Friday, March 30, 2012

Of FB, fries and coke floats among other things

FB has made reuniting possible, like most of us, I will always be thankful that a Mark Zuckerberg came up with this brilliant idea! I was a friendster fan before anything else but it was not good enough for me. And I guess during that time Friendster, seemed to be.... well, more friendly? For awhile my FB profile picture was that of Angel Locsin's and I gained FB friends because of her sexy picture. :)  

That is FB's bright side, the other side of the coin is that if someone wants to block you then whatever you do, you won't be able to get into the nitty gritty detail of the person you'd like to connect with. But am fine with that. Because there are people you don't really feel comf'table with to be part of your fb friends.  But this article is not about FB ~ it's about friends...friends I've lost and friends I've found. Six years ago (same age as my youngest son), I lost a very special friend. Hard to forget that, since my son is a reminder of that particular friendship-gone-awry. It was a misunderstanding that no one really understands (sounds redundant right?).  I guess she feels that I've betrayed her. Two sides of the coin, I feel she blamed me for her loss.

How does one feel when a friend is lost? It feels as if a limb has been cut off from your body... Feels like that last piece of Fries you were just about to dunk into your large Coke float. Honestly, losing a friend sucks! But it's not the fact of losing one that does, what sucks more is the reason why you've lost that friend. I've never really lost a friend before and if I had, it was not because of anything else except probably distance, transferring to another place or what have you (until about 6 years ago). I felt terrible. Terrible for her and terrible for me and my friends. Again 2 sides of the coin. Like "friends fries" and "coke bloats". I'm not going into any of the sordid details though. The fact of the matter is that, it is done and over with. My 3 other friends and I who used to complete our circle are no longer welcome. We've been deleted. Everything else has gone kaput! Finito! But as I've told her she may have closed her doors on us, but we've left our windows wide open. She's said her "Adieu" to which my reply was "Au Revoir." And as I keep saying distance should never matter, time spent should never matter. Reuniting after such a long time, your tune should remain the same, true friendship should endure. One cannot put a price tag on friendship, we cannot blame them for not being there for us. We cannot count the times we have been put down by our friends. Whatever we do in life is our choice. Near or far, our friends are only there to support or contradict us. But at the end of the day, we make our own choices. If you have not been honest to your friends, how in hell can you expect your friends to understand what you are going through, what you've been through, and what you continue to go through?  "Friendship must never be buried under the weight of misunderstanding" ~ Sri Chinmoy ~  I still believe that God would not have wanted friendships to end this way. Which is why, my understanding of friendship is something that I have never enclosed in a box chock-full of expectations.

"We all lose friends...we lose them in death, to distance, and over time. But even though they may be lost, hope is not. The key is to keep them in your heart, and when the time is right, you can pick up the friendship right where you left off. Even the lost find their way home when you leave the light on."        ~ Amy Marie Walz ~ 

In the meantime, this year amidst some personal setbacks, have turned out well for people like me who have been meaning to reunite. Ten years ago was the last time I saw one of my dearest male friends. I've spent years searching for him online, which has proven futile since he's not a fan of the computer age. The time we spent together during my vacation was short but sweet. Again, knowing that a long lost friend is fine is the best news always. The ten year gap in between was not a deterrent to our friendship. Life must go on. The years in between each absence should not count. What should always matter is we've remained the best of friends all through our life's ups and downs. I've reunited with more friends since...  this time through FB. Indeed, technology has brought more meaning to friendships ~ long lost, now found.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Electric (oven) dreams

Lately, I've been pushing myself to learn more than just baking cookies and pastry bars. Back in the Philippines, I was seriously into all-gourmet ~ pasta, sandwiches, salads, and other dishes. Most of the recipes I know are the ones that I learned from my mom and a few experiments I've done in the past, or those which I've learned from watching my favorite culinary experts like Chefs Gaita Fores (I used to watch her on TV when I was still in my teens), Nancy Reyes-Lumen, Rosebud Benitez, The Dazas, Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, Nigella Lawson, David Rocco, Guy Fieri, Ina of the Brefoot Contessa and Bobby Ching. I'm a wannabe Chef!  It's just too bad that I didn't even think about getting a Culinary degree rather than staking it through College with a course in Business Management. But all that's water under the bridge and there is no other way but to move forward. Right?... Right!  :)

Perhaps having more time and a good reliable oven sparked much inspiration to further my craft :)  Sorry folks if I seem to blabber a lot about my love for the culinary and lose myself in the process. Back in college I remember telling everyone how I'd love to put up my own restaurant someday. Well, that someday hasn't come knocking on my door yet. But am happy to know that selling food in my previous work, and a small catering service on the side, has earned me quite a number of regular customers. I 've never felt this elated in my previous jobs! This is my calling, and every time I get good reviews from my clients, such encourages me to do better. 

Last year I've been requested to make Sans Rival (this is a 4-layer cashew meringue with french butter cream in between layers), I know how tedious baking this recipe can be. Baking meringue is something I haven't tried doing yet. But am prolonging such agony. It's this pain of wanting to try doing it already but it feels a bit daunting for me yet. So I digress.  :) I want to be able to do something I also have not tried yet but this recipe has got to be such that would make me closer to my goal of baking Sans Rival and facing it head on. Oh! I'm probably just making a big fuss about it but I keep telling myself that I have to deal with it this way. Inch by inch. Taking one baby step at a time. This week, has sent me baking different goodies. I'd like to think that my husband and children's "Wow!" at the pastries I make, is getting me closer to my Meringue. :)

From last week I've been coming up with crazy cookie and caramel bar ideas like the Mid-Eastern inspired cookies which I aptly coined as Jazzminced (aka Princess Jasmine), caramel cookies with minced dates and nuts, Alad-dark (aka Aladdin), dark chocolate cookies with chocolate chips, ground nuts and dates, and my personal favorie Jafire (aka Jaffar), butterscotch cookies with dates, mixed ground nuts and chili flakes. Yep! you read that right! Chili flakes gives it a bit of kick that worked well with the nuts!

I also came up with a Tropical-inspired butterscotch bar that I call Copacobanas, a fusion of coconut and bananas and then some of my secret ingredients. 

I also surprised my family with Red Velvets this week. :)

And today I finally made my husband's favorite Brazo de Mercedez! This really made my husband say "WOW!" ~ I might have seen his eyes sparkle a bit but the best part is, when he commended me with a "ang galing mo naman Mom! Magbenta ka rin ng ganito (a sentence akin to "you've outdone yourself! Include this on your online store") Being able to make my husband's favorite Brazo de Mercedez is such a feat for me. I was not sure how it would look and taste like. But I've surprised myself as well! And happily so! I was supposed to use condensed milk for the filling but I did not want to go to the Baqala just to buy a can of condensed milk, when I can do something in its stead. So, I followed my instinct and thankfully so because my husband (a forever critic of mine) said that it had the right sweetness to it. And it tasted so good! It felt wonderful to have accomplished something that I only imagined doing in the past.  You can visit my FB page to view the other pastries and dishes that has kept me busy in my kitchen.

I can hear my kitchen calling me again...I'll have to sleep on this one. My oven's been in a spin for two weeks now :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My ray of sunshine on Graduation day

We spent March 22nd  at the school of our children. It was our youngest son's graduation day and  a happy albeit a tearful one for me! Having attended two graduations in the past, I would have thought that this will be no different. I did not even cry when my son Alloy graduated as 2nd honors and at the same time bagged three more Academic excellence achievement awards back in the Philippines.

This time it was different, not only because he was our youngest;  but amongst our children, we let 2 years passed before we were able to enroll him in school. Why? We had to give priority to our older children. He was supposed to attend regular school back in 2010; but since we were in the process of joining my husband abroad, we thought it better for him to take his primary schooling in Saudi Arabia. Unlike his two siblings, we enrolled him in a public school near our home while waiting for our visas. It's a good thing that our youngest son has a sunny disposition. He didn't mind going to a different school. Little things made him happy in a big way! I guess I could say that he is able to cope better than I do. I have no qualms about sending him to a public school as I remember attending one myself before my parents enrolled me in kindergarten at a private school somewhere in Quezon City.  Everyday he walks to school with his nanny, I felt this big lump in my throat. It didn't feel right that while his siblings were fetched by the school service, he had to walk to school. After all, he was my "bunsoy", my youngest child. Hence, during the few times he'd request to ride the jeepney even if the school is just a stone's throw away, I'd give in. 

When we arrived in this country I was hoping we could enroll him at the same time with his ate and kuya. To my dismay, my bunso's chance of going to school had to be sacrificed again. My heart felt like being torn to pieces. But  he never complained. While my husband and I were at work and my two kids were in school, he spent 11 hours at the daycare. He was often sick, which made me feel more terrible! My thought bubbles filled with visions of his nanny shaking her head and wagging her fingers at me  in discord. Hence, I made a decision, it was time for me to make a couple more sacrifices. I gave up my job. I gave up our family's additional source of income which translated to giving up sending money to my parents; or being able to save up for a trip I'd love them to have.... or that Gucci bag I would love to own.... or a pair of Michael Kors I'd love for my feet to slip into. But I was fine with that. I'd rather be with my children and make sure they get the best of me anytime and always. :)

I told my husband about my decision which he supported 100%. From that time on, I was homebound and wonderfully so! I was finally a hands-on mom. My early mornings were spent preparing breakfast for the family. The laundry never piled up as it used to. A hot meal was always ready by the time they come home. Best of all, I was with my son when he underwent adenotonsillectomy. And even better is the fact that we enjoyed each others' company while his Ate and Kuya were in school. 

Moving forward...I could hear their little voices fill the school gymnasium. They were singing their graduation song. From where I was standing, I could see my son crooning with gusto with hands mimicking the words of the song. He was in such high spirits and I couldn't be any happier for him. Warm tears found their way down my cheeks; both our sacrifices seemed to have paid off! My son performed well in school, and I was told time and again by his teachers that he is such a well-behaved child. Although without honors, he's always included in the list of Class Achievers. My youngest son, my source of joy has now graduated from Prep and it's his time to shine!

Bunso, I've seen how much you valued your academic responsibility. Everytime you arrived home from school, the first thing you always do is to finish your homework (even without my prodding). The results of your exams shows how much effort you've put on your studies. Continue being a helpful, kind and loving son! Congratulations to my wonderful bunso! You know how much Mommy and Daddy loves you! 

To My Son

© Amy R. Campbell

Oh how the years go by,
Oh how time can certainly fly.
From once just a thought in far away dreams,
now into my arms and in my eyes gleam
the presence of you.
Your laughter and smiles
which go on for miles,
warms my heart and soul.
You're growing up so fast,
as I wish each moment with you to last forever.
My little boy will someday be a man
and right by your side I will forever stand.
I will pick up the pieces when you fall,
I will hold your hand and help you stand tall.
And when the day comes when you are on your own,
never feel that you are alone.
No matter how near or far apart
I am always right there in your heart.
Always remember whatever you go through
that no matter what, I will always love you.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A rose from my Papa

Last Thursday, at the height of my fever, a poem my Papa composed for me when I was in highschool, (or rather for my school project ;P) kept circling my mind. It was a short poem which I tried to recall. I think it was an assignment that I'm supposed to submit after that particular weekend but I was stucked. I found myself unable to compose anything. My father was reading the newspaper in our living room when I asked for his help.  He was silent for a bit and was able to come up with this ~

The Rose
Early morning as I arose,
I thought I saw a lovely rose.
I tried to hold and kiss it most,
but found it none when I awoke.
When I became a bit conscious,
 only a dream and a lovely thought...

My father, an Engineer by profession, is surprisingly very eloquent and proficient in writing. I think it is one of his God-given talents. He's also excellent in Math (a trait, which unfortunately, I wasn't able to acquire hahaha).  In fact, I've read a couple of love letters he wrote to my mom. And I could just imagine how this has become so effective in capturing my mother's heart Yiheee!!!!  

It's a good thing I was able to remember. I know... I know....!!! It's such a short literary piece for me to forget, but it's been years since I've thought about this poem. I had to search from my "left temporal lobe" (to be more specific) long and hard to get it right. It sounds right though. It's a shame that I was not able to keep a hard copy. This is how I think of my dad. I don't have too much memory of us having a father-daughter "colloquy", except when he was angry at me for something or when he wanted me to hand him a tool he needs. "Paabot ng martilyo (hand me the hammer)", "hawakan mo ang antenna at bababa lang ako (hold the antenna, I've to go down and get something" (we were both on the roof), and "Magpaalam ka sa mama mo (ask permission from your mama)" are a few of our regular one on one conversations. Pathetic? Nope. I don't think so. I guess I understand why my father chooses to reserve his thoughts. And anyway, just to be optimistic ~ I can always claim my badge of honor as being the daughter who was there for him as his assistant for home repairs. I am the daughter, who can climb up the roof to help with the antenna among other things. There was one time when he put his thoughts about "falling in love" into writing but I will share that bit with you on another day. :)

So, you see how important it is for me to remember this poem that my Papa taught me?  While learning to ride the bicycle and driving a car are equally important lessons I learned from my father. This poem, defines his love for me. Why? He could have shooed me away and tell me to ask my mom but instead he took  time to think of a poem. Precious little time matters for a daughter who will always crave for her father's love and attention. And he gave that to me on that particular moment. Thank you Papa! I may not be your perfect daughter but hey we shared your hammer, I mean that's a good thing right? We climbed the roof together for heaven's sake! And best of all we share the same legs!  I love you, Papa!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Men to boys

The male gender has been a perennial problem for most of the female populace (Am sure they'd claim that they have had their share of problems with the female counterpart hahaha). I think this is what makes life very interesting, don't you think? :)  Well, happily married people are not excused from such fate. In the first place, before getting married, couples have had their own fair share of heartbreak and "dramatic" episodes in the past.

Am sure the male population would not agree, but it has been proven scientifically that most women, mature earlier (reasoning wise) as compared to their male counterpart. Why am I suddenly talking about this timeless struggle between the sexes? I am reminded of such because of friends who are going through their own real-life "teleserye". Am not an expert on this field, but one does not have to be an expert on such. I can only share my thoughts, my own opinion. I may be wrong, But let me clarify that this is my own opinion, the result of my "thought bubbles". Please don't persecute me ;P

Men who refuse to stay in a monogamous relationship probably grew up lacking in the right amount of love. These are boys who probably grew up in an environment where love was not constant, where love was held back. Hence, they grow up from boys to men to boys again. By going from one relationship to another, they are assured of constant love. The kind of feeling that these men feel they'd achieve if they go philandering in the hope that this time, such love would patch their gaping childhood wounds.Such men are immature and will probably remain that way until they are old and wrinkled. And women who stay in such a relationship will never be happy unless she shuts her eyes and love her man despite of this frailty.

photo borrowed from 
Men who uses emotional blackmail, perhaps grew up in an environment where, as boys, have been subjected to the same kind of treatment. They begin using such method to get what they want, subdue their partners, or feel on top of a particular situation. Emotional blackmail can be in the form of grave threats (if you leave, I will kill myself; you will never see me again, you will never see me or your children again, or I will tell my mom... hehehe). Or it can also be in the form of expensive gifts (that is if you are in a relationship with a rich guy).

Men who reckon their women as punching bags (both emotional and physical), are one of the worst kind. They have no concern at all for their partners! Seeing them bloodied up probably excites them even more. It makes them feel more "macho" ... on top of the world (imagine my eyes rolling in disbelief).They have the least respect for women and yet they are master manipulators, with their sweet tongue-in-cheek and sugar-coated promises not to do it again. I know a couple of men who fits the description rather perfectly well!. Let me direct you to their  FB page....hahaha  That got your attention yeah?!  Well, men like these are not men at all but little boys who are really scared. And since they probably grew up in an environment where verbal and physical abuse was served daily, then expect them to match up to their parent's expectation or even go beyond. Otherwise, they are probably heavy drug users!

This is just a few and yet there are many type of prowlers out there ready to pounce on an unsuspecting victim. So always be on guard. But since Love is so blind most times, some women fall prey to these kinds of men! We can't really blame love nor the women who fall in love with men who belong to such category! But hey, we have a choice right? And like many decisions that we often have to make, we must be armed to make  healthy choices. Think self-respect! Some may have grown up in a house where self-respect is scarce, but at the end of the day, it's your body, your future, everything about you that matters. Making the right decision matters! If you feel that a current relationship is always on edge...walk away! You're better off without a man who makes you feel less than you probably think you are. Don't let that kind of man dictate who you are nor the kind of person that you can still be! Quoting my sister again, "NO ONE can put a price tag on you, only You can!" And to add, that you have such sovereign power to tag yourself expensively! You deserve someone so much better!

If your parents are forcing you to marry despite the fact that you are in an unhappy relationship; think twice! Or don't think at all. Just walk away rather than waste your life on someone who will only keep on abusing you. Your parents will not be the ones who will live with this man for the rest of their lives. It is you who will do so. And when they are long gone, what can they do to help you get out of it? If you're gonna live, live it right. Live life with the kind of privileged freedom that every one of us deserves. Jesus did not give up His life, for us to give up on ourselves! Give justice to His ultimate sacrifice! Don't enter into a relationship just because you're lonely, or pressured to be on one. Let fate lead you to each other! And constantly pray for the right partner. Have a hefty serving of self-respect  because we all deserve nothing less!

I saw this power control wheel which I think is quite helpful in finding out if you are in an abusive relationship yourself. But it's best if you visit their website ~ Lindsey Anne Burke.

"There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to constantly walk on eggshells around your partner, constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up, chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive." ~ Anonymous ~

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Zest it up!

David Rocco's Dolce Vita is one of the most interesting tv food shows I used to watch. It is from him that I learned this very simple, refreshing and healthy pasta dish. So let me share it with you. This is my version of his dish.

For this pasta dish you'll need the following:

Linguine al limone
(good for 2-3 servings)

250g Pasta 
***You can use either Fetuccine, Spaghetti, Spaghettini or Linguine noodles. I prefer Linguine though, for this particular recipe, as it is just the right size for this tangy pasta dish.
1/2 a lemon for every 250g of pasta
salt and pepper for seasoning
add a bit of rosemary and cilantro, chopped
Olive oil
2 pcs garlic minced well.
Parmesan or Cottage cheese
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Boil the noodles al dente. Saute the minced garlic in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Set aside.
2. When noodles are done, pour the olive oil mixture and toss the rosemary, cilantro and chopped walnuts. Squeeze the lemon onto the pasta noodles and just mix everything together. Add more olive oil.
3. Sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Note: I use cottage cheese for this recipe, but what I do is use it as toppings on the pasta. Garnish with cilantro and a bit more of the chopped walnuts. This is sooo good and healthy too!

I hope you enjoy this delightful dish! Bon Apetit!

Mama you can use this recipe this is safe for your heart. :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A simple Thanks!

I recently signed up for LinkReferral, a site which has helped me promote my blog. It is such a wonderful site that introduces bloggers like me to other blog owners. And it is through this site that I was able to get a couple of reviews which I would like to share with you. So thank you too! It is because of you and my blogging friends that I continue to share my story, my recipes, and my thoughts. I would like to think that somehow, blogging has made countries separated by  race, culture, color, and language are brought together as one in the techno world of blogging where indifference holds no value.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Roast it!

As part of my "journey to healthy living", I promised myself to use less oil (if I can help it), cook viands that was less creamy, and always include vegetables on my menu.  My family has always been excited about what they would have for lunch and dinner. My kids, most especially, would ask me what I was preparing whenever they see me in the kitchen. Often I'd get "wow!" and "oohs and aaahs" when am finally done cooking! :) One of the dish they love so much is Roasted chicken which I often pair with baked potatoes. This is such a versatile dish, I'll tell you in a while. Let me begin with this simple recipe.

For this dish, you'll need the following:

Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken (we normally use only half a chicken on regular days) 
   *half a chicken is good for 2 adults and 3 kids :)
Salt to taste
Ground pepper

No offense to chicken advocates but we jokingly
 call this Chicken Bukangkang 
Just rub salt and ground pepper all over the chicken, and roast it in the oven for about 45 mins or until golden brown. (Refer to the picture on how the chicken should look like before putting it inside the oven). Such cut is to ensure that the insides are cooked evenly. I watched an episode in Aarti Party once where I saw Aarti rub the inside of the skin (that space between the skin and chicken flesh) with butter. She mentioned that this will not only make the skin crisp but will add more flavor. However, this is something that I don't do. You'll notice how much better tasting food is when simply cooked. Besides, chicken skin itself is so saturated in fat, you would not want more oil targetting your heart, right?

I mentioned earlier how versatile this recipe is...why? Because just rub it with Rosemary Leaves and you'd have Rosemary Chicken. You can also use lemon grass which I normally put inside the chicken cavity, this will give it a "lemony" flavor or you can use a whole lemon. Just pierce the lemon skin all over with fork and place inside the chicken cavity, then proceed as normal. :)

Now for the baked potatoes. You'll need large ones :)

Baked Potatoes
3-4 large potatoes cut in half
salt and pepper to taste
cummin or rosemary
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
1/4 cup milk

1. Wash the potatoes thoroughly, leave the skin on. 
2. Scoop out the center of each potato halves with a spoon (this will leave the potato halves with pockets) and place the "scooped out potatoes" in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Rub the potato halves with salt and pepper and roast in the oven until golden brown.
4. While roasting the potato halves, boil the potato scoops that you've taken out and simmer in 1/4 cup of milk under low fire until done. Mashed the potatoes and season with a little salt and pepper (just a little as your potato halves are already salty). 
5. Once the potato halves are roasted, put the mashed potatoes inside the "pocket" of the baked ones. You can top this with cheddar, mozzarella or cottage cheese. and bake for about 2 more minutes.

For your veggies, you can prepare steamed vegetables or fresh green salad with balsamic or vinaigrette dressing. 

Now this is my plate :) Bon Apetit!

Buon Apetito!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mama Mia

Nope am not referring to the movie played by Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried, besides the movie spelled Mama with 2 m's. :) Am actually referring to the recipe I promised to post today.

Except for the oil that I used to fry it, this dish should be very healthy. If you want a healthier way to cook it you can grill it ala burger patty instead of formed into meatballs. For this dish you'd need the following ingredients:

Mama Mia meatballs
***(Yields about 15 meatballs or 8 burger patties)
1 pc garlic, minced or you can put 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 small onion, minced or you can put 1 tsp onion powder
1/4 k. ground chicken
1 pc medium sized carrot, grated
1/2 cup mashed or grated pumpkin or squash
salt to taste
season with pepper and cayenne powder
a dash of cummin (optional)
2-3 tbsp flour or you can use 1 small potato grated (this will bind the meat mixture even without egg)

*Should you opt to use flour add 1 egg, using potato can save you 1 egg though :)

1. Mix everything together in a bowl. I use my hands wrapped in what I call "plastic hands" which can be bought in supermarkets.
2. Add the seasoning ~ salt, pepper etc... depending on your preferred amount. I usually start with 1 tsp of salt.
3. Roll into a ball and deep fry. If you have a deep fryer, make sure that you have it pre-heated so that cooking takes less time, which means, your meatballs will be soaked in oil for less time.
4. For the healthier option, you can roll it into a ball then flattened and grilled.

For the sauce ~ I always do 2 kinds. My children loves sweet and sour and my husband prefers garlic sauce.

Sweet and sour sauce:
Catsup (banana or tomato will do, but i prefer banana catsup)
2-3 tbsp sugar brown or white, but i prefer brown
ground pepper and salt to taste.
1/4 cup of water, add if necessary

Cook the sugar under mediujm fire. Once the sugar has slowly turned to liquid, add 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of catsup. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer under low fire for about 5-10 minutes. The sauce will slowly thicken. 

Garlic sauce:
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced well
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
1/4 tsp sugar
white pepper
dash of cummin
salt to taste.

Combine all ingredients and put in blender on high speed. Serve.

***The quantity depends on your serving size.

I paired this dish with Green salad :) For the salad you can combine either Romaine or Iceberg lettuce with mango slices (or any fresh fruit that you prefer). Philippine Mango is not available here so I use apples and oranges or grapes. You can also add walnuts for the salad. But for this particular dish that I made, I used what I have available in the fridge :)

My kids enjoyed this dish! Am sure yours would too! Enjoy!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


"A grandparent has the wisdom of long experience and the love of an understanding heart."

I have always been very fond of my maternal grandmother...I still am. To me she has always been a beam of light to my dark tunnel...and to an extent she still is. She's long gone but I would like to believe that she constantly looks over me as she would occasionally appear in my dreams. I remember a lot of things about my "Inay Idang", this is how my sisters and I call her. She has doted on my youngest sister, but I never ever felt that she loved either of us more than anybody else. We all felt loved the same way. She was my "lifesaver" during my highschool days :)... You see I've never been too keen on projects that involved sewing, crocheting, or any other needle work. Whenever I had a school project that involved such, she would volunteer to do it for me. Once she caught me sewing a blouse and I got a scolding from her when she saw me sewing up the arm holes. From that time on she'd often hover over me when she sees me struggling with my mom's sewing machine. 

She was such a sweet old grandmother. She'd often travel from Batangas to Caloocan City (where we used to live) and then to Las Pinas (when we transferred in 1979) to visit us during her prime. Distance never really bothered her, I guess, just to be able to spend time with her children and grandchildren. And it was during such visits that she'd always bring with her all sorts of vegetables and fruits, sweets and live chickens even. She would get a bowl and put salt and a few grains of rice and I would excitedly follow her to our backyard where she'd "slay" the chicken she brought from the province. I was about 11 or 12 years old I think. While my squeamish sisters shied away from the chicken's "execution.", I'd be at my grandma's side watching her do the deed. And I learned from just watching her... I then understood why she needed the bowl with salt  and rice grains. It was there that she poured the chicken blood which was included in the wonderful soup that she made for us.I was more interested in cooking than sewing. I didn't care whether there was a little blood involved like cleaning fish or chopping meat...hence,  plucking, bleeding, and scalding a just slaughtered chicken, was never a problem for me. 

I also remember how I loved rummaging through her big hand bag...where I'd see a couple of biscuits, pieces of pandesal, and other goodies. She also was our "mail lady", as she'd bring letters that my cousin and I exchanged with each other during our youth. I remember a lot of things about her...she was there to wipe my tears away, she nursed me when I was sick. She was such a loving grandmother and I miss her so much up to this very moment. Oh and she supported and encouraged me with my passion for business. Once during our summer vacation, I asked her if she could buy me ingredients for halo-halo because I wanted to sell and earn money while school is out. And she came up with all kinds of ingredients, even going to the extent of preparing  the gelatin and saging na saba herself for my business venture. :) She's like that. 

It was also from her (I guess) that I "inherited" the love for horror movies. I recall one time when she tagged me along with my aunty and we watched a Filipino horror movie that stayed in my mind for weeks. I was sleepless for some time and always wary of the seemingly  "shadows" that surrounded me.hehehe

Then she fell ill. She was sick for a very long time. Her children (my mom, aunty and uncles) took turns in taking care of her. And, if my guess is right, she stayed with us longer. I saw how my mom took care of her. My grandma was no longer the picture of iron and steel. Sometimes she no longer remembers faces or names. But she remembers us, most especially my youngest sister. It was difficult for her to walk, but my mom would often press her to do so. I was more creative in encouraging her hahaha. I'd talk to both my sisters, and we'd pretend to fight with our youngest sister, who would then shout and ask for our grandmother's help. Our grandmother, on seeing this, would stand and walk towards us with slippers on her hand. She was ready to attack and shoo us away from our youngest sister. This would always bring us to tears laughing but feeling victorious that we were able to make her stand and walk.

Then one day, the Lord called her, though it was something that we expected to happen, it was still a painful realisation. No more warm hugs. No more trips to the ancestral home. No more jars of sweets. Only memories. And boy! Am I glad that she was so much part of my memory as we were all to her. I had this wonderful and unforgettable experience, less than a month after her demise. It was my first birthday just some weeks after her death. You see, a couple of days before my birthday, I prayed hard for her to visit me, in any form on my birthday. I was not disappointed. That birthday morning, as I awoke, the first thing I noticed inside my bedroom was a butterfly. How it got there? I would not really know. But I knew it was my grandmother,  the butterfly stayed inside my room the whole day.

It was her birthday last March 7...and found myself in nostalgia. My Inay may have left us long ago...but she will always stay inside my heart and will always be part of my best childhood memories.  I know we will meet again...."to infinity and beyond" (quoting from buzz lightyear)

"Grandmother-grandchild relationships are simple. Grandmas are short on criticism and long on love."

Happy Happy Birthday Inay! I love you and miss you terribly. Do you know that I keep dreaming about your bedroom in Rosario? I wonder what that means?  :)

My Journey to healthy living

I was diagnosed with stage 1 hypertension after giving birth to my youngest son 6 years ago and I've been on medication since. I was placed on a diet during my pregnancy due to GDM (gestational diabetes mellitus) and continued doing so even after giving birth. However, after about two years of eating only sardines and brown bread, I went back to the "pigging" loop with a vengeance. Although the merits of getting lean was faster, it also increased the risk of craving for normal food again. And that's what happened. 7 years in the call center industry and 175 pounds later, I still saw myself thin whenever I looked at the mirror. Back then I would always wonder whether Anorexia Nervosa had an opposite. Whereas, I see myself thin (as my mind perceives me to be) in reality I was already this glob of lard. Whaaa! (borrowing from Sen. Miriam Defensor) hahaha

I realised this when we went back to the Philippines for a vacation. We had a mini reunion with former officemates. And of course as part of the reunion, everyone brought their spectacular cameras. What I saw once they showed me our photo went me reeling. I was like "Whoa!!! Is that me already?!" Hence, I started slow and when we came back here, started buying more veggies and fruits. I also started eating less rice, less carbo. The sweets, well, have conveniently placed themselves in my food pyramid. But instead of eating 1 normal serving, my daughter and I split it in half.

I have already accepted and embraced the fact that cooking and baking is something I am very passionate about. But it can also mean that I am at the liberty of concocting and experimenting with food. I crave for healthy food these days. It is also one way of making sure that my kids learn the value of eating more veggies than carbo and red meat. 

So am sharing with you a dish which I made, that already has a little of everything but big on veggies. Am having trouble using the separate tab for my recipes. Hence, I am going to share it here on my main page. I call this recipe my "Dulce Amantes". For this recipe, you'd need the following:

Dulce Amantes
1 medium Butternut pumpkin, boiled and mashed
1 big potato, boiled and mashed
1/4 cup non fat milk
ground pepper
salt to taste
cottage cheese or any cheese of your choice.

For this dish, I was not able to use cottage cheese, as I have lots of unused cheddar. I melted the cheddar cheese with a little milk to make it easier to pour.

1. Boil pumpkin and potato until soft. This makes them easier to mash. 
2. Combine the two in 1 big bowl and pour the non-fat milk. Season with salt and ground pepper.
3. Transfer to a glass or baking tray, flatten it with a spatula and pour the cheese mixture over it. Top it with grated cheese and bake until golden brown. This is if you choose to use cheddar cheese, otherwise just top it with Cottage cheese and bake for about 3-5 minutes.

This is such an easy dish to make and am sure your family would love. My kids just enjoyed my Dulce Amantes. I call it such because of the sweet natural flavor of the butternut pumpkin and the potatoes. Like lovers embracing each other, both containing proteins and minerals that are good for the body.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing my recipe for my Mama Mia meatballs :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The start of my "own" New Year

January 1, 2012 for me is a memory that I'd rather forget. While everybody was blowing their New Year horns, I was blowing my nose. Hence, I am starting my New Year this 1st of March ~ in this way, it will be a new beginning for me. I have lamented enough. I went through the phase of coping with feelings of shame, self-pity, anger, self-reproach, and have begun questioning my life purpose. Such feelings led me to be lethargic, I went deeper into my shell. For awhile I became an introvert...not wanting to see or talk to well meaning friends. I deactivated my FB, and bombarded my twitter account with quotes that were similar to how I felt. Whenever we went out to buy a few stuff in the nearby store, I always felt nauseous and badly wanted to go back home. Home and my bed were my only solace...the only place I felt safe. I went through the whole nine yards!

It was pretty bad for me. But it was my daughter who suffered most from my pathetic state. I was like a zombie going through my daily routine without a thought. And when triggered???, I was really piqued!  It was tough to hide what I was going through from my husband (of course). But all throughout, my loving husband held my hand and was able to convince me to spill the beans. I was not really comfortable sharing my thoughts with him, most especially after all he's witnessed on that particular New year morning. You see. I've always tried my darnedest to be perfect for the love of my life. He deserves only the best part of me. So, for him to hear and see stuff, was for me, very disquieting.

But I've pondered and wondered and that's over and gone. All through such a trying time, I only had my rosary and my husband's hands to hold. Then the afterglow...this gave me a glimpse of life's perfection. More things to look forward to. A loving family...a responsible, faithful, wonderful and caring husband by my side...wonderful children...they are my reason to live. The past should not hold me. And to quote part of the message sent to me by my youngest sister ~ "...never let anyone put a price tag on you. Only YOU can. Only YOU should. Not even families are given such a right. Or even more correct. ONLY GOD CAN put a price tag on you -- being the giver of our life, being our Creator who made us in His image..."

I will always be thankful to have come from a family with both parents present from day 1, with crazy but loving sisters. In this life, no one, not even families are perfect but we learn. We learn from how we were treated as individuals and use such experience to be a better person...a better wife...a better mother.

I've listed down my objectives for this year:
1. Continue praying. Teach my children how to pray from the heart.
2. Love my husband even more.
3. Stay fit.
4. Spread happiness and positivity by smiliing more, loving more and not sweating the small stuff.
(I've actually posted a sign outside our door that says: "Smile! Bawal sa loob ng bahay ang nakasimangot!" in English, "Smile! Frowning inside the house is prohibited")
5. Encourage more. Complain less. 
6. Be fair and forgiving.
7. Be patient.
8. Be humble.
9. No name calling. No comparing. Avoid demeaning. (Children will always remember what you think of them)
10. Be an inspiration to my family and to other people.

I'm not perfect, I know. But my God is. He will be my constant inspiration to be better.

"The most sacred place dwells within our heart, where dreams are born and secrets sleep, a mystical refuge of darkness and light, fear and conquest, adventure and discovery, challenge and transformation. Our heart speaks for our soul every moment while we are alive. Listen... as the whispering beat repeats: be...gin, be...gin, be...gin. It's really that simple. Just begin... again." ~ Royce Addington ~