Sunday, November 29, 2009

Even Cacti have Feelings

This still is a blog, and a blog about the things that are happening in my life right now. I am trying to do some stretching in the cooking department. The women in my life, mother, aunts and grandmother are all great cooks and we sort of pride ourselves of being such great people in the kitchen. We, of course, really means just THEM, for I am not only a rather boring person in the kitchen, I also do not have a FULL kitchen to work in. I am that person who watches all the cooking shows in the world, but never really had the chops to get out that mixing bowl and whip up some muffins.

But lately things are starting to change and I am learning to do things my own way, much dependent on the kitchen memories I have had with my mother and grandmother. I have not yet quite mastered what seems to be a no-brainer dish called adobo. I shudder at the fact that the ones sold in jollijeeps taste better than the ones I have stressed over. But there are other things I am pretty good at, and I am proud of that, some of which are chronicled here in my blog, just so I can remember them. If you ever get the feeling of wanting to try any of my dishes, try at your own risk. :)

Everything, however, is not as simple as it all looks. For one, it's really hard to live (and therefore eat) with someone so different. There are days when he'd just jab me with what feels like a knife when he'll say:"Why can't we just buy food outside instead" while I am sauteing what is the beginnings of a wonderful caldereta, my recipe for which calls for a half block of cheese. It hurts maybe because my answer for it will be because I am trying to be a good partner, here, dude, instead of a dingy roommate who wouldn't care if you ate ramen until your hair turns into noodles. Essentially, it hurts because I am not appreciated. It's kinda hard for me to balance home AND work while trying to be a superstar in both, so when I do try (even if I may be trying too hard) a little smile, a thank you or even silence (!) will do my self esteem some good. Don't you think?

I feel weird just about now.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ayala Triangle Park Light Show

Ayala made this wonderful park in the Ayala Triangle. It's clean, fresh and simply beautiful. That's one thing I love about the Ayalas - they care about the environment and are not always about the money. The park barely makes income, and eats up a rather huge chunk of change because Ayalas have music piping there almost the whole day, aside from the fact that this land area can be enough for another profit-gaining building/establishment. There is definitely more to be gained in building another structure there instead a park, but they wanted a little pocket of green to beautify the area even more. I love it.

For the Christmas season, they wrapped the trees with thousands on LED lights and they have light shows every night, from Monday to Friday, every 30 minutes from 6:30pm to 7:30 pm. Here's what Allan took from the very first light show. I have a much better video (hehe) but I cannot seem to convert it. So anyway, this will give you an idea of how fab the light shows are.

Libreng Sakay

Makati is the first city to have electronic jeeps (ejeeps). And I am very happy with the effort that the city is making in terms of being more eco-friendly. These ejeeps are 100% emission free and are pleasant to ride on. They make this cute iiiiiiiiiiing sound of a small engine that I find terribly funny. The best part is, as of right now, rides on these ejeeps, whenever you can catch them, is absolutely free. There aren't many of them, and you may have to wait a little longer before one comes along, but if you're not rushing, it's a great option. They're open for franchise so I'm assuming that franchised ejeeps will charge passengerss fare.

One more thing I like about ejeeps? They are driven my Makati police. Therefore, you don't have to worry about safety. For the two times that I have been on one of these ejeeps, the service is courteous and the driving easy. If you ever get the chance to ride on one of these, go do it!


I once watched this documentary on chocolate--how it's made and what makes one variety different from the rest. Now, I do not want to say that I am a cocoa connoisseur but if there's one thing I learned from that documentary, is that no one can say your mouth is wrong. Even the finest chocolate will not taste good to you and that does not mean that you are cheap. It's like telling a red-green colorblind person that something is orange and not yellow (which is what he most probably can see, since he can't distinguish red).

So for me, I like my chocolate dark. Uber-dark, for that matter. So when Allan presented me with this bar, I knew that I would love it (aside from the fact that he rarely ever buys me anything, the mere effort of getting something for me is mind-boggling). It's Ecuador chocolate that contains 70% cocoa. It's dark, sensual and bittersweet. When you bite into it, it does not have a metallic taste or a too sweet note. It tastes like pure chocolate, decadent yet simple.

I didn't bother sharing this bar with Allan, except when he yanks a piece right out of my hand. I don't know if this bar is expensive, but if it is, it was truly worth it.

Bacon Wrapped Things

Who doesn't love bacon? I wrap bacon with anything and so far I have not been disappointed. I wrapped bacon with asparagus and hotdog for a nice, calorific dinner the other night and it worked so well. I fried these dogs, but if you have an oven, even just a small toaster oven, you can pop these in for about 10 minutes. The fat from the bacon will render better and the hotdog is cooked better, too.

Buying a bacon wrapped hotdog from a hotdog stand will cost around Php50-60. This is much more cost effective because buying 500g of jumbo hotdog is around Php125 and 200g bacon is about Php100 and that yields eight hotdogs and some bacon leftover for wrapping veggies. That costs HALF than the ones sold in hotdog booths in malls.

Beef with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Many mothers complain about picky eaters, and even if I do not have kids, I've had my share of stuff-it-down-the-throat moments that mainly feature vegetables. My picky eater is my partner, Allan.

So I try to avoid stress as much as I can. Instead of forcing him to eat more vegetables, I feed him more of the vegetables that he DOES eat. Since he likes asparagus and mushrooms, I try to add it as much as possible in our food. This dish is so simple, but is packed with flavor..."ta hila gat kanun" would be my mother's term for it.

First, cut the tender tips of the asparagus and slice the mushrooms. Sautee garlic and onions until fragrant, then add ground beef or beef strips in a little olive oil until the pink is gone. Add the vegetables and season with oyster sauce and pepper. Add salt only if you think that it's not salty enought. Stir around and simmer til the asparagus softens. Serve hot with rice. Yum!

Embuelto/Tuna Cabbage Wraps

Embuelto for me is grandmother food. It's something my grandmother would slave over and it looks really good and also tastes fantastic. She only makes this for special occasions and she's pretty OC about taking the hard parts of the cabbage, positioning the wraps just so it'll absorb the most tomato sauce as possible. Today I made embuelto for dinner, only I made it with tuna. I got inspired after seeing this version in a local cooking show. Allan also requested for this, so...

First,(and the most excruciating part for me) you have to prepare the cabbage. Cut the cabbage from the core so you get the entire leaf intact. Get only the biggest leaves and for the inner ones, take off the entire rib and make it the second layer of the cabbage wrap. Make sure that for the big leaves, you have to peel and thin out the heavy ribs, like peeling the hard part of a broccoli. Tedious work. next you dice a carrot and a couple of potatoes. Soak those in water.

Drain a couple of cans of tuna. For one medium head of cabbage, two cans is enough. If you're using more than a pound of cabbage, maybe you can use one can more.

Next step is to blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water and wilt them. Just wilt the leaves and DO NOT make it mushy. After a few seconds in the boiling water, take the leaves out and plunge in ice water to stop the cooking process. After that, sautee the carrots and potatoes then add the tuna. Season with salt and pepper.

After that, take the mix out of the pan and start stuffing the cabbage. One or one and a half tablespoons would be enough per wrap. Seal with a toothpick, or if you're old-school, use twine. Set aside.

After making the wraps, the next step is to make the sauce. Sautee garlic and onions and if you have any leftover stuffing, add that with some tomato sauce, bay leaves and salt and pepper.

Then, after boiling it once, take about a half cup of sauce and set it aside. You'll need it to cover the wraps in a little bit.

Put the wraps back in and cover with the sauce. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve! It'll work with rice and even better, with some good al dente pasta. This recipe will serve 3-4.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Haleya is very homey for me. It's something I associate to lazy sundays. So I made a small jar of it. It's the easiest thing to do. Just put coconut milk, cream and brown sugar together and stir until it thickens. That's it!

It pairs exceptionally well with boiled unripe saba bananas or with suman ibus. There is something wrong with this batch though. I used canned coconut milk and cream and the end result, while completely edible, is not very smooth and sort of jelly-like in consistency. My theory is that the gum and agar stabilizers used as preservatives to maintain the body of the coconut milk/cream is to blame. Next time, I should use freshly squeezed milk.


D'I tell you Allan loves pizza? Absolutely adores it. Dreams about it. Next is bacon, but that's a whole different enchilada altogether. Thursday and Friday last week I cooked eight kinsgsized TJ hotdogs wrapped with bacon. Pigs in a blanket. That's eight per night, five for him and three for me, for two nights straight. I swear I can still taste the dogs everytime I burp. He loves TJ hotdogs that much and with bacon, it's like cholesterol and sodium heaven. Just saying, but I also have a recipe for bacon wrapped, cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers and it was the absolute BOMB. I have no pics right now, but when I feel that it's safe once again for me to eat bacon, I will give you pics and recipes.

So back to pizzas, we like Sbarro. We have dinner there, maybe once or twice a month, to consistent results. Allan likes the deep dish, but I prefer the simple pizzas with just tomato and cheese. Sometimes I like spinach calzone, too. Paired with a salad, it's great eating.

We rarely eat in the actual restaurant though. This pic is quite a landmark.

Halloween Eyeballs

I call it Nata de Coco Surprise. Surprise!

This is our Halloween dessert. Looks like eyeballs with ooze, but the combo tasted pretty good. It's simply lychees with nata stuffed into it with condensed milk on top. We just goofing around and came up with this crazy dessert.It even looks more disgusting in a bowl. hahaha

A Dinner and an On-the-Spot Gift

Yeah, yeah, I forget anniversaries. Unlike other females who primp themselves up and plan ahead for anniversaries, I am simply not hardwired to remember dates for things like that. I do, however remember birthdays. And on Allan's birthday, I treated him to a nice dinner and a sorta kinda expensive bottle of red wine plus conversation that does not revolve around online media, work and my not so favorite people.

Allan is pretty easy to please, but I am particularly happy with his reaction with my ultimate gift, which he saw at home. Don't get ideas...just don't.

We finally retired his uber old TV and replaced it with this new flat, sleek and glossy one. It's just a Samsung...and nothing near the price tag of a Bravia or more, but Allan's been too cheap to buy a new one until his old TV finally died in exhaustion, so I did him a favor. We're having a better TV experience now. Yes!

Pizza Stuff Yourself Silly

We tried the Greenwich Pizza All You Can and we hated it. Just hated it. That's it. It tasted like Speedy Pizza. Or 3M. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

I'm Feeling a Little Violent Today

I wish that I bit someone else's head off.

With a little creativity, the lovely gingerbread snowman ended up on my bloody plate instead.

I just hate stupid people. I just hate people who cannot do their jobs well. I am a totally non-OC kind of girl. Yeah, sure take 15 minutes more on your lunch break. Okay, we can do that instead. My desk is aclutter with different things, and I swear that I hear strange noises emanating from it in the middle of the night. My desk is alive, I swear. I really am not OC. But hell, that does not mean that you can just push me over because you think that "Ems will just be cool with it."

I really need to do something more in the being-a-leader department. You see, I never worked very well in organizations with strict leader-follower setups. I believe that there should be a sort of point person in a group, but that does not mean that he/she is the only person who should do the job. I prefer a group to think that I am only an administrative figure, someone to answer to the boss, not god.

I find that strict leader-follower setups will lead to an output that will be largely the idea of the leader. I hate that. I have been in the position where I was a mere member of a group whose ideas were never listened to, only for the leader's idea to fall short in the end. I'm trying to let people in my group know that this is OUR work. Entirely OUR work.

So what the hell is this little gnat bitch doing not making sure that her assigned chapter is covered? I don't get it. I want to bit her head off and serve her body in a beautiful white Starbucks porcelain plate. AGH.

Friday, November 20, 2009


It's been a while since my last update and right now I just feel that it is right for me to tell you that I am still alive and blog-active! Blogging to you via my phone in Burger King. Wi-Fi is free!

I just came from my Annual Physical Exam and despite my growing weight, the doc gave me a clean bill of health, in addition to a prescription to allergy meds. I have a fat lip. I got that from eating Shiitake mushrooms tactfully hidden in a burger. For the first couple of hours I looked like I had a very bad lip job.

Bubble: everyone seems to want Angelina lips, no?

Anyway, so I went to Mercury Drug to buy my meds and told the nasty, nasty pharmacist that the lip was because my boyfriend hit me. Allan, who was beside me was not very amused. I find it terribly funny though. The lip is much better now, but I have to take more meds over the next couple of days.

I am proud to report that I took that needle (for CBC) like a man. The last time, I almost bit the tech's head off after getting it wrong the THIRD time.

I should be able to blog more tonight. Two folders worth of pics backlogged.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What's Up?

People have been asking me if I'm turning into a food blogger. The answer really is no, I am not. My posts recently only echo the things that keep me busy these past few weeks. Of course I love food, but I think that these posts are too mundane to qualify for the food blog category.

So what have I been really up to? Not much. I'm trying to balance my time between work, home life and a never ending stream of papers that I need to submit. Aside from the fact that I am working as SEO specialist/writer on the sidelines, to earn a little extra for maybe a couple of movies, or a fancy dinner once in a while. I am quite financially independent, and I like it that way. I was reared to never be dependent on my spouse for money, and to always have something extra for myself. I think that I will teach my children the same thing.

But whenever I think about it, I realize that it's pretty hard to do all these things without failing in at least one of them. I am struggling with all of my 'chores' and I am only keeping at it because I have a big ego and even a bigger ambition. Haha

I wake up every morning at four, be in the office at seven and end at by around four in the afternoon. Then I go home and finish paperwork so I can get a degree. Then I cook (thank God Allan cleans up) and then I do the things my extra job requires. It's tough, but I reckon that other people have a harder life, so who am I to complain?

Pechay Squid

This is an impromptu meal that I cooked up because we didn't fancy any of the other vegetables in the supermarket. This is just sauteed pechay with dried squid, that turned out pretty well. I should soak the squid next time before cooking so that it won't be so salty. But the dish was good enough for a cinch meal.

Clam Soup

These past few days the weather's been really cold, and it's nice to end the day with a nice, light and warm soup that's easy on the budget and calories. I don't want to eat heavy stuff on the evenings because I feel sluggish the next morning. So last week I made a soup that, for me, is an acquired taste. When I was younger, I really dislike clam soup. I didn't like the bitter/too salty taste of the soup, so with closed eyes, I would force myself to eat because, well, it's either that or starve. But later on I kinda started to look for that distinct taste of clam soup.

This is my very first attempt in making clam soup. I just bought a half kilo of clams and cleaned it really, really, REALLY well. After that, I poured water and added onions and ginger into the pot. After boiling it a bit and the clams start to open up, I seasoned the dish and added malunggay or moringa leaves into it. I'm pretty anal when it comes to malunggay. I want the leaves to be fine and individually plucked from the stem. I don't want any stem in the dish. It's weird, I know.

I loved the dish, and I love it more because I didn't need a lot of rice to feel full because the broth did all the work. Next time, I should use mussels though...they're bigger and have more bite.

Lumpiang Hubad

I do not understand the concept of Lumpiang Hubad. How can it be lumpia, if it's not wrapped? How can it be lumpia if you don't dip it into anything?

To me, this dish is ginisang togue. To Allan this is Lumpiang Hubad. To him this is merienda while to me, this is ulam.

Anyway, to make, all you have to do is (again) dump the bean sprouts into a pot. I use my rice cooker, so it's absurdly easy. After putting the bean sprouts, I put about a half cup of water and set it to cook. When it's simmering, I added a packet of Mama Sita ginisa mix and some shredded carrots. After the first boil, I added a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and seasoned the dish. Literally less than ten minutes, and I'm ready to serve.

It tasted pretty great! But next time, I might add some diced tofu to add a protein component to it.

Vegetable Soup

A few days ago, I made a version of my mother's pot of veggies, and instead of adding the fish paste or ginamus into the pot, I served it on the side as a dip. This is very simple and quick. I just dumped okra and kamote tops into a pot of water and added a few sprigs of lemongrass or tanglad for flavor and aroma. After boiling once, it's ready.

This is kinda hard to feed to non-veggie eaters, including Allan. Actually, he ate something else for dinner that night. But I was in veggie heaven. YUM!

Over the Weekend

So I knew that I would be at home over the weekend, with no plans of going out, except to pay our respects to Allan's late father, who is in a columbary (?) just five minutes away. So it was the perfect time to finish reading my books.

I am quite a little book hoarder, although I usually only buy from second hand bookstores. I am beginning to cramp our already very cramped room with piles of books.

For this batch (I have a tendency to do things in batches, just like my blog entries) I have Kissing the Virgin's Mouth, 'Tis, and I know why a Caged Bird Sings. I am in the final few pages of 'Tis.

Of course, it is only fitting for me to have a huge mug of thick hot chocolate, made from artisan tableas and sweet rolls.