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family lunch: pork asado

Originally I was gonna call this post ‘HUNGER GAMES’. It’s an inside joke my sister and I came up with when we know we PIGGED OUT BIG TIME or when we’re planning on it.  While I was taking pictures, my little sister devoured 3 servings of this. She cautiously filled her plate with more food without us noticing. When we realized she ate almost a third of the food, we all started laughing. Had we been busier, we wouldn’t have had anything for lunch.

Our family’s secret recipe for Pork Asado

Pork Asado is a very common dish among Philippine households but like many of our national dishes, its recipe always varies from family to family. Basically, it’s tenderized pork marinated overnight in soy sauce, lemon or lime, tons of onion and pepper. Fry the pork then add the sauce made of pineapple juice, soy sauce and sugar. Simmer and wait for it to thicken and then serve with rice.

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Because my sister and I are not big fans of sweet dishes, (I know, I know. It’s weird that we hate sweet food and are not big dessert people.) our recipe is low on sugar and pineapple and high on lemon and onion. And to add that extra kick, we throw in some lightly charred chili. YUM! Makes me hungry just writing about it.

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A while back, hypersensationalism asked me to post a family recipe for a Filipino cuisine. I was originally planning to make a video of me cooking Adobo or Sinigang but the lighting in our kitchen is just not conducive for it. For now, I’ll be posting this one but I promise to really try and work on that lighting so I can show you how we make Filipino home-cooked meals. *excited*

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my take on spicy pork

For those new to my blog, I’d have to confess how big a foodie I am. I enjoy food, from all parts of the world, and I’m willing to try even the strangest, spiciest and most unorthodox food there is. It comes from a long fascination for the art of cooking which I developed from years of living with my grandparent’s rustic, very homey dishes. Waking up to the smell of fried rice, one of my grandfather’s specialty, is always a welcome start to my day.

To my older subscribers, this doesn’t come as a surprise anymore. I’ve been posting tidbits of my humble attempts in the kitchen hoping other lost souls out there would take inspiration from my chutzpah. I’m nowhere near amazing but I thought chronicling my small victories would help me see how much I’ve improved and would either push you to the kitchen to try or have something good to laugh about.

Okay, so a few days ago I cooked SPICY PORK.

spicy pork

It’s a family favorite, something we usually order in Chinese restaurants- abundant in our side of the city. There’s not much to it. I used pork loin, no fat. The upside is it’s a healthier option but it also dries out quickly so I’m always extra careful not to overcook it . Then I added dried herbs and powdered spices to the flour I was gonna use to coat the chunks of pork. On a small wok, I sauteed  garlic, shallots, ginger and spring onion in sesame oil, dropped the pre-fried meat then added around 2 teaspoons of oyster sauce, same amount of hoisin sauce and about 3 to 4 chopped chili picante. Just added salt and pepper to taste.

It’s always fulfilling putting something you’re proud of on a plate but it’s 10 times better that after a long prep, I can finally eat. YUM!

This is the finished dish, my take on Spicy Pork.

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inspired to cook

The past few days have been hectic- an understatement if you ask me. This morning I decided I needed to relax and forget about all the unchecked items on my list, the one I’ve been carrying around like a newborn the past days, so decided I’m cooking pasta. Don’t give me that look. I know what you’re thinking. Why not go to a spa and get a massage instead? Well I’ll still be hungry afterwards besides I’m too lazy to drive all the way to the nearest spa.

I’ve always associated cooking with happy thoughts. It might be because I never saw anyone in my family cook with a frown. It’s always a happy, boisterous family occasion that everyone enjoys. I guess I carried that attitude even when I cook alone. I can still feel everyone dancing around, telling jokes, tasting each other’s dishes. Just thinking about makes me smile.

Mushroom Carbonara- I used chicken stalk as base and smothered it with Parmesan and Mozarella. YUM.

Mushroom Carbonara- I used chicken stalk as base and smothered it with Parmesan and Mozarella. YUM.

I still have a ton of things to do but at least I now feel re-energized and ready to face another long day of doing what I’m supposed to do. Take some time off your busy days to pamper yourself. It will do wonders not only to how you feel but also how well you perform at work.

a little chef inside

I LOVE FOOD.

That much I made clear in my previous entries. What I haven’t written about as much is how much I love preparing them. There are days when I dream of a bigger kitchen, more ovens, more recipes, more chances to cook and discover food. It has always been a passion, since I was very young and watching my grandfather cook rustic, Filipino dishes on the weekend for our whole family of 30 something to enjoy. That aroma that fills the kitchen then seeps into the living room where we wait patiently for lunch, it enlivens and draws me in so much that start fiddling around asking to help.

Now 15 years later, I still love it as much if not more. I see myself gravitate towards watching cooking shows, rooting for chefs at same time envying them. I spend more time in the kitchen that I’ve ever had. When I start cooking, I feel at home, like I am where I should be.      

my childhood resto: Naga Garden

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yummy food and a cozy little nook for 40 years- Naga Garden Restaurant.

A  couple of days ago we had dinner at this old restaurant, Naga Garden, in my hometown. I remember my parents scrambling to buy toasted siopao (bread stuffed with pork and a quarter of an egg) to take to my grandparents when I was younger. Buying pasalubong or a little trinket when visiting someone is a common practice here in the Philippines and in my family especially so I still distinctly remember walking into the restaurant almost every weekend.

Aside from a paint job and some new chairs, everything is pretty much the same. It’s the same lady who greets you with a smile by the counter, the same waiters (with the exception of a few of course), the same menu, the same recipe, the same homey feel you get when you walk in the door until you finish your meal.

yummy toasted siopao

yummy toasted siopao

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You should have seen me gorge on all of them. 🙂

Although there are a lot of newer restaurants offering similar food at probably a more intimidating ambiance (and price, ehem!), nothing beats the hearty feeling I get when I sit down on one of those chairs just like I used to when I was 6 or 7, with pig tails and in a princess dress. 

summer for a 21-year old

The humidity in this country is beyond bearable. I found myself waking up in the middle of night, running to bathroom and taking a quick shower just to get through the next few hours without having a heat stroke. The only upside to this delirious experience is you can get creative as to how you spend the rest of the summer.

Here’s how I plan to enjoy mine.

  1. Get a natural tan by frequenting the beach . Cliche but summer is for  SWIMMING. Ladies, let those bikini bodies shine -or in my case maxi dress-covered body. 

    Suggested beaches: Caramoan, Calaguas, Atolayan and Aguirangan. They’re not as populated as Boracay but you will definitely admire the beaches and the natives.

  2. Time to catch up on my reading. I’m going to spend those lazy afternoons lounging as I read a paperback. Yeah yeah, I’m a geek. I already pre-ordered some of the books on my summer reading list.

    MY SUMMER READING LIST
     THE BEST OF ME, by Nicholas Sparks. Twenty-five years after their high school romance ended, a man and woman who have gone their separate ways return to their North Carolina town for the funeral of a friend.
     CALICO JOE, by John Grisham. In the summer of 1973, a fateful baseball play unites a dazzling rookie, a hard-partying and hard-throwing pitcher and the pitcher’s young son.
     NOW YOU SEE HER, by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. Nina Bloom, a successful lawyer and loving mother who years ago changed her identity to save her life, is forced to confront the past and the killer she thought she had escaped.
    A GAME OF THRONES, by George R. R. Martin. In the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are mustering; Book 1 of “A Song of Ice and Fire.”
     DELUSION IN DEATH, by J. D. Robb. Lt. Eve Dallas tries to sort out the inexplicable events at a bar where, after 12 minutes of chaos, more than 80 people lay dead; by Nora Roberts, writing pseudonymously.
     THE LOST YEARS, by Mary Higgins Clark. A biblical scholar who made an amazing discovery is murdered, and it falls to his daughter to unravel the mystery behind his death.
     THE WANDERER, by Robyn Carr.  Hank Cooper inherits a beachfront property in Thunder Point, Ore., and finds himself with a community’s destiny in his hands.
     THE INNOCENT, by David Baldacci. When something about his latest mission seems wrong, the government assassin Will Robie refuses to kill. Now he’s a target himself.
     SEVERE CLEAR, by Stuart Woods. Stone Barrington travels to Bel-Air for the opening of a luxury hotel that, according to the N.S.A., may have attracted the attention of terrorists.
     DEFENDING JACOB, by William Landay. An assistant district attorney’s life is shaken when his shy 14-year-old son is accused of murder.

     

  3. Finally learn that Caribbean Seafood Pasta recipe. Nothing says summer like gorging on a really vibrant and lemony dish.
  4. Go on a spontaneous, absolutely no plans, one back pack adventure. It’s time to let loose and unleash the fun 21 year old I know is still in me. 
  5. Explore my creative side and take on a project that challenges my imagination. It could be that painting class I’ve been meaning to take since college or photography lessons with my dad and his friends or maybe just give in to the taunts of my sister regarding starting my own Wattpad account.
  6. Volunteer and give back. Now that the body, tummy and mind are all happy, it’s time to feed the heart. Find time to donate some clothes, help a beach clean-up, adopt a homeless pup or support social initiatives via your blog. Be creative, after all volunteering is never one note.

I remember when I was about 4, I spent my summer running around the front yard, picking mangoes which fell from the trees I climb, eating fried bananas and tagging along when my grandparents when visit the rice fields. That was my perfect summer. Now that I’m older and sadly incapable of climbing trees, my perfect summer is letting loose and creating a better version of myself .

What’s yours?

Whatever it is, make sure to have fun and enjoy the sun.

how we sisters cook: carbonara edition

I’ve always loved cooking, can’t say I’m good but I try.

BACK STORY: I come from a Filipino-Hispanic family whose recipes have been passed around extended families and through generations. It’s nothing complicated, just simple, hearty meals we gather around the table for. My papa’s famous for his beef steak and bihon (a noodle dish with lots of veggies and liver). I grew up around the kitchen, watching them cook. That’s how I started to love cooking.

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This afternoon, after Ate left early, I decided to teach my little sister, Kayle, to cook her favorite pasta, the carbonara. It was easy. We prepped all the ingredients first. Started boiling the pasta then sauteing the sauce. We opted to cook our shared favorite, mushroom sauce with chicken stalk. After 30 minutes, we were ready to serve (ourselves! ha-ha-ha)

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Left over pasta for mom and dad

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And here we are, finally enjoying the fruit of our hard work. YUM!