Monday, December 27, 2010

What Yen Did

one of the things i do extremely well is make mountains out of molehills. take the unfortunate situation of a noche buena without my mother or my kitchen diva sister for example. i could have gone the buy-this ulam, buy-that dessert route (a patented technique of one smart cousin), sat back and enjoyed the holidays. but no. that would be so un-me. so this is what i did starting at 2pm, christmas eve:

this was the plan. wait. aside from a penchant for the complicated, i am terribly, clinically optimistic. i made the ham myself. from scratch. i bought the meat fresh (slightly less than a kilo, sayang ang pera if i botch the experiment), prepared the brine, cured it, boiled it, baked it encrusted with sugar. this is how it came out:

it was tougher and stringier than hoped but i was gunning for jamon iberico. not that i have ever tasted spanish ham. but you know what i mean.

compared to the hams in the grocery freezer, it did quite well, thank you very much. not one member of the family had a stomach ace. and the total cost? 250 pesos, tops. take that, CDO.

then i had fried garlic rice, a favorite. no brainer. i have been doing this since grade school. only at that time, i didn't bother frying it. or even adding garlic. it was old and cold rice + used oil + salt and/or toyo. this is the foundation of my elevated gastronomic standards.
and while all of this was cooking, jana was busy with the drinks.

she wanted to make umbrellas but even i shot that idea down.

these were what she made, frilled up glasses, all in a row. waiting for its occupants.

after baking the ham, i left the gas on in preparation for the lasagna. while that was going on, i did the sweets. two days ago i made fruit salad, upon the request of diego and gabriel. the leftover cherries (29 pesos for 100 grams at mindpro grocery) went on top of it.

got this assortment of fudge from a cousin. the plate is from big v's -- 29 pesoses only!

and this is the biggest hit of the season in my family and with a lot of my friends. faye lorenzo go's double chocolate cookies. they are the very best i have ever tasted. and not too expensive. they are 150 for a dozen but the cookies are large (and the packaging is simple but pretty) so they are really super worth it. i ordered several one dozen packs to give to friends and i got great reviews. i wish i can say YES to everyone who said "did you bake it? it was sooooo goood!". but alas, i was thinking of santa checking me out and all that.

at this point in time, the gasul went kaput. what a time to run out of gasul. and i am NOT doing uling. i am optimistic, not suicidal.

husband, who schedules these things, could not believe it either: he bought it november 7, so it should have lasted us until january 5 at the earliest. yes. my husband tracks things this closely. i let him deal with it and whiled away the time i didn't have to take a picture of our PATHETIC christmas tree.

i pity my kids for having this as part of their hallmark memories.

but i am happier with our wreath. we made it with the christmas wrapping papers i went on and on about in an earlier blog post.

while still waiting for the gasul, i made myself the guinea pig for the castrated shirley temple: a lot of sprite, a very little grenadine, a lot of ice, and the fruity swizzle stick. husband gagged at the taste. but i did it for the kids, not for him. hmmp. my target audience loved it. so, mission accomplished.

when the gasul was back, we did the white sauce (bechamel, naks!) for the lasagna. the red sauce i already did two days before so it was more of an assembly work.

and while this was baking, i made the stir fry, our token vegetable in the menu.

i just took a picture of it in the carajay. do you know how tiring it is to cook the food, deal with christmas-crazed kids, and take pictures of the food at the same time?

but the OC in me reared its ugly head....and insisted on a picture of the gulay in its presentation plate, just like all the others.

and finally, the prawns. another no brainer.

just steam the prawns.

and dump this in. works 100% of the time.

and our centerpiece was this, courtesy of jana, our very own documentor.

merry christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

it's a wrap!

gift wrapper buying, a fast and painless procedure for most people, is a highly hazardous operation for me. i have never gone christmas wrapper shopping and not spend more money than i should have, or more time than i have. never.

this christmas i spent an hour scouting the stores (shop o rama, shopper's central, shopper's plaza). when i finally found the one with the best looking ones (bloomingdale's at mindpro -- many years has passed since it opened and i am still uncomfortable with its name) i spent an hour and a half there. thankfully, the woman in charge of the gift wrapping section was indulgent.

this is my harvest:

they are all by hallmark. if i remember right, they are php 13 each. except for the glittery green one. that one is expensive. well, expensive considering it's just paper. which you will use to wrap boxes. which other people will tear apart to get to what is in the box. i have three more expensive ones (50, 55 pesos, hehe) but i will not post them here because they don't look like much. in photos they look like cartolinas. but in real life they are so pretty i can go around just hugging them.

what i look for in my wrappers? that the paper is good, the printing is good, and the design is great. and as ever, i am hopeful that i will be able to find designs which are, if not Filipino, then at least nothing too european nor too american.

my favorite. i know it doesn't look christmas-y. but that just might be why i love it. i think i am going back to the store and get ten more of this.

i like the color of this too. acid pink, purple, and lime green. yummy!

of course, being a mother to four kids and godmomma to about a half-dozen inaanaks, i have to have wrappers for children. i bought three designs, and this is the one i like best. which doesn't mean the kid who will get a gift wrapped in this is my favorite. kids, in my experience, don't really care about the wrapper. they're only interested in abusing the wrapper.

i love this design. but of course, i am already violating my "nothing too european" "rule". :((

sorry for the bad picture but this is really a cute print. the reindeers are adorable. no reindeers in our part of the world but i couldn't resist.

and i give up. wala ba talagang pinoy themed, or at least "world" themed wrappers for kids? but still, isn't this sooooooooooo cute. santa was here! santa was here!

i had to have some traditional wrappers too. for the old fashioned people on my list. my mom for example. i will save myself the grief of having to explain to her my gift wrap choice by just giving her something expected.

this one falls under the last category also.

and this is my favorite in the traditional theme category.

i look forward to next year's pickings.

a champ takes over a clam's place in my heart

i have a feeling what i am about to announce will trigger a collective sigh of relief among my family and friends.

today is the day i say goodbye to my five (six? seven?) year old nokia cell phone. good bye friend. you served me well. this is such an old model that when i searched for "old nokia flip top models", this didn't show up at all. i know of only one other person who still has this phone but i bet he's going to abandon it soon as well, seeing as he might do a paris junket next year. and we can't have parisians thinking filipinos still use phones like these, can we?

hello samsung champ. bear with me as i struggle with learning how to abuse you.

thanks to the giver. you know i only lost the last phone you gave me because of typhoon ondoy, right?

so there. friends, family, you can again invite me out to dinner with peace in your hearts, knowing you have no more need to duck your head in shame as i take out my cellphone to take calls or to send messages, etc., etc..