Still Alive and Eating, Thank You!

Yikes it’s been awhile! Here’s the thing (several actually): I have a project (good , right?) that ate up a lot of man hours (unproductive meetings when I could have laid it all out pronto), I have to sneak in a little baking for selling (by, ehem, friends’ kids’ demand) and my laptop/notebook crashed.  The system crashed, that is.  There was a series of brownouts before the elections (hmmm) and whenever the power cord of my notebook gets nudged, the laptop shuts down. There’s a frayed wire somewhere. 
Last year, the notebook battery died and a new one is hard to come by, because white is not a common battery color and I cringe at having to get a black one for my white and doodle~y  Lenovo S10-2 Pop Art . I was panicky it will never boot again.  
Thank IBM for one key recovery! Resurrection!
The downside is I lost all my files, Plants vs. Zombies (oh yeah I still play) and blogpost pictures.  
What I lost in pictures? A mall rat’s food diary that’s what ! I’ve been malling as you know, because it’s a short getaway and an exercise in one.  
I also scour the hardware stores for new stuff. Here’s a find at Ace Hardware.
Summer is practically over and I bought this huge floodwater sweep.  
It’s like the pushy end of a bulldozer fixed to a long pole, like a hockey stick but curved at the ends to keep the water “in” its sweep, not escape to the sides like the wake of a boat.  
The idea was to push the water out of the house (floor has to be level) when flooding has receded to bail out levels. I bought a giant windshield wiper thing on a pole (used by carwash people) before the Ondoy flood and it helped make clean up faster and easier. After Habagat, it needed retiring.  
The water sweep is our new ally against the battle of the tides! I’m not taking any chances this year.
I am gearing up for freaky weather and outcomes. The new oven will be stashed in my now packed bedroom! 
Rain boots and plastic shoes, anyone? Incidentally, jelly and Melissa shoes are big in this country (also expensive).
See that? That’s the tide coming in.  Every time there’s an advisory on thunderstorms or the prospect of a super moon , we quake in our boots a little. 
I do have some pictures to show.  I was too busy to bake a mother’s day cake so I bought one at Tous Les Jours at The Block at SM.  Too cute! 
Not as blatantly chocolate-y as I would like but mousse-like in creaminess and delicacy (also in taste).  The counter people were peppy and nice to me so I took pictures! 

I’ve been buying breads  and pastry at the Glorietta 5 store but only now bought cake.  It comes in a sturdy carton with a pop up handle (ribbons are nice but they slide off a cake box) and a plastic cake knife (candles too, if you say it is for a birthday). Nifty, ain’t it? 
I can`t ice cakes and decorate to full gloss and glam (like these) yet - tools needed! But I've taken a stab at cutesy (with my polar bear).  

Here’s a trick a pastry chef friend taught me: if you like to cut cleanly, particularly when the cake has a hard or solid chocolate/fondant cover, you heat a metal spatula or knife a bit, by holding it over a fire on the stove or swishing the knife in hot water.  If you opt for the hot water, you need to wipe the knife before cutting.  This way you don’t squish the cake flat or make the layer of filling and cake go their separate, shapeless ways.
Getting the cake on a Sunday is a little out of my way but it’s worth the trip if you meet up with a friend for Bibingkinitan and kapeng barako
They’re twenty-five peso mini cakes of the after-Simbang Gabi or  Christmas dawn mass treat cooked between coal fires  above and below, studded with red egg and fresh grated coconut, a pat of butter melting on the hot top the way your heart does just looking at it J
Steaming hot bibingka is key to creating the cozy in Christmas sweater weather.  It is our take on  continental winter cocoa, marshmallow roasts, eggnog and hot chestnuts (though some of us have made those our own too) .  Now it is an all time treat. Via Mare and Ferino’s make them all year round but these mall bibingka  (Bibingkinitan is a trade name, the suffix meaning tiny) is cheaper, satisfying fast food. They bake it in ovens, lest  the mall sprinklers go crazy, but there’s no denying the call of the burnt banana leaves (it was cooked in) and warm butter breaking through the airconditioned sameness.  
After Mother’s Day in May was my friend Merci’s dad’s birthday.  She’s in L.A. and her dad pretty much “adopted” me and another friend so we try to visit as much as we can.  Those were the only times I got to bake.  

I made him chocolate cake with caramel filling, cloaked the cake in mint laced chocolate ganache and topped with chunks of chocolate mint cookies and a polar bear.  I made up this story see, that climatechange and weird heat in unlikely places is making the ice floes break up, so this lone polar bear (lost an eye in the heat) got so far away from home and ended up on my cake.  You know, just something to amuse J. They loved it!
June was the town fiesta but  mom did most of the cooking. 

I was busy baking chocolate crinkles and seeing to people picking up their orders of banana walnut cakes (and complimentary chocolate chunk and Reese's Pieces candy studded cookies for my ever faithful clientele.  I prefer the peanut butter baking chips but couldn't find it in stores. I did bake chocolate cake with caramel sauce for us and didn't bother with the finish, leaving it oooey gooey! Like!
The only time I got to put my feet up was after the guests have gone, the goodies snapped up and the dishes cleared.  
I ate a very late lunch of grilled liempo (barbecue pork belly) out on the terrace, with one of my nephews and the two dogs sleeping fitfully around me.  The thing about June weather is there’s a nice window of blustery weather, all cool and breezy and lulling – the calm before the storm.
It felt more like a fiesta at the office (my project) when someone had a birthday and people brought potluck.   Here’s an interesting “suso” or snail dish. 
Not the garden snail variety (iikkks) but black shelled ones cooked in sautéed garlic, onions, ginger and chilies in coconut milk.  I didn’t try any but took everyone’s word it’s delicious.  There are lots of home cooks and party food sources in the city, anything from lechon baka (roasted calf) to puto, pancit bihon and spaghetti.  There was yema cake (custard cake) but it got eaten faster than I can say “cheese”! I managed to spirit away a whole bowl of brightly wrapped pastillas de leche to snap. 

Other days, mall food is it for me.  
I have new haunts in Makati: the new Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Glorietta (where Glorietta 1 used to be, the one that burned down); the Rachel Ashwell-ish chintz and quilt, pastels and  ruffled doll house charm  of Vanilla Cupcakes;  and the spare efficiency of Karada where I had my bones realigned and my body “balanced”.  

When I don’t have time to eat at leisure and a pasta and tomato, garlic bread sopping craving comes on, Sbarro’s baked zitti (with lots of hot sauce) and Greenwich ‘s lasagna is my fail safe meal.  If I have more time, I would go for Bigoli’s wagyu meatball and spaghetti.  

The meatball forces me to slow chew, savor the meaty taste more. I wonder if Bigoli was the old Fazoli’s I used to eat at with my friend Cha’s family. Same place at Eastwood anyway.  
Burgers won’t satisfy me now, because the rains make me crave for piping hot, filling food to ward off cold and thwart the blues brought on by miserable weather.
Unless it’s Sango Burger’s Master Cheese Burger and Kimpira Rice Burger! The only thing wrong with it is they don't grill the bun. The kimpira, with the crunchy savory and sweet kimpira strips(kinpira or burdock root, am not sure if Sango mispells intentionally as a trademark) and salty bacon is my favorite! And the rice bun come with is piping hot!
Here's a recipe for kinpira gobo. Simple enough except I don't know if we have burdock here. Kind of reminds me of fibrous malunggay fruit (moringa) in texture. I wonder if I can sub it for kinpira.
My next favorite is the Yakiniku Rice Burger, sweet and soy! 
Each time I visit I make sure to ask for an origami bird (crane, swans, and pre~historic looking beaky eagles) for luck! 
So there went most of May and June.  I expect to be busy with work (thankfully) and holding head above water (inevitably) the rest of the rainy season.   Oh well. 

P.s. That was Puck the boston on the ledge, looking worried about the tide haha. Ain:t he cute?


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