Wednesday, March 15, 2017

When Failure Slaps Me

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday. So as planned, I made her a cake, a pineapple chiffon cake. Last night, I made my chiffon. Just before putting it in the oven, I was so happy because I know for a fact that it would come out high.  Of all the times I baked a cake, this is the time I set the timer. I want it perfect. I want it just right.

And I used my cake tester. It seem to come out clean when I poked all cakes.  So I left it out to cool and I slept.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Week 4: Parmesan Crusted Potato Slices

I just came home from Manila.  And just before getting in the plane, I grabbed 2 burgers ala cart from Wendy's to bring home for my husband.  We don't have Wendy's yet in Bacolod and their Burger Bacon Mushroom Melt (BBMM) has been a favorite since our college days.

So to pair our burgers, I got the oven running and whip up this awesome recipe I got from cooktoria.com:  Parmesan Crusted Potato Slices.



What I love about this recipe is how it is easy and can be done in a matter of minutes. Not to mention, it is a healthier version of french fries which we normally pair with our burgers.


We could snack on it without that guilt.Yum!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Chinese New Year at the Fa Tzang Bodhi Grove Chinese Temple

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!  Kung Hei Fat Choi!!


Chinese new Year, the year of the Fire Rooster begins today, January 28th and will end on the 15th of February.  Also known as the Spring Festival, it is mark by the lunisolar calendar so the date changes every year.











Because we have traded with our Chinese brothers before the Spanish regime, Chinese influence in the Philippines is evident not only in our food and culture.  A lot of Chinese has settled in the Philippines, making their presence felt in the field of business, media, politics, sports and the like.  We have built schools teaching the Chinese language and there are places of worship. 


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Century Tree of Canlaon City, Negros Oriental

From Sagay, we were undecided of whether we go home to Bacolod via Don Salvador Benedicto or we go through a much longer route of going to another province, Negros Oriental.  Because we have been planning to go to see the Century Tree at Canlaon City since last year, we thought of doing it than waste the afternoon travelling home.

So we passed by Escalante, Calatrava, Toboso and Valle Hermoso to reach Canlaon.

The Century Tree is located in Brgy. Lumapao in Canlaon City, a 10 minute ride from the highway.  Although there are limited signages for the site, it could be easily located because the tree in itself is already seen from the road because of its height.



Monday, January 23, 2017

San Vicente Ferrer Quasi Parish (Vito, Sagay)

Yesterday, me and hubs decided to proceed on having our car blessed in Vito Church.  After so much planning and postponement after we got Sitti (Navara), it was only yesterday that we went.


Prior to this, my mother-in-law joined her friends to a trip to the said church in the baranggay of Vito to have her friend's daughter's new car blessed.  They live in La Carlota and they will be travelling for approximately 3 hours with no traffic.  Ron and I are based in Bacolod and we will endure almost 90 km of travel equivalent to 2 hrs.  So why endure such long distance travel?

Monday, January 16, 2017

52Wk Cooking Challenge: Week 2: Pastillas de Leche

It seems this post is a cheat since the challenge is to cook (or bake) but Pastillas de Leche is still food. And I really wanted to share this recipe because it is a hit.





Originally, this milk dessert is made using Carabao's milk and it is cooked to a thick consistency for hours but this recipe is easy and does not need cooking and only takes a few minutes of mixing.

Pardon if I will be posting the recipe in big quantities because we were selling this in the market since last week, we made it a point to do it in big batches to save the mixing time. 




My love for baking.

Not a year long ago, I decided to be a homebased baker.  Because I have no 8-5 job and the business is manageable, I decided to make pastries to sell to friends and family.  I started with cookies and later on brownies.  It was not my first venture with the oven but this is the first time that I sell the food that I make.  I had only one reseller who works in the BPO industry and my products were selling like peanuts. I then took on orders from clients who stumble upon my Facebook Page.

And then it stopped.  Because selling at their office was banned, my partner could no longer do his side of the business.



From time to time, I continue to bake for my family. I post my work on Facebook and Instagram to celebrate my kitchen success.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Money Saving Challenge

Often, we include in our new year resolutions list is to save money.  But at the end of each year, we would not be able to tick this off as an accomplishment because of lack of targets or lack of planning

So here's are some Money Saving Challenges that you could try depending on how much you could afford to save.

52-week challenge (Same Increments)
In the 52 week challenge, one is required to save an amount for 52 weeks in a year, starting with an amount and regularly adding the same amount the weeks following .  Start with maybe as little as Php 100 a week. And increase by another Php 100 in the following week and so forth.  At the end of the year, you will get  Php 137, 800.

Doing the challenge will be hard at the end of the year.  If you are earning less than 20,000Php a month, when you reach week 30 and beyond (Php 3000 @ week 30), will be much harder for you.  I suggest that you do the challenge backwards.  Since bonus and 13th month pay was given last year in December, you have more money that you could save for the 52 week challenge.

If your earning is less, you could start with Php 10 a week with 10 increments per week.  You will still end up with Php 13780.

Here is a simple printable of the 52 week Money Saving Challenge you can use.


Monday, January 9, 2017

52-Week Cooking Challenge W1: Choco Chip Banana Loaf

Last night, I decided to challenge myself to constantly improve my kitchen prowess by committing to cook or bake at least one dish per week for the whole year.  The new house that we are renting in has a small kitchen but I like it better than the kitchen of our previously rented house for the reason of accessibility and unlimited water supply.  The kitchen is equipped with cabinets, has an area for my refrigerator and my oven.  Another plus is that the hubby has put the stock room just behind it. Baking and cooking becomes easy because things are now at an arm's reach.

So with this 52-week cooking challenge, I will be doing a dish that I have not done before, before a week ends.  Most of it may not be original as I only rely on some recipes.  Some I will be putting a twist depending on my mood.  I could go beyond the 1 dish per week depending on my schedule.

I have been planning to make a banana loaf since.  The last banana bread I made was half baked because I put it out of the oven with out testing it with a skewer. I only followed the temperature settings and the baking time only to find out that the insides are still runny.  Good thing Mom has some Lakatan to share which I took home last week.    I intended to have it ripened to almost trash bin worthy state so that it would be all mushy and sweet for the banana bread.

So last night, I got my bowls and measurements out and my oven running for a bread I have been craving to make.



Chocolate Chip Banana Loaf

Ingredients

2 cups flour

2 ripe Lakatan bananas

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped walnuts or chopped raisins.


Instructions

1.  Preheat oven to 325 F.

2. Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda).  Add sugar.  Make a well.

3.  Add butter, oil and eggs.  Mix. (No need of blender)

4.  Mash lakatan bananas in a separate bowl.  Fold into the mixture.

5.  Fold in chocolate chips or walnuts or raisins or combination of the three. Your preference.

6.  Transfer into a greased baking loaf pan or a cupcake pan lined with cupcake liners.

7.  Bake until skewer or tester comes out clean.

Notes:
I didn't use chocolate chips but I had a small bar or chocolate and chopped it finely.  I baked mine for 1 hour and a half because my loaf pan is deep.  I covered the pan with aluminum foil at the last half hour to minimize browning of the top part.


Monday, January 2, 2017

2016: A Year End Review

The 2016 Year End Review

Travels
2016 is a year of fewest travels since I was earning, to date.  But for somebody who used to spend her weekends on a beach or a fiesta or somewhere discovering new food and culture, I still squeeze into my daily routine some escape. 
Ron and I were able to set foot in Antique and toured Malalison Island.  This is really unplanned.  His mom and aunts decided to visit some of their relatives in Antique so Ron and I decided to tag along.  I was not really into joining the family if not for the promised trip to Malalison Island. 
Then Ron and I, together with our sorority sis, Weng, finally set foot in the beautiful place of El Nido.  It was fantastic.  It was a blast.  We spent 5 full days in El Nido touring the islands, climbing mountains, basking in the sun, drinking coconuts, eating bagels and pizza… just living the life.  I think El Nido just won my heart. It really stood up to the name of One of the Beautiful Islands of the World.

On Investments
I still got no house. We sold our Tammy (Tamaraw FX) at the end of the year as it has a lot of breakdowns and repairs the whole year.  The business is still doing good.  So where did our money go?
Well, I have been acquiring properties as investments taking the opportunity of its low price.  I have just finished the down payment of a property we acquired in Don Salvador Benedicto.  It is a small lot overlooking a cliff where I hope to build my vacation house.  Don Salvador, also known as the Little Baguio of Negros has a cold weather all year round so it is a good place to spend summers or just ran away from all the chaos of the city.  I want to grow my own vegetables and fruits in that small lot, just be sustainable.
I have always wanted to have a place up there ever since I have set foot to the vacation house of a family friend.  I want to have a place where I could shut out the noise and just be filled with the peace and quiet.  I want to have a sanctuary.  A little piece of personal escape.  So when the opportunity came a year ago, I grabbed it and slowly fulfill that dream.  4 years to go and I have a vacation property to go to.
Ron and I also got 2 corner lots in La Carlota as an investment.  We were done in paying the first lot in the 1st quarter of last year and now I am 3/4 paid in the 2nd property.  We have been forcing ourselves to pay more than the required monthly payments to beat the interest and hoping to finish it before the end of 2017.  We still don’t know what we would do with the property. We are open to selling it if the price is right.
And I am still saving for our house.  I was planning to start building by January of 2017.  I plan to withdraw my savings in WASSSLAI (office cooperative in Manila Water), and just return it when we are done with our monthly payments for the other properties only to find that I could no longer return the capital because only through salary deductions could I invest in WASSSLAI which is no longer possible for me.  I have been earning 12-15% dividends every year from WASSSLAI and it would be a bad move to lose that lifetime income just because I wanted to start building my house.  So I have to move the plan 5-6 months back.
I am back to actively funding my trading account.  Because my brother took interest in trading in the stock market, his enthusiasm geared me into studying and learning the market and not just putting my money hoping one day it will blossom, and sometimes forgetting about it.  He bought me books to guide me with understanding the market trends. He even gave me a planner related to investing.  That’s how crazy he is!

Joining the Rat Race
At the end of November, I got back to work and joined Sugar Regulatory Administration.  I wasn’t really planning to go back and work again since running a business could suffice our needs and a little of our wants.  But it was an opportunity not to miss.  I was not willing to give up the everyday holiday and me as my own boss but boredom is killing me…. There are times when I would only sit in front of the TV watching TV series after another.  Or just lie in bed all afternoon.  So I decided to give up the boredom, join a government agency where we are paid without the stress. 
At the office, I still get to do what I used to do at home sans the TV.  I even go to the office gym when clients are gone in the afternoon.  I could trade as we are freely connected in the internet.  The only thing I avoid in the office is the social media sites as I would be reduced to the government employee I often generalized in my mind whenever I do transactions in the government where I could see employees doing Facebook.

On Family
Mom finally retired at age 60.  She has been planning to quit work and focus on the business.  For a numerous time, she has urge me to make her a resignation letter only to be kept at her drawer because she doesn’t have the guts to render it.  But this year, they were offered an Early Retirement Incentive Program which she gladly availed.
Now she has lots of time for her business, for her farm and for her grandchild.
 -o0o-
So that sums up our 2016.  Not as adventure-seeking as my past years. But I guess that came with settling down and looking forward to the future.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Brazos the Mercedes

After a long hiatus of my oven (and mixer) due to laziness, I have decided to do some chaos in kitchen.  We have been craving for brazos de Mercedez and even bought a commercial one from Red Ribbon.  So I decided to make one suiting my taste.  I would like to share with you the recipe I used for my Brazos de Mercedez.  Enjoy everyone.

Ingredients:

For the meringue:
8 egg whites
1 cup refined sugar
1 tsp Cream of Tartar (CoT)
1 tsp vanilla

For the yema filling:
8 egg yolks
1 can condensed milk (330ml)
1 can water (330 ml)
1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

To make the meringue:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In a clean and dry bowl, whip in high speed the egg whites.
3. Gradually add refined sugar while mixing.  Continue mixing until soft peaks.
4. Add in Cream of Tartar following the vanilla.
5. In a cookie sheet, line a baking sheet and grease the surface.
6. Place the meringue on the cookie sheet and spread evenly with a spatula.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or when the top begins to brown.
8.  While waiting to cook, start with the yema filling.

To make the yema filling:
1. Combine ingredients.
2. Cook over a double boiler until thick.

To assemble:
1.  Remove meringue from the oven and cool.
2.  Dust confectioners sugar and place wax paper on top.
3.  Place a new and clean baking tray of similar size on top and flip the meringue.
4.  Remove the old wax paper.
5.  Put filling and roll slowly to avoid breakage of meringue.



2017 Philippine Holidays

As I have previously posted, I have joined the rat race.  And with that, I now don't have the luxury of going on vacation ANYTIME.  I have to reconsider taking vacations on declared holidays to minimize using my leaves.



Recently, President Rodrigo Duterte has declared the regular holidays, special non-working holidays as well as special holidays for scools in 2017 through Proclamation No. 50.  He declared the following dates as holidays:

Friday, December 9, 2016

Your taxes won't be wasted with me

I have recently joined the rat race and after almost 4 years (my last stint was with Coke ended in December 2012), it felt new all over again.  I am now with Sugar Regulatory Administration.  Four years ago, I returned home from Singapore because of a job opportunity from SRA.  I packed my bags, I attended the interview, ranked 2nd amongst the applicants and was ready for office (because  Rank 1 turned down the offer) only to be neglected on the side because my mom is still with the agency. Rank 3 was chosen.

So yeah, it took me 4 years to get this post.  I have focused on establishing businesses while waiting for openings. I never applied to a private company because as per my mother, working for the governent has less stress, less pressure, and better opportunities which is really true. I have been with Manila Water and Coke and I could see the big difference.

This venture is a mixture of excitement, pressure and whole lot of self reflection.  The new job is exciting because new things means new learning.  New environment means new culture and new people.

It  has been 14 days of work. I got the responsibilities my mother left when she retired last June. But because I am filling the big shoes of my mother, there is this certain pressure and responsibility to do better and to prove to everybody that I could do more.  My mother is a hardworking woman, her work ethics is simply outstanding.  I could never beat that but I only wish to be at par with her.

 I have done the 6-month backlog, learned other roles when my other officemate take their leaves. There are days when it seems there is chaos in the office especially when most of the clients clamor in the office at the of the week but there are days when you could just browse the internet away.

The workplace is great.  But the voice at the back of my head tells me that I should be in the middle of the ladder in my career right now.  But here I am starting in the beginning all over again.  While my contemporaries are already heading departments, here I am, a mere part of the workforce, following orders.  So I promised myself, to work hard and smart.   There will be opportunities waiting (a big portion of the employees are about to retire) and I make sure to grab each opportunity.
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