Baking + Sunday Dinners

Baking and Making Sunday Dinners for My Family

During the course of my CAS journey one of my favorite endeavors that I decided to take up was cooking. It initially started as a one off thing but has soon become a regular occurrence in my household as of late and one that has not only been beneficial to me but my family as well. At home we like to switch things up whenever possible, order in different cuisines, try out new recipes etc. and lately as college has been drawing nearer and nearer my parents have reminded me how useful a skill knowing how to make your own food can be as you grow up. In addition to this I find cooking extremely therapeutic, it allows me to concentrate on whichever action I am doing and I momentarily let go of all of the stressful things in life. Another advantage of making meals on the occasion is that I get to give my mom a well deserved rest where she doesn’t have to cook and clean for the night while I simultaneously get to learn a lot about the cultures which my recipes come from.

^ Strawberry cheesecake & Chocolate chip cookies!

Over the past term I have backed everything from chocolate chip cookies to cheesecake while I’ve made dishes from all around the world. The key component of making everything is a lot of care, patience and practice as sometimes, doing things as simple as frying chicken can be extremely painstaking and time consuming but the end result is almost always more worth it if you put the effort in. The next mantra for the kitchen I would use is that not everything is going to work out, some recipes might do amazing but others maybe not so much. For example, this weekend I made chocolate chip cookies, now these were somewhat of a cheat meal because it was a pre-mixed pack and when I tasted the batter it didn’t taste too out of the ordinary but the moment you bit into it after it was baked it felt sweet enough to give you diabetes, which upon reflection wasn’t all too nice especially since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Another thing I’ve learned to deal with is that ingredients aren’t always readily available, especially during this pandemic since most of what we order is done online so I need to substitute quite a few ingredients whenever possible. Here are a few of my absolute favorite meals that I made over the past 3 weeks.

KBQ, also known as Korean Barbecue Chicken is a Korean dish which consists of crispy buttermilk battered chicken doused in spicy gochujang sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. KBQ is something that my brother and I always wanted to order in but since the store closed during lockdown we decided that we’d make it ourselves. The cook time was actually quite long because you had to wait for the chicken to marinate and then fry them till they’re cooked but the end result was very worth the wait.

Chili Con Carne on the other hand, is a Mexican dish which loosely translates to chili with meat, the dish consists of a delicious seasoned stew which is usually accompanied on a bed of rice with cheese on top, this dish was fairly easy to make and honestly delectable even though this was the first time I had tried it. The second part of this dish is the Hot Butter Cuttlefish which is one of my all time favorite side dishes which to my surprise is actually a part of Sri Lankan Chinese fusion cuisine! Unfortunately this time around there wasn’t any flour at home to make the crispy batter with, but it was just as delicious without.

The third dish that I found was a great success was my mom’s take on a Cajun/ Creole dish called Jambalaya which is basically a rice dish with vegetables and meat combined with rice. My mom’s recipe of the dish doesn’t necessarily follow the original ingredient list but uses an amazing combination of ham and rice with minimal vegetables instead! Jambalaya also contains influences from regions like Spain, Africa and France and so it can be said that many regions have their own take on the dish with different meat and vegetable variations but that’s what makes this dish so diverse in the first place.

I would highly recommend trying these out at home!!

 

Creativity Post

A little bit of everything 

Over the past few months, I have done a culmination of far too many things creatively to rant on about on my CAS blog without boring my readers, however I will give you a few small snapshots into the greater things I accomplished this semester. Admittedly, initially, I always thought of CAS as something which highlights a monumental non-academic achievements which you have participated in, but over the past few terms I have gradually learned that that is indeed not the case. CAS is about how you incorporate these 3 elements into daily life and how you benefit from it and how others benefit from you taking part in them, so this time around, instead of focusing on one major event aside from those already described in my CAS blog, I chose to take a step back and admire the bigger picture, by looking at the ways in which I employ creativity in my day to day life. Creativity has become of the essence to me as of late because I have just gone through another tumultuous turn of events where we went from online school, to in person school, to online school and lockdown… yet again. It’s almost like we come full circle each year!

Needless to say I have been taking part in activities that both consciously and subconsciously employ my creative side ranging from creating posters and posts for various social media sites for my service groups, to mindfully taking part in meditation sessions to coloring and photography and last but not least… music. This term I have come to have a more focused approach on myself in terms of self care and learning to derail a bit from the often draining academic train that is the IB outside of the classroom.

I have done everything from helping my mom rearrange the living room, to creating and organizing aesthetic Pinterest boards of things I hope to accomplish, to serenading my dogs with Jason Mraz accompanied by my guitar (this is a secret), to dedicating time into making playlists with over 200 songs each to match each mood I’m feeling to name a few. I have also actively spent more time on perfecting photography and editing as well as just spent a laidback day doing therapeutic coloring with my friend and just sat down to do guided meditation for 15 minutes each day. None of these activities may seem extremely glorious, but as someone who is constantly on the move and a bit of a workaholic at times, I am proud of the fact that I have gotten myself into the consistent rhythm of taking at least an hour away each day to unwind, which earlier, I found shockingly difficult to bring myself to    do.

This time around the activities I have done in terms of creativity are intended not to please others but to to satisfy myself, a much needed serotonin boost of sorts as I feel like I strive too often to make others happy to the extent where I don’t tend to my own needs and just end up stressed and frustrated instead. Usually my outlet for releasing stress is being on a pitch kicking a soccer ball around, but with lockdown weighing heavily on Sri Lanka again, I have had to find more creative ways of stress relieving, keeping my mental wellbeing at the forefront of my mind.

Accomplishment wise, mine may not be a great deal astonishing, but I do have to acknowledge the fact that this is somewhat of a major personal milestone and that by putting myself first at times, I have become more attentive to my interactions with others! For example, my Spotify is now a carefully curated list of playlists ranging from classical, to rap, French music to improve my listening and speaking skills to numerous others that capture my emotions. It has also given me the ability to get to know a few of my classmates better due to similarities in music taste and it have given me a great amount of joy to be able to share something that I consider personal to myself with others. I have also dedicated a fair share of time to spend with my friends, for example the other week my friend Shreya and I decided to do online coloring for about 30 minutes which was a great way for us to catch up given that we hadn’t seen each other in person for a while and in the way that we were able to work as a team to carefully complete each piece!

< A piece I created with Shreya during Lockdown

Moreover, something else that I have taken up as a new endeavor is meditation. Initially I must admit I was a bit skeptical but one night I was so overwhelmed by my work that I thought the only way to calm myself down might be to try meditation so I spent about 30 minutes of my night the first time listening to Deepak Chopra’s ‘Fear’ to calm myself down, and what did I know, it worked! From then on I spend 15 minutes each night listening to a podcast of sorts and attempt to focus on nothing else but my breathing and the words of the narrator in that time and it has been proven massively relieving each time.

That aside something else that I have been spending significant time on is photography, personally, I tend to take a camera or in the least my phone with me wherever I go, so in that way I can capture an image at a moment’s notice. I was truly able to exercise my aptitude for photography when I was in Hanthana,  the views were spectacular and I had just discovered some presets on Polarr which I immediately had to use. In a way, I was aiming for a more abstract image of things simple due to the composition of the landscapes and I wanted to make something different. Needless to say, I am really happy with the way in which they came out and can’t wait for another opportunity take more photos like that again! Similarly, I have also been paying attention to my video edits.  I must admit though that with the end of my DP1 experience nearing, I have been finding less and less time and motivation to edit, which does make sense because at this stage I do need to be prioritizing my school work.

In my off time however, I have spent a small amount of time working with new apps like Cap Cut to try out new filters and transitions. For example, my most recent exploration is creating videos with photographs that turn 3D when a certain effect is applied, I am constantly blown away by the developments in technology and I was fascinated with the outcomes. Although my editing account has reached somewhat of a hiatus for the time being, I have every intention of starting it back up full force when summer vacation starts so I’m really looking forward to that!

Last but certainly not least is my newest update on my adventures in the kitchen. When comparing  my cooking  from when I started this  blog to the work that I am capable of doing now, even the blind can see the extent to I have improved by in only a matter of months. My cooking has grown from me only being able to make instant ramen and a fried egg to being capable of  making a full meal! Sure, I do occasionally have my missteps (often because I have an irrational tendency to improvise), but also because trial is the only way towards perfecting newer recipes. My parents have so much faith in my cooking now that I was even given permission to bake a batch of cupcakes completely unsupervised if would you believe it!  (They came out tasting amazing for the record, although I grossly misjudged the ingredients and ended up with a 22 instead of the mere 6 I needed 💀) Regardless, my cooking skills have witnessed a major growth curve of the past year and I think I might just be on the right track to being able to feed myself during university!

Here is of my favorite dishes I made this month, spaghetti and shrimp with white sauce  :))

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1M_LQLw_nO6M4XHf6utER4LzEBjqL-264/view?usp=sharing

^ a link to my 3D video edit

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