Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Having a child is truly a full-time job… more so when you make the commitment to breastfeed the exclusively, meaning absolutely no formula. Sure you may be away from your baby once in a while but you better leave an ample supply of pumped milk. Should you decide to bring him along, find out where breastfeeding stations are located… bless SM for putting one in MOA albeit facing the ATM queue but Rustans Glorietta even more for bothering to make theirs look like an actual nursery with lovely wallpaper, comfy couches and basic toiletries. In the absence on such facilities, be ready to get creative… find a place with the least traffic and go about your business discreetly with as much nonchalance as you can muster. Wear button-down tops but for the more modest ones, bring one of ‘em shawl-like covers.
So far, Nacho has been well-behaved when we go out choosing to sleep most of the time and poop galore within the comforts of space and equipment of his pedia’s clinic. Feeding was mostly in the car or a mad dash to an unpopular restaurant where you should have the decency to at least order something.
The bigger challenge is being home alone without a nanny… I have mastered the art of not chewing my hurried meals, taking 3-minute baths and catching up on sleep all according to his biological time clock. It’s a cycle of eating, pooping and sleeping, but sometimes he would cry for no reason despite you exhausting all remedies (including a song and dance number). And just when you decide to put him in a basket to be left on somebody’s doorstep, he’d flash either the kawawa-look or his winning smile and you’re suckered right back to pouring your unconditional love and berating yourself for even having bad thoughts – absolute putty in his tiny little hands.
At the end of the day when your husband is home to temporarily relieve you of yaya-duties and your child is happy and content, you give yourself a pat on the back… then take all you can; food, bath and sleep... tomorrow is another day.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Finished!

Renovations to our humble home is done and ready for occupancy!
Tita Evelyn, our Ninang/Contractor surpassed expectations from our very modest budget - in this case, leaving things to the expert was a very wise decision.
Now if only we can afford to furnish the house already... but that's another challenge!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Our Star is Born

We’ve got two maternity bags in the trunk since June – my belly was so huge I was pretty sure I’d deliver around my 36th week which fell on July 5. August loomed but I kept getting bigger, had false labor once in a while and the OB said my cervix was still too thick and the baby still wouldn’t engage on my pelvis.
My sister and my mom were here from the province so I went around with them to as far as QC, Tagaytay, around the malls… still nothing changed when I went in for check-up. An ultrasound revealed that the baby was already 8.5lbs inside so…
Friday – I had an xray to see if my pelvic bone can accommodate him. However, the one to interpret the plates won’t be back until Monday afternoon. So I took the platesfrom the hospital and called around to see who else can read it for me.
Saturday – still nobody to read my xray plates so I texted the OB if we may please just go ahead with Ceasarian delivery as my layperson’s eyes tell me that my baby’s head is already as big as the space in my bone. She asked me to return first the plated to the hospital so she can take a look at them, but Tats and I were off to Tony & Mau’s wedding so we were not able to do so until late that evening.
Sunday - Tats and I were at the mall to buy a net for the baby’s tub and to pay our phone bill. I asked the OB again if we can schedule the delivery already as I’m already on the 40th week and doubt I’ll be in labor anytime soon. She assembled her team and we’re on for 7am the next day!
Monday – We checked-in the hospital at 1am and I was promptly prepped. The bikini wax I had almost a month before has already become immaterial so I had to put up with the rough razor. The nurse gave me shot in the ass to induce bowel movement – “oh it’s going to take time, I was done when I left the house”, she was hardly out the door before I rushed and barely made it to the toilet.
7am – I was wheeled to the OR for some really painful skin testing – it hurt more than the anesthesia injected in my spine except they kept making me curl up as if oblivious to my huge tummy in the way.
8am – I was semi-conscious and the violent movements almost knocked me out of my medicated stupor, it felt like someone sat below my lower chest and started pushing my belly down. I could hear the OR team discovering that the baby has already pooped inside and hurriedly took him out, but above it all, I made out my Nacho’s faint cry. Someone showed him to me in a brown blanket that looked like paper bag plus he was full of rashes… it wasn’t love at first sight as my first impression was, oh my - he looks like a bumpkin! Then I passed out.
Tuesday – I was drinking water like crazy until my urine cleared and the nurses took out the catheter. Dragging my dextrose to the bathroom, I gave myself a towel bath, put on fresh clothes, asked Tats to wheel me to the nursery and there he was – the longest and heaviest of babies now with less rashes compared to yesterday. I tried to breastfeed him and he immediately latched on like a starved cub, hmm, Tats did well giving specific instructions for dropper-feeding. Right there, we decided that he’s rooming in with us that evening – and what an exhausting night it was!
Wednesday – Tats and I took turns catching up on sleep. I thought we’d stay another day but the Pedia and the OB cleared both Nacho and me for discharge. Well… as long as I have painkillers.
I almost cried seeing my gauzed tummy all dark and loose but it was quickly offset by my dripping milk. It’s all true what they say about sleepless nights getting used to soiled diapers, frustrating baths and all. But it’s also surprising how happy a peaceful stare or a brief smile can make you.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My 20 Quick and Healthy Fixes (Soup Recipes)

VI. Pumpkin/ Carrot Soup
¼ ripe Pumpkin/ 3 med. sticks Carrots (if both, use half portions of each)
250 ml. Milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
(a) In sauce pan, cover pumpkin/ carrots with water and boil until tender (not too much water). Scoop out of water and puree in blender. Add water used for boiling in blender if needed to reduce thickness of puree.
(b) Pour back puree in sauce pan and add milk.
(c) Simmer over low heat and season with salt and pepper.

VII. Corn Soup
5 cobs White Corn
1 tbsp. Butter
3 cloves Garlic (diced)
1 pc. medium-size White Onion
1 cup Water
1 cup Moringa leaves or ½ cup Celery (diced)
(a) Using a sharp knife, gently slice off kernels off the corn cobs. Scrape off pulp as these will thicken the soup.
(b) In sauce pan, melt butter and sauté garlic followed by onions.
(c) Pour in water and corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper. Leave to simmer over low heat.
(d) After a 5 minute boil, turn off heat and add in moringa or celery.

VIII. French Onion Soup
3 large White Onions cut into rings
½ stick Butter
500 ml. Milk
¼ cup grated Cheddar Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
(a) In sauce pan, melt butter and add onions. Leave to heat until onion is totally wilted.
(b) Add milk and cheese. Simmer over low heat.
(c) Season with salt and pepper.

IX. Cheddar Tomato Soup
1cup diced Ripe Tomatoes
2 pcs. chopped White Onions
250 ml. Milk
½ cup Cheddar Cheese (grated)
1 cup Water
1 tsp. Basil
½ cup Diced Celery
Salt and Pepper to taste
(a) Puree Tomatoes and Onion.
(b) In sauce pan, combine puree, milk, cheese and basil.
(c) Simmer over low heat and season with salt and pepper.
(d) Turn off heat and add celery.

X. Seafood Chowder
¼ kg each of Scallops/ Clam/ Shrimp/ Fish Fillet
¼ cup Diced Onions
3 cups Potatoes (cut into cubes)
½ stick Butter
250 ml. Milk
½ cup Cheddar Cheese (grated)
1 cup Water
1 tsp. Basil
½ cup Diced Celery
Salt and Pepper to taste
(a) Melt butter and sauté onions, potatoes and celery over low heat.
(b) Add in seafood.
(c) Pour in water and milk.
(d) Simmer over low heat and season with basil, salt and pepper.

(Stand Alone Recipes to follow…)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Quick & Healthy Fixes

For me, cooking has become therapy. It happened when eating lunch on workdays has become a necessity rather than a pleasurable break. I would order a Cheeseburger Meal and eat while working in front of my computer. When I forgot to eat, I would look for the fastest starch/ sugar option available and gobble it up in seconds.

A routine annual physical check-up at my husband’s office revealed that his triglyceride level is off the charts. It was then that we decided to make a conscious effort on the quality of the meals we take while in the workplace where we spend most of the day at least five times per week.

I surfed the net for realistic options. I know we’re not ready for something as drastic as turning vegan as we’re both big meat eaters so I started by making a weekly menu with reduced carbohydrates and increased fiber. Budget and prep time are also major factors.

We did the grocery list and I started preparing our office meals either the night before (for more complicated viands) or the morning before work. I thought it was going to wear me out but I ended up really enjoying my short times alone in the kitchen. It also makes me happy that lunchtime has become an anticipated break for my husband work days.

Here are my 20 Quick and Healthy fixes. Recipes are good for 2-3 servings so feel free to make adjustments as you deem necessary. Hope they come in handy for you too!

SOLOS or COMBOS (may be had alone but better when complemented with any of the succeeding soup recipes)

I.Beefsteak Sandwich
¼ Sirloin sliced very thinly
1 pc. medium-size Bell Pepper (sliced in strips)
1 pc. medium-size White Onion (sliced in rings)
1 small can Button Mushrooms (sliced in 2 or 3)
3 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
3 tsp. Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Swiss Cheese (or Cheez Whiz)
Ciabatta, Foccacia or any High-fiber bread you prefer
(a)Marinade beef in Worcestershire Sauce for 10 minutes. Simmer over low heat, season with salt and pepper. When marinade dries up, add oil to fry a little.
(b)Place in white onions and let fry until wilted. Add in bell peppers and mushrooms and turn off heat before the peppers wilt.
(c)Slice bread in half. Place filling and top with Cheese.

II. Lettuce Wraps

¼ lean Pork (ground)
1 pc. medium-size Carrot (diced)
1 pc. medium-size Turnip (diced)
50g. Peanuts (crushed)
1 pc. small White Onion (diced)
3 cloves Garlic (diced)
3 tsp. Sesame Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Lettuce leaves, washed and drained
(a)Over low heat, let pork simmer in 3 tbsp. water until meat’s oil is extracted. Drain oil from pan.
(b)Add in all the other ingredients and sauté until carrots and turnips are cooked but still crunchy.
(c)Eat by putting fillings in lettuce leaves, wrap and roll away.

III. Creamy Onion and Mushroom Omelet
1 pc. medium-size White Onion (sliced in rings)
1 small can Button Mushrooms (sliced in 2 or 3)
¼ cup grated Cheddar Cheese
¼ cup Full Cream Milk
3 tbsp. Vegetable Oil
4 whole Eggs (beaten)
Salt and Pepper to taste
a)Saute onion in 1 tbsp. oil until wilted. Add mushrooms, cheddar cheese and milk and blend together until creamy. Set aside.
b)Beat eggs lightly (if you want crepe-like omelet) or vigorously (if you like fluffy omelet). Add salt and pepper.
c)Over low heat, grease pan with 2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Pour in half of the beaten eggs. When base is cooked, place half of the filling over half a side of the egg and fold the other half over.
d)Remove from heat and repeat folding with the other half of the mixtures.

IV. Home-made Pizza
¼ ground round Beef
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 pc. medium-size Bell Pepper (sliced in strips)
1 pc. medium-size White Onion (sliced in rings)
1 small can Button Mushrooms (sliced in 2 or 3)
250ml Tomato Sauce
½ cup grated Cheddar or Mozzarella Cheese
Ciabatta, Foccacia or any High-fiber bread you prefer
a)Over low heat, let beef simmer in 3 tbsp. water until meat’s oil is extracted. Drain oil from pan. Season with salt and pepper.
(b)Slice bread in half and spread tomato sauce over cut surface.
(c)Place topping on bread: beef, mushroom, onion, pepper and cheese.
(d)Pop into the oven toaster and let cook for 5-7 minutes.

V. Broiled Chicken Breast
½ Chicken Breast (with or without skin)
5 cloves crushed Garlic
Salt, Pepper and Lemon to taste
a)Cut chicken breast in big cubes. Place in deep pan and add water just enough to cover the meat.
b)Add in garlic, salt and pepper. Leave to simmer over very low heat (this will take about 20 minutes so you may want to squeeze in a shower already)
c)When the water have evaporated, let the meat and garlic fry a little in the extracted oil.
d)Remove from heat. Squeeze lemon juice over meat.

Soup recipes to follow!

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Ziggy-faced Nacho

Had a most unpleasant experience at the OB-GYN Ultrasound Center Alabang yesterday.
First the doctor was late and then she wouldn't let Tats into the room, "Nakita na naman nya yan dati di ba? Ayan o lalaki, alam nyo na yun di ba?" (he's seen this before already, you know it's a boy right?) I don't know where she got off being overly familiar when I've never encountered her before and the doctors there in previous scans were much nicer. Nacho was kicking and squirming the whole time that horrid woman was running the stick over my belly.

Tats had to contend himself with the screen of the receptionist who was nice enough to interpret the image her first reaction being... "Ayan Sir o, ang laki ng pisngi ng anak nyo!" (your child's cheek is so plump)

At 35 weeks, Nacho is already 6.5lbs and i look like i'm ready to explode anytime. Unenthusiastically, she pointed out the liver, kidney etc. When I asked if the lungs are fully developed, she looked at me incredulously and shook her head as if i just asked the stupidest question of the century.

After paying and getting the results, Tats and I left without bothering to make small talk. As soon as were out the door, we both agreed how much we hated that doctor. Then we opened the envelope and took in the features of our ziggy-faced baby... at least there was something pleasant to balance the day's scale.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Gelato Redemption: Amici et Cara Mia

We’re off to Greenhills sooner than I thought!

My husband and 2 brother-in-laws are huge pizza and pasta lovers so it wasn’t hard to convince them to have lunch at Amici. On our way down Connecticut, I regaled them with tales of the original one in Don Bosco where my old office used to be. I described the portly priests cooking away in a steamy kitchen separated from the rest of the cafeteria with a clear glass sliding window, the noisy boys we competed with for table space, the complimentary bread baskets with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to boot… and of course the generous servings of pasta with the featured meat which alternates between rosemary chicken or roast beef for only P110. The meal must be capped with a scoop or two of gelato at P30 each with a side show of the previously-cooking priests relaxing to shots of espresso shared with Bencab. That was 2003.

After being bought by the family that used to own Red Ribbon (now under Jollibee), today’s Amici boasts of Italian-themed interiors of white, green and red with the Greenhills branch annexed to an entire “gelateria” section called Cara Mia in lovely pastel colors. It feels totally different but I’m glad they kept the water and ice station where you can get an entire frosted pitcher for your table. Another down-to-earth touch is you can actually order 1.5L of softdrinks because for my boys, a can just won’t do.

We ordered the meat pizza with ham and sausages, penne with smoked salmon, fried mozzarella and lasagna al forno. The price increase was expected but not the petite servings. Each dish was enough for a girl my size but definitely not for guys used to wolfing down 36” pizzas as fast as I could finish a regular sandwich. The penne was pretty good but the lasagna was too fragrant it felt like I was eating in a flower shop. You can’t go wrong with fried mozzarella but there are so many ways you can screw up with pizza starting with the thick-bready crust same as the one of pizza hut.

I knew my companions were dissatisfied but they were such gentlemen to say so. They were probably itching to bolt for the nearby McDo, but I ushered them to Cara Mia, the reason why I brought them there in the first place.

The display of gelato, ice cream cakes and cookies were beautiful but not on adventurous mode anymore, they stuck to the classic Pistachio and Strawberry while I went for the most complicated-looking Mango Jubilee which I’m pretty sure I won’t find in ice-cream version anytime soon. Back in Don Bosco I used to order the Rum Raisin, maybe I was the only one so they phased it out, but I’m sure a lot of people will go crazy over my new choice which would be more appropriately called Berries Buffet – there were more strawberries and blueberries than mango packed in gelato whose main purpose is to hold ‘em fruits together.

We were all happy with dessert and should have left it at that except after a little shopping we decided to go one more for the road. We ordered a slice of Banana Blast ice cream cake and Strawberry Gelato Milkshake. The cake was 3 flavors of ice cream with a dark crusty bottom, chocolate sticks and strawberry drizzle, it looked very pretty but was quite overwhelming - plus points for the generous strawberries much more prominent than the banana-flavored ice cream so again this one should be aptly renamed. The milkshake was very thick and rich they way it’s supposed to be but I don’t think I’ll be having any again in this lifetime.

Friday, June 19, 2009


If you were flat broke - would you work in a brothel that can earn you around $70 + tips/day?


How would you react if your wife told you that her gift on your upcoming birthday is 365 nights of sex?

If you were the wife, would you give this as gift?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Lite & Fresh Lunch

I've been following Market Man's posts on his food adventures in Paris lately and all those food stores seem so deliciously amazing!

Last Saturday, Tats and I went to Greenhills early for his lunch reunion with friends at Chili's. I was excited by the prospect of trying something different on my own as he's a creature of habit and usually chooses to eat at the tried-and-tested restaurants experimenting only with places with prior recommendation from reliable sources.

I wanted to look for Angel's Kitchen but figured it's not within walking distance from V-mall, at least not for somebody 8mos along the way. Since I have not had breakfast, my grumbling stomach with a kickin' & screamin' baby brought me to the nearest, haven't before tried food stores within a 20-ft radius. And I must say that I seem to have a little gourmand of a bun in the oven!

First stop was Beju: The Fruit Store, I've always wanted to go inside but never got to. Lo and behold the bounty - they were so beautiful I almost broke into a song! Fruits and flowers are always delightful to me be they in the market, mall or sidewalk. The difference with this store is at close inspection, the produce are oh so perfectly smooth in different palettes and I bet they're succulent too, plus it also helps that they're displayed in wooden pails and natural baskets. Common favorites like apples, mangoes, oranges, bananas and lychees with exotic ones like plums, dragonfruits, cherries and others I have not seen before! They also serve fruit shakes, smoothies and medley snacks of fresh slices, very enticing but not hefty enough for brunch. I opted for a medium-sized shake and asked the cashier's recommendation... Orange-Banana, haven't tried that before. At P60, it's the same price as the more commercial stalls except Beju is a lot more generous with fruits and less on syrup. Very fruitty indeed!

I was almost halfway through my drink by the time I got to Milkyway right next door. I've eaten at their Pasay Road branch several times and love their Crispy Pata and Lechon Kawali both being deep-fried parts of a cochinillo. Practically all items on their menu have brought me much joy espcially when capped by a refreshing scoop of buko sorbet. But the Greenhills branch is sort of a deli/ turu-turo type where you can buy their bottled and packed food items or choose from 8-10 viands featured for the day.

My fruit shake was making me feel all healthy inside so I opted to get the Chicken-Asparagus Sandwich for complement. Subtle mayo, flaked chicken, white asparagus and tomato slices stacked cold in trimmed bread coupled with the cool, tangy shake - the combination was fantastic! I savored every bite, finished with a fresh-just-right fullness and was very satisfied. It dawned on me that this is how meals are supposed to be taken, relaxed and appreciated as God intended thus making eating one of our greatest pleasures. I thought of my hurried meals and rubbish calories from undeserving foods of the past - to be absolutely avoided from hereon.

I just read in today's Phil. Star that Amici (the one in Don Bosco) not only opened a branch but also a specialty gelato-bar, Cara Mia in Connecticut Ave. Wow, these and Angel's Kitchen, can't wait for my next visit to Greenhills! =)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wilcon Tile Shopping

I LOVE WILCON!I've actually never been in one until recently with our home-renovation project and I was blown away by the choices of fixtures especially the tiles and the seemingly endless combination you can come up with!

We can't afford to change the house's faux-marble flooring yet, but it's actually not so bad and we might not have to until maybe after a long time. Thus we have to work with a color scheme that goes with it. First we took pictures of the different rooms then off to Wilcon, but we were mostly overwhelmed with everything that we didn't get to decide on anything!

Accompanied by our ninang/contractor Tita Evelyn (whose house is simply divine!) the second time, we had a clearer picture of what we wanted and will be able to afford. So we picked wood-panel-looking tiles for the Master's Bathroom and black-&-white ones for the bathroom downstairs.

Over the weeks we were agonizing over the cost of granite for the kitchen counter which will require 2 slabs at over P6k each. I asked Tita Evelyn if tiles will do and she suggested the plain-porcelain type for the counter with mosaic ones for the splashboard. Armed with measurements and our trusty digicam, Tats and I were off to Wilcon on our own.

After sweeping the expansive array we got dizzy and decided to break by selecting a sink which was easy enough considering the available sizes and especially the prices! After making a choice, we boldly went back to the tiles. We found the perfect semi porcelain base at barely P300 each for a 60cmx60cm. The quest for the ultimate mosaic was harder as most were either too psychedelic or too country (fruits, veggies..) I ventured off to the ceramic floor tiles and found 2 potentials except they're made in China and thus too porous said the attendant. But the guy at the Mariwasa section assured us that the local ones are ok so we picked the Brown-brick ones at P32 each for 30cm x 30cm to go with our base.

With an accomplished grin, off we went to deliver the goods to the house. After laying them down - I realized to my horror that they clash with the floor! Thank goodness both the base and mosaic come in Gray-based scheme which goes perfectly with the floor as well as the bathroom!

Back we went to Wilcon with little trouble coz the exchange items were of the same price but took a long wait nevertheless. The carpenters already left when we got back so poor Tats hauled everything himself. We got home at 7pm, tired and hungry for an entire day has gone by and we never got to eat lunch. Tats probably lost 10lbs but we're happy - including the sink we spent only around P6k total equivalent to the price of one granite slab.

Can't wait to show you the before and after pics! =)

The Sucat Road Discourse

Nearing the end of another arduous traffic going home, Tats brought up our dilemma of whether we’re having Nacho baptized or not. Still not equipped with a solution, I closed the matter by holding off the decision until his first birthday when we can celebrate both milestones together should we go for the affirmative.

Although Catholic-raised, Tats and I stopped going to church a long time before we even met. Despite his mom’s insistence for a church ceremony, we went on to have a civil wedding. We believe in the existence of God sans the religious faith but admittedly, the absence of structured belief give way to so many liberties.

We both agree that our relationship lacks spirituality… and how are we to impart to our child something that we barely have? We pondered on whether desire was enough to form a link with God or helping people out would be a more productive project to bond over. But what sort of project?

Before we could come up with an answer, we were home already where the basic needs of being sheltered, fed, cleansed and comforted took precedence over abstract matters such as nourishing the spirit.

We are not bad people, but we live mainly for ourselves in our own little world. For Nacho we want a more meaningful life, the sort that may not bring him material wealth but so much fulfillment and happiness.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Stuck-in-Traffic Meal

Will somebody explain to me please the correlation between rain and traffic?
Of course it's always traffic in Manila regardless of the weather but for some reason, it becomes at least 5x heavier when there's rain!

There were unexpected downpours over summer (global warming is not a myth people!)and it has gotten more frequent lately.

Last Wednesday was the first really bad byahe from office to home so Tats and I were unprepared... we were hungry, thirsty and he needed to pee. But last night we were ready - he brought leftovers from an office training at the Pen (thanks tita Brenda!), I had a 500ml bottle of water and both our bladders were clear.

Along with the George Michael playlist, we attacked the vegetable sushi and smoked beef brisket - I begged and begged but he wouldn't let me have any of the raw salmon. I didn't realize he could be so firm about depriving me but then again maybe he just wanted it all for himself. For dessert we had non-spectacular but pwede na creme brulee.

The traffic was not as bad as the night before... until we got to Bicutan and Tats' tummy was going wild for No. 2. HAH - must be all the salmon!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Baon of the Day - The Frugal Pasta

I am not very fond of Bolognese or any sauce with a lot of meat in it which they very much prefer at home - call me maarte but I'd rather have simple pasta paired with a separate meat item... I just want to be able to appreciate taste and texture of the base minus the complications. Fish or seafood based sauces are the exception because they're light enough to really blend in.

Used to be that the only pasta I could make was "Tuna Pesto" composed of a can of Hot & Spicy Tuna sauteed in olive oil, garlic and basil. Then I discovered an equally fast and cheap tomato-based version...

6pcs. ripe Tomatoes (blanched, peeled & diced)
500g Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Onions, Garlic and Basil (chopped - based on your desired quantity)
1 tsp. Chili Flakes
2 tbsp. Bagoong Balayan(Anchovy Sauce)or Salt & Pepper to taste

1) In heated Olive Oil, saute Garlic, Onion, Chili Flakes and Basil (in sequence)
2) Add Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce.
3) Season with Bagoong Balayan (for a tastier version) or Salt and Pepper. Leave to simmer for 20minutes.
4) For added punch - serve with Feta Cheese or Kesong Puti

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bicol Express

I was running out of ideas for easy-to-prepare meals for Tats and mine's daily baon... then I remembered cooking Bicol Express ages ago and true to its name, the whole thing can be made quite quickly!

1/2 Pork kasim (cubed, separate fatty part)
50g Coconut Milk Powder (diluted in 1 cup water)
5 pcs. Green Chili Fingers (sliced)
8 cloves Garlic (diced)
Salt & Pepper to taste

1) In a heated pan, throw in fatty cubes with 1/4 cup water. Cover until oil is extracted and you can hear it crackling. Add in the rest of the meat until slightly golden.
2) Toss in diced garlic until slightly cooked.
3) Pour in coconut milk mixture and let simmer until the desired thickness and creaminess is achieved.
4) Sprinkle salt and pepper. Toss in chilies and turn off the heat.

Monday, June 1, 2009

From Old to New - the Great Ukay Experience

Snagged this maxi dress at 50% off from Mint yesterday, very comfy with my current belly and quite accessible if I get to breastfeed. It was a bit too long so I cut 4 inches off the bottom and used the scrap as lining for the top for a semblance of modesty and the leftover for a bandana that may come in handy with a plain outfit.

I have a small Singer electric sewing machine from my mom who never figured out how to use it. All I can do are simple straight stitches but a skill nevertheless that none of my sisters ever got into. Growing up with a frugal grandma who manages to find some use for everything, no scrap of fabric was ever thrown away – clothes were altered and the really worn out ones converted into rags (buying cleaning cloths… ridiculous!). But much can be said also about the thought that went into the maintenance of wardrobes and linens from that household that a lot of my tita's minis from the 60's are still in decent condition after 3 decades! Thus explains my appreciation for fabric and how I get attached with the really comfy ones until a hole emerges and banishes it into the abyss.

Nowadays, good and affordable hardly come together in terms of materials. With the open market, cheap and stylish clothing can easily be had from bazaars and malls, but most are only good for several wears then it just doesn’t slide over you in the same way! It’s so frustrating not to be able to afford the outfit you want and wanting not to look like everyone else… then my little sis introduced me to ukay-ukay shopping!

The intersection of LRT and MRT in Pasay has enough shops that can take up your whole day if you have the stamina.It’s quite exciting rummaging over open racks of seemingly worthless items until you chance upon a chic Anne Klein top, a classic black D&G sleeveless, sharp pencil pants or a sexily-worn out leather bag.

And then there are the dresses… racks and racks of dowdy garbs but constructed from exquisite fabrics that any explanation for such abomination will escape you. Such finds get me all giddy as I immediately visualize what can be done to salvage such treasures.

For a simple cut-and-sew, my Singer comes in handy – had I the necessary gifts of precision and patience, I would’ve made one fantastic mananahi. But alas, my straight-stitch skill can only take me so far… and so I call on my suki in BF Market’s tailor lane at Phase 1 for more complex constructions.

Such ukay-ukay purchase averages at P60 plus alteration at P100. But the ukay experience can also be had for free in the deep recesses of ancient aparadors like that of my lola - so that's both good material and interesting story for only a song! With a dash of resilience and imagination thrown in, you’ve got yourself some unique pieces that can’t be found in the stalls of 168 nor in the racks of Rustans!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ang Tunay na Banana-Q

I was majorly shocked when I discovered that not only are bananas in Manila sold per piece at P1.50 (it was 1989), they're also deep-fried with brown sugar, skewered and marketed as Banana-Q!

Growing up in a province where saba (plantains) were practically free with my lolo's vast plantation of different variants, I contemplated a revolt against my family's decision to move into this absurd city for good! But as malleable as young minds go - I eventually adjusted to the urban snack of junk and fast foods driving memories of my daily banana meriendas (seriously in all versions possible - maruya, canchi-canchi, rebusado, dulce saging, bayu-bayo, name it!) deep, deep down my subconscious.

I have this theory that as we get older, we revert to the food that we grew up with even the ones we hated. Not only do they bring back memories of more innocent times, we also start refining our tastes as to how our parents appreciate buro, kinilaw etc.

And so it happened, my banana yearnings surfaced at a period when my appetite is at its most insatiable - maternity!

I'd have Dole cavendish in the office (P12 each at 7-11 and Ministop) and plantains now at P3.50 each which I would slice in half, pop in the toaster for 15 minutes, slather with salted butter and sprinkle with a generous amount of muscovado sugar on top. It's weird to the people at home and to my officemates when I bring some for baon. But I don't care coz it's delicious and this my friend is the real McCoy... ang tunay na Banana-Q!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Honeys

I’ve always been surrounded with very strong women; my lola, mom, sisters, friends, colleagues – sometimes I conclude that females are generally full of character… except that once in a while I come across really “DUH” ones, but that’s another story.

This one is about the most significant men in my life. I last saw my father when I was around five years old so the first one is my lolo who taught me how to read and cut my hair to look like a boy. He died when I was 11.

I had a stepdad who was not really the paternal type but a good man nevertheless. I remember us eating Chinese every Sunday after mass and my little sister would always steal the generous tip he would leave behind. He was stricter than my mom so when boys started visiting the house, he would lie down on the couch and watch TV until the visitor left.

I’ve had boyfriends but always found them immature, not because they were but because I was too old for my years. I swore the next one should at least be 10 years older… but then I met Tats.

Not only is Tats 50 days younger, he also wore the most absurd outfits like checkered golf pants with basketball jersey in one of our early dates, then a French maid dress with lacy apron when we had coffee after his mom’s birthday costume party. He had thinning hair but his megawatt smile can light up a stadium. My first official act as his girlfriend was to shave his head and he’s been bald ever since.

He didn’t like reading until I introduced him to Dan Brown. He uses chopsticks at every opportunity after I taught him how regardless if he’s just in Chowking. I designated him balancer of our credits which he claims to have aged him. While he taught me to be at my actual age 10 years younger than how I was. We’re very different from each other so every day is a work in progress.

I’m going on the 32nd week of my pregnancy and we’re having a boy. We’re calling him Nacho from Jack Black’s “luchador” character. It’s actually Javier Ignacio, the first name after my former boss Xavi who made our Punta Fuego beach wedding possible and who has the chubbiest cheeks challenging the strongest restraint for a pinch.

Two men will be the most significant in our soon-to-be-home... of which naturally I shall be Queen! =)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Hive of Our Own – Finally!

It was supposedly the natural order of things – you get married, have a house then kids. But nothing came easy to Tats and me.

We were both part of middle management me for a small company and him for a medium-sized company. I supported my mom while he provided for his parents and three siblings. There was no way I’m ending up with this guy – or so I thought. After two years of dating we decided to get married. It helped that his brothers started working and my mom decided to move to the province with my sister. And so a modest yet chic wedding by the beach we had, everything paid for in cash from our very own pockets followed by a sponsored honeymoon to Boracay.

Afterwards, we stayed in the apartment I shared with my mom on weekdays and their house on weekends. We explored the real estate market but there was simply nothing good within what we could afford.

We decided to be practical and moved in with his family in his expanded bedroom with bathroom. Life is convenient with good food on the table (his dad was Kapampangan and his mom Cavitena), trusty househelp and respectful privacy. We didn’t have to pay rent so we got a car on a 3-year loan. We did our own laundry and contributed to the house budget. I had less responsibilities than when I was single and I almost forgot the difference… then I got pregnant.

As my tummy got bigger the more I realized that our little world won’t be enough. As luck would have it, my mother-in-law’s friend was selling her townhouse at a good price. Tats and I applied for a loan right away and since we’re done paying off the car with the same bank, we got approved!

Again, the forces seem to be on our side that our ninang from the wedding is in the build-and-sell business. With her contacts and resources, she’s personally overseeing that our small renovations budget goes a long way.

Our little house will be ready for occupancy in a few months, perfect timing with the baby. Modest as it may be, I love it coz it’s our very own =)