Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Kitchen Hijinks And WFH

Not long after returning from my Chinese New Year break, the old fridge gave up the ghost. Every perishable inside had gone bad or was on the way there.

I've had a new fridge since then but getting back to cooking or making simple meals took a while. Even after the new fridge came in, I had waited for about 36 hours before switching it on instead of the six to eight hours for the refrigerant in the unit to settle down after transit.

Part of me feels like the fridge isn't merely a thing that keeps food fresh, but a kitchen helper. Was I trying to get acquainted with it before trying out things in the kitchen like I used to with the old fridge?

Anthropomorphising household objects might sound strange but it's how I feel about stuff I use and depend on regularly to make my life easier, especially things that have been around for a long time.

Like the old backpack I had to abandon when I found holes at the bottom. I tend to carry stuff in it - medicines, groceries and other things, and waiting for the bottom to give way while hauling stuff wouldn't do. The backpack was almost as old as the fridge, almost two decades, so having to get rid of two things that had been part of the household for so long felt poignant.

The deliverymen took care of the old fridge after bringing in the new one, while I disposed of the old backpack, my frequent travelling companion of almost twenty years. I wouldn't allow it the final indignity of going out as a trash bag, so I emptied it and laid it on the contents of a dumpster.

...No, I don't talk to the fridge or the backpack. That's silly.

At least I've started getting back to messing about in the kitchen like it was before the pandemic. With the arrival of a new powerful blender, a Phillips ProBlend 6 3D, the banana-oat-nut-and-seed smoothie made a return. This yummy meal replacement used to be a regular thing until my immersion blender blew out.

Though the new machine produces a smoother concoction, cleaning and drying it is bothersome, so I won't be using it more than once a day. I might need another immersion blender - maybe one with a food processor attachment - as the ProBlend 6 is too much of a monster for stuff like sauces, soups and pesto.

I miss the latter though, to the point where I pulled a jar of ready-made pesto off a shelf for home-made pasta. Crowds are still keeping me out of malls and store-bought is convenient. I get my bourgeois goods from a nearby corner shop, like a mini Hock Choon, though it hasn't stocked basil leaves for a long time since it first opened.

I also whipped up a prototype mun fan (Chinese braised rice) with roast pork and mixed frozen vegetables. Few things are comforting as a dish of rice drenched in the sauce from braising miscellaneous ingredients.

Some frying was involved to reduce a bit of onion to almost nothing. The post-meal clean-up was quite the chore as I had also neglected having a cooker hood installed while renovating the place. Will be quite a while before the next attempt.

Wraps have also arrived in the kitchen. Assorted fresh greens, some protein and a sauce rolled up in what is essentially a flatbread makes a satisfying meal. So simple, I wondered why I took so long to try it out. Roast pork, tuna mayo, garlic sausage, scrambled eggs, even tinned beef curry...

Ah, the possibilities. What's next? Coleslaw? Burger ingredients? A chicken rice burrito? The mind is still boggling. Unless I'm lazy or in a hurry, I won't be getting another tuna wrap from Subway.

A shame that I came to realise this a bit late. With restrictions easing all over, I expect my days of working from home to end, along with the cooking. Prepping for a home-cooked meal and cleaning up afterwards take up a fair chunk of time and switching gear back to work after that can be a pain.

Being a creature of habit, I confine certain routines to their places and hate it when things change halfway. Work is work, home is home. So when restrictions were lifted for the first MCO, going back to work felt liberating. Taking out food meant not having to prep ingredients and clean up the kitchen.

But working from home beats having to deal with the time- and soul-consuming commute to and from work, no thanks in part to the antics of Malaysian road users. Didn't miss that at all.

Nor shall I miss having to scramble for limited parking bays at work, or having my parked car blocked by trucks as they are being loaded or unloaded when I want to drive out for lunchtime takeaways.

One is often in a calmer state of mind without striving to beat the clock daily. When there's no work, chores can be done. A home always has something that needs tending to.


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