Saturday, September 29, 2007

Date at the movies

I found this one last AMC movie ticket in my wallet a few weeks ago and realized that it would be expiring on 9/30. I immediately made plans with hubby to watch a movie before the pre-paid ticket expires.

We made our way to our local cinema this afternoon to watch a movie. Unfortunately, the movie pass that we had doesn't allow us to get into a movie that's has not been showing for more than 2 weeks. This restriction and the time schedule forced us into a corner and we found ourselves with tickets to Dragon Wars.

Check out the reviews in Rotten Tomatoes, these people aren't lying. D-Wars is really really bad. So much so that we felt that we wasted 2 hrs of our time (and the travel time to the cinema) so we decided to watch another movie. This time, we got ourselves a good one, Resident Evil: Extinction. Compared to D-Wards, that was one heck of a movie.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A new me

I had my drivers' license renewed and got a new name in the process. You see, I have two first names - for example, Tina Rosario (not my real name) - and ever since I moved to NJ my license has always just said "Tina" as my name.

Apparently, NJ's MVC isn't ready for people like me who have multiple (or long) first names and up till recently, my SS ID even had to have a dash in between my first name "Tina-Rosario" because the agent who helped me get my SSN couldn't get the system to accept a space in the first name field. Fortunately, the SSA had already addressed this problem as I was able to get my name right when I applied for a name change after I got married.

... but going back to NJ MVC, the first time I got there, the agent helping me looked at my passport and told me that the 2nd part of my name should just be dropped. There was no way to put it in and since then, I was Tina. 5 years later, while renewing my license, somebody in MVC decided that my drivers' license name not matching my passport name was a huge problem and brought the matter up with the higher ups. Some discussions and phone calls (to immigrations) later, I was told that I have to use both names.

Now, the problem was, NJ's drivers' license application form only has space for 9 characters. The MVC-boss then jots down a new name and tells me that I have no choice.

So everyone, meet the new me - TinaRosar.

If you ask me ? I think it's kinda stupid to force me to use a put-together-truncated version of my name. I know a lot of people who only use one of their 2 (or more) first names. I am *not* liking my new license at all.


Edit: Just got off the phone with the DMV and was told that it's normal to have your name truncated on your license because there is no space. In fact, everybody in NJ whose name is Christopher, will only have CHRISTOPH on their license. Argh! Governments should start upgrading their systems.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Athenia Street Fair 2007

September 16, 2007
Clifton, NJ
(click photo to view album)

Our city sponsors a street fair every year. I've been looking forward to this year's because this time, I get to go with a date *smile*. There were a lot more stalls selling assorted items and toys, food & drink stalls, rides, and definitely a lot more attendees compared to last year. There was also a live band courtesy of our neighborhood bar, Dingo's Den.

Sammie and I had a lot of fun walking up and down the street and checking out the wares. We also walked through an exhibition of classic American cars. Before we walked home, we stopped by Wild Bill's Olde Fashioned Soda stall and got a $7 mug of rootbeer (we get to keep the mug). We also got ourselves some funnel cake - standard carnival fare - of course and sat down to enjoy the live music.

Among the day's loot were 2 canvas bags distributed by the city to promote recycling (I like using these instead of plastic bags), a frisbee & a refrigerator magnet / clip from a local bank and the stainless steel mug that we got from Wild Bill's.

Spinach Lasagna

Last month's attempt at making lasagna wasn't the success that it could've been. You see, I had the not-so-brilliant idea of adding slices of eggplant to our spinach lasagna, thinking that it was all we had to do - just add layers of eggplant. Unfortunately, if we only had taken the time to do the research, we'd find out that the eggplant had to be pre-cooked or grilled before being added to the lasagna layers.

This time, we decided to keep it simple and just stick with lasagna and cheese - you could never go wrong with that, right ?

  • 1 pack frozen chopped spinach
  • 15 oz pack of Ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packs shredded mozarella cheese
  • no-boil lasagna
  • tomato sauce
  • ground beef
  • sliced onion
  • chopped garlic
  1. Prepare the sauce as you would normally prepare spaghetti sauce. Brown the garlic in hot oil, add the onions and caramelize. Add the ground beef, when the beef is brown, add the tomato sauce.
  2. Wrapped the chopped spinach in paper towels and squeeze the water out. Do this repeatedly.
  3. Mix the ricotta cheese, spinach and eggs in a container.
  4. In a baking dish, coat the bottom with a little sauce to prevent the pasta from sticking to the pan. Add a layer of pasta.
  5. From this point forward, we should be alternating the layers - pasta, sauce, ricotta cheese & spinach, mozzarella.
  6. Cover with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 - 40 minutes. Cook uncovered in the last 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lechon Kawali

I've seen a lot of different recipes, the most common way of preparation calls for pre-boiling the pork belly in broth - some recipes even recommend using beer - and then freezing the meat before frying or broiling.

My aunt does hers differently, she skips the boiling altogether and just seasons her meat with salt, pepper and a little sugar and broils it - skin side down first.

Personally, I've found that pre-boiling the meat in broth ensures that the meat is cooked all the way through so when I'm broiling the meat I only have to worry about the browning of the meat and crisping of the skin and not about whether or not it's still raw.

  1. Boil the pork liempo in broth - any broth that you have on hand will do but I find that canned chicken broth is very convenient to use for this. I also reuse my broth a couple of times so after boiling, I let the remaining broth cool down and transfer it to the freezer in an airtight container.
  2. It usually takes a few hours, depending on the thickness of the meat, before the pork liempo is cooked through.
  3. When done, take out the meat and let it drip dry. You can place it on a colander, strainer, or a wire rack with a dish underneath to catch the drippings. Use a fork to poke holes through the skin, this will create the "bubbles" in the skin when you broil it.
  4. Freeze the pork belly.
  5. When you're ready to broil the pork belly, just take it straight from the freezer to the turbo broiler. Broil for around 50 minutes at 350 degrees, cooking time depends on the size of your pork. Start cooking your meat skin side down and then turn it to the other side halfway through the process.

You can serve your lechon kawali with Mang Tomas All Purpose Sauce but my personal favorite is the all time pinoy mix of chopped onions, soy sauce and vinegar.

VOIP up and running

*lots of smiles and sighs of relief*

Nothing clears up one's tension the way a rant does. I'm glad to announce that after a total of 12 days of having no service, our JoiPhone line is now up and running - and in good time too, as I was about to send out an email request to terminate my account and was about to sign up for service with another provider. In fact, I had my email all typed out and decided to save it as a draft first while hubby makes a last-ditch attempt to try and get the adapter up and running. Surprisingly, whatever hubby did worked! Considering that we've been on and off the phone (and used up hours of our cellphone's air time) with service technicians and nobody has been able to help us, JoiPhone should hire my husband. Hmpft.

Now, I am on the phone (according to their automated phone system, I am "first in line" and have been for the past 22 minutes now) waiting to talk to the billing department, I am not going to let this pass without asking for credit for the days that we don't have service. On the plus side, at least am not burning my cellphone minutes doing this now.

Thank you guys for your comments in my previous rant post.

I did consider switching to Vonage, but didn't want to pay that much for phone service. Obviously, I got what I paid for. But then again, setup-woes aside, the service isn't bad at all and considering the $$ that I save on long-distance calls ? This might still be worth the (temporary) angst after all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chicken Cutlets with Mashed Potatoes

We wanted to get some chicken breast fillets the other day and bought some breast tenderloins by mistake. Not knowing what to do with them, we just decided to make chicken breast cutlets and serve them with Ikea gravy.

Chicken cutlets:

  1. Cover the chicken meat with plastic wrap and with a flat mallet (tenderizer), pound the chicken to tenderize and flatten it out.
  2. Coat the chicken fillets with flour.
  3. Dip in beaten egg and coat with panko flakes (Japanese bread crumbs).
  4. Fry in hot oil, approximately 2 minutes on each side or until cooked.

Mashed Potatoes:

  1. Boil potatoes in hot water for 15-20 minutes or until soft.
  2. In a bowl, peel off the skin (this should come off easily) - some people actually prefer to have bits of skin in the mashed potatoes.
  3. Mash the potatoes using a potato masher or a fork
  4. Add a dollop of butter.
  5. Add a little milk but not too much that the consistency becomes runny.
  6. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. If desired, top with bacon bits and melted cheese (top mashed potatoes with grated cheese and melt in the microwave).
Note that the unseasoned and unmarinated chicken cutlets are bland when eaten as is. Make sure to serve with gravy or some tonkatsu sauce to give it flavor.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

VOIP woes

I switched to VOIP 4 years ago and have always been a fan. The rates are cheaper (than regular phone lines) and I always have a cellphone with me so who cares if service isn't perfect - goes down w/ the internet connection, electricity, router, modem, ... ?

I was a Sunrocket customer for almost 2 years when they closed their business last July. I have been a happy and satisfied customer and have convinced several friends to subscribe with them. Sadly, they didn't last.

So I switched to JoiPhone. Why ? The rates are uber-low. I guess this is an obvious example of getting what you paid for. For starters, it took JoiPhone a while to get my account up and running, apparently, the adapter had to be placed BEFORE the router, otherwise you won't get to hear anything when you place outgoing calls. Unfortunately, placing the adapter before your router degrades our bandwidth so we wanted it placed behind our router. JoiPhone's technicians took 2 weeks to "tweak" their systems and support static IP.

Last August 30, I received a message that they were able to port (finally!) my old phone number to my JoiPhone account. Note that their website promised that they are able to port phone numbers from Sunrocket customers within 24-48 hours. It took them 6 weeks to port mine. I didn't complain.

Later, I'd find out that in the process of porting my old number to my account, they DESTROYED my account completely. Incoming calls are routed to voicemail and I cannot make any outgoing calls at all. Since Aug 30, I've had 4 tickets assigned to my problem. Each time, I'd get a call from a technician who'd walk me through a power-cycle process and each time, it won't work.

It's been 9 days since I lost my voip service and it's starting to hurt. I've been working at home for 2 weeks now and my cellphone minutes are dwindling down. Of course, I made the mistake of signing up and pre-paying a year's service. I locked myself into this jail cell and threw away the key.

and the most ironic part is that if you call them, an automated system picks up and says "Thank you for calling Joi Phone, we bring Joy into your life.." ---> f*ing joi. &*#!@^!&*(#^@!*&(#^!@*. Joy ? Yeah right.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Pork with Bell Peppers

(recipe from Shelby)

This dish was prepared and shown to me by an officemate during a project stint in NJ. Thanks Shelby!

  • Pork shoulder, cubed
  • Bell pepper, diced
  • Oyster sauce
  • cornstarch
  • salt
  • soy sauce
  • chopped garlic
  1. In a plastic container, mix cornstarch and a dash of salt. Place a few pieces of cubed pork, cover and shake to coat the pork pieces evenly. Do this until all the meat is evenly coated with the cornstarch mixture. Set aside
  2. In a wok / saucepan, heat some oil (put enough oil to deep fry the pork pieces).
  3. Deep fry the pork cubes and set aside to drain. If possible, drain the oil from the meat by using a metal mesh strainer rather than paper towels. This will help keep the meat crunchy. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix oyster sauce with a dash of soy sauce (to taste) . Mix just enough to coat the pieces of meat. Add a little water if the mixture is too thick.
  5. Saute garlic in a wok/saucepan, add the bell pepper. When bell pepper is cooked, add the deep fried pork and mix.
  6. Pour in the oyster sauce mixture and mix.
  7. Serve

Saturday, September 1, 2007


My cellphone just keeps on amazing me!

Hubby and I got our w810i cellphones last March for free when we signed up for Cingular's family plan. I started nursing this aversion for buying mobile phones since I moved to the US several years ago and realized that you could get mobile phone units for free - and sometimes, depending on the model and the plan that you sign up for, you even get cash back. So why pay ?

Keeping my strategy in mind, note that I don't usually get the latest in mobile technology whenever I sign up or renew my contract. I don't even bother getting exploring the features that my phone has to offer. To me, a mobile phone is what it is - a small phone that you can bring with you anywhere. So imagine my surprise when we got bored while waiting for a friend we were picking up at a bus stop.

Image stitching!
<-- This image was composed from 3 separate shots.

Picture templates
<-- I had to erase hubby's pic in this monkey template, he made me promise not to post this pic.