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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Music: Connecting Countries




After a month of photo-video-post-editing and personal stuff, I'm now writing this blog about my recent visit to Cuba, which was under a Cultural Exchange Permit, together with 79 other band members and roadies of The California Repercussions Marching Band.

It was amazing to have witnessed magnificent sceneries, tasted delicious food, drank tons of Mojitos and Cuba Libres, met lots of friendly Cuban people, and experienced a lot of fun. Of course, I won't forget the wonderful parade of vintage cars. They were everywhere! It was like a huge street car show. Colorful 1950s Chevys all around, I couldn't help but stop and stare. Wow!



Music played an important role during this exchange. The California Repercussions shared wonderful music with other musicians and bands who also shared with us their great talents. I witnessed how music brought everybody together. They all cheered, clapped their hands, and danced to the beat. They all did it as one with the rhythm. It was simply beautiful. Two countries joined together by familiar beats, lyrics, and harmony. Two countries shared the tambourines, exchanged the wonderful sound of trumpets, clarinets, trombones, flutes, and saxophones. They were all one with music. Some Cubans may not know the English language, and some Americans may not know Spanish, but when music played, they all understood each other. It was fantastic!



All I can say is that I had fun taking photos and videos of the whole Exchange. It's a trip I'd never forget. I wish that I'd owned a better camera equipment. Still, I'm happy with what I got. I'm cherishing the awesome memory. Thanks to the band's great organizers, John and Katie Horn, and our incredible travel agent Suzanne Carlson of Carlson Maritime Travel.

Stay tuned for the next band trip! For now, enjoy the videos I recorded...








Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Haiku # 25



It is sad to witness a character's downhill on life. S/he's completely blinded by the authority s/he carries and forgets that a paycheck is not a ticket to heaven. More like one way ticket to hell. Avoid the mark of doom.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Keto Crispy Fried Chicken



I'm a Fried Chicken fanatic. The crispier, the better. Sometimes, I don't feel like going out and buy Fried Chicken. Meaning, I'm not lazy to cook at home. HeHe. So, I researched and found this wonderful recipe here. I followed it through and through.

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds boneless chicken breasts (sliced into strips)
1 package plain pork rinds
1 egg
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1 packet powdered Ranch Dressing (probably not Keto, but there's a Keto way of making one)
cooking oil (I used olive oil)
salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:
1. Start by rinsing off your raw chicken and patting it dry.
2. Beat egg, heavy cream, 1/4 of the ranch mix, and hot sauce together into a shallow bowl.
3. Soak chicken strips in mixture for 5 minutes.
4. Pour oil in pan until it has about an inch depth and heat on medium low heat.
5. Crush an entire bag of pork rinds in a ziplock bag. Be careful, because the pork rinds created a hole on the bag when I did this. Use a wine bottle or rolling pin.) Add the rest of the ranch mix.
6. Remove the chicken strips and drop it in the ziplock bag with the crushed pork rinds. Shake and toss to coat each one.
7. Once the oil is heated, around 350*F, slowly drop the chicken strips inside. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
8. After 2-3 minutes, flip onto the other side. This depends on the thickness of the chicken.
9. After cooking, carefully remove and cool on a wire rack or plate with paper towels.

It's very good! I ate it with a bed of spinach and used my favorite spicy Jufran Ketchup. Yum!

Keto Moroccan Beef Stew



I tweaked the directions of this recipe to the point where I thought that it's not going to turn out good. LOL. I didn't want to do the slow-cooker version which you can find in here. Time is just not that slow for me lately. So, I did my own version and it worked well for me. So, here's what I did.

Ingredients:
4 lbs beef
4 tsp paprika
6 tsp cumin
2 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 cup water
8 medium garlic cloves, minced
4 bay leaves
2 cans chicken broth
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
4 tbsp cilantro or parsley for garnishing


Procedure:
1. In a stew pot, throw in garlic, bay leaves, olives, and chicken broth.
2. Stir it all up.
3. Rub some olive oil on the meat, so spices would stick on it, and throw the meat in the pot.
4. Sprinkle the paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, salt, and pepper. Rub it around to cover. (Note that if the meat is submerged under the broth, covering it with the spices is not really that important.)
5. Add water if the meat needs to be submerged in liquid.
6. Here's the tricky part, since I didn't use a slow-cooker. I cooked all of these in 2 hours using medium heat. But, if you are doing a slow-cooker style, cook it from 6 to 8 hours in low.
7. You could shred the meat afterwards. I didn't do the shredding.
8. Serve it with a garnish of cilantro or parsley on top of whatever you want it to go with. I used steamed cauliflower with mine. (My husband and stepkids used white rice.)

It's my favorite beef stew!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Best and Worst of My 2014


Photo taken here.


This is going to be a short blog, but it will be about two important events that happened in 2014.

Let's start with the worst. I always want to start with the bad news. HeHe. The worst thing that ever happened in my 2014 is my doctor's diagnosis of my Type 2 Diabetes. My blood sugar went overboard to 203. My A1c reading was 7.4. Very bad. I had to have my own test unit at home and poke my fingers twice or double that a day.



Luckily, I discovered something that changed my life. I owe my recent blood test results to the Ketogenic Diet. I've lost weight. My sugar reading went down to standard range. I feel great!



That was not the best of my 2014, though. That was just the beginning of a great journey for me. I still have goals of losing more weight, and I'm happy to say that "Yes, I can do it!"

The best thing that happened during 2014, for me, was being included in the Stanford Band as a Community Member and played my bari saxophone during the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game. Stanford Band members and organizers are the best ever! I felt loved by them all. It was the happiest point of 2014 ever. Hats off to Stanford Band. Two thumbs up for them being the coolest people I know!




How about you, what's your best and worst of 2014?



Christmas 2014



Terrible. That's me when it comes to blogging. I've neglected it for a while. It's like having a writing rut. I didn't feel like typing, doing HTML commands, and attaching photos, etc. I'm only human. I get lazy once in a while. Since I have a four-day weekend, I'm definitely catching up.

Luckily, our Christmas was fabulous. Simple, but full of love and warmth. We started off with our Christmas tree hunt, and we got lucky to find a taller tree this year. We had to trim the base to avoid the top scraping against our living room ceiling. I love the smell of Douglas Fir pine trees, and we acquired one that smells so good. It's the smell of Christmas for me!






My hubby and I joined the annual San Jose Saxophone Christmas this year. My Sunburst (bari saxophone) made it just in time. It had to be repaired the week before Saxmas, and fortunately, the repair finished days before the event. I had to request for several adjustments on some of the parts and it worked well. I need to play my saxophone more. We were all blessed with no rain that day. It was terrific!





We made our annual pilgrimage to Scott Weaver's Winter Wonderland home in Rohnert Park. What an amazing work! Patience and craftsmanship merged together. The photos don't give it justice.




Another place we visited after dinner one evening was the Crippsmas Place in Fremont. It was a great walk around the neighborhood. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus were present there this year! Awesome!







We saw Christmas in the Park during Saxmas, but it was during the afternoon, so we went back to see the wonderful decorated Christmas trees and lights one evening. Of course, we also had our traditional Hot Chocolate, although I had Hot Coffee this year. My Diabetes will never win! HeHeHe. Oh, and by the way, the only Christmas tree photo I took at Christmas in the Park was the one from a very ironic group, too.



Christmas is my favorite holiday. It's the only festive holiday I grew up with. Well, in the Phillipines, that is. I mean, there's Flores de Mayo, which is all about flowers, processions and ball gowns, but it's not like Christmas. There's also New Year's Eve celebrations, but I honestly don't like the ear-breaking fireworks. So, nope, not my favorite. Christmas it is!

We spent Christmas day at my in-laws' house, and we got spoiled with my MIL's cooking. She prepared scrumptious lunch of beef logs and cheese, and a hearty dinner of roasted ham. Yummy! We exchanged gifts, too. What a fun day!



My favorite received gifts this 2014:






How about you, how was your Christmas? How's your New Year celebration? Were you naughty or nice? HeHeHe.