“One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”
當我收到包裹，拆開後隨手翻開書本，便看見這一頁、這句句子。書脊以夜空藍的布料裱起，書名壓上金銅色，啞緻米白封面上框起漂亮的圖畫。我從不看繪本，《The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse》的畫及設計卻抓住了我的目光，看見便即訂購。故事敘述一個孤獨難過的小男孩，在歸家路上遇上細小而活潑的地鼠、安靜的狐狸及溫婉的馬兒，一起走過荒野、風暴、雪地和星幕下的黑夜。
“One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”
It was the first page and line revealed to me when I randomly flipped open the book after opening the parcel. The spine was bound in a piece of midnight blue fabric, title printed in deboss bronze foil and the cover in beige colour in matt lamination featuring a beautiful sketch. Never an illustration lover, but the book design of 《The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse》 caught my attention, and so I ordered a copy.
The story was about a sad and lonely boy on a journey home with a small and lively mole, a quiet fox and a gentle horse. With each other, they made it through the wild, storms, snow and nights under starry skies.
Nothing complicated, the book is filled with charming ink sketches, sometimes with water colour patches, and conversations of kind words written by hand. It’s genuine. I keep it on my bedside table to flip through before sleep sometimes. We all need some kind words at times.
One day I squeezed time from a hectic schedule for an early dinner before restaurant curfew at night. Against all odds, my friend and I met at our favourite restaurant and had a very delicious meal even we inevitably had to work on our phone during that work hour. After the dinner, I texted the restaurant owner, who is also a friend of mine, to thank him for arranging everything.
“Thank you. We really needed some comforting good food.”
“Please do that again. We are always here.”
“We need it. Life is suffocating.”
“Yea, not easy. That’s why we need to find ‘a little happiness’ every day.”
A little happiness, so the gentleman said.
Stout build, with a grey beard covering his jaws and chin, he is a man in his late 50s, a kind man always wearing a smile. For a moment I was at a loss when he mentioned the little happiness which, to me, was a cliché phrase.
A few years back, he invited me to a home dinner hosted by a renowned chef and there were restaurateurs and serious food critics on the guest list. And me, a rather young girl who brought her homemade chiffon cake. I was hesitant about presenting my cake, worrying it would ruin the feast of fine food and rare wine. Something about cakes is that you never know how it tastes until you actually cut it up and eat it. At the kitchen, he took my hand in his big and thick palms and said “Don’t worry. Be confident, you will be fine.” Turned out everyone liked it and not a speck of cream or crumb was left.
I always remembered that firm and assuring grip of his.
We often stumble upon self-doubt, feelings of unworthiness and hostility on our journey home. It is far, it is not easy, and we may fail so many times before we get to where we want to be. “If at first you don’t succeed, have some cake”, said the mole. We can choose to look for the little happiness in daily life when we feel tired; choose to look at how far we have come instead of how long we still have to go.
And, we can choose to be kind – be kind to yourself and be kinder than necessary to other lives we meet on this journey.
雞蛋 4 隻
低筋麵粉 ¾ 杯
上白糖 1/3 杯
泡打粉 ½ 茶匙
雲呢拿香油 1 湯匙
無糖豆乳 ¼ 杯
士多啤梨果醬 1/3 杯
新鮮士多啤梨 5 粒
鮮奶油 1 杯
糖霜 ¼ 杯
雲呢拿香油 1 茶匙
- 在7”x11” 的烤盤鋪上牛油紙，焗爐預熱至170°C。
- 把1/3 糖加入蛋黃裡，發打蛋液至淡黃色，輕盈蓬鬆。加入雲呢拿香油及豆乳拌勻。
- 麵粉分 3 次拌入蛋液，拌勻至麵糊光滑，此時麵糊會稍乾。
- 蛋白發打至起泡，分 3 次加入餘下的砂糖，發打直至蛋白霜呈光亮及挺硬的狀態。
- 把 1/3 蛋白霜與麵糊混至完全融合，之後分兩次輕輕拌入餘下的蛋白霜，直至麵糊柔滑。
- 留起 5 湯匙忌廉備用，把其餘忌廉抹在蛋糕中央，蛋糕四邊預留1 吋空間。慢慢捲起蛋糕，牛油紙兩端以夾子夾緊。蛋糕冷藏至少一小時方可切件。
Strawberry Roll Cake
Egg 4 pieces
Cake flour ¾ cup
Caster sugar 1/3 cup
Baking powder ½ teaspoon
Vanilla extract 1 tablespoon
Unsweetened Soy milk ¼ cup
Strawberry jam 1/3 cup
Fresh strawberries 5 pieces
Whipped Cream Ingredient:
Whipping cream 1 cup
Icing sugar ¼ cup
Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
- Line a 7” x 11” baking tray. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
- Sieve the cake flour and baking powder into a big mixing bowl, set aside.
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Keep them refrigerated.
- Add 1/3 of the sugar into the egg yolks, beat until the mixture is in pale yellow, light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and soy milk to the mixture and mix well.
- Add the flour into the mixture in 3 parts, gently mix well until smooth. The mixture will be a bit dry at this stage.
- Beat the egg whites until foamy, add the remaining sugar in 3 times and beat until you get a glossy, stiff peak meringue.
- Mix in and loosen up the flour mixture with 1/3 of the meringue. Gently fold in the remaining meringue in 2 times until the batter is smooth.
- Pour the batter into the lined tray, even it out with a silicone scrapper, tap the tray a few times on the counter top and bake it for 11-12 minutes.
- Take the cake out once it is baked and flip the cake out on a cooling rack. The bottom side of the cake should face up.
- Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract into the whipped cream. Whip until it turns into soft cream. Keep it in the fridge.
- Place the cooled cake on a baking paper and generously spread the strawberry jam on the cake.
- Keep 5 tablespoon of the whipped cream. Leaving out an inch of all sides, spread the whipped cream in the middle of the cake. Gently roll up the cake. Secure both ends of the roll cake with clips. Chill it for at least 1 hour before slicing it.
- Put a dollop of cream on top of the cake slice and then top it off with a fresh strawberry.
It’s raining outside, crisp and bleak. Three chubby sparrows took shelter on my balcony and I gave them the baguette bits left on my breakfast plate but they flew away. I stayed in, played Damien Rice on vinyl and made apple crumble. Repeat.