The fabulous baker girls

When Juliana and I baked blueberry cheesecake a couple of months ago we were so surprised and inspired by how beautiful it turned out that we immediately planned our next baking project — jelly roll, the very stuff of my childhood memories. I said then that I would tell you how well (or bad) it goes when we finally get down to it. Well, we were able to do jelly roll a few days after we did blueberry cheesecake but I totally forgot about it until I saw the photos I took of that baking session just this afternoon while I was gong through some shots on our computer.

It turned out quite lovely, our jelly roll — admittedly not as wonderfully lovely as the blueberry cheesecake, but lovely just the same. And I say that only because it received mixed reviews. Juliana had more fun baking it than eating it (she says the texture of the cake reminded her of foam used to wash dishes); Richard, on the other hand, genuinely enjoyed it but prefers the cake to be spongier; while I liked it but had to admit it still was not the same as Yaya Juling’s version. It was good, but…  That sums it up, I guess: there was a “but” that we could not quite put our finger on. The jelly roll was there but not quite there, parang oo na hindi, like a child pretending to be an adult or tofu trying very hard to impress as fish or chicken. Alanganin, may kulang. We will try again and have better luck next time.

I love staying home; I cannot seem to say that often enough. I don’t really have wandering feet and I can not leave the house for a whole week and be perfectly happy. I love that I have a husband who can really cook, and he even has male friends who cook alongside him on any given day. There’s Boyong who is formally taking up culinary studies and there’s Jay who already finished his certificate degree in culinary arts. I will wake up for lunch or come down from our room for dinner and a feast will be spread out on the table.  Once, I saw a whole chicken cooking on our outdoor grill, sitting and looking like all chickens being cooked do, except that it had a can of beer stuffed up its cavity. I thought the men were just being like little boys are and were experimenting on something, but it turns out my husband spearheaded the whole thing. Apparently he had seen on the AFC channel’s License to Grill a similar dish and he was improvising based on how he remembered it. I asked if the poor chicken could not be simply bathed in beer, instead of being stuffed with a whole can and he said it had to be not one or the other but both — bathed in beer and stuffed with a can of beer. The rationale of the whole thing, as the chef on AFC explained, was that the beer in the can would steam the inside of the chicken as it cooked, making the meat even more tender and tasty. At first sight I had images of the can popping from all the heat and the poor bird flying off the grill to our roof or the bamboo trees. But there is a God: the can of beer was open, and my husband knew what he was doing so nothing of the sort happened. Cooked through, it was indeed very tender and tasty and we’ve even had it several more times after that first time. I just wish I had taken a picture of the chicken while it was cooking; it would make a nice entry in my recipe book. Next time we make that at home I will do that.

For Mother’s Day last Sunday, we were supposed to have dinner at Chelsea in Serendra but I came down with the flu so we just opted to stay home. I ordered JC’s Mom’s Kulob na Manok and Boyong decided to cook Shanghai fried rice, Indonesian spareribs, and some fancy Asian omelet that was cut in wedges and served with sauce, the name of which I forget now. We had a hearty meal, to say the least, with Decadent Chocolate Cake from Goodies and Sweets, Dulce de Leche from Red Ribbon, and Blueberry Cheesecake from Conti’s — all of the sweets appeared on our doorstep as Mother’s Day gifts from friends. Kris turned me on to having my coffee with a shot of Bailey’s so I have been enjoying that a lot lately, especially on rainy days, and Richard just arrived from a trip to the deli, with Emmenthal cheese and cured meats in hand, so I guess we will be having panini in the next few days.

Did I tell you already that we have a new dog? He lives with us inside our house, this French bulldog who is really a dog but looks and sounds like a pig. He is smaller than a lechon de leche and is a good dog; he doesn’t bark or bite and is very good at playing catch.  I was actually able to put him to sleep once by rubbing my foot against his tummy while I watched TV. Maybe I am half a step closer to actually being able to hug a dog, an entry I had in my wish list for 2008. I used to boast about how good he was, especially because our other small dog Boris who has since disappeared (we just woke up one day ad he was no longer around; we suspect he slipped through the grills in our gate) used to chew on my shoes but this one doesn’t. That makes him a good dog in my eyes. But I guess I spoke too soon because just recently he chewed on our sofa. I saw the estimate already and the repairs that need to be done cost more than the dog did. The first two weeks he was here his name was Taz, short for Tasmanian Devil (my brother Matt gave him that name) but he was not naughty or hyperactive at all, like all creatures named Taz naturally should be. He looked brusque though, so we changed his name to Gaston. The poor thing was confused for a couple of days and maybe he got back at me by chewing on my sofa.  It was, after all, my idea to change his name. Now I want to change it back to Taz.

I have a new guilty pleasure, if you can call it that. I buy Scratch-It Instant Tickets, my favorites being Payday and Lucky 8’s. You can win from P50 up to P200,000. So far I have won a bunch of free tickets and around P2,800. It thrills me that I can just scratch and a little surprise can very well show up on any given day. It’s a cheap thrill and it reminds me of long road trips in the States when we would drive up to a gas station and where, at the convenience store adjacent to it, we would buy scratch tickets like these. It’s fun. My other guilty pleasure nowadays? Burgers. I have been so loving burgers lately and that really puzzles me because I never cared much for them before. Nowadays I eat burgers three to four times a week — I really crave it. It’s very strange. Oh, well, I guess some things do change in the same way that some things stay the same.

I think I will convince Juliana to help me try out a really good burger recipe soon. And if all else fails I will ask my sweet man to help and indulge us, like he always does. It’s not baking anymore, so wish me well on this one.

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