[2011 Recap] Highlights Part 1

(Belated) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!

Please do pardon my inactivity the past several days. Christmas and birthday parties, meetings, and shopping activities left and right flooded my schedule. My body clock also changed drastically to the point that 2 AM is the new early (because sleeping is too mainstream :D). Oh and don’t even get me started with the food. I don’t think our refrigerator was never not brimming with delicacies and viands the past several days. Christmas has gotten the best of us!

Can I just say how grateful I am? Truly, truly grateful.

This year was super. Nah, I didn’t feed a hundred hungry children with my  money or located one’s missing pet. But through grace and the working of my Lord Jesus Christ, I was privileged to feed spiritual food to hundreds of people and lead them to Jesus. I myself was fed and found by my Savior when I got sidetracked more than once. More than twice. Yep, lots of times.

2011–my 2011–was super.

Here are the top 7 reasons that made it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  🙂

“It ain’t the end of the world!!!”

Although I’m not a huge fan of Jay Sean, I shared his sentiments in his song “2012” last May 21, 2011. Lest you have forgotten what occurred (or did not occur) on that Saturday, then maybe the name Harold Camping would jog your memory. How about Doomsday? End of the world? Turned out it wasn’t the end of the world…well, not yet, at least.

I was so thankful that I was blessed with more time to invest for eternity. 🙂 Although “the world is full of tribulation,” as Jesus said, I am thankful to Him for giving me more time to grow as a person–and you as well! So whoever said that the world will end sometime 2012,

I still plan on graduating. And I will. Hopefully by 2013 or  2014. 😀

Hate-and-love relationship with my body and with food and ended up loving both

There was never a year in my past 17 years of existence when I have struggled intensely with my body than 2011. However stressing this struggle might have been to me, I still consider it a blessing for three reasons:

  1. I drew closer to my Heavenly Father and bonded with Him in the process.
  2. I experienced His grace. I finally learnt what other people meant when they said that God’s grace is awesome. And it is! 🙂
  3. I learned to love food the right way and the food I should prioritize: the spiritual.

Frankly, I still struggle with my body and food.  Jesus never promised me a bed of roses after all. I am doing my best to keep it fit and in good shape by making healthy food choices and exercising regularly. If I put my guard down, I can be overweight, but I don’t think I will ever be anorexic or bulimic because I just love food too much! 😀 (Never lost my appetite even when I was sick) Because I also discovered a passion for cooking (another blessing!), I get to prepare meals healthily and enjoy them with family and friends. 🙂

New school, new relationships, fresh new insights and knowledge

The main reason I transferred university was time constraints. We–Dad, Mom, and I–thought that our family would migrate to the United States of America by the end of my 1st semester.

Clearly, God had other reasons because after a semester and 2 months, we’re still here. 🙂

I believe one of those reasons is that I could meet new wonderful people whom I can establish relationships with and go through an okay semester. People I can listen to and vice versa; boys and girls who, like me, are perfectly imperfect and in need of heavy doses of grace.

Thank you for making me laugh, smile, study hard (so I can teach others, haha), and sharing meals with me in and out of class. You may not know this, but you taught me a lot on dealing with people from diverse backgrounds and with differing personalities.

Another reason I’m thinking God allowed me to transfer schools is so I could face realities I was good at running away from: accounting, basic law, school uniform, and evening classes. (6-9 pM, twice a week–waddup?!)

More hosting and storytelling opportunities

Tron motif hosting

at my high school friend, Camille’s debut

telling about Naaman’s story during Summer Adventure (May 2011)

hosted with my cousin, Miko, during our high school’s talent night

a short spiel with my cousins at our aunt’s birthday last December 13

The gift of speaking is one God-given possession that I take seriously, use correctly, and ameliorate constantly because I know lives are at stake–mine and those around me. More importantly, I want to be able to hear from my Lord and Master, the words every servant is dying to hear:

“Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

So if you’re in Metro Manila and you are in need of a host for your party or a storyteller for your outreach program, contact me! talamjenny@gmail.com 😀 chos biglang nag plug

Jedi

If you chanced upon my blog around September, you would have probably met my gorgeous, then 2-month old puppy and prince, Jedi. He is a bundle of joy to our family even if he was the primary cause of my mom’s asthma.

When he was brought to us by mom’s friend and her husband, he fit perfectly in a small box. He was about the size of a small pillow and, if you’ve got well toned biceps and triceps, can be carried with one hand. My brothers and I huddled quietly around him as he slept peacefully in his basket or underneath our sofa. I delighted whenever he ran and slipped, then rose to his furry paws and ran again. To say that Jedi was cute was an understatement.

Although he spent most of his days at my grandmother’s house (his official master), I watched Jedi grow, and boy, did he grow quickly. I smiled when he smiled at me (or at least that’s what I thought he did). Whenever I used our Air Climber, I saw him bark at me angrily and run far away from me because (I learned later) he disliked vacuum sounds. Even if he peed and pooped wherever he wanted, I still loved him because I knew he is still naive. And even if he’s doing absolutely nothing, one look at him makes me smile and gush about his adorableness.

Only lately have I realized that in some ways, what  I have felt for Jedi is what I believe God feels about me as His daughter. He watched me grow–and made me grow! He smiled whenever I smiled at Him and especially if I caught up with His commands. Instead of looking at me condemningly because of my sins, He sees His Son’s righteousness in me and smiles, confident of the fact that I belong to Him. He knows my weaknesses; He remembers that I am dust. 🙂

But just as I undergo training, I believe Jedi must also undergo dog boot camp. And I’ll be needing the help of Cesar Milan. Haha!

Let’s take a breather. I fear overwhelming you with words and photos! o___o

Part 2 coming right up. 🙂

Creamy Chicken Macaroni Soup for Dinner

Albeit a hot, humid weather, my family and I were craving for chicken sopas. The epicure in me took this craving as a challenge and opportunity to cook creamy macaroni chicken soup or sopas for the very first time. o______o

I can imagine I’m as good as Rachel Ray, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m still a very amateur cook. 😐 Thus I borrowed a  chicken sopas recipe I found in Pinoy Recipe. (Chicken sopas is a Filipino comfort food)

Ingredients:

  • 500 g chicken breast
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 white onions (minced) I used red onions; it still tastes good!
  • 1 large bell pepper (seeded and sliced into strips)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots (sliced into thin strips)
  • 350 g macaroni noodles
  • 2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1 medium cabbage (roughly shredded)
  • 2 Tbsp margarine
  • fish sauce / patis
  • rock salt
  • chopped spring onions (didn’t use this!)
Procedure:
  1. Boil the chicken in 4 cups water. Save the broth to be used later. 
  2. Shred the Chicken meat with your fingers. Set aside.
  3. Saute garlic and onion in oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the bell pepper and cook until aromatic.
  5. Stir in the shredded chicken.
  6. Season lightly with ground black pepper.
  7. Add the carrots, a quick sauté then the macaroni. Give it a stir to get the fat all around the pasta.
  8. Pour in the chicken broth and 5 cups water. Simmer.
  9. Pour in the milk, stirring gently.
  10. Add the cabbage. From this point, the macaroni and the cabbage will cook at about the same time.
  11. Add the margarine.
  12. Season with patis or salt.
Voila! According to my family plus our kasambahay (house helper), my dish was a success! I would like to thank our kasambahay, Ate Anne, for helping me transfer the ingredients from one casserole to another, stir the sopas, and come up with just the right and pleasing taste for the buds. 🙂 I am so thankful and happy for the success of this dish! 😀 I wish you could taste it, but with your wide and extensive imagination, you could probably “taste the sopas in your dreams.” 😀
Unfortunately I did not take photos of us sipping and enjoying our bowls of sopas, but take my word for it when I said that we all enjoyed our meal. 🙂 I don’t mean to brag, but I am confident that I will excel in this skill and passion of mine, that is, cooking. 🙂 If you have any favorite recipes that you want me to try, please tell me! Send the file to talamjenny@gmail.com or send me the link via a comment. I’ll never stop cooking and learning how to improve in doing so. 😀
Until the next cook-off! 🙂

I Left My Heart (and Stomach) in Balay Indang

Two days ago my family and I, along with my paternal grandmother and aunt, visited a unique and beautiful house in Indang, Cavite. Just 90 minutes from Manila (although it took us 2 and a half hours to get there), Balay Indang (“House of Indang”) or The Red Ginger Farm is a Filipino/Asian-inspired,  bed-and-breakfast destination.

went immediately to the dining area to eat. FOOD is the best welcomer ever, if I must say 🙂

baked Parmesan fish is love! 🙂 I ate gobs of it. It was that good!

twas my first time to see and touch records. 🙂

I love surprises. Balay Indang gave me this the moment I stepped inside her wooden gate. As you saw in the photos, the interior was decorated contrarily: Christian places all over and Buddhist statues inside the living room. However, that to me was no surprise compared to what awaited us at the dining table. Since we left our own balay early, my family and I (except for the golden ladies :D) had no time for breakfast. Thankfully, a Balay rule accommodated our physical needs: upon arrival (which should be reserved, by the way; they don’t accept walk-ins), breakfast/lunch/dinner is served immediately. Although your right in choosing what to eat is deprived of you inside their home, the amiable staff have already prepared delicious meals that would pull your heartstrings. The best part about it is all ulam (viands) are refillable, so in effect, meals are eat-all-you-can! 🙂 The Balay Indang menu varies everyday so that each visit would be unique on its own. As I mentioned earlier in a caption, I fell in love with the baked Parmesan fish! What seemed to be the “crust” of the cheese tasted like the fish’s belly (or maybe it really was the fish’s belly) and it just made my jaw drop in awe. The salad (not pictured) was simple yet tasty because of the nuts and finely grated Parmesan cheese. The dalandan-orange drink was also very refreshing and natural for it was made out of real dalandan and orange, squeezed and mixed to perfection by the staff.

After lunch we toured the rooms. Each room, named after a Bible character, was designed to accommodate 4-6 people and was spacious enough to move around and play board games (I can imagine my brothers and I playing Monopoly Deal and Pictionary). We did not check-in (boo) so we just went to the Pavillion and relaxed our afternoon away (for me that meant a siesta). =)) Come 3 PM merienda (afternoon snack)  was served. Our perpetually hungry family ate mini buko pies and bread topped with pesto, cream and shrimp. 😀 More memorable photos were shot and snapped before we said our goodbyes and wished the place success (we weren’t the only customers, by the way).

Balay Indang (The Red Ginger Farm and Garden)

88 Mahabang Kahoy Cerca

0917-8374261 or 0917-8665825

PLDT number: 775-6886

Search For The Sage and My First Dish for 2011

After I dropped by school to submit my notebook filler and confirm my acceptance in my course (go IMC!),  I headed to Rustan’s Supermarket and shopped for my first ever dish for 2011!!

Unfortunately, my parents brought our two cameras with them so I had no recording device to chronicle today’s adventure. Nevertheless, it was fun!

I was thankful our pantry contained most of the ingredients I needed, so I bought all the things I lacked. After grabbing two cans of tuna in oil and a block of cheese (can you guess what I’m trying to make?), I headed to the vegetables section. I searched for sage leaves, but unfortunately, the supermarket ran out of stocks. Since I was just repeating a recipe I cooked last year in my Home Economics class in high school, I decided to head home and buy the sage leaves where I bought the leaves then: at Puregold. Or so I thought.

When I asked the crew for sage leaves, they said the supermarket sold no product. That’s when I realized my mistake. Last year, I bought sage leaves from Shopwise, not Puregold!

I hopped on board another jeep and got down at Pasong Tamo, about 250 meters away from Shopwise. It was already two in the afternoon when I reached Pasong Tamo. I could have ridden a jeepney to the supermarket, but I opted to walk so that I could exercise. 😉 When I arrived at Shopwise, I hurried to the vegetables section and searched for sage leaves, only to find out that…

they were not there either!! 😐

I really wanted to cook today so I made up my mind to substitute basil with sage. Later I learned that I should have bought thyme or rosemary instead. Anyway, the cooking sites I visited assured me that basil would be a fine substitute so I used it in my recipe.

So what is my recipe? Wanting to use the whole wheat spaghetti noodles I bought last year, I decided to cook Yummy magazine’s Tuna Fettucine in Brown Butter Sauce. Due to budget and ingredient availability constraints, I modified the recipe. Thus, Whole Wheat Spaghetti With Tuna, Basil and Butter Sauce was born! Here is the recipe, including the brands I used for the ingredients.

Ingredients (with the actual measurements I used)

500 grams whole wheat spaghetti noodles

6 tablespoons Queensland butter

16 dried basil leaves

4 cans Century Tuna in vegetable oil

4 tablespoons (squares) Knorr chicken cubes

6 tablespoons Queso (Parmesan cheese would have been better, but I had a tight budget)

salt and pepper to taste (this I did not have to use)

Procedures

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  2. Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add and stir sage, cooking until butter is dark amber in color. Set aside sage leaves once they curl up.
    Toss in tuna.
  3. Add stock to butter, followed by pasta and cheese. Toss to coat. Add some pasta water if sauce is too dry.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cooked basil leaves and top with more cheese.

Notes

  • Unfortunately for me, the packager forgot to type or intentionally neglected typing an English translation of the directions (it was all Italiano!). I boiled water (1/2-3/4 of the pot) then added 3 teaspoons salt. Afterwards, I added the noodles. I boiled the noodles for 10 minutes only to find out that the time was not enough. If you’re using whole wheat pasta, cook them for 2-3 minutes longer because of their hard texture.
  • Drain the tuna cans of their oil! 🙂
  • If you’re not using Parmesan cheese, make sure that you dissolve the cheese well.

I present to you, my first dish for 2011! Bon appetit!

In spite of the slightly undercooked noodles (but soft enough to be chewed), my pasta received heartwarming praises from my family members! Note: they are not biased, especially my parents! :)) Haha!

“Good! It’s a little salty for me and the noodles should be cooked more, but the taste is delicious! Pwedeng pang restaurant. Your grade is 94 over 100.” – Jean J. Talam

“Yummy! Almost perfect!” – Ferdie Talam

“Your dish is irresistible.” – Joshua Talam 🙂

YAY! I can’t wait to have more gastronomic adventures! What should I cook next? I’m thinking of a Mediterranean dish or an amalgamation of Italian and Filipino ingredients. In the summer, I’m definitely making coconut-avocado ice cream. Watch out for that! 😀

Life Through My Father’s Lenses

Recently,  my Dad bought a Canon 70D. Just like any guy, Dad is crazy over his new toy. The good thing about him is that when he pours his heart out to master and enjoy a certain craft, he yields wonderful results. He’s been photographing people, places and things for about 2 weeks now and yet they look professional! 🙂  I am so proud of him (even if he takes candid pictures of me in my pambahay clothes) because I know that he can use this newfound interest not just to make money (which he plans to do), but to capture the beauty in God’s wonderful creation and give the Creator His deserved credit. 🙂

*all the photos were taken and edited by Ferdie Talam (I took one of my Dad’s photos, the one where he’s wearing black. haha)

Golden tinapa at Pancake House

Manila Bay

Welch’s wine in plastic cups

my adorable brother James 🙂 he’s such a cutie

josh feelin’ his cardboard friend

poor cat eating off the leftover palabok 😦

 

Mom and her bunso 🙂

gwapo 😉

Tay at Nay

 

2 Rangos and a Beans 🙂 (from the animated film Rango)

The photos are arranged chronologically (except for the Canon 70D, courtesy of Google Images):

1-2.  taken by Dad after work 2 weeks ago

3.  last Thursday during the family Bible study (which I missed :|)

4-8. Two Sundays ago at Bigby’s and SM Cinema in Megamall

9. Two Saturdays ago at Pizza Hut (Robinson’s, I guess. I wasn’t there either)

10-14. Max’s Megamall and the lobby of The Podium

I shall study photography very soon, right after HELL WEEK (which is actually this week). By the way, I just want to thank God for exempting me from my chem finals which, according to our professor, is really difficult. Woohoo! Even more good news: my Christian Civilization prof cancelled our exam this Friday because she was already exhausted from checking too many papers. HAHA! 😀 Only 4 more exams to go courtesy of Math and Theology.

And now for the best photo of the bunch! I saved the most gwapo for last. I love you Daddeh!  Good night!