Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Happy 40th and a lot of cooking

I seriously don't know where the time goes. Facebook tells me I've reached 50,000 likes, Blogger says this blog has almost 240,000 views, and people all over the world say hi and treat me like their friend (even those I've never met in person.) Social media is a strange beast with long arms and a warm embrace.

The Feast of Sacrifice is over - the goats and cows have been slaughtered and barbecued in every neighborhood to commemorate Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. "You have to kill a male to ensure that you have male heirs," someone tells us. All kinds of local traditions become attached to religious rituals.

The parties last through the weekend. We avoid town: traffic is stop-and-go on everywhere. Thursday night, the readings and prayers resound through the wee hours. Josie's mom has cooked up a feast and sent it up the hill - we're not going hungry, that's for sure.

Thankfully, I'm not sore today after our walk yesterday. (yay! Last week was brutal.) But we stay in. With many family members and strangers in Bandung from out of town, foreigners are wise to stay away unless specially invited to the celebrations. Our regular meetings are canceled.

In the afternoon, I finish sewing a dozen slipcovers for our dining chairs.The piping around the seat and the back is disintegrating. (It must be the wrong kind of foam for this climate, we think). The chairs need to last a long time.

I cut rectangles and squares from the last of three enormous painters' canvas dropcloths we purchased a few years ago at a USA building supply store. It's a math puzzle to fit all 36 pieces onto the fabric. The simpler and more fitted the results, the more planning it takes.

Ibu A loves the IKEA pinking shears, which cut zigzag edges rather than straight. She's never seen such a thing.

"You could just cut trousers off and not have to hem them!" she says. Maybe I'll buy her a pair for Christmas.

Each chair has three pieces: one long rectangle drapes up from the floor, over the seat, then up over the back before it drops to the floor; two little side squares join for a minimalistic cover. I have a few small strips of fabric left over, but that's it.

To my trusty ancient Bernina: "SEW!" and it does. I customize each cover to fit the chairs. (I'm a careless cutter and rarely use pins.) Hems are done, then I dress the chairs - and ... whew, another project is completed. The covers look and drape like linen. (But it cost us $35 for all 12 = my kind of "linen.") I don't bother ironing them: in this humidity, with so many "bums in seats," as my friend Susan elegantly puts it, the creases will iron themselves out in no time.

Here's the plan.
I'm hosting the first cooking class (by request of our movie night attendees), starting at 9:30am. In the middle of the night, I pull out a scrap of paper and jot down the cooking/preparation schedule. I need the flow clearly in my mind: some dishes take 2 hours; others a half-hour, and still others need mere minutes.

We'll be cooking a German meal together. Last night, I premixed the vinaigrette salad dressing, boiled potatoes, and made hard-boiled eggs. This morning at 8:30, I set an enormous pot of water to boiling, cover it, and turn off the heat. We'll need that for noodles in a few hours.

Ibu A comes at 8: she knows we're cooking with guests, but she's not sure what's going to happen. As a first-rate cook, I can trust her to help wherever needed. Sure enough: she is my extra hands when the apprentices need them.

First, 9 guests gather around the dining table as I explain that Germans like their food hot - and that we expect the whole thing to arrive at the table at same time, not one dish at a time, Indonesian style. The physics of preparation takes time to learn, but are they willing to pitch in, whether male or female, to chop, slice, peel, wash (and wash their hands over and over), cook, and set the table?
This Persian knows what he's doing.
So does this Indonesian.
"You're all in?" Everyone nods. Cool - let's get to it!

Everyone pitches in. They peel potatoes, strip off eggshells, cut onions (oh the tears), and chop red cabbage. There's no "I don't do that kind of thing," or reluctance to wash dishes, fry the meat, or stir the cabbage. Our kitchen is pork-free, of course. There's no bacon in this red cabbage.

They pound chicken breasts into thin cutlets and sprinkle them with salt and pepper before dipping into flour, beaten eggs, and finally breadcrumbs. In the back kitchen, the young men flip one piece of chicken after another in hot oil, draining them on Japanese oil-paper.
First dip, then fry

W buzzes around with his camera as everyone laughs and talks. The strongest arms push the homemade noodles (Spätzle) through a specialty press into boiling water. (The press was a gift from my  best auntie 20 years ago, when the press was already well-used.)

The last step is tearing leafy greens into a beautiful salad and dousing it with vinaigrette. We give the canaries on the porch the bruised leaves, which makes them sing with contentment. I sneak a few packages of Maggi chicken gravy powder into a small pot, stir it with water, and put that on the table, too. You can't have meat and noodles without gravy, can you?

Then we sit down to eat. Oh yum. They have done VERY well! I'm so impressed with their teamwork and focus. One fellow doesn't like the chewy Spätzle texture, but everyone likes the Rotkohl (vinegared sweet red cabbage with apples), Hühner-schnitzel (chicken cutlets), and salad.

We talk about the cooperation needed to prepare this meal and the loving generosity of God, expressed to us all. We've come from Indonesia, Japan, Iran, China, USA, and Canada. We share love and laughter around the table, eating what we've cooked for each other. They leave after 1:00, sated - and as happy as W and I are to have had them here.
The only one missing is our hard-working photographer
Ibu A cleans with me, takes a sack of leftovers home, and the house is put to rights by late afternoon. Our old Roomba (dragged along in a suitcase on our last trip) chugs around the floors, picking up lint, grit, and a few crumbs.

It's our Ruby (40th) anniversary today. I have no rubies but I wear much of the jewelry W has given me over the years: my wedding set, a diamond necklace, and the birthstone ring he bought me for my 60th birthday. W wears his batik shirt. I wear an embroidered white blouse that my best auntie bought in China in the 80s (recut to fit last week) and white trousers that surprisingly still fit, though my body is morphing into the straight lines of age. White is my treat to myself at this time of life: I could wear nothing white the first 30 years of marriage - dogs and kids saw to it that.

The church has a potluck after service. Which means more cooking! W starts the water boiling at 6am. I slowly pull myself out of bed at 6:45 to start cooking two 2-kg bags of spaghetti noodles, one bag at a time. It takes a long time for water to boil (45 minutes today) and then it has to reheat before the second bunch is inserted. W groans as he hefts the enormous pot of olive-oil-saturated noodles with hot spaghetti sauce to the church a few blocks away.

I have my usual conference call at 7, after a short neighborhood walk with W. Groan. I'm tired.

Dr. H is MIA at our team meeting: celebrating her grandson's birthday
At 9:30, we host a study on the teras with 10 people. Then I heat up the "German" Saturday leftovers for our team lunch - there's still so much! and we finish our meeting at 2:00.

W and I zealously guard our date night: today we're going up into volcano country, winding through cities and towns for almost an hour, to a hot spring. The rain splatters the windshield, but we're determined to get away on our anniversary "trip." Ok, for 4 hours of relaxation, but still ...

Hey, this hot spring pool is quite well maintained! (Some are not.)

"Can you believe we live close to this?" we ask each other. What a wonderful treat after a busy weekend.

As teenagers, we lived about the same distance from Harrison Hot Springs as this is from our house here. Many winter Mondays, the youth group from the church would drive to the pools and swim together. Sitting in the warm water, W and I share fond memories.

Up and out by 6am, we pick up the driver down the hill in his neighborhood. He rushes over with a little bag of food, saying, Maaf, ya, maaf. Saya membeli makanan. ("Sorry about that? I was just buying breakfast.")

The minivans of public transportation double as school buses
We're on our way to Jakarta for the day. We get into town at 10, have a series of meetings, and just before heading home, drop into IKEA (the one and only in Indonesia). It's sold out of many items: shipping must be difficult for them as it is for other stores. The wear and tear on the new buildng is showing. The "As Is" section, which is our main reason for coming, is closed, too.

We grab a halal IKEA hot dog and ice cream and head out of town. We're home by 8:00 after dropping the driver back in his neighborhood on the way up the hill. He's a godsend: negotiating Jakarta traffic and the weaving of cars on the freeway is a job for specialists.

W heads out for a meeting while Ibu Ingrid and I sit on the porch. There's no helper (a family wedding, apparently) but the rest of the usual attendees are busy elsewhere. I make a pot of tea, put out baking, and we chat and do the study.

Afterwards, I have to go grocery shopping. It's not that the fridge is empty; it's full of odds and ends, but there's nothing to cook for tomorrow. And we have another cooking class planned (a repeat for other attendees) for the coming Saturday.

I finish grading the papers from Singapore students and get them ready to send off. W goes through a doctoral paper for one of his advisees; it's always a relief to have the grading done.

Read more: (ESV unless noted)
*O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1
*Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:1-2
*Paul wrote: For us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him. 1 Corinthians 8:6 NKJV
*Paul also wrote: God highly exalted Christ Jesus and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Philippians 2:9-10
Moravian Prayer: Lord, you have given us so much, and have shown our ancestors the goodness of the earth; continue to show us the way to love one another and to live in peace. We are grateful for the beauty of our earth and your teachings. Let us always rejoice and praise you. Amen.

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