Category: Journal Art

Good Bread Day

Today’s journal entry is about having a “good bread day”. I’m not a consistent baker yet, probably because I don’t have a lot of time to practice these past few months. Last Saturday my bake was on point, though.

I realize now what I had been reading in baking tutorials. You gotta get out of the time-bound mindset, like kneading your bread a certain number of minutes and a certain number of times. What works better is to really “listen” to your dough or to observe when it’s ready.

My dough last Saturday felt like fluffy, elastic marshmallow that grows steadily when left alone. I committed the texture and feel to memory so that I can recognize it again next time, then popped the dough-babies in the oven and prepared myself to enjoy my favorite part about baking–the minutes that follow, when the scent of freshly baked bread fills the house. I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of that moment.

It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago, “baking bread” was in my to-learn list along with pen turning and pottery. I think it’s important to remain curious about the world around you, enough to want to learn new things. I think I’ll practice more so that I’ll be consistent with my output before I learn something new, though.

Edible Shrooms

Today’s entry in my food journal is actually just a test page. I bought a set of Kolibri miniature details brushes from Art Nebula PH (click here for the link to the product page). I bought these specifically to add little details to my food journal entries. I’m still getting used to them  but I’m pleasantly surprised that they hold a point nicely and they load more water than I thought they would. I tried miniature brushes before (synthetic hair) but it was frustrating because they wouldn’t load enough water and it was hard to control the amount laid down on paper. I really enjoyed these Kolibri brushes, though. It’s easy to control the water laid down on paper and the points can make hairline-thin strokes. I think they would be really fun to use on my journals.

Roasted Spatchcock Chicken

Yesterday’s food journal entry. I don’t roast chicken a lot so I’m not familiar with the different techniques of doing it. I remember that I first came across spatchcocking a chicken in a British cooking show and I was intrigued by it. last Sunday I decided to try it myself. Turns out that spatchcocking a chicken is pretty easy as long as you have kitchen shears.

I’m trying to do more detailed food watercolor paintings in my food journal and wow, painting really small details on tomoe river paper is a bit challenging, but I’m pretty happy with this attempt. I’ll try my best to improve on it with every entry.

The recipe I used on last Sunday’s roast chicken is a variation of something I watched on Facebook. I just tweaked it to make it mine.

I marinated the spatchcocked chicken in salt and lemon, and while it’s marinating I prepared garlic confit. I did this by submerging peeled garlic with olive oil in a small castiron skillet over very low heat. Making the confit takes time so it gives the chicken time to marinate as well. When the garlic confit is finally ready, I mashed the garlic into half a stick of butter and added about two tablespoons of the garlic-infused olive oil. I added fresh rosemary into the butter as well. I rubbed the chicken with the garlic butter mixture and slipped a generous amount of it under the skin. At this point I preheat the oven to 350F.

Then I used the garlic-infused olive oil to sear the bone side of the chicken on the stove top. At this point, the house smells so delicious. You can really smell the butter, garlic, rosemary, and the caramelization of the chicken. Once the bone side is browned, I add more of the garlic-infused oil on the skin side and then pop it in the oven. I take it out after 30 minutes to drain the juices and sprinkle just a bit more lemon and oil on the skin, then I finish it off in the oven for another 20 minutes or until it’s browned.

After taking the chicken out and laying them on the plate to rest, I tossed French beans in the skillet where I cooked the chicken and seasoned it with salt. The result was pretty awesome. Adding the garlic confit in the butter really made sure that the chicken absorbed the flavor of garlic, even the thickest parts. The skin was bursting with flavor and has just the right amount of acidity and saltiness. Spatchcocking the chicken also resulted to a more even cook and more crispy skin. The greens were also very flavorful, my husband enjoyed it a lot. Overall, it was a delightful lunch and my husband asked me to cook it again soon.

His only feedback was that he wanted more of it next time, lol.

A Deeper Loss

I realized yesterday that I haven’t added an entry about current events in my art journal for a while. The last one was from December 4, 2020. I came to a point where I just had to take a break from social media. Except to post food photos and browse through my favorite hobby groups, I stopped using Facebook. More importantly, I stopped consuming news from Facebook. The comments sections disheartened me. Not gonna lie, posts from friends supporting the drug wars disheartened me too. I feel like people aren’t seeing the human cost anymore, and I was losing faith that we would ever recover from this.

The change in our social media spaces was so distinct with the past presidential election. There was so much hate, so much misinformation and paranoia. All of a sudden, people couldn’t even agree that fighting for human rights is important for all humans. As in all of us. All of a sudden “human rights” became bad words. Words that triggers an “us versus them” attitude, prompting certain people to go on attack mode. All of a sudden I have friends who actually unfriended me, not even because I confront them over their politics (I try to do that only in person), or that I actively post a stream of anti-Duterte memes or articles on my wall (I don’t), but because I don’t agree with their politics. Many Duterte supporters openly resented democracy and freedom, which I found odd. We “wokes” and “liberal yellows” have “too much” freedom, they say. These people who grew up and thrived in an atmosphere of hard-earned freedom don’t want the same for their own children? Weird.

I think about the fact that the issue of extrajudicial killings have not compelled many Duterte supporters to think “hmm, is this even true”? I guess it’s easier to automatically believe that all operations in the drug wars are above board because the police say so. It horrifies me to be confronted with the fact that the distance between the poor and the privileged is so far that people can become so disconnected from it because it’s that far from their daily reality. That many can be unperturbed by persistent accusations that the state has turned against some citizens is very disturbing for me, until you realize that it has, in fact, happened before. Before DDS stood for “Diehard Duterte Supporters”, it was “Davao Death Squad”, after all.

I feel that this has blighted our land. Not just the miscarriage of justice but also the deadening of the senses to the loss of lives without due process. Does it not disturb us that people are allegedly being dragged out of their homes and killed? The answer of most people, apparently, is “it depends, saan ba sila nakatira?” Try to imagine people just ignoring the persistent issues surrounding the drug war if these controversial operations were to happen inside the walls of exclusive subdivisions and gated communities. I can’t imagine it.

In other places, governments try to heal drug addiction by rehabilitating the addict and trying to address societal ills that lead to drug abuse. In the Philippines, “drug addiction” is the blanket excuse to take out a bludgeoning instrument that indiscriminately strikes and kills. All people killed in the drug war are guilty until proven innocent, and there’s no great hurry to prove that innocence. The dead aren’t going anywhere, anyway. To grow insensitive to this just unmasks the fact that the poor are seen as less than human in this country, and the cost of human life has become so cheap that the sound of families crying is nothing more than “drama” and even mere children can be shot dead in the streets and people can just shrug and say “meh, collateral damage”.

I grieve over this.

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”
Proverbs 14:31

My Version of Osso Buco

Today’s food journal entry is about my version of osso buco. I wasn’t really planning on making some today, so the ingredients aren’t complete. My husband just said that he wanted some osso buco with pasta and I saw that we had enough ingredients to make a version of it. Traditional osso buco (the modern iterations, at least) uses tomatoes, onions, carrots, and celery in the base sauce. We don’t have celery (my husband doesn’t like it either) so I replaced it with green bell pepper. I think this would be ideal with a side of mashed potatoes, risotto, or plain rice but the hubby liked pasta, so…pasta it is! Together with prep, it took over 5 hours to cook but I must say, it’s well worth the wait. Chopping the aromatics for mirepoix took up some time, but slow-cooking over low fire definitely ate up the better part of those 5 hours. Good things are worth the wait, though.

Mamale / Balitobong

Today’s food journal entry is about locally-caught wild threadfin salmon. I bought salmon steak sets from my friend’s food  business last week. Salmon is my favorite fish, and I was delighted that she was selling them with her homemade rub and herbed butter using herbs from her own garden. I was surprised when she said that the salmon was locally-caught.

I honestly did not even know that there are locally-caught wild salmon in the Philippines. Apparently they’re not very common and they’re locally called Mamale or Balitobong.

I tried the homemade rub that came with the steak set, let it sit for a few minutes. I pan-fried the fish on a cast iron skillet using a bit of olive oil and butter. Just three minutes on one side and another minute and a half on the other side. I finished it off with their herbed butter and added some dill from my own herb garden.

I must say that the color of the salmon is more vibrant than store-bought, farmed salmon. The flesh is also more flavorful, very soft and juicy. Like it has more oil. It was really delicious.

I’ll pair it with pasta next time.

A Pandemic Food Fad

A bit of a late entry, this one was written back in March. I scoured my phone for photos of the actual dish I cooked but I deleted it already, bummer. Anyway, there has been a lot of food trends online during the pandemic and this one was the only trend that I was interested in trying. It involved baking a dish of cherry tomatoes, a block of feta cheese, and garlic. Then tossing some pasta in it.

I tried the original recipe first, making sure to use Greek feta cheese made with sheep’s milk. The result was quite delicious, but I thought it could be improved.

To make the recipe mine, I made garlic confit and used the garlic-infused olive oil on the tomatoes and feta cheese. I mashed a good amount of the garlic confit into the cheese, added chopped parsley and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, before I tossed in some fusilli pasta and pasta water. Then I topped it with some butter-fried salmon. That really hit the spot.

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.