Crossed Pistons Saloon in Cebu City

outlaws
If you like the feel of a bikers bar without getting your butt kicked and without biker chicks, Crossed Pistons Saloon is the place to visit in Cebu City. It is located on Morales Street, near the Golden Peak Hotel and the Silver Dollar Bar. If you are looking for a girlie bar, skip Crossed Pistons because that is not what they are about.

I was sent on a mission one evening when I was in Cebu several months back to check out Crossed Pistons, mainly for their upstairs karaoke. “If Gary returns, the place is safe.” Thanks guys. No, I did not have to RKO anyone. I met the challenge and returned safely. No danger despite the leather, the colors and the bikes outside. Open arms was my greeting. “Come in, Bro. Welcome.” Ever seen a Filipino biker wearing Outlaw colors? I met one and he is nice as anyone could be. The last 2 nights, in Cebu City, I visited Crossed Pistons Saloon again. Everyone remembered me. The bartender said, “Let’s sing.” She did not have to twist my arm!

Second Helping

If I was looking for the heart of the night, I found it. Good fun, good food, good friends and ice cold beer. I don’t know where she learned but the cook can really cook up some mean southern fried chicken that will rival my grandmother’s chicken. Half chicken fried for P150. You can’t beat that.

I found a couple more Lynyrd Skynyrd and Pearl Jam songs in their play list song book. No songs by The Mavericks, though. Another song I enjoy singing in the Philippines is “What I’d Say,” by Ray Charles. Some in the crowd will join me in singing the “hey…ho” chorus.

As always, another good night for singing.

I have met many foreigners over the last 29 years in the Philippines but I have not met many who love singing. One reason, among many, is why I relate to Filipinos so well is because I am firmly into singing, dancing and entertaining! Cebu City, people, let’s hear it!

As soon as I saw the songs “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison, I said to myself, “this is my kind of place.” What started out to be a casing of the joint and a quick beer turned into a 3 hour singing session with the bartender. Wow! She has a great voice. I discovered many of my favorite songs available in their karaoke song list. Songs I have never seen in Bacolod.

I hope to see you someday, somewhere…all around Bacolod. However, you may see me somewhere in Cebu City. Maybe at the Crossed Pistons Saloon, di ba?

~ Gary ~

Potatoes in the Philippines

yukon_gold
In Florida, I was paying 99 cents for 5 pounds of the Yukon Gold Potatoes at Winn Dixie…in the year 2000.

I personally buy organic potatoes at SM in Bacolod City. They are the large style baking potatoes and are great for making home fries and Irish fried potatoes with onions. These potatoes are P160 per kilo. These potatoes are grown in the mountain region of NE Negros Occidental.

My wife makes the excellent Swiss style version of hash brown potatoes, known as Rosti. I enjoy eating Rosti but prefer the Waffle House style, which is Southern style. Chili goes well on hash browns. If you make hash browns and want a meal that will last you from morning to well after lunch, try Hash Browns All the Way! With onions, cheese, diced ham, diced tomato, jalapeno peppers, mushrooms and chili con carne. That is one breakfast that will kick start you and keep your motor running most of the day.

The potatoes grown in our immediate area are very small. Mostly good for adding to Filipino dishes or for boiling. New potatoes are what I call them.

Potatoes can be grown in large, clean trash bins and in spiral wire cages. You don’t have to live on a farm to grow your own potatoes. Plenty of information online about this technique. Not hard to do.

Oh, yeah! I had much rather have potatoes than rice.

Potato Skins
potato skins

One of my favorite dishes is Potato Skins. My wife and I both make them in the same manner.

We bake the whole potatoes at 375F/190C degrees. You can also *bake* a potato in a microwave for 10-12 minutes.

We then cut the potatoes in half vertically, scooping out the potato until about 1/4 potato is left. What you scoop out can be saved and used in a different potato recipe, such as mashed.

Next, we fry the potatoes for about 5 minutes. Loading the potato shells with your favorite fillings is up to you. We use real fried crispy bacon bits and shredded cheddar cheese. We bake until the cheese melts and top with sour cream. Nestles Sour Cream is sold at SM and Metro for about P80 per tub.

The first time I had Potato Skins was way back in the late 1970s at a TGI Friday’s in Huntsville, Alabama. I’ve been hooked with them ever since.

Hash Browns and the St Louis Slinger
hash brown2

I prefer making hash browns in a manner that does not turn out potato cake style. Or as a block of potatoes. Or a ring of potatoes by cooking the potatoes in a ring.

My wife learned to make hash browns by using the julienne cut on the potatoes, same as most chefs. For me, I enjoy shredding the potatoes by using the large holes on a grater. I like the texture of the cut potatoes and I can scatter then on the griddle or in the skillet. Where I come from, this is real hash browns.

For basic hash browns, I scatter them and fry them with onions. If you want to kick up your hash browns, it is not difficult. Topping with chili con carne, mushrooms, chunked ham, cheese, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and more onions. Add all these and you have hash browns all the way. If you only add sausage gravy to your hash browns, you have country style.

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In 1996, the baseball St Louis Cardinals swept the San Diego Padres 3 games to 0 in the first round of the playoffs. Some of the Cardinal players said they get their power from the St Louis Slinger that they eat. That was new to me! The St Louis Slinger is really a high powered breakfast. You start with a bed of hash browns, add a hamburger patty, add 2 over EZ eggs, add diced white onions, add a cup of chili with beans, topped with grated cheese and serve with buttered toast.

People decided they were going to kick up the St Louis Slinger and they made it into The Super Slinger. A bed of hash browns is still used, 2 or 3 eggs any style, a hamburger patty, diced onions, chili with beans, grated cheese with a number of additions. White gravy, pork sausage patties, chicken fried steak, a whole T-Bone steak and/or diced tomatoes in any or all combinations as the additions. I could eat two, maybe 3 days with 1 Super Slinger!

I have a special place in my heart for all farmers but even a more special place in my heart for Potato Farmers. Let’s support them by eating more potatoes! There are thousands of potato recipes out there.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~

Shop ‘Til You Drop

supermarket
I enjoy shopping at Metro Supermarket around the 4th weekend of the month. This is the weekend that the food vendors are there at the Ayala Mall Weekend Food Fair.

Passing by Xin Chao Vietnamese food stand, I was about to order one of their very good Vietnamese Sandwiches, however, I had 2nd thoughts. The time was 2pm and none of the meat or veggies were refrigerated. All were inside a showcase to keep the flies away but it was a hot day. I know the meat had been out in the heat at least 4 hours and that is not good for pork! The restaurants at the Food Fair are outdoors, underneath a large, open sided tent.

My best Filipino friend was with me and we knew we could not go wrong by ordering and eating a hamburger from Das Burgery and that is what we did. Their burgers are among the best in the city. The price for their 101 Hamburger is P120.

Lord Byron Ribs were also present at the Food Fair. Baby back ribs with rice is P150. Lord Byron has great ribs!

Spend a Little, Buy a Lot!

I spent P1,081 at Metro Supermarket this afternoon.

The big ticket item was P185 for a bottle of La Victoria Green Taco Sauce.

Chicken leg quarters were P125 per kilo. A rack of pork shoulder ribs were P90 or P212 per kilo. I just needed the P90 rack.

Springfield Chili with Beans was P126 per can. I make good chili but I like having a couple of cans of commercial chili on hand in the event I need them for whatever reason.

A 1.4 lb squeeze bottle of Morehouse Mustard, the Official Mustard of the LA Dodgers, was P139.

The rest was spent on coffee, snacks and 1 Sapporo Beer.

I think overall, prices of shopping in Bacolod are holding steady and inflation remains low. You can still buy a lot with P1,000 in the supermarkets. I could not do this with $21.50 in The Swamp in Florida, at Walmart Supermarket. I shopped there last year April-May and I still recall the high prices. Maybe even higher now, 17 months later. If I take the time, I can do a current price check on the Walmart website.

At Walmart in The Swamp, 2 lbs of frozen Whiting Fish was $5.99. I pay P98 or $2.10 for a *kilo* of Cream Dory White Fish in Bacolod.

I can’t recall exactly but in The Swamp, the Libby’s Corned Beef was 30-50 cents higher for the same size can of Libby’s Corned Beef that I buy in Bacolod.

Metro and SM are my 2 favorite places to shop for groceries in Bacolod.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~

Are You Drinking Enough Coffee?

Coffee3
Did you know that the Philippines was once the world’s 4th largest coffee producer in the world? For a number of reasons, the Philippine coffee industry fell on hard times. Coffee rust and the explosion of coffee growers in South America both played big parts in the demise of the Philippine coffee industry. It has only been during the last 10 years that an effort has been made to revitalize it. What can I say? The future’s so bright, coffee has got to wear shades at night.

Let’s face the facts. The vast majority of Filipinos love coffee. It is the number one drink at breakfast for adults and it is also the number one drink at merienda, afternoon snack time. It is basically considered a sin for any household not to have coffee, even if just the instant 3 in 1 sachets, requiring only hot water. Drinking coffee with friends and family is considered a social event and is indeed part of the Filipino culture.

Native Coffee Shop Madness

There may be as many as 1 million coffee shops all over the Philippines. You can believe that. In our small barangay outside Bacolod alone, there are at least a dozen coffee shops. I’m not talking Starbucks but Luna Lourdes Coffee Shop, Tita Coffee Shop, Nina Coffee Shop and… well you get the picture. All these coffee shops have 2 things in common. You will get an excellent cup of native brewed coffee, including creamer and brown sugar, and it won’t cost you more than P15 per cup. Imagine that for a second. Barako is usually the brew. No, you won’t find a latte, a mocha or a cappuccino in the native coffee shops.

Barako Coffee has that special taste that most everyone enjoys. I agree and enjoy the taste much better than Arabica and Robusta coffees.

The Champ Is Here

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Many, if not most, agree that Starbucks is the best coffee chain in the world. I must be an oddball. I’ve never, no never, had coffee at a Starbucks anywhere in the world. Starbucks has more than 200 branches in the Philippines and there are 2 in the Bacolod area.

There is another champ moving on up in the rankings. Bo’s Coffee. It now has more than 60 branches in the Philippines. Bo’s Coffee started out in Cebu and it is 100% Filipino owned. I like it.

Brew Ha! That’s their logo with the exclamation point. It is really one of my favorite local coffee shops. It makes me laugh every time I go there or pass by it. In our area, an Ilonggo word is pronounced the same, Bruja. It can mean witch or bitch. Take your pick and usage. I love it.

Figaro coffee chain is one of the newer kids on the block but they are pushing already with 60 branches in the Philippines. Figaro did not take off for some reason in Bacolod and they moved on.

Laid-back And Enjoying Life

I discovered long ago that a good cup of coffee in the afternoon is part of the laid-back lifestyle of many Filipinos. Especially those outside, NCR, National Capital Region. Everything stops and nothing is urgent. Time for a break and time to enjoy that marvelous cup of coffee. Let things wait. They will still be there when I get back to them. That’s also me with a capital M. Why hurry through life? Relax and don’t get bent out of shape brother.

I just took a break from writing and had a cup of Kopiko Kopiccino with Choco Granules. It’s my favorite coffee drink.

I have a good friend from Dallas, Texas, who has lived in Bacolod about the same amount of time as I have. I heard an expat say one day, “These Southern Boys in Bacolod are so laid-back, they have to lean forward to walk.” We fit right in.

There are some guys who are still wound up when they retire to the Philippines and still want to party as much as possible. If that is you, I highly recommend Cebu City. You will find a vibrant nightlife there, with some bars finally throwing everyone out at 7am.

Bacolod is more of a laid-back city. The bars close here by 2am if that is your thing. My rowdy days are long over but I’ve still been known to go out with friends every now and then to get loud and have fun.

If you enjoy a laid-back lifestyle and a fabulous cup of coffee, our area of the Philippines is for you.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~

EZ Chicken Recipes in the Philippines

indonesian-chicken
Personally, I really enjoy eating chicken and I have as long as I can remember. There are so many diverse dishes that you can prepare with chicken, as the sky’s the limit. I am not a big fan of Chicken Curry but I will eat it. Actually, I prefer Curry Goat!

Food is always a hot topic among the expat community in the Bacolod area. I, for one, am a Hunter and a Gatherer. I am always on the Hunt for new food items to buy and new recipes to prepare.

In my article today, I have listed just a few of my favorite and EZ to prepare chicken recipes. All the ingredients to prepare these wonderful chicken dishes are available in Bacolod City. No fear!

*Chicken Adobo is a staple in many areas of the Philippines and it is not difficult to prepare at home. Cut up the chicken or buy the actual adobo cut, which is relatively available. You will need white vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and black pepper. I prefer peppercorn.

I don’t brown the chicken first. I put the chicken in a wok or similar cooking utensil. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, smashed garlic, peppercorn and bay leaves. I make sure there is enough vinegar and soy sauce that won’t simmer out. It takes 20-30 minutes of simmering to complete Chicken Adobo. I prefer yellow rice but you can serve Chicken Adobo with plain white rice.

*Indonesian Ginger Chicken. When I am cooking, I don’t usually follow any set measurement of ingredients. For me, it is part of the fun in coming up with the right mix or the right formula to my personal taste. To make Indonesian Ginger Chicken, I make a marinade with honey, soy sauce, mashed garlic and grated ginger. It is best to marinate overnight but if you can’t wait, at least 6 hours, so best to plan this in advance.

After marinating, I place the chicken on a greased or lightly oiled baking pan, skin side up. I place the baking pan with the chicken in a preheated oven of 350F or about 177C degrees. Baking time will vary from oven to oven but you can figure on about 40 minutes. Keep an eye on the chicken to prevent burning on top, as some ovens in the Philippines will get hotter than the temp setting and some will not be truly 360F degrees. You can adjust the time accordingly.

Mo Chicken For Ya

*Honey Soy Garlic Chicken is a similar recipe to Indonesian Ginger Chicken. The preparation in the oven is the same. The marinade is a little different, as I use honey, soy sauce, mashed garlic and peppercorn.

When it comes to Southern Fried Chicken, I indeed like it fried after battering. Cooking battered chicken in a pressure cooker is KFC style but it takes a lot of cooking oil and it can be dangerous in the home kitchens. I stopped making this recipe upon my wife’s request!

*Oven Fried Chicken. Use your favorite chicken batter recipe, place chicken on a baking pan, skin side up, bake on 400F or 204C degrees. Depending on your oven, you should be eating in 20-30 minutes. At this temp setting, you should have crispy chicken.

Several foreigners in the Philippines told me that they can’t cook but I told them, “Yes, you can!” I have confidence that most anyone can prepare these EZ Chicken Recipes…if they want to.

Eating food you will enjoy is an important aspect of actually living in the Philippines, in my opinion.

I think it is about time that you head on out to the supermarket or to the local public market and load up on fresh whole chicken. If you don’t want to cut the chicken, feel free to buy cut up chicken. There is an actual adobo chicken cut, which is readily available most everywhere.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~

No COLA? Take the Nestea Plunge!

Peso2
Many Americans living in the Philippines, who are receiving a US Social Security pension, are up in arms because no COLA in 2016. What is COLA? COLA is Cost of Living Adjustment, which means a pay raise in monthly Social Security benefits.

Of course, most everyone wants to see more money each month than they received last year. Well, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. It’s not happening in 2016 if your Social Security Pension is your only source of income.

However, be not afraid or be dismayed because if you are living in the Philippines, you will do just fine. You can believe that!

Now, For the Rest of the Story

I would imagine areas of the Philippines with a high concentration of foreigners have a higher inflation rate for them in particular. Filipinos are not affected if horseradish jumps from P87 to P300 per jar because they don’t buy it in the first place.

DTI, Dept of Trade and Industry, maintains the latest information on their website concerning the prices of commodities that Filipinos buy. You won’t find Morehouse Mustard on that list. Chicken, pork, tilapia, bangus, rice, cooking oil are examples of commodities listed.

Skoal and Copenhagen jumped in price from P249 per can to P299 per can and then to P349 per can within one year at SM. Timber Wolf jumped in price from P200 to P250 to P300 per can during the same period. So called Sin Tax on imported tobacco products, I was told. Local tobacco products did not increase in price that much but they did increase.

It is true that people can create their own COLA by cutting out the waste and curtailing impulsive buying. It can be done without lowering the quality of one’s life or taking away their enjoyments in life. Some things are just psych ops anyway. Those who think Smucker’s is the only quality jam and preserves in the Philippines could give Clara Ole products a whirl. They may be surprised.

Locally Sourced Food Products

Clara Ole has Orange Marmalade, Strawberry Jam, Pineapple Jam, Mango Jam, Pineapple and Mango Jam, Calamansi Jelly and several others. I enjoy all these products and I don’t feel that I am Skid Row Joe because I don’t buy Smucker’s.

Over the past 6 years, trying local food products that are popular in the USA has been part of the adventure for me. Fita Crackers vs Ritz, Magnolia Cheezee Spread vs Cheese Whiz, Clara Ole Salad Dressing vs Wishbone, Ram and Fiesta Italian Spaghetti Sauce vs Ragu and Prego Spaghetti Sauce. These are just a few examples. If I like the local version I buy it. If I don’t like it, I don’t buy it. I still prefer Morehouse and French’s Mustard and an original Louisiana Hot Sauce to any local mustard or hot sauce.

A Scandinavian Chef in Bacolod introduced me to the new version of Beer na Beer several years back and I agree that it tastes better than San Miguel Pilsen. Beer na Beer is also a Pale Pilsen. The Chef serves Beer na Beer in his home restaurant. It is part of the full courses, which are indeed gourmet. I save P219 per case by buying Beer na Beer and I seriously enjoy it much better.

If I did not receive a COLA, I would just adjust and enjoy Iced Nestea Plunge or a Mango Shake. Those are good as well. Life will still be Happy.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~

Fogo Grill Is Latino Inspired

mexico2
Taco Bell? No, can you say Fogo? Fast food has its place and time, however, I prefer full service dining and I enjoy the wait. I know when the food order arrives at our table, it has a special touch and it is not cookie cutter food, where one size fits all.

Last evening, I took my wife, our son and 2 of our friends to Fogo for our evening meal. Fogo is located at O Residences, right before you get to Robinsons Place Mall on Lacson Street. I had been to Fogo before at their old location. It was my wife and our son’s first visit to Fogo. They certainly enjoyed their dining experience.

Creative Latino Food

That is what you get at Fogo. It is Latino inspired and it is not the run of the mill pseudo Mexican food that you get in chain restaurants. It is not the poor attempt in creating a cuisine that is enjoyed worldwide.

When was the last time you had a burrito that included Mexican rice in the burrito? You can have one at Fogo. Their beef burrito does not include ground beef but it is indeed beef that you can sink your teeth into. Your beef burrito will also have refried beans, cheese and a generous serving of House Salsa.

Tacos, nachos and burritos will put some color back into your face! Don’t forget the fajitas and chili con carne as well. Those are all on the Fogo Menu.

Have you ever had Guacamole Mousse? I didn’t think so. It is the one of the most fabulous desserts I ever had and I am looking forward to our next visit to Fogo.

Portuguese Inspired

Fogo is not one dimensional. There are also several Portuguese inspired dishes on their menu. Peri Peri Chicken and Seafood Cataplana are 2 examples.

I am very familiar with Portuguese Cuisine. My parents, brother and I lived in the state of Rhode Island for 4 years. There is a large Portuguese Community in Rhode Island and in the New England Area of the USA. To this very day, Chourico and Linguica remain at the top of the list of my favorite sausages. They are indeed Portuguese Sausage at its finest.

At home, I make a Portuguese style one pot dish. Clams, crabs, mussels, smoked sausages, corn on the cob, potatoes and whole white onions, all cooked together in one large stock pot. Now, we’re talking! It’s about time to make this again!

Support Your Locally Owned Restaurants

I am a firm believer in supporting the fine locally owned restaurants where you live. The large chain restaurants have business based on their internationally recognized names but the locally owned restaurants will earn your respect, if given the opportunity, by serving you high quality fresh food at reasonable prices.

The locally owned restaurants are down home style. Fresh, locally sourced food is used in preparation and not frozen food that has been shipped halfway around the world! Now, which do you think is better in taste and better for your health?

I enjoy writing about locally owned restaurants, as I have done so during the past 4 years. However, I have never received one centavo for writing about any restaurant. I only write about restaurants that I like and about restaurants that other foreigners will most likely enjoy. If we dine in a restaurant and there is nothing good about it, I don’t write about them. I am not going to write negative words about anyone’s business. Maybe the chef was sick that day? Perhaps the food supplier did not deliver and alternatives had to be used? Maybe all the waitstaff are new and are still learning? We have to think about such things before we blast a restaurant in public. I write about what I enjoy, not about what I don’t enjoy. You can be the judge about what you personally like. We are all different!

A little bit is better than nada but if you want the whole enchilada, you gotta check out Fogo.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod. Maybe I will see you at Fogo, di ba?

~ Gary ~

Internet Information in the Philippines

Internet Philippines
There are a number of resources I often use on the internet concerning my writing and concerning expanding my personal knowledge. One is the Official Gazette of the Philippines. It is the official Philippines Govt website.

http://www.gov.ph/

Chan Robles Virtual Law Library is the best site that I have found in researching Philippine Laws, Executive Orders and Presidential Decrees.

Of all the online Philippines newspapers, the Inquirer is by far my #1 favorite site for news. When I lived in Manila and read an actual newspaper from the news stand, I liked the Manila Bulletin. The Inquirer seems to have the Breaking News first among all the online newspapers in the Philippines. Mon Tulfo and his “On Target” column contributors are not timid or afraid in reporting about anyone, from top to bottom and all in between.

I read the online version of the Visayan Daily Star, with news from all around Negros Occidental. It has the feel of a small town newspaper, even though Bacolod is a mid-size city.

When it comes to reading a reputable blog about the Philippines, I have been reading The Filipino Scribe on a regular basis since 2012. I have known Mark Madrona, who is indeed the Filipino Scribe, since 2012. I have read a number of Mark’s articles over the years, which were breaking stories even before the online Philippines newspapers published it. Everything you read on Mark’s blog is spot on and you can believe that!

http://www.filipinoscribe.com/

internet-connection philippines
Living in the Philippines3 Yahoo Group is a great source of information about the Philippines from contributors, who are the members of the group. I learn something new or get a different slant on various hot topics concerning the Philippines every single day.

I am the Administrator of Living in the Philippines3 and Don Herrington is the owner of the Group. Don has lived in the Philippines for 25 years and he is among my best expat friends. Living in the Philippines3 has more than 18,000 members and there are daily discussions concerning many topics that foreigners want to know about the Philippines. On Living in the Philippines3, we promote this wonderful country and the beautiful people, Filipinos.

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/LivingInThePhilippines3/info

My internet is provided by Globe Tattoo and it is perfect for me due to my location in Bacolod City. Some others do not have the same fast connection as I enjoy because they live in a different location in the city. The signal is strong in our home because we are not many kilometers from the towers.

Knowledge Is Power

If you are actually living in the Philippines, you will still be able to get the information you need from around the world via internet, in cities and towns. There are very rural areas in the Philippines with poor or maybe even zero internet. However, very few foreigners live in those areas due to isolation and remoteness.

I will soon be age 61 but I never stop learning and acquiring new information of interests. Everyday for me is a greater learning experience with information I gather from the internet.

Entertainment

I am a baseball and American football fan. Every year, I have several baseball and football Fantasy teams on both CBS Sports and on ESPN. I am able to draft my team online before the season begins, make trades with other fantasy team owners, drop players and add players from the waiver wire. I always join the free leagues or start my own free league. Pure Prairie League is the name of my league in both baseball and American football. I never join the pay leagues and I never gamble on my fantasy sports teams. It is just for fun and bragging rights. This past season, 2 of my 3 fantasy baseball teams on CBS Sports won their league championships.

Naming your fantasy teams is all part of the fun. I enjoy coming up with catchy team names but there are two names I have used for years. El Scorpions and El Banditos. I am the owner, General Manager and Manager or Coach of my fantasy teams and I actually feel a bond with my teams.

American Football, NFL, kicked off in September and I have fantasy teams on ESPN and on CBS Sports. I am using new team names for the first time. New Age Outlaws and El Rayo-X.

I also enjoy 3D Mahjong, solo on my favorite mahjong site, A-Games. I play a little while everyday but I never spend hours on end playing. There is a clock to beat in clearing all the mahjong tiles and points are scored. My highest score is a little more than 60,000 and I am trying to meet my personal challenge of hitting 61,000 one day. When I need a break from writing and reading, I play 3D Mahjong for 30 minutes or so.

Personally, I think the internet is one of the greatest inventions and you will not go without access in most areas of the Philippines.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~

Best Recipes from GGG Hacienda

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As I have written many times, if you live in a mid-size city or a large city, you can prepare most all of your favorite dishes in the Philippines. In Bacolod, SM, Metro, Lopues Mandalagan and Robinsons are well stocked with ingredients you will need for cooking at home.

Today for an early lunch, it was fried Lison, one of my favorite deep sea fish. It is common around Negros Occidental and Panay Island. Elsewhere in English, it is known as Whitefin Trevally. It is very popular in Japan and it is a wonderful table fish. In Japan, Lison is known as Kaiwari and trawlers go out to catch it.

The way I enjoy Lison is very simple. Lightly dust the whole fish, head, body and tail, in flour but do not dredge and cover so much. Deep fry golden brown. It is not a bony fish and is easy for foreigners to eat. Great taste as well. I don’t even dip it in tartar sauce. If I want a dipping sauce, I use Sinamak, the local version of spiced vinegar.

Mexican Inspired

Burritos with a twist. Spanish Rice and Shredded Chicken Burritos. You can stuff your tortillas with Spanish rice and shredded chicken, then roll em’ up.

You will need flour or corn tortillas. I buy those at SM, Mega Mexicana brand and made in the Philippines.

If you can only find taco shells, the recipe will work. Sometimes, I eat a chili with beans taco.

La Victoria Taco Sauce is what I keep on hand and I buy it at Metro. It works on burritos and enchiladas as well. I actually prefer enchiladas.

Refried beans are available in Bacolod and I can do a lot with those!

Asian Fusion

Pad Thai Noodles is one of my all time favorite dishes. Real Thai brand Rice Stick Noodles are sold at SM. Instead of grinding peanuts, I use Jif Peanut Butter. Hey, I want to eat soon! I also use Marca Pina Patis, aka fish sauce, as one of the ingredients when I make Pad Thai. I also add both shrimp and shredded chicken when I make Pad Thai. You will also need fresh chili peppers, green onions, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, lime juice and lime wedges. Wow! I can already taste it.

Pork Kilawin is a local Filipino dish which I really enjoy.

You can choose the pork you like. Pork belly is a popular choice in our area. Pork with some fat on it is preferred but it is up to you. You boil the pork in water and salt according to taste, for 15-20 minutes; or until the pork is soft and tender. Slice the pork into bite size pieces while still hot.

Next, you place the pork in a bowl. Add vinegar, a little soy sauce is optional and not required. Add chopped onion and the chopped chili peppers. Serve.

I don’t plan on writing a cookbook but I wanted to share a couple of my favorites.

Country Cooking at its Best

I love the smell of hash browns cooking in the morning. Smothered with onions, covered with melted cheese, chunked with ham, diced with tomatoes, peppered with chili peppers or jalapenos, capped with mushrooms and topped with chili con carne. The perfect breakfast!

Biscuits and gravy. Biscuits made from scratch with Bisquick. White gravy with or without ground pork sausage. I like them both but not at the same time.

Tennessee Pride and Jimmy Dean style pork sausage breakfast patties. I can make those! All I need is ground pork, sage, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, parsley, thyme and red pepper flakes. This breakfast is the pride of Tennessee!

My wife makes cracklin’ cornbread. I always have grits on hand, good for breakfast or with fried fish day or night!

I think I’ve made your belly growl enough for one day. I wasn’t hungry before this article but I am now!

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Starting A Farm In The Philippines

farm
Concerning agriculture land, it is best to buy a current working farm with a history of crop diversification rather than buying land that needs much work to prepare it for higher yield in producing crops. Some land is “ill” from being over-planted many years with the same crop. There has never been crop diversification on certain lands. Crop yields can be very poor and not worth the effort to even plant in its current condition.

However, if you find an excellent bargain and are patient, you will receive much help in the Philippines. Many agencies are here to assist. Of course, the Dept of Agriculture. The Rice Research Institute, Sugar Regulatory Authority, the Philippine Coconut Authority, the Fibre Development Authority, the National Tobacco Administration, the Cotton Development Authority, the Bureau of Plant Industry, the Bureau of Post-Harvest Research and Extension, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management, the Bureau of Agriculture and Fishery Product Standards, the Bureau of Agriculture Statistics, the Mango Congress and probably others I am forgetting.

There are a number of universities deeply involved in various agriculture researches, including growing oranges. The Ag majors and staff at these universities are usually excited to educate farmers with latest technology.

Before we moved to the Philippines in 2009, my wife and I did extensive research concerning the Agribusiness in the Philippines. We decided it would be among our major investments and it has been a consistent and ongoing success the past 6 years.

Location and Agriculture Research

Farm location in the Philippines is very important. Crops that may produce a bountiful harvest in one area may do poorly in another area. Find out the main agriculture crops in your area but don’t be afraid to experiment. Also do not be afraid of making changes on your farm. For example, on our size farm, sugarcane was no longer a viable crop due to falling prices at the sugar mill. What did we do? We did not replant sugarcane after the last harvest but instead, planted rice.

Some Self Sufficiency

Plan wisely and utilize the land you have to maintain a working farm, year round.

One hectare of quality farmland can provide all the meat, dairy products, fruit and vegetables for a family of 4 for one year! You can believe that.

Please don’t forget to plant vegetables which can utilize trellis. You will be growing up and not out, thus utilizing the best of your farmland.

Goats, cattle and carabao involve very little cost since they are grazing animals. Have an area of your farm where the livestock can graze without interfering with the rest of your farm.

Dairy Goats are the way to go! Buy several and start your goat herd today. Many goats give birth to twins, as we have experience a number of times the past 6 years. The cost for the purebred Nubian Goats is P15,000-P20, 000 each.

My wife and I have been in the Agribusiness for more than 6 years. Neither one of us have done any actual farm work. We have an experienced and honest farm manager, who takes care of the farm. He hires part time agricultural workers as needed for harvest and for other farm chores.

Farming is great! Producing food for others in such a joy for me personally.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~