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Archive for the ‘family life’ Category


And before you think this is about books  again, you’re wrong.

Sorry, I amend that. After blogging about my loot from Books For Less for the last few days, I switched to e-books for a change. Sometimes it is more convenient to read just holding your phone close while relaxing to the beat of some sentimental music, a somewhat low-key means of  spending the time away. I am currently reading The Glass Kitchen and I was inspired by the book thinking of what to bake for a change. Two days ago, I read one of the books I bought at the sale  (a Christmas story) and there were three recipes there for fruit cakes. One thing that intrigued me is the recipe for no bake fruitcake.  I would definitely try that one of these days and I will use locally produced dried fruits and nuts instead of using imported ones.

Banana and Chocolate?

This is my first time to try baking by combining banana and chocolate. I told Josef to leave two pieces of bananas that I could use for today’s experiment. It’s either chocolate (brownies mostly) or banana bread with nuts or raisins. I searched the net for a simple recipe and I found this, a yummy Banana Chocolate Cupcake recipe.

banana choco cupcakes

Banana Chocolate Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 12 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, mashed banana, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined. Pour or scoop the batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full, and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Frost with the Chocolate Frosting.

Chocolate Frosting: Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low-speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2 -3 minutes).

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (35 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup (120 ml) mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium sized banana)

1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water

1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable or corn oil

3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

3 ounces (90 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (120 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

 I didn’t bother with the frosting since it tastes so good even without it and it was moist inside.  I made  twenty mini cupcakes. The recipe was lifted from the joyofbaking.com

Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

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He said, “we must come back here”.

Oh yes, why not? Fancy my son being so supportive of my hobbies. Although he is not into fiction books like I am, he loves accompanying me to bookstores and  letting me find more books to explore and read. Yesterday was one such lovely day that we got to spend together after a lightning trip to the supermarket to buy groceries. Grocery-shopping, reading labels  and nutrition facts, finding something  new, making list of items that we need to buy – purely routine for some but it’s a joy for me to do.

Last week when he saw  what I bought at Books for Less, he promised to go with me to buy more.  Who would not be thrilled with that? I thought he would be put off by the gargantuan  and riotously arranged books  on display there but he found out something to his interest, a hard-bound book on games  (cards, magic tricks etc.) and he was hooked. He was even surprised that all books on sale are at P10 pesos each.

And more books.

When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness. ~Jules Renard

When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness. ~Jules Renard

I found two more books on Christmas, one is a collection of short Christmas stories by Rosamunde Pilcher  and a novel by Debbie Macomber.  I found a copy of Taylor Caldwell’s Captains and the Kings.  I watched the tv series decades ago. That was mid-seventies, I think when television programs were something to look forward to, not the sort of teleseryes  (soap operas)  that they have now that I never bother to watch. I remember watching it with Mom and Dad along with the television  sitcom John and Marsha, the longest running comedy series that made us  all laugh.  I love history even if they are just written through fiction books. It is now hard to find mass-produced copies of novels written by great writers from way back except maybe in second-hand bookstores  and I was lucky to find Captains and the Kings. It has mostly five-star ratings on Goodreads .  I am also excited to read Los Alamos, a first novel by Joseph Canon. I have just finished reading the second book of  Ken Follett on WWII and  this would be a nice follow-up since its setting was at the end of WWII. How lucky could one get, right?

Yes, of course.

Yesterday, when Josef said that we have to come back and add some more to my loot, I readily answered, “Yes, of course”  with a smile on my face that says, what a lovely day!

What books are you reading at the moment?

 

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It is always nice to reminisce the good old days. I wonder how many times I’ve blogged about something like this, mostly about books and music, music and books, a lethal combination that makes the  heart happy.  Every Sunday is one such opportunity to reminisce the good old days, the relaxed time, the “me” moments. Never mind if the laundry basket is almost full of dirty clothes that need to be loaded in the washing machine, never mind if the side yard needs sweeping from the jackfruit trees that shed leaves like crazy, never mind the half-finished and newly dug  earth just waiting  there outside. My aging body refuses to work on Sundays so it is spent catching up on reading and listening almost all day long to the music of the 60’s and the 70’s. Most FM radios play them anyway and AM bands have followed suit, so instead of news, I listen and sing along.

This morning, I had a nice chat with my brother who lives in Tulsa with his family. It has become a ritual for us to spend thirty minutes to an hour exchanging news via Viber. Talk about technology advancement and free calls from far-off  US of A.  I just recently learned how to use Viber, I had it installed on my phone  and removed the app for Skype.  I get to call my daughter Nissa and listen to my grandson Nate shouting “Nonna, Nonna, hi” over the phone thru Viber. I think this is the best medium for free calls and messaging. Gone are the days when you are often afraid to make overseas calls because you dread to see your phone bill rising to high heavens.   It is always a riot of laughter while swapping stories with my youngest brother. We talk about our kids (mostly) and food (all the time) and how hard life is nowadays but as always we get to reminisce on the good old days (again).  He loves to cook and sometimes shares his recipes with me. This morning, it was chicken gumbo and bamboo shoots.  Alden, my other brother who lives in the province with Mom brought me fresh bamboo shoots the other day. I have some of it cooked in coconut milk with lots of  sliced green pepper, the rest I put in the freezer for future use.

Books-For-Less-Warehouse-Sale-August-2014

Nissa sent me this early this morning (an ad from Books for Less).  She said I would surely enjoy finding treasures there. I am excited but they are closed on Sundays.

I hope you are enjoying the weekend.

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Despite the cold weather here, I woke up at an ungodly hour of 3:18am.  It’s nice to just enjoy the early morning in peace and quiet but the steady patter of raindrops brings that fear again of flash flood.  PAGASA said tropical storm Henry (yes, it is a he this time) won’t make a landfall but it would intensify habagat (southwest monsoon) to the rest of the country. The storm is northbound this time.

Josef brought home two large loaves of Gardenia bread from their team building the other night and I told him, we should consume it first instead of cooking breakfast and since it is his rest day, it’s a go. Mind you, I even googled a bit on the many ways to cook eggs. We usually have them scrambled, soft-boiled, sunny side-up and omelet. But what’s perfect for slices of warm toasted bread?  He likes it cooked with lots of white onions and fresh tomatoes so instead of mixing them together, I cooked the tomatoes in a little butter, granulated garlic and black pepper.

IMG_6144

It turned out so yummy, he had four slices of panini pressed bread.  We usually have fried rice for breakfast with longganisa(native sausage) or dried fish or a week-old adobo flakes. Speaking of adobo, the longer you keep them in the ref, the tastier and more yummy  it gets. It is a Filipino dish that never goes wrong with any meal, be it an ordinary breakfast fare or something special mixed with coconut cream.

I miss messing around in my garden and this rain makes it hard for us to trim the grass  and our Fukien tea plants. I miss taking shots of my garden blooms but all I have now are my Hoya, some new buds of Mokara orchids and my ever patient Crossandra flowers. Maybe when the rain stops, I’ll take photos of the water droplets clinging to the leaves of  the taro plants. Maybe in a while, the sun will show its face and I’ll be able to go out and explore.  I guess this is also a perfect time to finish that book of Ken Follett.

Go away Henry and let me see the sun.

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Josef  and I left the house early so we could avoid the traffic that usually goes with the morning rush hours. A few minutes would really spell the difference.  For the past three years, we  have renewed the registration of our car at the LTO Quezon City office and my brother who has the same ending number for July sometimes accompany us or has his car registered at the same time. He said earlier that he might not be able to register it early so we went ahead today. Imagine our surprise when we saw him already parked in front of the emission testing center  at LTO.

We waited for their offices to open,  we were there before 7am. It took us about thirty minutes to wait for the emission testing, issuance of insurance certificate and registration. Last year, most branches didn’t have stickers upon renewal but I was glad to see that my son won’t have to come back for it this time. They were ready with the 2014 stickers.  One thing that made me laugh while recounting to my son why it took me a few minutes to finish was that the receiving clerk  mistook me for a senior citizen and wrote SC in bold letters on the xeroxed copy of the car’s certificate without even asking if I am one.  The perks of having a few grey hairs at your temple. You are on the priority list and that also holds true when you transact business in government establishments and banks. There is a separate line for SC.

Earlier on, my brother and I talked about what we will do when we reach the senior years (he is older by only eleven months actually) because Senior Citizens enjoy some privileges that make life a little easier. Under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, the SC enjoy  a 20% discount and exemption from the value added tax on the sale of goods and services like medicines, medical supplies and professional fees of  attending physicians in all private hospitals, actual fare in public transports, 5% discount on grocery items to name a few. Here in our place, they even give you a basket of groceries every time you celebrate your birthday and free medicines for common  everyday ailments.  We talked about finally having retirement funds  from  the Social Security System. He is also a colon cancer survivor like am I. Thank God for miracles, he is on his 11th year being cancer free. I am still praying every day that we would both reach the age where we can still enjoy the company of our grandchildren.

Anyway, I am looking forward to being called a senior citizen in exactly two years and three months and I’ll be one….gladly.

 

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I set my alarm clock at 4am but I was  awake long before I pressed the snooze button. It’s Monday and my son and I were supposed to have our car registered at the LTO. Mondays are his rest days so we thought of going there early so as to avoid the long queue of cars with plates ending in 7.  It was raining though and I don’t want my son driving in the rain with traffic to boot. Typhoon Florita (internationally named Neugori) was upgraded to a super typhoon. Though it is still in the Philippine area of responsibility  and it won’t likely make a landfall, it is bringing monsoon rains in several places.

By the way, I would love to thank those new online friends who are now following me here. I know, 793 followers are not much to other bloggers’ standards  but then I am so lucky and grateful that they read my blog. Right now, my stats are blooming  registering a high 270,981 visits. That’s a feat if you ask me.  I am always conscious of  the fact that I nearly consumed two-thirds of the allowed 3.072MB limits. I used to post high-resolution photos in my earlier blog entries but then I realized that it would easily eat up my allowed free limits so I opened a new blog for my photos two years ago, I think. Of course I don’t expect that it will gather as many followers and visits like this main page but at least I get to see my macro shots in full. If you have time, you can visit it here. I am reviewing some of my earlier posts and trying to adjust the photos to at least medium sizes.

Every week, my daughter makes it a point that I get to talk to my grandson Nate over the phone. Although Nissa and I get in touch every day, I only get to hear Nate’s voice over the weekends. We see each other once a month, they come over so we could catch up on things. Sometimes, I laugh at the things Nissa shares in her messages. Yesterday, she texted that at Nate’s age, he is really a smart little boy. She told Nate, “Mommy will make you milk, ok” and he answered “ok”. I laughed when I read it and I missed him all the more. Last night, I got to talk to him for about a minute. Nissa told me that  when he saw my picture on Nissa’s phone, he said, “Nonna, Nonna”. I love it that he always responds to the non-stop “I love you” although sometimes he could not pronounce it yet correctly. He is a year and seven months old now, that stage where he listens to every word you say and try to imitate it.

It’s still a little dark outside. I’d love to take a few shots of the rain droplets at the garden.  What a cold morning and the drizzle has not stopped yet. Good morning :)

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The past days, I didn’t have the energy to blog. I am still busy with gardening,what with the onset of the rainy season and the carabao grass seems to grow by leaps and bounds.  I actually hired somebody to clean our side yard outside because I am planning to have it planted with some green veggies.  As is the case with people who are not really into gardening,  they can never visualize what you want to do with it. I have to tell him how to remove the stubborn weeds by turning over the soil and removing the roots embedded there. It is even more time-consuming to give instructions and see if he did it the way you wanted. Gardening is hard I know and  when you don’t have any love for the earth, it would be just one tedious task that you will have to do again and again.

My son and I did our marketing this morning back at Pasig market. It is always something I look forward to because I am so curious about what fruits we could buy that are in season which would save us a few pesos. Santol is selling by the crates and a kilo of the Bangkok variety  with that sweet and juicy pulp is selling at P20.00 and the ordinary ones are at P10.00 a kilo. I was thinking of cooking ginataang santol so I bought two kilos. The last time I cooked something like this was about a year ago. I have forgotten how yummy it is, with the sour taste blending perfectly with the coconut cream, Thai red chilis and a bit of ground pork  to make it more tasty.  Filipino recipes cooked in coconut cream won’t be that authentic without the hot taste of red or green pepper. I am also planning to plant the local siling labuyo in our backyard. Josef was delighted when he saw  bright red cherry tomatoes. We could use them for fresh vegetable salad.  Locally produced zucchini are a lot cheaper than the imported ones. I also got the orange variety of sweet potatoes, what a joy! It is always a thrill to discover  something  new  to buy and something nice to experiment on in the kitchen.

Yes,I was able to catch up on reading. I laughed out loud while reading Sophie Kinsella’s I Got Your Number. I know, you’ll probably say, most of her books are funny and humorous but then, don’t we sometimes want to read books that are simply relaxing?  Just imagine, four books in one week and I am on my 5th one,  another book by Jojo Moyes. That’s a feat if you ask me :) I could not wait though to do some looming again but it has to take a back seat in lieu of gardening.

How was your day? I am looking forward to what July has in store. I’ll be on my 5th year in remission by July 14th. Thank God for the gift of health. I bow my head for all these graces and blessings.

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