Saturday, July 28, 2012

So far.....

Blogging here at our hotel in New Delhi India. Just finished dinner via room service, chicken biryani (way too spicy) and some vegetables. Also watching Olympics - weight lifting for women.  Tomorrow night we'd be flying to Bangladesh to visit my in-laws. 

Here's what happened so far:
  •  The flight here took 20 hours, uneventful and was a bit rough towards the end.  Watched Hunger Games on the plane.  
  • Arrived in New Delhi midnight and was happy to find a rep from the travel agency meeting us and taking us to our hotel.  
  • Our tour of New Delhi turned out to be more of a drive by tour.  It was too hot and humid, brutal.  So we decided to not go down and explore the sights, just sit in the airconditioned car and let the guide tell us what we were seeing.  We went down 2x but that was all we could muster.  Apparently, Delhi was having a drought year.
  • The Agra part of our tour was incredible.  I love everything we saw in Agra.  The food there was fabulous too.  Even the hotel.  I'll blog about all of this when I get back.
  • Jaipur is fabulous too.  Way exceeded my expectations.  Too hot here too.  The food is excellent and the hotel just great. 
  • Will see one more stop here in Delhi before we depart for Dhaka tomorrow.
  • In the meantime, I'm PMSing so I better end here :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Updates

What busy week this has been so far. One more day and it's weekend and for me it's the beginning of a month-long vacation. I know, I cannot remember taking a whole month's time for vacation before. I think 3 weeks is the longest time I've taken for vacation - once when we went to Bangladesh for MIL's funeral with side trip to Singapore and another time when we went to Barcelona and to Mediterranean cruise. This is going to be the longest vacation time I will be taking.

In preparation for this vacation, we had to take some malaria pills and typhoid shots. Fun, right? But these things are necessary. I've also got pills for diarrhea, sinus, cold, cough, etc. You name it I have it. It just makes sense to be prepared for things to come. You don't know.

I've always been "tough" when it comes to travelling. I've never had diarrhea or stomach trouble and I don't intend to start now.

Surely I'm starting to get excited. We'll be flying out of SFO in 3 days' time and I haven't pack one bit. Work sched is super busy that I feel tuckered out by the time I get home.

Tonight, I'd be tackling down the vacuuming. I want to clean the house before I leave. I'm sure it's going to be dirty again soon, but at least I've done a bit of tidying up.

I'm not taking many clothes, as they don't wear Western clothing in Bangladesh. I'd probably shop there and/or get something tailored for me.

Likewise, I'm excited to see the family and friends again. I've met them once, 4 years ago, when I first came to visit. I'm sure they are excited to see us again.

It feels weird travelling in summertime. We've never done it before. I'm also apprehensive that the monsoon season in both India and Bangladesh would put a little crimp on the vacation as a whole. But I'll try to enjoy the rain and everything that goes with this vacation.

We'll first go to India and have a little tour. 7 days of guided tour, sounds good right? I'm afraid I'd be missing some meat in my meals, since both countries are vegetarian heavy in their diets. Well, veggies are good to one's health anyway.

While my other blogs are taking a little hiatus because of my vacation, this one I intend to post whenever I can. I hope I can find more time to blog while away so I can share with you what I've been seeing and experiencing during this vacation.

Lately, I've seen some wonderful movies via Netflix, the last one was Ides of March.

So many things to do still.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fundraiser Photos

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Event poster

tickets
Tickets

chocolate
Waiting

june 30 2012
Underway

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Silent Auction

PVHS Conservatory of Arts
Local high schools art/music program is beneficiary.

And some of the chocolate offerings:

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2012_06_30 chox extra 025

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First prize winner

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My personal favorite

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2012_06_30 chox extra 006

You already know what I entered in this fundraiser.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Tale of Two Truffles

I've planned on drafting a post about the "winning" recipe from my church's fundraiser. However, with work and preparation for the coming trip - only 10 days to go - free time was difficult to come by. So I was happy that Princessa Musang also asked about them.

No big deal about these recipes. I entered two types of chocolate truffles at the fundraiser on its second year. One was crème de menthe cookie truffle, the recipe of which came from a blog that I follow. The other was from Nestle, almond truffle, who can go wrong with Nestle, right?

As I said before no big deal. But this is me. I don't cook. I don't bake. The kitchen and I are practically strangers. My mother told my husband right after we got married, "My daughter doesn't know where the kitchen is." Thankfully, my husband loves to cook and turn to cooking for relaxation and meditation. God knows what we need and supplies it/he, before we even know it for ourselves.

And so when a group of strangers, people who buy tickets to pig out on chocolates vote my creation as one of the best 4 out of the many chocolate offerings in a fundraiser billed as CHOCOLATE EXTRAVAGANZA, that is a big deal.

This "win" comes at the heels of very little preparation. The crème de menthe truffle didn't need any test run before the affair. I've made it before. In fact I gave it away as Christmas gifts to family. They seem to like it. Who doesn't like chocolates anyway.

The almond truffle however is a new find. I was cleaning out the boxes in the garage one day when I found these postcard recipes in one of my boxes labeled "personal items". It's perplexing how they got there. The box contained old resumes, certificates from classes I've attended, some antiquated job hunt paraphernalias and a handful of Nestle recipes. Can you believe that? I didn't even cook in those days, during my single lady days.

It must have been foresight on my part that made me tack these recipes on the side of refrigerator. They stood there for a few months before the planning of the event. When the church was soliciting people/members for chocolate offerings, I gladly signed me up for the crème de menthe truffle. Out of nowhere and without forethought, I found myself putting down almond truffle as well.

Now my work is cut out for me. I knew this was my project and whatever role my husband would play in these truffles would be as supporting parts. He would not be the main baker/cook or whatchamacallit.

Despite the tight schedule - was at the same time busy with physical preparations for the event + working full-time - I managed to test run the recipe. I followed the recipe to a T, without the mister's help. It turned out well.

Now listen to this, on the truffles that we offered at the fundraiser, we didn't follow the recipe to a T. We substituted half of the milk required with half and half, we thought it would make it more rich and dense (almond truffle). We also added a little bit of butter for that shiny texture (crème de menthe). In addition, we jazzed it up with a little cognac, which was what was available in the house that day (creme de menthe). I brought some left-overs to my co-workers the next day and one lady called me up - we work in 2 different buildings - and says she's all boozed up and happy because she tasted cognac. I was surprised she even tasted it, I couldn't. In fact no body mentioned they tasted the booze. Almond truffle also had some cayenne pepper that wasn't in the original recipe.

Here are the recipes:

CREME DE MENTHE TRUFFLE

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Ingredients:
15 Oreo cookies
2-3 oz softened cream cheese
1 pkg Andes mint candies (unwrapped about 28 total)
1/4 cup white or semi sweet chocolate chips (I skipped this ingredient.)

Put cookies in food processor and pulse till you get very fine crumbs. Add creme cheese and process till dough forms. Using a small cookie scoop, form into small balls. Place on a pan lined with parchment paper.

Microwave the Andes candies, stirring every 15-30 seconds until melted. Cool slightly. Dip truffles in chocolate; place onto pan. Let stand 5 minutes or until the chocolate is set.

Microwave chocolate chips on HIGH 30-60 seconds until melted. Drizzle chocolate over truffles. Let stand 10 minutes or until chocolate is set. Store truffles in an airtight container in the fridge.

This made 24 truffles, depends on the size of the truffles you make.

....Please note the last ingredient we skipped because we thought there was enough chocolate presence without drizzling more chocolate.

ALMOND TRUFFLE

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup Nestle Toll House Milk Chocolate Morsels
1/2 to 1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped almonds, toasted.

Combine evaporated milk and sugar in small heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in morsels. Stir vigorously until mixture is smooth. Stir in almond extract. Refrigerate for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Shape into 1 inch balls. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

....Please see the tweaking we made on this recipe above. Likewise, I did not toast the almonds and I did not use milk chocolate morsels (chips), we used semi-sweet chips.

Enjoy!!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I Do

047

Let's talk weddings. Why? Because I was just reading some blogs dedicated to weddings. Their weddings. The authors of these blogs documented/are documenting their road to the altar and are spilling out to all who care to read their experiences along the way.

While reading these blogs, some are compelling reads because they are well written, I got scared. Yes scared. I cannot handle all the stress related to preparing for a wedding, let alone for one with 150 guests. Could you imagine me running scared at this possibility?

For one to embark on such an overwhelming task, one must be passionate about it. I may not be current, but I know what a big business weddings are these days. And what a huge dent it is to the budget.

I was reading one blog where the budget for the wedding for 150 was around 300,000 pesos (roughly 7,000 US), which is a lot of money. But I'm guessing that the amount is probably the neighborhood with which weddings go around these days, eh?

Call me tightwad but that amount of money is a lot for me. But that is me.
What I gather from these blogs is that they are all having a lot of fun in preparing for the wedding. The many food tastings they have to go to, visiting different churches, calling in on designers, and so many many more things to take care of. And none of them seem to have a wedding planner.

If I was to get married in a church wedding, I'd probably opt for a wedding planner. Otherwise, I'd be a bridezilla. Too many little things. I sure hope that each one of them plans for the possibility of something going awry because as we know sometimes, nothing goes on as planned.
I'll keep on reading their blogs and see what I can learn. So far I learn how to take prenup photos. Or how to compose one.

I'm happily married and I didn't marry in church. I'm one of 5 siblings, only one of us had a church wedding. That one is divorced now. The four of us who didn't have a church wedding are all still married. One doesn't cause the other, I'm just saying as an observant.

I remember when it was my wedding. It was sorta forced. Er, rushed. I got engaged New Year's Eve. One year later, nothing in regards to wedding was being talked about. Until my then fiance asked when's the wedding sweetie. It was then that I realized, it was my responsibility to arrange for the wedding. He'll just show up. It was the time of my most chaotic professional life. I wasn't seeing any break for the entire year, because we were upgrading our software and I was in the middle of the upgrade. I had to learn all the new stuff so that when the system is in place, I'd be the go-to person for any troubleshooting. So you see there seems to be no break for me that year. How can I even pencil in a wedding?

As a matter of fact, the early months of 2007 were too hectic that I was logging in crazy number of work hours. I had to attend to classes for new software, then after 8 hours of that, had to go back to my desk and try to do as much as I can for the next day. I was even working on Saturdays. It was the most inopportune time for a wedding.

But as the saying goes in the vernacular, "Pag ukol, bubukol." And so it was. Thankfully, we both weren't into the church wedding. We are both laidback and no frills.

I made arrangements to exchange I Dos in a civil ceremony at the county's seat in nearby Martinez. There were many of us that day, but we went couple by couple and was wed by a woman. My mother and my 2nd brother were there as witnesses.

After the wedding, my brother took us to Sala Thai, a little hole in the wall Thai fusion restaurant not too far from where we live. I cannot remember what I ate, it was after all around 2 pm. I do remember my mother only ordering the sweet rice with mango, which is a dessert. My mother's penchant for kakainin prevailed.

By 6 pm, my mother and the two of us met another couple, which we call my husband's Vietnamese parents. We took them to Applebee's for some eats.
Two days later we were boarding a plane bound for Vancouver, where we will catch our cruise ship for Alaska.

Looking back, I do not regret the fact that I chose not to have a wedding. Nevertheless, I enjoy seeing other people's church wedding photos and smiling at how magical they tell the story behind those wedding photos.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Here are some bullets for you

It's bullet time!

  • Anderson Cooper announced he is gay.  I already thought he was gay a long time ago. 
  • Now, when will Piolo Pascual announce he is gay?  Is he?  Hope not.
  • I need another classic chick flick.  Is there anything in the horizon?
  • People are talking about 50 shades of gray.  I have no clue.  Obviously, I'm not a reader no more.
  • In the feral community that visits my backyard regularly, there are 3 new babies.  They are so cute.
  • I am in no mood to watch any fireworks display for tomorrow's Fourth of July.  Hope no one holds that against me.
  • Neither am I in the mood for a cookout.  I'm all barbecued out in my opinion.  Again, don't hold this against me as anti 4th.
  • I want to sit in front of the tv and watch Harry Potter movie marathon.  Unproductive I know.
  • When is the next Twilight movie coming? 
  • I need a massage.
  • I want a mango margarita from Chevy's.
  • As a result of being chosen one of Taster's Choice winners at the recently concluded fundraiser, Chocolate Extravaganza, I won a $15 gift certificate to Abby's Grill - a Filipino restaurant in the heart of downtown Pinole.  When I went to the website today to check out the menu, an announcement that said they will be closed until further notice stared at me in the face.  Holy cow!  Now I can't get my tapsilog.  Just my luck!
  • I wanna go to my first yoga class this weekend.
  • Sad to hear about Dolphy's health. 
  • Last but not the least, I am craving for a hearty spaghetti and meatballs.