Monday, June 30, 2008

Gloria Y. Nichols at 90 MS

Food is still the fabric of our lives.
Gloria Y. Nichols, a legend in her time, is turning 90.
We will take her to brunch at La Mirage, a Russian banquet hall that serves awesome food.
It is sad to see her mind deteriorate due to wrong medication. What was good for her one way, totally destroyed her in another.
Once upon a time, she was one of Manila's trendsetters. She fought her way to the top and everyone bowed to her prowess as a baking queen. She brought new ideas into the wedding cake industry with touches of flair. She made wedding give aways the crazy variety they are today. From a simple box of cake tied with ribbon and hand made sugar flowers, she evolved these into capiz jewelry cases, then hand sewn native mat boxes. She ventured into ceramic containers of various shapes and sizes all with her signature pound cake and sugar flowers.
Her cakes were works of art culled from looking at any edifice, fountain or sihlouette to come up with cherub ringed cakes. It was outre to have a pink wedding cake or to have a driftwood washed and painted in icing as the cake centerpiece. But that she did. She also was the first to have the bride's parents put a diamond solitaire in the ribbon pull, inches of satin ribbon with a cutesy saying and the accompanying charm. Even men lined up to pull a ribbon which is traditionally for single girls. Getting the ring means you're the next one in line to get married.
Mom's life is colorful. Wait for the next few chapters.


Mom is now 91 and in the Arlington Rehab a few minutes from our home.

All My Kids Cook MS

When the kids were growing up, each had a rite of passage, learning how to cook rice in the rice cooker was a chore for those who turned 12 or was it ten? Everyone had to work on the dishwasher, clearing the rack and all.
Cooking became the next thing. Corned Beef rice was a staple, Spaghetti sauce, nilaga, sinigang. etc. Two boys and 2 girls because baby Kylie was not interested.
I worried about Kylie not ever learning to cook. She could do the rice but that was it.
Today, Friday night dinner features her lasagna, she made the meat sauce from scratch by herself and she painstakingly layered the noodles, riccotta , mozarella and parmesan. She actually cooked caldereta a few weeks ago and brought home a quiche that she made herself. She can also cook salmon.
Kylie can prep but didn't really cook. When Migay decides to cook, she makes Kylie prep all the veggies and whatever else that goes in the menu she prepares. It is a skill to prep. Kylie knows how to make the best Filipino Fruit salad, carefuly draining the mixtures of kaong, nata, fruit cocktail and whatever catches her fancy, and just like Sarah Michelle Gellar's character in Simply Irresistible(sic), stirs her creams and milks in a dreamy manner. She's the fruit salad maker for all family gatherings. Just like Migay does the meanest mashed potatoes. Migay, lazy as she is, every now and then gets the inspiration to cook and when she does, it is marvelous, flavors and textures all come together.

Bambi cooks up a storm, following in my footsteps in entertaining friends and family at the drop of a hat. She has mastered Filipino dishes (her adobo getting better each and every time) and Rachel Ray type dishes but allows Sam to cook and experiment.
Anamite is a grill master and Jaybee, what else, a pasta king although he makes the best crockpot roast pork dinner. Even my daughters in law Dawn and Zebeda can hold themselves proud in the kitchen. Dawn has mastered some Filipino dishes and is the Thanksgiving Queen while Zebeda makes the best spinach dip.
With Kylie now unafriad to work the kitchen, I feel satisfied that I have been able to impart to my children the fact that food is the fabric of our lives.
Now, I look at the grandkids in hopes that one day I can work with them in the kitchen and share with them the love of cooking (and eating, a baking etc)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Apos (grandkids)

Funny how my life includes five little ones with different personas, but each have a bit of me in them.
Hunter at certain angles looks like Leslie when he was that age, glimpses. But looking at him, he is all American boy, no hint of the Filipino genes. Lola, why do you talk to me in Filipino when you're angry with me? Did you understand me? I ask. No, he says, so why do you know I'm scoldiing you? Why do you respond and obey? Oh!
And did you want me to scold you in English? Nope, he shakes his head.

Lynn is my China Doll. very thin, pretty, almond eyes, pert. Takes after Migay, slow molasses. But when she smiles, that one dimple only found in Leslie's face shows up.

Taylor and his ruddy Chinese face, we got him one of those winter hats and I thought I was looking at a picture of Chinese kids in winter, thoser red cheeks are real! And he is smart. When it comes to money. At mass, I handed out singles for the kids and 5's to my kids. He looked and said, hey this one is different!

Maddie the pretty princess that we want to bring home and hawk for per lola Portia. I remember when she was born, eyes wide open and almost knowing and I realise now that the soul who came back was there at that moment. And true to form, as the new persona takes over, that one moment is over, lost in the life and living of this incarnation.

But here comes Daniel Bell. Long awaited, saw him in my dreams. Curly haired, bright eyes knowing, curious and all over the place. Am I putting wonders in place or is he really a wonder? He is a wonder. I choose to speak to him in Pilipino whenever I can. And at this point, he understands the language. In fact, there are some words he won't immediately respond to in English but will immediately follow in Pilipino. Sayaw! Palakpak! Saan ang ilaw? Bababa ba? Gusto mo pa? karga. kain na. Naspu na.
I love all my apos and I want to make sure each of them have some great memories of me and my loving them. And the kitchen will be the main point of remembering. Teaching them how to cook and bake and sell cookies at Mrs. A's Cupcakes and Cookies, stealing cookies from lolo's former bakery on elm. These kids are comfortable in a bakery, just like mine.

More later on my apos

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Xmas eve and Xmas Night dinners Standing Rib Roast MS

So here's another round of eating for the holidays.
Dawn picked up Xmas eve as always because we are all too tired to cook, just want to eat and crash being up all night working the ovens and cakes, cookies and coffeecakes for the past ten years. Turkey and ham with mashed potatoes were just right.
Xmas day started out with longaniza and sinangag, garlic fried rice with fried eggs, totally filipino.
A quick trip to the movies for a breather.
Then dinner at the Bells. An 8 rib standing rib roast which was cooked really right, kudos to Bambi who always faces these challeneges to add to her repertoire. A caper and anchovy pasta, twice baked potatoes, the green bean casserole and Sam's made from scratch Caesar salad.
Something the two brothers weren't about to miss.
It makes me thankful to the Lord for times like these, seeing kids, grandkids and immediate family gathered round a table eating, jokes, food and would you believe, not that much drink save a few bottles of red wine?

By the way, prime rib is a standing rib roast but from PRIME USDA beef, eveyrthing else is a standing rib roast. An olive oil based tapenade smeared all over the roast and set to age overnight in the cooler, and a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes to sear the meat and 325 till it is done does the trick. Congratulations to Bambi for pulling it off.

New Year's Day 2008 MS

It didn't help that we were all sick over the few days before (and after) Jan 1st.
Hope it doesn't mean anything for the year, but then again, what's cough colds and flu compared to Kylie's in 2006 and mine in 2007? This is a cake walk.

Having had to work a few hours at Mrs. A's also cut back my cooking time.
Exhange gifts and eats were at the Bell's, just a week after the scrumptious Roast beef dinner for Xmas.

This time, the ubiquitous paella and lengua plus Kylie's Filipino fruit salad joined Bambi's turkey(courtesy of JB) and mashed potatoes, and a really tasty cocido, pork, beef, chicken and chorizo with garbanzos, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes with the eggplant salad side dish. The spaghetti was a great dish to add for kids and folks alike.
Bambi made a birthday cake for Migay whose 24th birthday fizzled as she was down with the flu with a bad dose of coughing and hacking.
It was a banana cake with fresh bana filling and our winnetka buttercream.
Poor Miggie, we always forget her brithday cake, and we own what? a bakery??? oh oops.
I vow next year I won't forget.

Hope everyone had a fun day on January 1st, I know I did, seeing and being with all the people, (kids, grandkids, sis, mom, les, close friends allowed into our intimate circle) I love in the same room, laughing talking and being there just fills my heart with so much love. This is what I am thankful to the Lord for. And this is what makes me look forward to each and every New Year.

thirty minute mealsMS

I realized today that having such a hectic life, working 7 days a week almost always 10 hour days, with 5 kids and 5 grandkids to feed every Thursday, a daughter with boyfriend on Wednesdays plus grandson and son-in law, it takes a real super human effort to ge that meal done. Sometimes, I have time to prep the night before, more often than not, I am ambitious enough to think I can go to the store, get the fresh veggies and meats and get a meal done, that’s if I don’t hit traffic on the way home.
So I find the challenge of having a good meal done within 30 minutes a challenge. I sometimes pull it off. Tonight, I ambitioned buying the ingredients before coming home and to my shock it was seven . Kylie and Todd pulled in as I got home. Aurghhh. Usually, they come home at 8. And as I hurriedly got the rice pot going and the pork marinated in the char siu mix, the door bell rang and Bambi with Sam walked in. Horrors. But, hey, slice the meat, etc nuke the chinese broc, get the fishballs and tofu sliced, and there I was, stir frying my first chow mein dish ever and the charsiu merrily roasted in the oven and got a good last minute broil. Oh well, another day in the life.
I truthfully admitted to Anamite that having a lack of friends around, and the serious work schedule, even if I am strapped for time, I find comfort in cooking that meal, whether it’s a lazy corned beef rice (that’s the canned corned beef for those who don’t know that this is a staple in a Filipino cupboard) or something chicken with cream of mushroom kicked up a notch by turmeric and either spinach or artichokes or asparagus, even after baking 100 cookies, cooking a meal at home is strangely relaxing .

Paella MS

i only learned to cook paella here in the USA challenged because no one made the paella i was accustomed to,because at home, i ordered it from libby. through the years i have refined the paella and found a comfort zone of what i put in my paella. i used reciped combined from pat dayrit, nora daza and enruiqueta david perez and have come up with one uniquely my own. i wish i could afford the seafood so easily available back home but are ridiculously expensive here. so i settled for a mix of boneless skinless chicken breast with boneless pork cubes, the ubiquitous chorizo de bilbao, thankfully available here, casubha (our saffron wannabee) red peppers, a choice of tomatoes (whole, crushed, puree, sauce) i just use whatever I have on hand, bouillon cubes for added flavor, shrimps, seafood mix and when i remember, mussels on the half shell, boiled eggs, and petite pois (peas). have come to the point that i can whip this up in minutes (kidding, hour and a half minimum)

so coming home after a hectic grab and go from the supermarket, freaking out that there was no chorizo de bilbao (thank goodness my hoarding nature left me with one pack in the freezer, have to get more) got me to prepare everything for Roel who asked for the paella. why should i take the time? Roel is younger than us but had a total body failure and from a once hale and hearty fellow, is now bed ridden with dialysis every other day, waiting for a triple bypass, and trying to get better. but he sorta kinda cajoled us to bring him some, so we did. but he couldn't even eat the portions given, his diet has been restricted, thoughts of lechon are wishful thinking for him and from a once gourmand, he is now given a painfully spare and sparse diet.

i am humbled by the fact that he asked for my paella, if I didn't do this for him and he suddenly disappeared, i would be forever feeling guilty, but i delivered and i hope roel enjoyed even the visuals of the paella.

life is short and the festive paella is a small offering to a friend who is facing his life's mortality.

Need to cook cook cook MS

need to cook cook cook

cooking relaxes me. this week has flown so fast that i don't remember when i last cooked in the kitchen other than thursday night dinner.

went crazy at the supermarket, onions, shallots, asparagus, spinach, green onions, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms etc. then i saw a big slab of brisket for 1.99 a pound..hmmm that will be thursday night dinner. i already put the chicken out for tonight's dinner. i also cooked bear creek soup but boiled broccoli with the water before the mix, then sauteed garlic onions to go with the handful of asparagus and mushrooms for our side. the chicken i just marinated in salt, pepper, soy sauce, garlic powder and lemon. into my trusty favorite cast iron pan, i stuck the pork chops for tomorrow night's dinner in the remaining marinade and added a bit more stuff in it.

i've been going to the chinese supermarket and the carniceria guzman almost daily to get fresh meats and veggie, haven't been in caputo's for a bit so i went with cherries on my mind. ended up with stuff, well, i've been forgetting the grand kids so i got cheese and bread for their favorite american cheese sandwich, grilled of course, and i have browned gorund beef in the fridge i can convert into spaghetti sauce or picadillo at a drop of a hat. so that's that.

Beef Brisket my space blog

Haven't really found a brisket recipe I truly like. Cousins Mabel and Sofie have given me theirs but the only thing I remember is to roast this overnight. I have been using all kinds of recipes but haven't gotten one I really like. so this time, onions, garlic, soysauce, bbq sauce and caldereta mix. Not bad but still....

Sauteed asparagus in garlic and butter, decent. Another lazy pasta, sauteed ground beef with garlic and onions poured bottled marinara with can of tomato sauce, threw in bay leaf and cooked this with egg noodles instead of penne.

I cannot remember what I did with the spaetzle, I did the preliminary saute with garlic onions and beef but threw in parsley flakes, bay leaf and fresh basil (from my poor dying plant) and cream of mushroom soup and out of code sour cream (we're still alive) then the spaetlze, really came out good, cannot remember if i threw in thyme or what. hmmmph.

moody blues

With my many years of attending funerals, close friends, relatives, acquaintances, it never fails to cross my mind that I should plan my own. Lord, that my family bury me and not me bury them, please.
But should I go, then I do want the following:
Simple pine (go green) because I want to be cremated after whatever bit of me can be used to save another life. Cremains to be in a JADE urn, and some peices into lockets for each of my kids and grandkids, whether they want to wear me or not is up to them, but hopefully they will want me around. I got this idea from Patis and sisters when their dad died.
Music and food during the wake. Of course, mass and eulogies. And pics of me and all that I enjoyed. I also want to be made up the way I look and not some unknown entity posing as me. Hopefully that would be the case.
Music: Harry Potter John Williams , On Eagle's Wings, Till the Angels close my eyes. etc. Definitely a number of Beatles tunes. I have other songs in mind, so I'll leave this open.
And I want Chinese Lauriat after the interment or something, I forgot, I get to burn.
And lots of love and kitchen tales.
I think about this as I have just been to a young man's wake. And I see my mom slowly fading and I know I have to be ready for the when.
Okay already, morbid enough but at least I got this off my chest, since I talk about it every now and then along with ghost tales and me asking for signs.
When they talk about living wills, let this be a part of it.

Sometimes I wonder

I have been thoroughly gutsy opening a new store with the girls to take the place of the closed and failed bakery. I know that I have been making goals and sales for the other companies I have worked for through the years and it's now time to See if I can pull off the same success on my own. Truth to tell, without working capital, with no equity and a bankruptcy on my records, it really is a struggle.
and to position myself in a high rent area in hopes that even with this oncoming recession (hoping we can ride it out) I can still pull it off.

But when the bills pile up and there are no other sources of income other than what comes in daily, sometimes, the fear sets in and I just have to draw on my strength of faith and leave it to the Lord.

What stops me from really going for it and pushing? Some inner fear of failing? Or making excuses that I have no time to knock on doors because I am stuck in a position, baking and making sure we don't run out of product, not being able to afford other help, and relying on daughters who run late for me to do anything productive by the time they come in. Am I making all these excuses?

But I am committed to see this through and I will make sure to succeed as our future depends on this.
Go go go Mrs. A, you can do it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DPI food show

Yes, so I now am baking cupcakes and cookies, but that inner caterer and foodie in me always appreciates going to DPI Midwest's one day food show featuring their many vendors and new accounts. Some old some new, and the one I use wasn't there. Still, so many dessert and cookie shops, all upscale, all wanting a piece of that elusive (to me) market.

Ham off the bone from a new company, loads of cheese from all over the world, from Irish to Italian to goat cheese, and Danish butters.
Didn't see my duck friends either, nor the pate group, or did I miss them?
Didn't meat up either (known as scoping out and stalking meat booths and grabbing as much as I can when all is said and done).

But my weakness has always been sauces and marinades, Asian and what nots.
More for personal use, of course but who knows? One day I will cater again, or create a menu for orders only catering using these. Or one day, do Kylie's wedding like I did Bambi's and maybe Migz will also want one for her own. And grandkids will definitely benefit from me should I still be up and running when they get married. Or graduate.

The meal after was excellent but after grazing like a cow in almost every booth, aughhh, couldn't eat as well as I wanted to. Thanks DPI Midwest, this makes up for not going to the National Restaurant Show this year.


I've joined the vast millions of bloggers who take time to write their thoughts in an open diary. Seems like only yesterday I used to scribble and write my diary but with the fast paced world spent on the computer instead of those Leeds hard bound $60 tomes, I am now typing away my thoughts and daily events for someone out there to actually read and almost know me through my writings. Wow, blows me away.

About Me

My photo
wife, mother of 5, lola(grandma)of 5,joined facebook and still wonder why friend, cook, baker, decorator,daughter,sister, Mrs.A'sCupcakes&Cookies Virgo Year of the Snake St. John's Academy 1970 University of the Philippines BSHRA I'm afraid to admit this, but oh well, Jack of all Trades, master of some. Football fan. Totally. Mrs. A's Cupcakes & Cookies, my latest venture.

another year and patty

another year and patty

Trendsetter at 8

Trendsetter at 8
Cooking on live TV with Nora Daza, the Philippines' Julia Child


All Mine!!!

All Mine!!!
Taylor, Maddie, Daniel, Hunter & Lynn

GY Nichols and Grandkids

GY Nichols and Grandkids
looks like lola's birthday

simple elegance

simple elegance

wedding cakes and me

wedding cakes and me
finishing touches


pure joy, returnable at the end of the day

Summa Cum Laude Bambi Bell

Summa Cum Laude Bambi Bell

patty and me

patty and me
another holiday has come and gone

Daniel's 1st Birthday Cake

Daniel's 1st Birthday Cake
labor of love following tradition, merry-go-round