A little quiet over here yes, been a bit more busy as a bee would be, so it’s no wonder I’ve been hovering over these and pruning them to my heart’s delight. A tip for keeping flowers perky is to not just immediately dunk them in a vase of water as is but to do so after first cutting the bottom tips of each stem at a diagonal angle so they don’t clog up when touching the bottom of the vase. Also trim any leaves near the bottom of the stems so they don’t drown and rot in the water making the water bad for the flowers to take in. Once you do this and leave them for a few hours so they can drink, come back later and touch the petals you’ll notice if some of them were wilting when you first bought them they’ll suddenly feel perked up. To keep flowers alive longer do the same diagonal trimming of stem tips every few days (daily if you’re OC) and change the water everyday to every other day.
“Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord. Philippians 4:4 JB PHILLIPS version”
I inserted a blossom as a garnish into my Sola iced tea this morning to cheer myself up (for mum flowers make sure it’s only the blossom, no stems or leaves). I popped the airtight cap on the bottle first for safety, drank a bit to make space, closed it and shook up a storm to get foam and poured it into a glass, tada, al fresco worthy iced tea. I’ve been a bit under the weather deep inside, so apologies for the sudden calm over here. God is faithful and He’s been bringing me closer to Him in ways I never thought possible. As it turns out I needed a bit of diagonal trimming myself. On the brighter side, there’s something real exciting by the way I have to show once I receive the photos, can’t wait to share that with you.
And so it happened that somehow I managed to find myself with a couple of comforting delights flavored with my favorite full-leaf tea which had to mean it was worthy of a post centered on everything Earl Grey. A couple of lovely brands over at the Legazpi Sunday market sweetly indulged me with Earl Grey flavored treats and helped make this post possible. Mom got me the ice cream elsewhere. You can’t imagine how pleased I looked smiling upon all of them together (actually, only 4 things on top of my requisite grey sweater)…I almost clapped LOL.
CLOCKWISE: Merry Moo Earl Grey Ice Cream (local artisanal ice cream, made with milk from free range cows), Fat Fingers PH Earl Grey Macarons (filled with Earl Grey tea infused dark & milk chocolate ganache), HURRAW Cold-Pressed Vegan Earl Grey Lip Balm from Cutieverse, Twinings Earl Grey Tea Bags.
I’ll now have to admit that I haven’t blogged about Merry Moo Earl Grey Ice cream ever since I first discovered it…kind of on purpose because I wanted to keep it a secret (it’s always in limited stock…*hits the backspace key…sighs and moves on* lol). Merry Moo is a wonderful local ice cream brand that does uniquely marvelous ice cream in artistanal flavors like Candied Bacon (tried it, it isn’t weird at all), Strawberry Basil, Honey Comb, Salted Dark Chocolate, a couple of others and THANKFULLY Earl Grey Tea as well. You can see some of the tea leaf flecks in the ice cream below.
Merry Moo’s Earl Grey offering is creamy, sophisticated and significantly yummy, if you like milk tea, I guarantee you’ll like this ice cream.
Merry Moo have a lot of kiosks in the Metro and sell ice cream to eat or in Php300.00 pints to take home, they’re also at the Legazpi Sunday Market but don’t always have lots of pints on hand there, the ice cream is mostly scoops to go at the market. The main kiosks I’m aware of are 4th flr foodcourt in SM Aura, EchoStore Market Market, Taguig, Glorietta 4 foodcourt (flr. before cinemas). There are more kiosk branches though, check out their Facebook page for the full list. In case your sweet tooth ain’t sore enough yet, the friendly people of Fat Fingers PH and Cutieverse.com put together a joint gift just for meeeee :D. A combined present encasing my favorite Hurraw Earl Grey Lip Balm AND…OMY WAIT FOR IT… Earl Grey Tea flavored macarons filled with dark chocolate Earl Grey infused ganache
Fan me, say my name, help me stand.
I won’t even begin to talk about my repeatedly mentioned ALL-TIME favorite lip balm past this next sentence. This balm is nothing but good, HURRAW was praised by NYLON magazine for merging the convenience of the pocket-able chap balm with the good of better ingredients, it tastes like Earl Grey, in the most comforting way plus the balm is cold-pressed and vegan. That was a really long run-on next sentence. As for these macarons, to be fair to you readers I will have to admit for your sake they are on the pricy side per piece (around Php45 each) but honestly these ARE YUMMY (just wish they were bigger for the price). Hint-hint @fatfingersPH I love your macarons but I must be honest. The macarons I tried abroad in Williamsburg, NYC were 75 UScents each (about Php33) they had drawings on them and they were about 25% bigger (not sure if I’m making a fair economic comparison but thought I’d mention for honesty’s sake). God must’ve worked to make the team behind Fat Fingers bring two of my favorite dessert flavors together in these macarons…Earl Grey Tea and Dark Chocolate filling to set me free…so, so yummy. At home once in awhile I sit with a cup of Earl Grey tea while reading, but sometimes I get lost in thought and I forget to pull out the tea bag and it becomes too dark.Just thought I’d share a couple of my favorite Earl Grey treats since I acquired them all together this week.
It’s actually good that I had this non-beauty post lined up…I really did just randomly decide yesterday to not blog about beauty today, gosh I would have never foreseen Robin William’s passing . I almost wouldn’t have been able to do makeup stuff at all with this huge universal ache many of us share today. Why did the world’s relentless, giddy, funny man have to leave? Another question unanswered for now. I know, I am genuinely really sad about this. Let’s hold hands, crow to the heavens and shout BANGARANG because the whole world needs to right now. Who’s gonna make us laugh now, Robin? It’s so strange that right now we need you because of you…am I making any sense?
Okay, consider this a cheat post, but actually…not really because I’m primarily fasting from beauty blogging. The main reason why this could not at all wait ’till next week is simply because almost everyone who is fasting will be done by the end of the month or even next week…which would render this post with food suggestions useless. I know there are many of you like myself who are anemic and cannot go on “food-less” or 100% juice fasts. In fact my doctor, Roberto Salvino (Spanish for “savior”), who actually saved me from my second bout with dengue over a year ago said because of my blood with naturally low hemoglobin I’m required to eat “lean” meat (fat and offal NOT recommended with the exception of liver) at least 3 times a week with iron supplements. So this January, actually at the beginning of this week I began my “fast” by trimming indulgence and sticking with this more or less balanced diet to detox and lose Christmas weight. I put on 3 or 4 lbs because of no exercise last Nov/Dec and mainly because we ran out of oatmeal for breakfast and Tipco juice so my morning meals were greasy again, that detail of a different breakfast, plus instant Milo instead of Tipco juice, with no exercise every morning really put on the pounds. I’d like to call this post “Fast” Food, pun intended, so it’s basically just a purer, healthier selection of eats that actually taste good in my opinion (you don’t have to agree about V8, I know more than half the world hates tomato juice, but I love it). I originally planned to stick with this lot just for a week but I now plan to extend ’til the end of the month so it will make more of a difference.
V8 Low Sodium Original vegetable juice – 8 veggie juices in tomato base, I add Tabasco to spice it up, don’t get this unless you like tomato juice.
Silk Chocolate Soy Milk – No GMOs, so I get my chocolate milk fix without actual “dairy”, my brother likes the Vanilla flavor in a purple box. This is so, so yummy and it tastes like the right kind of chocolate.
Tipco Broccoli juice – This is NOT yucky at all, looks suspiciously green BUT tastes just like apple juice the kids at Brent school love Tipco.
Comida Rica Kaffir Lime Dressing – THIS makes me eat lots of salad, if you’re tired of European vinaigrettes try this Asian inspired one available from Echostore. I can safely say we’ve gone through about nearly 10 bottles of this stuff in the past few months. It’s the perfect vinaigrette partner option along with that roasted sesame Asian cream dressing everyone likes. Now the vinaigrette people can be happy, too.
Quaker Whole Grain Rolled Oats – If you’ve hated oatmeal all your life it might just be because you were eating the instant variety…that used to make me gag, I had bad memories of being force-fed instant oatmeal by some yaya. When I tasted REAL oatmeal that wasn’t instant I started eating oatmeal everyday and I shed unnecessary flab just by changing my breakfast. Mix it with honey and fruits if you still can’t take oatmeal “neat”.
Sweet Spring Country Farm Organic Salad Greens – In case you didn’t know my uncle, Kiko Pangilinan leveled up from Senator to Farmer and our family now has regular access to organic salad greens every week. We buy our fresh salad greens from him, here the tomatoes are also from his farm in Alfonso, Cavite. Check out their Facebook page here. “farm stall is located at Robinson’s Summit Ridge along the Tagyatay Nasugbu National Road in Tagaytay city. We are open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 8pm.” Mobile: 0932 846 1572 Email: email@example.com
Kimchi – Korean kimchi (spicky pickled cabbage) always adds lots of excitement to my meals. I like anything pickled actually. This gives added oomph to mealtime especially when seafood is the main. A simple pickle you can put together that I ALSO love which is more Tagalog is radish ceviche (ensaladang labanos) the thin, shaved or sliced white radish (labanos) slices steeped in white vinegar , salt, a bit of sugar and pepper, together with some sliced red onion and tomatoes to make the dish blush a bit, an added touch would be chopped spring onion, just a little.
White Fish - You can switch for local fish like boneless bangus (milkfish) which I super love or tilapia. This one here is River Cobbler filets from S&R, huge double filet in a Php150 frozen pack.
Free range/organic eggs – In case you have a sudden hankering for meat eggs are the lesser evil. You can whip up something quick with them or use them in vegetable dishes for added body in dishes. You can go yolk-less and stick to using the white if you’d like to restrict yourself more from dairy.
I’ve allowed myself mainly seafood and chicken for protein, lots of fruits & vegetables, salad, real (not instant) oatmeal sweetened with organic honey, pure juices, water, and soy milk. I am forbidding myself to take heavy red meat dishes, instant noodles, sweet junk (chips I don’t really like, anyway, except for Piknik), pastries. carbonated/softdrinks, and powdered drinks are a complete no-no. What I’ve forgotten to include in the picture is Apple Cider Vinegar and Tabasco which I use a lot for seasoning in conjunction with some of these. For those of us who still need to eat but want a safe detox I think sticking to these is great. For munchies dried fruits and nuts are a good option but I try to drink juice or water instead when I feel the urge to munch, less calories. Just remember it’s much better to consult your doctor if you’ve never drastically restricted yourself from certain foods and if you have vitamin supplements don’t quit those during the fast. This is pretty much a low sodium balanced selection with no red meat. What do you think? Have you already jumped on the fasting bandwagon? Would you much rather stick to a selection of “fast” food as I have rather than go food-less?
Most of you know about my darling cat, Cloud since I randomly post pictures of her, but what you may not know is that last year she got a chunk of brand recognition as well from the country’s top feline food brands. While she may not seem at all camera or people-shy when I’m shooting lovely photos of her at home the case is quite the opposite when she’s out in public. When it comes to the limelight away from home…she’d much rather kiss a dog.
Undoubtedly an introvert at the Fancy Feast Catcrafternoon event last November.
There’s one thing I’m sure of about Cloud no matter where though, she’s a picky eater and she has tender constitution (a sensitive digestive system). The first year we had her we fed her the usual cheaper dry kibble (won’t mention the brand) that we feed our fat tabby cats. Our other cats didn’t have problems with this brand of food. Cloud, a Himalayan-Persian, after several months ended up with either kidney or liver infections and she puked way too often indicating that the food made her acidic and that it was too high in sodium. So for awhile I shifted her to soft food, and I fed her Fancy Feast (even before we were recognized by them, which is why I know God cares) in conjunction with other soft food for about 6 months so that her system could recover. As soon as Cloud sees me holding a Fancy Feast can she follows me intently, a testament to how much the flavor excites her. She recovered from an enlarged kidney after eating Fancy Feast for over a month. Here she’s enjoying her take home gift from the brand after her appearance at their Catcrafternoon event.
Fancy Feast is wonderful but once Cloud was well, dry kibble still had to be her staple for easier feeding. I didn’t want to shift her back to the regular brand of kibble we gave her which was what made her sick. So without delay I started feeding her Royal Canin Persian30 dry food while still feeding Fancy Feast once in awhile. Royal Canin Persian30 dry food made her hair grow surprisingly thick and beautiful within a few months, got rid of some balding areas she had on her back and increased her overall health and happiness. By the way, can you tell? She loves the taste, too. She left a heart in her bowl once.
However, I worried that feeding her Royal Canin for a long time might strain the family budget a little because it’s one of the best pet foods in the country and while it totally improved her it’s pretty pricy. I asked God for a way so that we could keep feeding her Royal Canin for longer. Then out of the blue a Royal Canin representative emailed me saying he represented the brand and would like to invite Cloud to their Day of the Cat event at Resorts World. He had heard about Cloud from his wife who follows me via Instagram or the blog. He also had no idea if we fed Cloud Royal Canin and was delighted when I said it was one of the food brands that made her well and improved her overall heath. He said that if we made an appearance with Cloud we’d be going home with 10kg bags of Royal Canin kibble of our choice. Due to a sudden work commitment on my part for the day my Dad had to bring reluctant Cloud to the Royal Canin event (where she also didn’t want to show her face), he presented her on stage, socialized with other cats (or tried to) and they came home with not one, not two, but…
…three! Three free 10kg bags of Royal Canin, each bag about half as tall as me! Due to tight planning for the event we were given the variant Fit32, we didn’t get Persian30 but we were told we could consume one bag of Fit32 for now, and they’d replace the other two later on with Royal Canin Persian30, her favorite. Just so you know, this was taken in our living room and I didn’t set it up at all. This was the next morning, the day after the event. I found her like this in front of all three bags and I just decided to run and grab my camera to take a shot of an obviously very proud kitty. Thanks to both Fancy Feast and Royal Canin for showering Cloud with much needed love. Her tummy thanks you.
We’ve got to an early start today, but truth is you don’t need half a day to do this, we just finished the first half of the process which is roasting the shanks before braising them later tonight, between now and tonight these shanks are resting. If you’d like to do this for regular dinner time you can start at 3 or 4pm. If it’s for a New Year’s eve late dinner you can begin at sundown. I’ve got my hands all over these pieces of meat. Mom is the captain and I’m first mate (aka sous chef) aboard our kitchen ship, and we’re preparing lamb shanks for braising tonight! First though we have to roast a little over 2 kilos of lamb shanks (4.5 lbs exactly) for about an hour. Total preparation plus cooking time takes about 2 and a half hours. There’s lots of love in slow cooking.
We begin by preheating the oven to 230° C and while that’s preheating we prepare the spice rub for the shanks. The combined spice rub you see above is made of the following ingredients.
We purposely made more of the spice rub than we needed (double the actual recipe), we only used a total of 4 teaspoons of the resulting powder once this is all mixed together, the extra we will store for future dishes or if additional seasoning is needed.
- 2 teaspoons ground all-spice
- 2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Grind all of that together finely (you can use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder) then you massage 4 teaspoons of the spice rub all over the lamb shanks and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finish by cutting deep slits in each shank to create pockets for the herbed butter.
HERBED BUTTER (mix all together with a spatula into a cold paste, then insert into slit pockets in shanks):
- 100 grams of cold butter
- 6 sprigs of rosemary, tear off the leaves and discard the stems
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- a pinch of dried ground sage (optional)
Once you’ve got the herbed butter done, insert into the shank pocket slits you cut into the lamb, insert and spread to be exact. It’s like a little yummy secret inside the shanks. Once each of the shanks are covered with the spice rub and filled with their share of herbed butter, pop them into the oven at 230°C and roast for 1 hour. When the roasting is done use the port wine from the next step to deglaze the pan and use for braising.
Now these roasted shanks are ready to be braised for later tonight.
BRAISING LIQUID (Once you’ve used the port wine to deglaze the roasting tray with the drippings combine that with the chicken stock then put in the shanks. Braise for 1.5 hours in the oven at 175° C in this liquid):
- 1 & 1/4 cup of port wine
- A quart and 1/2 cup of chicken stock
After 1.5 hours of braising, remove from the oven, rest the meat for 10 minutes, and turn the remaining braising liquid in the tray into gravy.
Sorry, there’s no photo of the actual braised finished product, it’s because that magic is still about to happen tonight! Hope you find this recipe interesting, I understand if it was posted too late for any of you to try it, but if not for New Year’s Eve why not make it your first New Year Dinner for Jan 1! Have a Happy New Year, everyone!