Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pasta Bolognese

@ mirandablue
While I am posting this pasta bolognese I cooked on Christmas day, the olive oil, garlic and cheese from my pasta dinner are still singing flavors in my mouth.  It's true what they say--no woman is lonely eating pasta, I am paraphrasing.:p

I've been following this bolognese sauce recipe since I learned how to cook pasta.   But instead of  bacon (which I forgot to buy), I used ham.  The other ingredients are ground beef, carrots, celery, garlic, onions, tomato sauce, cream, red wine, salt & pepper.  I added fresh basil and button mushrooms.  This was the first time I used conchiglie or shell pasta, a pasalubong from my sister.   I thought the conchiglie was a bit strange for bolognese sauce.  But the shell-shaped pasta was actually perfect to hold the chunky sauce.  The burst of sauce when you bite into the shell pasta was quite enjoyable.

Posted for Food Friday and Food Trip Friday

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Midweek Blues: Christmas at the mall

@ mirandablue
Christmas decor at the mall.  Santa was on a break.  Paparazzi zoomed in.

@ mirandablue
My first participation to Midweek Blues hosted by Rebecca at The Dusty Cellar

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday #2

A trio of angels in golden robes created by Weenee Lagdameo of Accent Pieces.

My contribution to Mellow Yellow Monday

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Carnation/Today's Flowers #21

@ mirandablue
Little flower, but if I could understand, what you are, root and all in all, I should know what God and man is.  - Tennyson

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Posted for Today's Flowers

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crispy Pata

@ mirandablue
Once in a while, I indulge in this artery-clogging delicacy especially in the company of non-Filipino friends who want to try Crispy Pata.  Aside from the deliciously sinful and crispy pork skin, this dish usually relies on the dipping sauce for most of its flavor.  The dipping sauce is a cocktail of vinegar, soy sauce, onions, garlic and chili peppers. This was our tasty appetizer at Golden Cowrie along Salinas Drive in Cebu. 

For non-Filipinos, Crispy Pata is deep-fried pork leg.

Posted for Food Friday and Food Trip Friday 

Nostalgia: Christmas musings

I am not a Christmas person but I'm no Scrooge. Maybe because I was brought up in a family where Christmas is considered un-Christian and therefore not celebrated. But I joined Christmas activities in school, admired the festive décor and loved the nightly carolers.  And I confess that I even went with childhood friends to a few simbang gabi only because of bibingka and the chance of seeing my crush. :p  

Then I was godmother to my friends' children---about 20 of them and counting. When I started to earn money, Christmas shopping was my main event when the -ber months arrive. I stretched my budget so I could buy gifts for everybody---my family, godchildren, close friends and officemates.

@ mirandablue

Nativity set from Creative Treasury
I got excited when the Christmas lights along Ayala Avenue were lighted. Whole day shopping in Divisoria was something I looked forward to. The Christmas rush thrilled me! Wrapping gifts the whole night delighted me! But as the years pass, Christmas and all its traditions have become another stressful event to hurdle before the year ends---a sign of Christmas burnout, I was told. Or maybe, I am just getting old.  The long lines in the stores feel like a hike to Mt. Everest---sore feet, short tempers, tired sales clerks, crazy traffic, highway robbery, pickpockets are some the words I associate with Christmas as I crawled myself out from the maddening mob of shoppers in Greenhills.

Christmas is such a metaphor---it offers a place and a time for reactions to happen, transformations of people, not all bright and happy. It's mind-boggling how a spiteful co-worker would suddenly turn sugary around Christmas.  The season can also be a time of darkness---imagine OFWs, sailors, prisoners and soldiers at Christmas; a need for hope, like for Congress to pass priority bills before their Christmas break; and a time of suspense---would he finally tell me how he feels after Christmas dinner? would I get a Christmas bonus?...with considerable potential for depression and disappointment (we're still "friends"...or he didn't even call! Or I was expecting a diamond ring, not a stupid scarf!). :p

I have no special childhood Christmas memory, except for the exchange of crudely gift-wrapped soap, hanky and toothbrush in grade school, Christmas pageants in high school and an occasional gift from my godfather. My childhood memories are not of Christmas gifts and rituals, but of hopes and fears, of a place that had nurtured my dreams, a scene etched forever in all its smells, sounds, tastes, textures and feel. 

When the cold December wind blows, I dream of those childhood memories.  My old creaky bed and ratty old pillow, patterns on my grandmother's housedress, the smell of burning dried leaves, warm bibingka for breakfast, dew drops on grass, hide-and-seek games, warm sand on the beach, ghost stories after dark. The season makes me homesick (even when I’m home!). Maybe I long for a different time, a sweet, innocent time when life was simpler.

Whatever you do and however you celebrate Christmas, remember that Christmas is not a date, it's a state of mind.

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. 
~ Agnes M. Pharo

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Spider Lily/Today's Flowers #20

@ mirandablue
The flower is the poetry of reproduction.  It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.  
~Jean Giraudoux

@ mirandablue
Spider Lily---an exquisitely-designed star.

Posted for Today's Flowers

Friday, December 17, 2010

Red Rock Cobb Salad

@ mirandablue
Red Rock Cobb Salad at Cajun Red Rock-Megamall---my starter at dinner the other night after some Christmas shopping.

Posted for Food Trip Friday and Food Friday

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yard Art on Thursdays

@ mirandablue
"Salmon Waves" is a permanent sculpture installation at the Ballard Locks in Seattle, Washington.  Crafted from stainless steel, there are 3,000 screws holding the waves together.  This sculpture celebrates the improvements made to the Locks enhancing smolt migration.

@ mirandablue

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nostalgia: Scary boat ride

For the longest time, I've been planning to take the ferry  from Guadalupe to Escolta via Pasig River.   I would like to see both banks of the river from the boat and take pictures.  But I can only do it on a weekend or on a holiday.  Unfortunately, I am such a couch potato when I am home.  I told Ivar, my 21-year old nephew, of my plan and he wants to go with me.  I hope it would motivate me during the long Christmas weekend.

@ mirandablue
I love riding on boats especially when the waves are a bit rough.  Growing up near the sea, I have always gravitated towards water.  In high school, at least once a week, I had a 10-minute banca ride with a classmate who lived across the river.  We usually had lunch at her house on Thursdays.  It's a 20-minute tricycle ride from school but most of the time, we preferred to ride a canoe to cross the river and walk to their home.  Banca fare was cheaper and we loved the excitement of riding a small canoe.  We usually cross near the mouth of the river where it meets the sea--it's a busy port and oil depot.  But up stream, there were mangrove and nipa forests, an oyster farm  with only a handful of settlers and small communities that settled by the banks of the river.

One afternoon after lunch, E and  I were going back to school and decided to take a banca to cross the river.  E apparently knew the boatman as they exchanged pleasantries as we were boarding.  It was a small boat that can only load up to 5 people including the boatman.  There were only the 3 of us and the boatman started to paddle.  We didn't pay attention and continued with our banter.  A few minutes later, we noticed that we were not crossing the river but going upstream.  E asked the boatman [he was an "older" guy, in his late 20's] why we were not crossing the river.  The boatman murmured (I could hardly hear his voice) that he's taking us sight-seeing.  Oh, alright, I thought--our first class was at 2 pm, we still have time. But I noticed E had gone pale, she was signaling me and could hardly speak.  She was giving me a hand sign that the boatman was crazy!  


As if on cue, we started talking to the boatman.  I couldn't remember the conversation--we were probably blabbering.  His back was turned and we couldn't see his face.  In an emotionless voice, the boatman said that it's beautiful upstream and there were weird-looking trees and birds.  We begged him to  bring us back to the pier as we didn't want to be late for class.  Then he started singing--and I still remember the song, "Only You"!  E started to cry while telling the boatman that her father would get mad at him if he'd know about this side trip.  But  he didn't seem to hear our pleas..he kept paddling away from the pier. I thought of diving off the canoe but wasn't sure if  I could swim safely to the river bank! The boat was too small that any sudden movement would probably turn it over.  I sat there clutching my notebooks and prayed.

My prayer was answered when we saw another canoe cruising at the far side of the river. We screamed for help, really screamed!  The boat rocked and it caught the attention of the other boatman and he paddled towards our boat.  When the other boatman saw us crying, he told our boatman to bring us to the pier pronto or he would call E's father.  Our boatman looked at us innocently and said that he didn't do anything wrong, he just wanted to take us sight-seeing!

Both E and I were sobbing [with relief] as he paddled quietly to the pier, and in a soft voice said, "Halong kamo" (You take care). The side trip was about 30 minutes and it was the longest 30 minutes of my young life.  E told me that passengers noticed the boatman was acting weird lately---he was heard talking to himself and smiling and staring into space. In those days, when men were acting weird, it's always about unrequited love.  Loco de amor, E and I concluded.  Our young, romantic hearts went out to the boatman and we promised not to tell our parents about the incident.  And we didn't...after all this time.

I wonder what happened to him.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lantana, Baho-baho/Today's Flowers #19

@ mirandablue
We call this flower baho-baho which means stinky.  Lantana or shrub verbenas' aromatic flower clusters (called umbels) are a mix of red, orange, yellow, or blue and white florets. The flowers typically change color as they mature, resulting in inflorescences that are two- or three-colored. A common name for Lantana camara is "Ham 'n Eggs" due to the adjacent pink and yellow inflorescences.  

Posted for Today's Flowers

Friday, December 10, 2010


@ mirandablue
I was craving for something spicy the other night and this is what I had---Curry Laksa at Secret Recipe.  This is a coconut-based curry soup with rice noodles.  My bowl of Laksa had tofu puffs, fish sticks and shrimps.  It was delicious but not as spicy as I'd like it to be.

Posted for Food Friday and Food Trip Friday

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Nostalgia: Habal-habal ride

Lake Kabalin-an @ mirandablue

My third trip to Dumaguete in September 2008 was a memorable visit. Not only because I met new-found relatives I never knew existed in Dumaguete, but because I had the ride of my life on board a habal-habal (a motorcycle that can carry up to 8 passengers) through the rain forest, on steep, twisting and rugged mountain road. The meeting with relatives was great as we traced our roots from our great-grandfather who came from Spain in the late 18th century.

But let me tell you about my death-defying ride to the lakes in the rain forests of Sibulan. 

To reach Sibulan, we took a 25-minute ride in a multicab (a modern version of jeepney) from Dumaguete. When we asked some townfolk how to reach the lakes, we were advised to rent a habal-habal because the road was only accessible to motorbikes and 4-wheel drive. There were 3 of us and nobody was willing to sit on the gas tank in front of the driver so we needed to rent 2 habal-habal. The motorbike drivers were charging P600 for each bike to bring us to the lakes and back to town. I used my rustic haggling ability and a bit of my charm until we all agreed at P800 for 2 bikes. 

Borrowed from

Getting to the lakes was an unforgettable experience. Sibulan is a coastal town and the tip of Cebu is seen across Tanon Strait. From the sea breezes at the start of the ride, the road to the lakes took us to the rain forest filled with scents of trees and sweet mountain air. But the steep, rugged road as well as the elevated slopes were scary at the same time exhilarating. My cousin, Franzia, covered her eyes when the slopes became too steep and our motorbikes seemed to have lost control, while April held on to their driver with both arms and legs. Their poor driver was almost mangled from their grasps. It was a hilarious sight! My driver, Edison, assured me that he’s been driving through these roads for the past 14 years---it still didn't reassure me.  At some point, I had to beg Edison to stop so I could walk because it was too bumpy and  scary.

Riding a motorbike is not my favorite thing. Motorbikes make me extremely nervous. And riding a habal-habal in a rugged terrain with no helmet, no protective clothing, you’d never believe the bloody scenes running through my mind. But I reasoned with myself that anticipating an accident was pointless, so I prayed harder and steered my mind to enjoy the lush mountain ranges, feasted my eyes at the unobstructed view of the sea, and inhaled the fresh air.  

After a 45-minute bone jarring ride (that felt like 3 hours), we finally reached Kabalin-an, a crater lake. It’s a scenic little lake, very calm and the water reflected the green mountains around it. At the center were trees that have sprouted from the bottom of the lake, giving it a mystical feel. Enchanting Lake Kabalin-an was a peaceful haven after our arduous bike ride...a perfect place to catch our breath.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Clitoria ternatea/Today's Flowers #18

@ mirandablue

This genus was named after the human clitoris, for the flowers bear a resemblance to female pudenda.  Originally the first described species of the genus was given the name Flos clitoridis ternatensibus in 1678 by Rumpf, a German-born botanist.  It was regarded as appropriately named by Johann Philipp Breyne in 1747. Many vernacular names of these flowers in different languages are similarly based on references to a woman's sexual organ.  Source:  Wikipedia
I've seen this flowering vine along the sea shores since I was kid but didn't know its name.  This photo was taken at the beach in Ilocos Norte in early September.

Posted for Today's Flowers

Friday, December 3, 2010

Galette Paysanne

@ mirandablue

Met with two girlfriends at Cafe Breton one rainy Wednesday night.  We were supposed to meet at 7:30 pm but because of the slow-moving traffic, we were all late and finally got together around 10 o'clock.  I was munching cookies along the way and I wasn't hungry anymore when I arrived at The Podium.  But one look at the menu, and I couldn't resist the Hungarian sausage--so I ordered Galette Paysanne.

Galette or Breton galette is a French crepe made from buckwheat flour, served with sweet filling.  Mine was garnished with egg, onions, asparagus and mushrooms, topped with cheese sauce.  Paysanne is also a French term for root vegetables cut into very thin slices.

Posted for Food Friday and Food Trip Friday

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Yard Art on Thursdays

@ mirandablue
One of the two Chinese guardian lions at the Lon Wa Buddhist Temple in Davao City.

They are believed to have powerful mythic protective powers that has traditionally stood in front of  Chinese Imperial palaces, Imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials and the wealthy from the Han Dynasty (206 GC-AD 220).  Source:  Wikipedia

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nostalgia: Minors in New York

Central Park                     @ mirandablue
My first visit to New York City a few months after 9/11 was overwhelming.  There was so much to see and experience in such a short trip. Stringent security procedures were implemented, and people secretly eyed each other with curiosity (especially if you're an alien).  You couldn't miss the vibrancy of American travelers as they rushed in airports, but there was an underlying tension under the "business as usual" attitude. 

After meetings in San Francisco and Dallas, I flew to NYC and it was purely for pleasure.  I wanted to see Ground Zero, at the same time, looking forward to experience New York City in springtime.  But when I arrived, it was at the beginning of spring.  It was wet and cold and the streets were covered by a muddy slush of melted snow.  The trees were bare still and the sky was downcast.  I was miserable!

I stayed with a friend in Brooklyn and she wanted to show me around.  But I could barely get up in the morning---my friend had to drag me to the shower and out of the apartment so I could see the city.  All I wanted to do was stay in bed and sleep all day long.  Itchy pimples erupted on my face and I never felt so ugly in my life!

Ground Zero                                                                      @ mirandablue

One of my dreams was to see a show in Broadway.  To cheer me up, my friend bought us tickets to see "Mama Mia" in Broadway. After the show, it was so cold outside I needed a shot to warm me up.  We went into a bar and ordered whiskey.  But the bartender looked at us like we were aliens [from outer space] or we had grown a mustache.  My heart skipped a beat when he asked for an ID---do I look like a terrorist?   I gave him a look of outraged disbelief. Angry thoughts were running round my mind---I wondered if this was some kind of racial profiling.  I was about to express my indignation when the bartender said that it's illegal to serve alcohol to minors. "Huwattttt? We're not minors!" we protested.  Then we realized how funny it was!  We stopped being minors for the past 20 years or so.  In fact, back home, we're fondly called old maids!  We were laughing so hard while I was showing the bartender my passport.

He chuckled as soon as he opened my passport and told us that he worked in Hawaii and got in trouble because he didn't check the IDs of some Asian girls.

A group of [Caucasian] men behind us remarked how lucky Asian girls are---that we look perpetually young!  We said a charming "Thank you" and gave the bartender a generous tip.

Oh, remembering the bar incident still tickles the tip of my nose.:p