Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Grilled Porkchop with Strawberry Jam Glaze

It's nice to have a babecue once in a while especially when all weeklong you've been eating fried stuff.
I made a marinade/baste/glaze out of:

1 tsp peanut butter
2 tsp strawberry jam
3 pcs. kalamansi
4 tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp UFC Banana Catsup
a pinch of salt

To ensure nice grillmarks, don't touch the pork for at least 4 minutes after you've put it in the grill.

The meat should be fresh, washed and patted dry before marinating.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

How Can You Afford Your Digital Lifestyle?

Who says only the rich shall inherit the net?

On an average day, all I have in my pocket are my cell phone, a few pesos enough for some sticks of cheap cigarette and my digital media player. Sabi nga ng Yano…”walang ibang pera kundi pamasahe, nakayanan ko lang pambili ng dalawang yosi…” In this day and age when no one wants to be caught dead without an ipod, (I’d rather be caught dead WITHOUT an ipod than be caught dead listening to April Boy IN my ipod!) it is a bit challenging for the financially ungifted to stay attuned with our increasingly digitalizing society.

So how do I afford a digital lifestyle when all gears and gadgets have price tags beyond my means?

Enter THE SOURCE, my cousin Elsa. Also known as THE FORGIVER (4 gives), the lending diva for all things consumerist and disposable. Cell phones, ipod, digicam, SD card, external drives, even OROCAN, glow in the dark dildo (yes!), and Astroboy collectibles! Just specify whether you want SONY or ZONY; Apple or Apol and she’ll deliver. Ask and you shall be Four-given!

I call her the REDEEMER. She’s financed the acquisition of currently, my most important gizmo—an all in one digital camera. And in a very convenient and easily repayable terms! I am truly four-given!

I’ll trial-crunch the costs of my own connectivity and digital visibility on, say, a week and see how little it is.

Generic Digital Media Player from China P2,000.00

(4 installments of P500.00 each in a span of 2 months, paid 3 quarters of the way already)

Plays digital music, captures and plays video, takes and lets me view pictures and comes with old school “family computer type” games that keep me occupied as I while away the time. This pretty little thing is great! It incorporates into a 3” X 4” piece of tech wonder what could have been a plethora of microchips in individual casings that are takaw-nakaw. What’s more, it’s pocket-friendly both figuratively and literally. I use it mostly for taking digital photos and videos for my blog, for sharing in FB and of course for downloading digital media. It has 2 gigabyte of digital space which I also use for storage. And it’s expandable by another 2gig with its SD slot. But I say to myself, why buy an SD card when it costs just about the same buying another of this gadget? It’s a hard-working gadget and one that wouldn’t hurt you so deep in the pocket if ever you lose it or it gets broken. I had one previously which I accidentally dropped in a jar of used cooking oil (long story) and eventually got unusable. I was more worried about the loss of my files than with its own demise! It was only P1,000.00 in Quiapo—the mecca for all things cheap and China. My current one which I got from the FORGIVER is sleek and trendy-looking which sports the brand name SONY and a “Made in Japan” claim prominently printed on its frontside. It is not definitely the best but I get by with this portable media player as a blogger and a socially-networked netizen. And I’m happy owning one, nevermind that the quality of pictures is not exactly ideal (read: sa daytime lang malinaw ang kuha); or that the video output format is .3gp that Windows Media Player and Movie Maker don’t recognize (I have my VLC Portable anyway and a host of other free and open-source software that do exactly what Windows refuses to do); or that gaming here is Jurassic (I’m not a gamer anyway, I can’t even get past Stage 4 of Mario). This gizmo is truly worth blogging about!

Internet Access P20.00/60 minutes

(Sometimes free.)

Assuming that my generic, low-cost digicam has a lifespan of at least 1 year, that means that I get to use it for 365 days for just a small amount of P5.47 a day of use. Add to that the cost of internet access which typically is only about P20.00 per hour. Sometimes even free when I get to use someone else’s. On average, I get online thrice a week. So here’s the equation:

5.47 X 7 days = 38.35 cost of digital equipment per week

20 X 3 = 60.00 cost of getting online on a weekly average

38.35 + 60.00 = P98.35 Total cost a week for maintaining digital lifestyle or,

P393.40 a month or,

P4,720.80 a year

—way, way below the cost of my smoking. (P7,300.00 for a year of a pack a day of Fortune Lights plus some more for Carbocistein which I buy to treat my occasional Smoker’s Cough). That’s why I’m thinking quitting smoking so I can up my online time and maybe upgrade to a better cam. Maybe next year, if by then I have not caught lung cancer yet!

So you see, with just a little, I get a digital life of my own. It is unthinkable for me to be a digital non persona.

I’ll sum it up with the phrase printed on the box of my digicam….

“If you don’t have one, you’re a loser!”

And on the cigarette pack:


Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Girl 2: Of Cats and Happiness

“Happiness is like a cat, if you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you, it will never come. But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you’ll find it rubbing against your legs and jumping in your lap.”

William Bennett


That’s very true. Especially about the cat. I don’t know about what makes the politicians happy or whether they find happiness at all but I do know that Vanessa makes me happy every time she jumps into my lap on her own and allow me to gently cuddle her (sometimes I overcuddle her), or whenever she comes in a sneak attack and presses her head against my face when I’m asleep as if saying come love me! Aaaah.

we sleep together most of the time, especially during lazy afternoons

I would reciprocate with TLC. I caress her all over the body and massage her face. She likes it most when I play with her ears, pulling them back with a tight rub starting from her mouth up to the tip of her ears. And she likes it best repeated over and over until she gets bored or something moving catches her attention like a lizard, an ant or even a leaf falling from a tree. She’d then run towards the motion and forget all about me. I will then call her—by name or by the cat sound, gently, shouting, begging—all to no avail! she drops me like a hot potato all of a sudden. Daig pa nya ang isang kisapmata!

one of the "moving objects" that compete for Vanessa's attention

“Alright,” I’d say to myself. Let’s see if you can resist a hefty fried tilapia or a porkchop or grilled chicken breast! Winning her back is never difficult! Only expensive.

Everytime she’s on my lap or on top of my chest while I’m lying or even just beside me, Vanessa and I “talk”. I like engaging in conversations with her. Like a true parent to a daughter, I’d tell her how much I love her, teach her “good manners” (kind of: never jump on the dinner table, don’t shit just about anywhere) and sermon her not to get pregnant just yet! She’d just respond with a meow and I know she listens.

60% of her time, she spends sleeping. And that means anywhere.

Most of the day, Vanessa is asleep. That’s what cats do about 60% of their lifetime. But during her waking hours, she doesn’t watch TV like most children do. She plays and plays and plays. A lot! If my life is Birth, School, Work, Death, hers is Birth, Sleep, Play, Death! She plays with non-living things like a ball of yarn; she climbs small trees, wreak havoc to the garden, bites her biological papa Monty (well, we suspect!), bullies Chelsea the duck-- running after the poor guy and when she catches her, she always gives her a non-penetrating bite on the neck and Chelsea would just quack unable to do anything to let herself loose. Omigod! She’s a brat! She gives me headaches sometimes and I would discipline her with a delayed meal or poke her with a slipper or umbrella or simply scold her.

Chelsea the duck grew up being chased by Vanessa. Always wary of Vanessa's attack.

Still, I love her. Whenever she’s out of sight, I feel this tinge of anxiousness. I’d call her by name, loud enough as to be heard outside our perimeter. After a few seconds, she’d come running to me and then she would stare at my eyes as if asking “what?” Oh, Vanessa! My Girl.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pekeng gourmet para sa masang foodie!

I tried googling my blog title Birth, School, Work, Death and it yielded several blogs at blogspot with the same title and some BSWD topics about the original work by the Godfathers. So, I decided to change my blog title to something more appropriate for the topics I post here. From now on this blog will be known as THE QUACK CHEF : Pekeng gourmet para sa masang foodie!

To celebrate the new title for my blog, I'm posting this Pinakbet Pizza which I just made (invented?) days ago.

Looks like any other pizza but beneath the cheese you'll find slices of okra, kalabasa and inihaw na talong.

The base sauce is made up of tomato paste and shrimp paste-- the kind na hindi maalat. It's more of a dinurog na hipon na pinagmantika sa gata ng niyog. Sarap!

I grilled the eggplant to give it a smokey flavor and aroma.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Alan Parsons Project

Perhaps, the most intelligent music I've ever come across with is that of Alan Parsons Project (now just Alan Parsons). Alan Parsons, together with Eric Woolfson pioneered the concept of the producer's album. That is, the album is named after and credited to the one who produced it and not to the band or its players, although the project was a forum for a revolving pool of talents interpreting Woolfson's and Parsons conceptually linked works.

Their albums are thematic and revolve in a single idea or concept that display a somewhat peculiar sound. The project debuted with an album that explores the mind of Edgar Allan Poe in TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION in 1975, after Parson's had just finished his collaboration with Pink Floyd with what would become the best Floyd album ever--Darkside of the Moon. Pink Floyd is another of my favorites.

I got hold of this album, in fact, I got to learn about the project when I was working in Riyadh. I was mistaken to think that Riyadh is a backward society with ultra-Islamic culture and oblivious to the western world. I was damn wrong! They have the most extensive collection of music albums in their numerous record bars found in some of the biggest shopping malls I've ever seen. There I saw and got to acquire albums that I thought were "out of print" like Dead Kennedys, Velvet Underground and Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars by Edie Brickell and the new Bohemians. I even got to buy LOKAL BROWN's Sa Ikalawang Yugto (Wishing You Were Brown, Ay! Pedro!, etc) It is there where I started building my music library, at first in cassettes and later on in CD's. Now, all my music is instored in a 160gig Western Digital external HD. That's another story.

After the success of Tales, they released other albums totaling to more than 20 to date including compilations and a live album. They never held any live performances until 1990 when the technology to put the complexity of their orchestration and instrumentation already existed. I got hold of that album, too!

Perhaps, The Project's most recognizable tune is Eye In The Sky from the album of the same title, released in 1982. The first song with lyrics is also the first single, Eye in the Sky, preluded by an instrumental called Sirius. Sirius, for its part is the most recognizable Parsons instrumental due to the fact that the Chicago Bulls used it as their official entrance song to the NBA.

But my most favorite Parsons song is OLD AND WISE, a rather sad song tackling man's eventual mortality, not in a morbid but in a celebratory and somewhat anxious but eager anticipation. (naks!) I am out of words in describing this beautiful song. Both the melody and lyrics are superb. Plus the vocals was breathy. When I die, I want this to be my burial song. Take a listen:

Old And Wise

As far as my eyes can see
There are shadows approaching me
And to those I left behind, I wanted you to know
You've always shared my deepest thoughts
You follow where I go

And Oh, when I'm old and wise
Bitter words mean little to me
Autumn winds will blow right through me
And someday in the mist of time

When they ask me if I knew you,
I'd smile and say you were a friend of mine
And the sadness would be lifter from my eyes
When I'm old and wise

As far as my eyes can see
There are shadows surrounding me
And to those I left behind, I want you all to know
You've always shared my darkest hours
I'll miss you when I go

And Oh, when I'm old and wise
Heavy words that tossed and blew me
Like autumn winds will blow right through me
And someday in the mist of time

When they ask you if you knew me
Remember that you were a friend of mine
As the final curtain falls before my eyes
Oh, when I'm old and wise

As far as my eyes can see....

Their themes include the life and works of Antonio Gaudi, the Spanish architect who created the eternal La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona; I Robot, their take on man and machine; On Air, tackling aviation, Stereotomy about man's relationship to society and himself; Vulture Culture, the modern world's need to feed on one another; Ammonia Avenue, the album touches upon how the lines of communication between people are diminishing, and how we as a society grow more spiritually isolated and antisocial.*Eve, The album's concept deals with the female's overpowering effect on man. And more.

God, this is intellectual music!

And by the way, The Alan Parsons Project was the first to release an album in the CD-ROM format back in the early 90's with On Air, a double CD album, one being audio CD and the other a CD-ROM. Unheard of during that time. And up to now, 2010, Alan Parsons the man continues to involve himself in numerous projects. He now released

Get to know the concept, the man and the project:


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Girl

I woke up one morning of February and was surprised to see four cute little kittens by the corner of our kitchen. It was a totally unexpected thing to wake up to and I had absolutely no idea where these cuddly, furry animals came from. A mother cat must have brought her offspring to us. That’s the only rational thing I could think of. Maybe because we leave leftover food at the dirty kitchen for our non-resident cat, Monty, at night for him to feed on but word got it to other village cats’ knowledge that food is available in our place and so they come, too!

I know. I’ve seen other cats feast on Monty’s meal at times. I don’t shoo them away but they are very hostile and aloof.

I thought smilingly, the mother cat was thinking that leaving her kittens to us is the best thing to do since food-- leftover food in particular-- is abundant in this house thus securing her offspring’s survival. You know, the kind of stories you see in telenovelas where the lead actress was pitifully left in the orphanage and the sisters would take her with open arms saying the baby was a gift from heaven…and would name the baby Annaliza or Flordeluna or Esperanza…whatever!

Like the nuns would take in the orphan, I would also love to keep those four cutie kittens and make them as pets but they’re just too many.

That day, I gathered all of them in a basin and fed them with milk and leftover tinola. The kittens were so hungry I could almost hear their stomachs roar. We played with the cats but they seem to be “instructed” not to mingle with creatures outside their own species. They would look you in the eye as if saying “back off!” They were so uncultured and anti-social that made me think these guys came from the slums! Nevertheless, they’re still kittens—all cuddly and lovely!

And the morning and the evening was the first day.

Mothercat was wrong into thinking that her offspring are better off left with us. The very next day, we put all of the kittens in a pail and my cousin drove them to the lake. And when he returned, the pail was already empty. He left the kittens near a pile of garbage by the lake. They’d be better off in that mound of garbage feeding on whatever there is, he argued. Poor cats? Hey, that’s their destiny!

And so we slept when the night came not feeling any guilt nor there was not a drop of love lost. Although I must admit, I wished they remained.

That’s not actually the story. Half of the real story is when on the next day, three new kittens, apparently from a different mother cat was found hiding underneath a wooden bench in the garden. What was surprising was not that there were new kittens but the fact that the house had become a hospicio for kittens whose mothers I jokingly supposed were now ready to flirt again! And what happened to the new kittens?

The first one was “retrieved” by its mother and we saw her coming back for the other two. But we shooed her away. We decided to keep the two as pets. One, we named Candace, after the pre-teen sister of Phineas and Ferb and the other, after checking on its genital, we gave the name Vanessa, after the daughter of Dr. Doofenshmirts, founder of Doofenshmirts Evil, Incorporated and the sole nemesis of Phineas and Ferb’s pet platypus Perry. Between the two, it was Candace that I liked better because she was so affectionate. She loved climbing up my chest and would fall asleep there. Not that Vanessa was less loving but Candace really struck me in the heart. She was the weakling between the two that’s why maybe I loved her more. I must admit, I loved Vanessa less.

Vanessa when she was barely weeks old

Vanessa and Candace

That would soon all change when Candace would die one morning. She was very weak and could barely open her mouth to eat. Yes, Candace was a weakling but not that weak as to barely stand up. I embraced her with my arms, kissed her, caressed her and rubbed my face against her furry body to no avail. She very soon left us. I buried her in the park. Again, that was destiny.

And so fate would have it that I was left with the last cat standing—Vanessa whom in time I learned to love with all of my heart, more than I ever loved Candace.(Sumalangit Nawa). And so Vanessa became my girl.

Or so I thought……

The next series of posts is a journey to what has become a love and hate relationship between me and my cat and all her misadventures that come along.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Yummy Lechon Kawali featuring the Yummier Josh Crae

Lechon Kawali is one of my favorite Pinoy dishes. Delicious and easy to make. Just like Crispy Pata, you just have to season it, boil it until tender, freeze it and deep fry it. That's it!

But here's someone even yummier for all you girls out there! My 17er nephew from La Salle whom I like cooking for because he eats everything I feed him with. Not to mention that he eats a lot, too!

Hey girls out there, check out what he's to say about this crispy yet tender slab of pork meat. And do check him out, too! He currently listens to Field Mice, The New Pornographers and surprisingly, New Order Classics like Ceremony, The Perfect Kiss etc.


Sorting through the crisper of our refrigerator one weekend, I found some eggplant at the bottom of the compartment. Immediately, tortang talong came into my mind. And so, I placed a grill on top of the stove and have the eggplant roast over the fire.

Then suddenly, I remember Giada's Eggplant Parmesan recipe and decided to do a version of it--without parmesan though. I also found some leftover spaghetti sauce in the fridge.

What I made was like a lasagna but instead of using pasta sheets, I used "sheets" of grilled eggplant. I cut the eggplants lenghtwise, salted them until all moisture came out, rinsed them and patted them dry before grilling.

Then I assembled the lasagna in a baking dish. First layer was spaghetti sauce then cream made of roux and milk then eggplant slices. Repeat the sequence and top with cheese.

I baked it at 375C for about 30 minutes. Then I served it with some machakaw. Sarap!