Wednesday, April 22, 2015

There's a bit of panic in the air at the wake of deaths involving milk tea. A few days later, the trail has gone cold.

Some said they would refrain from consuming milk tea for the time being, and some have rallied to the beloved drink's defense.

What frustrates me the most is that the lack of information fuels hearsay and tends to drown real information.

While it is perfectly alright to speculate and have your own theories, it's best to demand the truth. Ask for more information, more tests. 

Like how the blog name implies, I'm no expert, but I did have a HACCP training in my heyday. Yes, it feels THAT long ago, which is why I encourage you, my dear reader, to take it with a grain of salt---the same way you shouldn't believe everything you read online without further research.

Wikipedia defines Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point as

"a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level. In this manner, HACCP is referred as the prevention of hazards rather than finished product inspection. The HACCP system can be used at all stages of a food chain, from food production and preparation processes including packaging, distribution, etc."

(My journalism prof would be cringing now. Hi!:D )

In a nutshell, it means taking certain approaches to minimize the risk of food poisoning and prolonging your food's tummy-friendly status.

So whether you cook or eat, these tips might help in avoiding food poisoning.

Do not cross-contaminate.


Do you know how to get salmonella in fresh vegetables? Use the same knife you used for your raw chicken.
Invest in separate chopping boards for fresh meat, vegetables, and dry ingredients. But let's be real, sometimes, we just don't have that luxury. When having more than one board is not possible, chop your dry items first, and your meat last.

Extreme temperatures are not bacteria-friendly.

Here, have a snowman because it's too f-in hot outside.

High heat kills most bacteria, and cold temp prevents bacteria growth. The temperature in between is called the Danger Zone (Yay! more Wiki!), where bacteria populate like crazy.

Boil your tap water more than two minutes, and cook your meat thoroughly.
You CAN put hot food in the fridge, BUT This lowers the overall temperature of your fridge, exposing the rest of the items in there to the danger zone. The key to quickly cooling large batches of food is segregating them into small portions. That way you won't also need to thaw everything when you're ready to eat.

The best time to eat street food is when it is freshly made


I can't always afford expensive food, it isn't healthy to eat fast food frequently, and I don't always have the luxury of preparing homemade meals. That and I love street food, 'nuff excuses. So to minimize the risk, it's best to look for just-cooked items, avoid food carts that do not cover their goods, and are placed in highly polluted areas. *sigh* 

Also, the best time to eat out is in the morning - mid afternoon, when the ingredients are still fresh, in the evenings, all you'll get are leftovers that have been sitting there all day. The same applies to some restaurants.

Use your senses


Sight, smell, and touch are only secondary means of identifying food that has gone to the dark side but are still fairly reliable.

When in doubt, throw it.


Yes, we have a lot of wasted food. Trying to consume sketchy food isn't going to help it. What will is not buying more than what you need. TL;DR Don't horde (perishable) food.

Even with all those precautions in place, food poisoning can still happen, but having certain precautions in place ensures you are not dining on a petri dish.


Real good chefs out there follow rigid rules just to make sure your food arrives delicious while allowing you to tell the tale. Cheers to you!

So I ask you, my dear reader, before you campaign for or against milk tea, let's get our facts together. Ask for answers. It pays to be vigilant.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The belly dancing class I attended was nothing but pure inspiration.

Teacher Jill Ngo allowed us to see that there was more to belly dancing than shaking your booty and showing off your belly.

She spoke of how it was more than a "sexy dance" but the lengthening of limbs, elongating the body to create graceful moves, imitating that of a goddess. I loved how she campaigned about loving what we were given, how that is beautiful, and how we should work to accept and enhance it.

It was an intricate art form that takes years of rigorous training. It was a way of expressing beauty--with a lot of chimes.

I had to admit. It was a bit of an off day. I didn't want to jiggle my fats and oil my already tired tendons, but that's the thing about passion-- it's highly contagious.

All photos are taken by our good friend and belly dancing goddess, Marianne Averilla (thanks! :D)


The class began with some good ol' stretching, to remind my muscles that they are still there. 


The class was capped with a hypnotic performance from three of teacher Jill's students



Teacher Jill holds classes Belly Dance and Zumba classes on Monday's 6pm-7pm at the Footworks Dance Studio. You can check out her Facebook page for more details (and photos of her in action!)

Also for brides-to be (no, not me. Don't ask :p) Teacher Jill has a very exciting Bridal Transformation Package to make sure you are as fab as you can be on your big day.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shake those bellies, we're going dancing!

credit:wildwildheart.wordpress.com

As part of this year's get healthy resolution, I have committed myself to entertaining any excuse to get some physical activity. So, when a friend asked me to go belly dancing, I cannot answer anything other than "Yes".

Footworks Dance studio is giving out a free belly dancing class this Sunday, March 22, 2015. The catch? Write about your experience. What you think about the new studio, the teacher, how many times your belly jiggles for a minute or how you enjoyed watching me doing awkward steps (that last part, I can guarantee)

Convinced?  Head on over to Footworks Dance Studio, 4th Flr. Elescom Building 213 Brgy. Milagrosa, Katipunan, Quezon City (near Katips Bar and Grillery) on Sunday, at around 10:45am and bring leggings/jazz pants, a fitted top, and a change of clothes.

You can find more information about Teacher Jill and Footworks Studio through their FB pages

Friday, March 13, 2015

The buffet craze is among us.

With the rise of huge buffets, smorgasbords have apparently become a social thing. These dens almost always promise a lot of overeating.

I've heard a lot of people say that it's just not worth for them to go to these eat-all-you-can affairs as they don't eat much.

But how do you make the most out of your buffet ticket?

There's always the rule of thumb of going for the pricier items in the list like cheeses, nuts, seafood, prime beef cuts--but what else can you do to add more value in that expensive binge?



Arrive early


Getting in the venue as an early bird has its perks; the food is piping hot and freshly prepared. You also get dibs on the dishes that you prefer. I usually head for the cheese section and stuff my face with cheeses, grapes, and walnuts. Some buffets only refill certain sections once.

Do not go too hungry.


Yes. You heard me. We have something called "takaw tingin" or "takaw mata" (I refuse to try to translate that in English). Having a small yogurt before the big event will help you make better choices, and have the energy to elbow the older man trying to hog all the walnuts.

Do a once around. 


See what your options are. Have a rough idea of the selection so you know your order of priorities. Mine's usually, cheese first, carving station, the appetizer section, sashimi, other savory dishes, and desserts until I keel over. 

Easy on the carbs.


Yes, that also means bread, pasta, and other starchy stuff.  You want more protein, more of the good stuff. All that starch will make you full faster.

Slow down on the sushi.


I know you may think this is the bang for your buck, but that's a lot of rice-unless it's an all-sushi buffet. Go for more sashimi and tempura.

Ixnay on the soda and fruit juices


Too much sugar will make you bloat and feel full faster. You wanted to eat more right? Stick to water.

Do not put all your viands in one plate


Savor it, don't let the sauces mix, what's the point of eating in great quantities if they all taste the same weird mixed sauce flavor. It's gross, just don't do it. There's a reason there are so many plates for your use. Also, if you have more plates on the table, you can easily dispose of leftovers by putting small amounts on each plate. 

Eat slowly

You know how disgusting it was for the Capitol to waste food while the districts starved? Eating fast only to barf it out later is an insult to people who don't have enough to eat and the chef who intricately prepared your food. Food is meant to be relished, slow down and let yourself taste the food.

Take hot tea while you digest or try not
to burst


The hot tea (or just hot water) will help ease some of the bloating, making more space for more chow.
If you came early, you have the luxury to rest and have seconds or thirds, or fourths while sipping tea with your pinkie raised(you glutton!)

Pick your shots


Stop telling yourself you need to get a better bang for your buck.
That buffet franchise you're dining in IS making money. And if you can afford that 500php+-, you should know that the best way to make the most out of it is to eat what you really want, and not just stuff your face with everything you see. I will binge on cheeses, beef, and fresh fruits but not on seafood because I'm allergic.

It also pays to know that some buffets are just not worth it.
I'm still working on that list without getting a heart attack.


Monday, March 2, 2015

I am NOT a morning person.

See those extra minutes left before 7? I need those.

I procaffeinate.

My system runs more efficiently on lunar power.

My work starts early, earlier than the usual 8-5.

That means all activities are reduced to a minimum. We have different struggles in life. My mornings are made up of making the most out of sleep and stripping away the unnecessary rituals in life in favor of getting more shut-eye.

Yes, science has evidence that hitting the snooze button isn't good for you, but it makes me happier. I will hit you if you don't give me those precious 15 minutes to do something that can be done after coffee.

I'm a grumpy, violent minimalist in the morning--if that sounds any better.

But when I do wake up, breakfast is important.

If you're like me, here are some things I like doing to make sure I still get breakfast food that doesn't scream fast food or empty calories. It has to be easily stuffed in my bag in an ugly fashion or is available in or near my office.

Remember, it's all about being resourceful.
Do you have a hot water dispenser or a microwave? Is there a grocery that opens early or a convenience store nearby?

Oatmeal + Fruits + Milk/Yogurt


There's a plus sign because you could do with just one or all of them together. Of course, the real treat would be whole rolled oatmeal with fruits, nuts, and milk. But I'm not as lucky every day.
I usually pack portions of uncooked oatmeal in my bag or office desk. Make use of the hot water dispenser-that usually does the trick for me, but if you like it more cooked, nuke it for a bit.

Steamed Plantain Bananas/Sweet Potatoes


Where to get them: Jollijeep/random maglalako

By far the easiest and cheapest option. A steamed plantain banana (saging na saba) costs around 4-5 pesos a piece and will cover much of your carb needs for the rest of the morning.
I prefer sweet potatoes over the bananas, but they're not available all year.

Hard Boiled Eggs



Where to get them: 711/Your local jollijeep

Cons: 711 has a habit of boiling cold eggs or worse, heating refrigerated cooked eggs. In doing that, inner skin of the egg sticks and can be extremely frustrating / With Jollijeeps, you need to make sure they are newly boiled that day.

Milk


Where to get them: Office pantry/convenience store. 

When I'm running extremely slow, but I'm still too sleepy to eat, a glass of milk keeps me from going cray-cray.

Easy Open Canned Tuna




Protein, salt, and a long shelf life! It doesn't need delicate handling, and you can stash some under your desk if you're allowed to do that. I suggest looking for chunks in brine and making sure to grab the ones low in sodium. 

Omelette Marguerita Mug


Ah, a glimpse of the good life. There was a time when I arrived a the office early. Only because the shuttle arrives too early or too late, a corporate Russian Roulette if you ask me.

In those times, I'd bring whole eggs, bell peppers, tomatoes, and basil. Crack the eggs in a mug, roughly chop peppers, tomatoes, basil, add and whisk with a fork. Plus points if you bought salt and pepper. Pop in the microwave for 4-6 minutes. And there's your good morning right there.



They're no fancy mason jar salads, and they're almost guaranteed to have very little visual appeal, but it helps me get by ghastly mornings and doesn't really leave a burning hole in my pocket.

How about you? What keeps jumpstarts your morning?






Monday, January 19, 2015

For reasons I could no longer remember, it has been an annual ritual for me to write a last will. I didn't have assets or anything of value to give. In a way, there was some release in knowing that nothing I own had been left behind or forgotten.

I stopped when someone important felt it was too morbid. That, and I realized that writing a will that makes your pet dog a benefactor of your old stuff is just plain silly.

I got tired of that, so I decided to get a colonoscopy and a gastroscopy today.

I had a few episodes of gastritis this year and a number of severe hyperacidity-so I really didn't have much of a say in the matter.

The preparation required a day where I was not allowed to consume solid food, then had to completely avoid ingesting anything in the last 8 hours before the procedure.

When the doc said I should eat now, it felt like it was an important job to eat what I love the most so I'd have enough strength to keep myself from eating the next day.

Being the drama queen that I am, I said to myself "If this was my last meal and I could eat anything, keeping in mind a few reasonable limitations like not blowing my entire paycheck, my stomach's capacity, and whatever was in the Glorietta-SM-GB area, what would I eat?"

It took me about an hour of aimlessly walking before I decided on my first meal.


Kaya's 육개장 (Yukgaejang) 

A thick spicy soup with shredded beef, 고사리gosari (bracken fern), bean sprouts and other vegetables. There's something about soup that make everything seem alright. I would have preferred the 8-side dishes but that would mean going out of the mall. meh.

Oddly enough, I just discovered as I was writing this that there are several studies linking bracken or gosari  to colon cancer. While studies remain inconclusive, it would be sound advice to minimize consumption. 

I ate all the paper. hardcore. XD

White Rabbit

Ah, the classic, chewy treat. I can't believe these babies have gotten so expensive--around 50php for 8 pieces. It felt like I needed to pay a huge sum for a trip down memory lane.

Didn't you get a false sense of rebelliousness whenever you ate the paper wrapper? I know I did :p


Carabao's Milk

Albeit a tad more expensive than the normal cow's milk, Some say it is considered as "the most complete food". I drink it because it tastes so much better and doesn't make me bloat as much.


Roasted Chestnuts


This last one is a no brainer. I love chestnuts.


Given the considerably big budget I allowed myself, I was surprised that instead of going for the restaurants I've been meaning to try, or large buffets up for grabs, I opted for a taste of things I loved in the past. Tastes that reminded me of home.

I guess what I'm trying to get to was that, there were too many meals I took for granted because I didn't have the time, money or energy to eat proper food. And forgetting that some of the best pleasures in life, are experienced by your mouth-that sounds a bit wrong but I think Leopold will be proud.

So from this day forward, I pledge to always remember to not just refuel, not just to satiate hunger, but to relish, savor and delight my taste buds.

How about you? What will your last meal be like? Why aren't you eating those more often? 

I meant to write about it for days but my meds are keeping me extremely exhausted (or it's just lazy old me using that as an excuse.)


Since all our birthday plans were foiled, we decided to just head on to Enchanted Kingdom for a day and we won a gorilla. Yay, I guess.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

So last night, I had this need to eat some hot, decent food that wasn't fastfoody-esque. I had so much trouble deciding because of the following very compelling reasons.

1. The chicken will take too long to thaw. 
2. The fish will take too long to thaw. 
3. Anything frozen in the fridge will take too long to thaw because I didn't want to handle cold stuff. 
4. The canned tuna wasn't frozen. 
5. I live in the 4th floor and I do not have enough energy to descend and climb that flight. 
6. I just couldn't decide. That was really it. 

I eventually settled for tuna salad with some balsamic, only because I didn't have the electrolytes to make honey mustard.
It's not bad, except I just took too long to decide.
Tuna,  cucumbers , apples,  cashews and romaine drizzled with some balsamic

Not that's catastrophic, but if I found this site telling me to just fucking cook the fish,  I probably would have.


Screencap


There are days when you just don't have any fucks to spare. On those days, this site may just be exactly what you need.


Sad, that I didn't find you last night, but I'll keep you in mind when those days come up again. Thank you kind sir for your work. I will buy the fucking cook book when I get the money.

 http://whatthefuckshouldimakefordinner.com/index.php

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One of our pretend chefs (we're all pretend chefs that's the beauty of it) Jan, will be performing this Saturday at the  SpinDependence 2014: Flow Gathering +Year-ender Party this coming Saturday, November 15 at The Collective in Makati from,7pm to 2am

Image from Planet Zips and the SpinDependence page
SpinDependence is an event by Planet Zips as a "celebration of flee flowing arts".
The event will feature workshops, an open fire jam, live bands, and of course flow performances from different flow artists using hoops, led wands, fire wands fire poi, and staffs.

Jan will be performing "Luna" with his prop Buugeng.

Visit The Spin Dependence Page for more information.

Entrance is free and you get to ask Jan for a photo of him doing the macarena.  See you!



Monday, November 10, 2014

Alright, there's nothing too innovative about this dish. What I love about it, is how you can cook this while watching a movie or doing chores half heartedly.  I meant with gusto.

I spend most weekday mornings wondering what happened to my weeknight, why it's difficult to fit the things you need to do and manage to squeeze in a good night's sleep.

Being a fan of home cooked meals, I sometimes just substitute dinner with a piece of fruit, icky fast food or I just head to sleep, too tired to even try ingesting anything. It's nothing new, just some of the problems of the newly independent.

Don't get me wrong, I love the freedom of not having to eat when you don't even have the energy to chew without launching into an hour-long debate why dinner should be skipped.

So dishes like these that you can leave while attending to other things are godsend.

How?
Boil sweet potatoes for about 10 minutes, depending on how big they are. You
want them to still be firm enough to hold their shape when you slice it.

Take the bacon out. Frozen makes for easier and more uniform cuts. Smaller pieces are easier to cook too. 
Who has time to thaw anything?

On a non stick pan, fry on medium heat.  I had a small portable stove so I was stirring it while Evil Ex #2 was filming in Toronto.


Assemble! Add more cheese.

Bake! Or not.  It really depends if you still have the time. 

And you wonder how I managed to squeeze a blogpost after all that. 

The answer is simple: overcaffeination.

I have but enough energy to brush my teeth (hopefully), so I bid you good-night and congratulations on surviving Monday.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A day devoid of alarms.

The coffee maker slowly churns hot water to make a fresh brew.

Today the coffee is weak. Beautifully weak. There's nowhere to go but here, nothing to do but dissect old songs we never had the time to really listen to.

Crisp, toasted bread playfully filled the air. Butter? Jam? Cheese? Doesn't matter, we have time for everything, choosing isn't necessary.

Today, it is "someday".

We should have more of these.