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Archive for June, 2012


Perhaps you’re wondering how a sour fruit could  be a gourmet food on your table.  As I have said in my previous blogs, you don’t have to be a seasoned cook or a chef in a famous restaurant to learn and improvise  a recipe based on  what is available in the kitchen. I guess, from my experience, it’s more on getting the taste to one’s liking than following certain rules on how to cook  it.

I was searching the net earlier and never found the exact English term for santol. Some say it is wild mangosteen, others call it sandor.  Definitely though, it is considered a fruit. The skin of the fruit  comprises a thin outer peel and a thicker inner rind. The pulp is soft and contains a milky juice. It may be sweet or sour depending on the ripeness.  Our native variety that grows here are somewhat sour but the other variety which they call Bangkok  santol are sweeter and the pulp is thicker too. Here’s what we had for lunch today. Paired with fried tilapia, it’s heaven 🙂

And you need the following  ingredients for this:

8 pcs. ripe santol, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic

2 heads onion

1 pack Ginisa  Flavor mix

3 cups pure coconut cream (gata)

2 cups of water

4 pcs. green pepper

1/4 kilo ground pork(giniling)

salt and pepper to taste

Ideally, you could use fish sauce or “alamang” but my  son is allergic to shrimps so I have to make do with just salt.

Those eight santol pieces would yield about 6 cups of chopped meat. You don’t need to fry the pork  in oil, just let the coconut cream simmer for a few minutes then add in all the ingredients except the santol. Let it boil until the pork is cooked then add in the santol last. Let it simmer until it’s cooked and dried.  When you cook with gata, always add chili since it enhances the flavor.

It’s another dish that is easy to make and it taste “oh so yummy”. Try it!

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Sometimes I wish I could stay in a nicer place where everything I see is white! It may be a blanket of white flowers or some fluffy cotton candy clouds that put a smile on my face….always. There are times when loneliness creeps in (can’t be helped) like a  steady rhythm that beats and works  its way into the innermost fiber of your being. There are times when being alone is most magnified  and you tend to see things like you’ve never seen  before. I am always grateful though that my little garden gives me a sense of peace and belonging, an uncomplaining companion that does not say, “you never have time”. Believe me, if I am well enough to stay in the sun for long, I will. Things are not the same now unlike three years ago. The effect of medications and chemotherapy has left me a little breathless at times, easy to get tired and always  lacks sleep. It zaps you of strength even if there is that adrenalin rush to do something else. Gardening is one such thing that I miss doing since my time staying here is limited now.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the morning ritual of watering the plants, feeding the Koi and finding some new blooms to document. I took these shots early this morning except for the last two shots of  that I took  months ago. Looking at the pictures of these white  flowers makes me smile, it’s a little close to that place I was dreaming earlier.

My white Ruellia. They actually come in different colors and are self-propagating. They are summer flowers.

A Dwarf Pandakaki, also  known as Kampupot. I just wonder why they call it Banana bush when it does not even resemble a banana plant.

Snow Rose, a delicate flower in white. It resembles my Orange African rose but this one has a faint scent lacking in the former.

Locally known as White Angel flowers, they are sun-loving plants.  It could grow into a little bush but it is perfect when trimmed.

Can you help me identify this one? It’s pretty common in our neighborhood and does not need too much care.

This pretty cat stole my morning. It’s a neighbor’s pet that visits us once in a while but I am always afraid that she’ll be chased by our angry dogs . Sometimes, I envy that serene pause, shutting out the world  with all its broken dreams.

Ah, my lovely Amazon Lily! I only get to see the flowers once or twice a year but the waiting is all worth it.

My one and only Gardenia shrub never fails to make me smile every time it’s in bloom. I love that heady intoxicating scent.

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It was a lovely birthday celebration for my son who turned 28 today. Although we had a late lunch of Sweet -Style Spaghetti ( a special request from him….the sweet  taste of the pasta), Shakey’s Pizza  and Cream Dory Fillet, it was a fun-filled and simple celebration.  It was fun relaxing to the max – eat, laugh, exchange news and listen to classical music.  Nissa brought her CD Brainy Baby Classical Tunes which she says they always listen to while on their way to the office. She said and I quote, “I want my baby to appreciate good old classical music”. And she’s right, listening to Mozart’s Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star makes me remember those days when I was teaching both of them their alphabets.  And it’s wonderful to get re-acquainted with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Mendelssohn’s Symphony and Boccherini’s Minute to name a few. I took a few pictures for posterity 🙂

My two kids – Nissa and Sef!

Four-months  pregnant Nissa!

A simple fare of  Breaded Cream Dory Fillet, Sweet-style Spaghetti and Pizza in two flavors!  We had leche flan and cassava cake for dessert.

What counts is being together . Celebrating life. Another birthday.  Maligayang kaarawan anak!

Trivia: My son has the same birthday as that of Prince William Arthur Philip Louis Windsor. I remember when I gave birth to him, Princess Diana was shown celebrating the second birthday of her son and I put that event in my son’s baby book 🙂

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It’s my son’s 28th birthday tomorrow.  How time flies! And I am getting old. Well, age is just a number, so they say, what matters is how you’ve lived your life and how you’ve brought  up your kids in the best way you dreamed of.  I am so lucky and blessed to have them in my life, I could not ask for more!

Welcome to another amazing year of your life…

Cherish the moments, chase the dreams

I am always here for you

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

 

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I wonder what you think of these photographs. I experimented taking shots from a moving car in one of our road trips a year ago. I rather like the blurry effect  and the combination of colors – the green hues, the blues, browns and greys all mixed together in one frame.

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In the silence of your heart, you’ll hear God’s whispers.  He always speaks with loving words. You are loved. You are blessed! You are a wonderful creation of God.

 


 

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They always say that life is how you make it and your happiness depends on how you see the simple things that come your way. Would it make you smile? Would it make you laugh? Or would it make you remember some memories from childhood?

Over a year ago, Nissa, Obet and I went home to the province to visit some of our relatives and friends and to bond with my seven-year old niece. It was also our  chance of introducing  Obet to the family. Across the street is a neighbor’s house, they are relatives actually, where I saw this old-fashioned way of making charcoal. I do remember decades ago how my grandfather would prepare a pit and arrange wood to make something like this. The harder the wood, the better it was to use. Back in those days, guava trees just grow everywhere and when it’s time to clean the yard, my grandfather always saves the bigger trunks for charcoal-making.

The simple life back in the province still has that attraction to me.  Don’t get me wrong because now, they even have cable TV, satellite discs  and every modern gadget that you could think of  but somehow, it’s quite a novelty to see  such a laid-back way of doing things amidst modern times.

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Two nights ago, I blogged about my daughter  and my son-in-law spending the night with us. The weekend is always such a joy when they are around. Nissa showed me the result of  the baby’s sonogram taken at thirteen weeks. I showed it to our Catholic private group at Facebook and I was simply amazed by their comments when they saw the picture. Sheryl, one of our members from Hong Kong said, it was not only the fetus she saw in the picture but the happy face of Mama Mary clapping and Jesus cuddling a baby in His bosom.  Some members of the group said the same thing so I looked closely at the picture and I knew what they meant. I am reposting it here.

I wonder if you’ll be able to see what they saw in the picture. The figure on the left  which shows the defined spine of our baby also shows the picture of a face with hands clapping and the right shows a figure more like holding a baby  and gazing at it.  Their faith is such that they see God in everything.  And we don’t need miracles in our lives to know that God is near us, lovingly guiding us, being present even  in the ordinary and uneventful happenings in our lives.  We could feel God’s tender touch  through the wind on our face, we could feel God’s loving hand through the outreached hands of a child, we could feel God’s loving embrace  through a tight hug from a friend.

We’ll be having a baby boy and I am so excited to be called Nonna come November this year. Nonna is the Italian word for grandma which Fr. Boy, a priest-friend based in Italy  thinks sounds elegant. I laughed. Whether I be called, Nanay, Lola, Grandma does not really matter. I just pray that he’ll be a healthy baby boy. He is the first grandchild in the family (on our side) so I am counting the days and imagining holding my first apo in my arms in a few months.  He is a wonderful gift to our family –  a wonderful gift from God.

Have a nice Sunday and Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful fathers out there!

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Two years ago, my daughter and three of her friends went to Thailand  to learn the art of Thai cooking and to know a little of the culture of the place. They stayed there for about a week and enrolled in a Thai school. The other two who are certified chefs  enrolled in an advanced course in Thai cuisine. I am sharing some pics that would give you a closer look at an ordinary day in a Thai kitchen.

At the temple of the reclining Buddha.

The temples of Bangkok…

A typical wet market in Thailand. The vegetables displayed here are similar to what we have in our markets too.

Nissa with her cooking instructor shopping for fresh produce.

Look at those colorful array of veggies and spices and herbs in a Thai kitchen.

Don’t you just love these colorful food covers?

Preparing Thai Pandan Chicken

I love how colorful their dishes look…

She brought home some of these but our local cookies taste better.

A typical floating market selling mangoes. Nothing beats our sweet mangoes here in the Philippines though.

I love Thai food. Months ago, I found some authentic Thai ingredients in a supermarket  near our place and they are  now permanent fixtures inside our pantry. That’s how close I can get to experiencing  a little of Bangkok without actually being there.

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Take that as something I look forward to because tonight my daughter and son-in-law are coming for an overnight stay. I really miss those days when Nissa and I used to spend Friday nights watching our favorite movies on DVD. Never mind if we are still awake at 2am, the giggles, the laughter and sometimes the tears while watching a sentimental story more than make up for the eye bags  and headaches the following day. It’s the togetherness that counts, right?  I seldom see her now, once or twice a month is how frequent our meeting gets but it is always something I treasure and look forward to. Text messages and phone calls are part of our daily routine though. Sometimes, just out of the blue, she would text and say “I miss you so much Ma, I love you very much” and my heart melts because I miss her too. She’s been married for more than seven months now and come November, before their first wedding anniversary, I am hoping to see my first grandchild. Gosh, does that makes me old? Who cares about the numbers beside your name anyway?

She said that she brought her last ultrasound so I could see her baby, the much-awaited figure in our lives now. A friend even suggested that if it turns out to be a girl, we should have our pictures taken, four generations in one frame – mom, me, Nissa and her baby.  How I wish Mom would still be strong enough to see her grow up.  Don’t get me wrong, whether it’ll be a boy or a girl, he/she would be very much welcome. Maybe, at five months, we’ll be able to see if Nissa will have to prepare something blue or something in a shade of pink.  Who knows, but if you ask me, I’d rather it be a surprise, the sex of the baby I mean, but technology nowadays robs us of some of those lovely surprises because every month, there is a scheduled ultrasound. I am praying that her pregnancy would be smooth and she’ll have an easy delivery. I remember my ordeal when I gave birth to her because she was a premature baby. I had pre-eclampsia on my seventh month and had to stay at the hospital until the doctor decided that it was okay to give birth at eight months, an induced birth actually because my blood pressure was too high, a little  risky  for mother and child.

There is something so special, so endearing and so poignant about a mother and child relationship. The wonder of having those tiny hands curl up in yours and those lopsided grins even when your baby is asleep.  The many firsts that you’ll witness in your baby’s young life – the first school day, when she goes home crying because she misses you, the first time she could write her name and proudly shows you how it’s done, the first heartaches of teenage crushes. I could go on and on but those times are well-remembered with joy and fondness. Nissa and I have a different kind of sharing now and it’s all about our new baby.

It’s another lovely weekend, my day is complete when my kids are around. And I remember what Sophia Loren once said,  “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”

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