Our Humble New Year’s Eve Table

The world is welcoming a brand New Year and celebrations are everywhere!

One of the New Year rituals we have inherited from the ancient time is the preparation of the New Year’s Eve banquette, where we give emphasis on indulgence. This along with the other beliefs (such as gathering 13 round fruits, wearing something red and shooing the bad spirits away through lighted fireworks) are said to attract good fortune for the New Year.

Regardless of the reason though, there was so much excitement in me as we’ve prepared our New Year’s Eve banquette table. It turned out very humble but behind it is a very proud soul.

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I couldn’t thank enough the “Santa” who gave in to my newly-discovered passion (cooking/baking) and for generously supporting it with a brand new electric oven (as my Christmas present :D) – making all these holiday preparation possible.

Roasted whole chicken, baked ham in pineapple, pasta recipes and some pastries – all these went in and out straight from the new oven. Imagine the joy it brought me. I’m such a happy, contented brat this year! I couldn’t ask for more…hmmm… at least for now. LOL!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, to all Juan!


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My First Few Jars of 100% Pure Cacao Powder

I never knew growing a couple of cacao trees would make me come this far. It all started out of impulse… of proving something to myself that I could actually grow plants and eventually enjoy its benefits.

It took about a year and a half for the trees to bear fruits just as it took me a long time to appreciate its being on my front yard. My excitement started to grow every single day the moment the fruits started to turn yellow if not red. The color shift signals “harvest”.

Now, the bloody part…

It’s not any easier than you think as the process requires some serious amount of time and patience. In my case, I have had nobody to do all things but myself – from picking, drying the seeds up, to roasting before the roasted seeds were sent to a grinding shop.

Was it worth it? Definitely!

But how was it exactly before meeting the powdered version of cacao seeds?

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Here are the easy-to-follow steps:

  1. Cut the ripe cacao pods into half. Extract the seeds.
  2. In a flat metal sheet, lay down the seeds and have it sun dried. The process is called fermentation and may take as much as a week or two or until the seeds looks dry enough for roasting.
  3. Roast the seeds in portion under low heat. There’s no need to rush here. Patience is a virtue.
  4. Let the roasted seeds cool down.
  5. Gently crack the seeds. Over here, we simply need to to get the nibs off the shells so you may use a rolling pin or anything you can for that purpose and make sure not to pulverize the nibs.
  6. Using a blow dryer, separate the shells from the nibs.
  7. If you own a grinder, you may start grinding from here. Make sure to follow instructions in grinding. If not, you can take the nibs to a grinding shop like I did. It shouldn’t cost that much.

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My first cacao produce made me about 2 kilos (4 pounds) of cacao powder. The moment I see it, my imagination starts running wild. I can’t wait to explore on chocolate making itself and baking chocolate-flavored goodies.

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Not everyone is lucky enough to find pure cacao powder where they live. Others may but find it expensive. But growing a cacao tree by your self will make a whole lot of difference and how I wish I have done it long before.

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All Set for Christmas Eve

Christmas is a very significant occasion that we celebrate with abundance each year. It is something that many of us believed in. We believe that it is the most wonderful time of the year, a perfect time to share as reflected on its true essence. And because we believe, we also celebrate along with the whole world. And where there’s a celebration, so is a time for preparation.

It is in fact a very timely occasion because I am thinking of ruling the kitchen as well as presenting myself to set our New Year’s Eve banquette table up this time. Hmm… that sounds exciting for me.

So what am I thinking to put on our table then? Possible answers are here…

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We will sure have pasta recipes and some oven-friendly pastries and desserts. As expressed on my post here, I’ll be surprising everybody  with something pleasing this Christmas  – something to watch out for. 😀

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 For the mean time, these are the ingredients I have gathered for the possible recipes that I’d be preparing for the Christmas Eve. Two more days to go.

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