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There is really no contest between the two. I love both and this is actually another experiment because it was the first time I used chicken as the main ingredient instead of ground pork. I haven’t baked anything in a while, desserts or recipes. I am not really that too busy  but the last few days have been so stressful that I have to think of a way to relax and cooking relaxes me. One morning while we were having breakfast, Josef and I discussed about what we used to prepare on the table and I told him, let’s prepare something for mom that she would surely like. My mom is turning 86 in a few days and she’s talking of going home to the province before the month ends. I told her to wait for her birthday here. There is no reasoning with our old folks once they decide on something. She just told me yesterday to call my brother so he could fetch her. One thing I like about her is that she is always appreciative of what I cook. When she is not familiar with it, she watches  me prepare the ingredients and asks questions.  We’ve been on mostly fish and vegetables since the season of Lent started and Fridays are totally “no-meat days”. Sourcing what is available in our pantry, here it is, a yummy chicken shepherd’s pie. It always tastes good with panini bread, just plain grilled slices.

Mom loves the melted cheese and mashed potato on top. Baked it just to melt the cheese.

Mom loves the melted cheese and mashed potato on top. Baked it just to melt the cheese.

Never been good at taking pictures of food. One more try, that is...

Never been good at taking pictures of food. One more try, that is…

P. S. And here’s the recipe,as promised Ren. You would need the following:

1 whole deboned chicken breast, boiled and cut into bite-size pieces

2 boiled potatoes

1/2 stick butter

dash of pepper

white onion, diced but it is better to cut it into small cubes

1 large carrot

1 cup of green peas

1 small can of Campbell Cream of Mushroom

grated cheese

Mash the potato with 1/2 stick butter, set aside. Saute onion, carrots, green peas and chicken then add in the can of mushroom last. Don’t put salt because the saltiness of the cream is good enough. Put in a baking dish, top with the mashed potato then grated cheese. A friend suggested that you can add bread crumbs to the cheese to make it crunchy to the bite  (it’s up to you). Bake for 30 minutes covered in aluminum foil or until the cheese melts. Serve hot with your favorite bread. I used the regular American loaf bread pressed on a Panini maker.

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“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

I love quoting these lovely words from one of my favorite writers,  Henri Nouwen,  for they exactly describe how friendship should be and what it really means to me, when you could be just as you are with them, when they accept you in their lives and in their hearts, warts and all.

Last Saturday was another lovely celebration of friendship.  A few close friends came over to just celebrate the day with me and mom.  Two of them will be celebrating their birthdays this month and what a fitting way to share laughter, smiles, hugs, serious stuff (you would not believe this  but most of our topics touched on our faith and the beauty of being a Catholic) and food of course. Mom was so amazed to learn that they came from  places outside Metro Manila and she was full of questions like how I met them,  why they are visiting me when we could choose to go out  and spend the day in malls, she asked where they work, things that a typical mom wants to know. When they have left, she said “ang babait nila”. Mabait in English has no exact meaning but it encompasses various traits like being kind, gentle, friendly, generous, amiable, considerate, you name it, it is all in there in that single word.  We had a good laugh of course while we were taking pictures. They brought their cameras  and we took some shots.

That's mom on the extreme right. She was gracious enough to join us in our picture-taking.

That’s mom on the  right. She was gracious enough to join us in our picture-taking.

For WP2

for WP3

Food galore....

Food galore….

Sinful mango cake from Red Ribbon...

Sinful mango cake from Red Ribbon…

IMG_6578

We were all so full  we just snacked on polvoron (yummy powdered milk candy from Red Ribbon), boiled peanuts and adobo peanuts while sharing and discussing so many topics, touching even politics and world affairs.

It was a lovely day to celebrate friendship.

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Gosh,  how time flies!  I can’t believe that it’ll be summer in a week or two. Here comes the sun and probably a series of brownouts that the Department of Energy is warning the public since last year. And it is not a case of I hope we have enough supply because it will definitely happen (according to news reports). I am thinking of buying a rechargeable fan to beat the summer heat.  Despite these setbacks though, summer would always be welcome, never mind the heat, we are used to it. What I love about the summer are the varieties of local fruits you’ll find only during the season, mangoes (we produce the sweetest mangoes), star apples, santol (wild mangosteen) siniguelas (Spanish plum) rambutan, avocado, duhat (Java plum) and many more.  My annuals bear flowers during the summer months and I love the surprise I always see in my tiny garden during this season. I could now see a growing  kamantigue with its dark violet flowers.

This has been a productive week for me. I finished painting two spans of our fence grills, three more to go. I bought garden soil and did some repotting  and replanting of my prayer plants. I have three varieties of them. I found a white vinca growing outside and replanted it too in one corner together with the pink ones. Mom said I should take a rest because every day I am outside trying to refurbish our small garden. We have this old lampshade made of ceramics and  when the electrical wiring was not working anymore, I made it into a garden accessory and repainted it in black together with a water fountain that we no longer use but still a lovely accent piece in one corner. It’s hard work I know but the fulfillment one gets seeing a new look is priceless.

Of course the day would not be complete without taking a few shots.   Here’s a picture of my Shanghai Beauty.

Pretty in pink...

Pretty in pink…

 

It's called Mexican Firereplant or  Wild Poinsettia

It’s called Mexican Fireplant or Wild Poinsettia

 

How was your week?  Happy weekend to all!

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A few days ago, I posted a blog at Gardens and Empty Spaces, some shots of my garden blooms.  I was excited to see my Amazon Lily in all its white glory. Here it is finally :)

It belongs to the family of Amaryllidaceae.

It belongs to the family of Amaryllidaceae.

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I seldom endorse a product,I am not even a lover of donuts (meaning, I don’t crave for it) but I can’t resist sharing this.  They’re the best I’ve ever tasted, not too sweet but melt in the mouth goodness. Compared to other brands, J.Co donuts are just so good and they come in many flavors with such eye-catching names. Fancy this – Alcapone, Mr. Green Tea, Oreology, Berry Spears, Forest Glam, Tiramisu, Coco Loco to name a few.  These bite-sized donuts come in a box of two dozen different flavors, they are soft and chewy because they are baked and not fried. They have 29 branches here in the Philippines (next to the 135  chain of stores in Indonesia).

J.Pops baby donuts. They're quite expensive but people line up in their outlets to buy donuts or fat free frozen yogurt.

J.Pops baby donuts. They’re quite expensive but people line up in their outlets to buy donuts or fat-free frozen yogurt.

Pair it with their unique flavor of Italian blends coffee and you’re good to go. I prefer my own Twinings’ Green Tea and Lemon or Celestial Seasonings’ Raspberry Zinger.

Donut, anyone?

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My first experiment on color splash.

My first experiment with color splash.

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Woke up at 3am. Son left for work at 5am. I  watered the plants and  swept the yard a few minutes ago. It seems the clock’s hands are moving too slow, it’s not even 6am.  I wanted to go back to bed but I love the feel of the cold February morning on my face. Maybe it is another perfect time to write a few words here.

I’m cleaning my document files of unwanted downloads and pictures that I have already saved to my hard drive, then I saw this, a shot I took of our place the last time I went home more than four years ago.  A nostalgic longing, a trip down memory lane. It’s actually a narrow  road leading to our place in the province, a single lane for cars.

canvasI miss this place.  Several years ago, this was just a dirt road which was not  accessible to cars but it is now cemented. We live in a higher place than the town proper. It is actually overlooking the whole town but what I love most about it is the vast expanse of  green, bamboos gently swaying on the roadside and when you reach the top, the green rice fields are a feast for the eyes. I grew up here and it was my home until I graduated from grade school. The house is old and small but the garden is vast.

The countryside brings you back to old but not forgotten days of childhood. You smile at the thought of visiting it again, once more to commune with nature, to see old folks at home  and to renew acquaintance with the place where the sun rises early and bright and the night holds a certain magic because back there, the stars are brighter. If only for the quiet and peaceful feel of the place, I would love to go back.

I am having   a second cup of coffee while watching our three dogs frolicking in the garden. It’s a simple life but happiness abounds.

 

 

 

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