Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jardin Botanique Montreal

On our second day in Canada, we explored Montreal. One of our stops is the Jardin Botanique, and this is my second time visiting this place.  I was very excited to show Kepi around, as this is his first time visiting Montreal.

Montreal has a feel. Yup, French feel. We bought our tickets here. I forgot how much they were.
Kepi and I thought the Insectarium is way cool.
I would freak out if I see something this big crawling.
A robot dinosaur? Perhaps.
Another robot dinosaur that really intrigued me.
We were so lucky that these water lilies were in bloom when we visited. Here's one waiting for its time to bloom.
Such beauty, such elegance. It looks like she's ready to go ballroom dancing tonight.
I think this is my favorite area - the Chinese Garden. The building backdrop is the Friendship Hall.
The water lilies and their beautiful pink flowers.
These red lanterns remind me of New Year.
Friendship Hall
A glimpse of The Dream Lake Garden designed by Le Weihzong.
Did you know that the grey rocks used on this lake came from the Tai Lake of China?
I love this walkway especially with the red lanterns.
A boat floats as the Tower of Condensing Clouds keeps watch.
I find this place perfect for meditation or a retreat.
Kepi and I at the Springtime Courtyard. Yes, note those newly weds at the back. It's actually my first time seeing that they're in our photo and sort of centered too.

We had a wonderful time at Jardin Botanique, so if you happen to be dropping by Montreal, do try to visit. It's easily accessible by Metro, but we drove this time which isn't that bad in terms of traffic.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mont-Tremblant

After an eight hour drive from Maryland to Quebec, we woke up pretty late the next day. It was the first time in months we woke up faraway from home. It's a weird feeling. I guess that's the effect of being quarantined in a hospital for months.

Although we barely could open our eyes, we stumbled our way to the nearest Tim Horton, had some breakfast and started the car to Mont-Tremblant.

The road to Mont-Tremblant. I imagined it would have been prettier in winter.
We parked near this flower bed.

Stopped by the Post Office to pick up Canadian stamps and send out postcards to family and friends.
Walked for a while and we came upon this sleepy dog guarding an art shop. I think this dog could be fired for sleeping...just kidding.
The name of this lake escapes me but it was a picturesque day at the Laurentian Mountains.

This dog enjoyed a good swim and went back to the water several times while we were there. We even managed to chat with the owner.
Moose fountain
A deer crosses our path.
Mont-Tremblant village

While we couldn't do some hiking at Mont-Tremblant, blame it on my achy legs and weak system, we certainly enjoyed driving around the area. I'd love to come see this place in winter and maybe learn to snowboard or ski.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Haskell Library

It was a seven-hour drive from Maryland to Vermont, but we looked forward to traveling after being cooped for months at Johns Hopkins. We also decided to drive since I'm not yet allowed to travel by plane.

I cried when we backed out the driveway. A lot of anxiety and fear came over me. I was scared to leave home; I feel unsafe being far from home or far from the hospital that's treating me. I didn't know that fear like that was even possible for someone who loves to travel.

When we finally crossed the border to Pennsylvania, I started feeling at ease and looked forward to Ana's wedding. I started enjoying the scenery.

Our rest stop in Vermont. It was drizzling when we got there.

Before we crossed the border to Canada, we visited the Haskell Library.

Entrance to the library...nothing really spectacular.

Who goes and visits libraries? Well, this library is special because it was purposely built on the border of US and Canada. A symbol of friendship and goodwill. You see that line in the middle of the library? That's the border line between US (left) and Canada (right).

The Haskell Library from the US side.

From here, we went through the Canadian Border Patrol and entered Canada. Haskell Library is quite an interesting place to visit. The neighborhood of Stanstead, Quebec and Derby Line, Vermont is quiet and picturesque.

In three hours, we'll be in Montreal.

Monday, September 22, 2014

September And Waiting

September. Indian summer has arrived. The forest has broken out in motley colors, the leaves on the trees have become brittle and are rustling as they do in autumn, but they have not yet frozen - there has been no frost. The sky is gray, a fine autumn is drizzling, if there is a bit of sun, it shines through the clouds, and it is not very warm. It is damp; but thank God for that because, "if the weather is foul in Indian summer, then the autumn will be dry." We are waiting for frost from day to day; we in the country are always waiting for something... (Engelgardt, Letters From the Country 1872-1887)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Filipinizing The Yard

It doesn't really feel like summer here. Don't get me wrong. I love these mild temperatures and that I neither miss the temperatures that could go up to 100 degrees nor the thick embrace of humidity. This summer is perfect!

I haven't been blogging, as I've been spending more time with my parents. Mom and Dad flew home two weeks ago. I miss them already. I've gotten used to having them around and I'm so thankful they were with me every single day of my chemo days. Sometimes, I still feel that my transplant just happened yesterday.

Today, I am 213 days post transplant, and I am thankful each day I am here.

Well, I have a few things planted around the house. Most of them were planted by my Dad. It's funny how we Filipinized the house. It's even cooler when my American husband embraces all these gestures. These days, you can find Kepi eating Chicken Tinola with Bitter Melon leaves.

Bitter Melon - I never noticed how pretty the flowers are.

We planted the Japanese variety - Futo Spindle. I've been harvesting the young leaves and adding them to my Chicken Tinola and even Ginisang Mungo.

The Calamondin has sprouted back to life after being kept indoors for the duration of winter.

Yes, I also have Malunggay.

If I'm not doing anything and boredom hits me, Daisy and I would go on the yard and hunt for these four leaf Clovers. We've been lucky so far. This isn't really part of Filipinizing the house, but it's a tribute to my husband's Irish heritage.

Here's my four-leaf Clover sniffer.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kitchen Diary: My Interpretation of Tupig

I have been craving for tupig or tinupig. Since my stomach is still very sensitive, I make sure my meals or snacks are all prepared at home. So I made it a mission to research the recipe for tupig and if I can use the oven instead of charcoal. I'm not sure if there's an English translation for tupig but all I know is that, my sister and I are loyal fans of this snack being sold on the streets of Baguio City. They're usually sold at street vendor stands, rain or shine, you'll see a seller fanning her charcoal stove, carefully roasting and checking if the tupigs have achieved their golden brown color. The aromatic scent of a roasted, closed to burnt, Banana leaf means there's a tinupig nearby or just around the corner. It's best to eat them warm and darn right sticky to your hands.

Breakfast Menu: Coffee and Tupig

I had to base my tupig recipe on two websites: Filipino Style Recipe and Ilokano's Best. Please check both sites and find which one works for you.

Below is my tweaked version based on these two recipes.

Ingredients: Coconut Cream, Butter, Brown Sugar, Glutinous Rice Flour and shredded Young Coconut

Tinupig

Ingredients:

1 pack of glutinous rice flour
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar (depends on how sweet you want it)
1 pack of shredded young coconuts
1 stick of unsalted butter (soft)
1 can of coconut cream (see my note regarding adding this whole can)

Banana leaves for wrapping

Procedure:

- take your Banana leaves and pass them over a flame or grill to make them pliable or softer (doing this makes them easier to work with especially when it's time to wrap the tupig mixture); the Banana leaves should get shiny and softer

- preheat oven at 375 degrees

- do this in particular order: mix softened butter, sugar, shredded coconut and glutinous soft (don't worry if they're not mixing well that's what the Coconut Cream is for)

- slowly add coconut milk BUT make sure not to make the mixture runny or it will be hard to wrap, sticky is the consistency you should look for

- when mixture consistency is achieved, pour 1/4 cup of mixture on Banana leaves and roll 


- place on a cookie sheet, single layer and make sure they don't overlap to ensure cooking uniformity

- cook in oven for about 30-45 minutes (NOTE: Check tupigs at around 30 minutes and increase time if they're not done yet, I had to keep checking mine and cooked it for 50 minutes because I wanted my tupig to be golden brown and wanted the Banana leaf to be burnt a little bit.)

This is mixture consistency you're looking for - just enough Coconut Cream so that it's easier to wrap.

I love my tupig a little bit burnt so that it gives me just enough crunch but soft and chewy in the inside.

I hope you can start making your own tupig and let me know how it came out.

Tupig reminds me of a world gone and only accessible through the whiff of familiar memories and smells; a time when Baguio was still cold and clean. Sadly, I heard the Summer Capital isn't as cold as it used to be, and the fog is almost taken over by smog. Fortunately, I can make my own tupig and be reminded of the good things and savor once more a favorite snack from my childhood.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kitchen Diary: Banana Bread

I'm crazy for Bananas!

I've made a chocolate chip banana muffin before and it was a hit with my husband. So this time, I decided to give Banana Bread a try. This recipe reminds me of our drive through Hana Highway in Maui. What is the connection between Hana Highway and Banana Bread? Well, if you've driven through Hana Highway, you'll notice all these signs from mom and pop shops offering Banana Bread. Every time we stop by a shop, the Banana Bread is gone - that's how delicious they are.

To be precise and exact for my banana bread - sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, sour cream, mashed bananas and of course - my recipe book.

I find it easier to bake when all my ingredients are ready and portioned.

My mixer finally left the basement.

My first banana bread and it filled the house with the most wonderful scent.

There's something rustic, historic and beautiful about this recipe. My gratitude to the person who made this recipe and passed it down to family, friends and now to me.

Gotta have thick slices.

These thick slices are great for french toast as well.

The bread was moist and delicious. It was perfect for our afternoon coffee and tea.
Since I made this Banana Bread, I've baked it twice already and the outcome is consistent. I did tweak it a bit and increased the Bananas and less nutmeg.

This recipe is a keeper.