Food Journal

Slow Cooked Pot Roast for Dinner

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Just because I work from home doesn’t mean I don’t get busy. Whenever I foresee myself being too busy the whole day to cook, I rely on my slow cooker for a scrumptious dinner. This way I don’t have to monitor the meat while it’s cooking the whole day. As an added bonus, the house smells like Thanksgiving. Who doesn’t love that smell right?

So for dinner, here is a recipe for a Slow Cooker Pot Roast.

Ingredients

  • 1 (5-6 lbs) boneless pork loin roast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, slivered
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1/2 cup water or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Directions

  1. Rub pork roast with salt and pepper.
  2. Make tiny slits in meat and insert slivers of garlic.
  3. Put 1 sliced onion in bottom of stoneware.
  4. Add pot roast, remaining onion, and other ingredients.
  5. Cook and cover on Low 10-12 hours (5-6 hours if cooking on High).

NOTES

  • For additional browning, broil pork loin before slow cooker. Place roast in broiler pan, then broil for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Drain. Place in stoneware and continue as recipe directs. Or you can just brown all sides of mean in frying pan for a couple of minutes.
  • To make the sauce (Optional)
    1. When done transferring pork roast to a serving plate, get leftover sauce from crock pot.
    2. Mince some cremini mushrooms.
    3. In a small sauce pan, combine sauce and mushrooms over low heat.
    4. Dissolve 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 2 tbsp water (or more if necessary).
    5. Slowly add dissolved cornstarch into sauce. Continue stirring until sauce thickens.
    6. Once sauce thickens, continue stirring for a few seconds. Turn off the stove, and serve the sauce beside the pork roast.

If anyone has any other recipe variation of a slow cooked pork roast, don’t hesitate to share!

Life Notes

Shopping for the Hubby

Light snow accumulated in our lawn.
The thick snow in our backyard.

0005. Feature Photo above: Winter Wonderland

It took some persuasion for me to push my husband to get up and drive us to the Market Mall for his yearly wardrobe shopping. The snow piled up so much from yesterday’s light snow I almost didn’t want to go out. But you know what? The snow is pretty. I detest the cold, but when I see snow sparkling in the sunlight, it made me forget for a bit of my hatred for winter. Mustering up the courage and layering on many clothes for warmth, we were able to spend a few hours at the mall for what I call a couple “date”. No errands, no appointments, no work waiting at home. Just leisure strolling and shopping for his clothes.

0006. Coat fetish

Shopping in Market Mall, Calgary
Choosing a coat for the hubby.

I didn’t realize I like looking at men’s clothes. I’m not sure if I I have the eye for men’s fashion but I did enjoy seeing my husband trying one coat after another until we were handed one we both liked on him. Kudos to the Asian assistant, who assisted us patiently going from one end of the store to the other, just to find the right coat for us. By the end of the day, my husband got a Vince Camuto coat, 2 Old Navy shirts, a couple of Jockey shirts, and a Bucketlist journal.

I, on the other hand, got a simple 2017 planner, a panda bookmark, and a cute orange stress ball.

Life Notes

Victory in DnD!

Dungeons and Dragons boardgame
First "Descent" boardgame Victory.

0004. We Have Descent to Victory

It’s our first board game (and victory of the year). Yay! We lost the same campaign before from not being used to the app mechanics.

I wasn’t a Dungeons and Dragons player before. Playing “Descent” made me practice how to manage competitiveness in an immersive fantasy game widely different from playing video games. It’s a religion of its own once you get the hang of it.

Here’s to more board games for 2017! Any board game recommendations for me?

Food Journal, Life Notes

The Cranes Start to Fly

The First Crane Has Landed
This is the first paper crane for the year (and for this artsy project).

Happy New Year everyone! I was supposed to make this post yesterday, but my husband and I attended a fun and food-filled evening of a get-together with family last night. We went home around midnight and just jumped into bed. We were to well-fed (hehe) and conked out from singing karaoke, talking, and well, eating more.

Oh, and for your information, I don’t do karaoke. I just sing along with everybody else. 😀

This entry is a start of a 1000 crane challenge I imposed on myself for the following reasons:

(1) I want to do something artsy. I felt deprived! I was able to do some artsy stuff this year but I felt there weren’t enough. This year, I want to have a bit of art on a regular basis. Thus, the origami crane thing.

(2) I find romance in the legend of folding 1000 paper cranes. According to the legend:

After being diagnosed with leukemia from the radiation, Sadako spent her time in a hospital folding origami paper cranes in hope of making a thousand of them. She was inspired to do so by the Japanese legend that one who created a thousand origami cranes would be granted a wish. Her wish was simply to live. Source: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes – Wikipedia

There’s no loss in trying to fold 1000 paper cranes right? Plus, it will be a good art project to have all cranes displayed on a large frame once they’re all done. It can be a good living room decorative.

(3) My paper cranes can become a constant companion in my wanderings, work, chores, etc. They can be my partners in crime in photography.

To no further ado, here are my first paper cranes for the year.

0001. The Crane Has Landed

The First Crane Has Landed
This is the first paper crane for the year (and for this artsy project).

Our 7-ft Christmas tree will possibly be taken down in a week, depending if we feel like it. So a crane has taken refuge on its needles and hanging trinkets, becoming a decorative in itself, colorful and fragile, a small beauty preparing for flight.

0002. It Smells Too Good

Freshly Baked Goods is the Best Scent for Any House
Creamy Red Velvet Cupcakes. I need practice with putting frosting though.

The house smelled of freshly baked cupcakes. Yum! I made Red Velvet Cupcakes that had cream cheese with white chocolate filling and cream cheese frosting. Here is the recipe I used for it.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg Duncan Hines® Red Velvet Premium Cake Mix
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 container Duncan Hines® Creamy Home-Style Cream Cheese Frosting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease muffin pans or line with paper baking cups.
  2. Prepare batter according to package directions.
  3. Spoon batter into lined muffin cups. In small bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and egg; mix until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and coconut.
  4. Spoon about 1 Tbsp cream cheese mixture onto batter of each cupcake.
  5. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes following package directions. Spread cupcakes with frosting.

0003. The First Big Chow of The Year

Chips and salsa
Chips and Salsa before the first Big Chow of the Evening

It’s a fact. Befriend a Filipino family and you discover just how much food they can make (and chow) in every special occasion. We love reunions, get-togethers, fiestas, and the likes. And food is the most important aspect of every occasion. We got an invitation from our Tita for a New Years dinner, and true enough, there was so much food we were invited to take some home. Just check out how much we chowed down.

New Year's Feast
New Year's Feast


New Year's Feast
New Year's Feast
New Year's Feast


And here are family and friends enjoying the food and company.

2017 New Year Dinner

2017 New Year Dinner

And so to my family and friends from other places, I hope you had an awesome 2017!!!

Cheers!

Travel

Frolicking in the Wintry Twin Cities – Minnesota Adventure

Stone Arch Bridge

As a year-ender adventure, my husband and I decided to take our first step to the American soil by visiting hubby’s long-time friend in Minnesota. When we made known to our relatives our trip, the first question was, “What can you find in Minnesota?”. I wondered the same thing myself. Being a total rookie on international travel, Minnesota doesn’t hold any known “go-to” destination compared to places like New York and Las Vegas. So I was open to discoveries despite my hatred passion against winter cold.

We are very thankful to our gracious hosts for opening their home for us to stay during our first day in Minnesota. They also were generous in booking a hotel near the airport, driving us around Twin Cities, and making sure we’re well fed. 😀

Now, let’s start with the photo gallery of our trip to Minnesota.


Mall of America

MOA - Wall of Fame

MOA - Theaters

Mall of America

MOA - Flyover America

Flyover America

Using the latest virtual flight ride technology and special effects such as wind, scents and moving seats, it will feel like you’re really flying. Be wowed as you soar over America’s most iconic landscapes during the 10-minute flight. My only complaint is it was too short. I would love it if the ride was made longer. Check out this attraction, it’s worth it.


Cathedral of St. Paul

Cathedral of Saint Paul

The City of Saint Paul was known as the Pig’s Eye Settlement until in 1841, when the first Catholic priest in the area, Fr. Lucien Galtier, dedicated his log chapel on the bluff to Saint Paul, requesting that the settlement adopt the name as well. The Cathedral of Saint Paul is now a civic landmark and the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Paul and Minneapolis. Source: Webiste

Cathedral of Saint Paul

Cathedral of St. Paul

Cathedral of St. Paul

Cathedral of St. Paul

Cathedral of St. Paul

Cathedral of St. Paul


Minnesota State Capitol Building

MN State Capitol Building

A 1905 masterpiece returned to its original grandeur. Source: Website


Stone Arch Bridge

Stone Arch Bridge

The Stone Arch Bridge is a former railroad bridge crossing the Mississippi River at Saint Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. This bridge offers a panoramic view of St Anthony Falls and is recognized as a National Civil Engineering Landmark.


Bentleyville

Billed as America’s Largest Free Walk Through Lighting Display, Bentleyville invites guests to stroll under the glow of over 4 million lights in a 20-acre park situated on the shores of Lake Superior, while enjoying complimentary hot cocoa, cookies, popcorn and roasted marshmallows! Source: Website.

Bentleyville

Bentleyville

Bentleyville

This is the first winter attraction I’ve ever been too. Though the cold froze my fingers, made me shiver to the core, and made me almost want to burn myself over the hot coals, I enjoyed the attraction very much. And I also salute those children sitting on the ground right beside the bonfires, roasting marshmallows casually without any care in the world. I couldn’t sit on the cold ground for a few seconds!


Minneapolis Institute of Art

I love museums especially those related to art. So I was very happy when the hubby and I discovered this attraction. It took us about 3 hours to go about the whole museum, and that was exclusive of a special exhibit on Martin Luther King, which we didn’t have time to go to. MIA is a free, non-profit museum of visual arts from around the world. Ancient to modern.

So please pardon the number of images I took from MIA. I was in art heaven so to speak.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts


So what can I say about Minnesota? It has its own interwoven flavor of modern and historic culture that is distinctive to its own right that may not be at par with big cities but is charming to stroll in and explore. I would like to go back to it one day if only to discover what other cultural sites would be like in warmer climate. Minnesota will hold a place in my heart as my entryway to the United States. It’s a continuation to a Western travel adventure.

Life Notes

The Nutcracker – A night of awe, music, and colorful storytelling – one of my life wishes came true

moscow-ballet-great-russian-nutcracker-2016

This is a late post but nevertheless memorable as I was able to accomplish a milestone I’ve been wishing for years.

I don’t remember when was the last time I watched a live ballet performance. I don’t even remember the title. It was probably at a time when my mind was too young to interpret what the myriad of ballet movements meant and how they corresponded to the tempo of the classical music. It must have an effect on me since every time I see ballet, whether it be a YouTube presentation or a Barbie movie, I drop whatever I’m doing and watch. I never understood how some people my age don’t appreciate ballet. They found it boring and yawn worthy. I, on the other hand, saw magic. Every twirl, gesture of the hand, each jeté, and pirouette is a graceful accompaniment to storytelling. Everything in it is refined, elegant and distant; something you can’t touch.

I came to comprehend the sacrifices ballerinas experience through a manga titled “Swan“. It tells the story of Masumi, a contented, young ballerina, who gradually found herself in the competitive world of professional ballet. She undergoes extreme challenges, both physically, and emotionally, until she becomes known in the world of ballet.

Similar to how I came to appreciate the world of basketball through Slam Dunk, the Swan showed me that ballet isn’t all about grace and beauty. That like any athlete from any sport, injuries happen, lives can change for better or for worse from a wrong misstep, and that ballet is among those artforms that put their artists’ lives at risk for that perfect interpretation. Every technique, breathing, and imagination is a skill and talent needed to be cultivated from years of training, body aches, and criticism.

When I learned of the Moscow Ballet troupe coming to Canada to dance The Nutcracker, I immediately invited my husband to watch. It had been a dream to watch either The Nutcracker or Swan Lake danced by the Russian troupe since ballerinas from Russia are known to be of the top caliber in the ballet world.

It was a very cold night commuting to Jack Singer Concert Hall but it was all worth it. Tchaikovsky’s music has been a favorite of mine, possibly because a lot of his music was used in commercials or other forms of media usage, but nevertheless emotionally stirring. Moreso when I finally understood how each musical note corresponded to a certain scene. The colorful backdrops and clothes were a visual treat to the eyes and the crew made good use of subtle light effects to add magic to the plot. If not for the sound issues that happened at the later part of Act I and early part of Act II, it would have been flawlessly perfect.

2016 The Nutcracker at the Jack Singer Concert Hall Downtown Calgary

What I love about ballet is how it reminded me the power of the dance and music art form. No words were necessary and you hold the power to give interpretations of your own through the natural course of an already known storyline. It is a magical feeling of intuition and emotional stirrings that can only be brought to the surface by an already well-experience cast.

The Nutcracker - Children's Gallop and Dance of the Parents
The Nutcracker – Children’s Gallop and Dance of the Parents
2016 The Nutcracker stage
The Intermission.
2016 the nutcracker
The Nutcracker – Waltz of the Flowers

What my husband and I felt after the show: we wanted more. We felt like there could have been more. More story, more dance, and magic. Later that evening, I discovered that The Nutcracker ballet doesn’t fully follow through the story as adapted by Alexander Dumas based from the libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. I wanted to see more of the Flowers dancing, I wanted to see the Angels come down to the heavens, and I wanted to be mesmerized again by the Arabian dancers hypnotic movements.

Watching The Nutcracker stirred up an old love for classical music, which started about 9 years ago, when I first saw Nodame Cantabile, a Japanese drama about a pianist, who’s life greatly changed when he became the conductor for group of musical losers. Thus, I looked for a YouTube audio of a complete ‘The Nutcracker’ soundtrack.

I’m now keeping watch on when the next ballet Russian troupe will be in town. And if they will happen to dance to Swan Lake, I’ll definitely be there.