Archive for ‘March, 2013’

The other day I had a Peking duck dinner with friends in a small and authentic restaurant in an old hutong (just a normal night in Beijing) in a part of the city where I hadn’t been before. After dinner the others went to a bar (a karaoke place called Uranus), but since I’m boring studying really hard for a big test, I decided to go home and avoid the alcohol and have an early night sleep.

Peking Duck
Ducks waiting in line to go into the wood fired oven (on the left) and ducks being roasted (on the right).

While walking to the subway I recognized some of the buildings around me and suddenly realized that Tiananmen and the Forbidden City were around the corner. My resolution of going home early suddenly dissapeard and I decided to have an evening walk. I walked around (it’s closed at night) one of the largest squares in the world and passed the entrance of the Forbidden City. Even at night people were taking pictures of themselves in front of Mao Zedong’s big portrait.

MaoPortrait

The entrance of the Forbidden City, with Mao Zedong’s famous portrait.

Normally these places are crowded with people and this makes it, for me at least, hard to really grasp the meaning and importance of their history. But walking there late at night, when it was – relatively of course, it’s still Beijing – quiet and not crowded, it was so special to be there. It reminded me why I got so fascinated by this country and why I – not knowing anything about the country, the language or the culture – decided when I was 15 that I wanted to study Chinese in university. This little walk made me fall in love with Beijing again.

Pictures are taken with my crappy iPhone, I’m sorry for the poor quality.

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I’ve been overthinking everything lately: everything that happens, every decision I make and every conversation I have. Not only do I do this about things that are happening right now, but also about everything from the last couple of years and all the things that are yet to come. I’m aware that most of this is a big waste of time, I can’t change the past and don’t know what will happen in the future, but I just can’t help pondering about things from studies to boys and from in which city or country I want to live in to getting a grown-up people’s job.

Probably no one other than me has a clue what I’m talking about; so let’s just talk about cookies, cause I don’t have any doubts about these. And I have the entire Internet to back me up: these New York Times chocolate chip cookies are famous, and not just for any reason. These humongous cookies are crispy on the outside, gooey (if warm) and soft on the inside and eating one, or two, of these makes life a lot less complicated.

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SodaBread1

This bread is the reason why most bread is made with yeast. It is possibly the easiest, effortless and least time-consuming bread to make, but texture wise it loses big time from all the other decent store bought/homemade breads. I’m not saying this bread is no good, but it’s just not as good as this easy bread or any other decent store bought/homemade one. It did work pretty well with this chickpea stew and also topped with filet Americain and fried egg as shown on the picture below.

SodaBread2

Two years ago a housemate, my friend and me had been to a bar and when we got home we were slightly tipsy and incredibly hungry. Cause we were having the munchies, my housemate decided he would make us this sandwich. We stayed in our kitchen till the early morning chatting and eating until we were out of both food and energy.

SodaBread3

I know these toppings don’t get everyone excited, but this bread also tastes good with a big slab of salted butter – but what wouldn’t taste good with that?

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Lucas
Picture was taken on a boattrip in Hong Kong, summer 2010

Life is unfair: sometimes bad things happen to people without a reason. There is nothing you can do about it, except for changing your own attitude. Life can be extremely hard and difficult, but in the end you’re the only one who can change the situation you’re in.

I’ve been wanting to tell you about my friend Lucas and his new blog for a little while now. Lucas is the most energetic and lively person I’ve ever met. I know him as a person who embraces the life that was given to him, meeting as many new people and travelling as much as he could. He is devoted to sports, physical health and helping others in any possible way.

He was playing basketball in December 2011 when he got into an unlucky accident. Because of this he severely injured his spinal cord and was unable to move. Just like that.

Since then he has been working incredibly hard to get better and to be able to move again. With amazing willpower and determination he has gotten himself so far that he is able to walk again. I can’t imagine the pain he must’ve had, and still has, to endure. I truly admire his attitude towards life. From one day to another he was unable to move and had to focus fulltime on recovering, and still he looks at life as if the glass is half full.

So nowadays when the going gets tough, I like to think of Lucas. He inspires me to stop complaining, work harder every day and look at the positive things in life.

Since a couple of weeks he has been blogging about his recovery over here, posting (almost) daily. Check it out, his story is truly inspiring.

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Last Monday I had dinner with a friend in one of the canteens on campus. It was freezing cold, outside and inside, and while we were having dinner we could see the steam from our breaths coming from our mouths. I don’t know how much longer I could’ve kept it up with the numbing cold and the depressing, smoggy skies, but luckily not even one week later spring has unofficially began. I’m talking about blue skies, sunshine and walking outside without a coat.

Chickpea2

So here it is, the last winter dish of the season. After having had to endure my fiercest winter so far for the last 4 months – since the first snow fell in the first week of November it has been one long depressing period. So I’m in full right to gloat about the lovely weather I’m experiencing right now, even though you might still have to wear a thick coat when you go outside.

Chickea1

If you are in that position, I do not envy you. Hang in there for a couple more weeks and spring will make you smile again as well (unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere). And until then you can make this warming and soothing chickpea stew. Not only is the stew on its own the perfect dish for a crappy weather day, but you can pair it with crusty bread (coming soon) and dip this is in garlicy yoghurt.

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