Posted in family life, journeys, life, ramblings, silence speaks, tagged family life, journeys, life, silence speaks, thoughts and ramblings on January 29, 2014 |
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Here I am, still thinking of the gentle days of January. It seems as if the month is in a hurry to shed its leaves and bid goodbye. The quiet days of January - the cold winds on my face each morning I stay in the garden, the balmy weather that hopefully will stay until the end of February, the surprise visits from friends whom I haven’t seen for a long time, Nate’s newly learned words that sometimes I still can’t understand but pleasant to my ears just the same, the delight in discovering new blooms in my garden, what bliss!
Today is my son-in-law’s birthday and Nissa treated him with a nice family lunch at Bag of Beans in Tagaytay City. They brought Nate with them of course and Nissa said the food was good. Gosh, it’s been three years since I last visited Tagaytay and my favorite place, aside from Breakfast at Antonio’s is the Mushroomburger house. I always have a takeout every time we pass by the place. They sell the yummiest mushroom burger this side of town. Tagaytay is a very nice place to visit. Aside from the lovely weather, it’s closer to home and the view of Taal Lake from the top of the ridge is just so beautiful.
My priest son, Fr. Lovell is going on a mission two months from now. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard of Babuyan Islands except in old history books during my younger years. It is even more remote and isolated than the beautiful Batanes. My initial questions were, “Do they have cell sites there, do they have internet connection? How long will you be staying?” He briefed me on how life is there. You can only reach the place from Cagayan province via an 8-hour boat ride with sometimes big waves (the size of a house) along the way. The islands are actually closer to Taiwan than the nearest island in Northern Luzon. Visiting the place when he was still a seminarian made him finally decide to persevere to become a Dominican priest. I found this lovely blog with lots of pictures of Babuyan Islands. Looking at the pristine landscapes and reading the blogger’s description of the place, this island paradise truly mesmerize.
Except for the party my close friends (at AFCC) and I had last January 11 and the family visit from my daughter Nissa, January was a quiet month but I love it just the same. My only regret is that, I haven’t finished my sixth book that I originally planned to read this month.
It is growing cold and I am here wondering what February will bring.
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Posted in baking, dates, family life, food, recipes, tagged baking, date bars, food, life, Pitted dates, the joy of baking on January 24, 2014 |
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Two weeks ago, a friend from Hongkong sent me three packs of pitted dates and a pack of dried yellow raisins. Eating the pitted dates direct from the plastic pack is not really an option because I find them too sweet to my liking. I searched the internet for a simple bar recipe for dates. What do you know, it came out really yummy. As usual, I reduced the sugar since the dates are naturally sweet.
If you want to try this, here’s the recipe.
You would need:
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar (reduced it to 3/4 cup since the dates are sweet)
1 cup old-fashioned oats (I always use rolled oats when baking)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (equal to 1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Rub butter on an 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Set aside. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to simmer in a saucepan. Add dates, simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature then stir in vanilla.
Combine flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl, stir to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until moist clumps forms. Press half of oat mixture evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread date mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture by pressing gently. Bake until brown at edges and golden brown and set in center, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Cut into bars and serve.
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Posted in blessings, family life, life, rituals, what's cooking?, tagged Christmas 2013, Christmas countdown, Faith, family life, food, life on December 21, 2013 |
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Before you think I am super excited about Christmas, I am. Since December 21 is about to end in a few hours, let my count be, it’s three days to go before Christmas.
It was a busy day for me (weekends are always busy days). We went back to the wet market to buy last-minute things that we need to prepare for Noche Buena. I’m finally done cooking embutido, our Filipino version of meat loaf. My son requested that I put whole hotdogs inside so I also bought Purefood’s tender juicy hotdogs. I normally don’t put hotdog in my embutido recipes but it’s Christmas anyway so I let my son indulge a bit. This afternoon, I made a lightning visit to the grocery store to buy confectioner’s sugar since I am also planning to bake chocolate crinkles (another request from my son) but I was a bit disappointed when the sales clerk told me that he doesn’t know what confectioner’s sugar is. They have baking supplies in their shelves and he pointed to the baking powder lined up there, such a shame because they clearly lost a customer because I am not going back there. I am reminded a few months back when I was looking for baking soda in another supermarket and the sales clerk told me that it was quite sometime since they had a box in their shelves. I asked how could they sell all those baking goodies when the ingredients are not even complete. On my next visit, I was surprised to see small boxes of baking soda prettily lined-up along with all-purpose flour, cake flour, rice flour and boxes of baking mixes. I smiled. At least they listen to the needs of their customers.
Christmas time is a perfect excuse to make those sinful and calorific sweets. I don’t eat much of them anyway because I usually give them to our neighbors and friends. There is nothing like a home-cooked food to share, right? I am planning to bake chocolate chips cookies with cashew nuts. Yes, you heard it right, cashew nuts. Although there are plenty of cashew nuts here, they don’t come in cheap but compared to other nuts like pecan or walnuts which cost an arm and both legs, they are more practical to use. Come Christmas Eve, I’ll make carrot squares to go with the traditional pancit bihon and fried chicken. I usually spend my time laboring in front of the stove after the holy mass come Christmas day. This will probably be the only time that I won’t do it because I can always prepare the Callos and macaroni salad the day before. Would love to spend my time playing with Nate when they come over to celebrate with us.
And Christmas will always be the best time of the year to share love and joys and make peace with those who may have offended you at some time in your life. I remember a year ago, I posted this message on my wall, Happy Birthday Jesus! And a child of nine, a relative asked me, “why happy birthday” so I told him, He is the reason why we celebrate Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone!
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Posted in Christmas 2013, family life, guilty pleasures, season of advent, silence speaks, tagged Apostles Filipino Catholic Community, Christmas 2013, Christmas countdown, Christmas music, family life, guilty pleasures, silence speaks on December 2, 2013 |
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We’re into the first week of the Advent season and I’m just like a child waiting for Christmas. And did I say, I have my countdown? It’s Josef’s day off so we had the chance to do some honest to goodness cleaning. I was pleasantly surprised when he showed me his room with a functioning 14-inch color television complete with a DVD player. He brought them down when he cleaned up our upper cabinets. I have completely forgotten about them, they’ve been there since typhoon Ondoy and that was more than four years ago. We sorted out a box full of CDs, DVDs, some favorite movies that Nissa collected and songs of yesteryears which are still so good to hear and listen to.
And it’s time to bring out those treasured Christmas albums and sing along with the likes of The Gunter Kallmann Choir, Jose Mari Chan and the upbeat Tagalog Christmas songs of the Dyna Ensemble. A friend who was a former DJ asked me if I have an album of The Gunter Kallmann Choir. I just learned from him that it is no longer available locally. It’s the best album there is that I have treasured listening to through the years. It makes me feel nostalgic just listening to the music and remembering Christmas past. We have Nate now and it would surely be a happy one for us. It’ll be his second Christmas with us and I am sure he can now appreciate the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree and the sound of Christmas carols that he could dance to.
I was thrilled when I saw the number of likes, comments and shares on this simple message which was culled from one of my previous Christmas blogs here at WordPress. Last Sunday, I posted it at our Catholic site which I help maintain at Facebook. As of today, it earned 34 tags, 1,603 likes, 798 shares and 73 comments. Amazing. Maybe they found the message uplifting. I am sharing it again here:
It’s the Holy Season of Advent and we’re now celebrating the first Sunday. Every year, we look forward to the coming of Jesus and pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting and sing those beautiful songs of hope and promise.
The Advent season is full of God’s blessings for all of us. He makes us realize and remember to look back at the whole year that is about to end and to look forward to a new and hopeful year that is about to begin. Are we ready to take Him into our hearts? Are we ready to accept Him in our lives? True, we always say time is gold and we should not waste it but we also need to take stock of what is more important, a quiet contemplation, a moment of silence, a minute of giving thanks. Let this be a season of joy for all of us, awaiting a most precious event of the season – a baby born in swaddling cloths to save mankind.
Wow, it’s 23 days to go before Christmas!
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Posted in Christmas 2013, family life, journeys, life, photography, tagged a bit of myself, Christmas 2013, Christmas countdown, Christmas in the Philippines, family life, life, photography on November 26, 2013 |
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Got sick again. Been so busy the past few days that I had fever last night accompanied by muscle pains, sore throat and that feeling of being so helpless and sleepy. Son reported for work early this morning and I went back to bed when he left. I was surprised when he came back two hours later carrying a large bag of Pan de Manila pandesal, two soup pack and some medicines for headache and fever. He said he filed a leave of absence so he could take care of me. So sweet, I was touched. We did our groceries for Christmas the other day after which he asked me to accompany him to the appliance section of the store. Gosh, he bought me additional birthday gift, an AC/DC rechargeable AM/FM radio with LED light. He said I could use it for gardening since it is so handy to carry around. We had a good laugh while he pointed out the advantage of having one (although I have an old radio that I still use to listen to news). We repainted our gates and did some minor works at the house with the help of a neighbor.
And it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, it’s actually 29 days to go. Who’s counting? I am. I took shots of our street a few minutes ago with the Christmas lights on, it is so beautiful. It is the only street in our village that has uniform Christmas decoration. We have permanent lamp posts in every house here and our street coordinator had them all decorated with lights and lanterns.
Violet St. at night.
In front of our house
A corner street light
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