Kid-friendly tuna salad sushi

For my son’s lunch the other, I made tuna salad sushi. It was so easy to make, and a joy to watch him devour! LOL

Step 1. Prepare the sushi rice. Cook a cup of uncooked rice according to instructions. (I prefer one cup of uncooked rice to two cups of water.) While the rice is cooking, dissolve a tablespoon of sugar and a dash of salt in a third-cup of rice vinegar. Once the rice is cooked, transfer to a large bowl, and stir the vinegar into the rice until fully combined.

Step 2. Prepare the other ingredients. Combine canned tuna and mayonnaise to taste. Other ingredients in this sushi are shredded imitation crabsticks, basil leaves, chopped cucumbers, and cheese slices, cut into strips. Also, in a ramekin, combine soy sauce and a small amount of prepared wasabi paste, for dipping afterward.

Step 3. Assemble the sushi. On top of a sushi rolling mat (you can see it under the plate in the picture), lay a sheet of nori (Japanese seaweed). Imagine dividing your nori into three horizontal rectangles, and spread a thin layer of rice over the lower two-thirds. At the bottom of the nori, working your way up, layer the ingredients in a horizontal pattern. (I did mine: basil, tuna, cucumber, crabsticks, cheese.)

Step 4. Roll with it! Using the mat, start to roll the nori upwards, moving the mat underneath so it doesn’t fold with the sushi.

Step 5. Nomnom time! Dip in the soy-wasabi and enjoy!

Caprese salad hors d’oeuvres

The other day, I saw this beautiful picture from Jeremiah Bishop, and y’all, I was trigged.

I love me any good tomato dish, and the fresher the dish, the deeper the love.

I’d seen caprese salad work before, but the mozzarella that Jeremiah put atop his salad was ridiculous.

So I said to myself, I wanna make that.

Problem was, I didn’t have any large tomatoes. (As of this blog, though, Caths and I got some truss tomatoes, and I am STOKED.) All I had on the countertop where we store our veggies in winter was a box of cherry tomatoes.

So inspiration struck. I’ma make myself some hors d’oeuvres as a snack. Monica Geller and the French call ’em “amuse bouche,” which roughly translates “amuses the mouth,” into and trust me, my palate was tickled.

So what went into this caprese salad?

Cherry tomatoes, salami, feta, and capers!

That simple! Chopped up the tomatoes, layered the salami, feta, and capers, and topped with with buds of thyme. I rather liked it!

…and it’s been three weeks

Tomorrow, June 25, will mark three weeks since my kids and I flew into Canberra, Australia, to join my wife and start four years here while she pursues her second PhD (at the Australian National University).

In three weeks, here’s what I have learned about Australian life thus far:

1. Australian winters are brutal for islanders accustomed to tropical temperatures. When we arrived, it was a brisk 14 degrees Celsius; I awoke up this morning to -5 degrees. I knew it would be cold, but this is cold that I have never experienced in my life. Not even close. I mean, Seoul in 2012 gave us 4 degrees at its coldest. Even as I type this at around 1:30 p.m., it’s 11 degrees, while it’s 30 degrees in Manila, and I’m bundled up in a coat and thermal underwear.

For a Filipino used to 34 degrees, it’s rough. I feel my fat solidifying in my joints. My kids are adjusting well, but every day, my wife and I are bundled up in several layers of winter wear. It’s not the best recipe for staying incognito; most other Canberrans are lightly dressed while I do a Filipino version of The Mummy.

There are times when I miss the heat of the islands.

2. Getting around is a dream. The buses are on time and the city’s idea of traffic is a five- to six-car buildup. Between the accuracy of the transportation system–already fantastic, and a light rail transit will be operational by year’s end!–and the efficiency of reloading tickets, it’s fantastic, to be honest.

Also, about a week ago, we also secured ourselves a quality second-hand car. I like to believe that I’m a responsible driver, so upon thoroughly reviewing the ACT Road Rules Handbook, it took me a few minutes to get the hang of driving on the left side of the road and the right side of the car. I don’t do it often, but when I do, it’s such a pleasure to drive because the roads are level and the other drivers so considerate.

3. The city seems so clean and dust-free. I have to tell you that one of the best things about being here is how clean the city is. I look at the white buildings and I marvel at how they’re so white, with none of the unsightly streaks that often come with rain. I look at the sides of the roads and see no oil marks on the rain drains that often come with pollution. It’s shocking.

4. They really do shut down early here. A few friends told me that a lot of the shops close early, and they were right. By 6:00 p.m., most of the stores at the Canberra City Centre (a major shopping mall) were closed; the Canberra coffee shop I like to frequent closes at 2:30… in the afternoon. What this means is more time to do what we love, often with the people we love.

5. We love our home. For the past three weeks, and for the next three weeks, we’ll be staying at this lovely place in Watson, a district of the city. It’s so pretty. The picture at the start of this blog post is a pic of the backyard, where it’s just a great place to relax and enjoy time with your family or God. I love it.

Honey Lemon Ginger Chicken Tenders

My children are currently with my in-laws for the next few weeks because their summer vacation has started. While I will miss them, of course, the good news is that I get to control what I eat and do over the next four weeks. I’ll still see them every weekend, though, and I chat with my wife daily.

Sepanx is real.

Meanwhile, I’m finishing the meat in the refrigerator, then stocking up on luscious fruits and vegetables for the next month. I’m so excited, fam!

Tonight, my friends from the office will be taking me out for a goodbye dinner, so all I had to take care of was breakfast and lunch. For lunch, I used The Recipe Critic‘s brilliant Honey Lemon Ginger Chicken Tenders recipe, and turned it up a notch with a lot more garlic! I prepared this with some steamed buttered cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. Overall, a great dish!

Ingredients
  • 2 boneless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon rice bran oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Secret coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, sauté olive oil, minced garlic, and ginger for about two minutes.
  2. Add honey, lemon juice, lemon zest, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch and bring to a boil.
  3. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and add to a medium skillet. Cook about 4-5 minutes until no longer pink in center and the outside is starting to brown.
  4. Add the sauce to the chicken and toss to coat.
  5. Serve with buttered vegetables.

Vlog 3: Galera Getaway + Big News

My family and I spent three days in Puerto Galera. Come check out a few of the highlights of our stay at Tamaraw Beach Resort, as well as an important announcement I have for all of you. Thanks!

Ganns Deen, “Bitter Ocampo”

Before we move to Australia, I wanted to tick a few items off my personal bucket list. One of them was to release a song to Spotify.

Sometime in 2016, I began making parody videos on YouTube on TKGTV (short for Tito Kuya Ganns TV). During that creative period, I decided to also write a few humorous originals, and Bitter Ocampo was one of them.

A song about a man who’s clearly hung up on his ex-girlfriend who is about to get married, Bitter Ocampo is a light, ukelele-driven song that hopefully offers some redemption by the end of the track. Until he gets there, though, he throws up all kinds of hurtful wishes at his ex.

So I chose Bitter Ocampo to be THAT song to release to Spotify. Produced by the brilliant Charles Bautista, Bitter Ocampo is now available on Spotify here, and I’ve now ticked an item off my bucket list. YAY.

This is the lyric video to my original track, “Bitter Ocampo,” now streaming at bit.ly/BitterOcampo.

BITTER OCAMPO Lyrics
Ganns Deen

Watching you walk down the aisle
Seeing you smile
It makes me want to cry

Beautiful all dressed in white
I know tonight will start a brand-new life

Flower petals on the floor
Watching you walk through those open church doors
Don’t think you’ve looked so beautiful before
Where do I start?
So from my heart…

Chorus 1:
Madapa ka sana
Fall flat on your face
You ruined my life and left me
Gone without a trace
Matapilok ka sana
Mabilaukan sa cake
I hope you know how much you hurt me
And made my heart break
So enjoy your life
I’m Bitter Ocampo tonight

I knew that things were getting dim
When you changed SIMs
And I could no longer call
I even signed up for the gym
So I could get slim
But that didn’t work at all

Baby, why’d you do me wrong
I can’t move on
That’s why I wrote this song
I hope getting over you won’t take too long
But if I’m wrong
I hope the typhoon’s strong

Chorus 2:
At mabasa ka sana
Get wet in the rain
I hope you catch a cold
So you experience my pain
May bubuyog sana inside your bouquet
And I hope it stings the way
You broke my heart that day
So enjoy your life
I’m Bitter Ocampo tonight

Mas guwapo siya, I get it
Mas mayaman siya, I get it
May killer abs, I get it
Your new husband is so hot
May awesome car, I get it
He can take you far, I get it
You’re gonna be a star, I get it
I hope you’re happy because I’m not

Chorus 3:
Baby, happy ka sana
This time, it’s the truth
I wish you the best and
I am blessed for loving you
Please forgive me sana
For what I said in this song
And I know it’s over now
So it’s time to move along
So enjoy your life
I won’t be Bitter Ocampo tonight

Honey Butter Almonds

Two weeks ago, I got hold of these incredible wasabi almonds from Tom’s Farm. They were delicious, absolutely rocked my world.

“So,” I told myself, “you’ve gotta make these bad boys!”

So I went out and bought almonds from Santi’s. The wasabi almonds I had from Tom’s Farm had a nice faint dose of sweetness, which tells me  and was ready to go.

I just had one problem.

Ready-to-eat wasabi powder is impossible to come by without ordering online. The wasabi powder that’s available in the grocery stores is a powder designed to become wasabi paste, ideal for dipping sauces. The wasabi powder I wanted, like Tom’s Farm, should be spicy from the get-go, rather like wasabi French fry seasoning.

So I shifted to another option: honey butter almonds!

I took a cup and a half of roasted almonds and cooked them for about five minutes in a skillet over low to medium heat with three tablespoons of butter, three tablespoons of honey, and three tablespoons of white sugar. I also put in a half teaspoon of cinnamon.

After I had cooked the almonds in the butter mixture, I removed the almonds and laid them on wax paper to cool. After about 30 minutes, I transferred them to a zip-lock bag where I cracked them loose from each other.

The final step was to put some powdered sugar into the bag, then shake it to distribute the sugar. I stored the almonds in a Lock N’ Lock Twist container.

They were delicious and not too sweet, contrary to what we’d think with all the ingredients we’d just cooked them in. LOL