The Lemon Drink

The first sip was absolutely detestable. My two kids will not drink this. A strong acidic taste with a hint of astringency and some weird stuffs. No sugar, or maybe there was. In minimal amount just to offset a bit of citrus and astringency. I used to add sugar to my tea to reduce too much astringency. I eventually got rid of the sweet thing as soon as my tongue got adjusted.

What I am thinking when I see up-sized drinks like this? Beverage for a sweet tooth. Basically softdrink, juice drink or cold tea. Slurpy, fruit shake or halo-halo. Whatever it maybe, it must be sweet. Why? It is simply because merchants want goods that sell. Mass majority crave for sweets. Sweet goods are very salable. We drink coffee that is naturally bitter but we add sugar to make it sweet. We love chocolates not because of its inherent bitter, cocoa and fruity taste. It is because of the same old reason.

It contained three slices of lemon, less than a quarter each. And handful of chopped thingy that I never bothered inspecting. They were almost unrecognizable. A company keeping a little secret, maybe.

Just like what I do with home-made lime water, I refilled it. Let sit inside refrigerator for several hours and drink again. The taste was still pretty strong after refill. Got weaker on the third.

Mass majority might like too much of sweet things. However, there are growing portion of population that like bland, bitter or astringent healthy foods. That including me. As long as this niche market exist, business focus on health will continue to thrive.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Cracker From Fish Skin

Somebody got sued for their snack containing a small fried lizard. Well! Accidents happen. Preventive measures can be exercised, but, as always. Not 100% foolproof. There will always be rejects no matter how rigorous the quality control process is. A small sample size which passed the QA Team does not mean the rest are all good. Sorry for the manufacturer if the err product falls to the wrong hand. It will be reported to regulatory agency, news team or posted in social media site and become trending. The news is not really about the product itself but the company who carry it.

So I am interested with what they are making. It is coated and fried fish skin. Fish skin cracker. Relyenong bangus is making good use of skin. It is thick and strong enough as casing of shredded fish meat mixture. Most of the time, it is wasted. Even the relyeno case is just thrown after.

We choose not to because of very simple reasoning. The flavor is not good enough. We take no effort making it better. I usually eat the whole thing. I hate seeing food being dump. If I can only get theirs on their plate! Nothing is wrong with it but it is unethical. Restos choose to dump them or secretly sell to pag pag retailers.

Pag pag is the local coined term for restaurants leftover, sorted and being resold to patrons. Buyers often knows what they are getting. They are cheap and perhaps safe. Crossing their fingers.

The company is surely not getting the fish skins from these leftovers. Rather, they are remnants of large scale processing operations. E.g. Fish fillet and tuna.

At home. After a meal, the skins can be sorted out. Then re-cooked to a better tasting dish. You know what I i mean. When we were kids. We were doing it in one single go. Frying it longer so the whole thing inside and out was crunchy. Yes, we associate crispiness to good flavor. Plain crispy potatoes are okay. Barbecue and garlic flavor with no snap are bad

We are sure creative. Findings ways to make good use of skin stuffs. Skin of furry animals are use as coats. Vicious or not, does not matter. They should be afraid of us. Not the other way around. Cow, horse, crocodile and snake for leathers. Pig skin for chicharon or cooked together with the meat.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Why Do Meat Turn Sour (Lumpiang Shanghai) ?

I think I encountered it thrice already. The first and the second were grocery bought lumpiang shanghai. The third one was home made.

Why do meat turns sour? There are probably two reasons. The first is intentional and the second is accidental.

We love vinegar that we usually put it to our cooking. Paksiw, sinigang and even pinangat na tulingan. If we got bored of the taste, replacing it with other souring agent works well. Tamarind fruit, young tamarind leaves, green mango and santol fruit during its season. For fried meat and fish, it is usually dip in vinegar concoction (vinegar and soysauce is common). Sometimes marinated before frying. For this reason, some creative entreprenuers are selling them marinated, dinaing na bangus and tapa.

Note: Santol rind can be sun dried and use later souring agent. I find it good, though some are saying it has astringent taste.

It was a little weird when the shanghai rolls I’ve tasted was sour. The seller might have soaked the thing in vinegar before sale. It was okay. I feel it more enjoyable doing the dipping myself though.

The next incident happened when we made the rolls ourselves using the pre-mixed ground meat. The taste was normal during the first frying. The rest was stored in refrigerator for the next day. Then, the sour thing manifested again. I was sure something was not right. The accidental souring probably caused by lactic acid bacteria. We considered it spoiled but maybe not harmful. Spoiled because we do not intended making sour rolls. May still be safe because our stomach were pefectly fine after taking a few. However, please don’t do what we just did.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Firelog With Fried Chicken Smell

I am not interested in buying the firelogs. Not unless it becomes available in KFC restaurant near our area. I find it overboard importing a firelog when it is readily available locally. The norm is getting it free if ready to stretch muscles and shed sweat.

How can a firelog get a fried chicken smell? If one is to store regular firelog ( madre de cacao in our case) directly above the roastery, or somewhere inside the roasting room. It will eventually absorb the pleasant roasted chicken smell. This method of flavor transfer is popular in coffee an cacao. As a matter of personal experience. I already got hold of cacao which tasted like cashew nuts and another batch with hint of barako coffee. Well, resorting to this method, their production expected low and the log price will be high. Not very fitting for affordable model of the fast food chain.

Oh.. it is KFC, as in Kentucky Fried Chicken. They are frying their chicken, not roasting. Kenny Roger Roasters have the in-restaurant equipment to this kind of thing. On other hand, used oil taste like fried chicken. Logs can be treated with it. Because it has oil, it will have more vigorous flame. It will emit a nice fried chicken smell if my assumption is right. Else, the smell of burnt oil. A nicer way of recycling used oil.

The next thing in line. Treating the woods with artificial flavor. Flavoring technique similar to roasted coffee. Liquid flavor is sprayed as the freshly roasted cools. Then sealed to preserve. The same can be done with wood. It can be sprayed with artificial liquid flavor then sealed. The customer can sense the smell even before firing it. It gets stronger as soon as it is ignited.

Do not want to bother yourself with these stuffs? Just get a fried chicken and your good to go.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Tried Identifying Herbs with PlantSnap and PlantNet

I accidentally found an android app that might be useful for you and me. PlantSnap. It identifies unknown plant by taking image and comparing it to database. I bet it needs an active internet connection to do its job. I never tried with no data. However, I can’t figure out how can they fit the data down to 85 MB. It needs huge resource to do its job properly.

How can it be useful? When buying herb, not sure of its identity and want to make verification. The case of ginger and wild ginger. The turmeric and the look-a-alike. They have the same leaves and stems except for the white fleshy root of the fake. Biologist, foresters and enthusiast wanting/needing to identify unknown plant before them. For the sake of study or curiosity.

If unknown plant is at hand. One can simply ask a person who knows it. Lucky you if the plant of concern is a local. There is a very high chance that anyone in the area can tell what is it, including the details. In case not, you have to find an expert. A tedius way is comparing it to every biology book you can find. Is it worth it? If you are paid, then it is! Otherwise, you are wasting time for the sake of science.

Yes, I downloaded and installed the app despite of lots of bad reviews. There are lots of bads and still the average is four stars. In general, it is said the app cannot identify common plants and yet the developer’s claim of accuracy is 95%.

I tried it on several plants and it never identified correctly. It was giving wrong identification including several choices in case the first one was wrong.
It brings back the memories of me using Google Image Search. It works by uploading the image in question instead of typing keywords. It was failing miserably so I stopped using it. Posting it in social media is a very effective way. Why do we need unreliable app?

plant snap wrong identifications

Premium subscription removes the ads and offers some perks. I am not sure if it improves identification accuracy.


Tried another app the day after. There were several choices to choose from the store.  I decided to get the one that is community based and not flagged with ads. Yes, the previous one I tested bombarded me with ads. Few ads are just fine but too many gets very annoying.

It was Pl@ntNet.  I did 11 identification trials and it got two correct answers.  Was it bad? Yes it was.  However, the good thing. It often presents many images to compare for better accuracy.  It never cover images with ads while  I was comparing images. Flashing unrelated items over the images of concern tend to make someone annoyed and loose focus. I get to decide whether  upload my images or not in hope to identify it and help others.  Not sure if the unidentified images is going to get its identity later. Good if it is.

Plant identification apps might not be accurate at the time being. But it helps narrow the choices and reduce effort.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.