Books, Life Lately, Quarantine Diaries, The Chubby Girl's Kitchen
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Quarantine Diaries 2: Attempting to live in the “new normal”.

In which I attempt to make cottage pie that isn’t even a real cottage pie, and an apple tart.

Hola amigos and amigas! I’m back.

Looks like our cherished dream of going back to normal isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

We’re still cooped up inside our homes, trying not to get crazy, trying not to get sick. But hey! We all make our own good times. Yes, cooking now counts as a “good time”.

Why not? Who doesn’t like to eat healthy, nutritious tasty food that’s not processed food? Yeah, that’s my family! For the past few weeks, we’ve been donning our imaginary chef’s toque, whipping up dishes we’ve never eaten in a long, long time, or yes, for the first time, even. But more on that, later.

What else have I been up to apart from honing my culinary skills? Still doing coursework. While I am happy to comply with the requirements, it’s either that or to drop and re-enrol the course the next semester. Thanks, but no thanks. As much as I love my current university, I am of the opinion that the Board of Regents thinks that we can put “excellence” on our tables as our bite and sup. Sadly, it’s not even edible. But don’t worry, all work and no play maketh Jill a dull girl, so I also take the time to have other non-academic pursuits.

Read:

Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy–This, to be truthful, is actually a re-read. My sister lent this book to me when I was in college. Maeve Binchy has a gift, and that’s the ability to take you on an incredible journey with her books. Circle of Friends takes places in 1950-60s Ireland, with a diverse cast of characters: sweet, kind, curvy Bernadette aka. Benny Hogan; her loyal best friend Eve Malone; Aidan, Eve’s boyfriend; Jack, Benny’s philandering fella; the pretty, grasping Nan Mahon; and Simon and Heather Westward, Eve’s English cousins.

Eve and Benny go to university in Dublin and expand their social circle, meeting students Nan, Jack, Aidan, et. al. All of them get caught up in secrets, and loyalties are tested. Reading Maeve Binchy’s novels are always a joy to me–being someone who gets easily triggered by (toxic) plot twists, I tend to get selective about reading novels. This definitely isn’t the case with her novels. Another thing I like about Binchy’s books is that the endings are always unpredictable. Sometimes the protagonists win. Sometimes it’s open-ended. Sometimes the protagonists get a different ending from what they expected or wanted, but hey, there’s a silver lining in every grey cloud.

Watched: Anne with an E. I could sing praises to this TV series all day long–and wait, I actually did! Growing up, I read Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. And while the series took a bit of getting used to initially, I fell in love with it. It’s definitely worth a try watching it on Netflix!

(L-R): Kyla Matthews as Ruby Gillis, Amybeth McNulty as Anne Shirley Cuthbert, Miranda McKeown as Josie Pye, and Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert Blythe. Image credit here.

Subscribed: I have a confession. I like vintage things. I haven’t given up on my dream of having the courage to pull off a vintage-inspired outfit one day. I’m building my wardrobe bit by bit and getting inspiration from the television, and even YouTube. These girls are my go-to girls where vintage style is concerned:

Rachel Maksy: For a slightly more wash-and-wear, or ready to go vintage style, Rachel is my inspiration. Her videos have actually taught me to change up my wardrobe using items that I already have! Who could have thought that two different clothing items like a skirt and a dress can actually make a new outfit?

ShirinatraFor a sleek, more polished style, Shirinatra is my girl! Because of her, I am inspired to make myself look neater, more polished, even if the outfit I am wearing is just my usual going to work clothes. Like I said earlier, I am still building my wardrobe. I haven’t given up on finding similar pieces or items that would make me look and feel like I am Audrey Hepburn!

Culinary Accomplishments: I grew up with family members who love to cook. My mother, my older sister, and my dad, who is famous for his suman (a kind of steamed rice cake wrapped in banana leaves). And as I have assisted them in the past, I have learned to cook some dishes. This quarantine season, I have found that there’s more scope for the imagination than our kitchen cupboard has shown us. My crowning achievement so far: my cottage pie. While I know that technically this isn’t how a cottage pie should look like, there’s always room for improvement. 

For dessert (or pudding to the Brits), I made an apple tart. And not just an apple tart, it’s a salted caramel apple tart. The recipe is fairly similar to the apple crumble pie. I’ve run into a bit of trouble with the vinegar–I’ve put in a little more than usual, but the salted caramel came to the rescue. And speaking of salted caramel, I am now close to perfecting it! A little bit of patience goes a long, long way. Hohoho.

And this will be it for my second instalment of the Quarantine Diaries. Till next time! 🙂

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