My favourite way to candy nuts

I don’t know of anyone who dislikes candied nuts. Even someone like me who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth will take a bag of candied nuts from a crying child any day. Okay maybe not from a child, especially when said child is crying, but I would not hesitate for a second to nicely ask for a couple of pieces. Unless the nuts are candied to rock solid status and are so wrapped up in hardened sugar it’s like biting into a meteor. In which case, please take back your rock-hard nuts and throw it at your lover’s window so that she may come down and meet you.

Don’t you just hate it when candied things are like that? If that is the type of stuff I’m getting from the store then I might as well just make my own. I bet you would too when you find out how easy it is.

So today’s tutorial will feature a Jeni Briton Bauer technique and supposedly my first ever bag of pine nuts. You guys, I was sooooo excited to talk about that. Alas, if you read my previous post you would know that my memory card got corrupted to no return recently, and my original photos for this post were included in those I was forced to bid adieu to. I had to remake and rephotograph for this post, and because I didn’t have it in me to buy another bag of the expensive pine nuts, we end up with another of my favourite nuts instead. Walnuts, which when candied is particularly tasty.

I really like candied walnuts. Walnuts and pili nuts are my choices for best “candy-able” nuts. I don’t think I’d enjoy candied almonds unless the coating is chocolate, and also I like almonds better naked or just lightly seasoned with chilli or something. You can eat candied walnuts as they are, maybe sprinkle them on salads, but they are also great in many dishes, like this Chinese version of a shrimp salad that’s a favourite in the house.

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For a moment I was out of my orbit again

This might be the longest that I’ve ever gone without posting on the blog, and I’ve got a perfectly good reason. I’m sure you know what it’s like to have something happen yo you that completely whoops your spirit down on its ass; something so disheartening that you begin to question the point of all the things you have been doing when it all could be gone in just an instant.

Mine came in the form of five words in a computer prompt: Memory card cannot be read.

It’s one of those horrifying things that could ever happen to a photographer and a food blogger, especially someone like myself who takes step by step photos religiously. This will be one of two recipes I managed to rephotograph but will not have any procedure photos because after my nth try with a data recovery application (my laptop’s Trash can testify to that) it became clear that this might be a hopeless case. Although I am yet to consult a professional I am not holding out much hope.

Now that I’m pretty much recovered from the incident I am beginning to think that my reaction at the time was quite an exaggerated one. I felt like giving up blogging for goodness sake! Two weeks worth of kitchen slavery– gone in a snap! I was blaming myself for accidentally brushing against the card reader, which for some odd reason loosened itself from the USB port. Clumsy fool! After a bad night’s sleep I decided I would just photograph the recipes that still have leftovers. It’s much better than nothing. I’ll just have to repeat the other recipes some time in the future.

See the thing that guts me is the wasted effort– two Sundays worth of it. So many of my friends ask me how I manage to do all this despite a Monday to Saturday full-day work week and the truth is there’s no secret to it. I simply cook and bake like a maniac on Sundays, making at least four recipes a day. Honestly, it’s exhausting, but also it’s nice when I get a glorious finished product and a great set of photos to boot. It kind of makes up for the fact that I use up a good deal of my only rest day to keep “working”. Who the hell knows what motivates me. I just like it is all, even when I wake up at 6AM on a Sunday just so I can finish in time for some sort of afternoon appointment. That always seems enough of an explanation for me, though not the most logical I suppose.

Besides, this isn’t nearly as heartbreaking as “THAT TIME” during my senior year in college. It was when the company representative at the ad agency I interned in sabotaged the ad campaign for thesis defense. (Based on my observation it was immaturity on his part, with his desire to look superior since he came from our rival school. There are two universities in the Philippines that have a Harvard-Yale-like rivalry. Of course not everyone takes this rivalry personally but somehow this guy does. Instead of being our second thesis advisor as was his role, he pulled a trick to trap my thesis group and looked PROUD doing it. You should’ve seen his face!) I am reminded of that messed-up incident, but truthfully this doesn’t even come close to how I felt at that time.

There are some similarities with this circumstance and that, for instance, my desire to hurt someone after it happened– a knife in the neck of the company representative at that time, banging my head against the wall repeatedly this time. And then there was the desire to break down into tears– which I actually did outside as my thesis panel deliberated after cutting our defense short. Imagine having the heart and soul you poured into the thing get clawed to a million pieces. It hurts a lot. I didn’t actually cry when my memory card was corrupted, but I was pretty darn numb the whole night through and my techie brother had to take over. He couldn’t solve the problem and around half past one in the morning I snapped back to my senses and told my poor brother to call it a night. Both horror shows happened to things that was/is important to me, but I suppose the similarities stop there.

Like I said, this was nowhere near as bad as “THAT TIME” during my thesis, when I thought all my hard work in all my college years was going down the drain. When I thought my GPA, my transcript, and my future was actually at stake! But you know what? Shockingly it ended well. Even though the initial stab and turning of the knife was painful, we were given a chance to explain and revise our thesis. I managed to graduate Honourable Mention (though admittedly it could’ve been better) but I was more satisfied with the dagger looks cast by my thesis advisor and the professors toward the company rep. To make a long story short, if that worked out in the end, there’s no reason why such a little thing as this shouldn’t.

Who’d have thought I would find solace in one of the most nightmarish, bawled-my-eyes-out, I-want-to-kill-someone, I’d-rather-forget-it-ever-happened moments of my academic life? Guess there’s a point in looking to the worse times to make the bad times seem so inconsequential.

Now that I’ve taken a moment to see that this is one of those “shit happens, deal with it” situations, I feel much better. I feel okay. So I thought it was about time to break the quiet around here, and share one of my “lost” recipes from that darned corrupted CF card.

Avocado Lime Cheesecake. Kind of indulgent. Extra delicious. No baking required. All you need is a blender or food processor, and a freezer. If you don’t have those then I’m sorry but you will be missing out.
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Some colour in our lives is always good

I’m one of those people who sets aside a few minutes of time each day to backtrack on Instagram. I love this new breed of “iPhoneographers” and “Instabloggers” who are able to capture a single moment in the most esoteric ways. Sometimes I come upon a photo I can’t stop staring at because they evoke something in me. Sometimes I sit in awe unable to believe that these are photos taken by camera phone only. Doesn’t matter that it’s been edited or digitally adjusted to make the colours pop, because if you think about it, phone cameras take phone camera quality photos after all. Still, they inspire me to find things to photograph too. They inspire me to chronicle all the things that I’m thankful for and that make me happy in a way that effectively conveys how I feel. I really like to think about the composition of my iPhone photos maybe even more than those of pictures I take with my cameras.

In any case, I’ve always been a very visual person. I started out with drawings and pictures before I discovered the magical power of words. It’s true that pictures speak a thousand words, but I love when pictures can work hand in hand with words to drive home a point. Together they can make a memory more vivid than if only one of them was involved. I love how the colours of a picture can help stir emotions, boosted by expressive captions.


1. Running outdoors with the whole family is an instant mood booster / 2. A yellow cake in a white room / 3. I like colours in my life so much I carry them on my nails / 4. My interpretation of Her Diamonds by Rob Thomas / 5. One of the best golden sunsets I’ve witnessed / 6. Colorful food is happy food

I guess the reason why I love Instagram so much is because it’s the easiest way for words and pictures to live in harmony. I look back at my own gallery sometimes when I’m in the mood for a flashback. I also downloaded this Instagram-like photo diary app called Heyday which has been a perfect place to store my memories with more intimate captions than I’m willing to share on Instagram.

Anyway, having all these photographs to look back on in our lives is always a good thing. Even if we keep moving forward, there is some advantage to being able to look back as well, if only to see how far we have come. And regardless of whether looking back will be painful or joyful, I always try to look for the colourful events in my past that have helped shape who I am now. Some of the colours are dark and dank, but I try very hard to grab onto the memories that are bright and happy.

Perhaps the reason why I decided to make these cookies is because they look like happy cookies. Essentially they’re just chocolate chip cookies with M&M’s on top, but they make me feel like a kid when I see them, and that’s just a feeling of bubbly carefreeness I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing in so many years. Too many years.
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Treats from Reese’s and cookies that remind of them

Late last week I received a ginormous package from Reese’s. The box looked like a giant pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which I thought was a cute idea. I was imagining that a load of Reese’s goodies would spill out once I opened the box, but actually there is an assortment of things inside. There were three packs of the classic peanut butter cups and three packs of their NutRageous bars, and then this adorable candy-wrapper shaped USB.

Most importantly, inside was an invitation to the #RediscoveReese’s Throwback Festival on August 2nd. It will be held at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall, open to the public starting at 12 noon, and ending with a mini concert at 6pm.

I won’t be able to make it due to prior commitments but if you’re looking for something to do this Saturday then you might want to come to this event. Reese’s promises an afternoon of fun, games, and prizes, and I have no doubt they will follow through. Pretty sure this is a good chance for all you Reese’s lovers to go home with a stash of their different candy bars!

What I love about Reese’s Peanut Butter cups is the fact that it combines two of my favourite things, which are chocolate and peanut butter. It’s funny that I would say that now, because as a kid I really abhorred peanut butter. Now I eat it to power me before a workout, and I come up with any excuse to eat some more, sometimes even settling for peanut butter covered bananas. I’m not the type of person who eats stuff from the jar so I always have to spread it on something– anything really.

The problem I have with eating Reese’s is I can only tolerate small doses of milk chocolate at a time. I can’t eat more than one piece of Reese’s without feeling like I swallowed glue. Milk chocolate tends to leave this terrible stickiness in my throat. But because I like this chocolate and peanut butter confection so much I even consider making my own at home with bittersweet chocolate. But today is not that day, because today I got a recipe for you that is essentially a not-as-sweet Reese Peanut Butter Cup in cookie form.

Magic in the Middle. That’s what these cookies are called. And I couldn’t have thought of a better name.

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