Christine Ha

Okay, before you proceed, let me warn you: if you’re just starting to watch the season 3 of U.S. Masterchef, STOP. You also need to do that if you haven’t watched the finale.

I assume you’ve read my disclaimer. So I’ll go on with the post.

Image from Christine Ha’s blog The Blind Cook.

Christine Ha is one of the contestants of U.S. Masterchef Season 3. She’s currently taking up her master’s in fine arts in fiction in the University of Houston. She’s happily married and loves books (well, it’s pretty obvious judging by her course, isn’t it?). She had snowboarded, skydived, and skied. Of course, being part of the Masterchef means she cooks, and she does it superbly.

All these she does while being BLIND. How blind? She once described herself as worse than legally blind; everything in her world is a blur. So you can just imagine how she’s able to cook with sophistication while under extreme time pressure and even lead a team in one of her challenges. She even replicated a dish for a challenge almost perfectly.

She said she relies a lot on her memory. You see, Christine wasn’t born blind. Around 10 years ago, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease known as neuromyelitis optica, which subsequently damaged the optic nerves over the years, until she lost her vision for both eyes. (You wonder how she’s able to read. She’s memorized uncontracted and contracted Braille. And her next reading project is Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.)

She also touches on her memory, as well as hearing and feeling, for food taste, presentation, and texture, to name a few.

My deep love for her went several notches higher when she cooked a crab caviche cocktail using LIVE dungeness crab, which isn’t just wide but very long (and huge!). She prepared it to perfection, never mind if she had spent more than half of her time cooking and getting the crab meat.

To say that she’s an inspiration is I think an understatement of her impact in my life as well as that of the others. She’s a mentor, that one person who asks you, without her knowing it, “What have you been doing with your own life?”

Low-calorie Tuna Spaghetti

When you’re blessed with a gorgeous sunny weather outside, on a Sunday, you can’t just help but feel so overjoyed. I think one of the best ways to express that is through pasta. πŸ™‚

I am no awesome cook, but I can prepare spaghetti quite well. The problem is it’s got too much fat from meat, some butter, and canned tomatoes.

So I decided to give it a twist and make it “healthier.” I opted for tuna spaghetti. Today isn’t the first time I prepared a tuna pasta recipe, but the last one was a disaster–too creamy, too heavy, too salty.

Fortunately this low-calorie tuna spaghetti is lighter, tastier, and more budget friendly. It made the hubby super happy too.

If you want to try this out, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1 clove garlic
1 chopped spring onion
250 grams spaghetti pasta (if you want to make it even healthier, go for whole wheat)
1 can Century Tuna in water
1 Clara Ole Chunky Tomato Sauce with Basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
oregano (optional)
pepper (optional)
cheese (optional)

Procedures

1. Cook the pasta. The instructions are just found on the wrapper.
2. Heat the pan and pour the olive oil.
3. Saute garlic then onion.
4. Place the tuna and continue sauteeing.
5. Pour the tomato sauce and stir. Turn the fire low.
6. Season with oregano and pepper.
7. Let the sauce boil while stirring occasionally.
8. Serve the pasta and the sauce.

Meatless Monday: It’s All about the Eggs

I admit I am no veggie fan, so it’s definitely a struggle for me to get the hang of Meatless Monday, but the great thing is I’m taking baby steps.

So for this week I decided to go for a comfort food (or ingredient): eggs.

Breakfast: 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 piece banana, 1/2 cup rice.

I had my breakfast at almost 10:00 a.m. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning just to catch Spice Girls!

Dinner: sunny side-up, 1/2 cup rice

Because I had woken and eaten so late, I opted to skip lunch and went for early dinner. Still eggs.

Sounds easy, right? Not really, as we have other food on the table:

Ensaymada!

Custard Cake!

Bam-i!

I’ll be honest. I took small bites (seriously, just small bites) of the custard cake–and that’s it. πŸ™‚ Yup, so proud of myself.

Happy me.

It’s Wednesday, and save for a stick of Virginia hot dog, I hadn’t eaten pork or chicken yet (pat on the back). Bought some cream dory and milkfish to last us for the next 4 days. Wish me luck!
Now go check out what my Meatless Monday buddy did. πŸ™‚

Meatless Monday and Century Tuna Bangus

Last Monday, I decided to go back to Meatless Monday, and I thought I was creative enough. I came up with this:

I bought the vegetables for only 25 pesos in SM. I stir-fried them and added some eggs–then I put in lots of black pepper and turmeric simply because I love them. Then I drizzled patis.

After a few bites of broccoli and cauliflower, I know “my recipe” didn’t work. It tanked. So I ended up eating half of my husband’s dinner instead (which was sinful, trust me).

The next day, though, I opted to make up. It’s no longer a vegetable recipe, but I gave our new find a try: Century Premium Boneless Baby Bangus.

Get this for less than 150 pesos in your nearest grocery store.

Now, this is such a no-brainer food. This kind is already marinated, so all you need to do is to thaw the fish without removing it from its vacuum-sealed pack (I usually let it sit outside the freezer but still inside the ref for half a day and get it out only when I’m about to cook).

Afterward, remove how many fish you need (since we’re only 2, one is enough), then fry! It’s. That. Easy. Here’s how the fish looked like, by the way:

I didn’t want to jinx this, so I followed the instructions to a T: fry the belly first for around 5 minutes and the skin for around 3 minutes. So in less than 10, we already have a gorgeous dinner dish.

How does it taste? It isn’t salty, and the meat is really soft. But it’s quite heavy on the vinegar. You might want to make a toyo sauce if you prefer to add some saltiness. As for us, we actually liked the way it is.

I am not giving up on Meatless Monday, though. I might even try Gazpacho next week. In the meantime, we’ll dine on more Baby Bangus since we had 2 left. Yes, the whole pack is economical too.

 

Happy Independence Day!

So when was my last post? I stopped counting. I’ve been on and off blogging anyway, but I’m really crossing my fingers that I’m officially back.

I’ve got tons of stories, but I’ll set them aside for our country’s celebration tomorrow:

We’re free!

Independence Day!

Honestly, I think the celebration, as well as its essence, is somehow lost among a lot of people, but it shouldn’t be. Despite of the gazillion of problems our country is facing, we still enjoy so much liberty compared to other nations.

Our small household is definitely going to celebrate it tomorrow. Bernard and I will wake up early and head to the market, which is thankfully only a few minutes away from us. I’m thinking of doing Pampanga’s bringhe or Filipino-styled menudo (which has a tinge of sweetness), but I’m still open to suggestions. πŸ™‚

Enjoy the holiday tomorrow!

 

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3 Best Food Network Kitchens

When I’m watching Food Network, my eyes go past the dishes they prepare. I sometimes stare at their kitchens until the show is over! That’s how much I’m enamored by their fabulous designs and awesome, awesome kitchen ware.

I’m not closing on the possibility I’ll have one of those in my lifetime, but I feel it will not be happening real soon. So in the meantime I’ll look at their photos and continue dreaming on.

This is Guy Fieri’s kitchen. He currently hosts Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, which used to keep Bernard and me up until the early hours of the morning. He also has another show called Big Bite, and he uses this flashy kitchen for his demo.

There are so many things I love about this kitchen: the bold colors, the layout, the platform, the drumset, the huge wall-mounted TV screen, his refrigerator. I even thought of painting my refrigerator too until I realized the paint could chip and I would spend more just maintaining it.

One of my guilty pleasures is Alton Brown’s Good Eats. He doesn’t just cook. He lets you understand the principles behind everything–from the ingredients to your manner of cooking. His show gives so much value to your entire kitchen experience. Plus, he’s funny, smart, and has an incredibly huge kitchen. What you see here isn’t all of it. All his equipment and utensils definitely have their own space, makingΒ  his kitchen appear spic and span all the time.

This is Ina Garten’s (aka Barefoot Contessa) kitchen. Isn’t it so lovely–the charm of the wood, the growing foliage, and the sleek countertop. It speaks a lot about her style of cooking, which is simple but passionate and fresh. I do have a penchant for anything country, so it’s not difficult for me to fall in love with this.

There you have it. My most favorite Food Network kitchens. What’s yours?

 

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