Friday, April 29, 2011

Me at Central Park

Look what I found in my camera! This was when I accidentally set my camera on video instead of a timer. Ha ha ha.

Central Park, New York City. One fine autumn day :-)




video

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Suites, Shoots, Tomato, Tohmahto.....

I was on my way to lunch, took the stairs going down to buy some grub. As I was walking down, two men, who were probably messengers delivering parcels to various offices in the building, were animatedly talking:

Manong 1: "Anong building nga ito? Legaspi Shoots?"

Manong 2: "Oo pare, Legaspi Shoots"

Me, thinking to myself.. "Legaspi Suites... SUITES!!!!"

I get the same problem when I speak on the phone and tell the address of the company that I am working for:

Me: "We are located at Legaspi Suites"

Person on the other line: "Lagaspi Street?"

After repeating the same conversation several times, I just spell it out of exasperation.

Me: "S-U-I-T-E-S"

Person on the other line: "Ah, Legaspi Shoots"

Ok, I give up :-)

Lengua in Mushroom Sauce

Lengua (ox tongue) is a popular food here in the Philippines. The love for it started during the Spanish occupation. As one might notice, a lot of traditional Filipino food is highly influenced by the Spanish culture, since they occupied our country for four hundred years!

I have nothing new to blog, unfortunately. However, I would like to share this simple recipe with you, as shared to me by one of our company caterers.

You need to source out the best lengua that you can find, that's the secret to this dish. I personally prefer the New Zealand organic meats from S&R because they seem to taste better and are more tender. Not sure why though. Butter is also very important in rounding up all the flavors in this dish.

Lengua in Mushroom Sauce



Ingredients:
1 pc Lengua
2 White onions, quartered
2-3 Laurel leaves
Whole peppercorns
Salt
2 Cans cream of mushroom soup (I like using Campbell's)
1 to 2 Tablespoons Knorr liquid seasoning or soy sauce
1 Large can whole mushrooms, drained
1/2 Stick of butter

Procedure
1. In a large stock pot, place the lengua and cover completely with water (do not season), boil until the white filament becomes more visible and easy to peel. This would probably take 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the size of your lengua.
2. Remove the lengua from the boiling liquid. Discard the liquid.
3. Cool the lengua but never, ever, immerse in cold or running water. It will toughen the meat because it will abruptly stop the cooking process.
4. Once the lengua is cooled, peel off the white filament. Discard filament. This is a very important step, please take time to do the first four steps before proceeding.
5. Once the filament has been removed, boil water, onions, laurel leaves and peppercorn in a large stockpot or pressure cooker. Add the lengua to the boiling water. Season with a little salt.
6. If using a pressure cooker, it will take about an hour to an hour and a half. For a slow boil in a regular stockpot, it will take maybe three hours or so, depending on the size of the lengua. I like it very tender so I tend to boil it longer.
7. When the lengua is tender. Turn off heat. Remove the lengua from the broth, cool and carefully slice in discs, set aside. Do not discard the broth yet.
8. In a separate pan, mix two cans of cream of mushroom soup and the equivalent of one to one and a half cans of hot broth from the lengua. Mix well until there are no more lumps. Simmer.
9. To the mushroom mixture, add Knorr seasoning or soy sauce. Mix well.
10. Carefully add the lengua to the mushroom mixture.
11. Add the mushrooms and simmer in low heat. If the sauce is too thin disperse a tablespoon of cornstarch in cold water and add to the sauce while simmering. Do not simmer for too long, the sauce might burn.
12. Add butter and turn off the heat. Mix slightly until the butter melts.

Other variations of this dish include adding water chestnuts and/or cashew nuts, in lieu of the mushrooms.

For Pastel de Lengua variation, just add diced carrots and potatoes after you have added the Knorr seasoning to the cream of mushroom soup, simmer until the vegetables are tender and ONLY THEN, will you add the sliced lengua. Place the above mixture in a pie pot, cover with pie crust, seal the edges, poke a few holes in the pie crust to let out steam, brush with egg wash and bake until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter! :-)

I've been looking forward to Easter Sunday for the past few weeks because it will be the first time that I will organize an Easter egg hunt at home.

My house has been bedecked by little bunny decorations :-) I got the bunny template from marthastewart.com.







Weeks ahead, I invited some family members but they cancelled a few days before the event. So, my party got toned way down. Since it will be just our immediate family who will be attending, we settled for a potluck lunch of a series of comfort food (most of which don't really go well together, but what the heck!). We had dinuguan from my in-laws, mom made the stuffed chicken (my lola's recipe), chicken macaroni salad and pancit molo soup, which is Ashley's favorite, I made the lengua in mushroom sauce.



I also made chocolate cupcakes with bunnies and Easter eggs on top. The yellow bunny kinda looks like my dog, Poe :-) The bunny toppers were pre-ordered from Love2Bake, a bakery supplier in BF.





I got some bunny hats specifically for the occasion. Here, worn by the kids. Nephew JJ, nieces Ashley and Jessica.





The highlight of the day of course was the Easter egg hunt. The adults hid the eggs right before we started the hunt since the temperature outside was scorching and were afraid that the heat might melt the treats inside the eggs. The adults had fun hiding the eggs too. I placed candies, chocolates and money inside them.







The kids seemed happy with their treasures :-)



Hope your Easter was as fun as ours :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Niece Ashley

My niece Ashley is growing up fast. Here she is looking so cute on horseback.

Sanctuario - Robinson's Summit Tagaytay

When Hubby and I often try out new restaurants that were, let's just say, below our personal palatable standards, we just console ourselves by adding that particular restaurant on the 'WHERE NOT TO EAT" list. Most of those failed restaurants never make it out on this blog.
However, I would like to write a simple review for Sanctuario, located at Robinson's Summit in Tagaytay.



If I were you, I wouldn't bother eating at Sanctuario.

Why you ask? Just look all the things that we ordered last night. None, I mean none tasted good. None.

Sanctuario can't even do french fries properly, it was soggy, unseasoned and the dipping sauce was rancid!



Lechon Kawali was soggy and had no taste. There is no exaggeration, I swear. How can you mess up fried pork?



Bulalo in Tagaytay is always good, right? In Santuario, it tasted like boiled water. I mean, how can it taste like boiled water when they stewed the bulalo for hours? I just can't fathom how they managed to do that.



Binagoongan? Ugh! The meat was tough and just awfully bland.



The Bangus Carbonara? Malansa and so devoid of sauce. I wanted to puke.



Chicken Barbecue was raw when it was served, when we returned it to be well done, there was no change in taste even if it was smothered in sauce! How can that be?



The sauce on the suman, was bitter. The mangoes were over ripe and the mangoes looked like they passed through a wrestler's knife.



After shelling out a few thousand pesos on a worthless, tasteless and awful meal, all of us had nothing good to say about our meal at Sanctuario.

My mom and I looked at each other and said in unision "Lutong Tamad" (lazy cooking in English). We felt that there was no effort made in making our meal.

Personally, I will never, ever eat at Sanctuario again.

Despite what you might think, I am not a picky eater, nor am I snooty when it comes to simple food (I often cook food with five ingredients or less). However, when I encounter those rare restaurants that I feel are robbing me off of a few thousand pesos on a single meal, while giving me crappy food, I really get annoyed. Wouldn't you?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gearing up for Easter

About to fill up easter eggs with candy :-)

Goodbye Tita Dody

My Tita Dody was one of the most passionate cooks and foodies that I have ever met in my entire life. I feel so blessed to have known her.

I love you Tita Dody. God needs you in His kitchen now.

Rest in peace.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Firework

When I first heard katy Perry's song, I thought that it had a nice hook to it. As I was browsing through some videos and watched several artists redoing her song on Youtube, I realized that the lyrics are quite inspirational and has a very uplifting message. I find it quite surprising coming from a Katy Perry song.

The original video was about finding your inner light. My favorite line in the song is:

Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road

Here's Katy Perry's official music video:



I also like the version made by Boyce Avenue with David Choi on strings. I both love the vocals and the strings, the mixing of the voice and strings sounds like a soft lullaby :-)



Firework Lyrics

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting throught the wind
Wanting to start again

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards
One blow from caving in

Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under scream
But no one seems to hear a thing

Do you know that tehre's still a chance for you
Cause there's a spark in you

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what your worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own

You don't have to feel like a waste of space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you can open one that leads you to the perfect road

Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it's time, you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what your worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what your worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on slet your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em goin "Oh, oh, oh!"

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

The Use of "Po" and "Opo"

Saying "po" and "opo" is a sign of respect when answering "yes" to an elder. This is one of the trademarks of Filipino culture. This is still prevalent in most Filipino households.

My brother's kids don't speak Tagalog because they were taught English as a primary language but can understand Tagalog a little bit. When we tell them about the use of "po" and "opo" there is a bit of confusion since the English language doesn't have an equivalent word for "po" and "opo".

For example:
Elderly: "Hijo, kumain ka na ba?" (Young man, did you eat already?)
Hijo: "Opo, kumain na po." (Yes, I already ate.)

The English language doesn't have an equivalent word of respect when saying "yes" or "no". In English, the sign of respect is always with the intonation and the manner of answering.

My nephew JJ then says:

JJ: "Ninang, why do I have to use "APA" when saying yes?"

Me: "It's not "APA", it's "opo" JJ, it's a sign of respect when you are talking to an elder."

JJ: "Opo?" "Do I have to say it?"

Me: "Yes, you say "po" and "opo" to an elder when you want to say "yes" in Tagalog."

JJ; "But Ninang, I don't want to speak Tagalog eh."

My nice Ashley, who's been intently listening butts in:

Ashley: "Why not Chinese?"

Milkshake

JJ: "Ninang, do you have watermelons?"

Me: "No, but we can buy some tomorrow."

JJ: "Ok, can I have watermelon milkshake? But without the milk?"

Ohhkaaaay........

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rainbow Cupcakes

My nephew JJ and niece Ashley helped me make rainbow cupcakes today. Here are some pictures from our fun adventure in the kitchen :-)

You will need one recipe of your favorite vanilla cupcake.



Prepare all the ingredients and follow instructions. Mix batter until smooth.



Taste the batter (optional).



Divide the batter and color each one with a few drops of food coloring.



Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full (or approximately).



Bake at 350 for 18 minutes (my oven was a bit hot though, that's why the top is cracked, but still moist inside).



Have chicharon while waiting for the cupcakes to bake.



Take a picture with the baked cupcakes :-)



Frost cupcakes if you have energy left!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Age is but a number

Ashley: "Ninang! I'm this o!" (Holds up 4 fingers)

JJ; "She's four and I'm eight" (olds up eight fingers)



Me: "Me, how old am I?"

JJ: "Eight thousand?!"

Smart alec.

Text from Hubby

My nephew JJ and niece Ashley, had asked their dad (my brother), to drive them to my house for an ambush sleep-over, he he he. The kids arrived just after lunch and quickly plugged in the X Box in the living room TV downstairs. I was still at work and Hubby was still asleep upstairs because he works nights.

Hubby's text:

Easter Origami

My first try at doing some Easter themed origami from a stack of notepads on my desk :-)



Left to right: crab (you eat crabs on holy week, right?), rabbit, grass (I didn't have a green pad on hand), chick coming out of an egg, regular chick.

Below are both bunnies, but the one on the right kinda looks like a llama or a fox. Ha ha ha.



The next ones that I will make will be crisper and neater, I hope :-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where do you take a Balikbayan?

(This is a super late re-edited post... he he he)

My cousin AA arrived from Florida last week and stayed with me for a few days. Her trip has been planned weeks ahead and she had informed me of her arrival weeks in advance as well.

Prior to her arrival, I was at a loss on where to take her since she will only be staying with me for a couple of days. How can you jam pack the Philippines in a nutshell, so to speak.

I also had a few factors to consider when I planned our itinerary. One, my car was color coded on the first day of her arrival. Two, she would probably be jetlagged and may not have the stamina to see the sights. Three, I can't drive far distances because I will probably lose my sanity when I drive through Edsa to go somewhere in the North. Heaven forbid if cousin AA wanted me to drive all the way to Subic! Yikes!

Long story short, I had the following simplified itinerary:

First Day:

Since my car's color coded, we stayed within BF homes, there are actually a lot things to do in BF. We had brunch at Via Mare and had some Bibingka, Puto-bumbong and Pancit Bam-I, local dishes not readily available in the US. Sorry we have no pictures of that. We got too excited talking and catching up.

After brunch, we had a body scrub and massage treatment at Sisitra Day Spa, along Aguirre Avenue. The spa is clean, quiet and cousin AA and I shared a private room together. We were truly enjoying our treatment that we never managed to exchange a single word to each other. He he he. Sesitra's home made lemon tea was good, I liked it.



After a few hours at Sesitra Day Spa, we drove to my favorite salon in phase one, Simply G salon. The salon is just a small neighborhood salon but I always get the princess treatment whenever I am there. We had the works, a hair powerdose treatment for super soft hair, foot spa, back massage, manicure and pedicure.



By the time we finished our treatments at the salon, we were quite hungry and decided to have some Spanish Cuisine at Amalia's along Aguirre Avenue. Hubby was able to join us for dinner. We ordered baked oysters, callos, lengua and steak. We were so full!



For dessert, I recommended Canonigo, a soft pillowy cake made with egg whites and served with a milky sauce and fresh mango balls. Yummy!



When we arrived home, I called a home service masseuse and both cousin AA and I had a another blissfull massage for an hour each :-) Note that technically, that was our third massage for the day. He he he.

Second Day:

I dropped off cousin AA to Belo Medical Clinic in Alabang for some skin treatments and left her at Belo so that I can go back home and fetch Hubby who woke up late. Hubby was to be our designated driver for the day. When we returned to fetch cousin AA, she was still in treatment. When she was done, we waited for her bill for what seemed like hours. Buy the time she paid, it was almost 3:00 p.m.! I really don't understand why it took that long to process the bill! I almost lost my patience.

For late lunch, we decided to have lunch at Congo Grill since it was the only one open at 3:00 p.m. Most restaurants in the area close by 2:00 p.m. and resume operations around 5:00 p.m., for the dinner crowd.

At Congo Grill, we had the fat laden spread you see before you. It's not the healthiest but the food is something that most balikbayans crave for... pork sisig, crispy pata, chicharon bulaklak. We threw in pinakbet there to get some sort of nutrition in our system, he he he.



After a super-late lunch, we proceeded to Market Market to buy some local delicacies as pasalubong when cousin AA goes back to Florida.

We did some shopping too inside the mall, local magazines being the heaviest of our carry-on "luggage". The sales clerk at National Bookstore was astonished when we purchased a lot of magazines (Philippine magazines cost around $9 each in the US).

Before proceeding to the car, we saw this taho stand and ordered some hot taho. Taho is soft beancurd, made from soybeans (like silken tofu) served with arnibal (or sugar syrup) and sago (large tapioca).



For dinner, we drove to Macapagal Avenue and went to the wet market to buy some fresh lobsters, prawns, oysters and asparagus. We had them cooked at Robbie's. We had plenty leftovers.



By the time we got home, cousin AA and I were already so tired and went straight to bed. I thought we would still have the energy to get a massage but we were both too sleepy.

Third day:

Tagaytay! We drove to Sonya's garden to have a healthy lunch, looked around and took lots of pictures.





Lots of goofy pictures. Ha ha ha.





However though, cousin AA was jet lagging and had a bad reaction in her tummy and we had to cut short our trip and forego our planned itinerary for the rest of the day. We did manage to take a bathroom break in Nuvali and fed the koi for a little while before proceeding home.



Come dinnertime, cousin AA was fetched by our cousin Ria to spend a few days with her family. i think that they planned a grand shopping spree for the next few days.



Cousin AA's stay with me was short but sweet :-)