Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bread in the Head

Since starting the other blog about food, I have been cooking a lot. (obviously) Currently, I am obsessed with baking the perfect bread.

It started with doing a pork bun (a very Asian pork filled dough) that we like to eat a lot. In any cooking endeavour, I always like to experiment first on things my family likes to eat.


So doing the pork bun, I got the idea to try french bread... and then white bread... and now.. I'm so obsessed with bread baking and trying to get the fluffy dough.~~~ Mind you, bread baking is time consuming. (an IN!)

 Not so much with the making but rather with waiting for the dough to rise. But when you get a really nice bread... WOW.




I still have to try again though on my white bread... I want a more fluffier texture than what I got here.

I always thought bread baking as a level beyond my skills, but after trying my hand at it though... I know it can be done by mere mortals like me!!! All you really need to do is practice. Although the quality of bread I am now doing is not *amazing, it is pretty decent.. (if I do say so myself)

It's so funny to think that just a few weeks ago I was on a  no carb diet and now I am making bread almost every chance I get..

some people might think...bread is so easy to buy in the store.. why take the trouble to bake?  well, the point is, I ENJOY the process of making my own bread. I think it's the innate desire in me to be productive and MAKE something. More so, if other people enjoy eating my bread too.

Right now, I am itching... just itching I tell you!... to start doing a recipe for MILK BREAD I got off the internet, It's a japanese bread that I buy from a local bakery and it has the softest crumb! OH YEAH. (doing the victory dance).. If I succeed in this, It would be such an achievement!

P.S. --- not even noticing... this is my 101 post.... has it been that long?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bohol Bee Farm

as you can see... shopping before touring!!!
BOHOL BEE FARM was the last stop in our day trip of island hopping itinerary. The concept of this farm is like a B & B ( bed and breakfast ). They grow their own organic produce and of course honey. At the entrance to the farm is the souvenir shop where you can buy chocolate spread, honey spread and even homemade ice cream (flavors like coconut, avocado, malunggay ( a local plant), durian, langka (native fruits) ). They have a farm tour every 30 minutes and all you have to do is pay a 30 peso fee ($.90) and wait for a guide.

The guide was a very lively fellow and he gave us each a BURI hat (woven from banana fibers)-- I think this is to distinguish us from the other people in the farm. We walked a few meters down the path to the honey bee area where he showed us the hive. "The bees are not dangerous at all..." he was saying as he put on his hat w/ net (huh???) I was wondering why he was putting on the net/hat and we were left with NO NET... 
Thankfully, the bees were very tame (I had reservations after watching too many national geographic shows on killer bees) and we all had a chance to take a hold of one "rack". Even my 7 year old daughter.

The whole concept of the bee farm is going natural and organic and you could really feel the atmosphere of being in a serene place. I really loved this bench


The concept of just sitting here and enjoying a good book really appealed to me. We were led to a local handicraft area where they manufacture bags and other souvenirs from local materials
The take fibers from plants and dye them with a natural dye before they weave them into mats. A local woman was weaving fibers from plants into a mat.  The mats are then made into hats, place mats, bags and other products which they can sell in the store or as packaging for the food.
They also had some art work for sale. It was amusing to see honey bee "inspired" art works

Walking further down, you'll pass by the Herb patch. The guide told us that Bohol's soil is very acidic, because of it being a volcanic island. So they have to plant all the vegetables in pots and not directly on the soil.


At the end of the trail, we were left to wander, a path directly led down to a cafe. The cafe itself was overlooking the sea. (the farm was directly situated on a cliff).
the path was actually coconut husks embedded in concrete!
Being adventurous foodies that we are. We sat down and ordered. Some of us saw a hammock and got to swing in it too. (how relaxing!)

The food was nice. It was not too expensive and we asked around regarding accomodations (they have guest rooms). I found the rates very reasonable. (some hotels overcharge you with the food)

What was nice was that they have a direct access to the sea from the cafe. (only open to checked in guests). They had a path going down and when I peeked, I saw some loungers where you can lay down with a good book.

It was late afternoon when we went and it was already low tide. I could see a lot of people walking on the dried up beach and picking shells (I think).


The place just oozed with relaxation...definitely a "TO DO" The next time I go to Bohol,   For more info on the farm, click HERE.

Island Hopping- Bohol

The third day was our Island hopping day. We rented an outrigger banca (boat) at 2800 pesos for the whole day (about $50).

 We set out very early to catch a glimpse of the dolphins Bohol was famous for. By 6:30, we were already skimming along the waves and getting hit with salty water.  Further down, I could see a lot of boats already gathering.

We were not very lucky at the dolphins. although we saw some clusters, it seemed like a lot of boats (including ours) were there and crowding and chasing after them to get a picture. My friend said that the first time she was there, there were less boats and more dolphins. (oh well)

After a few frustrating minutes of waiting and getting a few glimpses, We decided to go to one island and try our hand at snorkeling. *they had an outrigger with PARADISE as its name... I thought it was so appropriate.... (see my picture of it on top of my blog)


We had some biscuits with us and used them as fish feed. The fishes were biting... and if you were a bit on the pale side... they might think you were bread too and start nibbling at your legs!


After an hour,  we set off again for the virgin islands ... a stretch of very shallow sand dunes that stretches for what seems like a few miles. It was my favorite part of the trip. The waters were very clear and you could really dip yourself into the sea. No coral, no jagged rocks... just pure clean sand!!





AAAAAHHHH.... I wished we could just stay there for the rest of the day!!!... all of us had so much fun splashing around.


I also had fun tinkering with the camera effects and shooting nice pictures of my friends. Sadly, we had to leave by lunch because we in the afternoon, we were scheduled to go visit the BOHOL BEE FARM. Next time though, I would stay here the whole day and pack some sandwiches. They said we could even arrange a beach barbecue if we wanted to... we just had to inform the boatmen. (sigh... next time... next time!!!!!)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Facebook and Blogging

I have been quite busy lately cooking and blogging for my food blog - two ladies and a spoon  (co blogged with my friend Candie) and working at my office. It September and technically the start of our most hectic months.

One thing about food blogging is that you get so much satisfaction in doing and sharing the recipes. I also love that people who read the recipes eventually try to cook.

The food blog really has improved in the short time that we have started writing posts. We even have a facebook fan page now although there is not as many people yet who "like" it.

Food blogging has also improved how I take pictures. REALLY. hahaha. I get so jealous of other blogs who post amazing picture of the food they cook that I want to take great looking pictures as well.

Hopefully. I get to write about the nice day trip we had on the BOHOL BEE FARM on the next post.!


Friday, September 9, 2011

EYES and TEETH

After we had our lunch by a road side cafeteria called TRES HERMANAS (three madams) -- the highlight of which was a forgettable kilawing kalabaw which loosely translated, is... raw carabao meat cured in vinegar (like cheviche)....yes, i know, you are having swirling images of this dish in your head. But it didn't actually LOOK raw... the taste itself  was not bad but not good either.. I tell you something,  faced with no options, -- you eat was is presented. (the rice was undercooked too...). It was my kids' SURVIVOR MOMENT.... hahahaha.

Not deterred, we headed down to the much awaited tarsier reserve.


The reserve itself was very well maintained and you can roam around the grounds freely searching for the tarsier. Most of them are located in the trees and you can search by looking for ones with COVERS on them. (like houses) or in our case, we would go where there was a huge crowd.

Actually, when you get an idea what the "houses" look like, it's very easy to spot and the whole area housed about 10-15 of these houses so you don't need to crowd in one place.

Tarsiers are native to bohol and are the smallest primates. The most notable feature is their HUGE eyes which are the same size as their brain.

my preciiiooouuuuusss..... hehehe.... kindda gollum like eh?
huge eyes (above photos by my friend, Lilibeth Lam)

They so small you can fit one in your hand...

These little buggers are so cute you want to touch one (which is a NO NO)... they actually remind me of koalas... the way they crouch and cling to the branch. Both of them are nocturnal too...

Rules of the reserve : DO NOT TOUCH the tarsiers. NO FLASH photography (since they are nocturnal,  they have sensitive eyes)
The reserve do not charge a fee and just have a "donation" box. (I dropped 200 pesos( $5-) for our group)

Next stop was the hanging bridge.

The only thing you get is the excitement of crossing the bamboo bridge over the height of the river and having it swing. There are two bridges. One is for crossing to the other side and the other is for coming back.


It was pretty hard to take pictures while crossing because of the swinging. I was scared I might lose a grip and my camera would go BYE BYE to the river. It was a good 20 feet high and my sandals kept on getting stuck in between the slats of the bamboo. The boys had a lot of fun jiggling the bridge though. (yeah, ok, they had a lot of fun scaring the heck out of their 7 yr old sister)


Once you get to the other side, there is not much to see. There are few merchants selling local peanut cookies and some coconut sugar. 

Since my friend already had come before, she knew this man who can UNHUSK a coconut with his bare teeth lived there. I think he was featured in several TV programs in several countries already. (do something ODD and you're sure to get on TV). If you have ever seen a coconut, you would know how hard it is to open (most people open it with a machete) and unimaginable to even try doing it with your teeth. 

Looking at him reminded me of the henchmen you see on TV... one of the "bad" guys -- one of those who is always the kidnapper/hold upper or henchmen of some corrupt person. hahahaha

We haggled with him for his "fee"- from 200 pesos to 100 pesos ($5 to $2.5) for him to "perform"

See him do his jawdropping stuff (hear me shout in amazement in the background) in less than 20 seconds.!!!!!


video

Maybe I should try too...
he actually gripped the coconut with his TEETH


There was more to see in Bohol and we weren't finished yet...

But I have to tell that in the next blog. (LOL)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Of hills, houses and butterflies

The next day, we were scheduled to go on a city tour. We had hired a local van to bring us around (whole day hire with driver is about 2800 pesos  $65-) the van comfortably fitted 9-10 people.

First stop was the famous CHOCOLATE HILLS. these are about 1000 or more hills that dot the landscape. They call them chocolate hills because in the summer, the grass goes dry and brown and then they resemble chocolate. It was monsoon season when we went and the hills were VERY green.

On one hill, they made a structure on top like view deck. You have to CLIMB about 80 steps up the side of the hill to reach the top. (woe to those elderly... they don't have elevators nor escalators). You can take pictures and pose doing a "jumpshot". One of our companions did a jumpshot holding a broom and the picture turned out looking like she was flying over the hills on a broom-- sooo cool!

SHIP HAUS


Not very far from chocolate hills is the newly opened SHIP HAUS (yes, spelled that way). It is a house that is made to look like a ship. the story goes that the owner of the house is a captain of a ship and he built this house a a vacation home. It was so interesting that a lot of people stop by to take pictures of the house. The local government noticed and asked him to open the house to the public.

allll ... aboard!!!!
For a minimal fee, (10 pesos, $.25 cents) you can tour the house. They really went into the concept and dressed the staff in ship uniforms. Inside, you find a living room and a "mess hall" or dining room. When  you go up, they set up "cabins" or rooms. I was told they are open for overnight stays. The cost per room is 500 pesos (about $12-) a night. They have single bed and bunk beds. The decor of each room was very sparse (like a nice hostel) and no private bathroom. All rooms have to use a common bathroom (for the 500 pesos, what did you expect?) the rooms looked clean though.

On the third floor is the "sun deck" where they it up to look like a ship's deck (I guess you can take a picture on the mast doing a "I am king of the world" pose. They have a small "snack bar" where you can buy local delicacies and a souvenier shop.



There's not much to see here actually other than the novelty of the house built like a ship. We had a nicer time in the....

BUTTERFLY CONSERVATION CENTER

Travelling with kids means you have to keep them entertained. The visit to the Butterfly conservatory was really very educational and fun. The moment you step into the place, (a minimal fee is paid) and a guide will take you on a tour. It was pretty interesting to see the difference between a MOTH and a BUTTERFLY. Moths being dull and wolly than butterflies.


can you imagine that moth in your house???


They have a nice collection of sample  butterflies native to the area. The guide will show you the development of the butterfly from larva stage - pupa stage to finally becoming a butterfly.

They have this box where they exhibit LIVE butterfly cocoons... some are gold colored! They say the ones with the most colorful and beautiful cocoons come out ugly while the more plain ones are the  more beautiful ones.... (aint it so? beauty is only skin deep.... hahahaha)

gold cocoons!!!  cute caterpillar!!!
The guide took one of the cocoons and it was alive!!!--- you can see the small pupa moving while it was in our hands. The kids really loved this part.

video

The next part was when they took as to the butterfly garden and you can see all the butterflies flying around you...
The conservation center also has a cafe. We didn't take our lunch there (although I wished we had). I saw some nice rice toppings and some sizzling pork (we had to take our lunch somewhere else.... a canteen by the side of the road... ughhh....) So, if you ever reach the conservatory by lunch, I suggest you eat before leaving.

In the next blog, I'll tell  about the man with the iron teeth.

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