HANOI

It is safe to say that our bi-annual trip is something, we as a group, always look forward to. I definitely do.

I am truly honored and lucky to have best friends who are simply the best at their crafts that make travel a breeze. Despite our strong personalities (Year of the Fire Dragon born), we have managed to keep our 27 years or even more for some, intact.

From planning, booking tickets, hotel reservations, tours, executing, the deck, I must hand it to where it it due, our very own bankerThat really made everyone’s lives better. I still can’t believe we pulled it off. Thank you girls.

Pre Hanoi Dinner c/o the Sy’s

Thank you Tita Olive and Tito Mike! You are simply the BEST! Thank you for treating us as your own. Starting the trip with a matching CAKE… only good things were to come..

 

(to be cont)

HAPPY “Baptism” CARA

Something I always look forward to is meeting up with my best friends. It’s funny how the plans transpire. Not to mention the car ride bickering (Margie & Monica). It’s just so fun. It takes you back to high school!! It’s like being with kids. Haha. I’m known as just going with the flow when it comes to my friends. Just state the place and time and “bahala na si Batman”. We even carpool when needed. This weekend, I was lucky enough to have my driver, Danny, available. Thanks Danny.

Brassiere CiÇiou was Cara’s choice as recommended by Ianne ya? You know me, I hardly go out the comforts of my vicinity. But I will make the effort to be there to celebrate anything with these girls. Initially, call time was breakfast (8:00a.m.) but I doubt anyone wanted to be up that early on Saturday morn. Those who hitched with me arrived at 11a.m. It was brunch but actually became lunch. It has come to a point where being “late” is forgiven. Haha. But we don’t wait. We order and we eat. Teehee.

EggsBenedictWithSalmon

I was in the mood for eggs. Then again when am I not? Hahaha. Breakfast Bettina! Breakfast (as my angels are shouting in my ear)! I ordered the Eggs Benedict with Salmon & Mix Greens and of course my cup of joe. Too bad they didn’t have Barako. Yes, I actually asked. I settled for the Lavazza brewed coffee instead.

Beef Carpaccio

Fresh Oysters, Les Escargots a la Francaise and Beef Carpaccio to share. I skipped the oysters as I forgot to take my antihistamine meds. Got a taste of Monica’s Braised Lamb Shank, Tajine-style, with Potatoes, Carrots, Chickpeas, Mint and Coriander Salad, Lemon Confit. Yum yum. I think the rest all got eggs as well. Either Eggs Benedict or Eggs Cocotte.

Kouing Aman

And the winner dessert was the Kouing Aman which is caramelized laminated sweet dough and salted caramel ice cream. Could have eaten one by myself but I was stuffed already.

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As always, a great day with the girls. Thank you. Happy happy my dearest Choochoo.
(P.S. That same evening, the word was SMASHED! Haha. Yup yup. They attended a wine crawl event. I asked them to drink for me. I guess they did. Hahaha. Love you girls!)

MASON JARS

I have always been fascinated with Mason Jars. I like the rustic home vintage feel it brings. Not to mention it’s recyclable. Just check out Pinterest and the amount of ideas you get is overwhelming. I’m big on ordering things on line. I found this local site that had Ball™ Mason Jars. Ordered a couple pint size both regular and wide mouth jars. Oooh all the things I could think of were already racing through my head.

Ball Mason Jars

Of course the first thing I think of is FOOD or anything related to it. Teehee.

Iced Coffee

Vietnamese Style Iced Barako Coffee; Fill the bottom of the jar with 1-2 tablespoons condensed milk, add ice cubes, pour in your daily brew.

Oatmeal

Overnight Refrigerator Strawberry Oatmeal. 1 cup oats of your choice (old fashion or rolled oats), 1 cup milk, cleaned and halved fresh strawberries. Refrigerate overnight. Serve the next day.

Mango Oatmeal

No Cook Mango Oatmeal

Overnight Refrigerator Mango Oatmeal. Same procedure as the first one.

Instant LGH Tea

Lemon Ginger Honey Tea. 1 cleaned and sliced lemon, 1 knob of sliced ginger, 2-3 tablespoons honey. Add hot water and enjoy.

Lemon Ginger Honey Syrup

to be con’t

YO YO YO YOGHURT!

Two Sundays ago, my dear cousin Maricel, gave me a Yoghurt Maker which she was raving about last Christmas Eve. She made me try her homemade yoghurt and it was surprisingly good but a bit too watery for me. There were no instructions in the box but with the advent of the internet, you can find ANYTHING and EVERYTHING with only a few clicks of the mouse.

My two references for this “experiment” are RECIPE GEEK and FEED the TRIBE primarily because they had the same maker as I had. Thank you very much!

We didn’t have any plain yoghurt at home when I got the maker. I had to wait a few days. Come Monday, a friend from the Stables, gave me two packs of EasyO Yogurt Mix. Wasn’t sure if I could use my yoghurt maker with this yoghurt mix. But, oh well, experiment experiment. I mixed a pack of Vanilla EasyO and 600ml of water and 600ml of milk. Transferred into the jars and turned the maker on.

EasyO Yoghurt

Lumina Yoghurt Maker

Based on the recipes I found, one said 6-8 hours, cool, then refrigerate for a few hours after. Being a bit impatient, I went for the 8 hours which yielded a drinkable yoghurt. It was good but I was aiming for a thicker and creamier consistency. My son and I ended up just drinking it all. This is where I realized that the refrigrating time will not give you a thicker consistency. It’s all in the WAITING.

Experiment number 2. I bought a 200ml tub of Plain Creamy Yoghurt from Hacienda Macalauan and mixed it with 1200ml of fresh milk. Poured the mix into the jars and made a mental note to leave it on for 13.5 hours. Let cool and refrigerated for at least 8 hours after. Yes, it takes long but it’s worth it. Hmm, much as it is in life? The WAIT? Hmm, let’s not get carried away with other matters. Haha. I should put a DO NOT DISTURBED sign next time. Haha.

My son and I were eager to try the yoghurt so that was our dessert after dinner last night. A tablespoon or two (yeah we like it sweet) of honey and mixed enough. Hmm, yummy, creamy and thick. There was a watery substance which I learned was the whey which can be used for other purposes. If I strained that yoghurt further, I would have Greek Yoghurt.

Super excited to have my yoghurt for breakfast this morning, I asked for honey and whatever jam we had on hand.

YOGHURT

Topped with Strawberry Jam (a heaping teaspoon), admired it and dug in. DELICIOUS (Scraping the bottom of the jar delicious!) Oooh my son will love this….

YOGHURT

I have been thinking of what other yummy goodness I can make now that I know how and can make yoghurt. Sauces, Dips, Marinades, it’s endless I tell ya.

Happy TUM Happy Me!

“IT WAS ORGASMIC!”

Someone gave my mom a pack of steaks and other meats for Christmas. Since it has been an über busy month having steaks for dinner needs some kind of preparation and everyone present. After a while and literally sick of eating, you forget about what’s in the freezer. A week or two weeks back, I was asked to make the steaks.

Good steaks are super easy to do. Bring them out from the freezer and allowed to thaw in the ref overnight. In the morning, generously season both sides with good sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I usually drizzle a little bit olive oil just enough to coat the steaks. Back into the ref they go and taken out an hour or so for them to reach room temperature before hitting the grill.

Steaks

Fire up the the grill or grill pan and have butter, slivers of garlic, and a bit of liquid seasoning on the side. When grill is steak-ready, slice and put a pat of butter on the steak, the slivers of garlic on sides of the pan, and a splash of liquid seasoning. Let sizzle for a few minutes before turning depending on how you want your meat done. Let the butter and other liquids swirl around the pan but not disturbing the meat. You want those grill marks on the steaks ya? Watch out for the garlic that they do not burn.

The steaks were pretty big (3 pieces) so after grilling I cut them in half. Having to divide the steaks for 4 people. Bahala na si Batman who gets what and how much each gets. I made sure that the sides (fats) were grilled well yet leaving the meat medium well.

Steaks

When my 13 year old son bit into his steak, he closed his eyes and said out loud, “It’s sooooo good Momma! It’s orgasmic!” All heads turned and eyes on him. “WHAAAT?!” He told us that he knew what it meant. Hahahaha. Funny guy.

When we have steaks at home, it’s automatic that there should be Baked Potato with Sour Cream, Chives, and Bacon Bits (NOT those Bacos or artificial stuff okay? Don’t be cheap please.) To minimize the “sin”, simple Mix Green Salad with Arugula, Alfalfa Sprouts, Tomatoes, Roasted Pine Nuts, and a light Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette should complete the meal.

Steaks

¡Buen Provecho!

BESO and the GIRLS

Having a CORE group of friends is truly a blessing. After all the holiday madness, some leaving for the US for vacation and other purposes, some just busy with their annual Christmas parties and family get togethers, it is truly such a joy to get everyone together even just for a few hours. Ana, who has been living in Japan all these years, was here for the holidays with Doug her husband and adorable Mila. Before she heads back to the Land of the Rising Sun, we met up in Beso for sumptuous treats.

I was there an hour earlier as I met up with Portia & Pilar, Xavier’s tita and cousin on his father’s side. I was hungry, as always, and started myself with a Beso Platter while listening to the staff having their meeting. That toast with chocolate spread topped with a slice of chorizo always tingles my taste buds.

Beso Platter

Beso Platter

Halfway through my platter the girls started arriving one by one. SANGRIA please!! This time the overflowing Calamansi Sangria was the star of the day. Don’t ask how many glasses I had. Teehee.

Calamansi Sangria

Since it seemed that we were going stretch the night out to dinner, I ordered something that I was more filling. It was my first time to try a main entree and kept asking myself why I didn’t discover this dish sooner. It was the bomb! Hahaha. Braised Lengua, Bacon, Mushroom, Cream, and Sherry with Rice Pilaf. My son will definitely like this! The dish was good enough for two but excuse me for being a pig, but it was worth every bite.

Braised Lengua

BURP. Excuse me.

The rest of the night was all the stories of the Christmas & New Year’s madness, a wedding, US Vacations. The two toddlers that were with us were busy with their handy dandy iPods with toddler cases. Such adorable cuties.

Mila & Claudia

Beso with the Girls

After all that pigging out, the Cuis wanted to walk around and burn off the sins we committed. Haha. Did a little shopping and was able to snag a less 30% off on a cardigan from Cotton On. Janlo and I purchased the same thing but in different colors. We just laughed it off since we only realized it when we met at the check out counter. Got Xavier a pair of flip flops since his last pair were still from our trip to Sydney two years ago, and his feet grew from a 9 to to a size 10. Haaay.

Keeping in touch with my best friends keeps me grounded and safe. I love each of them dearly.

Red, Green and White

A favorite salad of mine is an Insalata Caprese. However, fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese is a bit too expensive for my budget. Since I have been loving and promoting our local products and produce, I decided to use Kesong Puti (White cheese; Carabao) for my White Cheese, Tomato, and Basil Salad or sandwich. It’s not the first time I use this or have heard of this combination. I just felt that we can use or local kesong puti and make it a global entity. We gotta be proud of our products ya?

I was simply craving for Kesong Puti but I didn’t just want it with pandesal. I wanted a little kick (basil & tomato). I marinate half inch slices of Kesong Puti in olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper overnight or a few hours before serving. It’s such a simple thing yet delish indeed.

Kesong Puti Basil; Tomato

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This week’s Stable Rats Kris Kringle is Something RED. I couldn’t think of what to get my “baby” that was red. To my surprise I got a bag of PENS! Yummy red pens and markers. Perfect to paint that town red? Hahaha. Just kidding.

Something RED

When I got to the stables today, my driver tells me that I also have a red plant waiting in the office. Haha. I haven’t seen it though. Will post it tomorrow.