March 26, 2015

Coconut and Rice Flour Cookies

So we made some cookies.  Out of rice flour and coconut flour again.  Because gluten-free.

We realized the recipe for bread and cookies are basically the same.  Just that you'll need yeast for the bread.  With cookies, you can make them as simple as you want, and you don't have to wait for the batter to rise.  

(Last time when we made bread we didn't have a proper dough, it was more of a batter because it was quite soupy from too much water and coconut milk, which was why the bread was a bit moist inside, but really they turned out fine.)

But back to the cookies.  These ones are so easy to make that we wonder why we've never baked cookies before, like those good school girls who go door to door in the movies.  Actually for this cookie recipe we didn't use exact measurements.  We just poured out the ingredients into the bowl as we saw fit, mixed them well, and then hoped for the best.  Seriously.  The irony is that those times when we really were strictly following measurements for making cookies or bread, the blasted things never turn out what they're supposed to be.

If our bread batter was a bit soupy, our cookie batter was quite sticky that it was a bit of an effort to stir.  We resisted the urge to add some water.  We tasted a tiny bit of it to check if it's just the right sweetness.  Never mind the raw egg, a little raw egg can't hurt.  After that we scooped out a spoonful of the batter onto an oiled Pyrex dish and popped it into a pre-heated oven.  Seriously we didn't even consult which temperature is the best, and for how long.  Our default temperature is always 100 degrees Celsius because that way there's no danger of getting them toasted black.

Ten to fifteen minutes later we had cookies.  Yummy, guilt-free ones.  Edge thought so too.  Okay, there's sugar, but we have to live a little.  Really should have made more because they promptly disappeared into our mouths.  


1/2 cup Coconut flour
3/4 cup Glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup Skim milk
2 tbsp ground Flaxseed
4 tbsp Muscovado sugar
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1 Egg
2 tbsp Honey
brokent bits of Dark chocolate
6 tbsp Coconut oil

Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients into your first bowl.
Fold it in evenly until everything is mixed.

Preheat your oven for 10 minutes at 100 degree celsius
Next, smear some coconut oil on the inside of a Pyrex dish
Place spoon-sized dollops of the batter on the dish, spacing them evenly
Bake for about fifteen minutes, or until the cookies are nicely puffed and cracked on top.

March 25, 2015

The X-Files Will Be Reopened.

The big important news that only matters to us now is that The X-Files will be reopened!  Fox plans on making a 6-episode mini-series in the near future.  No exact date so far.

We've always wondered that if The X-Files were still around, given our world today, Mulder and Scully would have lots more interesting cases to solve and more insidiously convoluted conspiracies to deal with.  1993 seems so far away, and 2015 is a vastly differently world. The Internet for one has showed us that stranger, more mind-boggling things happen on a daily basis all over the world.  

Actually, we're also happy because now they'll have better and cooler technology at their disposal.

Truth be told, after the X-Files ended in 2002, we didn't watch that much TV any more.  There were lots of spinoffs to the paranormal genre but they didn't mattered to us because frankly nothing was at stake.  With Mulder and Scully's journey, every action led to innumerable fateful consequences.    

We hope the new generation of viewers will be curious enough to find out just what The X-Files is all about.  They certainly could use a bit of clever storytelling from Chris Carter, Darin Morgan, et al.  And we hope this is just a trial run, which if successful, will lead to a full season.  Oh man, oh man, I'm shaking to find out.  And I can't wait to believe again.

March 19, 2015

Bookends at Baguio

Baguio is ukay-ukay heaven, we all know that.  But it's not always pre-loved apparel; there are books too!  And lots and lots of them.

We found Bookends a little off Session Road (T. Claudio St. to be exact).  It's a shop brimming with, well... second-hand books.

This being Baguio, various other stuff are for sale too, neatly arranged along with the books.  There are lamps, vases and figurines, framed pictures, baskets, and various collectibles.  Of course the usual ukay-ukay fare: clothes, shoes, bags, toys.  True to its name, they've got a collection of bookends, although they're not for sale.  There's even kapeng barako for just PhP30, although they've only got a lone table.

Thankfully, they've done a nice job arranging the books by genre--from cookbooks to YA to children's book to inspirational.  But alas we couldn't find our favorite authors such (Atwood, Bradbury, Murakami, etc.)  Turns out, majority of the books came from Australia and New Zealand.  There are some familiar titles from the US, but mostly it's Australian fare.  Which is okay, it's about time we knew something about Australia anyway.

After much digging, we found this.  Captain Freedom by G. Xavier Robillard (a satire about superheroes that didn't get much good reviews on Goodreads, but hey, let's give it a chance), and a children's book called Cork on the Ocean by Mark Sommerset (very nicely told and illustrated.)  The last time we bought a book in Baguio was in 2007.  It was by the roadside, Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale for just 50 Pesos, a book that gave us chills long after we finished it.

Anyway, the lady at Bookends, after some key-pressing on her dandy calculator, told me it'll be 200 Pesos for the two books, but we didn't believer her.  So we said we'll just pay PhP50 each, and she yielded.  

March 13, 2015

Our Almost-Perfect Bread

We're calling this our almost-perfect bread because frankly this is the first time we've baked wherein the output is fortunately just what we expected.  Or more or less what the recipe told us to expect.  We've baked bread before but never with yeast, so usually they either turn out too dense or too crumbly.  Actually we don't even follow a recipe; it's always been guerrilla-baking for us.  Resting the dough is unknown to us.  We don't even have a dough to happily knead, usually it's a batter.

There was this other instance where we also successfully made bread, from coconut flour, which we oven-dried and shredded from fresh coconut flakes.  The bread didn't crumble at all, and because I didn't scrimp on sugar, you could actually enjoy it.

If you'll notice we still haven't made sourdough bread.  The sourdough starter would be all bubbly and alive for a few days, then suddenly deflate like nothing.  Failure to thrive.  We tried reviving it, making an entirely new batch, etc.  We figured 2 kilos of wasted flour is the limit for us, so we stopped right then and decided we'll try sourdough once we're inspired again.

So about this bread.  We figured if we can't have sourdough bread, we'll just use rice flour to solve the gluten thing.  We're not sure if we have celiac disease or if we're gluten-intolerant.  And no, it's not because it's suddenly hip to be gluten-free.  It just occurred to us it would be nice to be able to bake bread without wheat flour, because hey there's rice flour anyway.

Dry Ingredients

1 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour (we're using the Peotraco brand)
1/2 cup coconut flour
4 tbsp muscovado sugar
2 tbsp freshly-ground flax seed
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon crushed rock salt

Wet Ingredients

1 1/2 cup coconut cream
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 eggs
5 tbsp coconut oil

1. Sift all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

2. Meanwhile, stir in the yeast, sugar, coconut cream in a bowl and let the mixture double in size after 5 to 10 minutes.
Whisk in the eggs and 5 tbsp coconut oil.

3. Combine the dry and wet ingredients.

4. Pour in a Pyrex dish that's been greased with a little coconut oil.

5. Preheat oven to 120 degree Celsius

6. Bake at 120 degree Celsius for 40 minutes until the top forms a nice brown crust.

March 9, 2015

The Day They Changed the Camel Cigs Packaging

We had no problems when they updated the Campbell soup can's label because much as we adored Andy Warhol's work, they don't really mean much to us.  But that's not the case now with the Camel cigarettes.  We don't smoke, we just happen to have read Tom Robbins' Still Life with Woodpecker, possibly one of the coolest, non-sappy novel ever written about love.

To be fair, the design's clean and modern in keeping with the times.  There's still the palm trees and pyramid, but mostly they blur in the background.   Even the camel looks cleaner and shaved.  Maybe we just miss the classic Old World charm of the previous packaging.  Hopefully, when new readers of Still Life.... will still have an idea what Mr. Robbins talks about when he describes the magic contained in the imagery of the old Camel pack.  There's always Google search, of course to help them.

March 8, 2015

Gregg Alexander Resurfaces

This is rather late, from last year, but we just found out about this.  Gregg Alexander, the brilliant reclusive frontman of New Radicals, he of the bucket hat, giving a rare interview for Billboard.  

Gregg Alexander nowadays, in plain view, sans the bucket hat
"But before we get into all of that, we have to go back to where it all started for Alexander: in Motown. "Me and my mom would get in the car, drive around and listen to A.M. radio in the metropolitan Detroit area," he tells me. Raised a Jehovah's Witness and with a diverse group of friends, all of his favorite music was soul and rock and roll. He remembers listening to "Band on the Run" by Paul McCartney, the Everly Brothers' "Cathy's Clown," George Clinton, and the like; fooling around on the family piano, "just instinctively writing my own melodies because I couldn't really learn other people's"; and then later focusing on the guitar and drums. "But the game-changer for me was seeing Prince in Purple Rain at 13 or 14," he says, noting that he snuck into the R-rated movie. "'Let's Go Crazy' knocked me over my head, but then when I heard 'The Beautiful Ones' it was all over. At that point I knew I was gonna be running away to California."

New Radicals will always remind us of the refreshingly cool '90s, so rife with issues and promises.  These days bands try to be political and rebellious just for the sake of doing so.

Incidentally, the song looping in our head this past few weeks is "I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending," a song slash story-telling vehicle about drugs and porn.  Gregg sings improvisationally in disjointed voices on the first part--crooning and whispering to your left and right and right in front of you.  Then the song proper begins, deftly flitting between states of melodramatic lovesickness to maniacal rage. There's a very lovely meta line there that goes: 

"By the way this girl was sexy and she would touch you
That may not be true, but I said it so you'd feel involved with the song!"

Gregg Alexander's First Interview in Fifteen Years  

And maybe a resurfacing too.