Sunday, December 2, 2007

Our Pebbles Is Now A Bitch

Bitch - that's mommy for dogs... for those who do not know.

Pebbles, our toy poodle, gave birth to three female pups yesterday!

It was the second time for me to witness a dog giving birth. The first time was almost 20 years ago when my dog Maggie (an aspin, as in Asong Pinoy) gave birth to one pup. I remember Maggie woke me up and I had to assist her gave birth on my bed. Yes, she gave birth on my bed. Maggie and Skinner (her pup) have both gone to the Rainbow Bridge years ago.

Going back to Pebbles. Erwin had just brought her to the Vet yesterday morning for her prenatal checkup. The Vet said Pebbles could give birth anytime already. True to her words, anytime was just a few hours after. When we noticed something was protruding from her behind, I panicked! Erwin was not around so I had to rush Pebbles to the vet. When I got there, as I laid her on the operating table, out came the first pup. In just 45 minutes, Pebbles gave birth to three pups. The third was the biggest. That was the only time the Vet had to help her out. The Vet practically pulled out the pup.

Pebbles is such a caring mom. Licks her pups clean all the time. One time dog food spilled on her mat and she cleaned it immediately. She's overly protective though. She doesn't like the sire, Peanut, near her pups.

The Pups. Erwin suggested to name the three after the lead actresses of Charlie's Angels - Lucy, Drew and Cameron. Why not?

Irvin with Peanut (left) and Pebbles (right).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Quick and Easy Cupcakes.

Last night I thought of baking cupcakes. I went through at least four cookbooks and compared different simple cupcake recipes and came up with my own version I call the Quick and Easy Cupcakes. So this morning, I tried the recipe.


Set A – Dry Ingredients
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Set B – Wet Ingredients
½ cup soften butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
Pre-heat oven to 350° F for at least 15 minutes


1. Combine all Set A ingredients in a bowl and mix at low speed. Make sure to mix well
2. At medium speed, add butter until mixture is grainy in texture.
3. Add milk and vanilla.
4. Add eggs one at a time.
5. Mix well making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Do not over beat.
6. Line muffin pan with paper cups.
7. Fill each cup until ½ or ¾ full
8. Can be topped with any of the following: chocolate chips, raisins or nuts
9. Bake for 25 minutes or until done.
10. Best topped with icing or glaze.

Will do further experiment on this. I'm thinking of coming up with coffee or mocha variant. Maybe I can reduce milk to just 3/4 cup and then add 1/4 cup of espresso.

By the way, I forgot to mention that my first love is baking. Even took a basic baking class at the Sylvia Reynoso-Gala Cooking School sometime early 90’s.

My Very Own Kitchenaid

I have a new kitchen gadget! It’s the Kitchenaid Artisan. My Ate Fiona said that I’m so “mababaw” (shallow) because when I shared with her this news, I told her that one of my “ambitions” have been reached. It’s an ambition because I never thought I’d be able to afford one. Well, at least willingly spend for one. I have two mixers right now but my heart has been yearning for a Kitchenaid.

Thanks to my soon-to-be former coworker and friend Aylwin and his lovely wife Ching, they gave me a really good discount. The unit is used but only five times since it was bought. The Cue couple are migrating to the US so they sold most of their stuff. I think it was Divine Intervention that this gadget was offered to me. They had two kitchen items left – the oven and the mixer. Wanted to buy both but budget does not permit. Besides, I can still work on my very old Elba.

Since I brought this home last Friday, I’ve baked four recipes already! The first three I was not able to take pictures anymore because there was not chance. As in, wiped out by my boys.

Roasted Garlic with Fresh Rosemary and Olive Oil

I used to watch a lot the Katie Brown show at the Lifestyle channel. That was when we still had cable. Oh yes, our area is not yet serviced by cable companies. Well, we could always get the satellite type but it’s darn expensive. I heard too that signal is intermittent especially during bad weather.

Anyways, one recipe she did was Roasted Garlic. I’m a garlic person. When a recipe calls for garlic, I make sure it has a lot. I gave the recipe a try using fresh rosemary from my herb garden, of course.


6 heads of garlic
Fresh Rosemary
Olive oil


1. Chop off the top of the garlic head making sure each segment is exposed

2. Drizzle with olive oil

3. Season liberally with salt

4. Roast in a turbo broiler for 45 minutes at 400° F.

Once cooked, squeeze out the segments. When mashed, you have Roasted Garlic Butter. Yummy on toasted bread. My leftovers I used for my Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce and Alugbati and Pesto (posting this one soon!)

Taken before roasting

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pasta with Chicken in Tarragon Cream and Alugbati

Tarragon is so easy to grow. With so much in the garden, I am forced to harvest so often and of course use them. One Saturday afternoon of September (yes, that’s two months ago already and I’m just posting it now!), I just had to be more creative with tarragon.
After an hour of surfing the net, I learned that tarragon is mostly used in cream-based chicken recipes. So, I came up with my own. Here it is.


Pasta, cooked according to package directions – I only had spaghetti then. Most of the recipes I encountered made use of flat noodles such as fettuccini and tagliatelle.

Chicken, cut into small pieces – breast is the more popular part, I guess because you don’t have to be bothered with the bones. I had in my freezer chicken intended for Tinola. I used around 1/3 of a chicken here. I marinated the chicken with salt and pepper.

½ cup fresh tarragon leaves – chopped

1 pack/can heavy cream

1 cup Alugbati – there were around three similar recipes I encountered that used spinach. I have spinach in the garden but not enough for the recipe. So I harvested some Alugbati instead. Alugbati, for those who do not know, is a wild/native green leafy vegetable which my mom introduced to me as the Pinoy spinach.

Roasted garlic – I roasted a few heads of garlic the previous day for a pesto recipe. I used one whole head for this recipe. Although, minced fresh garlic will work just fine.

Olive oil and butter for sautéing

Water or chicken broth or pasta water

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Put olive oil and butter in a heated pan

2. Sauté (roasted) garlic

3. Sauté marinated chicken until cooked.

4. Put water, to deglaze the pan. Water should be enough to cover the chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Add cream, tarragon and alugbati

6. Season with salt and pepper

7. Simmer for 10 minutes in low fire

8. If you find the sauce too thick, add more water or chicken broth. You can also use the water where the pasta was cooked.

9. Add cooked pasta and serve hot

Sunday, November 4, 2007

My Other Herbs

Some of the herbs and edible plants I forgot to mention the last time.

Thai Chili Pepper - said to be a level 8 or 9 (10 the highest) in terms of spiciness among all the peppers.

Siling Baha - this kind is not the spicy type. In our province, Bayombong, we would grill this type of pepper then dip it in bagoong isda with calamansi. Another way of cooking it is "ginugulay" or treated like a vegetable.

Calamansi - we just have to have our own calamansi plant. My kids love soy sauce with calamansi with all their dishes.

Fennel - Irvin says it smells like rootbeer

Dill - still have to know what to do with this. My friend Rochelle said I just have to plant one so I did.

Flat Leaf Parseley



Marjoram seedlings

Daddy and Mommy sent some new seeds from the US. I'm excited with the habaneros! I hope we can successfully grow them.

My Herb Garden

I've always wanted to have my own herb garden. Years and years of watching cooking shows has influenced me a lot. I told myself that one day I'd be cooking using ingredients freshly picked from my own garden. Now, I can happily say that I've been actually doing that for the past 2-3 months. My herb garden is organic, too!

Here are some of the herbs I have in my garden.

Basil was my very first herb plant. The first batch of basil I bought at Majogany Garden in Tagaytay. It was a wise decision to get basil because as far as planting is concerned, it's very easy to manage and propagate. Thus, very encouraging for first-timers like me. It's so easy to have your own basil farm! We read that it's sweeter if you grow it from seed. It's very easy and fast too. Cutting is also an option. Whenever I harvest for cooking, after I take all the leaves I stick the twig in a pot and just let it grow. All my previous basil recipes are from our own garden. Right now we have three basil varieties - Thai (my favorite), sweet, and red rubin . I'm partial with Thai Basil because of it's stronger taste and aroma, which I really really like.

Thai Basil - here are a few of the plants that we grew from seeds of our first basil plant. Erwin takes care of harvesting the seeds from the mature flower.

Red Rubin Basil - has sweeter and milder aroma compared to Thai Basil. It smells a bit like guava. Mature leaves have red veins.

Sweet Basil - they say this is perfect for pesto but I prefer using Thai Basil because of its stronger flavor. What I like about Sweet Basil is it's color. It gives the pasta a very bright green color. Almost looking like you used green food coloring.

Rosemary - this is my first Rosemary plant from Gourmet Cafe. I love the aroma. It's a challenge to propagate it but we're still trying. Rosemary is amazing with chicken. I've tried it with turbo chicken and even fried chicken - Erwin and the kids love it!

Tarragon - very sweet with anise aroma and flavor. My good friend Rochelle Leyba suggested I make tea of it and I've been hooked since. I think it's very potent. It's more relaxing than chamomile tea. As in it would really make me go to bed after a cup or two. Rochelle strongly suggests trying it cold - with ice cubes and honey. Will try that soon. I've tried it also with a cream-base pasta sauce with chicken. Yum!

Lemongrass/tanglad - great with chicken and fish. I tried lemongrass and ginger tea too and it's very refreshing. They say the concoction helps normalize blood pressure.

Pandan - great with steamed rice. Have tried pandan chicken also. Well, at least my version of it. We also put pandan leaves in the cupboard because they say it deters roaches.

Oregano - given by my neighbor, Mang Pete. He suggests that I use it as a bed of steamed or ginataang tilapia. When I have enough leaves, I'll try this recipe.

I still have more. Will just need to take better pictures. Posting them soon!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New Members of the Family

Our co-owned American Bulldog, Asia, finally gave birth to two healthy and big puppies - one male and one female.

Since they were born October 7, when Manny Pacquiao won over Marco Antonio Barrera, we're toying with the idea of naming the male Pacquiao. Aside from the date, the male pup also has a spot on his left eye that looks like a black-eye.

The female we're not yet naming. She'll be going to our friend Redd, who's the co-owner of Asia. We're deferring the name because we might get to attached to her. It would be painful to turn her over when the time comes.

Here are some pictures taken just this morning. Enjoy viewing!

Male is the one with the spot on the left eye. Female is all white.

My boys with the pups and the poodles.

Myself with Irvin and the puppies.

Asia nursing her pups. This was taken they day she whelped.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Falling In Love All Over Again - My Love Affair with Gardening

For a month now I've developed a love for gardening. It started one long weekend last August when Erwin and I decided to do our own landscaping of our garden. We initially wanted to have it done by a professional but the cost was too high (for us) - P30,000! Erwin, myself, and Raffy (a neighbor who helps us with the dogs and the garden) did the landscaping ourselves. We started by collecting soil from a vacant lot in the subdivision - of course, with the permission of the subdivision's caretaker. Luckily, the caretaker, Noli, made his own black soil made of dried then burnt leaves mixed with soil. He happily offered this to us, which we also happily accepted. This actually saved us P5,000, which is the cost of an elf of garden soil. When the garden was all soiled up, we went to Silang and bought a few plants at Avion Plant Store - our suki in plants.

This is a renewed affair with plants for me. When I was young someone told me that my hands were too hot for them, thus, I would never successfully grow any. Somehow, I believed this. I had some attempts but they all failed - maybe because I was already expecting them to die on me. I felt sad because I knew my Dad had a green thumb, why didn't I get that too and not just his temper? Just kidding, Daddy.

Some shots of the garden after our first weekend working on it. Every week the look changes because of rearrangement or additional plants.

We have a few hanging plants. As of this picture, we only had around 3. The one on the right most side are some orchids courtesy of Ate Mylene, Raffy's mother. Erwin wrapped them around an abaca pole. Creative huh!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This was forwarded to me by a co-worker through email. It's worth sharing some more.


A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower, when the doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob,the next-door neighbor.
Before she says a word, Bob says, "I'll give you $800 to drop that towel." After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob. After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves.

The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, "Who was that?" "It was Bob the next door neighbor," she replies. "Great!" the husband says, "did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?"

Moral of the story: If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.


A priest offered a Nun a lift. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg. The priest nearly had an accident.After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.

The nun said, "Father, remember Psalm 129?" The priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again. The nun once again said, "Father, remember Psalm 129?" The priest apologized, "Sorry sister but the flesh is weak." Arriving at the convent, the nun went on her way.

On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129.It said, "Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory."
Moral of The Story: If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.


A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, "I'll give each of you just one wish." "Me first! Me first!", says the admin clerk. "I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world."

Puff! She's gone.

"Me next! Me next!" says the sales rep. "I want to be in Hawaii , relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life."

Puff! He's gone.

"OK, you're up," the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, "I want those two back in the office after lunch."

Moral of The Story: Always let your boss have the first say.


An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing?"

The eagle answered: "Sure, why not."

So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of The Story: To be sitting & doing nothing, you must be sitting very high up.


A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy."

"Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull. "They're packed with nutrients."

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch.

Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral Of The Story: Bull**** might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there!


A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him.

As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.

A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.


1. Not everyone who poops on you is your enemy
2. Not everyone who gets you out of poop is your friend
3. And when you're in deep poop, it's best to keep your mouth shut!

This ends the 3-minute management course.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My Own “Kung Ako Ikaw” and “Day Off” Experience

No, I was never a guest in any of the two shows. I’m sure that people behind these shows do not even know I exist. For those who do not know, both shows have similar concepts – celebrities experience the work and life of whoever they decide to feature. I’m more familiar with “Day Off” and I actually watch it regularly. While with “Kung Ako Ikaw,” unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to watch one episode in its entirety. Only bits and pieces since I find the timeslot too late.

My own “Kung Ako Ikaw” and “Day Off” experience happened when the workers we hired to transfer a dump-truck of soil to our backyard did not show up. When the “panambak” was delivered, it was dumped right in front of our house. It was delivered on a Monday and had been occupying half of the street for six days. We scheduled the workers for Sunday since that was their only free day.

Sunday came and no one showed up. We were expecting the workers by 7am. By 8am, I told Erwin that we had to start working. Yes, WE as in Erwin, myself, and Raffy (a neighbor who has been helping us around the house). The other option was to wait the next Sunday but I was afraid the neighbors would already complain.

The “before” backyard.

Ate Fiona was visiting. We called her the “contractual laborer.”

More than being tired, Irvin had a lot of fun. I initially called him “the assistant manager” because he kept on giving instructions. Before the day ended, he was demanding for a promotion already. He said he should be manager and not just an assistant.

Around 11am, Raffy (in the middle) was able to get two of his friends to help us out.

Erwin (in blue) and Raffy were the main laborers – together with the two other boys, they were mostly responsible for transferring 75% of the soil to the backyard.

And then there was one… there used to be three big piles of soil in front of the house. After the very tiring, and (skin)darkening experience, all that’s left is just one. We’re still deciding what to do with it.

By the way, Manager Irvin also demanded for a back massage, which he got before he went to bed that night. We also have a CEO - my eldest, Renmund. He was in his "office" the whole day :)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Coffee, Cookies and Cherry Tomatoes

After the heavy lunch of bulalo and fried tawilis, we were off to Silang. We made a quick stop at Gourmet's Cafe to try their coffee. Also, we heard that they had organic herbs being sold.

Erwin had a cup of brewed coffee, while I had latte (less than P100 per cup)

We also tried the Gourmet's Dark Chocolate Cookies. Yummy and so cheap at around P100-P130 (can't remember the price anymore) for a 10-piece pack.

Service was also good. I asked one of the servers if it was ok to pick the cherry tomatoes that had already fallen on the ground (there are cherry tomato trees at the parking lot), he said it was ok. Before we left, the server handed to me a small bag with some cherry tomatoes and said that I didn't have to pick anymore. So nice!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Steamy, Hot Bulalo - Perfect on a Rainy Day!

Erwin and I had another impromptu trip to OUR favorite Tagaytay. The plan really was to go to Silang to do some plant shopping - that will be a totally different story later on. We reached Silang by 11am. We decided to have lunch at Tagaytay, which was just 10 minutes away. It was a cold and rainy afternoon so we decided to have Bulalo.

We've been eyeing a bulaluhan along the road going to Mendez. However, we missed the place by a few meters so we ended up eating at a place called La Trobada -the one just beside the other buhaluhan we wanted to try out.

At first glance, I found the price of the Bulalo pricy at P350.00. The waiter said it was good for 2 only so I thought it was a bit on the expensive side. Anyway, as i said before, price is relative. We ordered Bulalo and fried Tawilis (another favorite of mine! When in Tagaytay have Tawilis!). We wanted to have Sizzling Sisig but I was afraid we'd over order. Since there was just two of us so we didn't order it anymore.

I like the way the Bubalo was served. With the fire under, it kept the soup warm. More importantly, the heat kept the sebo from forming. I've had Bulalo at 3-5 different restaurants in Tagaytay and so far it's only La Trobada that serves it this way. There were 3 really big chucks of meat and a few veggies. At P350.00 it was worth it after all. It's not, however, good for 2 only, as the waiter said. I think it could feed 4-5. Just one comment though - I found the broth salty. With my Bulalo, I want to have "room" for my toyo-calamansi-sili sauce. Since the soup was salty I had to improvise by just squeezing the calamansi directly onto the soup. The meat was just right - not tough but right to the bite. The other problem with Bulalo sometimes is it gets over cooked and the meat falls apart. I like my Bulalo with visible meat, like chucks, and not just fibers of the meat found at the bottom of the bowl.

Bulalo is not Bulalo without the marrow.

I just love Tawilis. The more popular preparation is fried. Inihaw na Tawalis is also good, they just don't have it in the menu. With fried, though, it's easier to eat the whole fish because it's cruncky. When I say whole that's from head to tail.

I also love veggies in my bulalo. This had a few leaves of chinese cabbage and some baguio beans. Our homemade bulalo/nilaga has corn, potatos and saba.

The place is spacious and the view of the Taal was not bad. They have treehouses, too.

They also have a roving band. Something I just don't really generally appreciate.

On the menu, the other specialty is Paella. I'll definitely return to try that. Next time, will bring the kids with us.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

High-tech Inihaw na Liempo - quick and easy

Having a barbeque for me is synonymous to celebration. When my paternal grandfather, Lolo Macario Dadufalza, was still alive (a long, long time ago) each time there was an occasion, he’d have three cows (not 3 kilos, but 3 whole cows) slaughtered. Two of which are roasted whole and the other one would be of different dishes. I also remember having a lot of people at the house in Bayombong just to help prepare the food. There were more people preparing the food than guests! My Dad, Renato or Dado to his friends, would reserve for me the liver and grill it himself. He said it’s good source of iron.We still do barbeques regularly but not as grand as before. I miss those days, though.

Thanks to technology and Monterey, we can do barbeques anytime and conveniently. One gadget my Mom sent is the HealthSmart® Contact Grill of Hamilto Beach – an electric grill. Its more popular counterpart is the George Foreman Grill. It looks the same to me although I’ve only seen the George Foreman Grill on TV.

I find the HealthSmart Contact Grill very convenient to use. Although it’s electric, cooking is fast and easy so I don’t really worry about the electric consumption. The first time I tried it I grilled homemade burgers. It took less than 7 minutes to cook four big patties. The better part is that all the grease dripped away from the patties and into the catcher. The burgers were still juicy, not tough and dry, which was always the case when we fried them.

I’ve also tried inihaw na liempo. Less than 10 minutes to cook 3 thick slices. I have a quick and simple recipe that’s so easy to do.

1 kilo liempo – about 3-5 slices
1 small pack instant tamarind mix – more popularly known as the sinigang mix. Ok to use the calamansi or camias variants. Use the one with siling haba if you want it spicy
1/3 cup soy sauce

1. Evenly sprinkle tamarind mix over the liempo.
2. Add soy sauce
3. Marinate for at least 1 hour, overnight if possible.

The HealthSmart Contact is so easy to use. The one I have does not have any variable heat setting. However, there’s a LED indicator that tells you once the grill is hot enough. Once you plug the grill the LED turns on. Once it automatically turns off, it means the grill is ready for the meat.

High heat is best in grilling meat. It keeps the meat juicy and tender. Low fire tends to overcook the meat, and this makes it tough and dry.