Monthly Archives: May 2008

remember when…

time didn’t go so fast
everything seemed cut and dried, black and white
you looked out at the world
with the eyes of a child

and he was still Cat Stevens?

LP 8: ihip ng hanging malumanay: gentle wind

ang isa sa pinakapaborito kong tunog sa buong mundo, ay ang bulong ng hangin sa mga sanga ng kawayan.
hindi ko na ito naririnig dito sa aking tinitirahan ngayon.
pero ngayong medyo mainit-init na nang konti ang panahon at nakakapagbukas na kami ng (konting) bintana, muli ko nang naririnig ang mga bulong ng mga dahon sa mga matatanda’t matatangkad na punong kahoy na elm, maple, at oak sa tabi ng aming driveway.
ang aking mga anak ay madalas nang nakakahilata sa kanilang swing, palagi ko silang nakikitang nakatitig sa mga puno at dahon.
palagay ko nagiging mapayapa at malualhati rin ang kanilang pakiramdam, sa pakikinig ng tunog ng hanging malumanay.

mga iba’t ibang paniniwala sa pagkadyos o dyosa ng hangin.

humihingi ako ng paumanhin…
matagal na kong “absent” at di nakakasali sa Litratong Pinoy, dahil nga sa kakulangan ng oras sa isang araw. ako’y hiyang hiya rin dahil hindi ko nakayang dalawin ang lahat ng mga nagsisali’t nag-iiwan ng mga masasaya at mabubuting salita sa “comments”…salamat na lang at nakausap ko ang Bossing este Moderator ng LP, at sinabing sikapin kong sumali kahit di masyadong nakakapag ikot, alang alang sa samahan at kasiyahang naidudulot nitong lingguhang blog fiesta na ito…

one of the sounds i really miss hearing is the whisper of a gentle breeze swaying the bamboo trees, it is truly a peaceful and relaxing sound, the hush of the leaves and creak of the bamboo poles. it used to be my favorite lullaby on many a childhood summer day’s nap.

lately with the weather starting to warm up we’ve been able to open a few windows and my kids have started to hang out in the porch swing. many afternoons i see them just chilling, staring at the trees and daydreaming.

this is a photo of a terra cotta “wind god” i bought for our deck when we first bought the house convinced the bank to lend us a home-loan, twelve years ago. i thought at first it was a sun god but when i hung it up on the wall i saw that with its pursed lips and cloud-like curls….well at least it seems to be gently blowing a sweet kiss of a breeze, and not a roaring gale.

lifelock to the rescue

There have been many instances of security breaches resulting in identity theft here in the state of Massachusetts, ranging from credit card user fraud to massive hacking of personal information from computers at workplaces and even at the grocery stores.
I found out that Massachusetts ranks 23rd in the country in terms of the number of the complaints of identity theft.
It is therefore comforting to know that there is a lifelock out there.
They back up their services with a million dollar guarantee that your personal information will be rendered useless to identity thieves.
Recently the AAA Pioneer Valley based in Western Massachusetts signed on and now offer the option for this service as an added layer of protection to the safety of their card-holding members.

And now, job-seeking residents of or nearby Tempe, AZ can have the chance to apply for jobs at Lifelock. How lucky to work for a company whose motto is “do what you should, not what you can,”
It seems to be a throwback of the most positive kind to the Golden Age of customer service.

the rice requirement

more from the pork belly annals:

i’ve never had any particular preference for my rice. as long as it’s jasmine (“milagrosa”) :fryingpan .
there’s just something about the scent of it newly cooked and gently steaming on low to give you an appetite.
i have already fine-tuned (i dare not say ‘perfected’ because i still burn a pot occasionally) my cooking technique (no rice cooker, Lola’s fingertip water measuring method, enameled cast-iron teeny weeny Le Creuset pot just enough for the family).

a couple of weeks ago we were almost running on empty, and i saw that the price tag had jumped from $13.50 to $22 for a 20-lb bag. i never thought i’d get sticker shock from a sack of rice!

it was very alarming.

for the truth is that my body is programmed to function well only with the ingestion of steamed rice at least twice a day.

i tried to wean myself off the milagrosa, as a hedge against the escalating prices, by preparing American grown rice, and even tried the various other varieties (red, brown, wild, black, sticky). i baked bread almost daily too, to give my kids an alternative.

but nothing compares 2 U, miracle rice.

and here’s why.
pork with lily buds and peanuts

“hong chrauk,” pork simmered with peanuts and dried lily buds, a dish from “The Elephant Walk” a famous Cambodian-French-American restaurant with a branch each in Waltham and Cambridge. it’s incredible to find that pork belly recipes with a sweetish-sourish-hottish sauce unites so many different cultures. this is just subtly different from our humba or estofado or paksiw na pata dishes.

and you just gotta have jasmine rice with it.

gas-cash back for credit cards

Everyone is feeling the pinch. Everyone in my circle at least.
It used to be that i could grocery-hop to find the best deals in ingredients for my cooking and baking needs and for the household staples.
Not anymore! With the gasoline prices soaring sky-high and with no end in sight, and summer just peeking around the corner–summer vacation time means greater demands for the “liquid gold”–every trip in the car must be carefully plotted out and planned for getting the most mileage out of the tank. For shopping and gasoline necessity then credit card gas rewards are a sensible choice if you must use credit cards.

There’s a site that does the sorting for you, rating the various different institutions that offer the best in introductory APR, the long-term APR, and whatever other terms and conditions you need to know to make a wise decision.
I think that as long as you are able to pay off the balance and not go off your rocker in overspending, credit cards are safe and convenient–and rewarding.

my cat whiskers

i do think that i have a kind of sixth sense, third eye, “cat whisker-radar”… at least when it comes to my children.

today, my Neighbor picked me up for a little shopping expedition and i was glad of the company and of the chance to go out and have some fresh air. i’ve been doing so much of Cinderella chores, it’s not funny. so off we went to run the errand, and all i could think of was i had to get back home. i navigated the way back, waved goodbye and just as i walked in the front door, feeling very unsettled but determined to get busy, i heard the phone ringing. sure enough, the caller id indicated my #2son’s school. it was the school nurse asking me to pick him up as he wasn’t feeling well at all.
aaaahhh, i had so many feelings whirling all over me at the same time as i ran to get my keys and shoes and fly out to the car: panic, anxiety, sadness (he’s missing the class field trip to the bowling lane, poor little one!) and strangely enough, relief, that i was home to receive the call.


virtual recipe box

One of the reasons I started foodblogging was to store my children’s favorite dishes in a daily journal of some kind, as an aid to remembering which dishes they want to keep on their “permanent rotation”.
Another reason was to get green. Yes! if you look at it that way, storing recipes in an online journal makes for quite a saving in terms of paper storage. I’ve been collecting recipes since i was a child, and being a pack rat, it made for quite a bulging folder of recipes.
there’s an online site that helps you keep track of your favorite recipes, all for free, and with the added bonus of gaining access to other cooks’ recipes.
So if you have a favorite Food Recipe you want to keep “safe” from an accidental spill or from a spouse or partner who might toss out your stuff in a fit of overzealous spring-cleaning (oh yeah, it has happened to me!) then sign up for an account now. it’s quick and easy! and your recipe will look like this…

oatmeal bread

current favorite bread from the auto bakery Dak bread machine: (what can i say, i’m hooked!) oatmeal bread from the King Arthur collection. it is tender yet hearty in taste and makes great slicing for sandwiches. i love it toasted medium-dark with lots of butter.

(the “scar” on the bottom is from the kneading paddle)
it’s supposed to be just mixed and then removed from the machine and baked in a loaf pan in the oven.

my oven’s dead.

so i just let the machine do all the work and it turned out fluffy-fresh and tasty. it even got a “special mention” in my neighbor’s kitchen!

now, where was i?

yeah good question.
there’s just not enough hours in the day.
i pause to catch my breath. i stare at this photo of us in the year two-thousand-kopong kopong39th1.jpg ….
that’s the blue ribbon cake

i keep on cooking of course.
just not blogging.
in return, i get to have a “cleaner” house and my garden is starting to get spruced up just a bit.
for mother’s day my kids planted a honeysuckle vine (we want to test if we’ll attract some more butterflies or even fireflies! hummingbirds?!) and herbs to replenish those that didn’t make it through the winter.

meanwhile on the day i set out to make the famous Baltimore Berger cookies my oven died which is quite ironic since it was the day i was determined to blog again. could this be a seismic cosmic message? a wakey-wakey smell-the-coffee, quit-the-bloggy moment?

we’d been using our oven to warm up our home on this cold and depressing month of May (it’s supposed to be warm now for heaven’s sake!!!). it gave up the ghost and i ended up baking these in the toaster oven, tedious and time-consuming but i didn’t want to have to 1) knock on neighbors’ doors to see who’d let me bake in their oven and use up their fuel or 2)toss out the butter-rich cookie-cake dough and have nightmares about the starving children all over the world…

i opted for the teeny toaster oven.

after all i badly needed some distraction. i saw these Baltimore Berger cookies featured in a recent issue of Saveur. my chocolate seized up and turned gritty in the process of whipping, per instructions, so obviously needs a bit more practice and/or tweaking. the cakey-cookie is divine though.

cakey vanilla cookie with an overdose of dark chocolate fudgey icing. my kids requested a sweeter milk chocolate for next time. (it was too intense even for the chocoholic kids).

coconut almond cherry bars

try your luck with the cookbook raffle!!!

i consider these to be a “mestiza” tart of the Eurasian variety…sweetened flaked coconut+almond paste+cherry-pie-type-filling on a butterlicious shortbread crust.
somehow it works!

measuring things out always de-stresses me somehow, and with the rainy gloomy day outside and two boisterous boys (#2son and a favorite pal) playing inside…it was calming and relaxing to make these bars.

the recipe is at my favorite almond paste headquarters.