In The Kitchen: Bicol Express

 

When I was still young, I never want to eat anything that has too much coconut milk in it. I feel like throwing up because of dizziness it causes me – no, I did not have hypertension then or even now. I think it was more of a psychological “kaartehan” or an alibi so I could eat or ask for something yummier for a child. My Mama was from Bicol province where people are known to cook almost all their delicacies with coconut milk and wild chili (local name: siling labuyo).  But when I started to mature, and became interested working in the kitchen, my alibi faded. It came to a point that I finally enjoy Bicolano delicacies and even asked my Mama to teach me cook some.  There is one dish I have never tried cooking though, Bicol Express!

I got the inspiration from one of my cousins, Ate Jen. One time I was planning  what to prepare for the family, I decided to get all the ingredients necessary for Bicol Express dish. I even found myself browsing for the recipe even if I already know it. And, this was how it looked like when it ended in our table.

 

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The pork was tender and the dish has a balanced salty-spicy taste that even my 10 year old daughter enjoyed it. My Bicol Express dish has given me added points of confidence in the kitchen. Having said that, I may have to try few more Bicolano delicacies soon!

 

Rangemaster Cookers Continue To Improve in 2013

 

Getting a great review on appliances means someone had to work hard enough to earn the trust of consumers on a regular basis within a considerably respectable amount of time. Great reviews deserving of higher accolades come from long-standing quality, upscale performance features and reputable customer attention-to-detail factors. Where do you look for such an appliance company? You find it with Rangemaster.

Rangemaster appliance products have been earning culinary respect for decades. As a top appliance choice for Britain’s finest home cooks and chefs, Rangemaster ovens have proven over and over again who is top dog in the high-end oven appliance market. The praise doesn’t just begin and end in Britain, however. Rangemaster is a highly-respected, international, master cooking delight. Let’s take a look at one of Rangemaster’s oven styles to see why.

rangemasterThe Rangemaster 90, one of Rangemaster’s best-selling ovens holds its own with lots of inviting features. In fact, diversity is the Rangemaster 90’s middle name. This little beauty brings a lot to the culinary table beginning with fuel-type options. Electric, gas and dual fuel options means greater cooking capacities for homes of all kinds. Gas and dual fuel options also offer a wonderful way to keep burners free from dirt while providing extra work surfacing with an inclusive safety glass lid. This well thought out detail is yet another example of how Rangemaster incorporates simplicity and convenience into the daily routines of every chef. Simply choose your favorite fuel option; or, design around existing fuel set-ups in the home or business location to suit personal tastes.

Moving from fuel types is the undeniably exciting moment of moving towards Rangemaster 90 styles and colors. From the gorgeous, smaller versions donning traditional oven windows or no windows at all to the visual warmth offered with all kinds of delicious color options, Rangemaster 90 performs. Larger professional ovens exuding a contemporary and industrial flair with multi-functional cooking spaces, burners and design elements promises Rangemaster 90 does not disappoint.

Finding the right oven means doing your homework. In Rangemaster’s case the homework has already been done for you. Rangemaster and Rangemaster 90 ovens make it extremely easy to by-pass any lengthy oven researching drudgeries. Exploring Rangemaster ovens mean having fun in choosing the right oven for you and your family. It is OK to be choosy. Let Rangemaster make up your mind with cooking confidence for years to come.

 

A Cupcake Disaster

 

 

The excitement in me after buying the new tabletop electric oven was like a flu virus. L0L! It was really all over me! With that feeling, I went to Chocolate Lover in Cubao and bought some stuff I needed to start making cupcakes. I also had to scan through some of my “memory boxes” and found my very first dessert cookbook. Besides that, since my purpose is to really bake for my kids, I logged into my Pinterest account and visited the sites of those cakes and cookies pinned images I have in one of my boards. As soon as I thought I was ready, I tried baking cupcakes! The first one we (my kids and I) tried were Sharon’s butter cupcake but since I wanted something from the scratch, I baked some Chocolate Banana and Carrot cupcakes. My kids loved them! And I think they liked it not because of the taste but because of the thought that I made them. =D

When my elder daughter kept asking me to try buttercream, I had to ask some tips from a friend, Vangie. She was the one who made Roey’s 1st birthday cake. Again, when I thought I am all ready, I tried my very first buttercream.  But, as I was preparing the ingredients, I remembered that my hand mixer is nowhere to be found so I have to do it manually.


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It was a disaster! Check out how it looked like in the photo above – not even close to those pretty cupcakes topped with buttercream frosting I have  repinned in my Pinterest board! There was too much butter if I am not mistaken and the consistency of manual mixing is really different from mixing it with an electric mixer – or maybe, the consistency is possible to achieve, it was just that I am a newbie.

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I was already disappointed with how it looked like in that first photo. But, can you imagine how bad I felt with how the buttercream melted after few minutes? It was heart breaking! I just have to uplift my spirit with the fact that all the great bakers nowadays are once a beginner and they too had their share of baking disasters.

The consolation of that imperfect buttercream frosting is at least it was delicious!

Her Last Sewing Machine

This sewing machine was my Mama’s last. I bought her this in replacement of an older Bother sewing machine.  It was not her birthday nor there was a special occasion. I just felt that it is necessary for me to buy her a new one so she’ll stop doing the laundry and sew instead. At least, she will be able to make something new to wear or repair and re-purpose some old ones. She made an apron and some underwear shorts for my elder daughter. She made several blouses and summer dresses too.

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My Mama was a dressmaker, businesswoman and a beautician during her younger and stronger days… I mean, when she was still alive. She was able to send me to school with all her abilities and “diskarte” in life. Being friendly and approachable is a big plus too. She always have that smile which will signal anyone that she’s a good and trustworthy person.

When I brought home this Brother sewing machine, I somehow saw an awkwardness in her smile and appreciation. It did not cross my mind that she’ll not make use of this one that much compared to her old tabletop machine and Singer sewing machine. This has become her last sewing machine. She passed away about  5 months after I bought her this. =(

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Since she’s gone, who else will use this sewing machine but me! I made several pillowcases, and the Purple Skirt my daughter wore for a school contest.

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I was so excited to start a new project early January I even went to Divisoria and bought few yards of cotton textile. I also found where to buy that cotton they use for vacuumed pillows and bought a kilo too. It’s just that when I opened the sewing machine and was eager to start, it would not work anymore. Rust stain is just everywhere, it is in every important part of the sewing machine. A sudden feeling of sadness hit me and then came memories of Mama which made me really sad. I should have taken care of her sewing machine in a better way. Someone advised me to use oil or wd40. I actually haven’t tried it, I kept the sewing machine again. When I no longer feel Blue, and when the crafty fairies come visit me again for ideas and inspiration, I’ll sure get back to it.

 

A Must Read for CSRs

Are you a customer service representative?

If you are, did you go through a thorough training to be a GREAT CSR?

 

You may be puzzled as to why bother be great when you can still be the CSR that you are. At the same time, you must have been made aware of the differences in each customer – needs, demands, attitude and status. You maybe right, that you don’t have to be well trained to be a great Customer Service Representative. Why do I say so? Simply because servicing a customer is just like lessons in life – you learn it by experience!

 

But perhaps, keeping in mind these 20 great customer service replies would help you to be an outstanding CSR.

 

  • How can I help you today?
  • I’m happy to do that for you.
  • What is most convenient for you?
  • I’m sorry there is a problem. We’ll make it right.
  • What do you think would be fair?
  • Is that all right?
  • Let me make sure I have this correct.
  • Thank you for being so patient.
  • I’ll get right back to you. (And please make sure you do)
  • We value our customer’s input.
  • I’ll pass your comments along.
  • Let me find out for you.
  • I know exactly what you mean.
  • Would you like me to review anything with you?
  • Absolutely!
  • You’re welcome!
  • Do you have any questions?
  • I’ll take care of that right away.
  • Is there anything else I can do for you?
  • I’m glad I could help you.
  • We appreciate your business.
  • Please call / come again.

 

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Another tip I have for you is that never give false hope. It is really okay to tell a customer if you can’t do or can no longer do anything to resolve an issue or a situation, just as long as you tried and was honest. And one more thing, these replies are nothing unless delivered properly and in the right tone. Remember, it is not what you say, it is how you say it.

 

 

*CSR replies credits – CVG’s P.com

Christmas Cake

Christmas Cake

With my electric oven, I can’t deny that I’ve been inspired to create and bake goodies for my kids. Aside from being able to make cookies and cupcakes for my elder daughter’s school snack, I also tried making muffins for my toddler. Healthy muffins that is. Something that excites her everytime and wouldn’t mind eating.

Last Christmas, my cousins invited us to join their annual Christmas party and exchange gift. Who would say no? Not me! My kids were totally excited! We all love family gatherings and fun parties like this one. Since there were several families attending the event, a potluck was suggested. I was asked to bring something for dessert. And this was the best way to again, to have fun and experiment and also use my oven! I told them I’d bring cupcakes but I wanted to surprise them so I also baked a cake. It was a 6″ round layered chocolate cake with choco ganache.

From this cake on top to this one below which also shows the cupcakes that came with it. The new cupcake holder of my cousin’s wife was perfect to display the colorful sweets. My nieces and cousins volunteered to decorate the cake and cupcakes and it somehow made me feel glad they had fun with an instant creative activity.

It was a memorable Christmas party we had and I still can see the smile on my face whenever I recall that at least, that chocolate cake I brought at the party was not a disaster. As I look at its photos, I want to be able to bake more successful cakes. Successful not just in terms of look but taste too!

 

Hopeful for The New Year

Happy New Year!

In every year, every one is but hopeful for a better life… in all aspect of it. For 10 years now, I always have in my hopes and prayers the best for my daughter K and since 3 years ago, for Roey too. Best of health is first in every Mom’s wish of course. And as we light up every sparkler at New Year’s eve, it comes with a simple  wish of whatever we want or like to happen or have for the incoming year. Just like what we do as we blow the candles in our cakes every birthday celebration we have. In fact, if you think about it, we get to celebrate new year twice a year. Every 1st of January and on our birth dates too! We are so blessed, aren’t we?

My elder daughter took this photo of me as I was holding a small sparkler during New Year’s eve. I can not help but remember how these small sparklers give  joy to me as a child. But if I get to see and witness the brightness and beauty of grand fireworks display,  ahhh…that smile you’ll see in my face is spelled HAPPINESS!

Besides the fact that I was the only person in the house who lit up sparklers, I was the one who baked this cake too! It wasn’t really what I wanted for the New Year but I guess this one’s good enough for us. The real reason was actually, lack of time. Anyways, I used my new electric table top oven for this cake. It was a butter cake topped with a thin coat of choco buttercream, covered with marshmallow fondant. I didn’t have a Yellow food color so instead of using my in-stock White marshmallows for the fondant, I used a  pack of Yellow (Banana cut) marshmallows which were store-bought. Designed it with sugar icing stars and mini candies. That’s our sweet something in our table that evening.

And as everyone of us wish for happiness, let us also remember to bring the same happiness we wish for to others. So, let me end this post with borrowed quotes – –

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.” – Brooks Atkinson