The Great French Macaron Tragedy

I have been so desperate to learn how to make french macarons. I was mesmerized just looking at the photos of those lovely varicolored little sweet delights. I did not know how it taste like as I haven’t tried one before. All I know is that they’re completely vibrant, beautiful delectable delights and I want them. An interest of making macarons blossomed and one day I found myself procuring the ingredients day by day. I can’t help but get enraptured with the thought of making these exquisite goodies.

I bought a book from Winners (Macaroons : 30 Recipes for perfect bite-size treats) for 5 bucks and commenced into gathering all my tools and ingredients. It was my first time to bake and make these lovely sweets and I was so confident I’d make them perfectly because the directions seemed pretty unchallenging until I began to follow the formula. I tried to make the basic Vanilla French Macarons. Wheew! It’s not as simple as I thought it was. I struggled making meringue and had troubles piping the mixture into the trays lined with parchment paper. I have an excuse — it’s my first time! Then I finally settled them in the pre-heated oven. I was very excited but the excitement dropped as I watch the disaster happening in the oven. The inside of it leaked out and flooded the entire tray. My hopes were doomed. I was so disappointed with myself. I messed up. I started blaming my tools. I thought the one’s I have would suffice for the procedure. I was wrong. I told Neil about what happened and he just laughed at me. “It could be good with ice cream,” he uttered. Then I thought maybe — but then it wasn’t the macarons I fancy.

Image

Behold, The Macaron Disaster. Not very appetizing, isn’t it?

Glaring at the tragedy, still struck with astonishment and surprise. What did I do? I thought I followed every single detail on how to make it. I watched youtube videos on how to make french macarons. Finally, I understood something. The ignorant part of me used liquid egg whites for making meringue. First timer and did not do a research properly. I just realized I poured a liquid meringue to the sifted powder ingredients (confectioner’s sugar and ground almonds).

It was a nice and lovely Saturday when I decided a second attempt. Jade, a friend of mine came over to lend a helping hand. This time, I made sure to use fresh egg whites, whisk with electric mixer properly until it form stiff peaks. I would say I did it 85%. It’s not perfect but it looked better than the first time. I was delighted. We carefully followed the procedure step by step. And as a result…

Image

Tadaaa! 

Just kidding. Not mine. I wish.

ImageImageNow these are my macarons. Ok, I know they are not as pretty as it should be, I’m proud I did it better this time. Close enough to perfection. Need more practice though.

So Jade and I tried a bite and it wasn’t too bad at all. Sweet, crusty on the outside and gooey on the inside. Though some of it are kinda hollow with a huge air bubble inside the cookie, I know what to do to make it even better next time. The most important thing in making macarons is the meringue. Second to that is proper sifting and making sure there are no granulated almonds in order to have a smooth surface and makes it more appealing after baking.

As simple as they look, macarons can be a little tricky to make. Indeed, pastry chefs can spend years perfecting the art of macarons. But once the basic techniques have been mastered, it would feel a lot easier. It’s just about practice and patience. 

Guilty Pleasures on Fridays

ImagePizza. Neil and I loves pizza on a Friday night. Why? Because it has everything to palliate our appetite. It is hot, cheezy and crunchy. It has meat, fruits, vegetables and different kinds of cheese which makes it very savoury. Adding a little bit of Franks Red Hot Sauce makes it even better. The combination of flavours makes it taste amazing. We prefer a thin crust pizza rather then the thick one. It’s good in combination with wings and beer. Very satisfying.

Image

Wings. Buffalo wings in particular. Neil and I both love the hotness of the buffalo recipe. He makes the wings and he’s so good at it. For all those years we’ve been together and for all those Friday nights we decided to have wings for a treat, he has mastered how to make them perfectly. The best buffalo and barbeque wings I’ve ever tasted was made in The House of Byrne, by Master Chef Neil. Like pizza, wings are best with beer as well. Finger licking good!

Image

Ice Cold Beer. Not my favourite but Neil’s. He discovered Bud Light just recently. He loves the combination of beer, wings, pizza and boxing.

Image

Mc Donald’s French Fries and Caramel Sundae. My best loved. I do have a deep affection with this combination. It started when I was studying for Canadian boards. I tried to dip the fries into the Caramel Sundae and oh! La La I never thought it would taste so good. The saltiness and the sweetness of the two blended together in the taste buds, taste like heaven. Sometimes if I feel naughty, I pour my fries into the Sundae cup and mix it with the ice cream. Yummers! It might sound weird or look weird to others, I did not care. Mayonnaise and ketchup mixture is also good.

ImageSalted Caramel Squares. I love this new discovery. I can’t help but think about the goodness of this special brownie from Starbucks on a Friday night or even on Saturdays and Sundays. Tall Skinny Latte and this makes my day. Neil loves it too. The best brownie I’ve ever tasted. My second best guilty pleasure.

Image

Red Velvet Cupcakes. Whenever we go up to Calgary, I’ve always wanted to have a bite on a red velvet. Though the red velvet they have is not as good as the red velvets in Cupcakes located in English Bay, Vancouver. I am missing that divine icing they have. It’s never the same. Just recently, I discovered that Save-On-Foods makes red velvet cupcakes. We gave it a try one time and we liked it. It wasn’t too bad at all. There you go, red velvet 5 minutes away from our house.

Image

Marble Slab Ice Cream. When we were still in Vancouver, we used to ignore marble slab. “What? 6 dollars for just a scoop? I will never buy that ridiculously priced ice cream.” Though I was so curious why it so so expensive. One day while Neil is at work, I went to Marble Slab and bought a scoop in a cup. I was so ignorant, I did not know how to order. I just heard one customer ordering vanilla flavour and strawberries on top. I watched how they mold the ice cream into a tile folding the strawberries into it. “Oh, ok maybe that’s what make it so expensive, add-ons.” I ordered green tea flavor and added walnuts into it. I took my first bite and alright it’s not just an ordinary ice cream in the corner. It was very scrumptious, melt-in-the-mouth creamy, yummy special ice cream. Since then I got addicted into it. I was so thankful there’s Marble Slab here in southern prairie land. I love Pistacchio and Black Walnut flavour the best.

It’s always good to give yourselves a treat after a hard day’s at work. It doesn’t have to be Friday all the time. Whenever you feel stressed out or exhausted at anytime of the week, one of these treats would definitely make you feel better. These treats are not very healthy as you can see, that’s why their called guilty pleasures. So always follow the rule of thumb, “Everything in moderation and be responsible.”

How about you? What’s your guilty pleasure?

Photo Credits to the following:
http://www.dinehere.ca
http://www.pinchmysalt.com
http://www.f0o0od.tumblr.com
www.hlntv.com
www.seriouseats.com
http://barberha.com
www.delectablychic.com

http://www.arabnews.com

Remembering my Late Best Friend, Doc

Image

My chinese brother in law gave as one of the yellow labrador puppies they have at home. If I’m not mistaken, they have seven or eight lab puppies. They named the other seven after Snow White’s seven dwarves and the youngest one Doc. He gave us Doc as a gift. My sister, my parents and I were so delighted. We never had a pure bred labrador before and we thought it would be a challenge but fun raising Doc.

On his first day in our flat, he was very quite and tamed. I watch him while he was laying down on a piece of rag in the corner near our bed. My parents and my sister went for grocery shopping for 2 hours. Doc and I took a nap while waiting for the goodies to arrive. After getting a bit of a shut-eye, they finally made it to home. My mom opened the bag of sweets and we munched on it while Doc is asleep. He woke up when I lost a grip on the spoon and tumbled near his spot. His eyes dawdling, yawning and eventually he got up and walked beside my chair. My mom was sitting beside me holding a piece of Gardenia Bread. At her surprise Doc took a bite on the bread and he did not stop munching on it until finally my mom let it go. “Thank goodness Doc wanted something.” She was so excited to give Doc another piece of bread and swiftly she was bleeding after a snap. She was bit. I can’t explain how my mom looked like that moment. She looks like she’s getting so hot under the collar. The grim, the glare, she’s loosing it. Waterworks turned on, she whimpered, howled for hours. She was so flustered with the incident. My dad, my sister and I did not know how to comfort her. She blamed everyone, she was fuming at the site of Doc. She wanted him gone but a part of her can’t really do what her infuriated state tell her. When she stopped sobbing, we rushed her to the hospital for anti-rabies immunization. Slowly, she felt a lot better, safer. When we got home we found Doc sitting in the corner gloomy eyes dawdling. Apologetic eyes. I felt bad for him that moment.

We woke up on a nice sunny Sunday morning. My mom cooking, my dad sitting on the couch, my sister still snuffling. I saw Doc an the same piece of rag yawning, stretching his little stiff legs. I came to him and gave him a big hug. I carried and gave him to my mom. My mom smiled and gave Doc a big, warm hug. They’re back to being friends again. My dad, and I were so delighted. They went back to the province with Doc. My mom would tell me stories about how fun to be with Doc. His clumsiness, his sweetness, his cuteness, how my dad trained him to catch a ball, how he recoiled from taking baths, how thundering his bark was. I was getting so thrilled to seeing him again after a few months of us being apart. Until the day has come, I had to go home to devote myself to studying for Canadian boards. I was so enlivened to see Doc and my parents again. After six hours of travel, I finally had a glimpse of Doc.

We became the best of friends. I did walk and play with him every morning and I did serve him food three times a day. We had lots of fun together. He would sit beside me while I’m studying and he would be my charmer when I’m stupefied. He was such a sweet yellow labrador. My best buddy.

I did not want to say goodbye but I had to. I had to leave to further my studies in North America. Parting time is always the hardest part. I only had memories but I have all the memories, the better attitude alright. So I braved stepping on a foreign land and survived. My mom would tell me stories about their daily life in the province and just like before the highlights of the story would be Doc. He was growing fast, he’s getting stronger, he’s getting heavier. My dad can’t carry him anymore and my mom would have to drag him for a bath. I was so untroubled hearing nice stories from my mother until one day she signified a sad truth. “My dear, Doc is gone.” I answered back, “What do you mean gone mom?” He’s gone, dead, departed, deceased.” After hearing all those synonymous utterance, stillness, quietude of that very moment filled my room, my being, my head. My heart, my body was shaking. My mom was crying. Tears fell down my cheeks, cried my eyes out. I’m severely broken. My heart stopped for a bit. “My Doc is gone, my Doc is gone.” After an hour of shedding tears, I finally had the courage to ask my mom how did it happen.

“Internal bleeding my dear child. He broke his concrete bowl one time and I had to replace it with something. Though before things happened, your dad and I noticed distinct changes in his usual habits. The playful Doc suddenly began to spend most of his time sleeping. He suffered from depression a month after you left. We only had the plastic bowl that time and I did not think he would munch on it that night I replaced his concrete bowl. The next day, he came to me moaning, crying in pain. I saw blood dripping from his bottom. I rushed to check the bowl and it was all ripped off. I am sorry my dear, it was all my fault.”

I almost can’t breathe when I heard the story. I can’t held my mom responsible for it. I love her and I knew she loved him as much as I do. I know it has been a tough time for Doc after I left. My parents were always busy and they can hardly find a quiet time and play with Doc. It was an accident, a twist of fate. I wept for weeks, my heart was broken. I cried some nights.

It has been more 4 years and I can’t seem to forget. Doc was my best friend. He helped me achieve my dreams. He was amazing. Every time I remember, I can feel him suffering and it hurts. I know Doc is in a better place now. I know he wanted me to move on and so I did. Neil and I are planning to adopt a new one and share the love I had for him. I will always remember Doc in my dreams. I know we’ll meet again somewhere over the rainbow bridge.

Down in the Dumps

sad_dog (1)

I stare at the bright screen, browse and press the raised little black squares.

Searching for nothing, glaring at a distance,

Goggling at the space between the screen and my baby blues.

Tilting the head left and right, eyes moving sluggardly.

Everything seemed dreary, the head is sore and numb.

Worries came flashing, neck getting stiff,

Breathing heavily, sore back.

It’s happening again.

I did not want this to come but it just happens sometimes.

I did my best to avoid it but the stronger it becomes.

When I let myself go with the flow sometimes I feel better

But when the day is over, it’s back to where it came from.

I feel lethargic when this happens to me. I wanted to be excited

And get out off bed early but I don’t have the energy.

It felt like I’m dragging myself in order to get off.

I wanted to be enthusiastic but I just can’t seem to do.

I’m fighting the vapors but my body kept still.

I apologize I feel this way, it was never your fault at all.

This heavy-hearted feeling consumed my entire being.

I wanted to fly high, be cheerful and overjoyed

But this distressing feeling is truly pulling me down.

I was hoping this would end soon as I wanted to experience life.

I miss the cheerful lady I know it’s hiding inside.

You seemed upset about it but please do understand.

Please don’t get tired my baby as I’m striving hard to get back

To my old-self so happy and always so glad.

I wanted to get out of the dumps please tell me what to do.

Though I know how to start it,

I still need your help it’s true.

Don’t judge me when I tell you, I just need you to be there.

As this unhappy feeling will soon leave my mind and heart bare.

My dear just please be patient, I will be back in no time.

We’ll have those blissful moments back not just worth a dime.

We’ll walk on clouds on top of the world, we’ll be in the seventh heaven

So just stay put and don’t despair, I will be fine, I’ll see the light.

Just give me time don’t rush me and everything is gonna be alright.

by: PharmacistOnTheRocks

Shopping in Your Lingerie

Over the past decades, thousands or even millions of write-ups, commentary, reviews have been published online. As time goes by, e-tailers sprouted. Amazon, eBay, Groupon and lots of online shopping websites are now becoming a trend. You might end up being convinced that the World Wide Web will soon replace all outlet, boutiques, supermarket and it’s people. People finds it easier to just sit at home with the freedom from disturbance, and with just a few clicks they can decide what did they really want to pay for. No more troubles in finding a parking space, not harassed by a salesperson who follows you around the stall as if you’re sneaking away some of their items, no more pressure on what to wear for malling. You can buy anything you want as long as you have a credit card.

Even myself, I enjoy browsing the online shopping websites. I get so excited about the sales on designer handbags, shoes, dresses and even kitchen items. Just anything on sale makes me so delighted. Online shopping is fun and easy. You can even buy an auto in your lingerie and not get apprehended.

Based on my own experience, honest-to-goodness, online shopping is great. But there’s always a catch, a drawback not readily evident until you received what you have purchased and tried it on. The dress is too tight or too short. The shoe is not as comfortable as it looked like online. The beautiful sweater worn by a gorgeous model in the website is not as beautiful when you tried it on. On the bright side, it could be the perfect fit, perfect color, perfect made. It’s either you are pleased or dismayed. To catch a glimpse of the dress you wanted, stroke on the fabric and trying it on are the old-fashioned streak of doing shopping in which the majority of the population would still prefer.

Shoppers would go online to save time but some would end up sitting all day without purchasing anything. Time savings doesn’t always happen. Some would leave and abandon their shopping carts after sitting and browsing for 4 hours putting 10 items in their carts which frustrates the e-tailers. Though the people online are no different than the people who shop in retail stores, in actual retail you don’t fill up your shopping cart with items that you don’t really want to purchase. The bag, the sweater, the dress, the shoes in your shopping cart are all tried on and you yourself agreed they all looked good on you and that you wanted to buy them. You don’t grab things from the shelf, put it in your cart and after browsing for an hour you abandon them, well unless you’re a weirdo.

People browse websites to purchase a necessity and as they browse the site they end up purchasing more than what they needed. Why? The looks of the items, the sale price can be deceiving.

See, touch and try. For most people, the old-fashioned way is always a must before they are willing to part with their back-breaking, laborious hard-earned salary. Purchasing an expensive item online would be too risky. Experiencing the product first would be safer.

On the other hand, shopping online is enjoyable for some people. Wake up on a Saturday morning, open your laptop and browse for sale items. There’s the convenience of being able to shop in you lingerie, on your bed, at home and the ease of comparison of prices from one website to another. No more driving around from one store to another to see the availability of the item and for checking prices. Save gas, save energy.

Be Smart.

In my opinion, I think online shopping is a fun convenient way to shop. It just depends on the item you wanted to purchase. Accessories for a DSLR like tripods, lens filters, bags, kitchen and bathroom accessories, shoe organizers are just examples of what you can buy online. Websites have competitive prices for each item.

Purchase only the things you need. Do not be outwitted by e-tailers trying to get rid of a decade-old stock. The prices could be cheaper but don’t just stop there. You want to make sure you have checked a few more sites before you proceed to checkout. After a few days of purchase, check your credit card statements. Make sure there’s no fraudulent transactions. If you notice any unusual transactions then phone your bank right away. Having said that, before purchasing anything, optimize the security settings of your computer to ensure that your account and credit card details are being dealt with safely and to prevent malicious programs that can alter transactions.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the shipping costs as well. When a seller is trying to make up for a low sale price, shipping are sometimes padded and be the prime expenditure for pricey and heavy items.

Expensive items should always be purchased in retail stores after experience like furniture, designer bags-coats-shoes-dresses, cellphones, computers, DSLR’s, televisions etc. You want to make sure you’re purchasing an authentic product.

Make sure you are perceptive about the complete purchasing process. Know who you are bargaining with. Know what you are about to purchase. Be confident you will get what you have paid for. Be smart.

Coffee or Not

Coffee. Why is coffee so good that I can’t go on with my day without having a cup?

I have been addicted to coffee since my college years. I used to drink a cup in the morning before going to school, another cup on a lunch break and the last cup before going to bed. I know that the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, for some reason I react atypically from it. I did not have any sleeping problems at all even if I drink coffee before bed. Sometimes the coffee makes me drowsy. Maybe I put too much powdered milk in it. I love the Nescafe brand and I still use it up to now. I do not use a brewing machine for my coffee. I did not have a fancy Keurig or any kind of brewing machine back in my college days. A teaspoon of the Nescafe Great Taste Instant Coffee and 2 tablespoonful of Bear Brand Powdered Milk simply makes my day. Sometimes I buy a cracker or a bun to go with it for a more satisfying coffee break.

In the province, I had the habit of waking up early in the morning with my mom and dad and have a nice and hot coffee. 6 o’clock in the morning, my mom turns on the radio and we listen to news while we enjoy the scent and the creaminess of our morning addiction. We also buy sweet buns from the Poot-poot boy, a boy on a bicycle with a huge basket of freshly baked sweet buns and dip it in our cup of joe. We call our sweet buns “Pandesal“. Pandesal are always good with coffee.

I used to drink only 3 cups of coffee a day until I started studying for Canadian Evaluating Exam for Pharmacists. I ended up drinking 5 cups a day. I got more addicted to it that I experience headaches if I drink less than 5 cups of joe. A cup in the morning, a cup at lunchtime, a cup at 3 o’clock, a cup at suppertime and the last cup at bedtime. I know the adverse effects of caffeine but I can’t stop my routine and having said that I ended up having acid reflux. I had to stop for sometime and suffer from withdrawals but when I feel better I get back to the routine.

Image

I had severe gastritis one time and swore not to have coffee ever again. I cried for that matter as I love coffee too much but I have to prioritize my health. After a few months of not having coffee, my tummy felt a lot better and never had episodes of acid reflux again. I thought of the promise I made to myself, I thought I did it. Since the tummy felt better, the stubborn head can’t stop thinking about coffee again. And so I tried a decaffeinated one which is not as good as the regular coffee. Slowly, I started shifting from decaf to the old addiction.

What is it about coffee that makes people over consume it? I know it has an idiosyncratic effect on me but I still crave for it. It gives me a bit of stimulation in the morning, a burst of energy to keep me awake but it damages my stomach. I felt brainwashed by caffeine. I’m giving myself good reasons of drinking coffee instead of looking at the harmful effects it can possibly cause me.

Pros:
Antioxidant Property
Improve Mental Performance
Lowers the risk of kidney stone formation
Improve asthma symptoms
Reduces the risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Cons:
Stained Teeth
Induces stomach problems
Reduces sperm count
Sleep disturbances
Increase risk of osteoporosis
Risk of cardiovascular diseases
Increase stress level

Coffee is truly addicting but what is the key? “Everything in moderation”, an old ground rule which holds true for coffee. It is not deleterious unless you abuse it. Coffee has its own disadvantages, but offers an adequate amount of satisfactory points to make it a worthwhile drink.

Best of Luck!

Can’t Beat The Classics

Classic Car Show in Lethbridge is a once a year event usually during summer season. They call it Lethbridge Street Wheelers. The event falls on a weekend. It includes a night cruise, 100ft drag races, auto-x and a show and shine in the Galt Gardens. Thousands of people from Southern and Northern Alberta gather in the Galt Gardens to see the display of gorgeous classic cars.

We went to the Show and Shine event at Galt Gardens hoping to see a DeLorean. Neil was so excited to see one. He was a huge fan of the DeLorean Time Machine in Back To The Future Movie Series. Unfortunately, we did not see a DeLorean but it’s alright as we have seen lots of beautiful cars.

I only have my iphone with me that time and below are photos of the vintage cars.

ImageImage
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
ImageThe 1928 Dodge Brothers Standard 6

Image
ImageWe browsed the Garden for almost 2 hours and we’re impressed with the quality of craftmanship of the vintage cars. Truly, nobody can’t beat the classics.