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



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


- 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.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Dollop Of Daisy

"Daisy Daisy... just goes with family so do a dollop do do a dollop of Daisy do a dollop do do a dollop Things taste better with a dollop of Daisy do a dollop do do a dollop of Daisy do a dollop do do a dollop of Daisy do a dollop do do a dollop of Daisy." (Daisy Sour Cream Commercial Jingle)

Lately, I've been finding myself singing this commercial jingle. I have no intent on advertising this product but it's like one of those round songs that keeps going on and on. It's crazy!

There are two reasons why this commercial keeps popping into mind: (1) my next project is to bake mini biscuits with sour cream and (2) we just adopted a dog named Daisy.

I won't delve into the sour cream biscuits this time, but I will introduce you to Daisy. She's a senior at 12 years of age, and she comes from West Virginia. We adopted her from Hedgesville Hounds, and she arrived on May 31st.

Kepi gives Daisy a welcome home hug. That's until he "thinks" he's allergic to dogs.

Daisy having time for herself.

Resting after playing ball.

Relaxing at the yard.

It's funny but at 82 pounds, she owns the kitchen floor.

Playing fetch and catch with Dad.

After her bath...of course, she rolled on the grass after all that cleaning.

An afternoon nap.
Daisy's been well-behaved and she knows her commands - sit, lie down, stay and more. The tough part is introducing her to our Dizzy, the cat.

Before we took Daisy home, we took a towel and rubbed it on her during our initial visit. The whole idea is to bring home the towel and introduce Dizzy to the new scent. At that time, it seems that Dizzy was curious about the new scent; we did that for almost a week to give Dizzy ample time to know or get curious to Daisy's scent.

We've also created a safe zone for Dizzy, unaccessible to Daisy, accessorized with a baby gate. So far, there's been only one incident when Daisy and Dizzy met in the living room, did a staring competition which ended with a playful chase. For now, it's just been Dizzy coming down in the mornings to check on this big furry creature who sleeps downstairs.

We're hoping that soon, they'll both find a common ground and in all positivity, become friends. As for the husband's allergies, that is yet to be determined. We're trying to determine what is he allergic to - pollens or dander. Spring here is late (really short) and allergy season came with a vengeance.

Daisy is a great dog, but with a great dog comes big responsibilities.

We're in the initial phase and we're figuring out how things will work out. As for any stories, we're hoping for the best because the best is yet to come.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kitchen Diary: Chocolate And Apricot Squares

It's rainy and it's a perfect day to bake. Beautiful rainy days can be enhanced with the sweet smell of cake baking in my oven especially when it's chocolate.

I found this recipe from a book, Cook's Library Chocolate, bought from a yard sale. This book shows how to use chocolate, be it white, milk or semisweet, in different recipes. What I love about this book is that the recipes are well laid out and easy to understand. Each recipe is labeled from easy, moderate to challenging. Since I'm a beginner in baking, I'm starting with the easy ones.

Before I bake, I prepare all the portions and ingredients first - eggs, dried apricots, semisweet bars and butter. Not in the photo are flour, baking powder, and salt.
Preparing to melt the chocolate and butter.

This is my favorite part, the melting of chocolate and butter. The mixture infused a wonderful scent of chocolate throughout the house. I must do this often. It's better than scented candles.

Folding the flour mix into the chocolate and butter mix.

Chocolate and Apricot Square Cake

An afternoon with a good cup of Vanilla Latte and a small square of sweet indulgence. The best part is that I made it.
The cake was done at around 3 PM and it was the perfect time for an afternoon snack. Mom and Dad loved the cake. I did too. The recipe calls for white chocolate, but I substituted it with semisweet instead. I think that with white chocolate, the cake would be overwhelmingly sweet, but I am thinking of making the white chocolate version in the near future. At the moment, the semisweet came out just right.

This recipe serves 12.

From Cook's Library Chocolate: Chocolate and Apricot Squares


1/2 cup butter
6 oz white chocolate, chopped (substitute with milk or semi-sweet)
4 eggs
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup no-soak dried apricots, chopped

  1. grease a 9-inch square cake pan and line base with baking parchment
  2. melt butter and chocolate, stir frequently until mixture is smooth and glossy, cool slightly before mixing
  3. beat the eggs and sugar into the butter and chocolate mixture
  4. fold in flour, baking powder, salt and chopped apricots
  5. pour batter into the pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes
  6. when cake is completely cold, turn it out and slice into squares or bars

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Why I Write?

Autumn at Shenandoah
My husband says that I have a problem calming my mind. It's true. My mind is always rambling even to the wee hours of the night. It's a blessing because great ideas flow like a river at times and a curse because it invites unwelcomed insomnia. Ideas are much faster processed in my mind and sometimes words fail to capture my thoughts. Thus, I use photography to aid my writing.

I don't consider myself a writer. My grammar isn't perfect. My vocabulary is limited and it isn't spectacular. At times, my linking verbs do not agree, yet it isn't enough reason for me to stop blogging. I have thoughts and they need an outlet.

My blog started as a personal journal and it still is. Kayni's Corner Cafe is about my travel/personal journal and Kayni's Bone Marrow is all about my bone-marrow transplant which took place early this year.

What am I working on?

There are two things that come to mind:

Winter in Maryland 2013
Recovery. On New Year's Day, January 1st, 2014, I was admitted at the hospital to start my treatment for Aplastic Anemia. I went through ATG, chemotherapy and full-body radiation. On January 11, I received my donor's marrow and additional chemotherapy after that. After more than two months at the hospital, I am finally home trying to regain my strength. I find physical recovery easier as it can be aided with medication and exercise, but psychologically, the trauma of going through a bone-marrow transplant is a bit harder to overcome. Sometimes, I find myself going through the experience over and over again. I also get flashbacks during unexpected times of the day.

Let's just say, I am rediscovering or recovering myself, but I don't think I will ever be the same person again. Bone-marrow transplant has changed a part of me that I have yet to understand.

Homemade Rava Ladoo and tea
Baking. Recovering at home has rekindled my love for baking and cooking. I have several recipes lined up to try and the photo above was the first time I made rava ladoo. I love the smell of cookies and bread wafting through the house.

It is the people and the smell that makes our house a home. So if I haven't been blogging much lately, I'm either studying a recipe or testing a recipe in the kitchen.

How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?

I write when I am pulled or pushed by emotions. My experiences in life are my driving force to write. There are no experiences alike. Even if two people visited exactly the same place, their opinions will vary in some way or totally. My task is to share mine.

Why do I write what I do?

Because each person has a voice and each person has a story to tell; this is mine. I'd like to think that my experiences in life can and will inspire other people. When I read a book or someone's blog, I learn about that person and that person's life and interest; that is my hope with this blog. My posts are mostly on travel and my life. Perhaps through this medium, someone can pick up a thing or two from my blog entries.

After two months at the hospital, I am finally home with our cat, Dizzy.
How does my writing process work?

I am an emotional writer. I don't have a schedule and I just write when I feel like it. My thought process works best when I am not pressured by grammar and deadlines. I love free writing. There are instances when I find my thoughts so stifling that there's a need to vent.

A light on a wintry night
So there's an insight to why I write and it's my turn to pass the baton to three wonderful women writers or bloggers.


I was always amazed with painters and paintings.I started blogging because I was obsessed with fine art..and photography. So when I got my first point and shoot camera, it was where I put my obsession with art. I am not an artist painter, but I felt that with photography, I can freeze any moment I like to capture. Writing with photos makes me happy.

I just recently offered my photography services professionally, and I hope to capture beautiful moments of people.



I’m Angeli Picazo, a 36-year old Filipina who has yet to make her dreams of traveling the world and learning a foreign language a reality. When I’m not on the road, my life revolves around words: I am an editor and instructional designer by profession, and, when I’m not working, I’m usually lost in a book or attempting to string words together.   I love mountains, literature, trekking, solitude, Beethoven, Bollywood, swimsuits, the agony and ecstasy of travel, the comfort and solace of family and friends.



Born and raised in Tarlac.  Grew up in a household where both Ilocano and Kapangpangan were spoken.  Graduated BS Psych.  First job was Guidance Counselor at College of the Holy Spirit in Tarlac (I loved it, but I loved my co-workers more).


And finally, I want to thank Loree for giving me this opportunity to look within and rediscover my love for writing and photography. Thank you sweet lady!


Lorna Dykstra (or Loree as she is known to her circle of friends) is a  pharmacist by profession. By day she works in a multi-national pharmaceutical company and by night you will find her at her desk doing what she loves best - writing. Home is the island of Malta, right in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, where she lives with her American husband and eight-going-on-eighteen year old son. She describes herself as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a dreamer, a hopeless romantic, an endless contradiction. Lorna loves the NW wind, grey skies and rough seas, golden sunsets and ancient, winding streets.  She also loves chocolate: the dark and bitter kind. Her other passions are reading, photography and baking. A bit of a gypsy at heart, she is always on the look-out for the next adventure that will take her beyond the shores of the small island on which she lives. One of her dreams is to visit all the capital cities of Europe and the fifty American States. Lorna writes more or less weekly on her blog Stories & Scribbles and occasionally on her second blog Snapshots of an Island.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Of Home And Sampaguitas

At the Chimney Household, the rabbits are early risers, a Chipmunk has been spotted near the garden, a red Cardinal usually perches and chirps on the deck at tea time and Dizzy has been itching to go out. It's springtime in Maryland and winter has overstayed its welcome.

I've been missing the place where I was born - Tabuk City, Philippines. It wasn't a city back then but a small, you know everyone town. I was born near Downtown, if it's even proper to call it that, but my family later moved to a small farming community called San Juan. I loved growing up in San Juan. Our house was surrounded with fruit trees; Lolo (grandpa) Thomas planted all types of fruit trees from Mangoes, Oranges, Tamarind, Chinese-Guava (Champoy), Bananas, Santol, Mabolo and more. I relished how the air have a variegated scent from fresh, fragrant, fruity and clean.

In the summer when the nights are hot and balmy, the Sampaguita's heavenly scent would fill the air lulling my siblings and I to sleep. Mom's Sampaguitas shine the brightest at night; their flowers emit their unforgettable scent throughout the backyard and permeate our bungalow house. What wonderful memories!

So when I saw pots of Sampaguitas at our local nursery, I didn't hesitate to grab them. My excitement was beyond-the-roof. These flowers are a great addition to our potted plants and it will surely make our home fragrant especially when the balmy, summer nights arrive.

I was so excited when I found pots of Sampaguita or Arabian Jasmine at our local nursery. These flowers are so fragrant.

Sampaguita flower buds - I can't wait for them to bloom. They would surely make our deck smell heavenly and homey.

In addition to the flowers, I've managed to pot some vegetables and herbs. It seems that our spring is late and the temperatures have been too cold to plant at the garden, so potting have been a plant saver. I still have seedlings growing in pots, and I'm hoping our temperatures would normalize soon so that I can transfer them to our garden.

Snow Pea Tips - I love these sauteed with garlic and sesame oil.

Pots of herbs - Stevia, Lemongrass, Green Leek and Mint Lemon.

I heard we're getting some rain tonight. It's great for the plants and it will surely help me sleep better. You see, my skin graft-vs-host disease has been annoying me at night.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day +120: Biking By The Bay

We're at the Eastern Shore for a weekend getaway. This vacation is our Mother's Day gift to Mom, and I think we've all benefited from this much needed relaxation. After all, we've been through so much.

Yesterday, I rode a bike. I can't remember the last time I rode one. It was in 2008 when I was told by my doctors not to ride a bike or play any sports due to my low platelets.

This weekend, I decided to give it a try. It felt liberating. The air felt fresh and my bike felt swift...that's until I fell and had mud all over my butt.  I was disappointed but got up, brushed it off and kept on riding.

We all go through numerous bumps on the road, but we have to keep getting up and keep on riding.

Today, we rode again and it was perfect and fun. My legs ached, but I didn't fall.

I want to feel all there is to feel, he thought. Let me feel tired, now, let me feel tired. I mustn't forget, I'm alive, I know I'm alive, I mustn't forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that.
(Dandelion Wine)