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)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Our 1st Anniversary

This will be short and sweet.

Today, Kepi and I celebrated our 1st Anniversary, and what better way to celebrate it than to take a trip to where we got married - Hershey Gardens, PA. I will be posting photos soon.

Today, I want to simply greet my husband.

Happy Anniversary, Kepi! I love you.

These were our wedding favor bags. They were filled with Hershey Kisses and little thank you cards.

Fairytales do come TRUE.