Marcella Purnama

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Marcella Purnama is a blogger and author of What I Wish I Had Known: And Other Lessons You Learned in Your Twenties. She is currently obsessed with finding the best recipe for bread rolls and keeping her sixteen plants alive.
511 articles written by Marcella Purnama

When Tjok and I are getting our own house (in the near future, Amen), he’s promised me that he would get me my own library.

It’s probably not going to be as wonderful as Belle’s library, but I’d take anything that has more than three bookcases, hopefully with a ladder, and fill them with books.

You see, I’ve run out of spaces to put my books in our apartment since, well, since we first moved in. Most of my books are now stored in our basement storage space, and I make the pilgrimage to take out some books (and return some) once a month. Yet despite lacking the physical space to buy and store more books, this year I’ve been reading more than ever before. That’s because I’ve discovered a service that I’ve never really utilised before during my previous seven years in Melbourne: a local library.

It’s been slightly over a year since I’ve found out that I can borrow books, and even reserve the books that are still on order (so I get to be the first one reading that book before it’s being passed to dozens of other people) for free. So it’s only natural that sometime in August this year, I sent in my application to work as a library officer.

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Can I just say that this year is going by too fast? I suppose it’s true what people say: the days are long but the years are short.

This month, I read both nonfiction and fiction books, and all has different genres. Sort of. The highlight is definitely Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. I’ve been wanting to read that book for so long, but it has a long list of reservations at my local library. Then I got a job at another library (more on that on another post), and I’ve gotten the book almost straightaway. It’s oh. so. good.

I’d also recommend picking up the Villains series by Serena Valentino. (For this month, I read the third book: Poor Unfortunate Souls.) While this one is not super great, but I just feel like there are very few people who know of these series, and all in all, it’s awesome. Published by Disney Press, these are the stories of Disney’s villains, giving them background and voice, telling why they are who they are and do what they do. For a Disney lover like me, it’s a wonderful revelation.

So here are November’s books.

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One fiction and three memoirs. Well, in my defence, nonfiction books are much easier to read than fiction ones.

I’d say that the fiction one (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine) is the highlight though. It’s beautifully written, and I find myself being really drawn into the story, in a way that only a good fiction can do. Needless to say, it comes really highly recommended. I’ve heard that the book’s movie adaptation is coming out soon, so make sure you read the book first before hitting the cinema.

The other three memoirs are a hit and miss, or more precisely: one hit, one miss, and one somewhere in the middle. I love There Are No Grown-Ups—it’s the second book by Pamela Druckerman, who wrote about French parenting I’ve read a few months back. I’m quite disappointed with Everything Happens for A Reason, which despite its strong story and lots of marketing, just fell flat for me. I can’t quite connect with the writing. The last book—If You’re in My Office, It’s Already Too Late—is quite good, but it’s the sort of book that you enjoy but doesn’t leave a lasting impression on you.

So without further ado, here are October’s books.

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I love cooking sliced beef. It’s quick to cook, it’s easy, and it always ends up being a tasty dish.

Some months back I experimented with cooking beef enoki for the first time. I discovered that it’s actually super easy to make, hence it’s been cooked quite a lot ever since. The key is to buy thinly sliced beef, and I get mine from the Asian supermarket. I reckon you can buy the meat on a butcher shop and ask them to slice them very thinly as well.

For this dish, I use light teriyaki sauce which is straight from Adam Liaw’s recipe.

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Another dish of my childhood, and it seems—many others’ too.

I think it’s pretty obvious that I love eggs. Whenever I’m short of a dish, I add an ‘extra’ by cooking omelette, or steamed eggs, or boiled eggs with spicy sauces. I really think eggs are so yum.

This dish is so easy, I might just convince you to add this into your rotation.

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After discovering the beauty of chilli bean sauce, I use it practically for all my spicy stir-fry dishes, including the Szechuan Eggplants, Mapotofu, and this dish that I’m about to share with you.

Green beans with minced pork is a classic stir-fry in Asian cooking. Of course, if you don’t like spicy stuff, you can omit the chilli and just use fish sauce and pepper. But this dish is so quick and easy, it’s perfect for weekday cooking. Especially when it’s cold outside!

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This month’s books are all about nonfiction.

I read two memoirs and one medical/health nonfiction book, and I honestly would only recommend one out of the three. But before I dive in to talk about those books, I do have a confession: for the first time ever, I DNF (did not finish) a book.

I’m quite… a finisher, in terms of books. No matter how boring, or how I detest a book’s subject, once I started I would make an effort to finish it. Lately, though, I feel like time is such a precious commodity that I decided not to finish a book. And that book goes to Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars.

I honestly love Mary Roach, and my reason for not finishing the book is simple: I do not care about the subject that much. I’m interested, but not too much. I guess space life only interests me if it’s science fiction. So instead of being bored and forgetting everything anyway after I finish a book, I shelved it, probably forever, and that’s okay.

So let’s talk about September’s books.

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When I’m too lazy to do stir-fries, but in need of some meat, nyupiang is the way to go!

It’s too easy: mix minced pork, egg, pickled lettuce, fish sauce, pepper, and sesame oil and steam ’em until they’re done (about 20 minutes or so, depending on how much you’re making them). It’s one of my favourite dishes growing up.

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I was watching TV with Tjok—my husband—when he started to annoy me. He nudged me, made funny faces, and asked me questions on unrelated topics.

“Hun,” I said to him, “Korean moment.”

I was still staring intently at the TV, being in the zone where the super cute, nice Korean guy professed his love to the nice, slightly prideful Korean girl with supet smooth white skin. She previously said she didn’t like him that way, but it’s a K-drama, of course he persevered. Cue in the emotional soundtrack with the word sarang repeated over and over.

Tjok stood up and pretended that he had a violin and started moving his right hand back and forth.

“Hunny,” I gave him a look, “my Korean moment. Why do you annoy me every time I’m having my Korean moment.”

“It’s too over the top,” he said, “too cheesy.”

“You’re the one who introduces me to K-drama,” I said. “Your fault.”

“Yah, it’s good,” he sat on the sofa again. “Just too cheesy sometimes I can’t stand it.”

“Doesn’t mean you need to ruin my Korean moment.”

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I rarely cook steak. In this case, I define rarely as: once every four months kind of thing. Yes, it’s that rare.

But when I cook steak, it’s always Japanese Beef Steak. My friend asked me yesterday when I was having this for dinner: what’s the difference between normal steak and Japanese steak?

Well, the answer is simple: the sauce.

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