Blogging at 10PM on a Monday night

I can’t believe it’s 10PM and I am dead tired.  I couldn’t even bear to stand in the kitchen while cutting up the chicken and asparagus for Angel’s meal — I had to sit down and cut it while seated. 

Monday at work wasn’t really chaotic — it’s just having to deal the usual household chores tonight overwhelmed me. 

Dinner was rather simple — more of last night’s Sinigang na Baka, I recycled some of the Arroz a la Cubana into ground beef quesadillas, and Alan had his Jalapeno corned beef courtesy of Purefoods.  Everyone was happy.  I don’t really stock up on Angel’s food because I’d rather have him eat fresh food as often as I can manage it, so tonight, I had to take care of tomorrow and possibly the following day’s lunch.

He’s in daycare one last week.  My Mom is booked on a flight arriving this Saturday weekend.  We would’ve planned a trip out of town for the long weekend but we’re now thinking of just doing a day trip or at most an overnight trip to Sesame Place.  Meanwhile, I’ve been finalizing my bilins which really aren’t much considering I just came from Manila myself.  It will be such a relief to have Mommy here again.  Finally!  Plus there’s the added perk of her occasional cooking — I don’t want to burden her too much with cooking here because it’s enough that she takes care of her apo, but from time to time, she indulges a special request for some dish or other.

I guess now Alan and I can start going out again as we used to — and start accepting those invitations for night outs from friends again.  And we can go on our usual weekly movie or dinner date beginning next week.  Not that we would mind giving that up again to be with the little tyke.  Almost back to normal.. just counting the days.


Going around SoHo with Ces

My “neighbor”, Ces, had written a rejoinder to something I wrote about putting up my own boutique in SoHo, but it was her comment about going around SoHo that inspired me to write about one of my favorite places to while away a day in this busy city.

So where would I take you, Ces, if we had the luxury of stealing a day away from our motherly and wifely duties and just have a girls’ outing downtown?  I’d start with brunch at one of my favorite Asian fusion restaurants owned by a Filipino (UP alums both, I heard) husband and wife chef team — Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa — called Cendrillon.  While their breakfast fare is very close to what we would call traditional (tapsilog, logsilog, daing na trout), be aware that their entrees for lunch and dinner are sometimes quite a departure from what we are used to.  (Take note of their lumpiang sariwa which is not rendered in typical fashion, but worth trying nonetheless.  I personally go for the ukoy, though.  Crunchy and as ukoy as ukoy gets..)

For dessert, we have two options.  If we have room to splurge (meaning we didn’t have the buko pie at Cendrillon), I’d take you down to The Cupping Room Cafe for some sinful treats and a pot of tea or a cup of your coffee of choice (espresso?  latte?) — but not before you and I check out Gourmet Garage one of my favorite stops whenever I am in this part of the city.  They claim to be “New York City’s favorite neighborhood marketplace for fine foods,” and I must say I agree that they are in the same league as Zeytuna and Grand Central Market Place although each has it’s distinctive appeal.

If, however, we are, too full — let’s stop by Cafe Cafe and enjoy something lighter and less sinful in a very casual yet cozy atmosphere.  (I wouldn’t worry about the calories, though, because we will walk it off.)

After all that food, we’ll take our time exploring the streets and shops — take your pick — Kate Spade, Pearl River (a huge Chinese/Asian themed emporium where you can find anything from chopsticks to fabrics and a ton of other stuff), and knowing your culinary inclinations, we cannot not go to Broadway Panhandler (I always like browsing in kitchenware stores and look at all these fancy gadgets) — maybe find our dream location for our dream store, because after all, it costs nothing to dream.  It’s making that dream a reality that might cost us an arm and a leg but what the heck?!  We might win the lotto in the next draw!

Now I don’t know if you’re into wine or not but whether we go on a weekday or Sunday, we can stop by Vintage New York which sells only wines made in New York and is just about the only wine store in the city open on a Sunday.  I get my cooking wine from their stocks and always find their cheese offerings very interesting.  Alan is the one who chooses the wine for our racks to consume when we feel like splitting a bottle between us or when we entertain friends.  (They are part of the same group which runs the Rivendell Winery in upstate New York but let me save that for another post.)

So many things to do and see in this most interesting part of New York City.. make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes, though, and be ready to walk, walk, walk. 

Pictures of Cafe Cafe and street scenes of SoHo coming
Need to fish them out of my archives!

My sweet indulgence this weekend — Chocolate Fondue

We stayed home all weekend to give Angel a chance to recuperate from the on and off fever (which finally abated overnight Saturday) and his coughing, what with the inclement weather that’s been hogging New York and much of the East Coast of late.  It meant eating all meals at home, keeping away from the malls (until Sunday afternoon at least) and just lounging away in front of the TV.

We did our grocery shopping yesterday while Angel napped and my mother-in-law watched over him.  I had dinner taken cared of (Arroz a la cubana with plantains and fried eggs as a side), and I decided to prepare some chocolate fondue as a special treat.

I have a ceramic mini-fondue burner which works well with a votive candle, but I decided to do without it this time.  I got some strawberries and ripe bananas, a giant bar of special dark chocolate, some chocolate chips and I already had the milk in the fridge.  While chocolate alone works well, it can get too thick and tends to burn.  One thing I had learned surfing the web for chocolate fondue recipes is that it’s important that you work with a liquid base that will help you melt the chocolate evenly even if you’re not using a double boiler.  There are recipes that suggest using corn syrup.  Some recipes suggest using some heavy cream, I use 2% milk. 

You really have to eyeball it and use just enough to make sure the base of your pan is covered, so that any chocolate that melts doesn’t go straight to the bottom of the pan which can lead it to burn easily.  I broke off the chocolate bar into smaller pieces (after having left it in room temperature to make it melt easire) and stirred as it melted.  I only added the chocolate chips to temper off the intensity of the dark chocolate and voila, a special dessert for a quiet evening at home.

Hoping to get my reading list going

I was about to bring home my copy of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA this weekend when I thought twice about it because I remembered I still had my latest Glamour, O (Oprah), Parenting and People waiting next to my half-finished Blink.  That “blink” has become a “nap” and I haven’t quite finished reading it yet despite my initial fascination with the simplicity of the ideas presented there.

At lunch as I was trying to feed Angel by his folding Pooh sofa next to my book shelf, I looked up and saw at least another dozen books waiting to be read.  Talk about a reading rut.. I have to get reading — otherwise, I’m not buying any books until this time next year.

Now where’s that book, Blink… have to get going with the “thin slicing”.. (If you have read the book, you will have an idea what I’m talking about.)

Keep right

I had been hoping to create this post all weekend but my connection was going funky on me again.  If you’re ever caught using New York City’s public escalators, remember to keep right going up or down unless you intend to walk up or walk down as the escalator moves.  Otherwise, you’ll be jostled or nudged by the commuters behind you.

Spontaneity courtesy of my Razr’s phone camera.  I like taking stolen shots like this because it’s very discreet and non-intrusive.  This guy didn’t have any idea at all I was taking a picture of him from below.  (The small file size also keeps the bandwidth limit well in control.)

Remember, keep right.

RENT Revisited

My Wedding Keepsake Album, the RENT Playbill and advertising flyer, our original tickets

The very first Broadway musicale I saw was RENT — way back in 2000, part of my honeymoon weekend in the city with Alan.  We wanted to go to Cancun or Cabo San Lucas in Mexico but I had travel restrictions due to my status.  (We did go a year later after I got my greencard.)

We skipped out on the movie, but there was so much hype here in print and on television that I’ve kept abreast of the news about it, pre, actual, and post publicity.  Alan and I finally watched the DVD tonight, and midway through the film, I had to pull out my Wedding Keepsake album where we had the playbill and the tickets in one of the pages.  I just had to check if I actually watched any of the actors who landed a role in that movie that time I caught it on Broadway.  Unfortunately not.

The movie, I must say, was more spectacular in many respects compared to the stage presentation, primarily because the musicale had so much drama in it that flashbacks and actual street scenes were rendered more dramatically on film than on stage.  But the stage has its own magic that is beyond words.  I cannot say the movie was better than the stage production or vice versa.  Each, I believe, gave justice to the music and story of the genuises behind one of the longest running plays on Broadway.

It’s been a while since we watched anything onstage, and I believe the last one was Antonio Banderas headlining NINE.  (The man can sing.. picture him belting out like Martin Nievera, only doing it while acting and oozing major sex appeal!)  I told Alan it would be nice to catch THE WEDDING SINGER — and doing things in reverse this time.  Watching a movie they turned into a broadway production.  As a child of the eighties, that should be one memorable experience.

Motherhood on Duty

Cross posted on Motherhood, Etc. 

It must’ve been overexposure to the heat of the sun.  I woke up at 5AM with Angel burning up in my arms.  Well, he wasn’t really THAT hot, but he was warm enough for me to know he was at least nursing a slight fever.  I upped and went around the house looking for my digital thermometer.  I picked up a face towel and wet it with cold water to cool his forehead.  He didn’t seem to be cold so I didn’t turn off the airconditioner.  He first registered at 37.9 degrees.  (I’m in the land of Fahrenheit but I know Centigrade better when it comes to fever — so thank God the thermometer has both settings.)  It was seesawing between 37.1 to 37.9.  Thankfully, it never went beyond that.

I cancelled daycare by 7AM and made a decision to stay home.  His fever was gone by 8:30 AM but I knew I had to monitor him all day.  I was drafting an e-mail letting my boss know I was working from home, but I was vacillating between taking time off and requesting to work from home, considering I am equipped to log on to the system (internal chat software and intranet server) remotely, but before I could make up my mind, Angel managed to punch the right keys to send the e-mail with “Emergency time off” in the subject header.  So I had no choice but to send an e-mail explaining the situation, and I took the morning off.  I managed to log on in the afternoon so I didn’t totally blow away a day with the situation here.  It was quiet, and I got confirmation for daycare for Friday, so I’m sure the boss will be relieved to hear I will not be asking to work from home tomorrow.

The boy’s okay now.  He doesn’t even struggle as much against taking his meds, but he’s not taking it quietly either.  He seems to be trying to expel the congestion in his chest, but I’m hoping the medicines I’ve been giving him will help to loosen it some tomorrow.

It is always difficult when the boy is sick, even if he is relatively an Angel (literally) even when you know he can otherwise be grumpy.  It doesn’t help ease my anxiety knowing he is just starting to talk, so I am not sure how to speak with him about how he’s feeling.  I guess I just wing it and base it on his cries and how he hugs me close when the coughing seems to be painful.  He’ll be fine.  My boy has always been quite a tough cookie — even if he tries to get away with his little quirks by kissing me gently with a smack and then smilingly impishly.  That’s the softee in him — trying to corner mom’s weakness, and he never misses.

A long but fruitful day

I have been waiting for my DSL connection to kick in (wireless account, sometimes I pick up another line and I have to start reconfiguring things to get things moving.)  and I’m finally here.

Just in time to get a post in before midnight.. It’s been a long but fruitful day indeed.  Alan and I took the day off to spend quality time with the tyke and we went to Splish Splash, a water park in Long Island, practically a stone’s throw away from our favorite Outlet, Tanger.

We didn’t leave for Splish Splash until almost noon but we had more than enough time to enjoy watching Angel just having the time of his life until 6PM.  Two hours was all we needed to pick up a few things at the outlet.  I had a $15 gift card from Harry & David expiring this month and I couldn’t let that go to waste.  (Watch out for a separate post on my Harry & David goodies..)

I couldn’t resist getting a few pieces from Ann Taylor and Old Navy, including a printed pink and brown curdoroy skirt from the former and a white prairie skirt from the latter despite my earlier plan not to get any more skirts this season because I had acquired quite a couple of pieces last year.

After dinner at Boulder Creek, we drove home and were here by 9PM.  We were all dead tired but we were one happy family.  Seeing Angel having fun and having fun with him as well is truly priceless.  I took a ton of pictures (as always) and a few video clips I’m trying to work into a VCD.  Alan’s camera takes very good video clips with very crisp audio.  My 3 year old digital camera has more functions and is more technically complicated, but while it has video capability, it take video without audio.

Time to download the pictures now, though.. time to hit the sack soon, too.  I am so tired I’ve postponed preparing Angel’s things for daycare tomorrow, including his lunch and diaper bag.  No rush..

Tinola with a twist

I hate repeating myself but let me confess here that I didn’t really cook until I got here to New York 6 years ago.  For Alan and me, it was a matter of survival.  It was also a way to cope with the boredom of staying home my first 6 months here while waiting for my work permit.  I would walk to the Barnes and Noble behind our apartment complex and scan gourmet magazines and find something fairly simple and manageable in terms of ingredients, because there was a Waldbaum’s (something like Unimart here) a hop, skip and a jump away. 

I had to ask Mom to send me my Nora Daza Cookbook and then I bought a half dozen or so Pinoy cookbooks when I went home for my first visit in 2002, and I got the Gene Gonzalez series from my dear friend Gina. 

These days when I feel like whipping up something “traditional,” I run to the web to see the different variations and pick one which I think would be close to the dish I want to come up with.  I was spoiled with great homecooking from my Mom and my Aunts — good cooks every one of them — so even when we eat out, I tend to compare and end up missing what I had gotten so used to.

I found my Tinola recipe via google here but tweaked it to what you will find below.  While Tinola is slightly spicy traditionally, I had to work on making it blander because the intention was to cook something I could feed Angel as well.  So my greens are more for color and to add the “veggie” factor more than to add flavor or zing.  I used chayote because it was readily available (yes, even in the American groceries whereas unripe papaya is only available in Asian or Chinese groceries), and it was a vegetable I knew Angel was not allergic to.  (That’s the motherhood side of me overtaking the rational cook.. )  I also cooked it the way my Mom had told me to cook chicken being sauteed for use in a dish with lots of broth or soup.  (Specifically, add the patis while the chicken is sauteeing in onions, BEFORE adding the broth.)

1 kg (2-1/4 pounds) chicken, cut into serving portions
3 tbsp oil
4 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tbsp ginger strips
2 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
2 pieces chayote cut into long slices

1/2 cup leafy vegetables (I picked a mix of romaine lettuce)
4-5 cups water


Sautè garlic, onion and ginger in oil. Add chicken and brown the sides, season with patis and continue to sautè for a few minutes. Add water. Bring to boil then cover and let simmer until meat is half-done. Add chayote and continue cooking until meat is done and vegetable is tender. Add greens and wait for the leaves to wilt and cook. Season to taste.