Friday, August 26, 2011

Thank You (Toblerone)

Last night after attending the DOT bloggers briefing I shimmied over to Duty Free to check out Toblerone's Thank You Day launch for the Global Pinoy. I thought I'd just stay for a few minutes, get some Toblerone and then head home.


As I walked towards the event area I heard a familiar voice. They were singing a True Faith song. I told myself that I wish it was Medwin Marfil of True Faith singing because they are my most favorite Filipino band. I immediately walked towards the stage and lo and behold it was indeed True Faith! I must have stood immobile for a few minutes (fan girl mode!) until I managed to tear myself away to look for Juned. Haha.

Anyway, so the celebration at Duty Free last night was to thank the Global Pinoy who continue to sacrifice for their families.  And I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those Pinoys who have sacrificed being away from their families just to be able to provide better lives for them. I do hope and pray that you can come home soon.

And thank you Toblerone and GMCI for getting True Faith! Haha. You definitely made me smile last night. (Sorry Medwin, I was on fan girl mode. Can't help it since I've been your fan for about 15 years now! Haha.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

An App a Day: Metro Traffic Live

I really appreciate all the efforts the current MMDA administration has taken to inform us about traffic updates. Before we can only get traffic updates from reports on TV or radio, some local websites and the occasional SMS system. I only go out whenever I have meetings and absolutely abhor getting stuck in traffic. I immediately followed MMDA's beta Twitter account and was glad to see that the team was pretty efficient, albeit it's hard to search for info via Twitter. MMDA's mapped traffic info is heaven sent although they only have a web version for now.

Anyway, Michael Perez, Jay Quiambao and a couple of friends put together an iOS, Blackberry and Android app using MMDA's live feed, aptly named Metro Traffic Live. So it's easier to get traffic info when you're on the road. Pretty soon they'll also have it available for Windows Phone 7 users too.

I wish though that our traffic authorities would cover more roads (especially Taft Avenue) since I also use the info to check my boys whenever they're stuck somewhere.

Araw ng Wika

Sabi sa akin ng aking mga kaibigan na araw ng wika ngayon at dapat magsalita at magsulat lamang sa wikang Filipino. Naisip ko gumawa ng isang blog post gamit ang ating wika para matingnan kung meron pa akong kakayahan magsulat sa wikang Filipino.

Nagugulat ang marami kong mga kaibigang nakatira sa ibang bansa kapag sinasabi ko sa kanila na mas madalas tayong mga Pinoy magbasa at magsulat sa wikang Ingles kesa Filipino. Kung iyong titingnan mas marami tayong mga website na nasa wikang Ingles kesa Filipino. Pero kapag tayo naman ay nagkwekwentuhan mas gamit natin ang Filipino o kung minsan, jejemon.

Sa tingin ko sasang-ayon ang marami sa obserbasyon ko na ito. Aaminin ko na kapag pumupunta ako sa tindahan ng mga libro bihirang-bihira ako bumili ng librong nakasulat sa wikang Filipino. Pero mahilig naman ako manood ng mga lokal na pelikula at paborito ko si John Lloyd Cruz! Mahilig din ako sa OPM at mas madalas ako bumili ng lokal na CD. At mas gusto ko rin nagbabakasyon dito sa ating bansa dahil napakarami natin magagandang isla at siyempre mas matipid ito kesa pumunta sa ibang bansa!

Ikaw kaibigan, katoto, kapamilya, ka-berks, kapuso, ano'ng mga trip mo? :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How I Work-out

I always wondered how my Mom managed to keep slim all her life. I never saw her participate in any sports activities like my Dad. She doesn't go walking every morning. And, mind you, there are times she eats more than I do! All along I thought it was her metabolism and I hoped that I inherited it. Unfortunately, my metabolism has slowed down a bit and there are days I have to do some extra activities so I don't go beyond my weight limits.

I used to play badminton and tennis, but both are extreme sports for me now so I try to stick to my weekly malling regimen. My doctor thought I played bowling and burst into laughter when he realized that I meant mall-ing, the act of walking around the mall and window-shopping all day. He said I was his funniest patient. Due to some health restrictions I realized that the best way to keep slim is to be my wriggly self all day in different ways. Here's what I do:

1. Cooking - when I was still living with my Mom I did not have to do any chores at home, save for the occasional days I had to wash dishes. But now I turn into Cinderella at 6 in the evening when I have to prepare dinner for my boys. It takes me an hour or two to cook dinner depending on what dish I'm making. I rarely turn on the fan in the kitchen when cooking so I could sweat a bit. Cooking exercises both my arms and legs.

2. Dish Washing - may be strange for some, but I love washing dishes. I hate bringing out stuff to the sink, so Miguel does that for me. My kitchen is small so I have set-up different drying areas for pots and pans and that forces me to walk around. More exercise for my arms!

3. The Laundry - doing the laundry allows me to carry around the dirty clothes bin. I first roll it down the stairs (hehehe), sort the clothes into separate bins and then carry them to the laundry area and pop the clothes in the washing machine. They come out almost dry so hanging them gives me a chance to do some stretching.

4. Sweeping and Mopping - I don't usually do this, but my cleaning lady has been sick for more than a month now and I don't trust anyone else to come to the house to clean for me. I do this by area since I'm allergic to dust. Aside from a complete workout, the best thing about doing this is taking a long cold shower after.

And the best work-out for me...

5. Garden Weeding - I have a tiny garden and my Mom insisted I plant some grass on it. I thought it made sense since grass kinda helps cools down your house (versus pebbles!). My Mom's gardener has been MIA too for awhile now so I had to cut the grass myself too and do some weeding. I spent two hours in the garden the first time I did some weeding. I could barely get up and I was drenched with sweat (kinda like how my boys are sweaty after a run). I was really surprised but liked the workout since I was being productive at the same time. And that's when I discovered what my Mom's secret is at keeping slim. Weeding and gardening!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Terror Teachers

I dedicate this post to all my teachers who terrorized me in school. I can say that fondly now, but back then my teachers used to make me cry.

When I was in first grade I remember trying to skip school every time I had English classes. My teacher was really strict and I was messing up pretty bad because I was scared of her. My English communication skills was in the gutter even though my first language was English. I was behind until I was in fifth grade and I don't know what happened but I was assigned to a special section when I was in sixth grade. They said that we had talent for communicating. Well, to this day I'm still not sure why I was assigned to that class haha.

In high school I realized I had to improve my English writing skills so I joined the writing club and attended a couple of the workshops. I became a voracious reader and devoured tons of books (that's where my allowance usually went). I thought I was okay already until I encountered my Filipino teacher. There was a lot of talk about the terror Filipino teacher. And whatever we heard from higher batches was real.

I was seated on the front row (alphabetical order) and that kinda made things worse because she'd see any movement you do. Looking back the class felt like it was an hour long military drill. You're not allowed to talk. Don't make any extra movements. Cheating was definitely not allowed and you had to roll down your paper during the test (bilutin ang papel!). And your not allowed to share anything with your seatmate, so if you don't have paper you're not allowed to take the test.

When I get together with my high school buddies we always talk about that class and all our misdemeanors. My highest grade for that class was 81 and I think that was the average for everybody. It was hard, but looking back I realize that I carried the discipline that our teacher instilled in us. It taught me how to be independent and how to be prepared. And I carry that to this day.

I eventually bumped into my English teacher a couple of years ago and I was happy to tell her being strict pushed me to improve myself. I told her that I became editor-in-chief of our university's literary publication. I was one of her many students so I'm sure she didn't really remember me, but I just wanted to let her know that she made a huge impact in my life. As for my Filipino teacher, I haven't seen her since high school and I heard she already retired and lives in Canada. The daily terror drills we had with her definitely disciplined me and it's been key to who and what I am today.

Thank you Mrs. Parcon and Ginang de Vera for being great teachers :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Day at my Alma Mater

Last Saturday I was once again forced to wake up early since we had to attend a parent-teacher forum at Miguel's school (which is also my alma mater). Anyway, after attending the forum Sweetie and I had to wait for Miguel to finish a meeting so I got the chance to take some photos of my favorite spots in campus.

The college canteen.

My favorite spot at the college canteen. I used to hang-out here every morning to eat spaketchup for breakfast. 

Eventually when I joined the Malate Literary Folio I hung-out at the publications office, so I always passed the bookstore everyday. The cashier during my time is still the same cashier. She still  ecognizes me sometimes.

This is behind the SPS building (Bro. Connon Hall). It wasn't there before, but I always passed by this area everyday.

The DLSU Chapel, a sanctuary for me.

This building wasn't around yet before. This was where the college gym was located.

St. La Salle Building. I used to have a lot of classes here. Also had some classes here when I was taking my MBA. One fond memory during course card distribution day was Rico Yan excitedly telling me that he was set to graduate already. He was inviting me to join him for lunch at the faculty room because he was bringing KFC fried chicken. That was the last time I saw him alive :(

Time flies so fast and now my kid's enrolled in the same school where I got my degrees. I'm getting old! Oh noes!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Greek Cuisine with Executive Chef Robby Goco

I was excited to attend the Greek cuisine cooking class at Maya Kitchen last weekend. Sweetie literally pulled me out of bed early Saturday morning to get me up and running haha. I didn't want to miss the class so I told him to wake me up by any means.

I arrived at the Maya Kitchen just a few minutes before Executive Chef Robby Goco (Cyma, Ristras, Go Greek etc.) started class. He started by teaching us how to make Baklava and while showing us how to make it he regaled us with stories from his childhood and how a 75-year old Greek taught him how to cook Greek food. I listened intently to everything he was saying and watched how he prepared the food since he didn't follow the recipe that was given to us. I tried my best to also write down the tips he was giving since I've never tried cooking Greek food. The baklava was served at the end of the 5-hour lecture and here it is.

Chef Robby taught us a lot of recipes: horiatiki (Greek salad), spanakopita and spanakotopika, kotopoulo avgolemono (Greek lugaw), garides saganaki pasta, and the moussaka. At some point he started to multi-task and teach us three recipes at the same time! I had to keep asking Don for clarification because I couldn't catch up anymore. Haha. Anyway, here's some of the dishes he prepared:

Horiatiki, Greek salad. I made a mental note to buy ingredients for this dish since Sweetie loves cucumber. It's easy to make, I think I'll just have a hard time looking for feta cheese (I'll probably use kesong puti in case I couldn't find any). [Update: I made this on Monday evening and Sweetie loved it].

Spanakopita. When Chef Robby taught us this dish I realized that I still have a lot of cooking skills I need to learn. Spanakopita uses phyllo pastry and because it's very thin you really need to be careful when handling it since it tears easily. Anyway, I think I'll try making spanakotopika (smaller version) first before I do the big version. My inspiration when I make this dish would be Miguel since he doesn't really like eating veggies, but he actually liked this dish!

Kotopoulo avgolemono (lugaw). This dish takes time to cook, so this is where Chef Robby started to multi-task and taught us several recipes all at the same time. Thank God I oftentimes need to go through tons of data at work, so that skill kinda helped clear things up for me. I rarely eat lugaw and only like the one my grandmother used to cook for me when I was a kid. I liked the Greek lugaw too.

Garides Saganaki Pasta. I have yet to learn how to cook with wine and how to cook shrimps. Chef Robby though made it look easy to do so I'll probably try making this delicious dish someday.

Moussaka. The first time I tried moussaka was in Boracay and I really liked it. The dish looks doable, but I think I would need about 3 hours to do it (Chef Robby prepared it in less than 30 minutes). I absolutely loved the bechamel sauce that he prepared and ended up sampling several teaspoons-full hehehe.

I love the fact that Greek dishes use a lot of veggies. Chef Robby mentioned that Greek cuisine is the most healthy of all cuisines. I learned a lot in his class and appreciate Chef Robby's generosity since he taught us a couple of other easy-to-do recipes. He was also very patient in answering questions and giving tips on where to buy ingredients. I'm definitely including the recipes for my dinner cooking (watch out for it on Mabuhay ang Bagong Kasal).

Super duper thanks to Maya Kitchen! <3

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cheesecake Day

Last Saturday I attended a cheesecake baking class at The Maya Kitchen. I was really nervous because the last time I attended a cooking class was in high school. I wasn't really fond of the kitchen, much less getting pressured to cook with others. I learned how to cook out of necessity (cook or starve!) when I got married, but I have never cooked outside my kitchen.

Anyway, my fears were soon abated when I realized that we were not going to have a hands-on session. Our teachers, Nikka Cleofe-Alejar (Veronica's Kitchen owner and president of Filipina Home Bakers) and Wel Garcia-Dy (Toto's Bakeshop owner) said that they were not professional chefs, but Mom's who just love to bake. So I relaxed and listened to them intently.

Nikka taught us how to make no-bake mango cheesecake first. It looks easy to do and probably has the least cost among the four recipes that they taught. Here's how the mango cheesecake looked before we gobbled it up.

Then Wel taught us how to make Oreo cheesecake. I got a lot of tips from Wel since she explained some technical baking stuff in layman's terms. Aside from mixing techniques, she also gave us an overview about some baking tools and materials. You don't actually need to buy everything since you can actually make do with just a couple of stuff. You can also use local brands instead of Oreo. Here's the sumptuous Oreo cheesecake.

And then Nikka taught us how to make mini cheesecakes. I learned from this session that you should put out your ingredients, butter and cream cheese, at least an hour before you start baking so that it would be easy to mix them.

The final recipe was chocolate cheesecake and it was Wel who did the demo. I think among the four recipes this would be the most challenging for me to do since I've never baked using baking chocolate. In good time maybe.

Here's our class photo:

I'm definitely ear-marking some time this August to bake cheesecake!