Every time I think of scones, I am always transported back to Tokyo when I first had them in 1992. I must say, it was love at first bite — not too sweet but crunchy on the top and bottom layer, soft pillowy tender on the inside — it became a favourite snack. It’s perfect with green tea. Continue reading
My inbox has recently been flooded with emails asking for the template and step-by-step instructions of this gingerbread house, an old post from December of last year. Regrettably, I do no longer have the templates of any gingerbread houses I made over the years, including those of the London iconic buildings, simply because I give them away after using them. I had no plans of reusing them again as I always make something new every year. Continue reading
Despite my love for Japanese food, and I am particularly fond of Okinawan food, I have not dabbled much in cooking Ryukyu dishes. I have some recipe books and guidebooks about the unparalleled longevity of native Okinawans and I recently unearthed them from a huge pile of books needing to be sorted out in our library, and started reading them again.
The Japanese people are renowned for their food, eating habits, and relatively healthy lifestyle. Evidently, results of numerous health studies show that the Japanese are more likely to reach 100 years old than anyone else. In the Ryukyus, the southernmost islands of Japan, there are more centenarians than anywhere else in the country, or the world for that matter. There were so many doctors, nutritionists, and other health professionals who did extensive research on life expectancy of the Okinawans. I have a copy of The Okinawa Diet Plan and the author highlights that the regular inclusion of animal protein can be an advantage over vegetarian diets when it comes to longevity. However the authors also note that in the Ryukyu Islands meat was traditionally a small part of a diet rich in whole foods. The importance of pork — both a delicacy and everyday food with the entire pig eaten, from ears to feet — in the Ryukyu diet is also mentioned as very traditional.
Then last week Jared and I were talking about the work out that we’ve been doing recently, our diet, lifestyle, etc., and our conversation drifted into shallow waters — food and being indulgent with all things edible. I ended up rather waxing nostalgic about a pork dish I love and haven’t cooked in over six months. It’s called Rafute, a traditional pork dish slowly simmered in soy sauce and a generous amount of awamori, or Okinawan rice wine. I had visions of biting into the fatty pork slices melting in my mouth and being transported back to the Ryukyu Islands. So the next day I went to our local butcher and purchased a kilo of pork belly.
Every first Sunday of the month we celebrate the birthday and anniversary of our church members and regular attendees, and baking a cake for this occasion is part of my ministry. On Saturday morning I was on Pinterest trying to find a no-bake cake recipe (the oven is broken), and found this Napoleon Cake. I made a few changes though; for the biscuit (or cookies) I wanted to use Graham Crackers but the American Food Shop in our neighbourhood didn’t have any. I then decided to go to Portobello Market to find Graham Crackers but for some reasons, all the shops I went to didn’t have it so I settled on using a similar biscuit called ‘Maria’ after I saw them at Garcia’s, a Spanish food shop on Portobello Road. In the Philippines this biscuit is called ‘Marie’ and I grew up eating them. Haven’t had them for ages actually, and seeing them again after so many years certainly brought back a lot of fun memories. 🙂 Continue reading
Prompted by a sweet looking fresh strawberries, raspberries and other fruits I picked up at the Farmer’s Market, I’ve been eating shortcakes with various fruits. Yesterday I made my favorite shortcake recipe (Nigella Lawson’s), and had two biscuits worth of mixed berries and whipped cream. I garnished with some fresh mint and that added a delightful touch. Today I had biscuits left, but no more fresh fruits so I took some frozen blueberries (I always keep a big bag in the freezer reserved for smoothies), thawed them and tossed them with a bit of sugar. What do you know?! Blueberry shortcake is pretty delicious as well. Continue reading
This should have been posted a couple of months back, around Christmas time, but life gets in the way and other plans happen. Over the years I try to make different gingerbread figures based on some iconic buildings in London like Big Ben, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, etc.
I recently had a chat with a friend of mine back in the Philippines who is a public school teacher. After exchanging pleasantries, we talked about our parents, and because we haven’t talked nor seen each other for years, the conversation just naturally turned into sharing stories that made us both laugh in reminiscence of the good old days of our childhood. I then asked about her job, and she went on for a good fifteen to twenty minutes telling me about her lesson plan for the new school year, her boisterous students, and her classroom walls filled with maps, student work, pictures of far-away places, and large sheets of colored paper with quotations and proverbs. Continue reading
This is a beautiful coffee table book written by Ms Bea Tollman, the founder and president of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection (composed of thirteen boutique hotels). It is an enjoyable read with captivating stories about the author’s modest beginnings in South Africa to becoming a very successful hotelier. Continue reading
Last week I was able to luxuriate in baking and cake decorating. Lara, a church mate of mine, asked me last summer if I could do a cake for her Mum’s 80th birthday. I adore her Mum so, of course, I was happy to do it even if I am not good at baking or cake decorating. Continue reading