Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dream Come True

Happy Saturday everyone! Why so happy? It's because I got my first blog article in Crochet Spot! Crochet Spot is a site that talks about how to crochet and where you can find simply "funtastic" crochet patterns to work with. Founded by Rachel Choi, the goal of Crochet Spot is to provide easy to follow tutorials and crochet patterns.

Now, you may click on this link to read an article I submitted as guest writer at Crochet Spot. The post is entitled, "From Umbrellas to Rainbows".

Featured at CrochetSpot.com

See you again soon! :)
 

"Yet after brick and steel and stone are gone,

and flesh and blood are dust, the dream lives on."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Marly, Betty and Me: Confessions in the Oven Chamber

     Sorry, this is not about the world's worst dog in the movie, "Marley and Me" which stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston with their family dog. Take note, it's Marly, a former nursing colleague who used to work in the same cardiac center where I work for 28 years now. Actually, I call her Ma'am Marly because she used to be a Nurse Supervisor and some (just don't know exactly how many) years  my senior, but I decided to drop the "Ma'am" in this post. Marly now works and lives with her family in California, USA. She left the Philippines about 25 years ago. Marly and I just got ourselves reconnected a few months ago through a social network and since then, we have discovered that we share something in common---our love for crochet. But no, I will not talk about crochet. I mean, not for now (though I really plan to post something about her crochet works another time).

     So, if not crochet, what's it gonna be? Well, it's about the banana bread Marly baked for her family, photos of which she posted on her wall and shared with me several weeks ago. Hmmm... I like them fresh from her oven. The color and luster are so inviting! Look at these… I could only imagine how her kitchen smelled when she took these pictures!


   See...mouthwatering, aren't they?




      So, without any hesitation,  I asked Marly for the recipe which she readily and gladly shared with me.Here it is.
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Marly's banana bread recipe:
1/2c oil
1 1/3c sugar
1 1/2c flour
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3c buttermilk
3-4 very ripe bananas
1c walnut chopped
1/2c raisins

Cream oil and sugar, add eggs and salt and mix.
Add flour and baking soda combined with buttermilk alternately.
Add bananas.
Fold in nuts and raisins.
Grease regular loaf pans; pour in mixture.
Bake approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.
When bread leaves sides of pan and toothpick comes out clean, bread is done.
The recipe can be doubled. Makes 2 loaves.
Sour cream maybe substituted for the buttermilk.
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      I hardly had any sleep in excitement to try the recipe myself. It was my first time to bake banana bread without the usual Banana Cake Premix which I couldn't  find anymore in the nearby grocery store. I made some modifications in Marly's recipe though. First, I substituted buttermilk with fresh milk-vinegar concoction. Second, I used prunes instead of raisins. And third, sad to admit, I forgot to add nuts. :(

     Here, take a look at my finished product. I hate to confess, I was disappointed it didn't look exactly like any of Marly's baked goodies (that's the name of her album). It's because I used brown instead of white sugar as I had none left at that time. Anyway I thought brown sugar would be more healthy.  I was able to make three loaves.

 
     Oh, please, don't be deceived by its color because I tell you, it really tasted good! My husband liked it, too! And I didn't doubt him when he said so! My own taste buds couldn't deceive me. I told Marly I just kept myself from eating most of it. 

 
     I was so inspired by the taste of Marly's banana bread that I planned to give it another try (as they, and Marly did say, "practice makes perfect"), but this time, using Betty Crocker's banana bread recipe. 


Look at the result! Betty Crocker's banana bread side-by-side with mine.

   
     Hmmm… if only not for the uneven top layer giving it a rough finish... okay, I'm sorry, I didn't spread the batter evenly into the loaf pan, resulting in a bumpy appearance, a rugged terrain? Ouch! (Ssshhhh… it seems nobody noticed when I shared a whole loaf with my colleagues during a meeting.) That could have been due to any of these:
      Miscalculation in measurement. Too much baking soda or baking powder - maybe. Not enough liquid - could be. Not beating the butter and sugar together long enough - another possibility.  Or the oven temperature was too low.1
     Well, I have a strong hunch that it was not because of low temperature. On the contrary, I believe it's the opposite.  If the cake is dry, it could be possibly due to: too much flour or leavening (baking soda/baking powder), not using enough shortening or sugar, or the cake was over-baked (the oven temperature was too high and/or the baking time was too long).2

 That's it! The baking time was most likely the culprit. That's another confession I have to make... I forgot to remove the loaf pans from the oven right away...multitasking, tsk, tsk. The cooked bread absorbed the excess heat eating up the moisture all the while the loaf pans stayed in the oven and must have reduced the softness and luster. 

Flop! Goes my adrenaline as it came crashing down. The excitement has fallen to ground zero, but it has given me another reason to take on another challenge. Well, I believe that's one good thing in life. There's just so much room for improvement to master the craft. As a matter of fact, as I write this, my hands are again aching to give it one, two, and many more tries? Of course, I would certainly post my next banana bread experiment. And whichever recipe I use, it's meant to smell and spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S! Meanwhile, bon appetit!
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Linking to:
Fluster Buster

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Does it really run in the blood?


      Hi there! After posting about cooking and gardening as my introductory posts for the past weeks, this time, I'm sharing about another love of my life...crochet.
      Twenty-one years of being a wife and mother not only made me close to cooking but also brought me back to crocheting, a hobby I had in my teens. I taught my two daughters how to crochet when they were in grade school but only the younger one prospered in the craft. Well, today, I can say that she has grown so much in terms of speed and tension and I admire her work. 
        So here, let me show you some of her own creations. 


Saturday, November 12, 2011

The birth of a hobby

     Hello, it's been a week since I created this site. Last week, I posted about cooking. This time, I'd like to talk about how I became interested with plants.

      When I was a child, my mother used to grow a lot of crotons and flowering plants around our house while my father and grandmother had their own vegetable gardens. I used to water the plants from our deep well but I never really learned to keep my own plants until eight years ago when I had to take my parents from my hometown to live with my family in the city. Unlike Noah who brought along male and female animals into the ark, I had to pack some cuttings and seedlings which we carried with us, with the thought that bringing along her plants would not make it very difficult for my 79 year-old mother to adjust to city life.   The fondness to gardening came as a surprise only when I discovered that, like her, all the cuttings and seedlings I planted would grow easily without any hassle.  And that's how gardening came about as a hobby… my hobby. 

      I did some research on crotons and learned that what we had are called Codiaeum Variegatum Pictum (Croton Petra or "Autumn Plant"), the most popular croton variety among indoor and outdoor ornamental plants. They are evergreen shrubs that can grow up to 10 -12 feet tall.
Codiaeum variegatum pictum petra croton (Source: Google)
      Take note of the rainbow-colored leaves. They all look very nice together. I grew up with these plants around our house in my hometown.
     I wish I could share about the plants I have in my coming posts.
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Linking to:
Fluster Buster

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Of grills and thrills...

Cooking reflects our relationship with God. The more you immerse yourself into it, the more you learn and discover exciting new ways of perfecting the craft. The better the outcome, the more you desire to share it with loved ones and friends.

That's how it is with God... the more you spend time with Him, the more you get to know Him, His nature, and you discover His will in your life. The closer you become and the more truth you learn about Him, the more you desire to share with others.

 Have a great day!!!

Once upon a blog spot

How this blog spot came about---

My eldest daughter is a blogger. Once in a while I would take a peep at her blogs and I'm amazed at how she manages to talk---errr, write about the details of various products she would buy and use. By the way, she's a registered chemist who blogs about beauty, make-up, skin care, fashion and food, loves everything pink and girly, and claims she's the type who allegedly wants to shop a lot without spending a lot. To contact her, you may email her at codenameaya@gmail.com.

Now back to what I was saying, I get so amazed at how she would write about the nitty-gritty of what she likes or doesn't like in a particular product. The first time I read her blog, I said to myself, "She's got what I like---writing out herself into the open, into the world!"

I have a few confessions to make about this. First, I must admit I was a bit surprised at how greatly she has improved her writing skills compared to when she was in high school. Second, I also admit I like her style---very spontaneous? Third, I admit my love for writing gradually resurrected back. And so, I thought of how I would be able to create my own blog spot---one that would reflect the real me with all the things I like in life.

And so I asked my daughter to help me create this space in the Net. What is it going to be called? "Kusinadome,"  My Queendom in the Kitchen," "Crochet Garden," "Crochet and Cuisine in the Garden," "Jardinera, et al,"  "Ganchillo.com,"  "Escribo y ganchillo en la cusina" were titles that came to mind as I wanted one that would reflect my passion in cooking and crochet, my love for plants and writing. Why a tinge of Spanish? I thought having a Spanish title would create a traditional yet aristocratic impression and style.

Finally, I thought of "Garden Chef’s Needle and Pen" which I believe projects a perfect blend of my hobbies all in one spot. So here, I can write and share about my cooking experience, my crochet projects, gardening blues, lessons I've learned from day-to-day, including my own spiritual journey.