Tiramisu, I Love You.

Today’s food journal entry is about my first attempt at making tiramisu yesterday. It went very well, my husband and I enjoyed it. Tiramisu is one of the two kinds of cake that I enjoy eating. The other one being (any kind of) cheesecake. Mascarpone is not always readily available locally, though. So when I found some at a nearby S&R, I bought a tub and a pack of ladyfingers to experiment with.

The directions on the recipe that I followed noted that the whole process takes only about 45 minutes, I think that this is possible, but since it was my first time it took about an hour and a half for me to complete it.

I made a few notes on my first attempt so that I would fare better on the next ones. Apparently, I will be using a lot of espresso. I didn’t know how absorbent these ladyfingers were, and I only prepared 4 shots of espresso initially. I had to stop in the middle of assembling the cake and hand-ground enough beans for 4 more shots.

I think that it’s important to use real espresso here instead of just strong instant coffee. The concentrated flavor of espresso really cuts through the mascarpone, cream, and custard mixture.

I was also surprised that these ladyfingers fall apart pretty quickly. You really just need to quickly dip it into espresso. You can’t leave it soaking because it falls apart just a few seconds after. I thought that after leaving the tiramisu in the fridge overnight to set, the ladyfingers would fall apart. Apparently they really just turn into delicious, coffee-infused sponges. It’s delightful.

My husband and I absolutely love tiramisu, and we used to frequent a favorite restaurant where we get what we believe is the  best tiramisu in Metro Manila. They don’t sell whole cakes, though, and of course we don’t go out too often because of the pandemic. So having a ginormous baking tray of tiramisu at home was a delight to us. It’s quite perfect with coffee. Needless to say, I really enjoyed my coffee break this morning.

 

Canon Mini Photo Printer First Impressions

The Canon Mini Photo printer has been around a few years, but I’ve never been an early adapter to anything, honestly. I’ve been journaling a lot more since the pandemic, though. Quite a bit more than I usually do (and I usually do write a lot). I missed having a photo printer, my old HP printer broke down because the cat peed on it lol. I thought I’d look into these cute little pocket printers I’ve been eyeing for a while now. I was hoping to get the Mi pocket printer but it’s always out of stock locally. My second option was the HP Sprocket, but while searching for the Sprocket in Lazada, I came across this little gem in the Canon flagship store and it was on sale. I bought it on Friday and yesterday (Saturday), it was delivered. I was pretty impressed with how often the status was updated and how quickly it was delivered.

It also came with this pouch, which in the product photos looked kinda meh (definitely would not really add to the motivation to buy) but in person, it’s pretty cute.

There flap has a metallic close, and it has a little pouch that can hold extra Zink sheets or your blue smart card if you need to use it again. It’s also thick and sturdy, so the printer is properly protected. At least I won’t need to buy a case for the printer anymore. The printer itself is pretty compact and light although it feels solidly built. Feels like a pocket wifi modem. I like the sleek lines around it and I’m happy that I chose the unit that has a grey-colored back panel instead of rose gold because the print on the cover is grey too. Continue reading “Canon Mini Photo Printer First Impressions”

Food and Mourning

My first food entry for this year. If 2020 was difficult, the entrance of 2021 for our family is even more challenging. We opened the year faced with challenges we’ve never had to face before. When your heart is grieving, you tend to try and seek out places that made you feel safe and happy. A lot of those involve happy food memories. It can’t make things better, but it can help you get into that headspace where you can gather your thoughts in peace and quiet while enjoying an uncomplicated bowl of pasta.

Mmmmm. Warm Rolls.

Yet another late post. This year I saw that there’s a stand mixer on sale at S&R so I bought one. Of course one of the first things I tried making is dinner rolls.

I followed a simple recipe for it, not using sourdough first because I wanted to eat it right away lol. I will make the next batches with sourdough, for sure. These turned out pretty well, although it could be a bit more fluffy inside. Maybe I didn’t proof the dough enough.

The smell that fills the house while baking bread is just amazing. Even the memory of it has a way of making me feel peaceful and happy inside. Like the smell of marinara sauce simmering, the smell of bread is just bound with happy thoughts of home.

I’m happy to be able to make dinner rolls now. I can’t believe that I only started learning to bake bread last year, because that’s on my birthday wishlist of things to learn. I’ve always been a little intimidated with the thought of learning to bake bread, but I realized that I had a lot of time on my hand, might as well knock a few things off my wishlist.

Next item in my to-learn list is sandwich bread. 🙂

My First Plate of Gnocchi

Late post. This is a journal entry I made late last year about making (and eating) my first plate of gnocchi.

I’ve never actually tried gnocchi before, but I’ve always been curious about it because it seemed so easy to do. So I thought I’d make some, since I had some potatoes and 00 flour at home, and since our sage had a growth spurt and was just branching out all over the place. I figured it was the best time to try something new.

It really was quite easy to make, I enjoyed it a lot. I wish I had a better surface to make the ridges on the gnocchi more pronounced but I just rolled the little nuggets of dough against a fork to make shallow ridges.

I browned the gnocchi in butter, took them out to cook the butter and sage some more, and then tossed the gnocchi back into the sauce to finish it. The sage crisped in browned butter sauce is incredibly delicious. I would recommend frying more of it and putting it on the side.

My husband enjoyed this a lot. I’ll be cooking it again soon. I think I want to try making this with white, creamy sauce next time. Or even my homemade marinara.

Outdoor Dining

Late post, this was from late last year. My husband and I went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. We picked an odd day and off-peak time, so there were hardly any people. On normal days (as in pre-COVID19), not a lot of people would be at the mall during weekdays after lunch time. These days, there are even fewer people. The place didn’t have air conditioning on, and we were seated beside the window. There were barely any other diners there aside from us, and everybody was staying away from other people. Even when walking through the mall, people were mindful of social distancing, and hardly had to be told to avoid others. Everyone wore face masks and face shields. Thankfully, nobody makes a fuss about that here. The feeling of eating a well-cooked piece of fish in a restaurant again was awesome. Not having to hurry because there weren’t crowds to be stressed about is even better.

Pen Review: Parker Duofold Geometric

Yesterday I picked up my Christmas pen, my one and only pen splurge for the year, actually. I got it at a really good price from a good friend, so I thought I’d give myself this treat to celebrate making it to the end of 2020. This is a Parker Duofold Geometric circa 1939-1940. It was marketed as an affordable pen aimed at the entry level market. Its arrival was a bit of a surprise because the dominating pen at the time was the Vacumatic, my favorite kind of vintage Parker pens. The Duofold Geometric (also called Duofold Toothbrush, for obvious reasons) had an interesting pattern, but is obviously quite different in design from the vacumatics. These came in gold and nickel trim back then. The one I have has a nickel trim, which clashes a bit with the gold nib. No biggie, though.

The clip is tapered and simply has “PARKER” engraved on it. The cap band is devoid of any design.

Quite a departure from the art deco design influence on Vacumatics. Below is a photo of the Parker pens that I currently have inked. The clip design is very different, and is missing the iconic arrow which was already adapted to Parker pens of that time.

The material used is still celluloid, though. The filling mechanism is the same as the traditional Duofold, which is a button filler. Here is a size comparison with a Parker Duofold Junior from1928. The Toothbrush is just slightly longer than the Duofold Junior, but the Junior is heavier, feels more solid, and has a bigger girth.

The Junior feels like it has almost the same thickness as a Sailor Progear Mini. The Toothbrush, on the other hand, feels much lighter in the hand. You can see how it’s considered as part of a budget line during that time, it feels less sturdy than its weightier predecessor.

The weight, size and girth of this pen is much closer to that of the Vacumatic Debutantes.

It has a certain charm, though, which I think accounts for the fact that it’s still popular with collectors despite being obviously made with cheaper materials compared with the Vacs.

Here’s a size comparison with my two Vacumatic Debutantes.

The way that they feel in the hand feels very much the same. I find the size awfully cute. These are adorable, pocket-sized versions of bigger vacs and duofolds and I’m pretty much in love with them.

Below is a photo of what would appear to be an amber-colored window to look at the ink level, and it has a rod visible from the translucent portion of the barrel. It’s an interesting design quirk because it’s pretty much useless. Looks like it was made to look as if the filling system is the same as the more popular Vacumatic, but the pen uses a button filler with an ink sac, so this design is not really useful.

Here’s a close up of the “toothbrush” geometric design and the inscription on the barrel:

 

The nib design of the Toothbrush is also quite simple, without the iconic arrow themes of even the original Duofolds. This nib is unmarked, but it writes like a stubby, European medium nib. I inked it with Parker Quink black.

I really love how this pen writes. It wrote perfectly after I inked it. The nib is hard with just a very slight bounce, but it is super smooth. It has a very slight feedback but  it glides easily on paper. It almost feels like writing with pencil, even the sound it makes. Like the older Duofold, the nib has a slight bend to it, almost like a claw. It makes this really pleasant scratching sound on paper. It lays down a wet, consistent line of ink and it’s a complete pleasure to write with. Here’s a quick writing sample below.

The condition of the pen is amazing despite the fact that it’s now 80-81 years old. I think my friend did a good job taking care of this pen, and I hope to do the same now that it’s in my collection. What a testament this is to great craftsmanship. Here’s a hat tip to an era when things were made to last instead of disposed of, and things are fixed when they’re broken instead of replaced. It’s been 6 years since I last bought a disposable pen, and using vintage pens like this one reminds me of one of the reasons why I started this hobby in the first place–to reduce plastic waste. It’s pretty awesome that this pen was made on the same year my grandmother was born, and it’s still writing the way that it should. World War II hasn’t even ended at that time, and the world was quite different from today. This pen survived that and has seen the world change in many different ways. That, for me, is super cool.

Happy Kitchen

Today’s food journal entry. I have completed a few pages on this food journal. I wish I thought of this earlier, it’s pretty awesome to have a compilation of entries that are just about one topic. I’m looking forward to finishing this journal and making a flip-through. In this entry, I wrote down my pasta sauce and meatballs recipe. I don’t measure my ingredients, I just cook the amount that I need and take my cue from how it smells and tastes throughout the cooking process. I made it this weekend and I added a lot of herbs from our garden. Far from making it taste too herb-y or vegetal it had layers of complex and complementing flavors. We used dried penne for it, though, because I wanted to bake it with cheese sauce. I must say that I really missed freshly made pasta and wished that I made some instead.

I count myself blessed to have a quiet and loving home during this pandemic. We’ve been hibernating, rarely going out. We’re enjoying the peace and quiet of our home. I understand how others can have a drastically different experience during this time. The least we can do is to reach out and check on our family and friends. It’s been a long year.

Sugar

My food journal entry from a few days ago. I recently learned to bake a basic banana bread. My husband loved it a lot so I baked it a few times these past few weeks. I realized that it uses so much sugar though, so I told my husband I wouldn’t be baking too often anymore. Maybe just once in a while, as a treat. We usually go through a bag of sugar in several months. The last 2-kilo bag that we bought was from waaaay back in March. We don’t use sugar a lot at home. It shocked me how quickly we used up the sugar when I started baking, and I realized that sugar is one of those things that you can consume so much of when it comes in the form of yummy baked goods. Out of sight, out of mind. When you bake stuff yourself, though, it becomes harder to ignore.

Open Crumb, Hooray!

This journal entry was written last week. It’s about the first time that I was able to achieve a sufficiently open crumb in my country style sourdough bread.

I was so excited when I sliced into it and found this. While I was reading Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked”, I was so fascinated about the chapter on fermentation. These little pockets of air contain a smell that the mouth translates for the brain into flavor. Retronasal olfaction is our ability to smell food that’s already in the mouth.

For this bake, I changed a few things. I increased the hydration of the dough to 76.6%, lengthened the autolyse to a little over 3 hours, and did my stretch and folds according to how the dough looks like instead of following a rigid s&f schedule. I also sprayed water into the dutch oven before popping it in.

It tasted marvelous. I can see what Michael Pollan meant when he wrote about how an open crumb is more flavorful. I really enjoyed this bake.

I bought a small oval banneton so that I can try a batard shape next time. I’m super busy this week so I’m going to schedule my next bake next week, during my Thanksgiving break. Can’t wait!