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Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category


September is almost at an end but the weather is so erratic sometimes which  makes you think it is still summer. Either the sun goes up early in the morning, heavy rain takes over in the afternoon or the rain comes early when you are asleep  and the sun shines a little late in the afternoon. Crazy.

I haven’t blogged for a week, that kind of post that needs at least five hundred words 🙂  Remember  that feeling that you wanted to write  a post but you don’t know how  to start? Remember that feeling when  you have lots of thoughts in your head chasing each other to come out but you don’t know  where to start? Remember that feeling that you would really love to update your blog but you don’t know when to start?

Maybe I am just feeling oh so lazy.  Yes Virginia, that’ s the truth.  I am on my 92nd book though, 8 more books to go and I’m done.  I don’t always find  good ones, some are just easy reads.

We left early to do our twice a month marketing this morning. I was delighted when I found fresh fiddlehead fern selling at P10 a bunch, got three for P25.  You’re lucky if a vendor gives you a discount because you are the buena mano.  It tastes so crunchy, just blanch it with hot water for a minute or two  then add slices of tomatoes, ginger and onion. Instead of ground pork as toppings,  I used a can of flaked solid white  albacore fried to a crisp. Josef loves it. Then we saw a young stingray being sliced by our suki vendor so we bought a kilo. They  clean it and remove the skin at your request. My son is an expert when it comes to flaking the fish, slicing and dicing ingredients.  The best way to cook it is in coconut cream with lots of diced  banana pepper, julienned  ginger  and thinly sliced red onion.  I am surprised that Rambutan fruits are still in season, a steal at P60 a kilo.  I love it when it is chilled. It’s fun to find fresh produce in the market.

We were supposed to celebrate my daughter’s birthday in advance today so I cooked Nate’s favorite sinigang, this time I used shrimp instead of pork ribs. Nate loves anything sour with all the veggies.They were on their way here this morning when Nissa  told me that they  were  going back because her mother-in-law was rushed to  the hospital.  Nothing serious, she was not confined, thank God.  Nate was actually looking forward to their monthly visit here. He said over the phone “see you later Nonna” but he must have meant “see you soon”.  More weekends to look forward to.

Lately,  I have explored a bit of WordPress, how to blacklist someone who makes those comments which are not really about the post or about the blog  but which are not classified as spam by  WordPress.  They are meant to provoke.  I have learned how to delete a follower who is not really into writing, when you click the site, you can’t even find it. Years ago, there was this site who made use of one particular post, changed  some words and they made it appear its their own. I called the attention of WordPress to no avail so what I did was to blog about that site for everyone to see.  I even learned how to use Copyscape to check everything here, I don’t know how  effective it is but at least  it is an option.  I am glad there is Akismet.  It has protected my site from 54,096 spam comments as of this writing.  I am grateful to WordPress for that.

Any app you have uploaded to your blog to protect it? It would be nice to hear from you, thanks 🙂

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It’s a rainy Monday and PAGASA said we will have these monsoon rains for the next five days. Typhoon Egay hasn’t left yet and there is another one coming but has not yet  entered the Philippine area of responsibility. I hope it will divert its course farther from the country.

Josef and I have thought about it even before we reached the market this morning, braving the early morning shower. He asked me what is the best food for merienda (snacks) on a rainy day. I suggested soup with crackers but he didn’t buy it. What about arroz caldo or minatamis na saging? Can you prepare both, he asked. Why not?

Arroz caldo or congee is best prepared with sticky rice and chicken wings with lots of fried garlic while minatamis na saging is the easiest version of cooking saba banana (Philippine plantains) but you can simply boil it or eat it raw, it does not matter. I bought eight pieces and a cup of mini tapioca pearls. We had this for snack this afternoon.

Believe me, it's yummy and the sweetness is just right .

Believe me, it’s yummy and the sweetness is just right .

Perfect for a hot cup of green tea and lemon...

Perfect for a hot cup of green tea and lemon…

If I am not too lazy tomorrow, I will cook arroz caldo  not for merienda but for dinner. Dinner today is fresh bean sprouts topped with  crunchy flaked tinapa, another comfort food on rainy days like this.

The sun showed its face for a while so  I went out to visit the garden and took a few shots. I love those silver raindrops clinging to  the leaves  after the rain.

Look at those dark threatening clouds...

Look at those dark threatening clouds…

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I need to practice on my macro shots again (on food, that is) and this morning with nothing much to do, I decided to cook  the squid Josef and I bought at the wet market a few days ago. I have to remove the heads and clean everything from the thin-film on the outer skin down to the belly before freezing it. A kilo of regular-sized squid is good enough for two meals.  As I don’t want to labor much in the kitchen by grilling it, I made the stuffing out of about one-fourth kilo of ground pork sautéed in garlic, onions, one egg, a spoonful of cornstarch, carrots and green bell pepper. You have to make sure that the ground pork is properly cooked since you only need to fry the squid to make  it a little crispy on the outside.  I marinated the squid in calamansi juice (Philippine lime), ground pepper, salt and granulated garlic for about thirty minutes before putting it in the frying pan. It was an experiment and partnered with mixed veggie salad, it tasted surprisingly good. Josef said, “success”. Yeay!

Fried Stuffed Squid

Fried Stuffed Squid

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Locally we call it bangus, it’s  milkfish to you dear readers. It’s considered our national fish. The Philippines is one of the best places to buy fresh bangus. There are a hundred ways to cook bangus. The best part of course would be the belly.  It contains a healthy fat that is good for our health.  We had this for lunch today, three slices of bangus belly. Bear with me, I am practicing on my macro shots on food. I don’t seem to get it right, the focus is not always to my liking. What do you think of this?

Sweet  snd sour Bangus belly. Oh so yummy!

Sweet and sour Bangus belly. Oh so yummy!

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Here I go again with the same thought every time I don’t get to post for a few days at WordPress,  it is hard to start all over again. It seems as if the thoughts you have in your head vanishes like thin air when you are  ready to share and ready to write about it.

I’ve been sick for four days last week, that kind of feeling when you can’t do anything but shut your eyes and wish the pain of a gargantuan headache will just disappear. It was further aggravated by the  summer heat we are having at the moment and a fever that simply would not go away. I am not exaggerating. I’ve probably consumed gallons and gallons of water just to beat off the heat. I was still lucky  and blessed though because last week,  Mom, my sis-in-law and niece had a five-day short vacation with us so they did the cooking, cleaning the house and watering my plants while I was indisposed. My ten-year old niece was so attentive  she could pass for a nurse. She is good at doing those relaxing massages that make you feel sleepy.  She was seven when she last stayed with us during the summer and I am pleasantly surprised how she has grown to be a very responsible young kid.  I wish they could have stayed a little longer.

It is hard to go back to your normal routine when your body is weak.  I am taking things easy and that means the laundry is piling up, the carabao grass needs an immediate trim and our new puppy made a minced meat of my  bromeliad, even my angel plants didn’t escape from his roving eyes. This afternoon, for the first time this summer, it rained hard in our area, enough maybe to save on that much precious water for at least two days.

In between bouts of headache and fever, I was able to show my niece how to bake Chocolate Crinkles. I can still see the joy on her face and the smiles when she tasted the batter and said “ang sarap” which means  it is yummy. Since it was my first time to try the recipe, we have to go by the book, a step by step procedure that she could really understand. Surprisingly, they came out well, a good partner to the green tea our neighbor gave us when she learned that I was sick.  It was crispy on the outside but chewy and soft to the bite. She made me promise to teach her how to bake more goodies when she comes over again to visit us.

Yummy Chocolate Crnkles

Yummy Chocolate Crinkles

I learned two more designs to my growing fascination for Rainbow Looms. It is quite hard (at least for me) to follow the instructional videos on YouTube which an eight-year old can easily do. My son bought more colors and they are really expensive.  Maybe when I am well enough to sit in front of the computer, I will learn more.

 

 

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The family  celebrated Mother’s Day today, a day earlier than May 11. We decided to meet at SM Megamall for lunch. Another day worth-remembering. One thing that highlights  the day is of course Nate’s presence. The moment he saw us, he let his dad undo the strap of  his stroller and let Josef carry him along. There is a special affinity between the “magninong” (that’s a Tagalog word for godparent) even if they don’t see each other often.  He can pronounce Nonna clearly now and I was so glad when he took my hand and planted a loud kiss on my face.  Nissa said he learned new words in the three weeks that I haven’t seen him.

We opted to dine at the newly opened wing of SM  Megamall. The Mega Fashion Hall  is the new high-end extension of the mall. It houses several restaurants and other international clothing brands. The set-up is somehow similar to the Ayala Malls. Aside from the more popular Vikings, there is another branch of  Lugang Café where we took our lunch. So it’s Chinese food for lunch. I took some shots but mostly of Nate banging a spoon and fork on the table and playing with the plastic green cup which they provided for him along with a green plastic plate and bowl. I had a good time watching him eat what was served on the table. He loved the Fried Beef Noodles and Fried Rice.

He was behaved...at first but he clearly knows when to stop and say sorry to Mom and Dad.

He was behaved…at first but he clearly knows when to stop and say sorry to Mom and Dad.

Mother and daughter team.

Mother and daughter team.

Three generations of Abuel.

Three generations of Abuel.

Nothing is more important than having the family around.

Nothing is more important than having the family around.

Busog na baby? Our little man!

Busog na baby? Our little man!

That's his way of saying,  "I'm full, it's your turn to eat Dad".

That’s his way of saying, “I’m full, it’s your turn to eat Dad”.

I love the Garlic Pork Roll and Steamed Fish Fillet. No room for dessert...

I love the Garlic Pork Roll and Steamed Fish Fillet. No room for dessert…

He is probably looking forward to going swimming tomorrow  with his Dad’s side of the family. Enjoy Nate  but be careful with the sun. I know how much you love to paddle your feet and splash water with your hands.  Until we see each other again.

(Note: This is my 1,440th post…can’t believe it)

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“There was a mood of magic and frenzy to the room. Crystalline swirls of sugar and flour still lingered in the air like kite tails. And then there was the smell-the smell of hope, the kind of smell that brought people home.” – Sarah Addison Allen

One thing I love about baking, be it a simple banana bread,  moist carrot bars or cookies  is the smell that permeates the whole kitchen once you place the baking pan in the oven. I love the  combined smell of cooking raisins, nuts, vanilla or cinnamon or whatever ingredient a particular recipe calls for. This afternoon, I baked my second apple pie confident enough to tweak the recipe a bit and  experiment on brushing just egg whites on top instead of a beaten egg with the yolk.  The top part of the pie may not be as silky as when you use the whole egg but it adds a flaky feel combined with sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon. Whereas before I didn’t even know how to make a dough, it’s now as easy as kneading something for our local steamed bun called “siopao”.  I also sliced half and half of Fuji apples for a natural sweet taste and the tart flavor of Granny Smith.  It came out good, son said, “it’s yummy”.  I laughed when he asked, “did you take pictures?” He knows that I document almost everything that I cook in the kitchen  just like I do with my flowering plants when they are in bloom. He cut a slice even before it cooled down. I got three remaining apples, would love to try making apple sauce and use it on my next baking adventure.

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Here’s one more that I experimented on a month ago, a simple recipe for vanilla cake. I didn’t put icing because I love the flavor without being too sweet.

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I love the quiet, concentrating on the task at hand , the calming effect of kneading, measuring and  mixing to make something  yummy and  scrumptious.

I got a lovely surprise this afternoon when a friend sent me a lovely tin of Fannie May Colonial Assortment chocolates via LBC.  Aren’t I lucky? Can’t wait to take a bite. Thank you Ex.  🙂

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Once in a while, I see  it  in the wet market and it  looks  so fresh  that I am always tempted to buy. This morning, my son and I did our twice a month marketing  and saw it,  there were just four bundles on sale, I bought two and we had it for lunch along with lumpiang shanghai.

Locally, fiddlehead ferns are called pako. They are wild and nutritious greens which you can make into salads or cooked in coconut cream. Either way, they taste wonderful.  Here’s the simplest way to prepare this delicious treat. I just blanched  it  then topped it with fresh tomatoes, red onions, strips of fresh ginger  and sautéed ground pork.

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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.

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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

Here’s how:

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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I dreamed of baking apple pie since I got interested in simple recipes like bars, cookies and the like but I never tried making pie crust from scratch. Last month, Grace, a friend who now lives in Canada forwarded two recipes  for making really flaky pie crust that one could use for apple pie. I tried the butter pie crust recipe without shortening and made two single crusts  that I used yesterday for my first ever Apple Pie. The fillings of course would depend on how you want your pie either with a bit of tartness or a little sweet. I always prefer Granny Smith apples for baking. They don’t easily spoil and stays fresh longer inside the ref. Besides, I learned from a famous pastry chef ( from TV) that Granny Smith are baking apples. I used to bake Apple Crumble  and Apple Crisp in different variations but yesterday, I finally tried making a pie crust from scratch.  It’s an achievement to be able to come up with something really flaky and crunchy to the bite. Here’s the recipe.

Butter Pie Crust Recipe

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter (I used Magnolia Unsalted) cut into pieces

1/2 cup ice water

Combine flour and salt in medium bowl, cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle water, 1 tbsp at a time over flour mixture, tossing lightly with a fork until mixture forms an even dough.

Divide dough in half, flatten and shape into disks  and wrap each in plastic, refrigerate  for an hour.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface into circle, about 12 to 14 inches round. Carefully fold in quarters, lift gently and unfold into a 9-inch pie pan.

Gently press pastry against bottom and sides of pan, trim overhang to 1/2 inch, then fold the edge under. Pinch edges to flute.

You might think this is a daunting task, and I thought so too but when you get the hang of it, it is quite easy.  I took some pictures of course. I am that excited 🙂

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I didn’t put the recipe for fillings since it would really depend on your taste. Green apples are of the tart variety so you can add sugar if you want. Look how flaky the pie crust turned out to be.

Happy New year by the way, we had this on our table last night for media noche.

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