Sunday, January 9

My New Year's Resolution and the Concept of Incrementalism

As Truffle was busy traveling across Europe and India, I was busy taking a break in Davidson, NC. Not having my long 40 minute commute to and from work, I did not have time to think nor structure any posts for the blog. However, my family and I had a wonderful Christmas/New Year's break by staying at home and meeting up with friends. Not having the luxury of family close-by, we celebrated the holidays with our friends, who are our family here.

Look at some of our Davidson, NC highlights!

Gingerbread cookies shared with friends who came for dinner on Christmas day. Crispy on day one, evolving into the right texture with strong hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice (Nigella Lawson, FoodNetwork):

Truffled roast beef sandwiches enjoyed between Christmas and New Year before heading out to shop with Artichoke Dip. Warm pink slices of roast beef dressed with truffle butter (couldn't find that, so mixed truffle oil with butter), arugula and shaved parmesan (Ina Gartner, Foodnetwork):

New Year's Eve Dinner shared with some friends and colleagues at home. Jamaican Jerk Chicken, plantain dumplings and corn porridge (Tyler Florence, er, yep, Foodnetwork. Hey, what can I say, I love their recipes!):

What I have realized is with this blog is that I am not a bad cook. But, I have not always this good. In fact, in my early 20s, I was a terrible cook. Even earlier, as a Singaporean spoilt-brat teenager at university in England, I did not even know how to heat up a can of baked beans. One day, sick of hall food, I braved making myself some baked beans on toast. I took the can of baked beans to the Staircase A kitchen, opened it and put it in the pan. Turned the stove on and looked at the pot. I had to turn to the Malaysian girl next to me, who was a regular in that kitchen with her red chilies and blacchan, and ask, "how do you know when it is hot?" "Er, give it a few minutes until the sauce starts bubbling." Not bad for that teenager to evolve into this chef, appreciated by family and friends, eh?

What this reminds me is an important concept I use in my life - that of incrementalism. I coined the word when I was overwhelmed by the Economics Tripos at university. The first year, I burned out with bursts of hard work. Second year, I partied with the best. The third, I came up with incrementalism and worked a little all the way through to get my 2-I.

I have incrementalism to thank for my cooking skills and I think about it a lot for my career. I took more than four years off when we had children and it ended up denting my career quite a fair bit. Not worries! I have another 30 years and I am going to slowly but surely crawl past those who got the head start when I took a break.

I am also going to use that concept to fulfill my New Year's Resolution for 2011. I want to complete a 5K with ease. I am not a runner and am going to train over the next three months slowly but surely. I am going to run a 5K on April 2nd in honor of someone I know who is suffering from liposarcoma and is raising money for Sarcoma research at Sloan Kettering. Please join me. Here is more information on the 5K.

I am glad that I remembered this concept at the start of the new year, as I embark on projects big and small, both personal and work related. I want to remind myself that we can achieve much, however daunting, by taking small steps consistently with a firm will. Anyone climbed Mount Thirumalai to reach the temple of Thirupathi in Andhra Pradesh, India? It takes 4-6 hours depending on oldest in your climbing group and the first half is pretty hard with steep stone steps. But you just have to keep taking that next step, have some faith in the powers that be, and enjoy the scenic views and the lime sodas as you climb your way to the top. Keep pushing your way forward, take a few short breaks, but you can do it. The destination is always worth it.

Happy New Year.

Love and best wishes,


Mañana Mama said...

This bit really resonates: 'we can achieve much, however daunting, by taking small steps consistently with a firm will'. As one in the middle of the years off/denting process you mention--the time in life when small things in particular seem insurmountable--I take heart from this, and need to remember it more often.

Happy New Year to you and yours,

Anonymous said...

dude that dinner was amazing. you left out the vanilla risotto w/ chocolate and mint for dessert. i think soon we'll have you over for some traditional texmex. i like the bean story. hilarious. speaking of, i'll whip up my homemade refried black bean soup with a touch of cream in it. soooo good.


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