Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Baked Buffalo Cauliflower

Here is a healthier take on buffalo wings (because come on, who doesn't like buffalo wings?): BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER! This is the recipe I used but here are some of my notes on the recipe: 
  • I was left with quite a lot of batter (what a waste) so perhaps you can decrease the flour and milk to 3/4 cups. By the way, I used whole milk and all-purpose flour.
  • 1 cup of buffalo sauce was too much for me too. 1/2 cup sufficed.
  • I didn't have garlic powder and I ran out of garlic too so I omitted that.
  • I made homemade buffalo sauce by whisking together equal parts of sriracha and melted butter. Any kind of hot sauce should work but also be sure to adjust the hot sauce-to-butter ratio depending on your tolerance and on your hot sauce.
  • I baked the battered cauliflower for 20 minutes and then another 10 minutes with the buffalo sauce. My cauliflower turned out mushy which I really like because I'm not into crunchy vegetables so decrease baking time if you want crunchy veggies 
I ate half of it for lunch with some beef and rice while I had the other half for afternoon snack. It's really good, I swear! Now, I'm thinking of other things that I can bake or cook with homemade buffalo sauce and since I still have a lot of potatoes, maybe I'll try potato wedges this week.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Things I Make Sometimes

Sometimes, I make crowns.

This floral crown is made from scratch. I created the flowers by hand from lace, ribbons and crochet thread. I gave it to a friend who's currently living in Australia and visited the Philippines for vacation last Christmas.

This crown, on the other hand, is not yet finished but it's supposed to be an elvish crown and it's made of armature wire. Have you seen The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies yet? Don't you think Lee Pace rocked Thranduil?? I mean, I never liked Thranduil in the book because he's such a douche but Lee Pace is just too amazing so I can't bring myself to totally hate Thranduil. Don't you agree?

Anyway, I really need to practice my wire-bending skills before I finish this.

Sometimes I make pies.

I learned how to make pies in Home Economics class in high school and I even made buko (coconut) pie and egg pie at home back then to show my parents what I learned in school haha. However, I found the pastry pie crust-making process a bit difficult and time-consuming so I didn't make pie again until recently. However, I recently wanted to challenge myself to make pies again.

And no, it has nothing to do with Pushing Daisies and Lee Pace making pies in that TV Show. Yeah, I watched it over the holidays and it's just absolutely adorable.


Fine, maybe a little haha. But hey, even before watching Pushing Daisies, I've already decided on making pies again! I guess Pushing Daisies just reinforced that decision.

And guess what, I'm enjoying it! I guess the only difficult part is cutting in the cold butter with the flour for the pastry crust because I don't have a food processor but otherwise, I like making pies! I'm actually thinking about buying a food processor so that I can make pies with more ease. One more thing I love about pies is that I can make use of more local fruits for baking.

Sometimes, I make boiled eggs for ramen. 

I'm just practicing how to boil eggs for ramen topping because I found a recipe for miso ramen and the ingredients are readily available in my pantry so I'm gonna give it a try this weekend. I will give an update on that!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Backyard Burgers in Davao City

This is Backyard Burgers, a local burger joint in Davao City (different from the Backyard Burgers in Sgt Esguerra Street near ABSCBN). My friend learned through the internet that it's quite famous so we went to their branch near SM Davao to try it.

The place is reminiscent of Maginhawa Street's homegrown restaurants. It's simple and very cozy yet has character.

I ordered a Calamansinade (PhP30) and a Chikiting Trio (PhP170), which is basically a plate of three sliders of your choice (you get to choose from their best-sellers).

For my sliders, I went for Garshroom Bacon Burger (bottom), Japanese Oishii Burger (right, with the nori strips) and Cheesy Bacon Burger (left). It was a good choice because I was able to sample three of their burgers. Although honestly, I cannot decide which is my favorite... because they're all good!

And the best thing? It's not very expensive! Well, at least compared to other burger joints in Manila, Backyard Burgers is cheap for its quality and very big serving size.

I heard they have a branch in Cebu so I really hope they'll expand to Manila as well!

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Waterfalls and Bats in Samal Island

After island-hopping the previous day, we spent our second full day in Samal Island exploring the island itself. My friend and I took a motorcyle or habal-habal outside the wharf and for PhP180 each which took us to the famous Monfort Bat Cave and Hagimit Falls.

As of September 2014, there's a PhP100 fee to enter the Monfort Bat Cave complex. 

I'm not exactly a fan of bats but I figured we didn't have much to do anyway and what a shame not to see the world's largest colony of fruit bats when it's already so close by.

Indeed there were so many of them! The bats were quite noisy too and the caves had a distinct smell (bat poo, perhaps?) but it wasn't so bad because the place wasn't dominated by the smell. (Tip: bring mosquito repellent! I acquired a number of mosquito bites from there.)

After seeing the bats, we went to Hagimit Falls. (As of September 2014, there is a PhP40 fee to enter Hagimit Falls.) The place was really big and it's very beautiful. It's really fun to explore and take photos. Lucky us, there were very few people when we went so we were able to take many photos.

There are huts in Hagimit Falls that people can rent to have a picnic or even stay overnight! There are also a lot of pools to swim in. Too bad we didn't bring our swimsuits but then even if I did bring mine, I doubt I can brave the very cold water. I simply enjoyed wading my feet and walking across the shallow pools.

It almost looks like it came straight from a fairy tale, don't you agree?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hopping Around Samal Island

From Mati City, we took the bus back to Davao City and then went to Samal Island. We stayed at Camp Holiday Beach Resort, a nice resort located just beside the wharf. It's not exactly a budget-type accommodation but they had a 50% discount when we visited (since it was low season) so hurray!

The next morning, with the help of the resort's concierge, we hired an outrigger boat to take us island hopping.

We went to Talicud Island and its Coral Garden. It's a nice spot for snorkeling and the waters are very clear. However, there were trash around the coral gardens which according to the bangkeros were brought by floods from the cities upstream so it wasn't a good time for snorkeling.

The corals, photographed from the boat. See, the water is very clean.

The other islands, we only got to see from the boat. However, this island called Wishing Island, we were actually able to set foot on.

Look, it's Patrick Star! It's my first time to see this seastar species.

A wide tidal flat around Wishing Island

Finally, we went back to the resort at noon, wondering why Samal Island is not a very famous vacation spot when it's so beautiful!

I spotted this vinta on the way back. I remember reading about 'vintas' in my grade school textbooks.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Dahican Beach

This is Dahican Beach. It's a long stretch of white sand beach found in Mati City, Davao Oriental. It's also quite known as a surfing spot. To get here, we went through Davao City, took a bus at the Overland Terminal bound for Mati and then took a tricycle for Dahican Beach. Tip: I learned from my boss who's a Davao local that taking a van to Mati is much quicker and more convenient since the bus makes frequent stops to load and unload passengers.

It was low season and obviously not surfing season. I'd say the beach looked pretty much deserted but I honestly didn't mind. I mean, we practically had the beach to ourselves!

My friend and I stayed at Botona Beach Resort and I must say... it was horrible and quite expensive too. We paid PhP1800 for a double room that barely looked like anything in the photos. The room was obviously old and not very well-taken care of that I was not surprised to find a cockroach on top of my backpack the next morning. The only things I was thankful for were the clean-smelling sheets and the working air-conditioner because at least I was able to sleep well. Oh, did I say anything about horrible customer service? To be honest, I'm thankful we didn't have to stay more than one night there since there wasn't much to do and the resort was just terrible. Eventually, I learned from a habal-habal driver that Botona is a very old resort and that we should have opted for newer resorts.

Anyway, enough of that resort because Dahican Beach is actually wonderful and since it's facing the Pacific Ocean, I was able to see the sunrise. 

From Dahican to the Mati bus terminal, we just took the habal-habal (motorcycle) since no tricycles were passing by the road. It's my first motorcycle ride as I'm actually afraid of taking motorcycles since my younger brother had an accident before. Thankfully, though, there's a 40kph speed limit in Mati so it wasn't scary (even without a helmet on).

Yep, motorcycles/habal-habal is a common mode of transport in Davao.

Now, if you find yourself in Davao with time to kill, I think Dahican is a good place to visit. Even more so if you like surfing or if you just want a quiet place to relax. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sagada Small Town Charm

By the end of November, Christmas season in Manila was starting to make itself felt and by that, I mean the horrendous traffic and increased crime rates. That's why the trip to Sagada early in December was a very good respite from the city life. I was so occupied by the beautiful scenery, the fresh air, the cold weather, the good food, and the challenge of getting a decent internet connection [in order to get work done] to even think about other stressful things.

Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

A random coffee plant behind the church

To be honest, prior to this trip, going to Sagada didn't really cross my mind that much because I'm more of a beach person and maybe also because I knew that the journey is long and grueling. (There are no buses that go to Sagada directly from Manila.) However, I'm thankful that our company decided to go because the moment we got there, I realized why Sagada is such a hit among tourists, local or otherwise-- the small-town-in-the-mountains vibe was very charming.

We stayed three nights in Sagada but because we were working, I didn't get a chance to visit the waterfalls or the caves but at least I was able to see the hanging coffins. I was also glad to try the local restaurants like Bana's Cafe, Yogurt House, Masferre and Sagada Brew. (All of which were amazing and highly-recommended, by the way.)

Echo Valley

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada

One of the interesting things about Sagada is the number of social enterprises and I think that's really good for the community.

Raw coffee for roasting at Bana's Cafe

I'm definitely going back to Sagada. I still need to see the caves and waterfalls and to try more local food!