Thursday, 26 February 2009

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe is so easy it's ridiculous. I've never really been a cookie person but when I found this recipe (and adjusted it a bit to suit my audience) it was such a hit that I've made it a few times already. I had to swat people's hands to stop them from eating all of the cookies in one sitting. Enjoy!

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups instant oats
1/2 cup raisins


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla.

4. Stir in the dry ingredients, then the oats and raisins.

5. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on the baking sheets and use fork to flatten the dough.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks and serve while still warm.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

When you really think about it, who cares if they made a film set in India about a slumdog who hits the jackpot in some TV contest? May we remind the world that we come from a country where Wowowee is not only a national pastime, it's the national way out of poverty. Do people still remember what happened during the Ultra Stampede? Talk about a story based on life's cruel jokes.

Watching Slumdog Millionaire after it won the Oscar for Best Picture made me wary. On the one hand everyone raves about the film, and they have several Oscars to prove it. On another hand it just makes our expectations greater, and you know how a lot of things turn out to be pure disappointments after they were all hyped up.

Slumdog Millionaire was great.
A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums and becomes a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers.

It was fast-paced unlike a lot of the drivel we see these days. Fabulous acting, excellent writing, great direction, sensational music.

Is it ever coming out here in Manila? I get the feeling Pinoys have such discriminating tastes that we only notice things when they begin getting noticed abroad. Leah Salonga, Charice, et. al. Well it won Oscars. Local distributors, pay attention.

Go watch it. It made Kubrador look pale and badly shot. And I love Kubrador.

Directed by Danny Boyle. Stars Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto and Irrfan Khan (no relation to Ohdette).

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Der Vorleser

I can say I had no expectations whatsoever when I saw this film. I didn't know what it was about and boy I was surprised that I absolutely enjoyed it!

The movie poster led me to think that this might be one of those annoying Nights in Rodanthe-type flicks I can't stand. I'm so glad it turned out to be much, much more substantial.

It was about a law student who, after nearly a decade of his affair with a mysterious woman, re-encounters his former lover as she faced charges in a war-crime trial.
The performances were so exquisitely crafted and moving, with such great insight into human frailties and and faults.

I read somewhere that Kate Winslet had been nominated for an Oscar about 427 times so far. Come on. Give this one to her. Go on. Having said that, I must say my favourite Winslet performance was when she played herself in Ricky Gervais' Extras.

The Reader was directed by Stephen Daldry. Stars Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes and David Kross.

Go and watch it!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

PPO's Transymphonia: Gabi ng Musikang Filipino

I never thought I'd have to write this.

At the risk of getting stoned to death, I've decided to be honest and call a spade a spade. The first half of the concert was so boring it was like listening to a precocious child play a made-up piece for the first time. The PPO was in great form, don't get me wrong, but the music was a bit, um, terrible.

I didn't know Lucrecia Kasilag composed music. I knew she taught music and pioneered music ethnography in the Philippines. But compose? The program said her violin concerto "was composed in two weeks in 1982 at the request of violinist Carmencita Lozada." Lozada was to play it in West Germany, and Prof. Kasilag airmailed the copies to her twice but they got lost. Somebody must have opened the envelope and said, "Oh no no no no."

It was proving to be a tricky evening. Luckily, violinist Gina Medina heard the snores and decided to give an encore. There was no way in hell she was going to be rememberd playing that Kasilag violin concerto. She played Sarungbanggi which was fabulous. Really redeemed the entire first half, if you ask me.

Since there were no embassy sponsors, there was nothing to do during the 15-minute break, not even any hyperefficient or frazzled embassy officials to stare at. I would've at least called San Miguel to provide THE Pinoy beer for the night's Pinoy music. Syempre dapat may Boy Bawang din. It's as if no one bothered to try getting sponsors because they either knew the music was going to be crappy or that not many people will turn up for the concert.

The second half was actualy much better. De Leon's Cry of Balintawak was long, pero at least it sounded like it was actually the background music to a CCP-produced drama sa Channel 4, right after Balintataw.

The last piece featured a 135-piece choir accompanying baritone Andrew Fernando to Lucio San Pedro's Sa Dalampasigan. Talk about Drama. That was truly memorable!

I actually invited several people to the concert but in the end everyone backed out. I was a bit relieved kase I didn't want to have to explain to them why they fell asleep. By the way, the entire section behind us was occupied by UP students who were probably required to watch the concert (Gina Medina lectures at the UP College of Music, plus the UP Concert Chorus was there). In the middle of one piece I turned around to see this guy snoring himself to smithereens, his friends apoplectic with amusement. Good times!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Home-made Yoghurt Recipe

I've been making home-made yoghurt for about a year now, really because I got fed up with the supersweet variety most groceries carry these days. Plus they can charge about a hundred for a proper cup in some shops. So I looked up a simple yoghurt recipe online and after a few trials and errors I've managed to perfect the recipe and adapt it to the local weather. Enjoy!


1 Liter fresh milk (I use Alaska Fresh)
1/3 cup of powdered milk (Bear Brand)
125 ml Nestle Creamy yogurt (this will be your starter)


Small glass jars with screw on tops (I bought mine at SM Dept Store... 50 each)

Candy thermometer (Landmark, 89 pesos)

Sauce pot

Dish for bathing the jars (I just use a regular Pyrex dish)


Slowly heat the milk on the stove over low-medium heat.

At this point you can choose to add powdered milk. Powdered milk creates thicker yoghurt that takes less time to ferment.

For your first batch we are going to go with Alaska Fresh milk plus 1/3 cup of powdered milk. This combination of milk with the powder will produce a delicious, basic yoghurt.

The most tedious thing about making yoghurt is watching the milk get hot. You need it to hit 170 degrees F, but not have it boil. So you want to pay attention to the pot and have a thermometer at hand. Once you've hit the target temperature, remove from heat and then wait for the milk to cool. Unless you put the pot in the refrigerator it will take some time to cool to 108-112 degrees.

If you are using existing yoghurt as a starter, have it handy in a cup. When the milk is cooled to the proper temperature, mix a small amount it in with the yoghurt. This will break up the yoghurt and makes blending it with the rest of the milk easier.

Once you add the starter, the milk can be placed in the jars and those in the Pyrex dish with about a couple of inches or so of warm water. Cover with a wet cloth and leave in a dry, warm place (inside an oven or anywhere where it won't be disturbed) for 6 to 8 hours, better if overnight.

Most yoghurt recipes would recommend using a Thermos jug or even an expensive yoghurt maker. These are quite unnecessary. Remember they are being made in temperate regions, and it's hot enough here on a regular day so ok na ang jars!

Chill, serve plain or with honey, jam or muesli. You can even use this for Indian cooking. Make sure you save one small pot to serve as your starter, though!

Friday, 6 February 2009


Let it be put on record that I am opposed to titles with a backslash, popularized by the series Nip/Tuck.

I had to get that out.

Having said that, I think I spoke too soon when I said that Sean Penn should win the Oscar for Milk. I'm still convinced he was brilliant in it, but after watching Frost/Nixon the other day and the obligatory Q&A with Pedro which follows any historical film, I was made to realize that whilst Frank Langella does not have the jowls to play Nixon, he certainly had the talent for it.

The movie offered a glimpse of what David Frost did before the historical interview (and yes, he was the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous presenter) and basically how he initially was on the brink of a career suicide after their first few recordings and then ended up wiping the floor with presidential Nixon during the last day of filming.

Pedro explained what happened in Watergate and Nixon's involvement with the whole mess. It's not difficult to hate Nixon, although there's a lot to be said about a president who sees enough reason to actually resign from his post and not cling onto power until all respect is gone for his office. Obama to learn from Gloria? No, Gloria to learn from Nixon.

A few random observations about the actors:

Kevin Bacon is officially not hot anymore.

And the guy who played David Frost, Michael Sheen, also played Tony Blair in The Queen. Is he now THE actor who plays all important British figures? Look closely and squint a little. It's one of those beautiful examples of Conan O'Brien's Celebrity Offspring.

Jack Nicholson and Alan Cumming = Michael Sheen. Diba?

Watch it when you get the chance.

Directed by Ron Howard. With Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell.

Monday, 2 February 2009


Directed by Gus Van Sant. With Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin.

Using tape recordings of Harvey Milk and archival footages for atmosphere, Milk traces the life of Harvey Milk from the moment he turned 40 and left the closet that was his life in New York until his murder after setting up a photography shop in San Francisco's Castro district, attempting and failing a few times before finally winning a seat as district supervisor, and rallying the SF gays against legislation which aimed to bar gays from teaching in public schools.

If you're going to watch one Oscar film, this is it. Superb acting from Sean Penn, who seems to get better with age. After winning in 2003 for Mystic River, its about time he gets another one. Benjamin Button was OK, Frank Langella just doesn't have Nixon's jowls for it, and the others, well, I just don't care.

Go watch it. Now.