Saturday, January 29, 2011

In the face of Fear

I'm typing this almost 24 hours after my city, Zamboanga, was hit with waves of explosions and subsequent panic. I was on the bus off to duty and a few meters outside of the gate, when we felt the first explosion. I thought it was a tire and I even looked back. But a few seconds later all of us realized that what we had infront us, a block away, was a giant cloud of billowing black smoke. Then the chaos erupted - people running to and from the direction of the smoke, not a few minutes later ambulances and firetrucks arrived. We decided to walk back to school. No sooner did we get back that the we felt the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh explosion. My classmates who were in school that time told us they were worried sick because they couldn't reach us. Tears weren't an uncommon sight in the campus because it's been years since something like this ever happened near the school.

Here are my tweets from the start of the explosion to being on the road braving gruesome traffic for a few hours:

15:30: Was it a bomb?! Motherfucker! We were almst there!

15:40: We're literally in the middle of chaos with firetrucks and people running everywhere

15:40: Was it a hospital? Pls dont let it be ciudad

15:45: Minuter.minutes separated us from the blast

15:53 Ok so now they say it's a fireworks display gone wrong

16:06: Explosion number 2 and 3! What the hell?!

17:02: The calm is eerie..

18:01: Now i'm stuck in traffic.thank god for classmates who offer their rides.haha

18:03: And we just had to stop infront of tat's barbeque.the torture

18:07: The hunger is officially sinking in

Deep isn't it? haha. The updated news article goes like this:

An explosion that ripped through a warehouse of firecrackers and chemicals and triggered a fire in several buildings at the Canelar district of Zamboanga City Friday afternoon has been put out, a police official said.
Police Superintendent Jose Bayani Gucela, spokesman of Western Mindanao Police Office, said the three-hour fire was put out at 6:15 p.m., saying it is now "contained," there are no casualties, and authorities are conducting "clearing" operations.
Gucela, who is also the chief of the city’s bomb squad unit, said "We cannot determine yet what [started] the explosion of firecrackers but [according to] witnesses, there was some kind of blast ... inside the tightly closed warehouse."
Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said the explosion took place at the warehouse of Pacific Hardware on Nuñez Extension past 3 p.m.
Authorities learned that unsold firecrackers were stocked in the warehouse, which also contained paint and chemicals, he said.

So, yeah, it's too early to say it wasn't a bomb, but there's the emphasis on the damage the fireworks explosion did. I don't really care whether or not it was caused by a bomb - we could literally run a knife through the fear and panic and that was real. The terror was real and I really don't think that it's right to downplay anything because we weren't scared for nothing.

I hope I will never ever see something like this ever again. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Sunday Ribs

I practically have a day more to devote to cooking like there's no tomorrow. Tomorrow's another absolutely riveting day in school, filled with learning and friendship, cupcakes, unicorns and rainbows. Screw that.

I made hot chocolate today! My grandma apparently liked what I did a few days ago (which is weird), so she asked me to make it again. I did a little tweak here and there and finally came up with a mix that I actually like: 200 grams dark chocolate, 2 cups low fat milk - mix together and bring to a boil and that's practically it.

Anyway, aside from that I thought of making another Sunday dish that I've been waiting to make for a while now.It's called "Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs with Beer Barbecue Sauce". Try saying that ten times. I got it from It's actually the official website of a monthly magazine that's big here in the Philippines. Yeah I'm patronizing. But really, it's a damn good unpretentious magazine.

The instructions seemed fairly easy enough. And really, the long part is just boiling/pressure cooking the meat. The rest can be done in a jiffy.

Yeah you read it right: the secret to tender baby back ribs is obviously to pressure cook it. Well, if I'd use our defective pressure cooker I would risk blowing up our kitchen, so I boiled the meat over high heat for about an hour and a half instead. Pork softens faster than beef so it wasn't a problem.



That's basically the long part. Making the sauce is easy, and the recipe had me at beer, so there. Since a can of beer is more than enough for 1 cup, it's up to you to imagine what I did with the rest. I had a good time stirring the sauce that's for sure.


Roasting was the meat was easy enough. I didn't have any cataclysmic fail that's for sure...It took me around 20 minutes tops to do the preliminary roast and the basting then roasting it again.


So, the verdict? It was pretty amazing!!! The meat was soft and juicy. The taste wasn't compromised just because I didn't use a pressure cooker. It didn't really fall off the bone but a mouthful of the tender meat would make that forgivable. The sauce was spicy but the taste really complemented the roast. It was, pretty much one of the tastiest barbeque sauces I've had. BUT, it was spicy...spicy enough to distract you a little from the whole meal, but like I said, things were forgivable. I'd recommend adding only half the amount of the hot sauce next time. But overall, my Sunday meal was pretty kick-ass!


Fall-off-the-Bone Baby Back Ribs with Beer Barbecue Sauce


1 kilo baby back ribs
6 cups pork stock (6 cups water and 1 pork bouillon cube)
1 medium onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed

For the Beer Barbecue Sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup beer
1/3 cup tomato ketchup
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chili sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
ground black pepper  to taste

Part 1: Prep Time 4 minutes  Cooking Time 30 to 45 minutes

Cut ribs into sections of 5 to 6 ribs each to fit in a pressure cooker. Place ribs in the pressure cooker together with the pork stock, onion, carrot, and garlic. Pressure-cook for 30 to 45 minutes until ribs are tender.

2  Let cool and keep in the refrigerator.

Part 2: Prep Time 4 minutes  Cooking Time 30 minutes

1  Make the barbecue sauce: Heat oil in a small saucepan and sauté onions until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

2  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Let sauce cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until thick.

3  Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat oven to 350ºF. Grill or roast the ribs for 10 minutes. Baste with barbecue sauce and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with remaining barbecue sauce and desired salad on the side.

Tendering tip  To ensure tender ribs, remember to remove the thin sheet of membrane on the back of the ribs. Slide a sharp knife under the membrane to loosen it then gently pull it off.


Yeah, since the sauce had beer in it, I might as well serve and style it in a shot glass. Kudos to my mom's plate and mini forks on display. They're great as props. Just don't tell her I used them.

Friday, January 21, 2011

hot chocolate (how to manage a kitchen FAIL)

It's a pretty warm afternoon in the third world and here I am writing about how I made hot chocolate. I know what you must be thinking - hot chocolate in the hot Zamboanga afternoon? What the &@^$?!

But I say it makes perfect sense since my family, after their siestas, do make hot coffee and drink it with pan de sal, so...screw you! I kid. So, I had some left over dark chocolate from the time I made chocolate pudding. I thought this was the perfect time to make something fast and simple since midterms are over and I've been itching to cook something for a while now.

It's fairly simple to make since it's a one pot wonder. And I got to use the little weighing scale that I bought.


By fairly simple I meant that all I did was open a can and a half of evaporated milk, chopped the chocolate into tiny pieces and combined the two together in pot over low heat.




And just when everything was going fine...I think I did the unthinkable.

But at that time I thought it was ok. But tasting it was the difficult part. I.....I can't even bring myself to admit it........I.....added lemon extract.

*cue end of the world music*

When I tasted the chocolate, I thought it tasted ok, but I just couldn't get over the subtle aftertaste of the lemon. It left a slightly sharp cloying feeling in my mouth that just took away the dark chocolate's thunder.

But it wasn't a total fail since I realized that I could actually cover it up. Yeah, I'm good at making excuses (in our colloquial: "bula"). Citrus and chocolate isn't really a new flavor. In fact, there's a term for chocolate that's been infused with orange flavor and it's on the tip of my tongue right now but it's frustrating that nothing registers! It's a total bitch when that happens. But really, I've tasted a chocolate bar flavored with orange and though it's not really my favorite flavor, at least it exists and it's not totally bizarre. So yeah, I'd like to pass off my hot chocolate as that.  See? Not a total fail.


Hot chocolate
serves 4 - 6

1 can and a half OR 1 3/4 cup evaporated milk (I didn't have fresh milk on hand that time)
200 grams dark chocolate, chopped.
a pinch on nutmeg
2 teaspoons granulated sugar 
optional: 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

1. In a small pot, heat the milk over low heat and stir it until it simmers.
2. Add the chopped dark chocolate and continue stirring it until the chocolate and milk have incorporated well, around 5 minutes.
3. Add the nutmeg and sugar and stir it for another minute.
4. Add the lemon extract or totally refrain (with a passion) from doing so - it's your call.
5. Pour into mugs and serve while hot.

The little guy used as a prop is my nephew. Ain't he cute all blurred like that? haha. If ever you know the name/term used to identify "chocolate with a hint of citrus flavor", leave a comment and you win a prize!!!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Craving for Buffalo Chicken

Buffalo chicken 
Why am I craving for buffalo chicken right now? This isn't right. I'm supposed to be studying and yet here I am thinking about dipping the crispy spicy-sour skin in some equally tangy cheese sauce. The first time I tasted "real" buffalo wings was when I visited my friend Camille in Manila and we ate at Yellow Cab. They were so great I completely threw the "all the artificial genetic enhancers go to the wings so it's bad for you" crap down the balcony, since we ate at the second floor (the view of Eastwood was great).

What I have above is kind of a crappy knock-off courtesy of Greenwich. They're called "Buffalo Wing-man" - which is a pretty cute title. They don't taste as spicy as I wanted it to be and for four pieces, you have to pay 100+ pesos, which by my standards, is hefty.

I'll look for a good recipe for buffalo chicken and I'll move mountains just so I can cook after my midterms are over! But for know, I need to read on the separation of the Church and State, which is totally in my top ten of "The most interesting topics I need to read before I die" list.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I've had this blog for five years now and I just realized that I never had a "proper" birthday party for my blog.

Call me a loser for forgetting almost all the time....and call me an even bigger loser for even considering the idea! But what the hell, I'm doing something on January 31st, when my blog will officially hit the half a decade milestone! And that sounds way cooler than saying "5 years".

For now, here's another milestone that I'd like to believe, is worth being happy about. AGAIN!

Despite failing to impress for the past two years, maybe, just maybe, season 10 will be Idol's saving grace.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Molten Chocolate Pudding

My friend Jam was biding her time at the school clinic (where I was on duty) before she'll go back to the Coca - Cola plant, where she's been assigned to. While waiting for the clock to strike 3, she showed me some recipes given to her by her friend from Hong Kong. She swears by this recipe for Rich Molten Hot Chocolate Pudding, that I just wanted to try it for myself. It looked easy enough, and since after nineteen years we finally have an electric oven, I decided to give it a go.


I doubled the recipe since I don't think 4 pieces would make my family happy


At least FilTrend, a baking goods store, sold almost all the things I needed, INCLUDING a small weighing scale that's relatively cheap at 100 pesos.


AND made an improvised double boiler since ours was big and rusty. I eventually regretted that move soon after the chocolate melted - It took me 10 - 15 minutes just trying to separate the little pan from the big one.


I really didn't know how to properly "spoon" the mixture onto the muffin pan, so this was the result. I cleaned it before I popped it in the over though


And after a grueling 15 minutes....




The pudding/s turned out really really well!!! I gave myself a pat on the back for that one. I'm not really sure why they're called 'pudding' since it's basically a soft muffin with a melt-in-your-mouth center, but what the heck! They were delicious! The puddings were moist and buttery, and had the perfect texture. I'd really recommend staying within the 15 minute period of baking. Otherwise the center would set a little bit more than what you'd like it to be and you wouldn't have the gooey awesomeness I just had.


Molten Hot Chocolate Pudding (serves 4)

150 g dark chocolate
100 g unsalted butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons flour
thick cream to serve

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).
1. Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan or double boiler over low heat.
2. Stir it regularly until the chocolate has melted and the consistency is smooth
3. Place the egg yolks, eggs, and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed
4. Gently fold in the flour and chocolate mixture until well incorporated
5. Spoon into 4 lightly greased oven dishes such as ramekins or you can use a muffin pan (if you're using non-stick ware, skip this part)
6. Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes or until puddings have puffed
7. Top with whipped cream. Serve warm

And by the way, let this be the day I discover blogspot's ability to block quote.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Almost There


We're almost there! I can feel it in my bones!

It's kind of appropriate to add something from Paulo Coelho, simply to drive the idea across even more:

Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back.
Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need.
This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.

Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life.

Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust.

Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New Direction

So it's 2011.

Wow, it's been a year since this, this and um....let's not forget that.

I could just reek positivity and happy happy joy joy thoughts, like I did last year, but I know it takes more than that to make the universe work for you

So it's one thing to just reek optimism, and another to actually grasp it, hold it tightly in your hand and never let it go. In more ways than one, optimism is fleeting. Blame it on the universe, for bombarding you with jadedness. Yes, the universe is a bitch.

I believe optimism is tangible. It's something that should be felt with your hands and well as your heart.

A list or resolution is tangible, but If you're like me, it usually dies by the end of the month. Change doesn't work that way. Change involves optimism and its close cousin, courage. You can't change the way you are if you don't see a light at the end of your tunnel. Likewise, you can't change yourself if you're afraid of the commitment that comes with change.

Optimism and courage come from your heart. And just what's in your heart? A favorite line that I never forget goes something like: "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also".

What's my treasure? It's something that I'm most thankful for. It's not a list that is never finished. It's not a mantra written on permanent ink.

It's this.


And from them - from optimism and courage...balance will come. Universe, bring it on! Cheers to 2011!!!