The beginner goes to school

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I didn't tell mom where I was going until the last moment. Actually, she wouldn't have known if hubby hadn't let it slip (bad hubby! Palo!). At my age and status in life, I am still subject to my mom's monitoring that I've always had when I was sixteen, worse, eleven.

Here's how our conversation last Friday went (and this is how similar conversations generally go):

Mom: May pasok ba kayo bukas?
Me: (nonchalantly) Mayroon.
Hubby: (clueless as always) Mayroon po. Ako po mayroon. Si Karen wala, pero may pupuntahan siya.
Me: (throws discreet dagger looks at hubby)
Hubby: (absolutely oblivious to me)
Mom: (to me) Saan ka pupunta?
Me: Diyan lang.
Mom: Saan nga?
Me: Diyan nga lang.
Mom: Ano 'yun?
Me: Cooking class.
Mom: (looks at me incredulously) Cooking class?
Me: (nods, feeling weak all over) Thai Cooking Class. Wala trip ko lang.
Mom: Ano 'yun, buong araw?
Me: 10 to 2 lang.
Mom: May bayad?
Me: Of course. Pero naka-promo siya.
Mom: Magkano?
Me: Nasa nine hundred.
Mom: (looks unconvinced that it's "mura lang")
Me: Kasama na lahat--apron, ingredients, everything.
Mom: Mahal.
Me: Mura na 'yun.
Mom: E saan nga 'yun?
Me: (hesitates but spits it out anyway) Sa Chino Roces.
Mom: Saan?
Me: Chino Roces.
Mom: Sa Makati?
Me: (nods) Sa Magsaysay Institute.
Mom: Saan doon?
Me: Doon siya sa Waltermart doon.
Mom: Ang layo.

Since I've already registered for this class, she wasn't anymore able to do anything about it (believe me, even at my age and status in life, she will try to stop me).

Growing up with a mom like that, I'm sure it will no longer surprise you that I'm not very much of a traveling person. To be honest, I don't even know how to commute to Makati. So, needless to say, until the day before, I was not very certain how to get to Chino Roces Avenue. Hubby was supposed to accompany me. He wanted to go and visit Don Bosco Makati, but they had work scheduled that Saturday so I was going solo. It was great that I was able to ask my cousin Joyce, who works somewhere in the area, for directions, else I don't know where I would've ended up. But I had faith in the Alabang terminal (I've constantly joked that one can get anywhere from Alabang, even to Hong Kong) and I am sure, as insan Joyce pointed out, that one will take me near there.

So the moment I got off the jeep at Alabang, the rest of my July 16 was an adventure (and I haven't even started cooking yet, LOL). You've probably heard the line "dayuhan sa lupang tinbuan". I felt just like that--a tourist, asking the vendors lining the bangketa where to ride going where I was going.

The trip wasn't difficult at all. I just took another jeep ride, after getting off the bus at Mantrade, and there I was. Actually, I got off too early (excited? Hahaha!), and I had to walk along the gates of Don Bosco Makati for a minute or so to Waltermart.

Caramel frap for here for Karen (yes, that's my real
name--among a few others)

I was there very early; Waltermart was still closed. I ordered a caramel frap and sat down at Starbucks, whiling the time with a newspaper. The moment the rest of Waltermart showed signs of waking, I went up to the fifth floor (I was finally able to bring out the longganisa sandwich I brought along with me) and found the impressive facade of the Magsaysay Institute for Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

The moment I saw MIHCA, I was actually *kilig!*. LOL.
I can't believe it--I REALLY got HERE all ALONE!

I almost immediately made a couple of new friends, Teteth and her boyfriend, Reggie. While I was filling up my registration form, I noticed that most came with either their partners or a friend. Maybe one time I'll bring mom along, of course, if I could handle another looooong conversation ("Sasama ako?", "E bakit ako samama?", "Anong gagawin ko doon?", "May bayad?", "E 'di doble babayaran mo?", "Mahal."...yeesh).

Another alias I go by.

The class began with a short lecture. There was a lot of us, I think over 30 or 40 people. Two chefs handled the class, the main being Chef Mike Navarra. He briefed us on kitchen ethics as well as the recipes we were expected to cook that day.

Lecture by Chef Mike Navarra.

I found myself grouped, naturally, with Teteth and Reggie, and Joel, who was also solo and happened to be sitting next to Reggie. Turns out Joel is already a pro, and the class was given to him as a gift. It was great to have him, as he was quite comfortable during the lab.

Here's a rundown of our menu:

Thai sinigang, Tom Yum Goong, Teteth's favorite

Chicken Satay, the real thing!

Pork Stir Fry with Green Curry, my favorite

The Thai pancit, Pad Thai

Simple but yummy dessert, Sticky Rice with Mango

I'll admit--it was mostly Joel who did the cooking. Hehehe. He's a pro--works at the Midas Hotel. I did my best to be as useful as possible. I had a hand in prepping the ingredients, stirring, making bantay whatever's on the stove.

I heard that instruction in MIHCA was good, even better, compared to some other culinary schools. Even for just a half-day course like the one I took, the chef-in-charge didn't skimp in teaching valuable know-how and sharing tips and tricks. We made sauces, curries and everything else from scratch so that we could enjoy Thai dishes anytime, even if bottled ready-made ones are not available in the supermarket.

Chef Mike and a handful of MIHCA students
went around to assist the participants. Here
he demoed and produced the lovely green
curry (inset) for the entire class to use for
for the pork dish.

If I didn't attend this class, I would never have known that Thai cuisine wasn't that complicated. We finished dish after dish in a few minutes, as most involved stir-frying and overcooking would be a crime. What would probably be my main problem is finding some of the ingredients. But recently, weekend markets have popped up here and there (though I have yet to visit the one in Ayala Alabang) and even SM Supermarket has expanded its product line.

Group 1: me, and (L-R) Teteth, Reggie and Joel

Teteth was kind enough to snap this commemorative
photo--the first of many more MIHCA adventures.

I had a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the next one, even if I came out of this one smelling like fresh cilantro. ^_^


Baon food: chicken sandwich

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All of my life, I had had nothing but tuna sandwich spread. My older brother used to make it--mayonnaise mixed with tuna in oil (sans the oil), with sliced onions. Then I learned it and tweaked it to my taste--with pickles to make it a bit sweeter (or I used sandwich spread). Further along, I modified it again--added carrots cut in tiny cubes.

Then maybe I got fed up with tuna. I don't know. I replaced it with cooked chicken.

Entering a time space warp from an eternity of tuna:
chicken sandwich spread (shigi-shigi-makashigi-uma...)

One time I was doing groceries, I grabbed a bottle of capers more on impulse and curiosity more than anything else. If eaten on its own, it's weird--sour, salty, blech (the one I got is in vinegar). But I mashed a few pieces (again out of impulse and curiosity) and tossed it into my chicken spread.

Food for the aliens: capers

I was certainly surprised how the capers behaved with the rest of the ingredients of the spread. It made the flavor more full. I even popped a few more pieces into the container.

The lovely Japanese mayo, made lovelier by thestar-shaped hole on the bottle.

Another recent discovery for me was Japanese mayonnaise. It's rather expensive, so I use it sparingly. But even if I skimp on it, it adds just enough of its presence to make a lovely sandwich. I also add chopped parsley now, making the spread taste "fresh".

Chicken Sandwich Spread (the way I do it)
Cooked chicken (in a bit of salt), shredded
Mayonnaise (can be Japanese mayo) or sandwich spread (or both proportioned to your taste)
Carrots, chopped
Capers, mashed
Parsley, chopped (optional)


Backtrack barrage

Hi there! ^_^ Wow, my last post was...MARCH?! Goodness, the months suddenly flew by so fast! Hubby and I are on our seventh month together now. =)

So here I am, drafting posts for upload like crazy. Boy, do I have so many stories to tell. I've tried cooking a number of dishes over the past few months (came up with or tricked up some, too). Last May, hubby and I finally pushed through with our Palawan trip (Baker's Hill hopia!), and just the other week, I attended my first ever cooking class. So just before I encounter more stuff to blog about, I must get all this up.

Watch out for new posts very soon. ^_^


WCS turned ILYS: Beef with Garlic Oyster Sauce

Monday, July 25, 2011

I don't get to see my in-laws often. To be honest, I'd rather spend the weekend somewhere nearby, if not at home. There's also Saturday night choir practice and Sunday morning mass service midway through the weekend, so going somewhere far is not really advisable. Usually, it would just be hubby who would go to Calamba on random days. So when I do go to visit hubby's family, I've made it a point to bring something, usually ulam. Once, I also bought some of my Cheater Cookies, which my mother-in-law liked.

After a very long while, I visited with hubby just this Saturday and brought some Stir-fry Beef with Garlic Oyster Sauce.

Stir-fried Beef with Garlic Oyster Sauce

I'm very happy with this stir-fry. It's simple but really delicious. My mom told me it was something worth serving to guests and my dad complimented me that I've really gotten good in cooking (palakpak ang tenga, hehehe). Hubby's parents liked this dish, too. They even served it to a couple of guests who dropped by their house shortly after hubby and I finished lunch.

Because we planned to leave early on Saturday morning--supposedly at 8:00 AM, but because I suddenly decided to make a cheater breakfast, we were not able to leave until almost 9:00 AM--I planned to already cook the evening before. However, I had to render overtime on Friday night. Hubby and I arrived home almost 11:00 PM. We just took a quick break then went to work. I asked hubby to help me prep up as I had two recipes in line: the beef dish for lunch, and my very own chicken sandwich spread for the choir's after-practice merienda.

"Men for a Month" featuring...hubby! Hahaha!
While the rest of the world sleeps, here's
me and hubby toiling away in the kitchen

As I said, I love this recipe. My only complaint is not on the dish, but on the meat. Beef takes so long to cook, even if you have them sliced thinly. I'm afraid of pressure cookers so don't suggest that I use one. The good news is, because it does take time, the flavors in the sauce would have been well absorbed by the meat and all the waiting would be worthwhile.

Stir-fry the beef until it changes color.

Not the usual sequence. The garlic and onion
come in after the beef has been stir-fried.

The bell peppers make this dish colorful.

Add oyster sauce, water and brown sugar. Season with
salt and pepper, stir in sesame oil. Before serving, you
may top with spring onions and sesame seeds (if you
have). Easy, no?

With the two recipes, I finished sometime between 2:00-3:00 AM (take note, the beef was still somewhat rubbery, hahaha). Hubby already went on ahead and went to bed an hour before and I let him go lest he started slicing his fingers. ^_^

Other recipe this evening/midnight/early morning: Chicken Sandwich Spread

Stir-fried Beef with Garlic Oyster Sauce
Recipe in Yummy Menu for a Month and


SQF: Swabe, pare!

Friday, April 1, 2011

I have this cookbook at home I bought from National Bookstore last year. From the cover, you may assume it will have something to do with drinking beer. You are right. The cookbook's title is Pulutan: From the Soldier's Kitchen.

I am not an alcohol drinker (you can't even make me drink Cali). The closest to alcohol that I ever had (and actually liked) was Chamdor. And it's not even liquor, but sparkling juice (I drink only the peach flavor with the orange label, by the way). Oh, and the mass wine during my First Holy Communion and the wine toast during our wedding (neither of which I liked).

So why do I have a cookbook entitled Pulutan? Because my not drinking alcohol has not really stopped me from loving pulutan fare. I love popular local beer mates such as sizzling sisig, calamares, kilawin, etc.

Another reason I bought the book was its history. It was written by two soldiers. Yup, two army guys who were part of the Magdalo mutiny way back in 2003. While they were detained and awaiting their fates along with their other comrades, they would cook. Relatives visiting them would bring fresh meat and seafood. Sometimes, relatives brought them food. The book became a collection of their experiments and of recipes learned from fellow soldiers and their relatives and friends. The book had a wide array of common dishes, tricked-up recipes and exotic options.

Swabeng liempo (sorry, no spareribs available)

We tried the recipe Swabeng Spareribs one evening. I had earlier bought over a kilo of pork liempo. And although the recipe explicitly called for spareribs, that didn't stop big bro, who got curious with the recipe, from trying it. The recipe isn't about the usual suspects; I was forced to buy some ingredients I don't often use, like liver spread (which I don't really like much), and mix them with bell pepper, pickles, etc (huh?).

The dish received mixed reviews, although generally positive, form the family. I personally liked it since I like strong flavors. Little bro found it overpowering for his simple palate.

Rice meal made swabe.

I'll cook this another time. I think my father-in-law will like it. =)

Swabeng Spareribs
Recipe in Pulutan


ILYS: A quick fix for Saturday (finally, it's a pork dish)

Monday, March 28, 2011

On non-working Saturdays, I revert to what I call "housewife mode". For people who know me as a working girl, they probably could not picture me in such a mode. Some actually can't and they seem surprised that I can do household chores. Probably because I've always been the unica hija and people probably think I live like a princess. But I know my way around the house like any pauper would.

So on weekends, even before I got married, I do laundry (at least, the laundry that we do not send to the laundry shop), put our things in order, mend clothes, etc. And now, I also cook (and yes, I don a duster to complete the housewife look, hehehe).

Just this Saturday, I did something very housewife-y also: I went to the market. I usually tagged along whenever mom goes there. But I wanted to experience doing the marketing myself so I decided to go alone. Anyway, the market is nearby, about a ten-minute walk (or less) from our house. Hubby, who was on his way to work, and I caught a backride on a trike about a quarter past 5:00 AM, and I dropped myself off at the village plaza. I didn't walk as it was still dark as night.

I was at the market very early, early enough to catch the delivery of fresh meat taking place at Boyet & Belle's, mom's preferred vendor. I think they unloaded about 5 or 6 large pigs. I waited for a while as Mang Boyet and his boys chopped the meat into the different sections and cuts (liempo, kasim, pigue, even isaw, dugo, etc.) with such ease you'd think they were working on toys.

The nice thing about going to the market very early is there is very little crowd. In fact, almost zero. Mom's usual shopping schedule is around 8:00 AM, when there's already more than a handful of people in each stall. In some instances, a certain cut of meat is no longer available, or some kinds of fish and vegetables have also run out. I must say I did my pamamalengke quite leisurely that morning. I took my time consulting my Menu for a Month copy, and comparing and selecting what I needed. I had first pick of everything, so to speak.

I would've stayed longer, but the sun was finally out. And my load was heavy. For a while, I completely forgot I was shopping solo. On top of the meat I bought, I also had a number of different vegetables, a whole piling of lacatan bananas, and a loaf of sandwich bread. I must've looked like a walking store already. =) But if I had not yet felt the load, I would've probably shopped around some more. Maybe next time I'll bring a bayong.

I made mini pancakes for breakfast when I got home. Because I also started cooking early, I finished just as my parents and brother were waking up. I haven't quite made up my mind what to cook for lunch. But despite that and the laundry I had to do, I was looking forward to a relatively lazy Saturday...

Until the doorbell rang. Surprise, we had visitors. =) In came my mom's nephew (but because of our age gap, I was often confused whether to call him "uncle" or "kuya") and his wife and their driver. They had some business with my parents. At first, I thought they weren't staying long. We served them chips and biscuits and ensaladang mangga. I still had the lesiurely feel around me. But as was always the case with relatives, a visit which is "saglit lang" would last at least half a day. LOL. I ended up suddenly snapping out of it and rushing to cook lunch.

I bought several kinds of meat and fish: a kilo of semi-sukiyaki-cut beef for gyudon and half a kilo of ground beef round for pasta sauce, a kilo of pork strips for stir-frying, a whole fresh chicken for tinola or afritada, and some fresh sapsap, one of my favorite fish, for pinangat. After quick consideration, I opted to cook Pork Stir-Fry. And ASAP!

Marinade pork in a mix of soy sauce, honey and garlic

I always like to marinade meat longer, overnight if possible. So I marinated the pork for more than 15 minutes, while I was preparing the other ingredients.

Aside from their health benefits, veggies give dishes
beautiful colors so I try to cook with more of them

The beans and mixed vegetables were "cooked" quickly in boiling water with salt. I made a miscalculation with the mixed vegetables and bought too little. What I did to compensate for the lack was dice a big carrot.

I heated oil in our trusty old wok. Although it wasn't specified, I used olive oil and it was fantastic. The pork was stir-fried in high heat.

When pork is cooked, lower the flame and pour in the
marinade (ah, this is what I did wrong...I chucked everything
--pork and marinade--into the wok at wonder it
was soupy, LOL).

In went the the bell peppers and mushroom. Then later, during the last few minutes of cooking, the rest of the veggies.

Serve warm.

Wow, ready in a jiffy. =)

I immediately made a disclaimer that it was my first time to cook the dish. The fast stir-fry was received well by my family and our guests. I recall my cousin's driver commenting, "Sira ang diet ko dito." Mom assured her it was OK because I used olive oil. Of course, I cannot answer if the amount he ate was OK even if I used olive oil. ^_^

It was remarked that the dish tasted like higado. I'm thinking perhaps it was the amount of bell pepper I used.

Pork Stir-Fry
Recipe on or Menu for a Month


WCS: Cookie cheat

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Each person has his fear. Or fears. Me? I have two main fears: I am afraid of (1) fire, and of (2) tight, enclosed spaces. The fear isn’t really of the abnormal sort, not enough to call me a case of pyrophobia and claustrophobia. I’m just afraid of fire. Period. It took me a long time to learn how to use matches and light candles or the stove. And until now, I never use lighters (good thing I don’t smoke, else I’ll probably always have a box of matches, which doesn’t seem very fashionable). I’m uncomfortable with enclosed spaces, for fear of getting locked in and suffocating (which is also connected to my fear of drowning). Morbid.

However, the combination is most unfortunate because:

Fear of fire
Fear of tight,
enclosed spaces
Irrational fear of ovens

Yes, I’m afraid of ovens. So if you’ve criticized my posts, you now know why they only relate action on the stovetop. I am irrationally afraid of the oven. I have this lurking feeling that either Hansel or Gretel will push me in and shut the door.

It’s a real misfortune for me because I love baked things: cakes, cookies, casseroles...  and the fear has barred me from learning to bake.

But early this year, I promised myself that I will learn to bake. Force myself to learn if need be. I want to be able to bake the delicious cakes mom and dad make, and all the cookies, pies, casseroles and baked things in the world. Mom herself doesn’t turn on the oven. She asks dad to do it. So perhaps, I’ll get dad to teach hubby to light the oven, too. LOL

And this evening, I am happy to report that I have kicked off my baking career. And what better way to do that... than by making NO-BAKE cookies!

Cheater. Hahaha!

Thanks to my beloved, I secured a recipe for No-Bake Oatmeal Drops. Great, since we have a pack of oatmeal nearing expiration. Hahaha! The other ingredients are equally commonplace, so I didn't need to drop by the grocery anymore.

Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2
cup milk* in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and
and remove from heat. (*I used evaporated milk)

Add 3 cups quick-cooking oats, 1 tsp. vanilla

and 3 tbsps. peanut butter. Mix well.

Drop in heaping tablespoons on a baking sheet lined
with wax paper*. Allow to firm before serving. (*As
seen here, I used a plate lined with a torn glasserine
sandwich bag. What a cheap cheat.)

The recipe yielded almost 30 cookies (my output was 29, LOL, perhaps there were a few pieces that were too thick). I finished the recipe in less than half an hour, just in time for dinner.

Assembly took most of the time, as I really made effort
to make the drops more presentable, using a spoon to
to smoothen the edges. Still, the recipe is very easy.

I left the cookies on the plate where I formed them and ate my dinner of sinigang na isda and rice. Mom and dad were looking at the drops with some sort of suspicion, and were surprised that I was actually already finished. "Hilaw?" mom asked me. "No-bake," I emphasized. "It's a no-bake recipe nga e."

The no-bake cookie was moist and chewy. And very
oatmeal-ly rough. Like eating whole wheat bread. It
looks like
kakanin here.

I cut the sugar, so it isn’t very sweet. Good thing i did it. The peanut butter was of the creamy sort and was sweet enough to compensate for the reduction.

At dad’s suggestion, I popped a few pieces in the electric oven (still not the real oven, LOL) and toasted them for less than 10 minutes at 175°C. But he didn’t get to try it as he already brushed his teeth.

Baked no-bake oatmeal drops. I just browned it a bit.
These actually resemble the photo on the recipe at compared to the no-bake pieces.

So I just tried it myself.

The toasted cookie was still chewy, but a bit dry and
crumbly. This really felt like cookies in the mouth.

The baked cookie (right) appears to have “risen”. If you ask
me which is better, I think I prefer the baked one. Of course,
the brand of oatmeal might have something to do with the
texture, as the one I used is one my family doesn't really like
(kaya nga meron pa e, enough to make 3 cups).

I immediately reported to hubby, who’s on night shift, that I made cookies. He immediately asked, “Paano ka nag-bake? Marunong ka na magbukas ng oven?” I just told him I’ll let him sample when he came home in the morning. I didn’t tell him that I cheated. Hahaha!

Little brother came home late tonight. I let him try a piece of both the original no-bake and baked versions, and sure enough he preferred the latter. So I finally decided to toast all the others. Little bro ate a couple more pieces while updating his Facebook page. It seems like he likes it, since he would normally stop at the first piece he tried if he didn't.

I wasn't eating everyhting tonight so I stored the
remaining drops in one of my trusty Lock 'n Locks.

The oatmeal I used is a brand my family doesn't like much, one which I bought because I expected it to be good--mainly because it's branded. Turns out, my folks prefer SM Bonus. Hahaha!

Hmmm...maybe I will try using SM Bonus next time. =)

P.S. (3/16/2011): I brought a few pieces as baon, just to see how it'll be if not eaten at once and stored for a while. Will post a follow-up to this. ^_^

No-Bake Oatmeal Drops


WCS: Rice gone wild

Friday, March 4, 2011

4 MARCH 2011. I still laugh when I think about this. =)

As I have mentioned a post ago, my mom cooked too much rice the other evening. We ended up bringing some for baon yesterday (with the katsu-daw) and still had enough for dinner for 5 people last night. And there was still some more rice!

I had my breakfast at the office canteen yesterday morning. I brought rice from home, so I only bought ulam, a serving of pork tapa. I wasn't able to finish it so I packed what was left (about 2/3 of the serving) to be brought home. I thought maybe I'll make fried rice out of it.

Which was exactly what happened. As I mentioned, we still had a lot of rice. Even after we had dinner that night, the rice can probably feed 3 or 4 more people.

I shredded the pork tapa pieces and heated them in a pan. Following no recipe, I drizzled the meat with Worcestershire sauce.

What? O_O

I tossed in thinly sliced onions...and added a wild combination of ingredients: soy sauce, bagoong and chili-garlic sauce.

WHAT? @_@

I put in the rice, adding a bit more of each ingredient as needed (or as my whim dictated).

Voila. "Wild rice". LOL. I let it cool down for a while before packing it in a container and putting it in the refrigerator. This will be for breakfast tomorrow.

Wild rice (or should it be weird rice?)

Up close. Pork tapa in Worcestershire sauce and onions,
soy sauce, bagoong and chili-garlic sauce.

It was a good thing I decided to cook this the night before, because I woke up late the this morning (thanks to Bejeweled 3). For some reason, hubby also woke up a bit later than usual (to think he went to sleep more than 2 hours earlier than I did).

I heated half of the wild rice. I thought that would be enough for the both of us. I put just half in a plate and hubby had it with a bit of corned beef (also leftovers). He finished the whole pan. -_-' I ended up heating the rest, with additional chili-garlic sauce on hubby's request.

His merienda at work (including two sandwiches and a
chunk of 
pandeciosa) and my breakfast at home.

This paper bag was from an officemate'
s gift last
Christmas. It has since become hubby's lunch bag. =)

Is it wild, or is weird? Tell me about it! ^_^

Wild Rice
Serves 2-3 (but ended up serving just 2--or rather, 1 1/2, hahaha!)
5 cups day-old rice
Leftover pork tapa (might also work for other leftover meat)
Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tsps. Chili-garlic sauce
1 tsp. Bottled spicy bagoong


WCS: Last night's dinner at home is today's lunch at work...but with an upgrade

Thursday, March 3, 2011

03 MARCH 2011. I don't know what time the idea exactly hit me. I got up (with a bit of struggle) to get hubby’s breakfast in order, which is—tada: rice topped with a fried egg. OK, I’m really dismayed at myself. I can do better than that. But hubby didn’t want sardines or anything else with his meal, and apparently enjoyed his breakfast (I would never have finished all that rice with just a bland, fried egg).

We still had a lot of rice from the night before. Hubby said I bring some for our lunch para hindi masayang. Lately, rice spoils easily at home. We don’t understand the phenomenon. We used to have leftover rice survive until the next evening, at times, even the day after. There was still leftover pork chop, the thin kind you buy from the grocery already breaded, from the previous night. It was mom who cooked it last night so there were pieces that were too brown (in other words, sunog! LOL). I said I’ll heat it and put it over the rice.

I put hubby’s baon together—which was composed of Spanish bread and ensaymada we brought from the plaza last night, a bag of steamed peanuts and a pack of Hansel cookies—and went upstairs to get a few more minutes of sleep. I leave the house for work an hour later than hubby does so he encourages me to sleep some more. I’ve been having a toothache that has been waking me and keeping me up at night the last few days, robbing me of precious winks.

So I really don’t know what time the idea hit me—just before I took a nap or when I woke up again. I do remember remembering the bottle of mirin—Japanese sweet rice wine—in the refrigerator, the one I used for the gyudon-ish beef dish a few weekends ago. Then the cold leftover porkchop on the kitchen table…

And katsudon. I want katsudon.

Wait…maybe I can make katsudon, ne?

The last katusdon meal I had was the one served at Sizzling Plate at SM Southmall food court (OK, it’s not even authentic, hahaha!) before the total renovation. The sudden craving is understandable.

No sooner had I made up my mind to it, I was in the kitchen once more. I didn’t check a recipe online—honestly, it didn’t occur to me as I was just so focused to get at it. =) All I did was try to remember what was in a Sizzling Plate Katsudon bowl (gosh, it isn’t even authentic)…

I beat an egg in a bowl and added thinly sliced onions and a pinch of salt. There were no veggies in the refrigerator. Was looking if we had at least a small carrot (to make for a “healthy” dish). But I had to make do with the onions. Anyway, I think that’s what the recipe just calls for…and green onions, which I do not have.

Shortcut of all shortcuts, LOL

In a small bowl, I mixed a small bit of mirin with soy sauce. I didn’t put anything more, as the breaded porkchop already had this sweet taste that little bro—Mr. Plain Dry Food Please—complained about last night. I bought it thinking it was plain (it looked plain), and not knowing it had some kind of marinade. Malay ko ba.

Soy sauce and mirin only. It just happened
that my leftover breaded pork chop already
had this light sweet flavour. On normal
occasions, sugar will be needed.

I dipped a porkchop in the egg mixture and fried it, constantly turning the porkchop over so the egg will coat it, dripping a bit more egg and onions as needed. As the egg was cooking, I drizzled the soy sauce-mirin mix on it. I wasn’t able to do this quite evenly though. I also made some more of the sauce to put on the rice, but too little, fearing it would already be too salty.

I know this isn’t the correct procedure,
but I don’t want to be late for work!

It was done in almost a flash. It is after all a shortcut. I put rice in a big Lock-n-Lock, put the katsu-daw (katsudon daw) on top, slipped in fried sweet potato slices (leftovers also) and locked it up.

OK, so it isn’t very attractive (with mom
burning the meat last night), but hubby
and I had a rather enjoyable lunch today. ^_^

All packed up!

I immediately made a disclaimer, just as hubby and I got seated for lunch, that I did something with our ulam. So he was no longer shocked when he saw the egg-y thing I bought. And he liked it. Enough to finish all that rice I brought. ^_^

Makes 2 pieces
2 pieces leftover breaded porkchop
1 small egg, beaten
1 tbsp onion, sliced thinly lengthwise
Pinch of salt

Katsu-daw sauce*
2 tbsps soy sauce
1 tsp mirin

*I used store-bought breaded porkchop that has been flavored. If yours is plain (or you make it from scratch), a few more ingredients need to go into the sauce like sugar. For the real recipe, you may refer to this one I found this afternoon, long after I swallowed the last bite of my cheap shot lunch. =)

Hulog ng langit...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

[VLP - Very Late Post] It was a Wednesday morning way back in April last year. Mom called me up in the office and said something that did not at all make sense to me at first. I had a hundred different things running in my mind--of course, I was at work, then I was organizing a surprise birthday party for my dad (who was in a few days turning 60)...

To make the long story short, someone came knocking at our house asking if we were interested to buy a 12-piece stainless cookware set. Now what were the chances of such a thing happening? The person who came to our house--mom said he was a young boy--had a rather sad story to tell. His father lost his job and just came home from Dubai and they needed to sell some of their things to raise money for his tuition fee.

Mom and dad saw the cookware set and said it was very good. And at the price it was being sold, it was a steal. They told the young boy to come back as they had to call me up first. I always trusted mom and dad's opnion and said I'll buy it.

Now, it was just a few months before the wedding and the preparations were underway. I was definitely in no position to go throwing around money.  And there's (then) will he react when I tell him about it? I was sure he's going to scold me. =|

I think I just told hubby-to-be about it via text. To my surprise, he was interested. He said he hoped the boy would come back so we can buy the set.

For a while, I was like, "huh?" LOL

There was no sign of the boy that night. I guess I was a bit sad. But well...more pressing matters were at that moment before me. It was finally dad's surprise birthday party tomorrow!

Thursday came and the surprise kiddie birthday party for dad was successfully pulled off. Boy, was he surprised! =) But the day wasn't yet at an end. It turned out that the boy came back that morning when I was out of the house. Mom and dad completed the purchase on my behalf and the cookware set was waiting for me at home.

So while dad was opening his gifts gleefully like a 6-year-old, I opened my own gift. Well, one that I purchased. LOL. Mom helped me put the set together and laid them out on the dining table. Even hubby-to-be, who accompanied us home, admired it.

It took my breath away. Wow.

Later I tried to research more about the item, and was surprised to see that this set is priced at more or less P18,000 on buy-and-sell sites. With handles made of 24K gold, we got the set at P4,500. It was a real steal. =)

P.S. I haven't used the set until now. I haven't even seen it since dad's birthday last year. It's currently boxed up among our wedding gifts, ready for transport to our future home. ^_^


Odes: An attempt at healthy eating

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

23 FEBRUARY 2011. I admit, I am not much of a healthy eater. I really want to start eating healthy, but "healthy" food often comes with higher price tags. =| Of course, as Danes would put it, I could look at it as an investment for my health. But I would need to work it into the budget. Plus we've got other people in the house to consider (my younger brother for example, is much less of a healthy eater than I am). And usual conditions aren't that conducive to healthy eating (canteen fare, guilty treats constantly circulating in the office, fast food choices along the way home, etc). Unless I prepare our baon food everyday, which I can't do yet. I can only whip up a quick breakfast for hubby and me and prepare his morning and afternoon snacks, and I do so with ready-made stuff like store-bought peanut butter, hotdogs and the like.
Hubby and I went out on a quick dinner date on Wednesday (payday!) evening. We dropped ourselves off at Festival Mall. After walking past several restaurants, we settled for Kenny Rogers Roasters, where we don't usually eat, on the third floor. Originally, we wanted to have the baby back ribs and the usual things we order.

Then, we caught sight of
Kenny's Healthy Meals menu. For some reason, we took a fancy to it and chose our dinner from there. All meals already come with drinks so I must say the price is reasonable.

Wow, this is new. Haha!

I tried the Classic Healthy Plate (P185). It consisted of a quarter of KR's signature roasted chicken, a vegetable salad, a corn muffin and fruit salad.

My plate. A classic beauty indeed. Just looking atit made me feel good already.

Hubby went for the Low Calorie Meal (P185) composed of grilled fish (not sure what kind of fish it was) with a salty sauce, rice and steamed vegetables.

A pretty simple-looking meal (but costs as much as mine).

I find the staff at that branch pretty attentive, ready with a glass of water, asking if we'd like the dessert to be served. We were seated at one of those round cushion benches (meant for a group of 6 or 8) and I really felt comfy and cozy.
Near the end of dinner, we had dessert brought in. We shared a cup of frozen yogurt. At P55 for a "large" cup (plus P10 for your choice of topping), it must be one of the cheapest yogurts out there (as some would go over P100).

The perfect dessert to cap off a healthy meal: yogurt!

I commonly find yogurt too sour so I'm not much of a fan. I once tried that P25 cup of Nestle Fruit Selection Yogurt and ended up just forcing it all down kasi sayang naman. Those were one of my healthy-eating attempts. But I never bought that again. So I was certainly glad to discover Kenny's tasted good. Even hubby, who I know isn't into yougurt, enjoyed it. There are around five different kinds of toppings like chocolate, but since the implied theme for the night is "healthy food", I chose fruits. My classic plate included a small fruit salad similar to the toppings we had on our dessert. So I dunked the remaining pieces into our yogurt cup and we need not fight over the fruit. =)
After the meal, I was full but I didn't have that sort of heavy (and guilty...and lousy...and regretful) feeling which I would have after a usual big meal.

Will be back to try the other healthy plates. And the yogurt. I'm sure hubby will like that. =)

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