Ikea revisited


(I'm loving the Iphone 4's camera; such vivid colors)

I can't remember when was the last time I've been to Ikea. I really missed the place. When my kids were much younger we would go there often to buy some klumpert, really needed kitchen utensils or to simply dine at their famous resto for their reasonably priced food.

Köttbular (Swedish meatballs) served with potatoes, gravy and lingonberry jam (a staple in Scandinavian cuisine) is a family favorite. I'd often cook this at home but have always forgotten were I saved the photos. Now though I don't  really need to cook this dish because Ikea has long ago added a food section where Swedish delicacy, recipes and heat-up meals are sold. They conveniently placed this section just after the packing station.



(Salmon on spinach tagliatelle with red pepper, very soft and yummy muffin and my empty glass)

A friend (Ate M) asked me and another friend (Ate Jo)  to accompany her to Ikea earlier. We went around 3 in the afternoon, all 3 without having eaten lunch. Ate M insisted on paying since she was the one who invited us. ;) She had the Köttbular while Ate Jo and I had  Salmon on spinach tagliatelle and sauce with red pepper. Whoever goes wrong with Salmon? It was perfectly cooked to flaking bits with the red pepper accentuating the tender flavors of both the fish and the sauce.




I also got  me a muffin which was very soft and tasty. It has chocolate oozing from the middle and icing with the right amount of sweetness. I filled my glass with lingonberry juice...perfect for my Ruby Tuesday entry! :) Drinks are refillable so I had cola light after finishing this one.


Ate Jo had a slice of Almondy Daim cake (top left), also a Swedish specialty and another family favorite which I forego today. I can anyway buy them from local grocery stores. Ate M had a lighter version with Golden buttercream (below left) instead of Daim chocolate glazed on top.



So do you think I bought a sofa or a clock or anything red you see in this photo? No...I got a set of cutting boards, in bue and red...potato peelers in blue, a red pillow case and tea candles which were all red too...they have the scent of red berries which I really like! ;) Will post that soon...Enjoy the week!

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Renovation and refurbishing

Nowadays, remodeling one's home could be better than buying a new one especially when budget is considered as well as the convenience of staying where you have lived for a long time. Transporting furnitures and stuff or buying new ones doesn't cost only much, its tiring too. Improving your home (remodeling) also increases the value of your home and it also gives you a feeling of security  when things are properly functioning.


This is what I thought when I was home 6 months ago. I have lived in my parents' new house for 10 years and I love how they had planned the whole place. Being old though and lacking space is a bother so I had talked to my brother about renovating it and buying new furnitures. I anyway love playing interior designer using those free online floor planner.


Choosing to remodel one's home means trusting someone how you want it done, rather than doing the thinking yourself or having your finger hammered, leave it to the pros. To remodel, normally connotes making your home look better but there are companies that offer a variety of services including repairs; of floor and wall cracks which is usually brought about by a weak foundation.


I have been on the lookout for a company with many years of experience in construction. I'm all for professionalism and keeping customers in all the happening that they are guaranteed of getting the best. As for the furnitures, there are a lot of stores out there but I'd go for one that handles their business well. Sure they'd have a MYRIAD of things to sort out but if they can't  keep up, the customers get affected too. Any recommendations on contractors or a furniture store you know?

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Homemade Taho

taho


-Silken tofu with tapioca pearls and caramel-


"The best way to a man's heart is through his stomach" goes Fanny Ferns's quote. Jokingly, Robert Byrne believes  "Anybody who believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach flunked geography." :D The last quote always makes me laugh. Thinking of it it should have been biography instead of geography but the author was  obviously suggesting something else, which I wouldn't want to talk about.


I can attest to the truth of the first quote though. My hubby has a penchant for spicy dishes which I strongly oppose. If I'm the boss in here I would rather not cook anything spicy...So what I'd do is to cook  specially for him, meaning I cook first for the kids or set aside something for them before putting in the chillies. Sometimes I just serve pepper and chillies for the boss to garnish his dish with. He's always thankful. :)


silken tofu


-Unadulterated silken tofu-


I did mention sometime ago that hubby loves Taho (soybean curd) and that one time during our vacation I had to follow the Magtataho 2 blocks from our house just to buy him some (I was below the house and he was upstairs so I had to go lol). Gosh, that Manong walked so fast! I bought 40pesos worth of taho for him that morning and another 40pesos two days after.


Oggi of I can do that! mentioned in that post that she made taho at home which got me excited. I had long planned to make some but the I'll-do-that-tomorrow attitude finally brought me to today. :D I googled and the search page showed two of my favorite foodblogs...Kuya Vanjo's Panlasong Pinoy and Weng's Munchkin Mommy. I was surprised at how easy it seems, and it was! A few minutes later, I had my first homemade taho.


So all you need would be:



silken tofu
cooked tapioca pearls
caramel



I cooked the tapioca pearls per package direction, caramelized sugar and heated up the tofu a little in the microwave oven...I topped the tofu afterwards with the first two ingredients and that's it!

taho


After dinner, I served hubby a bowl of taho which he surprisingly refused...so I set it aside and observed. He was so not in the mood and I thought it must be work. Around midnight though he asked where is the taho I made...this time he's calmed down. So I served him the bowl again and he contentedly finished it...we didn't talk afterwards (I fell asleep I guess) In the morning, hearing him asking for taho as breakfast, I thought I did choose the right path...his stomach more than anything else that is ;)





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Oooppssss...


Back home we were literally running around town and the adjacent city for days on end. Needless to say, running around tires the car too! We were on our way to visit hubby's relatives when the car broke down in the middle of Makati City. Overheating was the problem or was it fluid or water? Anyway, this made the hubby said we need to have a car insurance. We browsed for cheap auto insurance quotes around and got one so we won't be bothered by the expenses on too much repairs. Since we left already, my brother-in-law now gets the benefit...


The car breaking down was anyway a good opp to practice night photography....especially in Makati where the lights shine brightest at night.

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Not your traditional Wedding Proposal...

If there is ever one thing that my mom loves and I don't it's jewelries. She collects them, she buys me and my sister pairs and we love those but I can't seem to have the same passion that my mom has for them.  I might have bits and pieces but mostly costume jewelry and fancy ones. I don't spend hundreds or thousands for them...


I would have love it though if I'd receive one from hubby...I used to dream about an engagement proposal where you get the ring while eating or something of the sorts. :D Watch this video and see how a guy went a little over the traditional gesture of wedding proposals much to the surprise of his  girlfriend.




During one episode, Robin freaks out in a restaurant when she mistakenly thinks Ted is proposing to her after she receives a champagne glass with an engagement ring at the bottom. When Ted tells her "That's not mine", another gentleman at the table behind them says "It's mine", then proceeds to propose to the woman at his table. The proposal between the man and woman was real. The man set up the whole scheme with the show's producers, and told his girlfriend that they won a contest and got to be extras in a HIMYM episode. Instead, he proposed on camera, and the proposal will live on forever as part of the episode.

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Sizzling chicken

chix


I've long wanted to buy a sizzling plate...I really miss those sizzling chicken, spare ribs  and sisig with lots of gravy, buttered veggies and mashed potato on the side. Yeap, calorie overload! I saw some at amazon but I still haven't got the "lust" to click the buy button. :D Since they'd be shipped from the U.S., I am having second thoughts - the shipping may cost more than the article itself.


chiksteak1


I'm too lazy today...weather has gone down below 0° and I feel so heavy...aside from having eaten a lot. lol. Apologies. I have the chicken sizzled on our grilling pan and immediately served it along with everything else. Well, it doesn't have the bubbling effect but it tastes pretty much the same...


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Karaoke + food = Fun!


(My kids singing Michael Jackson's Ben)


It's given that we Filipinos love to eat and love to sing. Well, maybe not as much...we sing as long as we know that we can sing well...I mean others would shy away from the microphone but let them have a bottle of beer or two and they'd be ready to hit those high notes too. It's possible we got this liking to singing from the Japanese (though they were brief in staying there and it wasn't always a good memory of the war)...and it would have been better if we don't care about our voice as them...I mean have you heard all their cute-y songs? hehe My kids love singing along with those songs...


It has been customary to have a karaoke party with friends when we're home and not only do I enjoy it...my kids would battle over the microphones (so whenever possible, I ask for 2 or more). So we had such fun when we went to a get together with my highschool buddies...with my best friend now based in Doha also coming back home and his ex (ehehe) who also went home then.


We sang Michael Jackson, Carpenters and other classics or any song we know that would evoke memories of those around us...doesn't matter if that's fond or painful.lol.



As mentioned, we love to eat too and you know with all those singing you really easily get tired. So what did we have then? Korean beef...sweet and tender with veggies on the side (bean sprouts, carrot strips, red bell pepper and onions sauteed in butter.)




Pancit or pansit is the term for noodles in Filipino cuisine. Noodles were introduced into the Philippines by the Chinese and have since been adopted into the local cuisine. The term pancit is derived from the Hokkien pian i sit (Chinese: 便ê食; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: piān-ê-si̍t) which means "something conveniently cooked fast."


Pancit malabon (above photo), is a stir-fried noodle dish, which originated in Malabon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. It has a yellow-orange color due to its sauce that includes patis (fish sauce) and crab fat. Its toppings draw heavily from the fresh seafood that is available in the area and may include fresh shrimp, squid, oysters, and hard-boiled duck or hen eggs, as well as pork.



Pancit bihon is the type usually associated with the word "pancit", very thin rice noodles fried with soy sauce some citrus, possibly with patis, and some variation of sliced meat and chopped vegetables. The exact bihon composition depends on someone's personal recipe but usually, Chinese sausage and cabbage are the basic ingredients in a pancit bihon.



We also had puto (steamed rice cake) with a greenish color...blame the pandan flavor for it, which was really yummy! We enjoy puto everytime of the day, though it's mostly categorized under dessert, it can also be eaten as breakfast. It's filling being made from rice.



Lumpiang Sariwa, or fresh spring rolls in English, consist of minced ubod (heart of palm), flaked chicken, crushed peanuts, and turnips as an extender in a double wrapping of lettuce leaf and a yellowish egg crepe. The accompanying sauce is made from chicken or pork stock, a starch mixture, and fresh garlic. This variety is not fried and is usually around 2 inches in diameter and 6 inches in length; it is also the most popular among the Filipino variants. This is my favorite especially when it's served with my mom's homemade sauce.


We also had roast whole chicken then and sans rival and crunch as additional desserts...I can't locate my photos though lol. I think this is a feast in itself. I'm grateful that even for a little while I was able to see my friends and the kids get to know them and their kids as well.


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Breakfast @ Cafe Ritter


IMG_0098IMG_0118



The Groupon.at deal experience continues. I have bought a lot of good deals from that website and am using them one by one. I bought a 9Euro deal that normally costs 21euro for a breakfast for two at Cafe Ritter. The deal would have ended on November 30 so I took a friend (well, she's actually the mom-in-law of a highschool friend) one Saturday morning. We were late for breakfast so we had brunch!

Cafe Ritter is located at one of Vienna's busiest street, the Mariahilferstraße. It is a shopping street housing many famous and not-so-famous fashion names. With all the shopping that's going on, they decided to close off the street; which surprised me. I haven't visited this area for a long time though we used to live just a few minutes away. The transfer to another home proved beneficial as I don't get to spend much because I used to idle time window shopping or --- shopping there. :D


collage

Tita S and I had the traditional breakfast consisted of Semmel (roll), butter, jam and honey, boiled eggs, black bread plus cheese and ham plate. A cup of hot or cold drink of your choice tops off the list. We both had cappucino. Like always, we had a talk about life in general; her kids, my kids, her husband and mine, her work and mine...we were taking photos in between and sharing laughs as we finish our food. Talk about multitasking.

 
Cafe Ritter boasts of tradition having served guests for more than a hundred years. The wall-panelled interior is very classy and is the epitome of how Vienna Coffee houses should be. Chandeliers, leathered seats and a piano at one corner adds charm to its already elegant atmosphere. I regretted that I didn't bring my daughter along. She could have played a piece or two as we and other guests savor our bread and honey. (After she has eaten, of course.)

The server was really nice. Perhaps a tinge of surprise can be seen at the corner of his eyes as he asked us our orders but that's it.  He took the gift certificate that I handed without questions, served our orders and voila! He was quick and did the rounds on other tables too.

All in all, the place is commendable except for the non-smoking area being at the farther end...you have to pass by the open-area which is for smokers, I am so particular with the smell of smoke specially in the mornings and (emphasis on) while eating...I find it annoying that even if you want to avoid the smell of cigarette, you can't because that's the first thing you smell when you open the door. Such small things are negated by good experience and food anyway.

IMG_0122



Cafe Ritter
1060 Wien, Mariahilfer Straße 73
Tel: 01/5878238
Fax: 01/5878238
E-Mail: cafe@caferitter.at
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We were so full we didn't finish everything up. We decided to walk around the shopping district a bit to shake off the calories and somehow lose the belly fat that has been bothering us both. lol. The street was so busy with constructions, stores having sale and people going about their businesses. Despite all the hush we found a street performer just across the train station showing his skills off.


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Winter has come


...and it's time for cars to be extra careful. I'm taking about changing tires for winter use, checking the brake if everything bites well and other precautions one must take to make sure that accidents are lessened if not totally avoided. This is one of the reasons why I prefer taking the public transpo but all the cold the winter brings is still a good reason to use a car than walk to the stations, wait for the bus...with the kids in tow.

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Bags

Do you love bags? I do, I think we all do. But my liking bags would only be second to my obsession with shoes. :)


Burberry messenger bags, Oilily weekender bags and Marc Jacobs handbags, nike gym bags and even Puma ladybags are some that I've set my eyes on. I had  a few but not really the ones that cost all my month's earnings. But I seem to be having a somewhat simpler eye nowadays. It's more of a must than a choice. Maybe I'll stick with my grocery bags for now to save up for more. :)

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Fish Fillet Burger


(With sauce tartare, tomato and lettuce plus a fly away cheese I put upside down, lol.)



There's this Japanese cooking show that has inspired me to cook some dishes at home that can actually be bought from fast food joints. I was just too lazy to go out or just too in the mood that I made one immediately after watching from Dotchi Cooking show. This show is so interesting because the ingredients used come fresh from farms, from the sea and factories, especially for the show. Also, I get to see a lot of places and learn more about Japanese culture and language too. Nihon ga daisuki desu!





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Black Friday

I have often wondered what those Black Friday ads and news are about. I am not from the US but most of my blogging friends are, so I often read what they write about it when I bloghop. I think the idea of this sale is wonderful especially for gadget freaks like me or hubby. Black Friday, as a term has been used in multiple contexts, going back to the nineteenth century, where it was associated with a financial crisis in 1869 it is today associated with special sales and promotions that retailers use to encourage shoppers to use the holiday weekend for shopping. Buy.com which I have featured here many times in the past is having their online Black Friday. Discounted consoles, laptops, toys, ipods and a lot more gadgets can be bought with big discounts...hurry and get a good deal now!

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Need more space...for PC not the kitchen!

I have often been getting errors regarding system memory on this laptop. It's frustrating since the browser shuts down while I'm in the middle of writing. It is also annoying that I can't use  other programs simultaneously. On the other hand, it has helped me prioritize which I should do first so I can finish one work than go "alt-tabbing" on different things.  The hubby promised he'd do something about this but he has been so busy with work and hubby (RCs) that I am extending my patience..it's a virtue after all!

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Salami Pizza




"A world devoid of tomato soup, tomato sauce, tomato ketchup and tomato paste is hard to visualize. Could the tin and processed food industries have got where they have without the benefit of the tomato compounds which colour, flavour, thicken and conceal so many deficiencies? How did the Italians eat spaghetti before the advent of the tomato? Was there such a thing as tomato-less Neapolitan pizza?"
-Elizabeth David (1913-1992) 'An Omelette and a Glass of Wine', 1984

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Home delivered salami pizza saves me when I'm too late for cooking! :)


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Winter stock up

It got colder today. Add to that that it's raining. I guess I have to stock up with soup dishes for the winter months and perhaps a dehumidifier, launrdy is taking longer to dry nowadays.

This is my daughter's favorite soup, sadly I don't make this from scratch since I do not have that much time preparing it. But I would love to try it sometime. So I got this from allrecipes.com, might as well try:


Ingredients:


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 drops hot pepper sauce

Procedure:


  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until onion is tender.
  2. Add carrot and celery; cook 7 to 9 minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes, broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, pepper and hot pepper sauce. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

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A soup full of vitamin C to fight off the winter cold! Enjoy the week!

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Notebooks

I love notebooks. Well, the traditional notebooks and not laptops but I like those too. :) I always have a notebook in my bag, even a small one where I could write notes or ideas that I wanted to blog about. I have notebooks for Spanish and for Japanese, they are your regular sized notebooks, one that kids used at school. It would be different for German though, I have a bigger notebook (size 24a) so that I can write a lot more about a topic in a page.


And since we established our own small company I have wanted those custom imprinted folio with logo that hubby has designed. I think custom design notebooks and other office stuff with personalized designs are also great should we opt for a launch. Do you know of online-printing services that offer discount for customized notebooks? Please let me know. Thanks!

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Gifting

I love doing arts and crafts. The kids share the same passion with me. Two years ago I launched the Stay at home mom project at my other blog. This project aims to show-off stuff my kids are doing from recycling or designing. Other moms joined in with their art works too and we all had fun. Some of the things we did became personalized gifts as well; paper weights, bookmarker and other small thingies. I think it becomes more personal when you give gifts you yourself make.

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Orange Chicken

IMG_2373


You've probably had this from Chowking. I had. I tried it because this is their newest dish back when we were home. I have always enjoyed orange chicken. I thought this might be good since I think all Chowking dishes are good. ;)  I was rather disappointed to see a very small portion served before me. It didn't help that the chicken pieces were tough. I was used to having them crunchy outside but juicy inside. I can't even recall how it tastes.



So here's an ambitious attempt to mimic the said dish. This time, with tender chicken meat.

Ingredients:

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 beaten egg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
panko breadcrumbs (optional,dish in above photo has no panko )
oil (for frying)
orange carpels (pith removed)

Orange Sauce-
1 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon minced ginger root
½ teaspoon garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons chopped green onion (optional)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

Coat chicken pieces with flour, dip in egg then coat with panko. If you're not using panko then dip the chicken pieces first on egg and coat with flour.


Deep fry the chicken pieces until golden brown. Drain the oil well, or set aside on paper towels as you prepare the sauce.



In a large saucepan combine 1 ½ cups water, lemon juice, orange juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Blend well over medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in brown sugar, orange zest, ginger garlic, and onion. Bring to a boil.

Combine 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water and mix thoroughly. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into sauce until it thickens. Pour sauce over breaded chicken and add red pepper flakes. This enhances the flavor. Garnish also with green onions and orange carpels if you like. The orange carpels might be a little difficult so use the canned ones.


Happy cooking and eating!


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And I'm old...

Just when I thought I am free from the skin troubles that young adults face,I started having pimples again. I can't say that it is exactly adult acne but I'm not dropping the possibility. I am 30 and yet I feel like that time when I would be frustrated seeing one pimple pop up my face...that was 15 years ago!

We all know that healthy eating and lots of water makes the skin healthy too. So why, even with my preference of eating fruits and healthy stuff, this still happened? I blame my not taking contraceptive pills anymore. This caused hormonal imbalance making pimples show up at my back and cheeks. I have been using a waterbased cleanser for the pimples, at the moment I do not see any improvement so I took in supplements containing carotene and vitamin E, which boosts skin health as studies suggested. A good source of vitamin E, avocado, is now part of my daily diet.

There are lots of products sold in the market nowadays, I believe though that each individual's skin is unique and would respond differently to various components, that's why its best to visit a dermatologist to help you out with skin problems. Otherwise, if you opt to buy products without medication, be sure that you understand well the "ingredients" used in them.

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Salmon-Parsley Pasta

salmon pasta



"No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention." -Christopher Morley

Two weeks ago I received a whole 5 kilo salmon right in our kitchen. Well, it's more of bought because I paid 50€ (60$/2,999Php) for the whole of it. This is really a steal considering such expensive fish. I usually get salmon cuts for sushi at 20 a kilo! And since it was delivered at home, I do not need to worry about losing the freshness. So I got salmon stacked in our freezer, enough to feed us through a whole winter month. (Reminds me of bears happily catching their salmon by a river!) :D


salmon pasta


Since the kids love salmon, they won't be bored eating it as sashimi, in a soup, grilled, baked or in pasta. This is one of the simple dishes I prepare with salmon. I think I had this featured here before but with a different twist. This version has 2 or 3 more added ingredients. (lol)



Ingredients:

salmon fillet, skinned

pasta of your choice

cherry tomatoes, halved or pressed

low-fat crème fraîche

chopped fresh parsley

orange zest

salt

ground black pepper

Procedure:

Cube salmon and dust with salt and pepper. Sear the pieces and set aside.

Cook pasta per package directions.

Drain pasta and toss in tomatoes and salmon.

Mix in crème fraîche, parsley, orange zest and pepper to taste.

Top with as much salmon pieces as you want.

As the quote above says, eating spaghetti or pasta for that matter requires much attention. Add salmon to it and you need to double the concentration savoring the flavor. :)




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