It’s only the 3rd day of January, if you didn’t get a 2014 planner last year then for the whole of January it isn’t too late to hunt for a decent planner (that I should actually stick to writing in even after 6 months LOL, you get what I mean).
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.
I’m convinced that the best Christmas gift any of us Pangilinans ever got last year was having this boy/man/broccoli head home for Christmas. Gabriel Valenciano, what would we do without you? Like…NOT dance HAHAHA! Unknown to many I lived with the “Vees” (Valencianos) during my years in college. He loved the terror/playmate Ate for who I was and I loved his excitable sweet antics, we loved the PC game Rollercoaster Tycoon and I would fix his theme park landscaping for him.
Now he’s grown into his own, making waves in Full Sail University, Florida as a music production student…also recently winning top place for Full Sail’s Got Talent competition. In case you didn’t know, he’s also become a bit (understating) of a YouTube sensation online with his famous super selfie videos being featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and Goodmorning America even in the selfie with his dad, Gary Valenciano. This Christmas he came home to be with us and also to do one (or maybe two) more.
Gab posts 15 second videos on his Instagram account @gabvalenciano and the full length longer ones on his YouTube channel. Now he’s done one major, a Christmas Super Selfie edition video with his mom’s side of the family, us, the Pangilinans Watch our family Christmas selfie video directed by Gab Valenciano embedded below or at this link here. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Hold on a moment, I need to heave a sigh, my facial cleanser got left on the bed and didn’t make it into the group shot…sigh* will do an insert. The best facial moisturizer also didn’t make it into the group shot because Mom used all of it up already so that will be an insert, too. So, ANYWAY, on with it. I basically realized I needed to do this minutes after a chopping frenzy in the kitchen for New Year’s Eve dinner, and on top of all that, the sun was beginning to set. Talk about well-planned (not). Some of these I’ve mentioned and reviewed (the individual review links are in pink) and some I haven’t just yet, so consider so consider those that I haven’t mentioned as quick teasers for upcoming reviews!
Well VSCO helped me along and a photo with flash didn’t seem too bad of an idea, ITG and NYLON make it work anyway. I didn’t do “high-end/low-end” equivalents for everything but it’s a smashing good mix I think. I did not trim it down to a significant number like 10 or 20 (happy cackle), I have about 30+ products in here, and they all function differently. Note, one or two items are not available locally. Read more (click “more”) to get to the complete list of my best picks for 2013. Happy New Year!
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!