Monday, November 23, 2009

I Heart Caliraya

For most people, when they think of summers, they think of the beach and other exotic places. For our family, Caliraya, was our most favorite summer destination. All the kids look forward to summer because we know that we would be spending it in Caliraya.

This is the first resort that we ever stayed in. It's pretty rustic and basic but we loved it!

Caliraya is a man-made lake on top of a mountain. It is essentially a dam run by Napocor (National Power Corporation).

My uncle Florante, who has since passed, was an executive at Napocor and had privileges of renting Napocor's premier summer getaway lodge called Camarin. We hope to visit again soon and hope that Napocor is able to maintain its beauty and charm.

I remember Camarin so well. It had a grand winding driveway that led to the "bulwagan" or great room where our family spent countless meals together. The rooms were quite sizeable, have their own en suite bathrooms and airconditioning :-) (Remember, this was our youth, more than two decades ago, airconditioning was sheer luxury). We would have the whole place all to ourselves during holy week. All seven rooms in the compund!

It was a place that held wonder and adventure. Cool breezes invite for long naps on the porch, wide open spaces invite for a game of "habulan taya", mature trees provide shade for our tired little bodies after a whole day of playing. The lake, provides many hours of boating and fishing (not that we caught any) and I remember hours of conversation among the "cousins" about mermaids and crocodiles lurking in the muddy waters of lake Caliraya. Yes, we looked everytime we took a boat ride.

The grassy landscape provide great hiding places for easter eggs and many hours playing with "makahiya" (a "shy" weed that closes it's leaves when touched).

The most memorable perhaps are the lovely meals that we had there. Meals that were lovingly prepared by our mothers and aunts. Eat all you can fiesta. There were several long tables in the bulwagan and we would line them up side by side so that all of us will be able to stay in one long table, share food, share conversations and be a family.

I feel a little sad that the three male pillars of our family have passed on. My father was the youngest, who died at age 45. My uncle Florante, the instigator of summer vacation adventures, died of a heart attack a few weeks before my wedding and my Tito Boy who recently passed this year.

Yesterday, after sharing a simple meal at my brother's home, we decided to take a two-hour road trip to Caliraya and revisit our youth and to introduce to the third genration, Jay-jay and Ashley, my nephew and niece (since I have yet to produce an offspring), the magical place where their dad (my brother) and I spent endless summer days playing.

We hope that someday, they too, will have a special appreciation of the beautiful Caliraya and make special memories with family and friends.

Chicken Triangles

On our way home from the grocery, hubby requested that I make chicken flautas for lunch. The problem was, he didn't tell me this BEFORE we went to the grocery. I had just planned to make Chicken Quesadilla for lunch and I didn't have enough tortilla for the flautas.

I just made do with the dimsum/siomai wrappers I have on stock. The ingredients are very simple and basic, yet, very tasty. The bell peppers and cilantro provide a fresh burst of flavor when you bite into the chicken triangles. Enjoy!

Chicken Triangles

Siomai wrappers, large
Cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
Chicken breast fillet
Cheddar cheese, grated or cubed
Green bell pepper, sliced
White onions, chopped (optional)
Egg, beaten
(notice there are no measurements, this is because you can put as much or as little as you want in the filling)

Tomato salsa for dipping

1. Marinate chicken breast in milk, cilantro leaves and salt. Leave for at least half an hour.
2. Drain and pat dry the chicken breast fillets. Boil in lightly salted water until cooked. Drain and cube.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the chicken, cilantro, cheese, bell peppers and onions (if using, I didn't because hubby hates the stuff).
4. Place about a tablespoon of the chicken mixture in each siomai wrapper. Fold in triangles and seal edges by brushing it with a beaten egg.
5. Quicklty fry chicken tringles in hot oil to avoid burning and absorbing too much oil.
6. Drain in paper towels. Serve with salsa dipping sauce.

Quick, easy and delicious!

And yes, we had the chicken quesadilla on top of the chicken triangles. :-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just sharing some funny stories about cheesecake

I often get calls from hubby about conversations like these:

Hubby's colleagues: "We'll go to the Alabang office for a meeting (states agenda)"

Hubby: "Sure"

Hubby's colleagues: "We'll also drop by your house, to have some of Leica's cheesecake"

Hubby: "Leica's working, she doesn't keep it on stock!"


Hubby goes to the Makati office:

Colleagues: "Do you have Leica's cheesecake with you"

Hubby: "No! I'm here for a meeting!"

He! he! he!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Corned Beef with Asparagus and Potatoes

Corned beef, despite having been introduced by the Americans, is a staple breakfast fare in most Filipino homes. The typical version is canned corned beef sauteed in garlic, onions and tomatoes, the trinity in Filipino cooking.

My version is a healthier alternative of the typical corned beef breakfast. It's still coned beef, but less of the grease.

Corned Beef with Asparagus and Potatoes

2 Small cans of corned beef
1 Diced potato
1 bunch baby asparagus spears, sliced, hard portions discarded

1. In rapidly boiling, lightly salted water, add the potato and asparagus. Drain after one minute or less.
2. In a separate non-stick pan, heat up the corned beef (without adding any oil). Add the potatoes and asparagus, toss until heated through. Do not add any more salt.

Serving good for 3, or one hungry husband, depends on the situation :-)

Jatujak Thai Food and Thai Iced Tea at SM Mall of Asia

Hubby was working all day at home yesterday and was a bit stressed and tired. To unwind, we went to SM Mall of Asia (MOA for short) to catch the fireworks, have dinner and do a little bit of shopping.

The traffic was unusually horrendous and we were unble to catch the fireworks which happens every Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

Anyway, I've been craving for Thai food since my cousin Butchie posted a shout out in his Facebook that he's having some. I had the "inggit" (jealous) factor. So, we had our fill of Thai food at Jatujak Thai Food at the 2nd level of MOA (near the cinemas). The place is always full since their food is nice and almost authentic (Bangkok streetfood is still the best of course) and Jatujak is reasonaly priced as well. Their best sellers are the Chicken Pandan and the Bagoong Rice. (I know this because almost all the tables have them)

I didn't realize hubby was so hungry, he started ordering so many things from the menu!

For starters we had the Pomelo and Prawn Salad (Yam Som O). This is nice and refreshing with just the right blend of sweetness, saltiness and tartness. Jatujak's version has toasted coconuts on top.

Hubby also ordered the Fresh Vegetarian Roll (Pho Pia Sod). Assorted vegetables wrapped in rice paper, chpped peanuts and a sweet chili dipping sauce. Hubby seemed to like this because I only got to eat one :-)

Hubby ordered Beef Noodle Soup with thin rice noodles. He liked this as well but said to me "You can do this at home". Yup, I agree. But it was nice nonetheless. Each bowl would probably feed two people. Hubby managed to finish most of this by himself (No, I didn't get any).

Of course, I had the Shrimp Pad Thai. This was nice, but not as nice as the ones I had in Bangkok :-) But it will do in the meantime. I had plently left over. Each serving is good for 2 to 3 persons.

After all that, hubby was still hungry and ordered the Crispy Pork with Cilantro Relish (Moo Grab). Little did we know that it will be nothing but chicharon! Holy cholesterol! Hubby, was trying to sneak in fatty food again! We didn't finish this and had just asked this for take out to give to our housekeeper.

For dessert, hubby and I shared Sticky Rice with Mango. Hubby was surprised this was served hot. I like this very much since I am a lover of "kakanin" (rice based desserts). Unfortunately, as one ages, (ahem) we have to watch our carbohydrate and sugar intake. But I think I had my fill during my younger years, which seemed to stay at a mid-section up to this day, ha ha ha :-)

Fortunately, we had an hour left before the mall closed, to walk off the calories :-)

SM Mall of Asia is a nice mall because it overlooks the Manila Bay and when the night is balmy, like last night, fresh sea air comes through the mall and provides a refreshing breeze. It's nice to watch the sunset too while dining in one of the restaurants overlooking the bay.

SM Mall of Asia is very very crowded on weekends (specially Saturdays because of the fireworks), so take that into consideraton if you want to go there.

For less parking hassles, drop off your car and keys to the valet located at the back (where Krispy Kreme is) and just Pay P80, it will save you a lot of time.

Happy malling!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tuna Pesto Quesadilla

I felt hungry. It was midnight and hubby's still at work. I look into whatever is available in my fridge and pantry. Here's what I came up with:

Tuna Pesto Quesadilla

2 small flour tortillas
Pesto Sauce (I used Barilla)
1 small can Century Tuna, drained well
1 Tomato, seeded and diced
Cilantro leaves
Mozzarella Cheese (Skim, if you have it)
Bottled salsa

1. Spread a thin layer of pesto sauce on the tortilla.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients on one side (for easy flipping later).
3. Place the tortilla in a hot non-stick skillet. When tortilla starts to bubble, fold in half and then flip and toast until your desired doneness. Maybe 1 to 2 minutes per side. Slice in half before eating.

Best dipped in salsa. If you don't have it like I did, I just added more tomatoes and cilantro inside the quesdilla.

This Tuna Pesto Quesadilla recipe so easy to make and it's quite healthy too.

I had to make two batches since the first one had too much pesto in it which made it a bit salty and soggy.

Now, I'm too full. Gotta burn some of it off before going to bed!

Hmmm..should I call a home service massage?.............

Friday, November 13, 2009

E Jeepney

I saw an e-jeepney this morning on my way to work. They're colorful, free and environment friendly because they use electricity instead of fossil fuels.

I found this article from which explains it better than I can :-)

E-jeepneys take over 2 Makati villages’ routes
By DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:07:00 07/05/2008

Filed Under: Transport, Road Transport, Environmental Issues
SLEEK, COLORFUL and environment-friendly, the electric powered or “e-jeepney” finally made its commercial debut at the Makati central business district early this month, drawing plaudits from Earth lovers everywhere.

A year after the pilot test of the project on Ayala Avenue, environmentalists and city officials rolled out the first batch of 14-seater e-jeepneys that were assigned separate routes around Legaspi and Salcedo Villages in the financial district.

“We consider this a historic event. This will revolutionize the transport sector in the country,” said environmentalist Von Hernandez, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.


“This is a milestone in the history of motor vehicles in the Philippines,” said Land Transportation Office chief Alberto Suansing. “We shall soon see electric-powered vehicles in other places.”

The e-jeepney project is a venture of Green Renewable Independent Power Producer Inc. (GRIPP), which originated from Greenpeace and other groups, and the city of Makati.

Costing P500,000 each and running on batteries charged via electrical sockets overnight, four e-jeepneys will service office employees in the two villages for the meantime, an operation that is subject to further plans of expansion.

For the first week, commuters rode the brightly painted e-jeepneys with designs by artist Toym Imao, son of National Artist Abdulmari Imao, free of charge.

Later, they will be run like any ordinary jeepney with comparable passenger fare rates, city officials said.

The campaign is part of GRIPP’s Climate Friendly Cities Project, a multipronged program for mitigating climate change that promotes transport and waste management initiatives through renewable energy-based technology.

The projected benefits include the following:

• the reduction of greenhouse gases and air pollutants
• the containment of leachate that contaminate groundwater
• the displacement of fossil fuel
• the treatment of organic waste, and
• the improvement of local air, health and safety.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said the rather delayed introduction of the e-jeepneys—a consequence of technical and bureaucratic issues—was a blessing in disguise.

“If we had officially introduced the e-jeepneys a year ago, we would hardly feel the need for it. But because of the rising cost of fuel, and the problem of air pollution, these vehicles are now very timely options,” he said.

Ferdie Raquel Santos of the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (MVPMAP), the local assemblers of two of the four units, said the e-jeepneys “are a true Filipino vehicle with 90 percent local content.”

“It runs from 40 to 60 kilometers per hour with six to eight hours of charging time. Each charge would last 90 kilometers,” he said, citing “conservative estimates.”

A single charge will cost just P158, amounting to a P3 per kilometer expense as opposed to the prevailing P8 per kilometer rate among diesel engines, Santos added.

Furthermore, a single charge will allow a driver to go all the way to Lipa City from Magallanes in Makati City, he said.

Translated into transportation terms, charging the battery overnight will allow a driver to make about 10 to 15 round trips on a three-kilometer route for two to three days, the organizers said.


MVPMAP also allayed fears that riding the e-jeepney could lead to electrocution in case of heavy floods, saying the battery would only run the risk of dying only when submerged in floodwater. Otherwise, it would work fine even during heavy rains.

For now, the e-jeepneys can only be charged via wall sockets, but plans are already afoot for the second phase of GRIPP’s Climate Friendly Cities Project, which involves the establishment of biogas digesters to power the e-jeepney batteries.

Savings on costs

GRIPP chair Athena Ballesteros said the use of biogas digesters, which converts biodegradable waste from households and restaurants, into gaseous energy, would theoretically save costs.

“If we’re not going to use electricity from Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) and start using the biogas digesters, we can still save up to one peso per kilowatt hour,” she said.

She added that Makati City and other local governments were already in the process of developing biogas power plants for the project.

Hermenegildo San Miguel, the city’s department of public safety director, said operations of the e-jeepneys start at 7 a.m. and end at 7 p.m.

Binay said the city government would study the viability of fielding 50 more e-jeepneys in the business district.

“In Makati, we have started with e-jeepneys in the hope that when it becomes commercially viable, it will address the problems of rising fuel costs, promote the use of alternative fuels and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming,” he said.

On a personal note, I am extremely happy that the Makati government has initiated this effort. I hope that this will continue to become a main form of local transportation to reduce the emissions that traditional jeepneys produce.

I remember the fist time I saw the e-jeepney pass by in front of our office, I was with my cousin Annie.

Annie:" Halika sakay tayo."

Me: "Ihahatid kaya nila tayo pabalik dito sa harap ng office?"

Annie: "Ano ka? Turista?"

It always bring a smile to my face when I remember this conversation.

Next time, pwede e-tricycle naman? :-)

Incidentally, I came across an article somewhere (sorry I can't remember where I read it) that Subic and Palawan would soon adapt the e-tricycle in their areas.

Shouldn't Metro Manila be spearheading these efforts?

Just asking.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lunch Date with Hubby

Ever since hubby was promoted and sent to the company’s Alabang office, we hardly, if ever, get to spend lunch time together on a weekday. Hubby’s in Makati today for a conference. He invited me to lunch and I jumped at the chance, of course. Such a rare treat nowadays.

Anyway, we decided to have lunch at Kai in Greenbelt. Hubby’s very fond of Japanese cuisine and I knew that he would enjoy dining at Kai. We've dined there before when they were in a different location in Greenbelt.

Hubby ordered the Mango Iced Tea. It's iced tea with mango sherbet. His only comment was that the sherbet was too sweet.

For starters, we ordered the Cucumber and Portobello Roll. Grilled Portobello mushrooms and fresh crispy cucumber rolled sushi style with rice and nori. This dish is a great starter, light and healthy. I really like this dish. I may have to do something similar at home soon, per hubby’s request :-)

We also ordered Goat Cheese Salad in Dalandan (local oranges) Basil Vinaigrette. The dressing for this salad is a little sweet and just balanced by the basil oil. Very nice. The goat cheese is rolled with Japanese breadcrumbs and then fried. I saved the cheese for last, because it’s my favorite part :-)

Hubby wanted to order the California Roll with Crab Meat but the chef said the crab meat that was delivered to them wasn’t very fresh so we just ordered the California Roll with Kani (crab stick). This was nice also and quite reasonable at only P107 per order.

What Kai is most famous for is the Wasabi Tempura Oysters in Balsamic Dynamite (maybe another word for dressing?). I highly recommend this dish because it’s so light and delicious. The dressing compliments the oysters quite well. The oysters are so fresh and succulent (despite being coated with tempura batter).

The Soft-Shelled Crab Tempura was nice too. It’s a little over battered but nice nonetheless. One thing that impressed me the most is that there was hardly any oil in the paper liner which counts for the “not oily” taste.

Ok, hubby was still hungry despite all that we’ve ordered and made an additional order of Scallop Tempura in Red Pepper Saucee. This dish is nice too but best shared by two or three persons because it’s quite heavy due to the glaze and the spices.

Kai ‘s slogan says, “Manila’s home of contemporary Japanese cuisine”

I believe them. I will definitely dine at Kai again.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Meeting my BFF

The BFF and I chanced upon each other by accident at the mall earlier. I was on my way home and she came from a meeting and was on her way home too when she saw me.

Funny, I was just thinking about calling her for an impromptu get-together and then there she was right in front of me. Do I have magical powers or what? :-)

We ended up having coffee at Starbucks and had a simple meal at the Glorietta foodcourt.