From the Hearth Of My Kitchen

The holidays came and went and everyday was a complete blur, what with the craziness in the office and the string of parties on weekends.  So here I am on December 31st wondering how I could’ve missed the shopping and gift giving.

Well it is never too late now is it?  So up I went and baked a batch of butterscotch.  Shaun has brought home tons of dried fruit (yes tons, industrial tons, not the teeny tiny expensive packs from the grocery) so why don’t I go ahead and throw that in as well.  The ending was a sweet, chewy homemade dried fruit butterscotch.  You will find many recipes online and I strongly recommend using local products.  In my case, I used dried pineapples and mangoes.

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Gifts do not always have to be storebought, and home made gifts are not necessarily cheap too.  The time and effort that goes into the homemade ones, especially if it is my time and effort, is very precious!  Kidding aside, I just think that putting in the time and effort into a gift is much more meaningful than just grabbing an item from the store.

I have always believed that the wrapping is just as important as what is inside.  DIY homemade goodies do not always have to come in the plain tin, plastic or cellophane wrapping.  If you know where to look, there are many cute packaging materials out there.  Made in China ofcourse.  Sometimes, I get more excited about the packages than anything else.


Anyhow, I just gathered up the slices of butterscotch in grease-resistant (read:wax paper) paper.  Put them into boxes and tie up a gift card.  There you go, your diy, homemade gift!

I signed mine, From The Hearth of My Kitchen!  Happy Holidays!



Hersheys Kisses DIY Chocolate Bouquet

It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog.  What with changing job assignments and our busy season just recently.  I work for an accounting software company that provides support for financial and employee management solutions.  This said, January is always our busiest month considering the deadline for tax filings.

I am glad that is all over now.  Since I last wrote something here, I’ve been to many different restaurants, four holidays have gone by, I’ve mulled over many different thoughts and went through many different emotions that I wish I was able to share online.

The most recent happening was Valentines Day and I won’t let it go unpublished.  Lately, I have been enjoying YouTube very much, and have gone crazy over Korean recipes and DIY projects.  I have found a nice DIY project for valentines which I completed successfully!

I discovered videos for DIY Hershey’s Kisses Chocolate Bouquet.  I thought it was a cool idea to have both flowers and chocolate in a bouquet without really hurting your budget.  I know of a chocolate shop that sell chocolate bouquets for nothing less than P1500.  I spent half of that for three bouquets!

Here are the fotos of my finished project and their recipients!

The Acacia Grill

I was in Carcar City with friends recently to shop for espadrilles to give away for Christmas.  It was almost 11am when we got there and after an hour of shopping, I was ready for some grub.  I asked one of the shopkeepers where we can find a nice restaurant for lunch, to my utter disappointment I was directed to the local Jollibee.  She may have seen the look on my face as she hastily suggested Mang Inasal as an alternative.

It turned out, we didn’t have to look far.  When my friend came back from a visit to the loo, he said there was a grill at the opposite end of the shoe stalls.  The Acacia Grill.  Now that sounds more like it.

The place was al fresco with heavy wooden furniture.  There were a few old and sturdy acacia trees by the roadside but the restaurant was surrounded by young, shady talisay trees.  They serve familiar native dishes while the price, although slightly higher than normal, seemed fair enough considering there were very few options around.  On a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest, I am giving them a 3.o for pricing.

There were just a few diners when we got there.

We ordered grilled fish –kitong, fried whole chicken – native style, no batter, no frills, sauteed mixed vegetables, grilled chicken breast and seafood sotanghon or glass noodle soup.

I was surprised when the food was served in less than 8 minutes.  The fact that the grilled fish and kinilaw were fresh was another pleasant surprise considering how far away the place was and how I imagined the low customer turn out.  As I later saw, the place filled up in trickles.  It would seem to me that most of the diners were out-of-towners, those visiting Carcar or those coming from or going to the southern parts of Cebu.  No locals here.

The waiters who wore the requisite short-sleeved barongs were attentive.

I am giving the place a 3.0 for service.

The mixed vegetable was a puzzle to me.  It was a pile of diced carrots, chayote, cauliflower, string beans and potatoes sauteed with squid and pork.  It wasn’t chinese chopsuey, it also wasn’t the native utan or dinuldog.  It had a thin film of grease all over it.  This grease was also evident with the noodle soup.  But they both tasted good.

Overall, together with the fresh fish and the juicy native style fried chicken, I am giving taste another 3.0

This place is definitely the place to go if you are all too familiar with the Carcar lechon, Jollibee or Mang Inasal.  Where else?

My friends, Shaun, Armie and Alexa on one of the quaint wooden swinging chair

Tihi Tihi is Uni Sashimi!

I love raw Japanese sea food.  No, let me correct that, I like raw seafood, period.  It doesn’t have to be Japanese.  I love kinilaw na isda(tangigue and salmon, no tuna), kinilaw na ba-at(sea slugs/cucumber), takubo (giant clams)and sea urchins (tihi-tihi).  I also like seaweeds, lukot(some say they are some kind of seaweeds, some say they are seaworms(?), and even some say they are the waste product of sea snails(wtf)).  I can take them any which way.  Japanese style with soy and wasabi and some pickled ginger root, Mindanao style with vinegar and coconut milk or just plain homestyle mix of vinegar and spices.

Of all these, I especially love takubo (giant clams) and tihi-tihi (sea urchins).  Now takubo is hard to come by nowadays as they are being salvaged as an endangered kind.  Harvesting them now is illegal.  Some groups have even started to breed them in controlled labs just to help them populate.   So now, I turn to sea urchins.  In Japanese restaurants, these are called “Uni Sashimi”.  I love the gooey velvety sweet taste mixed with a little soy and wasabi.  The thing is that they are very rare in the Japanese restos around the city.  Sometimes they are available, sometimes they are not.  Some restaurants don’t carry them at all.

Now, this sashimi has a local counterpart called the tihi-tihi.  This is a very familiar delicacy to me as I spent summer weekends in Lilo-an as a kid.  My parents would leave me and my big brother with our aunt if they have a busy weekend planned. 

You would usually see this delicacy in bottles being peddled at the beachfronts or at the local wet market in Lilo-an.  I do not see them in the grocery and the local markets in the city.  So, I was very happy that I got a good reason to visit Lilo-an again.  It’s All Soul’s/Saint’s Day/Halloween weekend and just like the rest of the Catholic community, we planned on visiting the tombs of our departed family.  My lola passed away two years ago and she was laid to rest at the Manila Memorial in Lilo-an.  So yesterday, the rents and I found ourselves on our way there at 730am as we wanted to avoid the hot sun and the crowds.

It was way too early and we were hungry by the time we got there.  So instead of heading straight to the cemetery, we continued on to a little side street near the Church, just in front of the Municipal Hall. Now this side street have always been there as far as I can remember, but is just gaining popularity as the new housing developments have sprouted in the neighborhood.  It is a usual stop for those travelling north, for “bikers” on their weekend exercise and for the locals after church on Sundays.  I found Uni Heaven!

Here you can find grilled pork, fish and squid.  You will also see your favorite lechon pork(roast pork) or lechon manok(roast chicken). 

And ofcourse, here you will find all the raw stuff, sea slugs, fish and sea urchins!  YOu have a choice of pairing these fare with boiled camote(yams) or hanging rice (rice cooked in palm leaves).  While the japanese eat rice with the meat at the lower part(so it hits your tongue) I like a sliver of kinilaw on top of camote.  The tangy, hot, salty taste of the raw seafood marinated in vinegar against the sweet soft camote.  Yum!

This is Tihi-Tihi!


Boiled Yams and Hanging Rice

Oh and yes, I brought a bottle of sea urchin meat with me!

My rents...fellow road trippers!