Author Archives: R.K. Modena

About R.K. Modena

Writer, artist, mom, all the rest is icing and sprinkles on the cake.

Why, brain?

So brace yourself y’all for a peek into the weird that is my headspace.

For my afternoon nap I dreamed that I was the head of a team tasked by none other than Julius Caesar himself to lay fiber cable to get him Internet to his palace outside Rome. Bonus weird: I am, in this dream, a man named Garellus, and my team is a mix of architect apprentices and debt slaves (slaves only to work off their debts apparently. There’s a government service that you can go to if you are in debt and voluntarily make yourself a slave of the state and work off your debt. Your family is on welfare minimum while you do this and your wages are garnished for taxes and a few other fees, and these voluntary slaves are assigned to work jobs at rates determined by work, and how well you do, which is determined by the team leader. It can take a long time but your family will not starve, and there’s a lot of rules about your safety and rights. No, I don’t know if this existed outside my brain.) My team worked hard and the wage slaves on it were curious about this new magical thing called the Internet. On our breaks I would show them funny cat, bird and baby videos on my laptop.

We ultimately ran out of cable just at the palace gates. And this dream got even weirder. I guess Caesar really wanted his video streaming because he came out to the gate, frowned and said “fine, you just get what you need to get this done, because Cleopatra and my son are here next week and if she misses her latest isekai anime episode I will never hear the end of it.”

Turns out Brutus sabotaged the amount of cable we were getting (I was expecting Asterix and Obelix to pop out now, but nope.) So I had to find a way around him.

I take my laptop and call up Li Syaoran and Kinomoto Sakura, who are in the middle of their date at Tokyo Tower, for help. They get Eriol in on this because he is ‘closer’. Somehow. In trade for fine garum and a barrel of dolmades from Athens from a specific shop. Eriol wouldn’t explain why that odd price. They make the last meter of cable we have left into two huge spools and sign off, while one of the debt slaves, a merchant named Doma makes arrangements for the things requested (he was in debt because his trade fleet sank, not because he was a fuckup.)

We resumed digging (with shovels) and I woke up because I was too weirded out. I don’t know if we successfully completed the project because I very completely woke up.

I have no idea why I had this dream. I HAVEN’T READ ANY CCS OR ANYTHING ROMAN RELATED IN MONTHS. ಠ_ಠ

She’s a growing girl

Hard to believe it’s been a year and a half since Jaenelle was born. Heck, I’m having trouble believing it’s been a month and a half since Rowan’s been born. O_O Time flies when you’re sleep deprived and on Mummy time!

To that end Jaenelle proves to us that she’s growing. She’ll say phrases, short sentences. Not really a lot of singular words. She’ll chatter at us, in discussing tones, and occasionally say a whole thing. The most memorable is when Rhys and I were putting the babies down for an afternoon nap a week or three ago. Rowan was snoozing in his cot, Rhys was rocking Jaenelle in his arms and I was telling our little girl that naps were a good thing. Suddenly, Rowan yelled in his sleep, startling us all.

“What was that?!” I said, peering into the cot. Rowan was still asleep.

Jaenelle, solemnly gazing at her brother, then very clearly said: “Vincent did it.” Then she looked away. We laughed and told the maligned big brother, who acted comically aggrieved and said he couldn’t be mad.

Jaenelle’s said a few other things, like “Almost made it,” when she almost succeeds at trying something; “try again, you can do it”, “good try” to encourage herself, for example.

Another of Jaenelle’s big achievements is taking her first steps! I was giving her small pieces of yakisoba noodles, having discovered that noodles are one of the things she will chew and swallow. I was holding out a piece and coaxing her to come and get it. Jaenelle pushed herself to her feet as she often does, but then took one step…two steps…three…four! I was happily cheering and swept her into my arms, kissing and cuddling her excited little face and heaping praises for her newest achievement. Jaenelle got her noodle and then went on to toddle around the room in sets of four steps before going down on all fours. Hail the power of yakisoba!

Feeding has taken some significant steps as well. She likes to sample our food and drink, if she sees us eating it. Lasagna, noodles, rice with sauce, bread with a bit of butter, crackers, cookies, as long as it’s a small piece she can moisten and gum into mush, we give her a sample. I gave her a thin slice of nectarine last week and today she went after the whole ones. She managed to scrape away some skin to expose the sweet, juicy flesh to suck on. I took a bite and now Jaenelle’s biting at it, going “yummm, yuuuum, nom nom!” Actually getting the soft flesh and swallowing.

Rowan has been focusing on mostly feeding, sleeping, and being cuddled. Jaenelle has learned that he likes his pacifier and helps by trying to give it to him. Sometimes even if he doesn’t want it. She’s trying.

These days he has some periods of where Rowan likes to look around and coo. His jaundice is fading and he is becoming cutely pink again. He has a bright, keen, and piercing gaze that reminds me of my Dad’s. I wonder what he would’ve said about his grandkids.

Hello World

We have another son, born this week! Meet Rowan! We have another big eyed cutie! Born at 36 weeks gestation, emergency c-section, weighed 2.22kg at birth.

He’s staying in the NICU because he started having some of the usual preemie setbacks (some jaundice, lethargy, low blood sugar) but he seems to be causing no worries to the NICU staff.

Older siblings are excited, and Jaenelle I am told seemed to just stare at the newbie with some puzzlement.

Lacatation biscuits work, by the way, and are very potent. Two cookies are overkill so I might try doing half a cookie.

My energy levels are still low as I want to only eat and sleep and my body has been giving me little choice about the latter… I start faceplanting about 15 minutes after a meal. so, recovery mode it is.

That’s all for now! ^,^

Recipe updated

The recipe Chocolate de Tony Modena has been updated with pictures. As noted there though, it’s going to be easier on you if you make this with a food processor instead of a hand or cake mixer, like I did. Kind of forgot that Australia is drier and cooler than the Philippines, where the humidity helped in making the balls and not have them get dusted everywhere.

Vignette Participation: Things got hairy…

This was my little contribution to the Sunday Vignettes post over at According To Hoyt. The others are also quite amusing, intriguing or both. There are also book promos, so do check them out!

Sevhan sighed, and frowned at the cringing apprentice before him, babbling near-incoherent, panicked apologies. “Do not fear, boy, I shan’t punish you for what was my mistake in the first place.”

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Fix it Mummy

So, the day started out well; the chibi-chan got to play with big brother before he went off to school and stayed awake most of the day with only brief 10-15 minute naps (or less) before she would start smiling and chattering again. Heck, she’s been in a fantastic mood since yesterday, where she charmed pretty much everyone we came across.

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Time flies!

I’m sure many parents can attest to being very sleep deprived when they have a new baby in the house, and the days can blur quite a bit when you’re living from alarm to alarm for a feeding schedule.

Nothing quite hammers it home though as “How old is she now?” That makes you stop, pause as you try to drag yourself out of the haze of Barely Awake and try to count the weeks…months … it’s 2019? When did that happen?

Then you step back, and take a look at your baby and realise she’s grown. Actually grown. And inwardly wail “No, I’m not ready yet, she can’t be past the new tiny baby stage when did she get all the cute baby chubby and start her non-verbal communication that I can actually understand?!” Yeah, and at the same time, you coo and cuddle and kiss those rosy cheeks and get a giggle! Baby laughing – ah, what a joyful sound.

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Do Not Want

So, it’s swiftly apparent that one of Jaenelle’s favourite people is the Housemate, Aff. From a baby point of view, this makes sense. He has the largest hands (besides Rhys) and when he holds her she feels secure. Also, she finds him funny, for reasons none of us can figure out

So Jaenelle was being held and talked to and it came time for her to be fed. Since we feed her through a tube in her nose, it’s easiest to keep her in her cot to do so. Aff, since he was talking to her, said “Okay, now we have to put you down in your cot, so you can have dinner, okay?”

Jaenelle’s smile immediately dropped into a sad frown, to his alarm.

“No, really, you have to be put back down in your cot-“

Even more tragic, tears welling at corners of big, WIDE EYES expression.

Me: *stifle laugh*

Aff: *slowly move toward cot and leans downward*

Jaenelle: *BURSTS OUT INTO ABSOLUTELY HEARTBROKEN AGONIZED TEARS*

Aff: O_O *hands Jaenelle to me, as I am an unhelpful Mom and cuddle and laugh at the same time as she wails and I comfort her*

Mind the reverse is more often true: he’ll lean over her, say hi and she’ll break out into this big gummy smile

Leaderprice Viande et Pommes Recreation

This is a recipe that we were originally introduced to as a frozen food by my middle brother Al’s Morrocan friends when we lived in Paris in the late 90s. It was basically ‘viande et pommes (du terre)’, and sold in the frozen food section of Leaderprice in 1 kg bags. Despite the unassuming name, the tiny diced potatoes, which had similarly tiny chunks of meat, were deliciously spiced – we could identify pepper, but the rest was a mystery, only hinted at by the fact that the potatoes were yellow-orange in hue when cooked. You just had to pop them in the microwave or stir-fry to enjoy. It was very much a budget cheapie frozen food, as there was much more potato than there was meat!

Believe me, we could each eat one of those bags. It’s a miracle that we didn’t end up massively unhealthily obese then, but we also walked a lot back in those days. Also, teenagers, I suppose.

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Berlin Memories Beef Goulash

I sent the recipe of my candied teriyaki tazukuri to my family, and my middle brother Al asked me if I have the recipe for my goulash, which I cooked up once and served to my sister in law (then to be) and she raved about the flavours and taste. It seems she remembers the dish!

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Coffee Jelly

A delightful treat of coffee and sweet cream

Happy New Year! Bye, 2018, hello 2019! Hopefully everyone will have a good year, or at the very least, one you can bear. I’m sharing my recipe of coffee jelly, which we had as part of the New Year celebration food. Really though, it’s such an easy dessert (just takes time, as jellies do) that there is no reason why you couldn’t have it more often than that!

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Candied Teriyaki Tazukuri Dilis

So I was writing about Tazukuri in my Takeno Gohan recipe, and after looking at a few recipes on how to make Tazukuri, I felt I could make my own twist on it – a bit closer to the recipe made by Seakid, maybe.

It turns out that I had already thought of doing this, as my husband remembered that I had some of the dried dilis in a package in the fridge, shoved into the back. I had the rest of the ingredients in my pantry, so seeing as today is New Year’s Eve, I figured, why not? It looked like something I could do while Jaenelle was napping after a feed.

Forgot to take a picture of the dilis in the package. Sorry. I got excited.
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Takeno Gohan with Tofu

Bamboo-tofu rice with seasoned seaweed, aburaage and sweet and spicy crispy fish and blueberries on a tray
of A Japanese-style meal with bamboo tofu rice as the main star!

I started making Japanese style cooked mixed rice as a fairly easy, makes me happy light meal. Takeno Gohan, or Bamboo Rice, is actually by itself pretty filling (to me) but sometimes, I want a bit more and I can add seasoned seaweed, or aburaage, or crispy candied dilis fish. (I didn’t have access to dried dilis at the time but I found them packaged as a coated crispy snack with spicy cornstarch, so I cooked sugar and soy sauce together until it got very thick and sticky and coated the snacks with them to make my own candied dilis. In Japan they’re called Tazukuri.) This is really less of a recipe and more of a method of cooking. (Edited to add: I’ve made my own version of Tazukuri. Enjoy!)

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Delicious Failure

So since it’s heading to New Year, we were preparing the food that should be started ahead of time – squeezed in between taking care of Jaenelle, of course. I had planned a cake for Christmas, but discovered we were out of sour cream, and the shops were all out of it as well. So we let the dry mixture sit in a bowl, and the melted butter was put in the fridge to be reheated later.

Turns out you shouldn’t use the microwave to re-melt the butter that’s already been melted. The fats stay separated. We figured this out only later though, because we poured the remelted butter into the cake mix and ended up with this:

It had boiled over and out of the pan, resulting in a very buttery pudding…thing. It’s still very delicious though and rich, and with a bit of whipped cream on top, it’d be perfect. So we’re enjoying our delicious failure, as it’s already nicknamed. ^_^ By flavour, it is redeemed!