9 things: My Absolute Favorite Indonesian Food

Today is the 67th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence! And since food happens to be the second biggest tie I have with my home country (after my family and friends, of course), I thought I would share it here.

A little disclaimer: The food I chose to list might not necessarily be the best food in Indonesia, it’s purely my based on personal preference. It might also be based on lovely childhood memories, as the moments you had share the food with someone is the most unforgettable and irreplaceable part :).

Nasi Kuning

1. Nasi Kuning

1. Nasi Kuning

Roughly translated: Yellow (=kuning) rice (=nasi). It’s traditionally the dish when you’re celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. So instead of a birthday cake, for example, you would have this. Traditionally it would be served in a very large platter for 20 people, along with the side dishes (fried chicken, beef, tempeh, omelette, chili sauce & vegetables). We don’t eat from the same plate, instead we take our own portion to our normal plate. The person who’s celebrating would cut the top of the rice and give it to someone they love the most :).

Nasi Uduk

2. Nasi Uduk

2. Nasi Uduk

I don’t know how to translate this. This is basically another type of rice dish. It’s similar to Nasi Lemak in Malay/Singaporean dish, but the version I like used only a dash of coconut milk. It’s also served with fried chicken and emping (a kind of crackers made from melinjo). It’s very easily found in Jakarta.

Es Kelapa Muda

3. Es Kelapa Muda

3. Es Kelapa Muda

It’s just a simple young coconut, sliced open, put some ice in it. The coconut flesh should still be very tender so you could easily scrape them using a spoon. It’s also already naturally sweet so it’s a perfect drink for a hot tropical day!

4. Rujak Uleg

4. Rujak Uleg

4. Rujak Uleg

Assorted sliced fresh fruit with sauce made from gula jawa (some form of palm sugar), peanuts, and chili. I love this one so much because I love the assortment of fruits there. I typically use mangoes, starfruits, jambu/champoocucumber, kedondong, bengkuang. I just realized now it’s really made purely on tropical fruits that doesn’t exist (even imported) in Germany. Except mango and cucumber, that is.

5. Mie Baso

5. Mie Baso

5. Mie Baso

There are plenty of mini variation on this dish. Either you put the broth together with the noodles, like Japanese ramen, or it’s separated like the one in the picture. You could have meatballs (= baso) in it, or chicken, in some places you could even get tofu or chicken feet (yeah, I know, chicken feet. It could taste yummy when properly cooked 😉 )

6. Siomay & Baso Tahu

6. Siomay & Baso Tahu

6. Siomay & Baso Tahu

This is more of a snack in between meals, I guess. It’s similar to the Chinese dumplings but the fillings are made from fish meat. You could also have one with tofu, cabbage, potato. I would eat this with peanut sauce and sweet soy sauce. Yumm!

7. Ketan Bakar

7. Ketan Bakar

7. Ketan Bakar

Ketan means this sticky rice type. Bakar means grilled. So it’s pretty much just that simple. Grilled rice. It’s only slightly crispy on the outside, but it’s soft and moist when you bite into it. Also the condiments made it special. We usually eat it with coconut raspels (it’s kind of a sweet savory) and spicy oncom sauce.

8. Pisang Raja Cere

8. Pisang Raja Cere

8. Pisang Raja Cere

It’s my favorite banana. There’s more than one type, you asked? Yes there’s plenty types of bananas in Indonesia. This one is smaller than a ‘normal’ banana, and it has a rather sweet sour taste, like pear. But the consistency is more dense and soft, like you’d feel there’s more carbs in it than a normal banana.

9. Gurilem & Simping

9. Gurilem & Simping

9. Gurilem & Simping

Both of these are snacks. Gurilem (the red one on the left) is the sinful one. It’s nowhere near healthy as it’s fried and it’s very extremely spicy. I would warn my German friends of choking from this… But it reminds me of my school years because it’s the snack you would have in the canteen. It’s a good one to sneak in classes ;). The other one, simping, is definitely healthier. It’s made from rice and it’s baked. It’s also made with love (because it’s not factory produced). I love this one because it reminds me of the time I spent with my grandparents :).

Well, there’s my nine favorite Indonesian food. The one I run to when I fly home and the one I miss here because I can’t make them properly. I hope you enjoy reading it as now I’m getting hungry from all the pictures!


9 Things: Vacationing in Your Own City

We were on vacation in Berlin last week. I didn’t mention anything here because I thought that would be a great opportunity to catch up on blogging and campaigning. I was not really going away from my own city.

Then again, as we started getting into the vacation, I realized I desperately needed it for my own well being. I could feel my nerves flaring up from all the tension. So I decided to really forget about work and go fully into a break. Besides, catching up on work kind of felt like procrastinating on my own vacation ;).

Unfortunately, since I mostly work from home, switching the brain isn’t that easy. The “I didn’t have to go to work today” doesn’t really feel like anything to me. Unless, of course, I didn’t want to check any e-mails or play Sims Social (yes, I’m addicted to it since a few weeks).

The first few days were okay, it felt like a nice long weekend. We went for lots of walks, had great food, doing our usual weekend stuff. But then I started to feel some anxiety attack. What if I couldn’t feel relaxed enough during this vacation? Did we make the right decision by not going anywhere? (the answer to the last question is YES, because we needed the fund for something else more important).

Skipping to the end, I managed to feel relaxed and happy like being on a usual vacation.

It’s not easy because we didn’t go to other cities (except for a daytrip to Braunschweig).

Here are the things I do to help myself:

  1. Stay away from the usual routine. Which was why I stayed away as far as possible from word processors and design tools.
  2. Set up a vacation budget, so I would not feel guilty of spending more money than usual.
  3. Rejoice in the fact that I’m saving money. At least I don’t have to pay for transport and lodging.
  4. Look for places I haven’t been to. Granted, this is the advantage of living in a bigger city. But I bet there’s always somewhere you haven’t been to in your city. Look for some exhibitions, concerts, new restaurants.
  5. Don’t fret about housework.  You wouldn’t worry about laundry or dishes during a vacation, would you? I’m not saying you shouldn’t clean up, but just don’t feel like “since I’m not working, my house should be shiny clean”. (Unless you’re a fan of cleaning… I’m not :P)
  6. Don’t fret about work. This is not the time to catch up. This is a time for refreshing the brain, to prepare itself for new ideas for the next project.
  7. Treat your other senses. Perhaps try a new spice in food, try a new type of cuisine, or go for a massage.
  8. Pretend you’re a tourist. Make a role play, look the part, bring a map, and take lots of pictures.
  9. Most importantly, do things that made you happy. This is the time for it! My happy things are going for a walk in the city, eating good food, and read a lot.

9 Things: Books That Changed My Life

A friend of mine over at Tetesan Cinta Deetopia posted this a while ago. Books that changed our life. What does it mean actually? Books that made me realize something about my life and nudge me into the direction I’m heading right now? I guess so. I hope this post can also give you some insight into what kind of journey I’m in right now, and perhaps you could even get to know me better.

Some of these books I read a long time ago. I didn’t really remember what was exactly in the book, but I remember the lesson it taught me. So, without further ado, here is my list:

  • Being Happy!Being Happy! by Andrew Matthews
    The first time I read this book was some time during my teenage years. It was on one of those angst days when I feel like all the world had turned against me and I won’t ever get a boyfriend (which was the most important thing as a teenager!). Good old days that I’m so glad I’m out of it :P. Anyways, one thing that really struck me from this book was a cartoon of a grave with the headstone saying, “Here lies a person who will be happy tomorrow.” Right then I was determined to be a happy person now. Why must we wait to be happy? This book also taught me to smile to the world if I want the world to smile back at me. Give, and you shall receive. Be happy, and all the joy shall come to you. I stand by it, and most importantly, I am happy now.
  • Rich Dad, Poor DadRich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
    This book is an eye opener for me. I always thought before there’s only one way to live my life. Go to university, get a good grade, graduate, and get a job in a big multinational company. At one point when I’m about to finish my degree, I felt trapped. Somehow it’s not a life I feel like doing. I’m just so happy to know there’s another way to it. This book also opened my eyes on financial education, how money could be a different game for other people. We might or might not cut out to be entrepreneurs or business owners but it’s important for me to know there is always a choice.
  • The Blue Day BookThe Blue Day Book by Bradley Trevor Greive
    For those of you who haven’t read this one, please do! It’s such a wonderful little picture animal book guaranteed to make you smile by the time you’re on the last page. I know now we have sites like icanhascheezburger.com, but this book was way before that. Plus there’s some happiness wisdom to get you through those blue days 🙂
  • The AlchemistThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    The very famous “follow your dream” fiction book. Almost everyone I know had read it. It gave me the nudge to follow my dreams, to try and discover my personal legend. It was one reason I got the guts to be a novelist. It also somehow ensures me, that even if it’s not an easy road going there, I will get there eventually and I will be happy on the way because I’m following my bliss!
  • The Creative LicenseThe Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to be the Artist You Truly Are by Danny Gregory
    The most important lesson I got from this book is to appreciate and cherish every moment in my life. Even if it’s just a bread I have for breakfast, because tomorrow it will be a different bread ;). As we grow old, it’s so easy to fall into routines and never really enjoy the moment we are in.
  • Think BIGThink BIG and Kick Ass in Business and Life by Donald J. Trump & Bill Zanker
    After a while being an artist, working on my own at home. It’s very easy to retreat into a role of being satisfied to what I have. Yes, it’s important to have gratitude, but it’s also equally important to have ambition. When I set out to be a writer, I didn’t want to be just published. I want my book to be a best seller in Amazon. Crazy? Maybe. But I’d rather be crazy and aim for the stars! Don’t let adversaries stop you. Keep going and dream big. Also from this book I’m glad to know that it’s okay to take revenge from time to time :P.
  • LinchpinLinchpin by Seth Godin
    This book helped me understood the possible source of my bad procrastinating habit. It wasn’t from hating my job, but it’s a part of my brain which tried to sabotage me. A part that is scared of change. Good for me, he named that part lizard brain. Since lizards gave me the creeps to start with, it’s easier to switch the mindset to ignore the lizard, thus banish procrastination!
  • Jamie's ItalyJamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver
    My first cookbook. I know I can cook but I didn’t know how good. Mind you, cooking isn’t my hobby but eating good food is. So, I know I love Italian food but it’s not always affordable to eat out over here. This book convinced me that we could cook as good as a restaurant menu. Not all, but some. Oh, and I said ‘we’ because I can’t cook without the hubs being my second in command :).
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About RunningWhat I Talk About, When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
    I love how Murakami compared running with writing a novel. I wasn’t a runner back then, and although I’m not even sure I’m a runner now, I could relate so much on how writing a novel is comparable to running a marathon. His book inspired me to get more in shape, as I believe a healthy body is a good host to achieve a healthy and creative mind. This book inspired me to run, at first just to feel the connection stated in this book. As time goes by, I started to like running, the serenity I felt and the ease of tension afterwards. A little note: I actually sucked at running. I could run for more than an hour but I could only go at an average of 6 km/h. Slow but sure, like a tortoise :D.

There! I wrote it all down. It took me longer than I thought, but it’s been fun to think back on them. How about you? Do we have a book in common? Please share me yours 🙂

9 Things: Keeping My Spirits Up

Sometimes those non happy days are just inevitable, be it a bad news in the mailbox, dark clouds on the horizon, eternal winter darkness, or simply too much stress combined with PMS. What to do… what to do?

I don’t like to be a self pitying whiny writer. Yes, I know I rant from time to time, and cried out of frustration, but I know it’s bad for my well being. I’m believer in if you put your energy into something, you’ll make it stronger. So it’s definitely better to put the energy into good things and keep my spirits up.

I need this list myself as a reminder of things I could do to pick myself up when I’m feeling down. Not in a particular order since each point has its own magic moments.

1. Exercise

Aerobic exercises increased production of Serotonin, resulting in a better mood. I tried to do some sort of aerobic activity at least twice a week, and then yoga or pilates on the other days. I need yoga and pilates to maintain my back and posture (which suffers from all these years I spent working on computers).

2. Motivational books or blogs

Sometimes all I need is someone else telling me that I’m not the only one who has problems and I can most definitely deal with with it. People had overcame it, so I can too!

3. Solitary walks

A nice walk calms me down. It’s the combination of physical activity, fresh air, and having a sense of the world around me. I love how I could just let go and take a random turn. It’s always wonderful when I end up somewhere I’ve never been before. A park, or a part of town I’ve never been to, shoe/clothing stores, art galleries, or make up counters ;). Yes, I admit I’m a shopaholic. Also I’m lucky I live in Berlin, which is relatively a safe city to walk around alone.

4. Sit in a cafe or a bench where I can see people passing by

This one is the contrary of a walk. I sit and see everything else in motion. It helps to know that the worlds still turns, people are still laughing, smiling, and things seemed to be… normal out there. No need to put whatever things I have blowing out of proportion.

5. Listen to uplifting music

It could be a song that has cheerful tune, contemplative feel, remind me of a wonderful event, a wonderful feeling (New Shoes- Paulo Nutini) Some songs on my list: Life is Wonderful (Jason Mraz), Un Nuovo Giorno (Andrea Bocelli), Acquarello (Toquinho), Fireworks (Katy Perry)

6. Count my blessings, and feel the gratitude of being who I am.

Be thankful of what I have. Because I sometimes forgot that I actually have a lot. Believe me, even if you’re in the lowest of low, you’ll still have something you’re grateful of. At the very least, being able to breathe and we’re still alive to make something out of ourselves, we still have the second (or third) chance.

7. Sleep

This one is actually my husband’s secret ingredients. Somehow it always worked for him. Perhaps it’s the fatigue that made the body thinks it’s weaker than it’s actually is? But yes, sleep. A nap, a good night sleep would produce the right strength to fight again on the next day :).

8. Eat

No, I don’t mean binge eating. I meant having a good healthy proper meal. A three course meal, or something that reminded you of a good time in your life. A meal that also would provide nutritions for the body.

9. Funny cat pictures

Yes, icanhascheezburger. If all else fails, laugh your heart out 😀

That’s my 9 things. Do you like to do the things I do? Do you have something else in mind? Please do share it in the comments section 🙂

And I’m leaving you with one of my favorite childhood tunes!

9 Things: What I Love About Indonesia

17th August is Indonesia’s Independence Day, my home country’s 65th anniversary.

That’s why it’s a very appropriate topic to write. A disclaimer: I’m not going to say I’m the most patriotic Indonesian out there, not even close to that. I live in Berlin now and I love it. But I still feel that there is something very lovable about Indonesia. I hope I’m not romanticizing it… so here is my list:

1. My family and some of my friends are there

It’s where I grew up and experienced a lot of my firsts. And I can’t help feeling that I’m home whenever I’m surrounded by the people I love.

2. Friendly Smiles

It’s hard to get lonely in Indonesia. There will always be someone who is willing to chat with you. True, sometimes it would feel like people is being noisy… But it’s a heartwarming feeling to know that there’s always someone who cares about you.

3. Yummy Food

I’m a good food lover. You just can’t beat the variety of Indonesian cuisine. We had so many different type of food as a result of a mix of cultures. We have spicy, sweet, savory, light, and heavy. You name it. Main course, snacks, sweets… mmmm… One day, I’m going to bring fame for Indonesian cuisine!

4. Climate

Don’t get me wrong, I love having four seasons. But sometimes, when it gets really cold outside or when I need to check the weather forecast just to decide how thick my coat should be… I wished the trees are always green and I could always run outside without a coat.

5. Relaxed and laid back attitude

I missed the slow tempo of things sometimes. Everyone takes things easy. Yes, you won’t be the first person getting anywhere, but you won’t be stressed either.

6. Laughter

We love to hang out, eat, and share a good laugh whenever we see each other.

7. Flexibility

Flexibility means almost everything is negotiable. This is a double blade sword, and it’s probably why Indonesia is very prone to corruption. The plus side is if you are very well connected, you can get anywhere.

8. Cheap living cost

Which also means you can buy other things with the money saved ;).

9. My roots

That’s just something that you can’t beat. A part of me will always belong to Indonesia. For better or worse :).