Hits and a Miss in Valentine Cooking

Valentine’s day may be for lovers and being a singleton, it is easy to dismiss it as a regular day. However, Valentine’s day is also about love and I have loved ones around me so I try to make the day a little more special. To be precise, I do something special with food.  In the past, I have made popsicles and cooked a meal.

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This year, I planned to prepare breakfast, cook a meat dish,  make a salad and bake a cake.  However,  I had to finish a report so I ended up doing everything in batches. It was a good thing because Valentine’s for us extended until the 15th.

I ‘multi-tasked’  our lunch on the 14th. I was still doing the report and it was already  10 a.m.  I cooked the pork belly in the pressure cooker to soften the meat.  After which, I marinated the meat in a korean barbecue sauce. I cooked the marinated meat in the turbo broiler afterwards. I picked this type of cooking because I do not have to look after what I am cooking.  I just let the timer run and it rings when the food is done.  Voila! Say hello to our Valentine lunch. This was a hit.

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I was able to finish the report on the 14th so by February 15th, I was free! I woke up early to make breakfast.  I planned to make ‘egg on a cloud’. I saw that  Tasty video and it looked easy. Boy, was I wrong! These do not look like the one on the video.

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Yes, you can start laughing. The egg white looked fluffy in this picture but it tasted like paper.

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We tried to analyze what happened. It really looked like they were eggs on the cloud while they were in the oven. However, I left the eggs there when I turned off heat because I left the house to buy bread.  I did not want to leave them outside for fear there might be flies and other insects landing on the eggs. Maybe that caused the egg whites to continue cooking.  It is safe to say that was a fail.

After breakfast, I prepared the salad. Since Waldorf salad is best eaten cold. I made it first so I can chill it in the fridge. We love the Waldorf  salad that a family friend makes and since we have walnuts sent to us by my aunt in Canada, we wanted to try to make Waldorf salad. The Waldorf salad is said to be invented by the maitre’d of Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It is a simple salad made of apples, grapes, celery with lemon and mayonnaise for the dressing and topped with toasted walnuts. My version used cucumber instead of celery and calamansi instead of lemon. I also added yogurt and cashew nuts.

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For me, it tasted good. For my aunts, they wanted to add cream and sugar. I guess they are used to the salad dressing we often make.

The highlight of day is the caramel cake.  I wanted to bake a cake likes Estrel’s so I found Corinne’s blog. She shared a similar recipe from her aunt.

I love how my chiffon cake turned out. I used to burn my cakes because my old oven did not have temperature control.

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This is what it looked like when I poured the caramel icing.

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The Swiss buttercream frosting held up, too. I just need to practice the consistency of my swirls.

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It is a pretty cake (if you look past the imperfections).

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Beyond the aesthetics, the true measure of good food is the taste.  My aunts liked it. One aunt said that the buttercream is too much to her liking. My cousin also said that a thinner layer of buttercream will do. But I secretly love the buttercream. Real butter (as opposed to margarine) is divine! The buttercream hardened in the fridge when we stored the leftover. When I wanted to eat the cake, what I did was I let the cake rest beside me while I work and eat it when the butter softens.  Yum!

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This is hit.  But… I might not make this cake anytime soon. It took me 6 hours to finish from baking the cake to frosting it! But this will definitely be my go-to cake for special occasions.

By the way, belated happy Valentine’s day! Hope you all had a good one.

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Happy Valentine’s Day: #10daysofcrushing

Happy Valentine’s Day! I have combined my love for food, photography and lettering in this photo. My next post will be about that popsicle in the photo.  I did  the lettering  on paper, took a picture and did some tweaks on Photoshop.

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On Instagram, Fozzy started the hashtag #10daysofcrushing. If you join, you post a line from a song or a quote for your crush once a day for ten days.  Although I do not have a crush, I wanted to join to practice lettering, typography and calligraphy.  On the first day, I already listed  the lines from the song. There is nothing romantic about the process but it did bring me back to those kilig (rough translation: giddy, smitten) moments  when I had a crush on someone.

Before I even knew Fozzy’s #10daysofcrushing, I already posted this one on Facebook because I kept singing Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud in my head.  I posted this on Instagram a little later.

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Since I only own a 0.04 mm technical pen, I thought about just sketching the next song line. I have always loved melody of this song. It makes me happy. 

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Since I also see a lot of watercolor calligraphy, I wanted to try, too. My strokes are a little shaky.

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I love this song from the movie, “Anastasia”. My friend, Erns, introduced us to this song. For me, this talks about friendship more than romantic love because it was the theme song I used for the photo montage in one trip with friends.

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I found  sample sketches of flowers as embellishments to graphics. I wanted practice so this is the output.

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I wanted variations in the style I post everyday so I came up with this design.  The dried rose is just an added touch.

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While rummaging though my drawer, I found a purple pen so I wanted to use it this time.

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Finally, I got my brush pen from Daiso but I think I incorrectly inserted the ink. I might use up all the ink soon.  Uh-oh.

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I  am still in the process of learning how to do good calligraphy.  It is fun to combine it with regular handwriting.

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I ended the exercise with my own handwriting. This is my penmanship when I try so hard to make it nice.  hehe

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I suddenly thought of writing all those lines into one poem.

That maybe we found love right where we are
And I’m sailing through the sea to an island where we’ll meet
We can be them two birds of a feather that flock together
Unexpected, what you did to my heart
Though you never knew it was of you I’ve been dreaming
Who knows how long I’ve loved you, you know I love you still
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep, dreaming about the things that we could be
And who knows I might feel better if I don’t try and I don’t hope
And I know it’s only in my mind that I’m talking to myself and not to him
A totally amazing mind, so understanding and so kind.
You’re everything to me.

It does not make sense!

Hope your Valentine’s day does.

===== Addendum

Priscilla flipped around the lines to add sense to the  entire “poem”. Pretty cool!

Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep, dreaming about the things that we could be
We can be them two birds of a feather that flock together
And I’m sailing through the sea to an island where we’ll meet

Though you never knew it was of you I’ve been dreaming
And I know it’s only in my mind that I’m talking to myself and not to him

That maybe we found love right where we are
Unexpected, what you did to my heart

And who knows I might feel better if I don’t try and I don’t hope
Who knows how long I’ve loved you, you know I love you still

A totally amazing mind, so understanding and so kind.
You’re everything to me.

Thanks, Priscilla!

 

 

 

 

The Valentine Cupcakes

I was supposed to write this blog post last night then brownout happened. We had power interruptions three times yesterday. I can feel the summer heat now even if it frequently rained hard the past few weeks.  Ok, enough excuses.

I practice effortless baking. Yes, the cupcakes in the previous blog post came from a box. I made my birthday cake and our Christmas fruit bars from the box.  Hey, I made a tiny bit of effort mixing the batter and watching the oven (making sure I won’t burn the house down).

I bought these cupcake mix when I went to Cebu in October last year. I was supposed to bake them for Christmas but we had too many food for Christmas and  I got lazy busy so these boxes remained in the cabinet.

The funny thing is that this is the same brand Max use for her cupcakes in ‘2 Broke Girls’. A friend of mine suggested that I should watch this TV series and by episode 13, Max cupcake secret is out.  Coincidence!

Can you see my cupcake boxes? Now where can I get those other cake boxes? Hmm. (Photo: screen capture)

 I just followed the instructions in the box.

This is the confetti cupcake before baking. Can you see the specks of colors?

This is how it looked after baking. These are the yellow cupcakes.

I wanted to frost my cupcakes to make it look fancier. It was Valentine’s day so there was a reason to be fancy.  (Do I even have to have a reason?) I got the buttercream frosting recipe from the joyofbaking.com.  The vanilla cupcakes in that site looked pretty. I chose this one because the usual royal icing used by cake decorators uses egg whites. Uncooked egg=salmonella. What they usually do is beat the egg whites over simmering hot water to heat the egg at a certain temperature that will kill any bacteria.  Too many steps for the effortless baker so buttercream it is!

Using my mother’s 30-year-old cake mixer,  I followed the recipe.

Photo of the mixer taken 2 yrs ago.

The recipe used buttercream and confectioner’s sugar.  I did not buy food coloring. The best thing I can find in the house is a sachet of Tang grape flavor.  So I mix in the powder until I get the color I like.

Photo from Kraft Foods

I also do not have a piping bag and those tips that can create fancy rosettes.  I have zero-experience in cake decorating.  What I had was a plastic bag where I cut a hole in the corner after I filled it with frosting.

Tada! This is the finished product.

Pick a cupcake! Thank you, Duncan Hines.

Verdict: the cupcakes are good. The buttercream frosting is a bit sour because of the Tang.   We scraped off the frosting when we ate the cupcake. We kept the frosting in the fridge and used it to butter our toast (and kamote) the next day. 😉

 

Source: etsy.com via Juliette on Pinterest

 

Pink is the color of the day

Today is Valentine’s day. It is so tempting follow this.

Source: awholelotofeverything.tumblr.com via kat on Pinterest

Source: awholelotofeverything.tumblr.com via kat on Pinterest

 

Instead, I baked cupcakes! (Detailed story to follow.)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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