Learn about the family!


Inspiration Board: Sailboats

Photo from Goûters rigolos by Aline Caron

I honestly don't know what inspired me write this post. I'm not into sailboats or sailing or being out in the sun for more than thirty seconds, but there is just something so charming about these sailboat cakes! Maybe it's the fact that the temperature has dropped suddenly and it's beginning to feel like fall that has me longing for these decidedly summer-themed desserts. Whatever the reason, I wanted to share them with you because they are just so damned cute! :-) ~Erin

Cake by Charm City Cakes, photo by Tim Riddick
Via Dulce Design
Via Mit Hus

MVOTD: U-KISS (Day 240)

U-KISS. Simon and Martina. Together. Kpop Music Monday this week blew my mind, and maybe it blew your mind too. The song, Stop Girl, that was reviewed turned out to be a great song, just like they said. It's smooth. It's danceable. It doesn't need a music video to be appreciated. But it does have a music video, and a pretty good one at that. Not only do they dance in colour, but they also dance in Black & White....Yes, like a title. It's good marketing, because it's pretty much the same music video, but different. Here's the black and white version.
The dancing is pretty okay. I actually appreciate the female back-up dancers for once, because they're respectable and I saw making-of footage. Also, as Felicia pointed out, they have thighs. Maybe we're reading into it too much, but Simon and Martina might have some influence with the U-KISS. *Eyebrow wiggle*. Fun times ahead? Here's the colour version.
Personally, I think the still photo for the Black & White version is better. Maybe you agree with me. Maybe not. Maybe you want me to spell black and white consistently.

Vanilla Bean Éclairs (and a giveaway!)

titleWhen I was a little girl I hated ballet class.  I was never one for intense negative emotion, not for any virtuous reason, simply because I was, and am, a generally mild mannered person.  But ballet class I hated.  I can’t really recall any other thing from my childhood that provoked that fierce a dislike.  Not even chicken livers nor tennis lessons…and that is saying a lot.

I was never a coordinated child and most certainly not one that could ever stretch into gracefulness (sadly these attributes didn’t manifest themselves in adulthood either).  Neither did I really enjoy physical exertions (that didn’t come with adulthood either), preferring to burrow with a book and a big bowl of rice and beans liberally laced with extra virgin olive oil and a spattering of red wine vinegar.  I was round and soft and white with a mass of wild curly hair (those attributes did decide to stay on into adulthood I am sorry to report despite semi-starvation, scorching hair-straightening, and truly death-defying tanning).  Slap that into a pink leotard in the middle of a flock of twirling, shiny-haired, lighter-than-air little ballerinas and that, my dear friends, is my version of hell. 

Not that the little ballerinas where bad people (now, wouldn’t that have been horrid?  You might as well have thrown in the chicken livers!).  Not at all, in fact they were all quite nice and relatively harmless.  I actually like ballerinas a lot – they are lovely to watch!  It’s just that, heavy-footed and heavy-handed, I knew, even in my young and immature heart, that I was in a place I so totally was not meant to be.  And in my inexperienced youth, all I could helplessly think was “why am I here??

It’s been a very long time since ballet class, and I have learned quite a few things about trying to stick a curly peg into a straight hole.  I have since learned to embrace most things about myself (my hair and I, I fear, are still fated to remain frenemies).  I am also learning to pay more attention when I hear that voice plaintively ask “why am I here??”  And realize that, no longer a child, I can actually do something about it.

I am still heavy-handed however, which is why I can never quite pull off delicate confections like éclairs.  Unlike ballet class though, I love desserts, so I do my best anyway.

Vanilla Bean Éclairs
(pâte à choux and crème pâtissière slightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, glaze slightly adapted from Sweetapolita)

For the vanilla bean crème pâtissière (pastry cream)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided in two
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped
  • A pinch of salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the pâte à choux (cream puff and éclair pastry)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white if needed
For the vanilla bean glaze
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar 

- Make your crème pâtissière.  In a saucepan, combine the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt.  Cook over medium heat until this comes to a simmer.
- In a bowl whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until homogenous.  Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture.  Continue to add the milk mixture, about a half cup at a time, whisking, until everything is incorporated.
- Pour the mixture back in the saucepan and cook over medium high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens (or reaches 160F on an instant read thermometer –I didn’t have one).  Remove from the heat and remove the vanilla bean from the mixture.
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the butter and beat on medium speed until the butter has melted and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.
- When the mixture cools transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it direcly onto the surface of the crème pâtissière to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled, for a minimum of 2 hours or a maximum of 2 days.

- Make your pâte à choux.  In a saucepan combine the butter, sugar, salt, and 1 cup water and bring to a boil over medium high heat, then immediately remove from the heat.  With a wooden spoon, quickly stir in the flour until combined.  Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture pulls away from the sides and a film forms on the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the batter to the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 1 minute.  Increase the speed to medium and add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated before adding the next egg.  Test the batter by touching it with your finger and lifting to form a soft peak.  If it doesn’t form a soft peak then add the egg white, a little at a time, until a soft peak forms.
- Place the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip.  Pipe the batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Martha instructs to mark lines of about 3 1/2 inches with a pencil and ruler on your parchment to guide you (flipping the parchment over before piping on the batter) but I didn’t – you may want to though, seeing as how my éclairs came out a tad crooked.
- Place your baking sheet in a pre-heated 425F oven.  If you have two racks, place them on the upper and lower thirds so you can bake two pans at once, if not you will just have to do it in batches like I did.  After 10 minutes at 425F, lower the heat to 350F.  Continue to bake for 25-30 minutes more until the pastries are golden brown.  Transfer pastries to a wire rack to cool completely.

- Make your glaze. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the milk and mix thoroughly.  Let this stand for about an hour.  Whisk the confectioners’ sugar gradually into the milk, until you get the desired consistency.  It shouldn’t be too runny.  It will feel quite thick but still slowly run down the sides of the éclairs.

- Assemble your éclairs. Poke a hole on the side of one pastry shell.  Widen the hole with the pastry tip you will use for filling.  Repeat with the other pastry shells.
- Place your crème pâtissière in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch plain tip.  Insert the tip into the hole you’ve made in the pastry shell and pipe to fill it.  Repeat with the other pastry shells.
- I didn't have a small pastry tip so I sliced the shells open and filled them that way.  Not the tidiest thing but in a pinch it does the job.
- Place the filled éclairs on a wire rack and drizzle, drape, or pipe on the glaze.  Sprinkle with some gold or silver dragees if you are feeling fancy, and let the glaze set.

This may seem like a very multi-step process, and it is, but you can break this down over a couple of days so as not to overwhelm.  You can make the crème pâtissière up to two days before, stored in the fridge.  The glaze can be made a day before and stored in the fridge as well.  Just give each a good stirring before using.  The pate au choux can be made a day before and stored in an airtight container at room temperature (note though that it will soften as it sits).  You can assemble everything before you plan to serve the  éclairs, but make sure to leave enough time for the glaze to set.

***Now, a giveaway!!***
I used some of the vanilla beans I received from the kind folk at The Vanilla Company, who bring these precious beans to our shores.  For the crème pâtissière I used a gold label Tahitian bean, plump and moist and headily aromatic.  For the glaze I wanted a softer version of the same so I used the regular Tahitian.  This was my first time baking with real vanilla beans and I so enjoyed it!  Now, I’d like to share the joy with one of you (because you’re a fantastic bunch and because I love that you come here and keep me company!) :)  I will be giving away one pack of these vanilla bean beauties!!  All you have to do to join is leave a comment on this post.  I will be placing your names in a hat and picking one.  This is open to all readers in the Philippines and beyond.

These may not at all look like the elegant French pastries that we press our noses against glass to stare at, but delicious nonetheless, and proudly my own.  The vanilla beans impart such a deep and encompassing fragrance and flavor that a few uneven edges can and will be forgiven.  I loved the crème pâtissière!  Creamy and vanilla-infused, I wanted to eat it out of a bowl with a spoon, like a comforting as English custard.

Many times, unusual and odd parts together make the most charming wholes.  Let’s embrace what makes us, us, and never let anything keep us from making our éclairs and eating them too!

MVOTD: Julia & Andrew (Day 239)

Today's MVOTD comes to you curtesy of Facebook. Yes, it's artsy. It's funny. It's catchy. It's Julia Bentley and Andrew Gunadie's Canadian, Please. Otherwise known as the Canadian Dance Moves Youtube video. It's full of Canadian references, catchy beats, and smooth jazzy voices.
My favourite part is the song, but a lot of the dance moves have merit. Such moves include the Friendly Backpacker, the Beaver, Pile the Poutine, and Cold as Ice. Also, I appreciate how many outfits they make out of a very limited wardrobe. They've only got about 3 hats all told, and that tiny tie gets used over and over. Very impressive, and quite distracting, er, entertaining. Yes, Quite.
The original music video is pretty much just as good as the dance moves one. Sweet Mountie costumes too.
The original version also has handy subtitles so that you can tell what they're singing in the chorus. How handy.

MVOTD: C-Real (Day 238)

If Joma Joma is anything to go by, C-Real is trying to be the purist cutesy girl group in Kpopdom. Just check out their outfits.
Picture credits to the Youtube video of course.
That's right, not only do they wear more clothes than the average Kpop girl group, they also do all the cute aigoo actions. Yes. That means index finger bouncing, bwing bwing paws, puzzled looks, and the ever popular innocent fighter stance. C-Real does an amazingly good job of being aigoo and are kind of respectable.
More than their appearance and aigoo factor though, C-Real is respectable because they sing well and have enjoyable songs. Joma Joma was catchy and fun. That one about love was also really nice.
Here's Joma Joma.


Click on the correct spaceship!


Play football with these children and learn the numbers:



MVOTD: Willow (Day 237)

Willow. Art film music video. I think this music video speaks for itself with its cool concept, artistic flare, Doctor Who-esque tunnel scene, good acting, and rock music. It succeeds with a simple set, some props, acting, and a lot of complexely figured out projections. That's right, it's Willow's Sweater.
Now that's class.

Smoky Roasted Oyster Mushrooms

titleDo you believe in signs?  That the universe speaks to us in certain ways and we must make sure that we take the time to stop and listen?  That when we listen to what is truly in our hearts and take action, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, the energies-that-be will show us tokens of reassurance that we are indeed doing the right thing and provide us with enigmatic helping hands?

Part of me staunchly believes it, without doubt or hesitation, stars in my eyes and a song in my heart.  Part of me is scared to believe it, clinging to that safe harbor, unwilling to rock any boats for fear of losing precious cargo.  And part of me is a boring old frumpy realist, punching in my card, clacking at my keyboard, and not believing it at all, repeating my worn-thin mantra of “you gotta do what you gotta do”.

Which part will triumph?  At this point, I honestly don’t know.  But I am looking at things in different ways.  I am finding more opportunities to simply ‘be open’.  I’m enticing myself to go down paths I have been too timid to try before.  And if it doesn't lead anywhere, that's fine too, I would have been enriched simply by the journey.

In the end, some things are not always what they seem – that mysterious and slightly scary path may be the best road you ever chose, and that safe harbor may not be as safe as you thought.

And someone thought these mushrooms were bacon! 

Smoky Roasted Mushrooms
  • 200-230 grams oyster mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 scant teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 scant teaspoon pimenton de La Vera, dulce (or any smoked paprika)
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: a couple of dashes cayenne pepper if you want it spicy
- Place the mushrooms, olive oil, cumin, pimenton/paprika, salt, and pepper (and cayenne if using) in a bowl.  Mix with your hands, tossing and turning gently, until all the mushrooms are evenly coated with oil and spices.  Adjust seasoning if needed.
- Lay the mushrooms out flat in one layer on a parchment lined baking sheet (as if you are making granola).  You want them to roast properly, not stew in their own juices, so take care to make sure they are all in one layer and not on top of each other.
- Place the mushrooms in a pre-heated 350F oven and roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Check at the halfway mark to see how it’s going.  If some mushrooms look like they are getting a bit to burnished on one side, flip them over.  You want the mushrooms to be bronze with toasty edges.  Once they have reached this state, remove from the oven and serve.  You can serve this warm or at room temperature.

When I posted this photo, a friend actually thought it was bacon at first.  Make no mistake, in my book that is high praise.  But just to set the record straight, they are mushrooms, not bacon.  That being said, you could easily use this in many preparations where you would normally use bacon bits: in salads, to top soups, on top of a sour cream laced baked potato, endless possibilities here.  I originally made these as part of my condiments for a batch of this curry.  I’ve also had them piled high on melted white cheese covered toast.

As the mushrooms roast the meatier parts become soft and juicy while the thinner outer edges become crisp.  I could eat these like chips, seriously!  You can serve this as is, as part of an appetizer spread, or, as suggested above, as an absolutely delicious condiment/side dish.  You can also mix it through cooked rice, couscous, or quinoa, crown with a fried egg, and call it a full meal.  I’ve used cumin and pimenton de La Vera here because I love this combination of flavors but you can certainly replace with any other herb or spice that you prefer.

I procured these lovely mushrooms from the Ministry of Mushrooms, which I've mentioned before.  I really believe in supporting our local artisans...especially when they are as passionate about their produce as these fellows.

Whether it is something as simple as mushrooms that look like bacon (but can actually be used like both) or something more complicated as, say, the rest of your life, just remember that things aren’t always what they seem.  And that can go both ways.  So keep your eyes open for the good (it’s there I promise you!), but at the same time do not be blind to the not-so-good that is sometimes cloaked in sheep’s clothing.

So onwards with eyes wide open friends!

MVOTD: Jang Woo Young and Friends (Day 236)

Cue video with extensive name list. Song title, Classic. Who sings it, ...a bunch of people, most notably that blonde guy who does the owl move. That's right, Woo Young.
Picture credit to
Every time I see him with that blonde coiffe, I think, "Owl! Owl!" because of his music video Sexy Lady where he does the owl move.
Classic's real title is [M/V] Classic [J.Y. Park 박진영, Taecyeon 택연, Wooyoung 우영, Suzy 수지] , but I think that's a little too long to use as my own title. Needless to say, all four celebrities named appear in the music video and may or may not have a singing part. J.Y.Park's appearance is no surprise because he shows up in all JYP videos. The real mystery is Taecyeon, who I personally think shows up just to be attractive and tall. The scene where he and Woo Young play basketball in a parking garage certainly does nothing for the music video. All it does is establish that they are gangsta friends who do no real talking.
Cue the masquerade prom engagement party where it should be obvious the lady (Suzy) does not like her suitor. No one notices though, until she runs off, meets owl Woo Young and they flirt a bit. Mr. J.Y.Park notices though, which leads to...nothing. Therefore, they secretly meet on rootop balconies for more flirting. J.Y.Park menacingly hands another guy an envelope. Is that Taecyeon? Oh no! Their friendship is broken because Woo Young flirted with Suzy at a party where Taecyeon was employed as the DJ! Then J.Y.Park waits at the altar with the fiance man, while Taecyeon gives wedding dress Suzy a giant pair of men's sneakers. Oh wait. It was a ruse! Woo Young shows up to run off with Suzy, while Taecyeon raps with a gorgeous english accent (oh the proper pronounciation of "L's"). Then Taecyeon beats up the goons J.Y.Park sends after Woo Young while Woo Young and Suzy escape in an empty bus. Amazing. Just amazing. The storyline makes sense if you add in some details, like J.Y.Park really being Suzy's mafia father and Taecyeon being a martial artist champion working as a DJ for the mob. ...Or maybe not the mob part. Either way it was good for at least one view. I challenge SM to do a better job with their next Super Junior video.

MVOTD: Cross Gene (Day 235)

Cross Gene. New group. Most interesting thing about them? They do static dancing. Their music video improves with views, although their red jackets never quite stop looking like the carpeting in that one room where the pink guy pretends to lay down but is really standing up (which bothers me because we can all tell that he's standing).
The beginning is really cute in a way. You know how sometimes foreign accents sound cute with certain phrases? They achieve that cuteness with, "eyes off of you". Also, I wonder what a "rotic diet" is. I guess I will never know.
Kpop, it seems, has come to a place where sets look reminiscent of each other. Thanks to Felicia and the 'U' shaped set of DOOM I was reminded of EXO, 2NE1, and TVXQ in the first 30 seconds alone. It was fortunate that they danced sitting down, so that there was something new happening. That, the set made of of lit umbrella type things, and the set made of microphones, kept the interest until Cross Gene did the classic line-up dance moves of hallucination hands, right turn, and left turn with a twist. With the addition of a head nod, they could win any teen group dance competition. They then take it up a notch and whip out their static dance moves. These are actually really interesting because they chose one area of their bodies to be static and move the rest of themselves. The concept is so simple but functional. It's kind of fascinating.
I think I kind of like them. Here's hoping that they put out another music video.

Boquerones en Vinagre

I was in the market the other weekend and spotted the loveliest looking little fish.  Their smooth bodies, no bigger than my finger, were translucent white with a shiny silver stripe down its length.  They were plump and clear-eyed and fresh and absolutely tempting. 

These little fish are called dilis in our local vernacular and, to the best of my knowledge, are some sort of anchovy.  Dilis are relatively inexpensive and, really, quite an ordinary-joe type fish in these parts.   They are delicious though.  Usually served deep-fried or in a kilawin (what is essentially our local ceviche of sorts – fish ‘cooked’ in an acid, usually vinegar or citrus juice).

What I’ve done here is try to replicate a Spanish version of our beloved kilawin called boquerones en vinagreBoquerones are sometimes referred to as white anchovies, and, although I haven’t a clue what the exact relation is to our dilis, they seem to be in the same family.  So, that, along with some advice from friends and family, was enough to make me attempt one of my most favorite Spanish tapas of all time.

I have no set recipe as of yet, since this was my first go at it, but I will share my method and findings since many many have been asking after this photo on Instagram. (you can follow me on Instagram at @chichajo if you are so inclined)

But first some links I've been liking!

**  10 simple things to make you happier at home…some great reminders here! 

**  Adorable…and since I’ve just acquired my great-grandmother’s bar (so thrilled about that!  Cocktail party soon!) this will certainly come in handy. 

**  Just reading this list makes me excited!  Go away's time to read books again!

**  We’ve finally built more cabinet space.  Let’s celebrate with new plates, shall we? 

**  I love making my own spice mixes...this one sounds awesome. 

**  After this, comes this.  

**  Print these now and give to friends and interesting strangers!

Ok, and now, dilis/boquerones en vinagre.

Clean your fish – Remove the head, the guts, and the bones (leave the tail on or off, up to you), and butterfly the fish.  Or, like me, you can have your fish monger do it.  Over here they will do it with a smile – fish markets, it’s more fun in the Philippines!

Lay the filleted fish flat on a ceramic or glass dish – I used a Pyrex baking dish which worked perfectly.  They didn't all fit in one layer but I think that is fine.

Now, pour in your vinegar – Sherry or white wine vinegar is what’s prescribed mostly and I would stick to that, but I am sure you can use others in a pinch.  I also add some lemon juice.  Make sure the vinegar gets all over and in between the layers of fish.  Let this marinate until the fish is “cooked through”.  You know this has happened when the fillets turn white.  I looked all over the internet, and picked the brains of some boquerones-making relatives, and the marinating times vary from as little as 30-40 minutes to overnight.  At 30-40 minutes my dilis where nowhere near cooked through so I just let them sit longer.

Next – This juncture, before adding the oil, is where most recipes diverge.  Some instruct you to remove all the vinegar and rinse the fish, and then pat dry.  Some just remove the vinegar.  And some leave the vinegar and just add oil.  Some recipes actually add the vinegar and the oil at the same time.  I decided to marinate, then remove most of the vinegar, skip the washing (because I was lazy, it can’t be denied), and then pour in the oil.

Adding oil and aromatics – After I removed most of the vinegar, I transferred all but the first layer of fish to a plate.  Then I drizzled a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil over the first layer of fish, sprinkled a bit of salt (just a bit), some chopped garlic and parsley, a fresh squeeze of lemon, then covered with another layer of fish.  Repeat until you have used up all the fish and make sure your last drizzling of oil covers all the fish.  Cover the dish and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.  I would suggest letting it rest a bit like this before serving.  Some do without the garlic and parsley but I love it this way and wholeheartedly recommend adding them in.

Serving – I just served this as is, but my much-more-experienced-in-boquerones-making cousin takes the fillets out and adds a fresh splash of olive oil and some drops of balsamic reduction.  So, the choice is yours.  Either way, this is good stuff!

Storing – Again, I searched online for guidelines on storing and the results varied from a couple of days to months!  I kept mine in a clean jar in the fridge, the fish completely covered with a layer of oil, and it just kept getting better day after day.  They lasted six days like this simply because I polished it off by then.

Overall, this was wickedly simple to make and absolutely delicious to eat.  Aside from serving this as tapas for your next cocktail party, it also makes a lovely quick lunch laid onto some thick slices of good bread with a salad on the side.  If anyone has tips, suggestions, or sage advice regarding boquerones making please drop me a note in the comments…we are looking forward to spotting the next dilis catch in the market!

Have a fantastic weekend!!

MVOTD: VIXX (Day 234)

Vixx. One the first view of Super Hero I kept on thinking about the sets. One looks a lot like Super Junior's 4 sided stage for Sorry Sorry live and the other looks like the tube from U-KISS's Bingeul Bingeul. The best sets were the VIXX originals, which had attractive lines and appealing and interesting colour combinations. I also noticed that they say, "Face", a lot, and I thought Face was a NU'EST song. Huh. Actually, I realize that there is no 'V' sound in Korean, so they are probably doing an approximation.
Branding on Kpop idol outfits is really big these days, but VIXX does a good job of it, incorporating the VIXX symbol in different ways and colour combinations. I mean, VIXX is really branded with the VIXX symbol, which, being a robot, is kind of cool but overplayed. They also have lots of continuity in each member's costumes, so that you can figure out which one is which easier. Let's see, there's Fringe Guy, Sleeveless Guy, Mesh-Shirt Guy, and Gelled-up Hair Guy. As a newbie, I could definitely tell them apart. Good planning wardrobe. Good planning.
As for ingenuity or differentiation, VIXX is a little low on it, looking and sounding like a generic boyband. On the one hand, that's good because that means their dancing and song are pretty good, but on the other hand that is bad because they will have a hard time finding their place in an already saturated market. Fortunately they do a better job in Rock Ur Body with the video game theme. Differentiation people. Differentiation.


Hello! A new school year begins, are you ready? Ready for learning, singing, listening, acting,...lots of things to learn while we enjoy ourselves.

Wooden Popsicles

I’m not a fan of useless objects. Usually, whenever I see a useless object, all I can envision is it sitting in a huge landfill, along with all the rest of the useless objects in the world, taking up space, polluting the planet. Useless objects make me sad, mad, and all the other bad words, but just now, looking at these wooden popsicles, I  actually felt happy!

Created by Italian designer Mauro Savoldi (aka Johnny Hermann), each popsicle is handmade, completely unique, and numbered (in a series of 150). The colors and the designs are really lovely and I can’t seem to stop looking at them! Who knew that  a wooden popsicle could be so gorgeous? If only it could be used for something. Perhaps you could use it as a fly swatter? Anyhoo, Mauro himself admits that they’re useless, which, frankly, makes me love them even more. For additional information on Johnny Herman designs, click here. Contact Mauro for purchasing info.

MVOTD: Xia Junsu (Day 233B)

You've seen Geromino's No One Like You (or have you?), now it's time for Xia Junsu's TarantellegraI've been waiting to review this music video for almost two weeks because editing photos together takes so long (not two weeks long, just an hour or so, but even that was clearly not possible).
According to report, Xia Junsu has had every solo music video of his banned in South Korea for being too sexy. ...I really like Korea's standards being so high. Normally, Junsu feeling free to be sensual in a music video would bother me, except in Tarantellegra I choose to ignore it because the costumes are too amazing. I personally, was left breathless at the beginning the first time I watched it, mezmerized by the sheer goodness of costuming and make-up. Who ever made his costumes should get a grammy...or whatever they give costumers. They did such a good job. Such a good job! ...except for the glittery neck cardigan, but still. The costumes!
The blue jacket with spiky sleeves combined with the very long Spanish (open), black shirt, blue slacks, and riding boots was such a good look for Junsu. It accentuated his skinnyness, while making your eyes follow his arms and feet. That said, the dancing is worth watching. It is energetic and interesting...for the first half.
The shoulder jacket with the red stripped tails and leatherish pants are gorgeous too, although maybe a touch too feminine. They give movement to his every step, give him curves, and accentuate the fashion walk/dance. Plus his blond swoosh made the whole outfit look like it was cascading down on him, which is just like a costume designer to aim for. 
Also pretty epic was the Dr. Horrible outfit, but it was in such a wide frame that it couldn't be fully appreciated. Here are some shots of these gorgeous outfits, from the Youtube of course.
Cinematically, Tarantellegra was great. The shots were well done with interesting colour pallettes (sic), angles, and depths of field. The dancing was broken up by still shots, people, or other things like everyone videotaping Junsu. Junsu was also not in every frame, which is great because it gives a break from him before going back for more. He also changed hair colour and styles several times within the music video, which gave variety of look. Cinematically, it was a strong music video. The biggest issue (for me) was all the sexy dancing, sexy groping, sexy holding up of random guys shirts, sexy plastic tube dancing, etc. etc. Sexy isn't substance. It's like icing. It's supposed to go on something more substantial. Too much of it gives you a belly ache and a visit to the dentist.
Originally I had wanted to say, "The costumes, the sets, the dance, the song... it's intoxication.", and make a Junsu pun, but instead I shall say that Junsu had all the makings of a great music video, and made it less than it could have been by overplaying the sexiness. Too bad Junsu.

MVOTD: Geronimo (Day 233A)

Today's Music Video Of The Day comes in two parts, or should I say two videos, both drastically different from each other. The first is Geronimo's No One is Like You, which is honestly not a music video, but that doesn't matter, right? The second will be Xia Junsu's costuming amazingness Tarantellegra, which takes sexiness to a very North American place. 
I have to be honest. I know Geromino. He loves God and rap and the people of Northern Manitoba. He's a respectable guy. He wrote a respectable song with respectable sound. I've listened to this song three times since I woke up and I think it's my favourite song of his. It would go well in any playlist. I think it's way more respectable than Xia Junsu's Tarantellegra for sure, and definitely says more about the person who wrote it but the music video is most assuredly on the weak side. This is one of those Youtube videos that you listen to and don't watch. I look forward to see if he'll write any more "rap worship songs". On the whole, good job Geromino.


Hi everybody! Here we are again! Look what strange creatures we have got in our school!
I think they are friends of us. Thanks to teacher Jose Mª, he found them and now they are saying welcome to all our students...

Day. Life. Of.

It feels like it has been a very long time, but I suppose it has been only a few weeks, that I have been rather busy. In a rare moment alone and at rest, I find time to blog and post up a music video. Preferably either one I like or one that is interesting.

I realized today, even though it is only a third into the month, that UKISS, as the only group posted thus far for Music Video Of The Day in September, has a very good chance of winning the Month End Review. I thought to myself, "I hope Super Junior comes out with a good music video this month, so I can post it and they can finally have a chance at winning", since they have not won the Month End Review yet and they are my most favourite group. Then I thought, "I should let my dear readers know what I am up to each day, not that they care, but so they'll know what is going on." So that is what I will do. Here is a generic daily schedule.

10:00 AM, Wake-up, eat, check Facebook.
Hour Later, Prepare for work, make lunch/dinner, eat lunch, etc. etc.
Half Hour After That, Leave for work.
Half Hour After That, Arrive at work and do database things.
Mid Afternoon, Leave database job, change, snack, and drive to second job.
Half Hour After That, Start second job which entails folding lots of laundry.
12:00 AM, Get off of work, drive home, snack, do devos and get to bed around 1:30.

One could almost say it is a list. Needless to say, I work a whole lot more than I used to. However, it definitely puts a crimp in my style; my blogging style. Have no fears though, time is opening up and fun shall be had again. Oh the music videos we shall enjoy together.

Grilled Cheese and Jalapeño Sandwich

titleI have the most peculiar restaurant bad luck of having my favorite items on the menu suddenly disappear.  It has always been this way.  I like something.  I fall in love with it.  I keep coming back for more.  Then suddenly, one cursed day, I go back to find it gone.  Into thin air.  Without a trace.  Uncanny.

Because of this, I think I have unconsciously trained myself not to like any particular dish in any restaurant too much.  Or at least only profess my love for it in the secret places of my heart, but betray no outward sign of excessive devotion lest the cruel restaurant gods strike that favored dish from the menu once again.

One such dish, well more of a snack food really, was jalapeño poppers.  I could never have enough of them back in the days of my first job when stress ran high and spicy cheesy fried things had the ability to quell even the fiercest of financial industry jitters.  Then, without warning nor worry for my stress that needed sating, each of the places I would go for them, from the rowdy American franchises to the kitschy cinema food stalls, stopped serving it.  Just. Like. That.

And that is one of the reasons I love cooking.  Because when restaurants heartlessly decide to toy with your emotional cravings, you can just march into your own kitchen and build your redemption on a mountain of melted cheese.

So this is my glorious yet slightly horrific sandwich version of a jalapeño popper.  No hard and fast recipe because it is really very simple, and can be adjusted to suit one’s tastes.  But I’ve outline what you need below, in case you want to follow me down this path.

Grilled Cheese and Jalapeño Sandwich aka The Jalapeño Popper Sandwich
  • 2 slices of your favorite sandwich bread (I used French sourdough)
  • A smear of mustard (a grainy one, or one of those potent English ones would be fantastic)
  • A generous handful of grated mozzarella cheese
  • Another generous handful of grated cheddar cheese
  • Pickled jalapeño pepper slices (yes those ones in the jar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • A good pat of butter
- Spread one side of one of your bread slices with mustard.  On top of the mustard pile on some grated mozzarella cheese.  Go on, don’t be shy. 
- Place as much of the jalapeño as you think you can handle onto the cheese (I need to put more next time).  Top this with another shameless pile of grated cheddar.  Press your second slice of bread down over the whole mess. 
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 1/4 cup of milk until homogenous.  Dip your cheese and jalapeño sandwich into the egg mixture, turning it over a couple of times and making sure the entire beast is coated.
- Melt the pat of butter on a non-stick skillet.  When the bubbles subside, place your sandwich carefully in the pan.  Fry on each side until both are golden brown, pressing down slightly on the sandwich as you do.  Some melted cheese may leak out and this is absolutely OK.  The cheese will form crusty bits on the sides of your sandwich that will make it all the more delicious.

Note: You can actually use any two (or more) cheeses you want – just remember to make is a good combination of flavor and melty-ness.

This is, simply put, a cheesy, buttery, spicy, oozing mass of audacity.  Not for the faint of heart, be warned, but a (literally) shining example that you should never let bad restaurant juju, or any bad juju for that matter, get in your way (food-wise or otherwise).

MVOTD: UKISS (Day 232)

UKISS...has a "clean" version of one of their songs. Since the very notion of clean Kpop music videos itself is funny (them being so much cleaner than North American stuff), the music video demanded to be reviewed.
UKISS's 시끄러!!, or something close to Shikuera, apparently has a dirty version...where you see UKISS's nipples. ...I heart South Korea. Banning man nipples from daytime tv. Stuff like this is why Kpop fans think of South Korea as pure and innocent. You just keep on being that way South Korea. We love you for it.
Back on topic, UKISS gives a stellar performance in 시끄러!!, first creeping on a Caucasian woman whilst riding a motor cycle realllllly slowly and talking in English...while using a distortion pedal. And the English is amazing too. "Hello. Hello. Do you know me? Dis is more than a pressant." I always thought that "Dis is more than a pressant" was a SS501 line, but apparently it's the lyricist telling everybody who he is.
Cue the distortion pedal. They are caressing the woman's face, but wait, now they are caressing each other's faces. Oh the cheap shots at the fangirls! Now they are slowly slicing velveeta cheese with their hands and preparing to do hydokin...Hidokin...that thing that Goku does on Dragon Ball Z. Conclusion from all these hand motions; they are all benders from the land of Avatar: The Last Air Bender. Then they are injured. Clearly they have just battled the Fire Nation. But then they are healed and drop their hankerchiefs. Magic hankerchiefs?
Okay, joking aside, I really did enjoy this music video. It was fun and high energy, with pretty solid costumes, decent sets, and cute English sentences. Plus the idea that they look like they are bending like Avatar is not that far off. My cousins were really into Avatar at one point and their attempts at bending didn't look too different. UKISS gets top marks for their music video 시끄러!! (clean ver.). 

Cookbook Excitement: Baked Elements

Wednesday was the best . . . day . . . EVER! Why was it the best day EVER? Well, I’ll tell you. Because the angels over at Stewart, Tabori & Chang sent a copy of the new Baked cookbook, Baked Elements, right to my door! I’ve been a fan of this Brooklyn-based bakery since before I could talk (okay, really since they released their first cookbook back in 2008) and every time they release another book, I nearly pee my pants in anticipation. And, I have to say, the new book does not disappoint.

Good Morning Sunshine Bars

This time around Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito have given us a cookbook based around the concept of “our favorite ingredients.” What makes their Top Ten? Peanut Butter, Lemon and Lime, Caramel, Booze, Pumpkin, Malted Milk Powder, Cinnamon, Cheese, Chocolate, and Banana. All of which just so happen to be my favorite ingredients as well! Divided by ingredient, there are 10 sections to the book, making it easy to find and select a recipe. Interested in making a banana dessert? Just flip to the banana section and drool away! Personally, I don’t know even where to begin. There are so many recipes that I want to make. I may have to start with the Easy Candy Bar Tart, though. Caramel, walnuts, dark chocolate. I took one look at the accompanying photo and thought, Holy shit! That said, the Bourbon Milk Shake is also calling my name and, as I am a huge fan of bananas, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the Banana Cake featured on the cover. (Btw, the Peanut Butter and Banana Creme Pie in their last book was divine). With photos by the talented Tina Rupp and 75 mouth watering recipes to choose from, I think this cookbook will be keeping me happy for decades to come . . . or at least until they release another book. To find out when the fabulous Baked boys will be at a Williams Sonoma near you, click here. You can purchase Baked Elements: Our Ten Favorite Ingredients online, right here.

Simple Chocolate Whiskey Tart

Candy Bar Tart

Bourbon, Vanilla, and Chocolate Milk Shake

MVOTD End of the Month Review

Once again, August was a month of music videos. Disappointing ones, cheesetastically bad ones, and well polished ones. Here's the list.

4MinuteHot Issue
Andrews SistersBoogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Chi ChiLove is Energy
Chi ChiDon't Play Around
C-RealSorry But I
DA PUMPRhapsody in Blue
G-DragonOne of a Kind
GP BasicJelly Pop
HangengClown Mask
HangengBetrayal of the Soul
InfiniteThe Chaser (Dance Version)
JYJAyy Girl
Super JuniorSpy
Super JuniorMr. Simple (LG Commercial)
U-KISSOne of You
U-KISSA Shared Dream
Wonder GirlsLike Money
Wonder GirlsLike This
Wonder GirlsThe DJ Is Mine

Top awards go to JYJ's Ayy Girl, Dalmation's ER, DA PUMP's Rhapsody in Blue, G-Dragon's One of a Kind, Hangeng's Clown Mask, and Wonder Girls' Like This. Obviously, those last three were the well polished ones, where the first three were cheesetastically bad. Yup.
Even though I really wanted DA PUMP to win for their incredibly fun, high energy song and dance with the Japanese version of David Tenant, it can't happen because G-Dragon came out with a genuinely well done music video and song. That means that Super Junior needs to come out with a music video that will blow my mind in order to restore my ELF honour. SM, that means you. Do your job better.