Doing what makes you happy

There is that old song, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

In contrast there is the other song, “It’s sad to belong to someone else, when the right one comes along.”

The moral of those two songs is, “don’t take life advice from pop songs.”

And then I read somewhere that, it is never what you don’t have that makes you unhappy, but what you are not willing to do to be happy.

At this point in my life, I know what makes me happy.

There is this advice piece from – Six Harsh Truths to Make you a Better Person.

It was originally written in 2012, but the advice is truly timeless, and it is updated every year (well, to date – 2016). And there is this simple question for anyone.

Name five impressive things about yourself. Write them down or just shout them out loud to the room. But here’s the catch — you’re not allowed to list anything you are (i.e., I’m a nice guy, I’m honest), but instead can only list things that you do (i.e., I just won a national chess tournament, I make the best chili in Massachusetts). If you found that difficult, well, this is for you…

Most people shore up their self-esteem with – “I’m actually a very nice person”, or “If you know the real me, you will understand” or “I’m quite smart actually.”

And most people (who drive) would rate their driving ability as “above average”. Yes. More than half the people who drive (maybe about 90%) will rate themselves as “above average” drivers. Which is statistically impossible.

The problem with the “name 5 impressive things about yourself” test is that very few people have won national chess tournaments, or make the best anything in their state or country. Let alone have 5 impressive things about themselves.

(I guess that’s why people love social media – that could easily be one of their “impressive thing” – “I posted a video on FaceBook that had more than 5000 ‘likes’ and was shared over 12,000 times!”. That should be another exclusion – “5 impressive things you do that is NOT on social media”. Unless it is xkcd, Wait but why, or Fowl Language – but those are not social media. Those are content producers on the internet.)

Of course, “I’m a good father/mother to my kids” I think is an acceptable “impressive” thing, though I think you should be a little more specific. What exactly makes you a good parent. “I don’t hit my kids” is not quite what we had in mind.

Anyway, if I have any small claim to minor fame, it is that those who have tasted my roast pork, swears it is the best they have ever had. I make it for family on Christmas and Chinese New Year. For friends when I have them over (they usually requests it) say for St Patrick’s Day (Beer!), Oktoberfest (Beer!), and private farewells when colleagues get transferred out of the department.

I had 2 or 3 farewells for my colleagues who left over the last two years.

So I sort of felt that it would be unfair to those who left after I had left. So I had one private farewell for my transfer out of the dept, which was also a sort of “pre-farewell” to the rest when they leave the dept.

I invited 10 colleagues and got a 1.7 kg pork belly for the roast.

I had also been trying to make Char Siewmy fourth attempt or so – and I think I’m close to the taste I wanted. It was a little too salty, so just need to adjust that. I had maybe 300-400 gm of that left. (I did not follow the video exactly. I do not have a deep charcoal oven.)

For the vegetarians, I had Olive Vegetable rice, which is pure vegetarian – no dairy or egg. Just olives, olive oil, and olive vegetables with onions and garlic, lightly fried, then mixed into cooked rice. Pine nuts as an optional topping. Hae Bi Hyam as a non-vegetarian topping, unless you are fine with seafood (hae bi is dried shrimp).

I also had pasta salad, which has mayonnaise, but the only vegetarian coming was fine with egg.

I had also learnt a new appetiser – egg brûlée – which I introduced as a light dessert.

So what makes me happy is to have people enjoy my cooking. And also the ability to plan a meal for a small group, and be able to feed everyone well.

I had thought that 1.7 kg of pork belly would have been enough for 12 persons – 10 guests and PL & me. Or 11 after I realise one was a vegetarian.

And I had some char siew. 1.7 kg works out to about 150 gm per person. It was all gone.

I apparently can’t make enough for my guests. 🙂

So I either need to invite fewer guests, or roast a 2 kg pork belly for the same number of people. But I suspect, it would still not be enough.

There were supposed to be 8 non-vegetarian guests actually. One was temporarily vegetarian for religious reasons.

Apparently, I have sent him to hell.

Or at least severely set back his spiritual advancement.


There is a satisfaction in seeing my cooking appreciated, and devoured enthusiastically.

And if PL & I did not get to eat what I had prepared for my guests, well, I can make roast pork for ourselves (PL & me) anytime.

I guess, I sometimes imagine that I might run a private kitchen – dinner by appointment only, 10 paying guests or less, menu decided by what I can get from the market, what looks good that day. So this is sort of a test run. Or a fantasy.

Anyway, I always have a back up plan. So after everyone had left, I prepared some mini-wagyu beef patties with egg and cheese, on toast just for us.

And I was feeling very satisfied with myself.

And feeling rather pleased.

This entry was posted in Food, Life Lessons, Musing, Personal. Bookmark the permalink.

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