Monthly Archives: April 2009

staycation ’09

i have been drifting far far away from this blog, i just can’t pin me down long enough to sit down and write a proper post…
but it’s time to reflect on the staycation vacation week that was. we took another closer look at the city we take for granted–though what we really wanted was a log-cabin-cozy-fireplace kind of a getaway, or a Jollibee-pilgrimage type of visit to the Big Apple–we had to stay close to home for many reasons.

they had sleepovers and playdates and school projects, so off we went on several day trips, mini-field trips.
bowling dayNokia 6085
he requested a bowling expedition. calculated shots vs. Dad’s forceful ones? he easily won over Daddy!
make way for quacklings

Boston Public Garden, Nokia 6085
we visited Mama Duck and her babies, especially since the second to the last one, was recovered from a trash heap after going missing for a few days.
we drove around Boston and when we saw a coveted free parking spot on the North End’s Hanover Street, famous for Italian restaurants and bakeshops, we just had to scramble out of the car and be tourists…for 15 minutes!
negotiating the milkshake flavor
there was also the requisite malling day for the teenager girliegirl, on one of the several rainy days…in Providence, Rhode Island. (where there’s a Popeye’s.) here they are, while waiting in line, arguing negotiating over what milkshake flavor to pick till mama stepped in and said, “i’ll pay, and it’s strawberry cheesecake flavor.” done.
we capped off the week with our first cookout and bonfire on our fireplace pit and made s’mores. i think i might have had more fun than the three kids…
how we make s'mores
daughter at the moment before smooshing together the toasted graham crackers and the melted marshmallows and Scharffen Berger 70% cacao melting squares….do you know how to make s’mores???

pictures above taken from my Nokia 6085 and daughter’s Canon powershot SD800 IS…my Konica point and shoot battery died, and it’s too expensive to replace, and am mulling over what camera to get next…it better be a keeper!
should i get another point and shoot with more “bells and whistles”, or a beginner DSLR??? any suggestions, recommendations greatly appreciated. but i think i already know the answer, *sigh*….

Litratong Pinoy #55: tulay (bridge)

this week’s theme for the premiere Pinoy photoblogging meme, LP#55, is bridge.
bridge over raging water
i picked this bridge from a hiking trip we took to the New Hampshire mountains a couple of years ago, with husband’s clan.
i think that bridges made of wood or stone are just fascinating, especially those that defy physics and the ravages of nature, or those that require a bit of balancing for lack of a rail.
my friends and i used to cross a mini-bridge over a narrow stream to go to a friend’s tree house parties on a fragile little plank.
we used to crawl back to our vehicle, after a few San Miguel’s, late at night, and just marveled at how we never fell into the water.
but this particular bridge, though well maintained by the National Parks, brought some peril to my day: my husband decided he’d go over the railing and check out the waterfall.
i almost fainted from alarm, thinking our #2son might follow suit.
luckily he saw me taking a picture and i didn’t have to make a shrill little scene in front of his nieces and nephews–i used sign language and my most piercing death-ray vision to get him back into the bridge: “don’t even think about it!”….
ang paksa sa linggong ito ay tulay.
bagaman itong larawang ito ay kinunan dalawang taon nang nakalipas, pinili ko dahil ito ang paboritong klaseng tulay na pagmasdan o tawirin. gusto ko yung mga tulay na gawa ng kahoy, bato, kahit may konting peligro…yung makitid o walang hawakang pang-alalay, o yung gawa sa lubid.

pero ang tulay na ito ay nagdulot ng konting drama sa saglit na ito: dahil ang aking asawa ay naisipang gumapang sa bandang “hinulugang taktak” at ako’y nangamba na baka sumunod ang aming bunso.
buti na lang hindi ko kinailangang tumili at mag iskandalo dahil nakita niya akong kumukuha ng larawan at kahit sa kalayuan ay nakitang nanlilisik nang mga mata ko at sumesenyas nang “huwag mo man lamang isipin!” at siya at umatras pabalik sa tulay….

under the bridgewhat lies beneath
sa ilalim ng tulay

Litratong Pinoy #54: building (gusali)

i thought long and hard about what photo of a building to post on this week’s Litratong Pinoy Event, with “building” as its theme.
should i go for the height and splendor, or the architectural significance, or the location, or the view?
nah. i decided to go for the glitz.
this building, which we chanced upon while we were in the car on a night drive around Manhattan, December 2008, took my breath away. i know, it is blurry, but it captures the moment of dumbfounded awe i felt–despite the boldness and the crassness and the gaudy fiesta effects, i decided it was quite a sight.
giant billboard building
nahirapan akong mamili ng larawan para sa linggong ito kaya kulelat na naman ako.
piliin ko kaya yung palasyong puno ng maartistang palamuti, o yung gusaling may mahalagang papel sa istorya ng sibilisasyon, o yung nagpapaganda ng paligid?
pinili ko na lang kung ano yung nagpatame-me sa aking kadaldalan, yung kung saan ako ay natigilan sa pagkamangha.
nagulat ako talaga dahil hindi ko alam na may ganitong gusali na pala sa NYC, na may ganong lantad na lantad at tumitili sa paghanga ng salapi, status, at kamunduhan. at pagkatapos ng lahat, ito’y ibinalot ng giftwrap.

jars and jars

under the guise of food scientist i made these not-quite-but-somewhat-instant pancakes and brought out the mainstays of my refrigerator: Europeans jams and preserves and maple syrup.
the mix is Carbon’s golden malted pancake and waffle flour (just add buttermilk, eggs, and butter).
it must be prolaimed that i bought all of these at grocery salvage outlet stores.
verdict: i prefer raspberry by Hero, and Bonne Maman strawberry. i will get some Favorit cherry when the Hero runs out.
i cooked them in my double griddle pan and had some trouble adjusting the heat, hence the two toned pancake effects.
this is not an experiment that will be replicated for result verification too often–i ended up eating too many pancakes for my daily ration of carb allowance. bleh. :tragedy:

but no matter, today is a warm spring day, finally!!! and thus begins our April/spring vacation week.

LP 53: good luck in the garden (hardin)

“hardin” ang pinag uusapan ngayong linggo sa Litratong Pinoy. pero bago ang lahat,
nagdaos ng kaarawan ang aking panganay na anak. siya’y dalawangpung taong gulang na. talaga!

“garden” is the theme for this week’s LP photoblog. but before all that
my big bundle of boy is 20 now! as of yesterday… WOW!

siya’y humiling ng kanyang mga paboritong putahe, ang aking beef Wellington, at tiramisu birthday cake na galing sa aming paboritong bake shop. pag-uwi namin galing don, nakita agad ng nakababatang kapatid ang bisita na namamasyal at tutuka tuka sa likuran.

sa atin, di ba maraming mga kasabihan tungkol sa suwerte o malas, pag may matatalinhagang nangyayari? tulad ng mga di inaasahang bisita…gaya ng mariposa. sabi ng mga nakakatanda sa amin, suwerte daw pag may mariposa sa hardin. madalas kami’y gigising sa umaga na may nagpapahingang mariposa sa ibabaw ng punong talisay.

wala pang mga halaman sa aming hardin…para kasing hindi na iinit ang panahon, walang mga umuusbong na dahon masyado. kaya wala akong maisip na isali sa ngayong linggo na bagong usbong.
tapos naalala ko ang nakita namin kahapon.
sana nga suwerte ang may pabo sa hardin… ang unang larawan ay kuha lang sa aking camera phone…

he requested his favorite dishes, my beef Wellington and i ordered a tiramisu cake from the fancy cake shop. on the day of his birthday after picking up his cake and driving into the back yard, we saw a special visitor in the garden.
now,in the Philippines, there are a lot of beliefs regarding good luck and bad luck omens. one of them that i’m fond of storytelling for the kids is the mariposa, which is the largest known moth–at least 10 inches wingspan–it’s supposed to bring good things if you find it resting in your garden. in Kalayaan Avenue it used to rest on top of our talisay(tropical almond) tree.

now i declare that it can only be good luck if you find a wild turkey in your driveway.
it is the second time we’ve seen him –i think it is an immature male because of the way its feathers are so shiny and glimmery in the sunshine, and there was the beginning of a characteristic “beard” on his chest. “he” could also be just a drab female. yes, i was that close to it, but i only had my cameraphone on hand. he flew up to the roof of our big garage and then hopped on over to the neighbors’ just pecking at everything in sight.

click the image for a better view of the big bird
IMG_4493(photo by daughter)
here he is, “neighboring” (nangangapitbahay)
…that’s not “his” egg.
p.s. i wanted to name him George, but #2son calls him “Thanksgiving Dinner.”

my favorite grilled chicken wings

is a cheat’s recipe. sorry.
wings con Mama Sita
i think Mama Sita’s barbecue marinade is a great base for chicken wing barbecue marinade. i always have some on hand, and with my ever growing impatience for spring to really arrive, i mean REALLY, not just keep teasing us with warm weather one day, and then five days of bone chilling cold and rainy-day-gray weather, and then another warm day…you get the picture?
we threw away our cheap little grill after last summer, and are now anticipating the imminent purchase of our new name-brand (albeit still cheap) charcoal grill. until then i got the itch to grill something in my oven.
Mama Sita plus, husband calls it:
barbecue marinade, plus crushed garlic, a splash of pineapple juice, lashings of freshly ground black pepper and a shake of sea salt.
marinate the chicken wings for at least an hour, and then bake on high heat (450F) tightly covered with foil for 30 minutes, occasionally basting with the marinade. then uncover and broil, vigilantly watching over them like a hawk, until well browned.
finger bowls optional.

green tea soy milk

file this under libations that make me wax lyrical…
i discovered tetrapacks of these in our favorite Japanese grocery; i didn’t know if they were good, i just had a hunch, and i bought as much as i could carry in my arms (the grocery is very cramped and shopping carts can get unwieldy there).
and since then we’ve been hooked.

whenever supplies run out, i make some at home with a jug of unflavored soy milk and matcha (green tea) powder shaken and stirred in–doable, but a bit of work; the matcha gets lumpy.
i’m not here to argue for the pros of drinking soy milk, it is quite easy to search for all the journals and studies of its health benefits (cholesterol-lowering, avoiding breast/prostate cancer, easing symptoms of menopause, and on and on). a few years ago there were also terrifying emails circulated about its downside, too scary to even mention.
but this green tea soy milk is just so delicious and when served ice cold, so refreshing–i feel so smugly and self-righteously healthy after drinking it, that i recommend everyone try it. NOW!

send one your love

our niece has just turned sweet sixteen, and her present is a trip to London with her parents. lucky girl! we just came home from her birthday dinner, and my farewell words to her after a lovely evening, which ended with a piano performance, were: “send us a postcard okay?” she was a little bit taken aback. “huh?” “you know, from London?” and then her face lit up, and she said, “oh yeah! yes i will!”
it must be because the sending and receiving of snail mail, be they letters or postcards, is not really very much a part of this current crop of youngsters’ lives. to me, getting a postcard from a friend traveling abroad gives me such a thrill, seeing the photograph and the stamp and appreciating the effort of sending it to me. priceless!
lately a lot of the postcards i get are from the dentist and the eye doctor reminding me of my need to make the dreadful appointments. it is a very effective way to get my attention though. more likely than not, i will call.
the visual and immediate appeal of postcards is undeniable, and there is an easy way to have them personalized for multiple purposes: invitations, announcements, business uses. there are many designs to choose from; i kind of like this cute one…

and then there’s the option of uploading your own photograph and adding your own logos or icons to put your very own personal touch.
i’ve sent and received photographs in the mail before, just putting a stamp on the back and delineating clearly the field for the address is quite easy. but now with the option of picking a particularly favorite photograph and ordering several copies for distribution to friends and families–that would bring back the romance of postcards that i’m quite fond of.

let there be flan on earth

a hop on to the highway, to the yellow and blue furniture store and Costco with my sweet neighbor spiCes yielded a fun field trip and a big bag of juicy sweet Tarocco oranges from Sicily. what a revelation… they were juicy sweet plump fruits bursting with flavor, i’ve gobbled up four in one sitting.
i sectioned them out and went around the house popping them into the mouths of my preoccupied, unsuspecting babes. delicious!
Tarocco oranges from Sicily
so what did i do Friday? i had planned on surprising the kids with an outing somewhere, on their one rare day off from school. but they surprised me instead–they had made plans to hang out with their friends.
chauffeur mommy reporting for duty as always.
i decided just to make flan. i’d been searching futilely for the lime and cardamom mousse recipe i’d heard so much about from the chef who likes to say the f word too much. no luck there, but i chanced upon an orange flan recipe that i just felt compelled to try.
orange cardamom flan

orange cardamom flan adapted from Aunty Susan‘s orange and cinnamon recipe.
orange cardamom flan slice
i substituted the following:
i added a tsp. of ground cardamom , and 1 tsp. orange extract instead of orange liqueur to the flan mixture; 3 green cardamom pods instead of cinnamon stick to the caramel.
tip for success: use an immersion or stick blender to make the flan as smooth and velvety as possible.
even the orange marmalade required in the recipe disappeared into the mixture. Continue reading