk and enjoy!
Tips: As there are various types and sizes of apples, I put in the weight of the apples that I used. The type that I used was Apel Malang, which is a local selection—you can see how it looks like in the photo above. You can also simply blend the apples but they will lose their texture. Alternatively, you can use store-bought apple jam or sauce. The recipe for the filling here is way too much for the recipe of the balls, so if you want to use it again, keep it refrigerated. For the balls, please be very careful when adding the water to the flour, lest the mixture should get too moist and liquidated. I'm not sure if "pumpkin spice powder" is even a thing, but here I used "spekoek seasonings," which consists of pretty much the same thing. Otherwise, just add 1/4 tea spoon of grated cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.  Lass es euch schmecken!

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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Whatever Happened to Sincerity

Feels like it's been forever since the last time I wrote a post on my current musings and thoughts. But this is something I've been observing and experiencing for a while now, so I thought it was due time that I talk about it. If you're part of the online community—which your presence here says you probably are—this might be something you've stumbled upon now and then. I mean, have you ever received a one-syllabic, vaguely positive comment on your social media? Maybe a like or a follower, who never makes a second appearance? Or have you perhaps even been guilty of both these accounts yourself? Now, is that what you want to accomplish on social media: superficial connections—if any—and generically "positive" comments?

The way I understand it is that there is a social movement that ripples throughout the online community that stems as a response to cyber bullying. Being called names and even threatened on the internet, netizens started to encourage each other to love themselves in order to raise self-esteem as well as consideration of other people's feelings among the online community. Terms like "self-love," "body positive" and "haters gonna hate" are being thrown around more casually throughout social media. Such movements try to paint the picture of a whole person with hearts behind the handle names and digitally filtered/edited contents of their pages. In effect, people are starting to become more supportive of one another on the internet. People who, in real life, might actually be treated cruelly, are constantly finding empowerment through their followers and online friends.

However, although I don't support cyber bullying, all this "niceness" creates a side effect of its own. In the hopes of spreading "kindness," people start to say and do only "nice" things to one another, throwing sincerity out the window. Okay, maybe not all of them insincere, but as Dale Carnegie once said, "(Appreciation) comes from the heart out; (Flattery) comes from the teeth out." And it is fairly easy to distinguish between the two. "Niceness" and "Kindness" have been used interchangeably for so long, that people forget the distinction between them. Niceness is rooted in the aim to please, while kindness is rooted in love—sometimes being kind doesn't look nice at all. This quote really puts my point across: "Niceness is fine and dandy, but kindness is what would make the world a better place." It is unkind to praise someone for his/her looks one too many times. It is unkind to give support for someone's bad behaviour. It may be kind to remind someone had he/she made a mistake. It may be kind to remind others that there are far more important things in this world besides oneself.

In the blogging community, I've read one too many tips on how to get ahead in the business, consisting of commenting/liking on other people's posts—irrelevant on how you probably really feel about them, create contents that will relate to others—despite the fact that you may not relate to them at all—and promote yourself almost incessantly. Rarely do I see tips that say something about being sincere of what you write and do—on the blog and otherwise. And, after a while, it does get old. Devinne of Mox and Socks once admitted that without sincerity, all this self-promotion thing just wear her out. To be honest, I can see how sincere she is now and how much easier it feels to talk about things with her. Personally, I, too, find it easier to connect with people who really like what I post—and, hopefully, my personality—than with people who come to my page once in a blue moon to leave comments like: "Nice!" "Great!" "Cool feed!"

Not going to lie, I have gotten into trouble before because I was being honest. From my point-of-view, I didn't think I was being brutally honest or incredibly cruel, but I did try—and fail—to introduce a new perspective to the person in question. The topic was "body positivity"—which I might talk about in greater detail on a later date—and he/she was offended by what I said. In my comment, I did mention that, although what I said could be thought of as bad, I think we should stop thinking of it as a bad thing. But he/she—along with his/her relative—refused to acknowledge the perspective I presented. The matter was never really settled and I did apologise profusely, but I suppose something other than "niceness" wouldn't do.

The case like the one I experienced above has also happened to many people on the internet. People are getting so easily offended nowadays, that we are too afraid to voice controversial thoughts—especially online. It is also the reason why it's taking me this long to write this post. I can already imagine being hated by some—if not all—of you guys. But isn't diversity—not just in race, but in ideas—what makes the world so beautiful? Without different perspectives and mindsets, where would science even stand now? Would innovation even be a possibility? Again, I must stress that I do not support cyber bullying, but I do believe it's high time we acknowledge the difference between "niceness" and "kindness." It's worth bearing in mind, that sometimes being nice isn't kind at all.

As always, if you've read this, you're my hero and THANK YOU!

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