#MidaTurns20: Feast of the Pacific

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I dislike going to wet markets.  For one, I cannot distinguish a fresh seafood from an old one.  I remember being given tips to look at the eyes of the fish, to pinching a particular side of a crab.  Those tips have remained tips as I do not personally go to buy fresh fish in the wet market.

In this day and age, I am so very very thankful that good quality seafood is available in supermarkets.  I first saw Pacific Bay packs in S&R.  I assumed that this was imported as the packaging and design was really nice.  It was only last year that I learned that Pacific Bay is 100% Pinoy!  It was so refreshing to learn that Pacific Bay is Pinoy and that they are making seafood available for home cooks!  You know, it makes cooking so much easier AND convenient for us moms.

I remember seeing a pack of Pacific Bay clams in the supemarket - I was so happy!  I bought it and for dinner that day - I made Pasta ala Vongole!  Cooking that was so easy - the clams were already clean and ready to be cooked.  It has cut my prep time to more than half!  I was so happy with the outcome that I swore when I saw it again, I would surely buy a pack or two.  Unfortunately, that never happened again - as it was always out of stock on my supermarket runs.  I think I've got competition in buying them.  Hahaha!!  But the thought that it was available in the supermarkets, was comforting - ika nga, unahan nalang.

Baked Oysters were served during cocktails

I was very excited to be invited to celebrate Pacific Bay's mother company's 20 years in the business.  20 years in a long time - and in that long time, they company has developed relationships with the country's top chefs.  I was most starstruck on Chef Margarita Fores.  That night, there were four (4) chefs that showcased their expertise with certain seafoods offered by Mida Food.  Here they are below:

Hamachi made by Chef Lau

Pulpo a La Gallega

Shrimp Pomelo Salad by Chef Jonas Ng 

 Barramundi with Panettone crumbs by Chef Margarita Fores

A few days after, a bag of goodies arrived at my doorstep.  There was a pack of Jumbo Shrimps, they were already peeled and de-veined.  Convenient right?  So I thought, what have I wanted to cook for the longest time but couldn't?  Tom Yum Goong!  It was perfect.  My sister in law sent me some Tom Yum soup pack and what a perfect way to cook the shrimps! 

And here's the finished product:

The shrimps were still crisp to the bite.  It was very clean on the palate, no taste of *lansa* at all.  It was perfect!  It was really made for us home cooks, so convenient!

Thank you Mida Food for bringing to our homes and tummies the seafood we deserve!  Congratulations again!

Perla: 50% Coconut Oil 100% Pinoy

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I have very early memories of Perla.  I remember seeing them in my Ama's house's sink.  My Ama would have a bar in EVERY sink in her kitchen, beside it was a laundry bar.  I often wondered, why did she put Perla bars on the kitchen sink, why were two different kinds of bars?  When I got older, I finally asked her - she said that the Perla bar was for the hands and to soften the washcloth that was washed using the *more matapang* laundry bar.  I was still very confused really, but I understood it better when my aunt explained to me that Perla was used to make the washcloths softer again, in our generation - Perla was the fabric conditioner.

Fast forward to when I was pregnant.  I was told to use Perla by friends and family to launder the clothes of the baby.  They said it's the mildest amongst the brands in the market.  I followed this advice for the first three months Kailee.  I stopped, I think because I found the scent not overly *mabango*.  When Connor came, I did this same thing - launder his clothes using Perla and stopped after a few months.

To be honest, I always always see Perla during my supermarket runs.  I remember noticing that it had a different packaging look and realized that it was already a P&G brand!  I thought to myself, Perla must really sell well for P&G to absorb them.

A few weeks ago, I got invited to an intimate gathering of friends to re-introduce the brand to us.  Apparently P&G sold the brand to a local Filipino company three years ago.  May I just say, I came there without any expectations - but I came out there with a new sense of pride with new learnings from the brand.  I'm sharing with you what I learned.

Perla is a 100% Pinoy brand
Did you know that Perla started in 1952?  It has been around for a very long time.  It has built TRUST all these years.  As your great grandmother, grandmothers, mothers and your aunts.  For sure they know the brand.  I'm sure they're have a little anecdote to of Perla.   When I learned that Perla is 100% Pinoy, I felt an unexplainable pride in my heart.  Here is a brand used by my Ama that is still available in the market!

Perla is 50% Coconut Oil
Yes, half of the Perla bar IS coconut oil.  I remember my economics teacher in DLSU, she would repeatedly tell us that Coconut Oil should be our number one export.  She would tell us over and over again until it's in your head forever (like me! Hahaha!)  I was very very very astonished to learn this particular thing from the brand - that Perla is made of 50% Coconut Oil!  Isn't that ahhhhhmazing!  I personally can attest to the effectivity of coconut oil.  I used coconut oil on Kailee when she had skin asthma as a baby.  This made me realize, I can actually use this soap on the kids!  Confession - ever since that intimate event, I have been using Perla on my face and body.  I also gave Yaya Belen a lot of bars to use as she wished.  I handed her one bar to use for the kids when they bathed and so far, so good!

Since Perla 50% Coconut oil, that means that they need to source coconut oil from local farmers.  Not only is Perla very good for the skin and cleansing - it also takes it's social responsibility very seriously by supporting local farmers!  It's very nice to learn that a brand that has decades of experience behind it, still supports and cultivates local coconut oil farming.

And since it's made on natural ingredients - it's safe for the environment!  Another brownie points for their environmental friendliness!!  Woohoooo!

Perla is gentle on the skin
Since it's made of 50% pure coconut oil, it surely means that it's gentle on our skin.  I have heard stories from friends of friends that they use Perla on their faces.  When I learned that certain celebrities were using it on their faces, I decided to try it on mine.  Hahaha!  So far, so goo since I have not experiences any irritation and I feel my skin is a bit more softer - it must be the coconut oil.  I distinctly remember that Perla is gentle on the hands compared to other laundry soaps.  The tag line used to be *Banayad sa kamay*.  Harsh chemicals used to make laundry soaps affect our skin later on.  I would remember our helpers complaining that their hands feel dry and the skin becomes brittle because of certain laundry soaps.  Yes - it does its job in cleaning - but at the expense of your dry and very sore hands.  Not worth it right?  Some would say - wear gloves!  It's different when you launder using your hands sans gloves.

Perla is hypoallergenic
One thing I learned is that when you say hypoallergenic, it doesnt mean that there will never be an allergic reaction, it means that it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.  Please see the definition in Dictionary.com.  Since my kids have eczema, it's quite stressful when it acts up.  They are constantly scratching day and night.  I often wondered if it's already a habit or not.  Then one pedia derma told me, do you think scratching is fun?  It's not a habit - it's REALLY ITCHY.  It was then that I realized that I needed to look for a more gentle soap for my kids.  I found two brands actually - but since this intimate lunch, I found out about Perla is made of natural ingredients + 50% coconut oil AND that Perla is hypoallergenic (since it's all natural)  I decided to have my kids try it.  And you know what, so far so good!  Kailee said her legs feel less itchy.  Connor's arms are looking great with less scars from scratches.  With all of our experiments with soap, body washes, lotions and all - my kids have become critical of products we use on them.  They would tell me what works and what doesn't work.  And with Perla, it's really so far so good.  Kailee has declared that her legs are less itchy.  I personally would experience random urticaria (hives) on my arms and legs - and for the past few weeks, these allergy attacks have become less and less.

I am very much impressed with Perla.  The correct term would be in AWE.  Who would have thought that a laundry soap, would be able to help our skin conditions.  Who would have thought that a laundry soap would double as a beauty bar.  What impressed me the most are the two things - the title of this blog entry - 50% of Perla is made of pure Coconut Oil and it's 100% Pinoy.  Perla is truly something that we should be proud of - something that we should patronize.  I came out of the intimate event on a high.  I was filled with PRIDE and inspiration.  I started sharing my insights on Perla with friends and family.  I am hoping that they would shift to Perla.

My ama was right after all - Perla does make clothes and cloths softer as it's a natural fabric softener.  That's another plus - from all the wonderful positive things that Perla has for us.  Imagine, my ama has known this fact for years - and I, I just learned this recently.  There is this valuable trust that the brand has built through the years.  How I wished I knew then.  But now that I know - I want to share it to everyone.  As they say, knowledge is power.

I'm very excited for what's in store for Perla in the coming months.

Thank YOU Perla!

Ola, Bibi Philippines!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Footwear is very important.  I know this because my Panget is flat footed.  I used to complain of achy feet and lower back during my travels.  It was I think 2005 when I discovered a footwear that was so comfortable (but it wasn't very stylish) that I finally understood the significance of a comfy footwear.  I know they say that rubber shoes are the best, but you see - well, I don't think I carry rubber shoes very well.  So I opted to sacrifice comfort with vanity.  I think at one point in our lives - we had shoes that were *tiis ganda*, right?

For my kids - I want only the best.  It shows with the kind of footwear my Panget and I choose for Kailee and Connor.  My Panget is very lucky that nowadays, kids' footwear is not confined to just being *white*.

Bibi shoes from Brazil embodies the *perfect* type of footwear.  It's comfortable AND stylish!  I used to not care what Kailee wore (shoes), for me it was always rubber shoes.  And then I realized that wearing sandals or girls shoes is really nice!  It's very pretty on the eyes, diba?  So I started buying her sandals from those foreign fast fashion brands.  I liked them because they looked really stylish.  Little did I know, they weren't comfortable.  One day, out of the blue - Kailee said *Mommy, can I tell you something?*  She then told me *I don't like the shoes you bought for me, my feet get ouchie*.  It was then that it dawned on me that I must change a significant category for buying kids' shoes.

Kailee and Connor LOVE walking barefoot around the house.  It honestly bothers me, but I read that kids like the feel of the ground when talk.  Another reason might be they feel that shoes are bothersome because most of the time they'd need to wear socks - I remember my mom telling me when I was little to wear closed shoes so that my feet won't grow big!  I felt so constricted - I honestly didn't like it.  And so I was so happy when I was wearing sandals or slippers!  Hahaha..

I am so very happy to learn that Bibi develops shoes so that kids can be kids.  They can move however they want with the comfy feeling of the shoes they wear.  The shoes are not just limited to sandals, rubber shoes, ballet flats and formal shoes.

IBibi shoes has a style for every occasion.  The selection of Bibi shoes is complete.   They have school shoes, they have sandals, rubber shoes, formal shoes and ballet flats.  Whatever the occasion, or style you fancy - whatever the need, for sure they have a something for you.

I picked this style for Connor because it's his usual style, what's more is that these are made of leather!  Yey!  Nice right?

As for Kailee, I wanted something different - I wanted a pair of sandals.  And I saw this pair - Cai picked this for her daughter Y.  I asked for Kailee's size - unfortunately, they didn't have it na.

Such a pretty pair of sandals right?  It was love at first sight.  So as a compromise, I got Kailee this same design, but in white!  Yehey!! :)

Bibi shoes are available at Rustans Makati and Rustans Shangril-La, and will soon be available at Playground stores in Trinoma and Glorietta, and online at www.bibiphilippines.com. Follow @bibiphilippines on Instagram and Like the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bibishoesphilippines.

Convenience at your fingertips with PayMaya

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

I honestly didn't have an idea on what PayMaya was.  I had to ask a blogger friend about it, hahaha - yes, I was that clueless.  It's a very interesting concept - PayMaya.  I was glad to be able to listen and see what it's really all about.

PayMaya is basically a prepaid card.  One that needs to have load in order to be used similar to a debit card.  You can pay your utilities, make online purchases and more using PayMaya.  One thing I really liked about PayMaya is the convenience it has because of it's mobile app.  You see, you won't need an actual card to be able to pay your bills and purchase stuff online anymore.  When you register - you are given a virtual card (with a corresponding 16 digit card number that is powered by Mastercard if you're on the Smart/Sun network and Visa if you're on the other network)  You literally have the same benefits like those of a credit card - in terms of shopping online (Amazon & other shopping sites) you can use your virtual card number and go shopping anywhere in the world wide web.  You can receive cash or payments as your parents, friends or customers can load up or pay you via loading in ATMs, banks and other partner establishments.  You are rest assured that it will be accepted by shopping sites as you have the Visa or Mastercard logo on the virtual card.  Just make sure that you have enough *load* before you purchase, okay?

It's very convenient as we know most Filipinos don't own credit cards.  It's better than a credit card because you can monitor your expenses!  There will be no problems of overspending or going over the budget.  The best thing about it is that - all you need is a valid mobile number (from any local network) and a government ID to verify your registration to PayMaya (there's a step that you need to upload your ID for security purposes.  You can link your PayPal account with PayMaya and enjoy the numerous benefits of doing transactions online without the hassle of having to apply for a credit card and stressing that your applications may get declined.

In case you want to have an actual PayMaya card, you can purchase one on the site for P150.00, it can be delivered to your preferred address.  The convenience of the real PayMay card is that you can use it to withdraw funds from any ATM in the country - corresponding charges apply of course depending on the ATM company.

So easy right?  I was able to convince my brother to register and get his virtual card.  He was so impressed on how easy it was to do!  What's more is that you can link the PayMaya card to your Facebook account in case you want to boost your post or place an add.  Cool right?

I'm very excited on what PayMaya has in store for us in the coming months.

So, what are you waiting for?  Get the PayMaya app on Google Play Store or on the Apple App Store and start enjoying the convenience of having a PayMaya account.

Ballet Manila at Fisher Mall

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

I was surprised to learn last year that Ballet Manila has opened in Fisher Mall.  I remember seeing posters of Lisa Macuja near the mall advertising ballet lessons, but I never knew where it was exactly, I assumed it was at the village nearby.  It's quite nice actually that they chose to have a studio in Fisher Mall because it can be more accessible to kids who wanted to learn ballet.

So, when an opportunity came up for Kailee to try ballet in Ballet Manila, I immediately said yes.  I made sure to buy Kailee her ballet shoes and leotards.  It was sort of exciting to be honest, because Kailee has been interested with ballet because of her cousins.  I was quite excited for her.  Honestly, it wasn't a priority to enroll her in ballet, but I'm glad that Kailee got the chance and was able to join the class and learn ballet at the studio of our country's prima ballerina, Ms. Lisa Macuja.

During Kailee's first class, I was so critical of her.  It was nice that there was a TV monitor where parents and guardians can watch the kids in their classes - uninterrupted.  You know how parents and grandparents are, right?  So I felt it was such a good idea (the monitor thing) since for sure, we'd be  distractions to the kids ins class.  So, as I watched Kailee follow Teacher Marivic, I was silently laughing to myself!  I know, I'm so mean! (I'm sorry!  Hahaha)  It was because comparing her to the other girls in the class, Kailee looked really awkward in her movements.  It was nice of Teacher Marivic to dote on her and correct her during that time.  I felt that even if the class size was quite big, Teacher Marivic could still notice those who needed extra guidance.

While observing Kailee on her first class, I felt so proud of her.  She didn't cry, she wasn't shy when they were asked to partner up.  She was very determined to follow Teacher Marivic and join the class activities.  She was a very confident first timer.  It looked as if she was having a difficult time following, but when I asked her after the class if she felt the class was hard, she just smiled and said, it wasn't - that she was learning.  My heart was bursting with happiness with her answer - she liked the class.

In the next classes, Kailee was becoming more confident and could follow more easily.  She still needed practice but you can see her determination to catch up with the movement of the class.  She would be conscious on how her movements looked in the mirror and she would correct certain moves without prompt.  I can tell that Teacher Marivic had that effect on her, Kailee was becoming more determined as the classes progressed.

Ballet Manila's studio in Fisher Mall is very nice, considering the location (in a Mall), they were able to maximize the space that they had.  The layout was pretty basic, but well - I feel they did very well in terms of layout, which space goes where and the convenience of the reception area and waiting area.  The place was clean and looked very well maintained, this is something that I really like.  I'm quite maarte when it comes to cleanliness.  It's very important for me that a studio is clean.

On the walls of the studio's waiting and reception area, you'll see images of ballet students during classes, recitals and of course our prima ballerina - Lisa Macuja in action.  The interiors are inviting, the ambiance is very warm, you'll feel right at home in Ballet Manila Fisher Mall.  There was a mom there, who was very nice and reassuring.  I think she saw me smile and laugh when I was looking at Kailee on the monitor.  She told me not to worry as Kailee would be better as the days progressed.  Her daughter too, she said looked every it of bit awkward at first, but as she attended classes (regularly) - her form became better and better.  This made me feel more settled, thank you Mommy friend, I'm sorry I didn't get your name.

Here are some of Kailee's videos from her classes in Ballet Manila.

Thank you Ballet Manila for this opportunity, my Kailee enjoyed every class she attended and would gush on how much she enjoyed her classes with Teacher Marivic.

Ballet Manila has two studios - one is in Pasay and another is in Fisher Mall, QC.  Do visit their Ballet Manila's Facebook page for more details.

*will post more videos later.  my connection is wonky.

Cooking Quest: Beef Bourguignon aka Beef Burgandy

Monday, June 05, 2017

Ever since tasting the Beef Bourguignon of Duck and Buvette in Shangri-La Mall years ago, I have so been looking for a recipe to do at home.  Most recipes I found online were very tedious, they require a lot of cooking steps.  I'm sure the best recipe has to be Julia Child's - but reading through the ingredients and procedure, it was tiring.  But I guess, the labor of love would be worth it.

I finally came across a simplified version that involves a slow cooker.  So I bought all the ingredients and did my first attempt.  Since the recipe used a slow cooker, I assumed that I could just put all the ingredients together and let the slow cooker do it's magic.  And so I waited patiently for hours, checking every so often if the meat has tenderized.  To my surprise, after 3 hours - the meat was still tough.  It thought to myself, why not add 3 more hours to the cooking time, I mean - I already waited for 3, what is three more?!  And so I did, and waited patiently.  The kitchen smelled oh so wonderful and I was really excited.  On the 6 hour mark, I proudly took out the cover, forked a piece and tried it.  It was so rubbery!  The sauce was too thin and it tasted so different from what I had imagined it out.  I decided, why not add another 3 hours to the cooking time.

At the end of 9 hours in the slow cooker, my attempt on Beef Bourguignon was a complete FAIL.  The meat was still not tender, the sauce was still thin and it had a different taste, like a sour wine or something.  I tried to save it, but it couldn't be salvaged.  I was so sad to see the ingredients go to waste.  I even thought to have my dog try the dish but Jacob was not interested on those pieces of meat.  It was a major FAIL.  This was yearssss ago.  So, after this incident, I never tried again.  I was too scared that the ingredients might go to waste.  Every so often, I'd look up at Julia Child's recipe thinking that someday, when I have the courage again - I will be brave and make one.

Last year, I bought the Assumption Legacy Cookbook from Joey (one of my FAVORITE food bloggers of all time).  As I was browsing through the wonderful pages, I saw a recipe for Beef Bourguignon.  I was so happy because the recipe was very simple and easy to follow.  I vowed that when I found the cut of beef that I liked, I would try this recipe out.

Months ago, during a supermarket trip I finally found the beef cut I was looking for.  Well, I guess I wasn't really looking for it, it just so happened that I grabbed that beef pack thinking of cooking something else.  I tried to cook that meat in a different way only to discover it's not *bagay* for what I was thinking to cook.  Then a light bulb moment came - I can use that meat for Beef Bourguignon!  The next few days were spent buying the rest of the ingredients.  I thought to use the wine I bought from the S&R sale because the recipe said to use a wine that you'd drink.  I was slowly buying the ingredients, I guess I was still a bit scared to really dive into making the Beef Bourguignon, haha!

But one afternoon, I finally decided to make it.  I followed the recipe off the Assumption Legacy cookbook, but instead of using just a pan on a stove, I used my trusted Breville MultiChef (slowcooker)

I marinated the beef overnight with the red wine.  I read online that this doesn't do anything to the beef, but I trusted the recipe and I wanted to see what the effect was.  I also remember that wine has the ability to make meats tender.  So I trusted the recipe.

The next afternoon, I started making the Beef Bourguignon.  I followed the recipe to a T at first.  After I poured everything in my Breville slow cooker, I said a short prayer - that this time, to make it at least edible.  So, I put my slow cooker on high, and a few minutes and when I saw bubbles from boiling, I switched it to low and patiently waited for 3-4 hours.  Since I started slow cooking at 7pm, I had to wait and battle my sleepiness.  I waited and prayed, I check on the glass cover every so often.

When it was 10pm, I decided to check it again and thought to try the sauce.  I was so happy with the consistency of the sauce, but I felt that it needed more garlic, and so I added about 5 pounded garlic cloves (I love garlic kasi).  I also added some dried thyme.  I forked a piece of beef and felt that it could still use a bit more time in the slow cooker.  So after mixing it a bit, I covered the pot and waited again.

I was really sleepy, I could feel my eyelids getting heavier by the minute.  I was watching the movie Somethings Gotta Give so as not to fall asleep, but I could't help it anymore.  So by 12midnight, I went down, while walking down the stairs, the aroma was wonderful - I was scared and excited.  I opened the pot and there it was - the Beef Bourguignon.  It smelled really wonderful, really really wonderful.  I was suddenly awake!  Hahaha..

First, I tried the sauce - it was really goooood!  Then I forked the beef - the moment of truth!  Hahaha - I was so happy that it was tender.  I then put it on a small plate to see if the meat was really tender, I was about to use a knife to cut it, but it broke down while I forked it.  I couldn't believe it, it was definitely softer compared to when I cut the meat earlier (on the 3 hour mark).  I got another piece to try, and it was the same.

I felt so happy, it was like I achieved something that I tried so hard to make!  I felt that my labor paid off (since it was a really warm night when I started cooking) and it was a success.  I wanted to share the good news to my Panget, but he was already asleep - the whole house was already asleep!  Hahaha..

The next morning I brought some for my mom and brother to try.  My mom approved and so did my brother.  Yehey!  My Panget had this for dinner and said it was good!  He usually says *Ok lang* but this time, he said *Masarap*, so it's masarap talaga!  I was so happy.  Super duper happy that even the kids liked it.  Woohoooo!!

I finally did it!  I finally made a version of Beef Bourguignon.  I wouldn't have had the courage to make it without the help of the Assumption Legacy Cookbook.  Thank you Joey and friends for coming up with this.  Thank you for sharing your recipes with us for us to try at home.  In case you're interested to get the cookbook, see the details below.  Enjoy!

So happy to have conquered my fear!  Hahaha...