Tuesday, February 10, 2009

fully domesticated

last night, i talked with shaina for a long time. it made me realize how much i missed her company and our endless dinner and coffee dates when we used to be co-teachers. she is still teaching but me on the other hand, because of health reasons decided to be a homemaker for a while. i left my teaching post last september and i joined gil, here in baltimore, last november 22. i have to admit that the whole thing is totally new to me, but i am enjoying it. for one, i get to cook and prepare treats and food for gil's baon consistently except whenever i have my bouts with dysmenorrhea which can last for days.

here are some pics of the food i get to prepare for my baby:

this one is called brussel sprouts with bacon. the recipe of which i got from my beloved Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Slow Cooking - but instead of using a slow cooker, this one i made on top of a stove. i think i overcooked the brussel sprouts but it still turned out delicious and the cream really took some of the bitterness away.

this one is just a simple beef and broccolli stir fry. i just sauted some onions, garlic and ginger before adding the beef. then i added the broccolli. i seasoned it with kikkoman and added cornstarch mixed in water plus a little sugar and pepper. it's done when the meat is already tender. this was a crowd pleaser!

this is my fave dessert contribution: leche flan

i love it's creamy consistency and the smell of vanilla in milk is so heavenly. i vowed though to try making this dessert using fresh milk and cream. and also to try baking it for a change and not steam it. hmmmm....
this one, inspite of the fact that it was steamed and made entirely from canned milk made everyone swoon. proof: it was gone in less than a day.

in my conversation with shai, she asked me what kept me busy when everyone's out. well, it's mostly cooking. and she said, "oh my goodness,rhea! domesticated ka na talaga!" amen, i say... just for how long i can't tell. but for now, i am savoring it, one day at a time.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

we were "taken" last saturday!

Taken is a movie that I think all fathers can relate to. Given the same situation as Liam's character, any father would indeed go out of his way to save his kid even at the cost of his life.

I love this film coz' you see, I can imagine my Dad doing exactly the same thing for me and my 2 sisters.

poster taken from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/98/Taken-poster-0.jpg

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ai - keeee - yah!!!!

ikea is definitely my kind of furniture store. i love how they showcase their wares and i also love the in-house cafe that serves good ole swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce.

the store is divided into different sections and when you go around it's like walking through an interior designers' exhibit (pretty much like the ones i've witnessed in festival mall). it makes you want to re-do your room and buy all their furnitures.

we had fun in the kid's section and we tried several goofy masks including an octopus hat which is quite hilarious! we were giggling and stooping really low in the racks so people will not see how silly we were as we try the head gears. G was in charge of the photos the whole time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Shaved Ice Falling on my Face

snow is alien to me. i have not encountered it even in my dreams. maybe because coming from a country which is almost warm and sunny the whole year round, i just can't imagine what it's like to have snow...heck! i can't even imagine what it's like to deal with a -14 degrees C temperature!

you can just imagine what i felt when we woke up and witness white specks of shaved ice falling from the sky.... i felt like a kid waking up one delightful Christmas morning and accidentally seeing Santa Claus stuffing gifts onto my Christmas stockings!!!

i excitedly went out, wearing a coat over my pajamas and just pinch myself... asking myself again and again..."is this for real?" well, it is!!!!

i heart snow!!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sinulog in Baltimore

when i was a kid, fridays won't be complete without going to a small chapel dedicated to Sto.Nino. and i think everyone would agree to the fact that at least 90% of catholic filipino families have a small image of the child Jesus in their altar. so it was a very pleasing surprise that we were invited to witness a Sinulog festival in our small parish (The Shrine of the Sacred Heart) here in baltimore.

the celebration started with a short novena in honor of the Sto. Nino. after that, a small procession was held and i have to say that i was impressed with the kids who performed the dance during the procession coz it was below freezing that day (around -4 degrees C). a mass was held afterwards and a series of songs and dances were inserted in between Eucharistic celebration.

after the mass, everyone was invited to partake of a dinner prepared by the Filipino community in the area. the dinner consisted of pancit guisado, pancit palabok, fried chicken, lumpia and lechon. for dessert, you have a choice of banana cake, leche flan and bico.

overall, this was a lovely celebration, it reminded me so much about our devotion and religiosity. it also reminded me so much of home. i was very happy to be there to witness it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the week that was....

i was very happy for the past few days because i get to spend a lot of quality time with my hubby,G. they had a long weekend c/o martin luther king's day and president obama's inauguration. i wish it's already summer.

so far so good, the people here were my official tasters and i am so relieved that the dishes i've prepared so far are getting good responses. phew!!!!

i used my ever trusty "illustrated kitchen bible" for the apple charlotte with which we capped our dinners and i also managed to salvage some of our left-overs by taking joey's (of http://www.80breakfasts.blogspot.com/) advice of making a cottage pie out of it. this cottage pie was a hit and even ayen (who's our picky-eater friend) liked it a lot.

anyway, i was thankful that i managed to prepare something for G and oed all throughout the week prior to the long weekend. both had pork loin steak, daing na bangus and tocino (that i made using Mama Sita's mix), but there was one particular day though that i overslept so oed had spam and G had lamb stew (meal left-over) with his spam. hay! what can i do without u, spam!

we went out last friday and had dinner with joon and ayen. joon prepared baked cod and tortellini with arrabiata sauce which we all loved. after dinner, we went to applebees and had barbecued chicken fingers, fries, burgers and a oriental chicken roll-up. man, all we do is eat,eat and eat!!!!

saturday was a Sinulog celebration in our parish and i will be making another post about it.

we went to Mike's place last Sunday, watched the ravens (they were defeated by the steelers at 14-23) and had really good dinner c/o Shirley, Mike's beautiful wife. she prepared fish sinigang, bicol express, beef kare kare and goto topped with chicharon!!!! wow!

i wish for more days like these....

right now, it's already 1:40am and i'm still thinking of what to prepare later..hay!!!! wish me good luck! ;)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What's for lunch,Baby?

A question of which I am expected to answer every single day....

Everyday, I wake up earlier than G to fix breakfast and his "baon" for lunch. I know that there are times when thinking of what to cook can be nerve wrecking but luckily, I have a husband who is just so easy to please.

Well, thank God for ready-to-eat meatballs because that was exactly what he had for lunch yesterday with an extra special gravy of course, which I made from scratch. I got the recipe from Yummy magazine (August 2007, p.56) entitled "Swedish Meatballs with Pasta". I have to do away with pasta because he prefers rice and do away with the meatballs because we don't have ground meat in the freezer...besides, what we have are cooked Italian meatballs!

The gravy, I followed to the letter but made it extra special by adding in some chopped small bella mushrooms. I was a bit nervous when I was mixing the melted butter and the flour. I was murmuring "No lumps please" the entire time and phew! Thank goodness it was smooth.

To make up for my cheating (using ready-to-eat meatballs), I decided to fulfill my promise of making an Apple Charlotte using the recipe from "The Illustrated Kitchen Bible" (p.459). The recipe that I am putting here is a little different because I made some modifications which includes putting a streusel topping to add more crunch. ;)

Apple Charlotte with Streusel topping

4 Gala apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 Tbsp lemon juice (I like mine a little tart)
10 Tbsp butter, melted
18 slices of wheat bread, crusts removed
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Combine the apples, sugar, raisins, lemon juice and cinnamon in a heavy saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes until the apples are very tender and beginning to fall apart.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush your pan (I used an 8 inch square glass Pyrex dish) with some of the melted butter. Cut each of the bread (for the base) in half and brush both sides with butter and slightly overlap the bread which will form the base.

3. Spoon the apple mixture into the bread then, cover with the remaining bread slices which are also buttered on both sides.

Streusel Topping (p.462 - adapted from German Apple Cake of The Illustrated Kitchen Bible)

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon (+ 2 dashes coz I just heart cinnamon!)
6 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

In a bowl, simply mix everything with your hands and once combined, sprinkle on top of the Apple Charlotte, then bake for 35 minutes.

This is a very good recipe especially for the holidays because of the abundance of apples seating on top of the dining table plus the almost forgotten bread.

We ate it for dessert while it's still warm and had it with a vanilla fudge brownie ice cream. It was good but I secretly wished we had a plain vanilla ice cream which is a better pair for this one. Maybe I can go and get some later....

Today, I'll be preparing porkloin steak, my pinoy bistek version minus the beef and calamansi. Hope this one's good!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cooking from the Books

G gave me two wonderful cookbooks this Christmas and I am grinning ear to ear as I look and browse through pictures and pictures of scrumptuous food. From then on, I made a promise to myself that I would try at least one recipe (from any of these 2 books every week) and showcase them here.

The Williams-Sonoma book entitled, Essentials of Slow Cooking is a book introduced by Eric, (Oed's husband) who loves to cook just like me. I used to browse through his copy before and have actually tried several of the dishes there which were all absolute hits with our friends during potluck dinners. The dishes that I've successfully prepared using this cookbook were the following:

1. Country Style Pork Ribs - (p.159) it filled our kitchen and living room with an oh-so wonderful aroma only baked ribs can give
2. Smothered Porkchops with Caramelized Onions - (p.198) which was featured in one of my blogs here entitled "A Porky Business".

3. Osso Buco - (p.214) I substituted lamb shoulder instead of veal but just the same, it was very good!!!

4. Belgian Beef Stew - (p.237) it was my first time to cook with liquor because this one calls for a dark beer.

5. Teriyaki Chicken Thighs - (p.132) but in my case...Teriyaki Chicken Drumsticks, which was gone before we can even say "Merry Christmas!" to one another.

The second cook book was a whole new thing for me. It's entitled "The Illustrated Kitchen Bible" and oh boy! a budding cook's Bible it was. The recipes were categorized as starters and light bites, main dishes and side dishes and cakes and desserts, not to mention cooking techniques. And with beautiful pictures of finished products...you just wanna grab your pan and start cooking!

Since I have not tried a single recipe from this book, I resolved to use it and work on 2 recipes this week. I hope the kitchen gods will bless me as I prepare:

1. Eggplant Parmigiana - p.228

2. Apple Charlotte - p. 459

Keeping my chubby fingers crossed for these 2 recipes!!!!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Me in a Nut Shell

The Proust Questionnaire
A set of questions believed to reveal one's true identity or nature. It was popularized by a French essayist and novelist who enjoyed answering it when he was a teenager.

I think I would like to start my blog for this year by answering these set of questions as a form of introspection.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
- My idea of perfect happiness is to be with the ones I love in utmost contentment which means: having enough for the things we need with a little excess for the things we want and being at peace with myself and with everyone.

2. What is your greatest fear?
- An untimely and painful or horrible death for me and for any of my loved ones.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
- My tendency to procastinate a lot.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
- Parasitism in different forms: emotional, financial

5. Which living person do you most admire?
- I admire people who strived hard to earn their place under the sun.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?
- Food - enough said.

7. What is your current state of mind?
- There's a hodgepodge of ideas going on inside my head but I am excited about the things to come... so - I think I'm ok.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
- Cleanliness

9. On what occasion do you lie?
- When I don't want to create any complications with anyone.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
- The extra pounds that come and go

11. Which living person do you most despise?
-To say it would create so much complications.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
- Character and charm

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
- Intelligence

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
- Bem or Baby - referring to my husband,G

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
- God, my G, family...

16. When and where were you happiest?
- I'm happiest when I am with the ones I love so dear

17. Which talent would you most like to have?
- To cook good food and create a feast fit for kings

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
- To just do it and stop procastinating.

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
- To survive everyday with great optimism and not let the day pass without doing something good or worthwhile.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I would like to be reincarnated as water... because you get to travel on land and air, quench people's thirst and make things grow.

21. Where would you most likely to live?
I would like to live in a place close to nature where I am surrounded by people whom I treasure and love most.

22. What is your most treasured possession?
Since my life is borrowed, I would say my relationships - with my husband, family, friends and students.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Not to be loved at all

24. What is your favorite occupation?
Being a full time home maker

25. What is your most marked characteristic?
Being stubborn but lovable

26. What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty and sincerity

27. Who are your favorite writers?
Jane Austen, Paulo Coelho, Norton Juster, William Shakespeare, JK Rowling...just to name a few.

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I'm not sure, Jane Austen maybe?

30. Who are your heroes in real life?
My husband who made a big difference in my life, my parents who gave me life, my sisters who will always be my best friends and my friends who stayed with me through thick and thin. Also, my students who made me a part of their lives.

31. What are your favorite names?
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

32. What is it that you most dislike?
- animosity

33. What is your greatest regret?
- I firmly believe that everything happened to me for a reason and most of them by choice... so, no regrets.

34. How would you like to die?
peacefully, while sleeping

35. What is your motto?
These too shall pass - so live and love like there's no tomorrow.