Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hi, Hello.

Hi there.  I know I’ve been away for a bit.  I know it’s been a little quiet over here.  I wish I could tell you (as I usually do) that work, Halloween planning, big school decisions, friends, life, and a million and one everyday things kept me too busy.  I wish.  I wish for the insistent demands of the many mundane things that usually vie for my attention.  Vie for all our attentions.  That steady, sometimes tedious, sometimes dull, sometimes frenetic, yet steady thrum of normalcy.  I wish.

My father is sick and has been in and out of the hospital for the past few months.  He was diagnosed in May and it’s been a locomotive out of control since then.  There have been bright spots…of hope, of fight, of a light seemingly just within reach.  But a lot of it has also been uphill, bleak, worry, dread.  Some days I don’t know which way is up.  I don’t know what I’m doing really, or where this is going.  I do know though to put on foot in front of the other and keep going.  One foot in front of the other.  One day at a time.  Get as much information from the doctors as possible.  Relay this to everyone concerned.  Get work done every free second I have.  Be happy in front of dad, even if right now he is mostly asleep.  Check that the kids don’t run out of food.  Call the laundry to get our clothes picked up.  And, most importantly, tell dad I love him every time I catch his eyes open.  Check, check, check…have I done everything?

Rinse, Repeat.

(Also: Why couldn’t I have been born one of those people who lose their appetites in times of anxiety?)

It goes without saying that not much cooking has been happening around these parts.  The yearning I feel to put my hands on food, to chop vegetables, to massage a marinade into meat, is so palpable it’s almost physical. Not for anything else but that cooking is one of my best therapies.  So, maybe (definitely) this will happen soon, but until then I’ll be sharing with you some ways to fight food waste and make the most of leftovers…a cause very dear to my heart.  And something I’ve had to do a lot these past weeks as I cooking has taken the backseat.  That will be up here soon – I hope you will find it as useful as I do.

In any case, I am back here simply to tell you that I’m still here.  That this isn’t just a food blog but a place where I go to for sanctuary.  My own personal space, since the day I put up that first hopeful post, and until now.  So I’ll be back, that is for certain.  Writing here, without rules or deadlines, cooking and sharing recipes, sharing ideas, sharing life…puts me right.  So this is just a little note to say “hi, hello” and “I hope you stick around because I need a virtual hug right about now”.

Wishing you a good weekend...hug as many people that you can!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Buttery Broiled Sole

I was flipping through a parenting magazine a couple of days ago, reading all the articles packed to the brim with how-to’s and good advice and words of wisdom…and I felt a familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Familiar because I realized, surprised, that I always feel this way when I read parenting magazines – like everything I’m doing is not exactly right and that grave consequences will surely follow.

I realized further, although fashion magazines get a lot of censure for giving girls negative body image, and impossible (and quite limited) standards of beauty, I have never, ever, in my whole life of reading fashion magazines, ever felt as insecure as I do when I read parenting magazines (and I am nowhere near svelte so I'm a prime target for fashion magazine victimization).  Which was quite a revelation really – one would think that the opposite would be the case.  But truth be told, not even a thousand skinny models with perfect skin and impossibly smooth hair could make me feel as, pardon the term, crappy, as a parenting magazine.

And it’s not the features on the immaculate “supermoms” who can manage to have their children eating with chopsticks by 5, reading Jane Austen at bedtime, with enough time for regular ballet classes and play dates…no, it’s not them.  It’s the articles.  The articles about the “5 things you should never say…” or the “10 things every parent should know…” or “how to get your toddler to have better manners/not throw tantrums/clean up their rooms/play the kazoo”.  It’s those articles that make me want to throw myself on the floor with my hand flung tragically to my temple and cry out, “no more!”.

Why?, I wondered.  I think it’s because parenting is so much more personal than dress size (well at least to me).  We are so much more emotionally invested (naturally) in our children than the fact that, say, we can’t wear a certain cut of jeans because, um, baby’s got back.  It’s our kids, our babies…we’ve only got this one shot (pulls hair out in dramatic gesture)!  And of course, that sneaky, horrible mantra that weasels its way into our brains despite our best efforts...Am I a good mom?

So, like those who have sworn off fashion magazines, I am swearing off parenting magazines.  I’ll focus on having fun with my little ones, trying to keep my finger of the pulse of their needs, making life a little brighter, giving them what I want them to remember when they’re older.  If I say the wrong thing, or use the wrong words, then we will just all have to live with that.  And if I find myself once again in that treacherous juncture between not knowing what to do and feeling totally unsure of myself, I’ll take a deep breath, looking into their eyes, and into my heart, and hope to find the answer there. 

So...I haven’t read a parenting magazine (or any parenting articles) for three whole days and I am feeling splendid!  Don’t you wish all life’s problems could be solved that easily?  In any case, if you need something that won’t make you feel the least bit inadequate, try this sole.  Five minutes under the broiler and dinner’s ready!  You will feel totally competent!  And it's delicious.

Buttery Broiled Sole
(adapted from the Broiled Rainbow Trout with Hush Puppies in Saveur magazine, Aug./Sept. 2013 issue)
  • 2 sole fillets (about 450-500 grams total weight)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened but not melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

- Pre-heat the broiler in your oven to high.  Mine doesn't have any temperature settings at all -- I just pre-heated it and it worked just fine.
- Pat the sole fillets dry and lay them flat on a baking tray.
- In a bowl, mix the butter, paprika, and oregano.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  You want the butter to be well seasoned.
- Brush the fillets with the butter mixture.
- Broil (top/middle rack) until golden and cooked through, with the butter bubbling temptingly at the edges, about 5 minutes or when the flesh flakes easily.
- Serve with lemon wedges.

When I saw the original recipe in Saveur I knew I had to try it right away.  Without the hush puppies, the dish was dead simple…something I knew would be a great standby for those days when it feels like you don’t even have two minutes to rub together.  Saveur calls for rainbow trout but as I didn’t have any, and don’t know where to procure it here, I settled for sole.  But really, all white flesh fish would do well in this.  Just adjust your cooking time accordingly to the size of your fillets.  Some smaller pieces could take just 3 minutes.  You can also play around with the seasoning in the butter…use your own favorite herbs and spices.  I am sure a spicy version with cayenne and cumin would be fantastic.

I know I have posted about easy dishes before, but this is almost criminally easy.  Just spread your seasoned butter, then mere moments under the broiler, and you are set.  When you pull out that tray of golden, buttery fish you will feel nothing short of accomplished.

I’d just like to say here, before I end, that I have nothing against parenting magazines at all!  I am sure they are a valuable resource.  How I feel is based purely on my own emotions.  It’s me, not them.  And so I’m breaking up with them for a little while.  I need to get some books finished anyway…

As far as parenting is concerned, I’ll be (happily) flying by the seat of my pants…and doing the very best I can.

P.S. I still read fashion magazines though :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Wagyu Bacon Giveaway...We Have a Winner!!

How is everyone doing this wet and windy Friday?  Another typhoon has hit our shores and, as I've seen report after report on the news, floods abound and power is already down in some areas.  Now is the time to stay home and hunker down with your family...or with a good book and a bowl of something extra yummy.  Others are not so lucky, so do check out relief operations nearby.  I know San Antonio Parish in Makati has already started accepting donations -- just look for this hashtag on twitter:

On other news, rain or shine, I promised one of you some Wagyu bacon today.  And I deliver on all my promises.  So without further chitchat the winner of the Wagyu bacon giveaway is...Cheekeegirl!!

Cheekeegirl I will be in touch with you through email to sort out the details of how we can get your bacon to you.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!  For those of you who want to snag some for yourselves just check out Baba's Kitchen -- she has a lot of goodies, not the least being her chili garlic oil, which is dangerously addicting.  But that's for another post and another giveaway.

Meanwhile, the husband is cooking tonight...his special tuna pasta is almost ready.  Little C helped, choosing the noodles (tri-color farfalle that she picked out herself in the store).  Work was called off and so was school.  For the work-at-home work force though it is business as usual, so the rest of the family is preparing dinner for me tonight.  I have a lot to be thankful for, of that I am most aware.  So I am off to enjoy C's delicious pasta and all the simple things we sometimes take for granted.  I hope you are all safe and dry, and with people who make your life wonderful!

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's Friday....and some bits & things for the weekend!

It's Friday and I'm down with horrid bug.  It's been going around these parts, first with the little girl, then with the little boy, and then finally with mama...where it has settled with some vengeance in the form of achy bones and a really painful throat.  Not much of a Friday night for certain but I'm burrowing down with my family and that, above all, gives me great comfort.

Between managing the sickies and work there hasn't been much time for puttering in the kitchen.  As such, I thought I'd share as some of the delicious food (and drink!) I have been enjoying in and around the city.  These are by no means the latest hot tickets (I leave that to actual restaurant bloggers) but they are good and I am loving each and every one of them.

If you are looking for something to eat or drink this weekend may I suggest these?

From top left onwards:

** Crispy sisig at Manam - a cross between sisig and chicharon.  For someone like me, who is both a sisig and chicharon lover, this is absolute heaven.  Manam is located at Greenbelt 2.

** Braised tendon at Peking Garden - Soft, unctuous, and sinfully rich.  But strictly for tendon lovers!  Rice is a must.  Peking Garden is located at Greenbelt 5.

** Sloe gin at The Curator - I love having a place like The Curator nearby, where I can go with friends to have a thoughtfully made cocktail and feel like an adult.  Sloe gin, introduced to me by a friend, is my current new love.  Made with gin and sloe berries it tastes of a sticky prune cake infused with booze.  Which is really just up my alley.  The Curator is located on the corner of Legazpi and C. Palanca Streets, in Lagazpi Village, Makati (you'll need to go inside Cyrano first).

** Fresh ankimo at Tsumura - Ankimo is made of steamed monkfish liver and is, simply put, incredible.  I am not too fond of liver but, like foie gras, ankimo is different.  It is smooth and luxurious, with a slight hint of the sea.  In a lot of Japanese restaurants they use canned ankimo (which is not bad at all, let me just say), but in Tsumura, when the season is right, they have it fresh.  It is well worth seeking it out.  Tsumura is located at the 2nd floor of 88 Corporate Plaza, Sedeno corner Valero Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati.

** Sweet corn agnolotti at Wildflour - If you, like me, like a little sweet with your savory, then you (like me) will love this.  Pillows of sweet corn pasta nestled in a creamy sauce topped with prawns and wild arugula.  My new favorite.  Wildflour is located in V Corporate Center, 125 LP Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati.

** Órale has re-opened! - My husband is a big fan of Mexican food and Órale is his favorite Mexican restaurant.  It has been under renovation for about a month now and he has been waiting with bated breath (and a tad impatiently truth be told).  He dragged me, quicker that a fox in a hen house, as soon as we found out it had opened its doors again.  We are currently loving the soft tacos (barbacoa and lengua) and the grilled corn (I love corn, what can I say!)...which I had cut off the cob (I'm a lazy wench!) by the kind waitstaff.  Órale is located at the Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

I also want to add that my Wagyu bacon giveaway is still ongoing.  Yes, you still have time to win yourself some decadent Wagyu bacon!  Just head over to this post to find out how!

Have a wonderful weekend ahead!  Armed with medicine, multivitamins, and lozenges I will attempt to do just that as well!