In Which We Talk About the Food that Feeds the Fire for Writing…

Steakhouse burger.  Fries.  A soda.  STAT!

Steakhouse burger. Fries. A soda. STAT!

I’ve been writing professionally since the age of seventeen during my freshman year at uni when I got a gig writing spiels for EDTV 36, the distance education channel that was, at the time, operating from my alma mater, The Philippine Women’s University – Manila.  Since then, I’ve had a somewhat checkered career in advertising, public relations, and that murky field known as corporate research and white-paper writing.  But what I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was in high school is write stories and novels – and that is something that I’ve finally been doing of late.

People ask me if writers follow any special diets during their most creative periods.  Speaking as a twenty-year veteran of the field, however, I regret to say that no writer I know personally (myself included) follows a diet.  In fact, for most of us, the crunch and grind of writing makes us lose our appetites.  It is after the writing is done – say, you’ve handed the white-paper over to the boss, you’ve turned over the draft to the creative team, or you’ve gone and emailed/mailed your manuscript to a publisher – that we can eat and the food we pounce upon isn’t always the healthy sort.  In fact, nine times out of ten, a writer who has put down his or her pen will most likely go out for comfort food.

In my case, it almost always involves a burger run.  Almost as soon as my email program tells me that the document’s been sent out, I find myself bolting to the nearest burger joint for a sarnie-soda-and-fries fix.  Burger King is my heavyweight go-to-joint in most cases: the Angus Steakhouse Burger has both heft and beefy oomph to it – and Lord only knows how I need all that protein and all those amino acids to replenish my spent brain cells.  The fact that it has crunchy fried onions wodged in between the beef patty and the veg adds to its appeal.  Fries on the side?  Yes, please!  There is just something about salty, crunchy, sometimes soggy, fried potato sticks that I find rejuvenating for some odd reason.

On really bad days, however, I end up at Jollibee where I order the Ultimate Burger Steak – a 1/3 pound beef patty on garlic rice served with a mound of crunchy fries, a fried egg, and generous lashings of mushroom gravy.  Think of it as poutine on steroids, really.  I find it a comforting meal on days when people are being ornery and nothing seems to be going right.

Salted caramel, potatoes, vanilla soft serve...

Salted caramel, potatoes, vanilla soft serve…

And there are the days when my mind doesn’t seem to work and I find myself worrying if I can finish whatever it is I’m writing or if I even make it to my deadlines.  Those are the days when I have to stop and take deep, fortifying breaths; the days when I find that either coffee or hot chocolate is my only friend in the world and I just want to quit the human race.  These are my sundae and fries days, the times when I withdraw from the rest of humanity to try and get my thoughts and words back in sync.

Thank God that salted caramel sundaes are now available at my local McDonald’s!  The combination of sweet caramel made punchy by a sharp hit of salt over smooth vanilla ice cream is a real treat and soothes frazzled nerves like few other foods can.  Dipping the fries in this ambrosial slurry is a must; the bland, starchy flavor of the potato works so beautifully with the vanilla and caramel.  Yes, I know it’s very bad for the hips and the rest of me, but it gets things done!

Oh, how it truly gets things done!

Yes, I run the risk of becoming plumper than the proverbial partridge, but it helps me get things done – and then some.  And as I write an ending for my current project, I know that this particular end is but a herald for a new story to be told…


In Which Holiday Baking Doubles as Quiet Time…

Butter, sugar, peanut butter, chocolate - looks like a plan...

Butter, sugar, peanut butter, chocolate – looks like a plan…

For most people, the act of baking for the Holidays is a seriously stressful and wearying experience.  For me, however, I consider it quiet time for myself; a period of peace and introspection, a time when my hands can be busy while my mind rests for a bit.

It is, to be honest, an interesting time for me.  For starters: I finally quit my job.  I made the conscious decision to start afresh and to renew a tired body and an even wearier mind before setting out to do better things with my life.  The past twelve months were weird, to say the very least; I could not seem to psych myself into becoming enthusiastic about the things I did for work.  I kept getting sick: bouts of what seemed like the flu, then the flu itself, and stomach troubles.  I was a tenser-than-a-coiled-spring mess who found herself trying to fathom what to do next.

Despite a short, depressing spell when I considered giving up writing for good, I have continued to write.  I was able to post a few short stories online this year and the tragedy of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan got captured in verse.  My current novel-in-progress, The Rebirth of Meras, continues to spin out, albeit slowly of late.  But the story goes on and I keep writing and building it up.  Perhaps, next year, I’ll be plucky enough to see it published.  It may not earn me a pretty penny, but it’ll help build the foundations for a proper writing career.

And, of course, I have my cooking and baking to keep me relatively sane.  Though I was sort of out of it during my last few weeks at work, cooking and baking have anchored me and enabled me to regain a certain degree of focus.  I’m now considering trying new recipes and writing a proper cookbook – an endeavor that some may consider silly or even stupid, but I consider it a worthwhile challenge.  Everyone else can go bury their heads in the sand!

A finished cookie box for friends...

A finished cookie box for friends…

As Christmas looms on nigh, I have again settled myself in the kitchen.  Creaming butter, whisking batters, kneading dough into submission for scrumptious cookies and brownies to be given to friends and family – it’s all very therapeutic for me.

I can only hope that this Season brings a clearer sense of reason into my life and that the coming year holds a promise of better things to come.

Merry Christmas, everyone.  🙂

In Which the Blogger Features a Few Treats…

Most of your favorite snacks in a single...scoop?!?

Most of your favorite snacks in a single…scoop?!?

Last week was a pretty rough one for me, but – for some weird, unfathomable reason – this week was just the opposite.  Despite the tons of work at the office, things have been sailing smoothly.  I’ve not been cranky all week, I was able to squeeze in a bit of writing (to the point that I’ve almost finished another chapter of the new novel), and treats have been popping up left and right.

The Movie Night gelato from Bono Artisanal Gelato is one of them: it’s a fun, whimsical cream-ice that features the sort of snacks that you’d probably want to nosh on while watching one of the latest flicks.  Chocolate-coated malted milk balls, salted butter caramel ripple, chocolate chips, and ripple-cut potato chips are all folded into a creamy vanilla base.  It’s all a play on flavor and texture: crunchy bits against the creamy smoothness of the gelato, a touch of salt amping up the flavors of the sweeter ingredients.

It’s very, very moreish stuff and I’d go back for another scoop…  Well, that’s if the magnificently decadent new Rogue flavor (dedicated to Rogue Magazine; a rather butch, tres manly flavor featuring roasted pecans and butterscotch sauce swirled into a buttercream base spiked with twelve-year-old Elijah Craig Bourbon) doesn’t steal the limelight first.

Slabs o' goodness!

Slabs o’ goodness!

Another recently discovered treat: the chocolate slabs from NZ chocolatier Whittaker’s.  Currently, the only flavors available here in the Philippines are Roasted Almond Gold (P 51.00 each at Rustan’s / Shopwise) and the Original Peanut Slab (P 45.00 each at Rustan’s / Shopwise) – but they’re both pretty awesome in my book.

If you love the combination of chocolate and nuts, these babies are right up your alley.  Both bars are loaded with chunky nuts – not wee, chopped up bits, mind you: we’re talking whole or split almonds and peanuts, roasted till golden and folded into some of the richest, creamiest, just-sweet-enough milk chocolate I’ve had in ages.

I’d recommend chilling the slabs prior to munching, just to firm up the texture so that each bite is properly crunchy.  Now, if only the folks at Whittaker’s could start shipping over the other flavors; the Hokey Pokey in 33% milk chocolate, the Berry Biscuit Slab, and the Whole Hazelnut Slab all sound so tempting!

And speaking of tempting…

Dear Daniel...!

Dear Daniel…!

Daniel Lissing from TV’s Last Resort is currently in the running to become Cleo Magazine‘s Bachelor of the Year!  Yep, our lad is now in the Top 50 and definitely needs the votes to be number one.  It’s all in good fun and it’s definitely for a good cause.  Here’s what Daniel is planning to do if he wins:

Hey Friends!! Please vote for me for CLEO Bachelor of the year …. It only takes a second. Vote as many times as you like and please share this if you like. I will be donating any and all $$ from this to charity.

Isn’t that sweet of him?  🙂

So, get out there and click here to vote.  😉

In Which the Blogger Wishes You All a Blessed Christmas…

Nativity by Rembrandt van Rijn

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2: 1-14

This Season, amidst all the feasting and partying, let’s not forget to lend a helping hand to those who need it the most.

May you and your families have a most blessed and peaceful Christmas.