A Wok Down Memory Lane

My first job in advertising was as a trainee at a bit obscure below the line agency in the Frankfurt area; strangely, the same building was also home to the consulate of two Caribbean islands (as well as the consul and his wife, in the penthouse), who owned both building, agency and a few other enterprises that had offices in the building. Bentley in the garage, modern art on the office walls, and the whole show was run by a distinguished office manager who was lovely, intimidating and motherly all at the same time. Imagine exposed aggregate concrete, glass walls, electric blinds and hideous mustard-colored carpeted floors. The building sat in a hillside residential neighborhood, surrounded by big family homes and expensive cars. Me and my other trainee colleagues had a nice time there, learning how to be young adults, studying for evening classes, and getting a buttload of work done all the while.

So one of the consul’s numerous enterprises was a TV home shopping company. (Gen Z readers: Before the Internet, when dinosaurs roamed and we had answering machines instead of cell phones, there were special TV channels that broadcasted 24/7 of bizarre infomercials that offered a wide variety of retail products, ranging from household goods to electronic devices (such as they were, at the time) to jewelry, furniture and snake-oil miracle medicines, also freaky fitness machines – all presented by garishly lit overzealous hosts. The actual purchases were made by phoning your order in. It was a huge, huge market then, and I’m sure this must have been what paid for the Bentley.)

One of the star products of that company was an authentic Chinese wok – expensive for me at the time, but I simply had to have one.

As you can see, it looks like it’s been around! It certainly amortized since 1992. As it happens, I was inspired to use it this week by my latest translation project, a book by British celebrity chef Jeremy Pang. He’s really something, and I’m enjoying the work tremendously.

I made a stir-fry of veggies, ginger and garlic flavored tofu and prawns – a crowd-pleasing, quickly thrown together meal that even my most difficult young customer finds things in she likes to eat. (If you’re guessing she goes for the proteins, you’d be correct.) Having cooked with this venerable utensil for decades, I’m pleased to say it still works just fine. But only now do I really understand the science behind the yumminess, and isn’t that just the coolest! I love my job :-).

Last weekend, I spent some time (and two more balls of yarn) on the Waffle Blanket. Here’s where I am now; there is some progress to be seen! Three more balls of orange, then I’ll decide whether to keep going with the light turquoise where it is now, or whether to rip it back up and put in on the other side of the orange, as initially planned.

Speaking of orange, I must tell you about a cake I made last weekend for the first time:

Boiled Orange Cake. Isn’t is such an intriguing idea to boil oranges for 2 hours until all squishy, then puree them and use them as base for cake batter? You’ll need a stick blender, sugar, flour, 6 eggs, vanilla and either almond flour or regular flour plus baking powder. My Greek friend F who dropped by for a quick visit suggested I try semolina, and I ended up mixing semolina and flour, both spelt, and also added a bit of yogurt for extra moisture. Remarkably, it contains no butter or any fat at all! The next time I make this (and I will make it again, everybody loved it!) I will add some lemon zest, and maybe juice. Here, isn’t it pretty?

Lastly, not to bore you with repetition, but I just need to mention the memorable 3 year anniversary that happened this week. I can’t believe it’s been three years already. Knowing the happiness of being a dog mom, loving this small dude with the big dog personality. To have and to hold, hopefully for a long time.

Have a great rest of week, everybody, and thank you for joining me for story time.

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