Monthly Archives: February 2014

the kinfolk table

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Operation Baklava

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“Baklava is not a first-time baker’s recipe.”

Uh-oh.  We’ve never even tried real baking before!  How in the world are we supposed to pull this off?

I read the rest of the article and check out several recipes.  It doesn’t seem like such an impossible task–if we manage to get our hands on some phyllo dough, that is.  Groceries here are hopelessly inadequate.

I try my luck online and find out from one of my mom’s former colleagues that it’s probably available at La Vetta, a restaurant/gourmet shop  in Cagayan de Oro.  Alright, I now know where to score phyllo dough.

Next problem: How do I teleport to Cagayan de Oro and back?

My phone rings.  It’s my friend, Bea.  She offers to buy some phyllo dough as well as some mixed nuts for me.  Huzzah!

A few hours later, Bea drops by our house and drops off the ingredients.  No turning back now.  Commence Operation Baklava!

I start chopping the nuts.  It takes me forever to finish so my husband takes over and he turns out to be a lean mean chopping machine.

With much trepidation and excitement, my mom and I assemble the baklava.  We then cut it into rectangles instead of diamonds.

baklava 1
Then it’s time for the trickiest part: baking the baklava in an oven where the markings on the knobs are no longer visible.  We don’t have a thermometer so we basically just wing it.  And as you can see, it’s a beautiful golden brown.

baklava 2
We then pour syrup on the baklava and just let it sit.  After three hours or so, it’s finally ready.

Mission accomplished!

Baklava
Ingredients:

  • 1 package phyllo dough
  • 1 pound chopped mixed nuts (pistachio, macadamia, hazelnut, almonds, cashew, and peanuts)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).  Grease a 9×13 baking pan.
  2. In a bowl, toss together cinnamon and nuts.
  3. Unroll phyllo dough and cut to fit the baking pan.  Cover the dough with a damp towel to keep it from drying out.
  4. Assemble the baklava by placing two sheets of phyllo at the bottom of the baking pan.  Brush each sheet with butter.
  5. Sprinkle the cinnamon-and-nut mixture until the phyllo is pretty much covered.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 twice (or until your ingredients run out).
  7. Before brushing the topmost layer of phyllo with butter, cut the baklava all the way through to the bottom of the dish.  Baklava is traditionally cut into diamonds but you may also cut it into rectangles or squares.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. While baklava is baking, combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  10. Stir in honey,  vanilla extract, and lemon zest.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove the baklava from the oven then pour syrup over it.
  12. Let the baklava sit for about three hours so it can absorb the syrup completely.
  13. Serve and enjoy!

clockworks

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Daily Prompt: We Got the Beat

Oh, goodie! A new prompt is up!

I excitedly open the post for details.

BAM!

The first sentence catches me off-guard and I find myself hurtling down a wormhole.  I land unceremoniously with a thud at the Clockworks.  I look around and spy a sinewy path ahead.

This can only lead to one place.

“Memory Marsh,” I groan.

It’s a path I most definitely don’t want to follow.

And so I turn back.

A little too late, it seems.

Specters of that time are once again on the loose.

——-
Three Words A Day Writing Challengedown, follow, loose

not-quite-grown-up

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Daily Prompt: Shake It Up

You’re 12 years old. It’s your birthday. Write for ten minutes on that memory. GO.

No more kiddie parties for me. No balloons. No birthday candles.

I’m twelve.  Just two months away from entering high school and only a year shy from being a teenager!

I call up my friends and we have pizza and pasta at the newest restaurant in town.  We all feel so grown-up browsing the menu and placing our orders.  We reminisce about our “childhood” (a.k.a. the years we spent in elementary school) and giggle over the silliest things.

I check my watch. It’s five o’clock. “Oops, it’s getting late. Time to go,” I say.

In my most grown-up voice, I call the waitress and ask for the bill.  I then reach for my wallet and pull out the crisp one thousand peso bill my parents handed me this morning.

half asleep in pajamas

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It was one of those lazy weekends.  I was still half asleep and in my pajamas when I walked into the dining room at around half past noon.  There was a green cardboard box sitting on the table.  I went to take a closer look and let out a squeal of glee.

Buko pie from Linamon, Lanao del Norte!

I excitedly opened the box and the delicious aroma of buttery pastry greeted me.  Alas, I couldn’t eat it just yet.  I had to wait until it was time for dessert. But man oh man was it worth the wait!  The crust was light and flaky.  The coconut used in the filling was real buko–what we would refer to as butong (young, tender coconut meat), not lubi (the tougher, more mature coconut meat used for coconut milk).  It definitely lived up to its tagline: tasty and creamy up to the last bite!

Will I be ordering this again anytime soon?  You betcha!

Linamon’s Best Buko Pie
Purok 2-B, Pines Village, Linamon, Lanao del Norte
Mobile Number: 09266099623
Telephone Number: 063-2270228

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hole in the wall

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Adrenaline junkie.  That is how my best friend describes himself.  If you check his Facebook timeline, you will see post upon post about his deep sea diving adventures.

I, on the other hand, am a self-confessed foodie.  If you check my Facebook timeline, you will see post upon post about my gastronomic adventures.

Trying out new dishes and discovering awesome restaurants give me the same sort of rush other people get from surfing the waves or conquering mountains.  For me, the only thing better than good food is good food that’s easy on the pocket.

So you can just imagine how excited I was when my husband discovered Aying’s Foodhaus, a hole-in-the-wall eatery on Raymond Jeffrey Road that sells super tasty yet affordable food.  My favorite so far is the adobong pusit (squid boiled in soy sauce and vinegar then sautéed in garlic and onions).  The squid they used was fresh and the dish was seasoned perfectly.

ImageAdobong Pusit (P25 per serving)

Another dish I loved was the grilled squid  (yes, I’m a big fan of seafood).  The squid used for this dish was the bigger kind (I wasn’t able to take a picture, sorry) but it was just as fresh as the smaller ones in the adobong pusit.  It was grilled just right so it was wonderfully tender.  But you know what’s the best part?  It only cost P50 a piece!

Who says good food has to cost you an arm and a leg?

Oops. I didn’t mean to go all Sweeney Todd on you. Sorry. 😀

diary of a cupcake fiend: the death by oreo and v for velvet episode

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I first heard of Choux Patisserie sometime last year when someone on my network of Facebook friends won a box of cupcakes.  The cupcakes looked so yummy and the names of the flavors were really clever so I became curious as to how good they actually were.  I never got around to placing an order though–up until a few days ago, that is, when I ordered a box of cupcakes for Valentines Day.

There was, however, a mix-up of sorts when I came to pick them up yesterday.  Anyway, long story short, I got my order this afternoon.ImageDeath by Oreo
I have very high expectations when it comes to desserts named Death by ______.  They have to be insanely good to merit the name, right?  Take Chocolat‘s Death by Tablea, for example.  Well, Choux’s Death by Oreo did not disappoint.  The cupcake was as moist and chocolatey as it should be.  The Oreo buttercream frosting was so delicious that it got the thumbs up from my husband who normally hates frosting with a vengeance.  That’s how amazing it was.

Verdict: 10 out of 10

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V for Velvet
The V for Velvet cupcake, on the other hand, was good but not great.  The cupcake was delicious but it wasn’t as deliriously yummy as I hoped.  It just wasn’t a Peewee Level cupcake.

The frosting tasted like buttercream with a hint of cream cheese.  I asked Nica, the owner/baker, about it and she said that it was cream cheese buttercream.  She also explained that she had used a different brand of cream cheese because the one she normally uses is not sold here and her supply had run out.

Well, I’m not really crazy about buttercream but this one was really good and my dad loved it.  I still would’ve preferred cream cheese frosting though.  I guess I’m a purist when it comes to red velvet.  It is, after all, my favorite cupcake flavor.

I do want to give V for Velvet another try so the verdict’s still out on this one.

__________
*A Peewee Level cupcake is a cupcake that’s so deliriously good, the first bite renders you speechless.  It is named after my cousin’s girlfriend, Peewee.

sugar and ice

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On my way home this afternoon, I dropped by Tedts’ Diner to get my parents some red velvet and coffee cupcakes.  As soon as I opened the door, I sensed a palpable excitement in the air.  Students who were still in their uniforms practically filled the entire store.  A bunch of high school girls were excitedly pointing at the cake display while a group of boys on one side were earnestly discussing which cupcake flavors they should get for their girlfriends and what they should write on the card.  “Ahhh, puppy love!” I almost said out loud.

tedtsPhoto by Tedts’ Diner

It’s only the thirteenth but the Valentines Day excitement is already sky high!  I can’t help but wonder how much crazier it’s going to be tomorrow.

I know I’ll be pretty amped up tomorrow too but for now, the focus of my excitement is the Sochi Winter Olympics.  The Philippines’ lone representative, Michael Christian Martinez, will be competing at 11pm tonight!  I have been looking forward to this all week long.  I even posted the schedule of the men’s figure skating events on  the door of the fridge and I will probably set the alarm on my phone just in case I fall asleep later.

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Photo by Grigory Dukor/Reuters

So anyway, I came across this poem by Guggenheim Fellowship-winning poet Kwame Dawes who has been “writing verses that capture the spirit of the day’s action.”  This poem was written a few days ago for Martinez and posted on The Wall Street Journal.

The Wounded Dancer
For skater Michael Christian Martinez of the Philippines

We skaters arrive wounded, limping, the aches—
beneath the skin you will see the terrible
brutality of what we must do to our bodies.

Ice, we know, is cold, a sharp pain of brittle
light—but ice is hard, it will not give,
it bites back, before melting sardonically.

I leap, torque and flow, my mind whispers,
flight is lifting the weight of the world,
And there are no white rose petals to land upon.

Here in these humid islands, the mall owner
is kind to build a rink, but he thinks the ice is smooth
as glass, slick, even.  He would not know

the bubbles and fissures of the uneasy ice,
the physics of crystals, and the way the ankles
twist and contort to hold a smooth line—

come closer, turn off the muzak, listen
to the crunch and yelp of the ice breaking
away against the steel’s bite, and hear the pop

of my bones and the wheeze of all tendons
before the leap—hear the deep grunt
of anticipation as I lift, the body already

alert to the blow of my landing—and only
for that small moment, of clothes flapping,
in the miracle of the second turn; only

then, when the dizzying of lights spinning,
colors hurled at me, in the second of lift
and the yank downwards, only then

can you call my body smiling—then comes
the brute ache, of landing, splintering ice,
ankle howling, such painful, painful beauty.

just in case

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It’s been eleven days. The board exam-induced panic should be over by now.

Except it isn’t.

Exam questions, the ones I was unsure of, haunt me.  They rise from the pages of the test questionnaire and inflate as they hover a couple of inches from the ground.  Then all of a sudden, they start chasing me.  These deranged balloon animal-like words just keep running after me, haranguing me for not having the answers.  And so I run, run as fast as I can until finally, I wake up.

But the waking world doesn’t exactly offer solace from these nightmares.  Everywhere I go, people tell me they expect me to ace the exam.  I don’t even know if I’m going to pass!  They probably mean well but to me, it is as if the balloon questions have somehow managed to escape their dream world and taken on human form.

And every time I encounter a name or conceptual term that reminds me of those frantic study sessions, I cringe–but at the same time, I hold onto it to make sure it doesn’t get swiped from my memory.

“Just in case,” I tell myself, “just in  case.”