All posts by hijoyantonio

A marketing communications professional specializing in education brands

How to cook Kare-Kare

Kare-Kare recipeKare-Kare is one of my all-time favorite dishes. I can eat it everyday without getting bored or wanting anything else. What’s not to love about it? It has vegetables, peanut butter and oxtail. Though when we choose to make some at home, we opt to use Pata (pig’s leg) because oxtail takes a while to cook, not to mention quite expensive.

Since I’m only home on the weekends, we see to it that we prepare dishes that our family will enjoy. Hence, on one weekend, we made Kare-Kare. My sister has her own bagoong because she doesn’t like the kind that’s being purchased in ordinary markets. But I always believed that it’s really up to you on how you cook your bagoong. That way, you could make it to your own taste and liking.

Here’s my family’s own version of Kare-Kare.

Ingredients

1kb Pata (cut into smaller portions)
Pechay
String beans
Eggplant
Peanut butter
Garlic, a cup of water, salt (fish sauce if you want)
Powdered atsuete (half a teaspoon will do, just to add color)

Procedure

My family's Kare-Kare recipeHeat the pan with a few table spoons of cooking oil. Saute the pata in garlic and atsuete powder. If you don’t want to use atsuete, then you can omit that. Put the cup of water and let the meat simmer until it’s tender. Halfway through the cooking process, put in the string beans, since they will take time to cook. When the meat and string beans are tender, put in the peanut butter. On this I can’t be specific because the amount of peanut butter is really up to your taste. Some people like a lot of peanut butter, while others would opt for a milder taste. I suggest you take a separate bowl, get some sauce from your dish, then mix a few teaspoons of peanut butter. You can always add if you think you need more.

After adding the peanut butter, you can add in the pechay and eggplant. Salt or fish sauce is necessary but you DON’T need to put a lot, since you’ll be using bagoong later. I just want you to season it well because food spoils easily when they’re not seasoned right. Let it simmer for a few minutes, or until the eggplants are cooked, then you can serve it with white rice. If you’re on a diet, then maybe half a cup or rice will do?

Enjoy!!!

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

New Year’s and the new cheese I’ve found

When I was a kid, I’d make a list of all the things that I want, need, and the changes that I have to do for the new year.  But just halfway through the year, I throw the list away because I can’t even seem to do half of what I wrote.

It’s frustrating to actually have something so concrete in your thoughts but ending up as a failure when you put it into actions.  Not sounding pessimistic here, but as I grew older, I realized that it’s better to set your expectations realistically than to wish for something grand and end up with nothing.

So, as the new year approaches, instead of making a list of new resolutions, I listed all the things that I’ve accomplished and achieved in the past year.  I was happy to know that most of what I’ve prayed for came true, and more.  Of course there were disappointments, but still, what mattered to me was that 2012 was my best year.

One of the many things that I found fascinating too was that I’ve discovered some good eats throughout my 2012 journey.  How could I forget food, right?  I love my cheese, but I’m very picky with what cheese I eat because aside from being lactose intolerant, my body is just weird that way.

cheese slice 01
Move with the cheese!

But since it’s the Christmas season, our house is full of queso de bola.  This I munch on like regular chips.  So, a friend suggested that I should try Queso De Bola Cheesecake.  Queso de bola and cheesecake are two of my favorites in this lifetime, so I said, “send me one!”  Lo and behold, that cheesecake was to die for! I heard that there’s this good pastry girl who’s known for her queso de bola cheesecake, hopefully soon I’ll be able to taste her version.

Another new found thing for me is my tolerance for chicken.  I like chicken, but to eat it every day is not really what I call healthy eating.  But for the past holiday season, I’ve been craving for it almost every day.  Good thing my office is located near a food center.  Even the crew knew me already as “Miss Combo Meal with Extra Gravy.”

Now that it’s the New Year and up next is summer, I vow to lose all the unwanted weight I gained during the past two weeks. Imagine that! I’ve only been indulging myself for 15 days and yet I have to work doubly hard on the treadmill.

It’s not about looking good, or feeling guilty about what you ate.  Going to the gym is one way of keeping you healthy.  I don’t go to the gym because I want to look beautiful or be thin; that was never my motivation. I run on the treadmill because with my type of work (i.e. mostly sedentary), I need a form of exercise.  I need to sweat once in awhile so that I can have a well-balanced life.

So, who needs any more New Year’s resolutions?

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

How to clean fish: fish fabrication for beginners

I can’t forget the day our school taught us how to fabricate fish. I already knew the basics of fish fabrication—the culinary term for butchering or cutting the fish into the desired parts you want—because at home, if the househelp’s not there and my mom forgot to have the fish fabricated before bringing it home, I have the duty to remove its gills, scales, and insides.

At first, the smell was unbearable.  I had to wash my hands multiple times, even to the point of taking a bath just to remove the fishy smell.  If you have a weak stomach, then this job isn’t really for you.  Good thing I was used to these kinds of things.

raw fish fabrication
Whoa smelly

That day in school, when all of my classmates had to fabricate a single fish, I ended up doing two.  I was so confident in doing the first one that I really took my time, from scaling it to removing the bones.  My instructor happened to be very strict.  He even counted the bones, because some fish have specific number of bones in them.  I actually took the wrong fish! What I fabricated was the fish that we’ll use for our dishes and not the fish that’s supposed to be our test.  I only had a few more minutes left, and had to redo the whole thing :O

On to today’s lesson: for the beginner, my first advice is to get yourself a sharp knife.  Actually, if you’re really interested in cooking, good knives are worth the investment.  I collect some myself because they make my life a lot easier at the kitchen.  There are other tools that you can use when scaling a fish, but I still do the old method, which is to use the back of the knife and rub it on the opposite direction of the scales.

Try practicing too on fish like tilapia and milkfish.  They’re easy to fabricate and you don’t really need to remove a lot of things, unless you’re filleting them.

When you start fabricating a fish, try doing it in running water.  Make sure the water’s not too powerful, just strong enough so that while gutting the fish, all the blood and other remnants will easily come out.

Removing the gills takes some force.  It’s a little bit tricky because you might pull the whole head of the fish in the process.  Feel it first.  If the fish is fresh, you’d still see the gills and its whole diaphragm.  After feeling it, give it a one pull.  If not, then you can put it in running water and just remove whatever’s left inside the head.

Cutting the insides of a fish is easier than you think.  Just make sure you have a sharp knife and cut a few centimeters away from the stomach itself.  With milkfish, avoid cutting too near the stomach because there’s fat around it, which is a favorite among Filipinos. Again, you’ll need to feel the insides of a fish.  Insert your hand into the tiny, slanted cut you made and locate the intestines, liver and stomach content of the fish.  If you’re able to do so, make sure that in one pull you’ll be able to take out everything.  But in case something bursts inside, like maybe the liver, don’t worry, because you can always clean it with running water.

After removing the insides, and scaling the fish, the last thing you’ll have to do is cut the fins (wings).  I like to cut them because when you fry a fish, they spread and I don’t like the look of it.  There are some people, though, who like to eat them,  so it’s really up to you.  But seriously, just cut a few centimeters off and it’ll make the fish look prettier.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Back to the (beauty) books

When I was just learning how to apply make-up, I relied heavily on make-up books for step-by-step instructions. Even now that I am able to readily access vlogs/make-up tutorials on the internet, I still find myself perusing my old books and, occasionally, buying new ones to add to my collection.

I guess this is because I love reading, so it continues to be one of the primary ways by which I learn and relearn information. Aside from this, I think there is just something about the printed medium that helps me retain data; I think that’s called being a visual learner?

Whether you are a newbie or someone who is already adept at applying make-up, I would strongly recommend investing in at least one or two good volumes to help you continually improve your skills. Here are a few pointers that I go by whenever I choose new books to purchase:

Look for content, not famous names. A good make-up book should cover a wide variety of topics and sample looks. You want something that will be helpful to you, something that you can always consult. There are books that have lots of pictures of celebrities, usually written by famous make-up artists as well. If, however, these books don’t contain detailed instructions, then they won’t really be helpful. Admittedly, I have books written by the likes of Bobbi Brown, Carmindy, etc., but these I bought primarily for the content and not because somebody famous wrote them. It goes without saying that you have to browse before you buy, so you know what you’re getting.

Five books from my collection 🙂

Choose a book that contains lots of pictures. The really good ones feature one picture per step. I also personally prefer that all the pictures be colored. Some books will feature a really colorful look, and then give you a final shot in black-and-white; how is that supposed to help you?! I even recall a book that gave detailed instructions on a specific eye look, and then featured a final shot with long strands of hair actually covering the model’s eyes. I rest my case.

Wait before you buy. Sure, fashion trends are linked to beauty trends, and this might tempt you to immediately buy a newly-released make-up/beauty book before a certain trend goes out of style. However, make-up books generally tend toward looks that are more classic or have more staying power (i.e. not easily displaced by trends). Bookstores will always go on sale at least once a year, and sales are the best time to buy the books you’ve been eyeing. If you really want to learn how to work a certain beauty trend, you’re better off buying magazines which will usually feature articles on the said trend and (a big plus) will cost a fraction of what you have to shell out for a book.

Would you believe four out of these five books were bought on sale? I love bargains!

Hope these pointers help should you choose to go out and buy yourself a book or two (or three)!

Oh and just because I’m a curly-haired gal and am sooo amazed that there are people out there who totally get the daily drama that is my hair, I leave you with this…

Curly girls ROCK!

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

Bohol: where to go

My husband and I dream of travelling the world. But since we need to dedicate more time to raising our kids for now, we’ll start by exploring our beautiful country.

My favorite local destination by far is Bohol. The people are warm and friendly, the province hasn’t (yet?) been commercialized. We love the shores of Panglao because unlike Boracay, it’s not crowded. It’s just pure waves and peace.

To make sure we go to the best places, we hired a tourist guide/driver named Mang Henry who was highly recommended by a friend. We went to a lot of beautiful places which we all loved. But there were five exceptional ones that I would like to share:

1. Bee Farm

Yes, you got that right. It’s a farm full of bees! But don’t worry, the bees are housed in boxes. During the tour though, the lady took out a wooden sheet full of bees. I learned that there’s always only one queen bee per box. The rest are what they call “workers”, i.e. the ones responsible for making honey. If you’re not scared of bees, they will allow you take photos with them for free. However, if a bee stings you, you have to pay a particular fee because bee stings, apparently, relieve various ailments.

This “farm” does not only house honey bees. They also have a variety of plants and flowers, a restaurant and an ice cream shop! More than seeing the bees, eating their Malunggay flavored ice cream is the better part of the trip. It’s delicious and not to mention very healthy.

2. Dolphin Watching

We rented a boat (with a boatman of course!) who picked us up very early in the morning to spot some Dolphins in the middle of Panglao’s sea. We met up with a other boats in the middle of the sea to wait for dolphins. After a short wait, there were dolphins everywhere! They jumped so quickly so it’s hard to get a good picture if your camera is low-tech like mine. However, I was lucky enough to take one good photo (below). I was so happy because it was my first time to see dolphins in their natural habitat, and here in the Philippines! 🙂

3. Snorkeling in Balicasag Island

My husband and I were thinking twice about going snorkeling, which is part of the “sea tour”, together with the Dolphin-sight seeing. We were hesitant because we had to pay extra for the use of snorkeling gear. However, the boatman encouraged us to try it out so we gave in, thinking that this may be a once in a lifetime experience. And boy were we MESMERIZED! The view of the corals and fishes from the boat did not compare when we actually dove in the shallow part of the ocean. We had a very good view of the beautiful sea creatures (some fishes were already touching my skin)! I wish I had an underwater camera to capture the colorful world underwater! Like what the boatman said to us, “highly ricomended po talaga!”.

4. Tarsiers

We wouldn’t miss seeing Tarsiers in their home land. I saw a Tarsier once in a zoo but it was in a cage and I didn’t see much movement. In the tarsier spot that we visited, we were allowed go near them. I thought they were like babies: quiet, mild and gentle. But I was shocked when I was about to take a picture with one. It suddenly jumped and skipped around like a hyper toddler! Despite my fear, I still find them cute. 🙂

Just a note, please be careful when taking photos. Tarsiers are very sensitive that camera flashes can scare, or worse, kill them.

5. Chocolate Hills

I remember my SIBIKA book dubbed this place, together with Mayon Volcano and Rice Terraces, as one of the magagandang tanawin sa Pilipinas. And, seeing it for the first time, I could say that it’s a beautiful place indeed! It’s so amazing how the hills are formed and how they cover a vast area of Bohol. The only thing I did not like about seeing the place is the many steps we had to climb to get a good view of the hills.

with Mang Henry (middle)

If you need a Bohol tourist guide, feel free to call Mang Henry at 0921 476 9771. 🙂

This post was written by Maan Bello-de los Reyes.

Work-at-home job vs. homebased business

Recently, I’ve been receiving a lot of emailed queries from mothers asking how they could start working from home. Often, the hope is to quit the regular office-based job and replace the office-based income with homebased income.

I’ll say this straight: If you’re looking to replace your office income with your work-at-home income, you should not be looking for a work-at-home job. You need to start your own homebased business. And it is something you should begin to do while you are still in your office job.

Why?

Because often, work-at-home jobs pay much less than a homebased business will. After all, with a work-at-home job, you are just getting a percentage of what your employer gets from the client. If you own the business, you get 100% of what the client pays.

In fact, from my experience, the only way a work-at-home job can equal an office income is if you double your office hours, which means you work 80 hours a week instead of 40.

The downside, of course, is that with a homebased business, you will need to search for clients yourself. But let me tell you this: the process for finding your own business clients is almost the same as the process for finding a work-at-home job you can live with. In both cases, you need to

  • search online,
  • send a lot of application letters and work samples, and
  • activate your social network.

That is why you need to start your search for a work-at-home job or business many months before you quit your office work. It’s no overnight deal.

Perhaps, the reason why a lot of people shrink from starting their own business and look for jobs instead is the fact that a business promises less financial security than a job. It’s true. Client payments get delayed. Clients themselves are seasonal. You need to learn to manage your finances. But whether you have a business or a job, that is a skill you need to learn anyway.

And though a job offers more financial security in terms of regular payments, a business offers more financial rewards in terms of payment volume.

Another problem with having your own business is that your amount of accountability gets magnified. In the case of a writing company, for instance, the writer’s work gets edited and fact checked and proofread before it is sent to the client. If the writer contacted the client directly, the writer would need to be able to edit and proofread his own work and make sure his facts are correct.

If you feel that your skills are not sufficient for you to contact clients directly, then yes, you may need to get a work-at-home job instead of start your own business … but do the job part time, while you are employed, so that your skills can be honed to the point where you can eventually stand on your own.

Then, when you quit your office job, you won’t need to look for a work-at-home job anymore. You can start your own business.

Reposted from Nanay Notebook

Learn to cut your own chicken

Before I attended culinary school, I always bought pre-cut chicken. First, because I could choose the parts that I like, and second because I really didn’t know how to cut a chicken up. But when I went to culinary school, they taught us how to do it. It looked easy at first but it was difficult for me. So, I practiced a lot, inspired as well by chefs who’d cut chicken as if it were a piece of cake. If they can do it, so can I! I told my mom to but whole chickens instead of those cut ones. Believe me, in the beginning, my family made fun of my chicken proportions.

But I slowly learned how to cut them properly. The thing about doing your own chicken portions is that you can control the size of your chicken. Not that you can do so much, but you know what I mean.

Caution: Raw chicken contains salmonella, so I advise that you use a separate cutting board for you chicken, wash it thoroughly after use, including your knife. Make sure to cook your chicken properly.

How to cut up a chicken

You need a knife (a sharp one please) and a separate chopping board.

  1. Remove the parts that are hanging, like the head, neck and the wing tips.
  2. Then, cut off the chicken tail. Foreigners don’t really eat this part, but we Filipinos love this. You can set it aside, or you may choose to not cut it yet and include it when you cut one of the chicken breasts.
  3. Cut the skin between the thigh and breast area. Then pop the bone connecting to it. This will give you access to where you would have to cut through the skin to separate the breast from the thigh.
  4. Cut at an angle between the drumstick and the thigh. The knee joint has a bone, and that’s where you have to cut.
  5. Cutting the wings is easy; all you have to do is spread it and cut where the wing ends. (Again, you need a sharp knife for this.)
  6. Cut down the middle following the chicken backbone. You could use a pair of scissors to cut through it, but a knife will do too.
  7. You can proportion size of the chicken breast you want, then just cut through it.

For beginners, I suggest you cut the chicken first into two. Then, you remove one by one the parts. The reason why I didn’t mention this as my number one is because as time goes by, and you’ll get used to it, and it’ll be easier to remove the parts first before butchering the whole chicken.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.