Saturday, July 30, 2011

Today --

We went mad at the National Bookstore sale --

Kids found a nice Handy Manny book at 50% off.  They also picked up a pack of DC Kids comics for 100 pesos.

This was Johann's find of the day -- for 99 pesos!

And we found a copy of this book for 100 pesos!

* * *

Also today --

Our driver discovered that we the back of Johann's car got "kissed" -- it might have happened this morning while the car was parked at SM.  Whoever did it didn't even bother to leave a note ...

* * *

And also today --

We made French Apple Cake.

This is actually our second time to make this -- but I wasn't happy with the first time.  (It tasted great but it was messy.)

It's actually very easy to make -- the tricky (and messy) part is making the caramel -- and making sure the apple slices are uniform.

We actually made a mistake and started to fan from the center.

It was cute!  When we turned over the cake, our cook actually went "wow" when she saw how pretty the top was.

Recipe here.

We actually experimented and used cake flour for this one.  Will see how it tastes later.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I have a great Talent! --

I picked up my sewing machine yesterday and unboxed it --

The wonderful people at Monteverde (Singer Philippines) did a test run to make sure the machine was working --

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening reading the manual.

This morning, after breakfast, I:
- learned how to wind a bobbin
- learned how to thread the needle -- my machine can do auto needle threading but I wanted to see if I could do it by myself
- played with some stitches

Our driver helped me out.  (His mom used to sew for a living before she retired.)

Later today, I plan to explore stitch length and width --

... and also learn how to sew straight.

The Singer Talent 3323s (<-- that's the machine's name, hence the title of this blog entry) is a great machine -- I'm a complete beginner but it didn't intimidate or overwhelm me -- the pedal is soft and very responsive.  I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Looking for: A good Red Velvet Cake recipe ... also a good banana cake/loaf recipe--

I was reading through Ina Garten's cookbook, How Easy Is That, when I came across her recipe for Red Velvet Cupcake --

Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips (Fabulous Recipes and Easy Tips)

It was not something on my checklist of things to make/bake -- but, now it is --

Seth really loves the Red Velvet Cupcakes served at Dulgies (especially the cream cheese frosting) --

When I was browsing through websites for recipes, I found several very good ones -- but my main problem is, how to incorporate the best of all the recipes to make one very delicious cake/cupcake --

On, this cake got 4 out of 5 stars and had the most reviews:
Red Velvet Cake I

My problem with this recipe is the use of shortening and I feel there's too little cocoa powder (I know, I know -- it's not supposed to be a chocolate cake.)

Bakerella's recipe uses oil -- quite a bit of it, actually.  Bakerella's Red Velvet Cake

(Her cake looks so, so pretty!)

I'm also having problems committing to a single good Banana Cake/Loaf recipe --

My mom just dropped off a bunch of bananas and they're getting overripe quickly (low on the list of priority fruits to eat -- we have lychees, papaya and avocado in the house right now -- no, the kids don't like any of them.)

So the helpers and I agreed to transform dying bananas into an edible other form --

Johann has asked it to be made into the Chocolate Banana Cake, which was lovely -- and a big hit with the entire household -- but I think I want to try my hand at making just a banana cake -- one where I can put chocolate chips ...

... And have cream cheese frosting. ^_^

* * *

Update on my sewing machine --

I called up 2go and the ETA for the boat is Wednesday so I'll be able to pick up my new toy on Thursday ... hopefully.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New adventure: Sewing --

After years of waffling, I finally took the plunge --

I just paid for my sewing machine and am counting the days until I get it (5 or 6 days) --

This is the machine I got --

It's the Singer Talent 3323 -- and I ordered mine locally through Singer Philippines.

It's not a computerized sewing machine and is just a notch up from the old-school "de padyak" (treadle) -- mine is motorized and is controlled by a foot pedal.  (My sister and my husband are worried about this because I tend to hyperfocus and can't do two things at the same time.  This is why I can't drive because I can't work the wheel and step on the pedal effectively.)

I actually had the option to get a cheaper one here in Iloilo -- an Acme JH600 -- but I wanted the extra comfort of an "auto needle threading" -- plus I didn't like the idea of having to switch discs (cams) to switch stitches.

I already have a first (and probably only project) lined up -- a fabric book cover for my romance novels.  ^_^

Really excited how this little adventure will go -- and how long I'll be on it.

Big, big thanks to C (my kumare) who has listened to me waffle about a sewing machine for x number of years now --

And to my sister for buying the machine for me.  (It's her advanced Christmas 2011 + Birthday 2012 + Christmas 2012 ... present for me.)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Chocolate Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

We made this a few days ago --

It's really moist and yummy.  I love that there's bananas in this (4!) -- next time, I plan to replace all the oil with homemade applesauce.

Chocolate Banana Cake:
2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar (replaced it with 1 cup white + 1 cup brown)
1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour (replaced it with 1 cup whole wheat + ¾ cup all-purpose)
3/4 cup (75 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas <-- ended up using 4 bananas
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) corn, safflower or canola oil <-- I used Rice Bran Oil, which is supposed to be healthier
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter

Chocolate Banana Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven.

Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) pan. Set aside. 

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined. You will notice that the batter is quite thin.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

When completely cooled, frost with the Ganache.

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel, or heatproof bowl. Set aside.

Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat (can also be heated in the microwave). Bring just to a boil. 

Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.

When Ganache has completely cooled, beat until soft and fluffy (I use a wire whisk). Then spread the frosting on top of the cake.

Friday, July 08, 2011

I'm ready for rain! --

The tipping point was last Wednesday, I was bringing Seth to school and it was raining buckets.  I was wearing Crocs, which I thought would be fine --

And they were.  They hold up fairly nicely being sploshed around in muddy, puddly places --

But my feet were not fine.  They were wet and cold and icky --

I went ahead and ordered a pair of Plueys from and they arrived today.  (I got a pair of the Origami Me.)

I have to say I love how to look on my feet --

I'm not looking forward to another heavy rain day but I am excited to test drive these --

Then I might get a pair for Seth ... and maybe a pair for Anya ...

And my sister just saw them and now wants a pair for herself.

Thanks to Esel and her team at for facilitating my order!