March 27, 2009

Every single vote counts

This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming. So please don't forget to vote. :)

28 MARCH AT 8.30PM

~~WWF is urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.

Click here to learn more about Earth Hour and take action.

March 25, 2009

Watermelon granita

Watermelon granita

A poolside BBQ and swim party is something my friends and I love to plan all year round. Usually we just throw burgers and sausages on the grill then lay out the condiments and whatever sides we decide to make that day. Sometimes there's a casserole of some sort or a pasta dish. Drinks are always aplenty. The beers are chilling in the ice box and a pitcher of iced tea and various soft drinks are also available. The music and laughter are flowing freely and we just eat and hang around and have a great, great time.

These parties become more frequent as soon as summer comes around. And there's no denying that summer has arrived in the Philippine islands! I'm already tempted to turn on the a/c at night, but I'm holding off for as long as I can still manage to sleep well without it. It becomes almost unbearable to stay most days during the months of March to May yet we force ourselves to leave our air-conditioned cocoons and surge bravely into the sticky humidity to fire up that grill and flip those burgers while beads of sweat form a river down our spines.

And we did just that two Sundays ago. Anticipating a hot day, I had first thought of making some fruit shakes with all the fruit I had at home. At the last minute though, I decided on making this watermelon granita for a change. I found a simple recipe online and the result was exactly how I hoped it would be: light, absolutely refreshing, cooling and so so good.

Alas, it didn't make it to the party. Thinking I could make it in the morning for a 3 pm party was a mistake. I should have started it the night before. I did not take into consideration the fact that I do not live alone and hence I am not the only one that opens and closes the freezer door. By the time I had to leave, it was still this tray of half-frozen slush. Thankfully, I also had some pineapples for the grill so I didn't arrive empty-handed. Because the party had lasted well into midnight, we cranked out the blender and made sangria slushies instead.

When I checked my icebox that night, the granita was good and ready. So for days after, I enjoyed a glass of watermelon granita in the warm evenings while I daydreamed of palm trees and and blue-green waters.

Watermelon granita2

Watermelon Granita
recipe & instructions from

1/2 seedless watermelon
1/2 cup white sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Cut up watermelon flesh into chunks and then puree in a blender. If your watermelon isn't seedless, make sure to remove the seeds first before putting in the blender or you'll get mashed up seeds which may taste bitter.

Combine the watermelon juice with the sugar and lemon and mix well. Pour it all into a shallow wide pan and freeze for 1 hour. When the mixture is frozen, remove from the freezer and rake with a fork all the way through. Return to the freezer for another hour and then rake again. Return to the freezer for one more hour. Rake again with fork then serve. Add a sprig of mint to up the coolness factor!
Have a great summer everyone! (or Spring or Fall, use whichever is applicable to you) :)

March 17, 2009

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Over some terribly lousy feijoada at a recent Brazilian festival (the churrasco and capoeira entertainment at least made it worthwhile), my friends commented on my energy level which they had decided was superhuman. I'm assuming the basis for this conclusion would be the seemingly crazy amount of non-work related activities and out-of-town trips I take part in despite a full-time job and a small venture which I'm constantly looking for ways to promote. Yet instead of whining about how tired I am, I'm either making or committing to new plans.

I suppose to some it may seem I'm stretching myself too thin. But while my mind and body are able I like to do what I can and experience all I can so I don't live to have many (or any!) regrets. This is not to say of course that I don't give myself time to relax. Oh, no! This girl needs her me-time too! Because although I wish I had the ability to become invisible or fly at will, unfortunately I don't possess any superhuman powers or stamina. So I pause and take breaks every chance I get. I really look forward to this quiet time alone recharging and regrouping.

I manage to achieve this using different methods - ranging from the most simple like curling up with a good book to a deliciously decadent home-service, 2-hour, full-body massage. Ahh yes, something I reward myself with once a week or every two weeks! A luxury which I'm so glad is made affordable in our country.

And let's not forget the healing power of comfort food. Everyone can use a regular dose of that. Comfort food to me is something that is familiar, uncomplicated, something that triggers happy memories, something that is satisfying not only for your tummy but your soul as well. Comfort food is also rewarding. Like in the case of this simple but super delicious casserole made with my all-time favorite vegetable, the sweet potato! What other vegetable can double as dessert so naturally and perfectly? Aside from being packed with potent anti-oxidants, vitamins, beta-carotene and all that other good stuff that rewards your body, this root crop is super versatile. But this is probably one of my favorite ways of having it. I've tried several sweet potato casserole recipes but this has been my preferred recipe for many years now ( has never failed me yet!). It's deliciously creamy with a crunchy brown sugar/pecan topping. I am greatly comforted and rewarded with every bite. :)

Sweet Potato Casserole2

Sweet Potato Casserole
adapted from

5-6 sweet potatoes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs (or 4 if your eggs are tiny like the ones I get from our organic farmer)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grd cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
3 Tbsps heavy cream

For the topping:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 Tbsps all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 deg F (175 deg C).

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Bake the sweet potatoes for 35 minutes or until they begin to soften. Check softness with a fork. When done, cool slightly then peel and mash with a potato masher.

In a large bowl, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, salt, 1/4 cup butter, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sugar, and heavy cream. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup butter,flour, brown sugar,and chopped pecans. Mix until the consistency of course meal. Spread it over the sweet potato mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes or until topping is crisp and lightly browned. Enjoy!