Sunday, July 29, 2007

Beef Casserole

I have not been cooking beef for a while. So I got myself some lean minced beef and went about making myself a beef casserole. I used to make this a lot during my college days.

Boil a pot of water and cook some pasta according to the instruction. Normally I use fusilli. While that’s cooking, mince a few cloves of garlic, chop a medium size onion, cut a few tomatoes, dice a handful of mushrooms and open a can of green peas.

In a pan, melt a dollop of butter. Brown the garlic, follow by the onion and then the minced beef. Season the beef with freshly ground black pepper and salt and oregano and some pesto sauce. Then add the mushrooms, tomatoes and peas. As the meat dries up, scoop in 4 tablespoon of tomato sauce and pour in some cream. Let it simmer for a bit.

The fusilli should be done. Drain them pasta and set them aside. Get back to the beef, which is ready by then. Talk about perfect timing and coordination. Put the beef into a baking dish, cover them with the pasta and load it into an oven to bake for 10 minutes. Take it out and sprinkle some grated cheese on top.

Chow time!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

In Memoriam

My Uncle E passed away last Tuesday evening. He left behind a widow and four children. He was 60 years old. Now here’s the kicker: He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink much, he exercised, he watched his diet, he was retired but actively worked in his church, he was happy. All it took was one bad fall, rupturing a blood vessel in his brain, putting him in a coma for a few days and finally ending his life so very abruptly, like a light went of with a flick of the switch. He did not even say goodbye.

At the funeral my Aunt E told me Uncle E had got a lot of outstanding matters to take care of. There are some insurance matters for some long time clients. There are some church administrative errands. In fact, there are even unfinished sentences on documents on his desk at the church office.

But there’s more. He had got to see the eldest some get married. He had got to attend the graduations of his youngest two girls. He had got to walk them down the aisle and give them away. He had got to play with his grand kids. He had got to service his church for a couple more years at least. He had got to spend more time with alone time with the wife (as all the kids are finally away from home for school and work). He had got so much ahead of him. For God sake he was only 60 years old.

It is so unfair, so wrong.

Of course being fair or not, right or wrong is so immaterial now. It’s utterly insignificant. What’s the point anyway? He’s gone. Period. Debating fairness and righteousness only stokes the anguish and rage of we feel losing him. Therefore why bother?

My Aunt E told me that Uncle E was a joker, always pulling her leg and making her laugh. Yes indeed. Uncle E was my fun uncle. He might not be the life of the party but he had this charisma that gravitate people towards him. He always managed to crack up a joke and put a big grin on everyone’s face. Why don’t we remember as he was, a mischievous jolly fella’ with a big heart.

I used to call him Silver Fox Richard Gere, because he was tall, fair, had a head of grey hair and an endearing smile, like the actor. As he was laid to rest in the cascade, without the grey hair since he was shaved bald for surgery, he looked exactly just like Richard Gere, bald Richard Gere, bald and peacefully asleep Richard Gere, bald and peacefully asleep Richard Gere with that trademark smile.

Rest in peace, Uncle E. I’ll miss you.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Save the Earth. Do Your Thang!

There was this enormous sense of guilt eating me up after I watched “The Inconvenient Truth” early last April. Why? It was because beginning April, I ditched the train and started to drive to work. There you go, I’m one of those SOBs who consciously killing the earth softly by emitting more green house gases by driving, and wasting the scarce natural resource (read: fossil fuel) by driving alone. But the enormous guilt shrunk and finally vanished after awhile. That didn’t take too long.

Then came 7th July. As I sat in front of the tube watching the Live Earth concerts across the world, that guilt thing reappeared out of nowhere. I felt terrible. Terrible! Terrible! Terrible!

I don’t think I can, or want go back to public transport, yet. I know there must be some other things that I can do to offset that almost criminal offense (to the environment) of driving to work. So far these are what I got and, proud to say have been practicing.

Go organic. I buy organic produce now. No pesticide, no herbicide and no harmful chemicals. That, to me, translate into less contaminants and pollution to the soil and water. Organic farming cannot replace commercial farming, but I believe when the buying drops, commercial farming produce that is, the killing of the soil and water will too.

Go easy on E. E for electricity. As much as possible, I only switch on one light at night. I figure since I live alone and can’t possibly be in 2 separate rooms of my condo at any one time, why switch on the hallway light when I’m in the kitchen? Also I use energy saving bulbs. When I stay at a hotel, I used to leave all the lights on when I leave the room. Now, when I leave the room, lights out.

I switch off my mobile phone and MacBook chargers when I done charging them. I got this from watching one of the public announcements during the Live Earth concert. Apparently the chargers still draw electricity if you leave it on after you finish charging.

Recycle. You wouldn’t know how easy and effortless it is until you start. I now recycle cans, plastic bottles or containers, glass bottles and milk cartons. They are separated in boxes in the kitchen and I send them to the depot during my grocery run. Of course I recycle paper in the office. One more thing, do not print unnecessarily.

BYOB. Bring your own bags. Not booze. Notice how many plastic bags you got after every grocery run. Plastic takes forever to degrade. Therefore the more we use, the more they produce and the faster they fill up the landfill. So in your next shopping outing, not just grocery shopping, bring your own bags, even if they are plastic bags. At least you reuse them. I bought 2 grocery bags (made of cloth) and sometimes bring my own cart to for grocery shopping. I even decline using paper bags whenever possible, like getting a muffin to go from Starbucks.

I know I’ve been doing all these for no more than a month but I feel so much better now. Yes I know the driving thing is extremely evil and I’m working at giving it up or trying to car pool at least.

There are tones of things, small little things that we can do for a healthier earth for our kids and their kids and their kids’ kids. Find you thang. Do your thang. Do it today. Do it now. Remember, tomorrow is too late. (I read it somewhere.)

Sunday, July 15, 2007


One Wednesday afternoon back in early June.

Work was becoming so stressful and hectic. I was short handed at work while trying to pull off a 2-month job within 2 weeks. On top of that, there were these double whammies of ad hoc requirements and last minute changes flying in left, right and center. It was deeply frustrating, as we almost had to start over again every other day. Things did not seem to go anywhere! As the deadline came on down quickly, the level of stress and frustration shot up just as fast. Well, probably a hell lot faster.

I was about to lose it. I was about to explode.

Then came a text from a close friend. He informed us that his mother passed away peacefully battling cancer that morning.

That put things into perspective, didn't it?

Suddenly my so-called work problems became so minute, so insignificant, so nothing.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Feeling inspired by this, I went nuts on the cherry tomatoes I got from the store. Holy redness!