Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gone too soon...a tribute to a friend

Just today I found out that I've lost a friend to cancer. Not only am I in disbelief but I keep wondering how  someone like her could have lived a short life. Her passing away is a great loss to her family and to us her friends. She was such a lively person, someone whose smile can brighten even the murkiest mood! She sang with us in Church, and I was always amazed at her high pitched voice. We went out together, shared bits and pieces of our lives; we always had something to talk about. 

Some years back, we bumped into each other in a mall and because we were both in a hurry, she asked me to give her a call so that we can chitchat and schedule a meetup before she goes back to the US. Unfortunately, I was not able to make that call as my work took precedence over all my other affairs. Looking back, I should have made that one call because I regret not having talked to a good friend...and now there can't ever be another chance to do so.

Anne, I know that wherever you are, your resounding laughter will fill that vastness as it has done when you were alive. Thank you for your friendship and for the memories. Thank you for being such a good listener, for having such a tremendous sense of humor, for the friend that you are. We will always remember you with fondness. God speed Anne! Farewell and rest in peace my friend...

..."Like A Comet
Blazing 'Cross The Evening Sky 
Gone Too Soon

Like A Rainbow
Fading In The Twinkling Of An Eye
Gone Too Soon

Shiny And Sparkly
And Splendidly Bright
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like The Loss Of Sunlight
On A Cloudy Afternoon
Gone Too Soon

Like A Castle
Built Upon A Sandy Beach
Gone Too Soon

Like A Perfect Flower
That Is Just Beyond Your Reach
Gone Too Soon

Born To Amuse, To Inspire, To Delight
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like A Sunset
Dying With The Rising Of The Moon
Gone Too Soon

Gone Too Soon..."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The sweet life

While I was preparing the Chocolate Pavlova a few days ago, a thought struck me ~ my children's taste in food is getting more complex as time goes by. When we were new here at Saudi Arabia, during weekends, I'd often prepare pancakes, french toasts, homemade potato chips, french fries, mini sandwiches, or steamed cakes using instant cake flour for "merienda" (afternoon snacks). Now they want to be surprised and I oblige because their need for the "mystery snack" is as exciting to them as it is for me. I love surprising my family with good food because I'm not only rewarded with their oohs and aahs and wows! I, too, get their hearty laugh and some good old burp along with it. At least now I have good memories to leave behind. I know that when they are all grown ups and have lives of their own, they will always remember me and my busy kitchen; And how much love I put into the food that I prepare for them. Still too much of this is not good for their health...however...

One of the best dessert that's gotten their undivided attention is this particular recipe that a friend of mine shared with me months before ~ Chocolate Pavlova.  I was too scared to try recipes that involved meringue, so I delayed every opportunity to make one. That day I decided to go on with it, with just one goal in mind; to keep trying in every given opportunity. The same reminder that I was advised by the same friend who shared the Pavlova recipe. Such called for raspberries or any berries for toppings but I had none in stock so I substituted it with chocolate chips, white chocolate morsels and coconut flakes. 

Chocolate Pavlova

Anyway, my thought bubbles tells me that although being able to conquer my fear in trying out different recipes is good; I am also reminded not to overindulge and feed them with too much sweets.  Anything in excess is not good. So I control their intake, although I need to experiment and do and re-do recipes. I know I need to put proper pacing and make them understand that eating healthy food is still the better option. So I balance our diet by buying fruits as well.

For now my family's simply happy that I can make their own birthday cake and make their merienda and family occasion more special with the food that I am now able to make. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Twice Cooked!

Last night, I originally planned to cook soy chicken for dinner. It's a simple dish that involves simmering half or a whole chicken in soy sauce and sesame oil. I remember getting excited whenever my mom cooks this for lunch or dinner on a weekend.

I tried a different approach to this simple dish though. I want to surprise my husband; oftentimes, after a long tiring day at work, it is always good to come home and find good food on the table right?

So let me share this flavorful dish with you. For this wonderful dish you'll need the following:

1 whole chicken or half (my family is only able to consume half)
1 pc. 5 star anise
3-4 tbsp soy sauce, Kikkoman is best  (adjust as needed)
3 tbsp sesame oil
4 cloves of garlic, pounded
1 whole onion, skin removed
dash of ground pepper

1. Prepare the chicken, clean it very well, scrub the skin with salt and wash with running water. Do this twice to ensure that the chicken is clean before you put it in the pot.
2. Cut the chicken in the middle make sure it looks this way. Rub the chicken all over with a little salt and pepper.
3. Arrange the garlic, onion, and 5 star anise at the bottom of the pot.Let the chicken lie face down on top of the garlic, onion and 5 star anise.
4. Pour about 1 cup of water or until the chicken is completely submerged in the water.
5. Tip in the soysauce and half the amount of sesame oil and simmer. In between simmering, invert chicken so that it cooks the other side as well. You can add water don't let the chicken go dry, but at the same time adjust the taste by adding a bit of salt or soy sauce. Add 1/2 tsp of sugar as well,. this will make such a huge difference in the taste.
6. The next process would be roasting the just simmered chicken. Do not throw out the sauce as this will come in handy later.
7. Dry the chicken of it's sauce by hanging it upside down until most of the sauce have dripped down the pot.
8. Place the chicken on a baking tray and roast in in the oven for about 10-15 mins or until the chicken is a bit crispy.
This will now go into my oven along with my potatoes

9. Thicken the sauce that you've set aside by putting cornstarch mix when it reaches boiling point. You can pour some of this over your roasted chicken. 
10. 9. When the chicken is done, transfer to a clean serving tray. Garnish with green salad or lemon. Serve hot with rice, dinner rolls or just like what I did, baked potatoes.
Dinner is served! Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Have one's cake and eat it too!

This is the 2nd month that salary is delayed and I feel that it will always be this way. An unwelcome reprieve most especially where celebrations like our son's birthday is concerned. It's a good thing I know how to bake  (or so I thought) and that we had enough baking supplies that I was able to use for yesterday's occasion. But I guess that's part of our life here in Saudi Arabia. Unlike Henry Sy's, SM (We have it all for you!), our tune is more towards..."we can't have it all..."

Anyway, I was so excited about baking a cake for my son yesterday. I had no design in mind because for one, I've no background in cake decorating. Second, I've never done a 9" round cake. Third, I've no idea how my oven would treat the cake mixture I was about to prepare. And lastly, I haven't tried doing the recipe that I saw from Rachel Ray's website.  I didn't want to disappoint my birthday boy so I promised myself that I'll have to decorate the cake as attractive as possible. How? I dunno... All I know is that I have a bag of flour, 3 types of food coloring, red, green and yellow, 2 kinds of candy sprinkles, marshmallows, sugar and eggs. Smiley Face

I decided to bake a Chocolate mocha cake with Mocha was actually a good idea. I guess my own excitement got the better of me because surprise!!! My cake turned out lopsided and I was supposed to do 2 of them so that I can fill the cake in between with mallows and nuts. Both turned out lopsided and mushy at the center. And.... to top it all,  the second half got broken! The cake without the icing looked like a big Molten Lava cake. I was panicking because I still had to cook pasta and prepare green salad. So when my son asked me, I told him the cake is actually his favorite Molten Lava cake. While telling him this, my guardian angel was poking at me and reminding me about Easter Sunday which, was a day before my son's birthday. Already guilty! and just after the Holy week! haaaay.... Smiley Face

first half of the cake lopsided but
I was able to save it by
covering it with frosting

I tried to salvage the cake by covering every nook and cranny with the mocha flavored frosting that I made. But this went bad too! Why? I was so intent on fixing the darn thing that I forgot to let the cake cool down first. Hence, this made spreading the frost quite difficult to do. It's a good thing I was not on a Food network challenge or else I would have failed miserably...big time! I still went on though, and just covered the ugly spots with marshmallows and the edge of the cake with his birthday candles. So when it was done, it looked better. I felt bad though because I wanted my son's cake to look fabulous and taste fantastic!

When my son saw the birthday cake I made for him, I was surprised at how his face lit up! He beamed and was so happy to see that it was done. He told me excitedly, how he has the best birthday cake ever!

That the cake he has now is far far better than all the cakes he has had during his past birthdays! I was consumed with an overwhelming emotion! My worries just flew out of the window! I was no longer a bundle of nerves. I was a mother impressed by my son's unconditional love! 

Thank you son! Your dad and I have no gift for you (refer to first paragraph of this article for the reason). Yet you gave me the gift of Encouragement. This will be my guide in every cake I will be preparing from now every new recipe I still have to try, and in every new road I have to take.  I love you!

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Birthday boy!

As customary, I always prepare a birthday poster
on the eve of my children's birthday to make
the occasion extra special. I want their birthday
mornings to be greeted by a birthday poster.
This time I made a string of paper buntings. 

A Son is adventure
And action and wonder,
Excitement and joy all in one,
A heartwarming mixture
Of mishief and kindness -
He's everything special and fun.
A son helps remind you
How lucky you are
Each time you are warmed
By his smile-
And when he's as fine
And as special as you,
He's someone to love
All the while!

It's my son's birthday and this morning I was brought back to the time I found out that I was pregnant with him, the time I carried him inside my womb, and finally gave birth. Coming from a family of girls, and already having a daughter, there was nothing I wished more but to have a son. But other than that I was hoping to give birth to a healthy baby. Alloy's coming to our life was akin to a breeze of wind. He was my "now you see me, now you don't" miracle!  One pregnancy kit led to another and all proved negative then one pregnancy test later, I was told that they could see a sac (just a sac and nothing else) and the result of my ultrasound showed that it can either go through or just melt away. I don't recall being afraid because that particular moment, I knew that the sac was already a promise!  I didn't have a difficult pregnancy with Alloy, but it was different compared to his Ate (older sister). While pregnant with Alloy, I was lethargic, and was always craving for Pepsi blue. I recall being able to finish off 1 liter easily. 

Nine months later, on the 9th of April, which coincides with "Araw ng Kagitingan" (Day of Valour or otherwise known as The Bataan death March). I was on induced labor for more than 12 hours but did not feel pain, I just felt very uncomfortable lying down the whole time. It was finally decided that I undergo caesarean section due to my baby's "failure to descend." I only got to see my son the next day and I instantly fell in love with him. I was asked a couple of times if my husband is a foreigner. My son was the biggest among the babies inside the nursery room and he was pinkish! I kept saying "ang guwapo ng anak ko (my son is so handsome)..." over and over again. I was beaming with pride and my husband, though without sleep, was a picture of happiness too! 

(...back to present time...)

Today son, you celebrate another birthday! And look at you! You've grown taller, brought me so much pride, and continue to make me feel that I'm the most beautiful girl you ever know! Thank you for coming into our life! May you always grow in faith! Don't worry about your teeth, that will change beautifully in time. Be more patient with your little brother! Eat faster and dream bigger! Be the best that you can and challenge yourself to be greater and do better! May you never run out of kisses for me and your dad...and may your hugs be more tight even as you grow older!

We love you so much Alloy! Your dad named you after their school's beloved founder, Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz.  I pray you look up to him as your role model and live the life that he has lived. In his humble wish to be of help to the poor.

Happy Happy Birthday!

Dad and Mom
Ate Ally and Allen

Living the dream on Easter

The concept of getting into the food business has always played like a favorite tune in my mind since I was in the University. Right after graduation however, I was in the midst of people, whose idea of success was to rise up the Corporate ladder, which was not actually bad! I dreamed other people's dreams and went with the flow. And this led me a step further away from following my longtime dream. Getting married and having been introduced to the call center industry, a year after; l was brought into another reality. Colleagues in my first call center stint, even those with good salaries, still looked for ways to maximize their time while on a call. They sold food, and other stuff. I often bought from them. Until one day, I realised that if they can do it then I can do the same. This helped me jump start my first enterprising culinary bit . I'm not armed with a degree in the Culinary arts but would love to take it up someday...soon. In the meantime, I'm letting my passion rule over me and turn my dream, however gradual, into reality. 

We did a "soft opening" so to speak (a few days back) to re-introduce our products and we're tickled pink that it went well. So now that we're online, we're leaving some of the "reaching out" to our vitual marketer! 

Like any other business owners, going back to the loop makes us (me particularly) nervous. But my passion is taking the lead and I sing my heart's tune once more. Thank you Lord! This will be the best Easter and hopefully, the start of something big! I will continue with what I've started to honor Your Holy name O Lord! For the gift of nurturance came from (quoting from the Wonder Girls) "Nobody...Nobody...but You!"

Smiley Face

Visit our online store @