Yelly Eats

Pork shanks for dinner

There is a Filipino dish called humba (hoom-ba) which I absolutely love.  My mum used to make it on Saturdays because my dad was teaching and would be away.  My dad is Jewish so we try to avoid eating pork when he is at home.  Because he teaches at graduate school on Saturdays and is away for most of the day, Saturday would be pork day.  My mum makes the most amazing pork chops and just thinking about them now is making my tummy rumble!

I am pleased to say that I can now cook humba and it’s a favourite because the cut of pork is one of the cheapest.  I love buying pork hocks and pork shanks because they’re so cheap and you get so much meat from them.  Humba has dried banana blossoms which can be purloined from oriental supermarkets.  When I cook humba I am transported to the Philippines and I am once again in my mum’s kitchen waiting for her to put the humba on the table (although I must say that my mum’s humba is still the best and my version of it pales in comparison!).

I went to the supermarket yesterday and found pork shanks.  I am someone who can’t resist a food bargain so I bought the pork shanks thinking I had banana blossoms at home.  I thought I was due another humba session.  But as I inspected my cupboard, I discovered that it didn’t have the banana blossoms that I thought were languishing behind cans of chopped tomatoes.  So after a little creative thinking, I thought if I cooked the pork shanks in tomatoes, it would work.  So I brought down a couple of cans of chopped tomatoes, I chopped onions, brought out the frozen chopped garlic, hunted my dried bay leaves down, and chopped up what was salvageable from the celery that I bought nearly 2 weeks ago!

I had my fingers crossed for how my little concoction would turn out and I was quite pleased at the flavour.  The base flavour was based on a Filipino dish called afritada which starts with sautéeing garlic, onions and tomatoes.  Because the pork was cooked slowly, the pork was meltingly soft.  Good things come to those who wait and slow cooking this was definitely worth the wait!  It was great served over couscous but would be great over rice or mashed potatoes too!  If you fancy trying the recipe, here it is:

Ingredients:pork shanks1

  • 1kg pork shanks (not deboned)
  • 2 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of chopped garlic
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 500-750 ml water
  • 1 pork broth cube
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat the oil and sautee onions.  When the onions are slightly transluscent, add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, celery, broth cube, spices and the bay leaves.  Allow to simmer.
  2. Add the pork shanks and enough water to cover the pork shanks.  Cover and cook on low heat for 1 hour, turning pork shanks occasionally so that the skin doesn’t catch on the stock pot bottom.
  3. When the meat is soft enough, take the shanks out of the pot and debone them and return the meat pieces into the tomato sauce and cook for a further hour on low heat.  The deboning is optional but it will make it easier to eat later on and you can remove the skin if you want to make it less fatty.   Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When you are ready to serve, you can opt to slice the pork pieces into bite sized pieces.

pork shanks2

 

 

Yelly Writes

Hearts day post-mortem

On February 14, I was woken up by 2 text messages: one from my mum and one from my big sister from another mother.  I crawled from under the toasty warm covers and read the text messages, smiled sleepily and then crawled back into bed.

Valentines Day was just another day, really, because I had loads to do work-wise.  I’m quite happy that work is keeping me busy because busy is always good.  I got home late because there was a staff meeting and I had to catch a later train.  The idea was to have take-away from my favourite Chinese take away.  But when I called the Chinese take away I was told they couldn’t do anything about delivering food to me until about 9PM.  I was exhausted so I wasn’t going to cook.  Settling for fried chicken wasn’t so bad.  At least I didn’t have to cook and the clean up after was a breeze!

Now, y’all must be thinking, awww what a sad Valentine’s day.  It wasn’t really.  I had a really productive day at work and learned new things, I managed to catch a train that got me home earlier than I thought I’d get home, and even though I didn’t get my Chinese take away (I was craving chow mein noodles!), I still shared chicken and chips with the person who knows me the best.  I’d say it was a good day.  After all, like Christmas, every day should be Valentine’s day.  We should all make an effort to make sure our lives are filled with love and romance and the appreciation of what our loved ones do for us.

However, I thought this photo was good to share: a picture taken at Covent Garden in London the Saturday before.  Things like these, they make me smile.  Romance is grand, aint it?

LOVECoventGarden

Yelly Writes

Customizing Bueno: Mi Piace Kate

This gave me ideas about cleaning up the blog and making it look less cluttered. Changing my blog background was a great start. Reblogging this because I know it’ll help others who use the Bueno blog theme…and even if you don’t use the Bueno theme, the ideas are too good not to share!

The WordPress.com Blog

We all want our blogs and sites to feel like “us,” and there are tons of tweaks that can turn a plain ol’ theme into a bespoke web experience for the discriminating blog connoisseur. Last month, we looked at how one online mag transformed the Oxygen theme; today we’ll check out how one blogger took the third most popular theme on WordPress.com and built something entirely her own.

Say ciao to Mi Piace Kate:

Mi Piace Kate

“Mi Piace Kate” is Italian for “I Like Kate,” and we definitely do! Kate’s a graphic designer, cat aficionado, and handcrafting devotee who’s taken the free Bueno theme and run with it. Her blog is a stellar example of how some custom images and a $30 Custom Design upgrade can change a free theme into a million-dollar site that’s totally unique.

Take a look at the standard Bueno home page next to Kate’s:

Bueno Theme

If you…

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Yelly Eats

Ube!

I’m working on an ube sponge cake recipe because I miss ube cake from the Philippines.  I particularly love the ube cake from Red Ribbon.  But because Red Ribbon hasn’t made it to this side of the Atlantic, I will just have to learn to make the cake myself.  I’ve always said that necessity is the mother of invention and it is absolutely necessary for me to have my ube cake fix!  I haven’t had a slice of ube cake since…I can’t remember.  It must have been over 5 years!

My first attempt seemed to go down pretty well.  The colour was great and the flavour was absolutely there.  The cake was spongy and light.

purple yam cake batter

I will have to make it again maybe next week (after the cake that’s currently residing in my cake box has been consumed).  I’ve got recipe improvements in my head already.  I’m sure the oriental store in Chelmsford will enjoy the fact that I’ll be buying another jar of ube jam next week!  Watch this space for the recipe soon!

Ube cake at last!

 

Yelly Writes

All done!

I’ve been working on a secret project for a few weeks now.  It’s been quite frustrating because I couldn’t really blog, tweet or post anything about it on Facebook.  I’ve been wanting to be able to vent my frustrations but because of the nature of the project, everything had to be secret–and until now, there are elements of the project that still have to be kept secret.

I’ve found myself literally sitting on my hands to stop myself from talking about the project online.  There were days when I needed instant validation and wanted to take to social media to ask for people’s opinions.  I didn’t and that in itself was quite the achievement!  I’m not really good at keeping secrets…I will eventually let a secret slip somehow.  I’ve been quite pleased with myself really because I haven’t talked about it much.  I’ve only let my family know and of course, Alan, who has been helpful with ideas and suggestions.  It felt really good to be able to talk out my frustrations about this project.  We all need a good sounding board to bounce ideas off of.  Thank God for blessings like these!

Even without going into detail, I’m quite pleased that it’s finished (even though I can’t really talk about it!).  I’m quite pleased with the way everything’s turned out.  I am, to be honest, also very proud of myself.  I’ve actually started a project and finished it on time, and the result is exactly how I envisioned this when I was planning everything!  The discipline that I forced myself to stick to while working on this project is definitely going to be something that will help me in future.  I learned a lot about feedback and constructive criticism and taking the positive from every comment received.  The critiques reminded me of a Repertory Philippines workshop where we were taught that in everything, we had to learn to take the positive and not to let the negative affect us.

Working on this project has definitely bolstered my confidence!  My brother has indicated that what I had done was a winner and that’s always a good thing.  Family, while they will always fight your corner, can be your worst critics because they know what you are able to achieve.  I’m just hoping that other people share my brother’s enthusiasm!

I’m so sorry for all the vague references.  I will, eventually, be able to talk about all this and post pictures.  But I hope you’ll humour me and wait patiently with me (I will draw patience from y’all because I will probably fail this particular marshmallow test!) while I wait until I can talk about this!

Oh and keep your fingers crossed for me please! 🙂

Yelly Writes

Booting up!

I am currently humming I Enjoy Being A Girl from Flower Drum Song in my head.  You know, the one that starts with “I’m a girl and by me that’s only great, I am proud that my sillhouette is curvy, that I walk with a sweet and girlish gait, with my hips kind of swivelly and swervy…”?

I’m humming this because I’m wallowing in girlish delight until I am absolutely pruney.  I am being the girly-girl that I am and being positively giddy about a pair of shoes!  Imelda Marcos I am not, but a good pair of shoes that love my feet is definitely worth blogging about!  I bought the most gorgeous pair of wedged boots online last weekend at 60% off the retail price (there is something to be said about buying shoes late in the season!).  They arrived yesterday.  Mind you, I had misgivings because I’ve bought beautiful boots before but boy did they punish my feet (and no matter how many times I told myself that they just needed breaking in, if I used the boots, at the end of the day, my feet would be screaming at me to get the bloody things off!  I have yet to bring myself to bring the beautiful things to either the charity shop or put it in the balikbayan box so my mum or sister can find someone else to love the boots.  I’ve used them a total of, count ’em, 4 times!)!  But these beautiful things were different.  I put them on and they seemed to hug my feet.  They seemed to wrap themselves around my feet!

I bravely booted up this morning, gingerly walking down the stairs that led up the flat to walk to the train station.  My steps were slow, but steady and very stable.  I had never felt so balanced in wedge heels before.  So my steps became less tentative and quicker.  After all, I was walking to the station to get on a train that was 12 minutes away from leaving.  I made it to the train station in 7 minutes with my feet sighing in happiness!  Throughout the day, walking to and from places, up and down stairs, running from one office to another (yes, I had a VERY busy day!), my feet felt like they were protected.  I think I bought the shoes that had the right heel height and the right snugness.  My feet haven’t felt this comfy in heels in a very long time!

I have struggled with finding shoes that fit my feet right since moving to the UK.  The only shoes I’ve ever really worn comfortably are flat shoes and well, flat shoes aren’t always the best things to wear as they aren’t always the most appropriate (and while I adore ballerina flats, we all know sometimes a bit of heel is important–especially in formal situations).  But tonight, all is well in my shoe world.  Because I’ve found wedges that hug my feet.  The next goal is to find heels that I can stomp in.

These are days when I wish there was an SM Shoemart nearby!

Clarks Shoes - MasterGame

Yelly Writes

Les Mis – finally!

To say that I was excited about seeing Les Mis was an understatement.  I could hardly sit still in the train on the way to the cinema.  I’d been so looking forward to seeing the movie since they started shooting scenes in Greenwich in April 2012.

Les Mis is one of three of my all-time favourite musicals (the other two being Miss Saigon and Phantom of the Opera) and the prospect of seeing a movie version of the musical was certainly exciting.  I told myself to not expect too much, because after all, the cast weren’t West End or Broadway performers.  But I also knew that Cameron Mackintosh had a say in the production and after seeing the interviews, I understood that the cast and crew understood how beloved this musical was that they wouldn’t do anything to taint it.  I’m sure everyone involved in the movie wanted to do their utmost best because like me and countless others, they loved the musical too.

So after waiting for so long (waiting to get better from illness and waiting for the snow to stop falling and start melting), armed with Kleenex, I made my way to see the movie I’d waited to long to see.  And it didn’t disappoint.  I cried buckets, enough to make my eyes sting the whole time after.  The familiar themes of young love, unrequited love, transformation, forgiveness and redemption did not fail to touch my heart (and my tear ducts!).

While live theatre performance is in a different league entirely, this version of Les Mis was something to be seen.  You could see in the actors’ performances how much they loved this musical.  Hugh Jackman reminded me a little of Colm Wilkinson, but don’t get me wrong, his Valjean was his Valjean.  Amanda Seyfriend was a hauntingly beautiful Cosette, and she didn’t warble too badly too!  Anyone who can cry and sing at the same time as well as Anne Hathaway did deserves an award!  I was quiet pleased that they chose Samantha Barks for Eponine because she did brilliantly.  I wasn’t too impressed by Russell Crowe’s singing but his acting made up for it because he was Javert!  But I think the performance that stole the show was Eddie Redmayne’s!  Who’d have thought he’d make this amazingly romantic Marius?

I don’t really want to say too much just in case you haven’t seen it.  But if you can go and watch it, do!  Oh and remember to bring kleenex…or maybe a beach towel!

Les Miserables