Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 59: LaPiS - ROLLED

The Lasang Pinoy, Sundays theme for the week is ROLLED.  My feature is the old time Pinoy favorite snack TURON NA SAGING (Sweet Banana Rolls).  These are fried goodies made up of slices of saba banana (plantains) with slivers of langka (jackfruit), rolled in lumpia (spring roll) wrapper and dipped in brown sugar.

I just love hearing the cracking sound of the wrapper as I take a bite.  The combination of saba with langka is just so yummy which makes it an irresistible snack.  This is a true Pinoy fare as it can be easily found at every street corner around the country.  

Lasang Pinoy, Sundays is a bi-monthly food photography meme, Pinoy style!

Day 58: Look-Alike

The "bunso" (youngest) of the family is the spitting image of her Kuya (older brother).  At 10 months old, CeeJae is beginning to sway (she's cruisin' crazy now) and sweet talk (her communication skills are amazing) her way into everyone's hearts.  On top of the list would be Kuya Jarred.  He can't seem to resist her toothy smile and mesmerizing eyes.  Whenever Kuya comes home from school and emerges from outside, CeeJae springs up from inside her playpen to greet him.  She always has a ready grin or laugh for him.  On several occasions I've noticed that they've developed a special kind of communication.  Whatever sounds CeeJae would make, it seems that Kuya Jarred could easily understand her and would know exactly what she meant.  Even with Atchie Cailie, Jarred's the same...he would readily translate whatever Cailie said that seemed incoherent to us and he would be right every time.  The role of firstborn might be a tough one for Kuya but we know that he is right for that position.  His love for both of his sisters is proof of that.

Day 57: Bagoong Rice

The guisadong bagoong has stretched into this coming week...didn't I say a little goes a long way? When we spotted a fruit stall along the road, we stopped and bought a few pieces of green mango.  Fresh kamias or iba would have been the best accompaniment to this bagoong but somehow I can't seem to find any in my city.  Well, green mango will certainly do.

On hot steaming rice, I spooned several thin slivers of green mango and a teaspoon or so of the bagoong...yum-O!!!  The flavor explosion does its magic - sweet, spicy and salty combine with the sour and it's gastronomic heaven!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 56: Toothy Smile

I see utter joy whenever I look at this picture.  Those twinkling eyes give it away...

It has been a battle to finally reveal this million-dollar toothy smile...what with numerous days of fever and irritability coupled with loss of appetite.  Oh but what worthy sacrifice to see these first two pearly whites emerge in a sweet smile...

I'm just glad you got your groove back, little angel.  Just happy that you are once more looking at food with gusto.  And I am blessed to see you smile like this...Happy 10th Month Anniversary, CeeJae girl!!! 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 55: The Silver Lining of Rotating Brownouts

After getting used to the routine of 3-hour brownouts for more than a week now, we were hit today with a whopping 8-hour power outage.  Power was cut off at 9:00 am and came back at 5:00 pm. When the power outage was nearing 4 hours, I decided to call the local power company to ask why the brownout exceeded the usual 3 hours.  The person on the other line responded that they didn't have any hand on the power interruption and pointed to NAPOCOR as the culprit.  They couldn't say how long it would last as they claimed it was NAPOCOR's call.

And so there was nothing else we could do but WAIT...
In these times of technology and modernization, power interruption is certainly thought of as going back into the "Dark Ages".  It is irritating and certainly very inconvenient but after experiencing a whole daytime of power outage, there are several good things that the power crisis has brought about:
  1. forced savings on electricity (a daily brownout of 3 hours can be converted to about 1/8th savings from the usual power consumption)
  2. renewed appreciation for basic conveniences like water and electricity (many countries are not even as fortunate as us to have these utilities on hand)
  3. you're forced to think up of creative ways to pass the time (board games and community singing make a comeback)
  4. there's a forced abstinence from the internet (read: facebook) and television which gives family members more opportunity to bond
  5. hours of no power mean more time for people to TALK to each other...that is, to engage in lively and focused conversations
When the power crisis is looked at in this way, it doesn't feel a big a burden as it originally was...I guess we just have to look at the silver lining in every bad event.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 54: Inun-unan / Paksiw or Sinaing na Isda (Fish Stewed in Vinegar)

Being a Tagala, I'm used to the Tagalog way of cooking Paksiw na Isda (usually Bangus) which is "masabaw".  When I moved to the Visayas, I learned a different take on Paksiw called "Inun-unan".  It's not soupy like its Tagalog counterpart, rather the sauce is almost dried up and whatever little that is left is actually sought after like liquid gold (all the yumminess is there) to be strewn over hot rice.

This post is dedicated to my Visayan friends who are now abroad and would like to re-acquaint themselves with an all-time favorite...

1/2 kg fish (Bilong-bilong, Tulingan/Mackerel, Bariles/Tuna)
150 grams pork fat or 2 tbsp canola oil 
2 pcs bay leaves (laurel)
1/2 head of garlic, crushed
1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
1/4 cup fish sauce/patis
1/2 cup vinegar (white or tuba variety)
1 small red bell pepper, julienned
1 tsp black peppercorns or 1/2 tsp ground pepper 
2 pcs eggplant, sliced (optional)
3-5 pcs siling pansigang/haba (optional)

In a thick casserole (a native palayok works best), layer the ingredients in this order: pork fat or oil, garlic, ginger, bay leaves, fish and bell pepper slices. Then pour the fish sauce/patis and vinegar and sprinkle peppercorns/pepper on top.  Simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes then switch fire to low.  If you wish, you may add the eggplant pieces and chili fingers (for heat), simmer on low for another 15 minutes. Take care not to let the sauce dry up too much.  Serve with hot rice.


Day 53: Bagoong Guisado (Spicy Sauteed Shrimp Paste)

Ever since I learned to make this "cardiac delight" of a dish, I've made it a point to prepare it at home every other month.  Once cooked, it usually lasts about 1 week and a half since only a little amount is needed to flavor hot steamed rice.  A tweak on this is also to serve it on top of garlic fried rice with slivers of green mango (Bagoong Rice).  This particular serving has so much pork pieces in it, it might as well be called "Binagoongang Baboy".

Here is the recipe for BAGOONG GUISADO:

1/2 kg pork impilya, sliced
1/4 kg pork meat (boneless pork chop works best), sliced into bite-size pieces
7-8 pcs ripe tomatoes, chopped finely
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium red onions, minced
200 grams bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
1 tbsp brown sugar
2-3 tsp powdered chili or 6-8 pcs bird's eye chilies, chopped

In a wok or saucepan, render all the fat from the pork impilya until only crunchy pieces of the pork are left.  Drain the pork pieces and set aside.  Retain about 2 tbsp of the rendered fat and set aside the rest.  In the heated oil, saute the pork meat pieces until browned.  Add the garlic, onions and tomatoes until translucent.  Add in the alamang, brown sugar and chili powder.  Add back the crunchy pork "chicharon" and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve with hot rice or green mangoes.  Remember, a little goes a long way with this dish.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 52: Lovin' Suman (aka BUDBOD)

My daughter Cailie has inherited my taste for "kakanin".  Suman sa malagkit/pilit or also known as Budbod in Visayan (Sweet Sticky Rice wrapped in Banana Leaves) is my favorite "kakanin" of all.  She also loves this simple native Filipino delicacy and when she saw them being sold outside the church during Sunday mass, she asked me to buy her some.
One of our bonding moments with suman is dipping it in sugar first before popping the sticky morsels into our mouth.  From the 3 bundles we brought home, Cailie was able to finish more than half all by herself. *burp*

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 51: Tight Embrace

Sibling love at its best...

Two of my hopes as a parent is that all three of my children grow up loving each other and become servants of God and men.

I believe in starting them young...obviously, my bunso already gets the idea.

Day 50: Sotanghon Sardines (#1 in the "Lutong Tamad" Series)

Have you ever had a day so busy that you just didn't have the time to prepare a decent meal?  Well, as a mom of three, this scenario pretty much happens often at home. So here is the first in my "Lutong Tamad" series - Sotanghon Sardines...

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion
1 tbsp canola oil
1 big can Sardines in Tomato Sauce
300-400 grams sotanghon noodles (vermicelli/green bean thread noodles)
*** pre-soaked in water
1-2 pcs scallion, chopped finely
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

In a wok, heat up oil. Saute onions and garlic until translucent.  Stir in sardines, mashing the sardine pieces while simmering.  Drain the noodles then combine with the sardines.  Add salt and water.  Stir noodles while it soaks up all the liquid.  Garnish with scallion pieces and serve hot with calamansi slices.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 49: Parallel Lives

Despite being oceans apart, cousins Jarred and Trei have shared similar experiences in their young lives.

One time in their lives, they've spent happy moments inside the slide tunnel of a McDonald's store.  Who would've thought they'd have similar looking photos of this event? 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 48: A Tutor's Pride

In my years as an online English tutor, the phrase "I passed!" is music to my ears.  Since 2006, I've been helping foreigners learn the English language.  Some just want to learn the basic English grammar while the bulk of my students are those studying to pass a particular English exam like IELTS, TOEFL or TOEIC.  Passing these exams are part of their goal in life - whether to enable them to work, study or migrate to a foreign country.

Just imagine my joy when I got this email from one of students.  It literally brought tears to my eyes.  In the short time that we've spent together in class, I've come to know a lot about her struggles in learning English.  With this piece of great news, I can really say "She's come a long way, baby!"

It is in times like these that I am reminded of how awesome it is to be a is not a job but a vocation.  And though I'm sad that very soon, my student and I will have to part ways, I am filled with the thought that wherever she may go, she will carry a part of me in her as I carry a part of her in my heart.

To Tomo: "Congratulations my dear!  Spread your wings and after your dreams and fulfill them!  It has been a great honor and privilege to teach you."

Day 47: Good Samaritan

My son came home from school today carrying a sealed shoe box with his name scribbled on top.  He said that his entire class received a shoe box each and that they were gifts from God.  With much excitement, he opened the box and it revealed the following:
  • a large box of crayons (48's)
  • a Hotwheels Monster Truck
  • a Lightning McQueen colored marker set
  • a set of modeling clay
  • a pair of socks
  • 2 packs of dental floss
  • a twin pack of Spiderman toothbrushes
  • a Vaseline lip balm
  • a small rabbit stuffed toy
  • a children's book on Perseverance
  • a pack of Bubble Yum
  • a pack of Nerds candy
  • a handy pouch with a pad of stickers
A closer look on the box revealed marks on the packing tape that says "Samaritan's Purse: Operation Christmas Child".  On the flap is a label indicating the word "BOY" with a check mark on the age range - "5-9 years old".  Before allowing my son to open the goodies inside, I confirmed with his teacher first if my son was indeed the recipient of such gift.

I did a quick search online for the name on the box and this is what their website says - "Samaritan's Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world."  One of their ongoing projects is called Operation Christmas Child wherein people pack shoe boxes with goodies for needy children and distribute them worldwide.   The organization aims to bring happiness to children and their families by living the life of the Good Samaritan.

And so, Jarred was was indeed a gift from God. Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 46: 7 Red Things at Home

When I decided to heed the tag of fellow 365er Xtine, I had some difficulty looking for red things I have at home. I am attracted to the color RED and I do love it but somehow it has been more associated with my sister (whose birthday falls on Valentine's Day) than with me.  I've always been a blue person, I guess.

I do love a good tag and so here goes...7 Red Things at Home (clockwise, from top left-hand corner)

  1. My daughter's Elmo plush toy sent by my sister from Canada.  I believe it was a kid's meal giveaway from a popular fastfood chain there.  It used to record sound but over the years, it lost its recording function.
  2. A recycled ice cream tub which I use as a container for meat or fish in the freezer. My family adores ice cream and so you can expect that my cupboard is filled with this type of container.
  3. The bedtime storybook gifted to my youngest daughter during her christening. For now, my son and older daughter are the ones using it as CeeJae is still too young to read it.
  4. My trusty plastic cooking flipper utensil is a favorite in the kitchen.  I use this to flip pancakes, fry eggs and fish, and basically any kind of sauteing I do while whipping up food magic in my little kingdom.
  5. This is the Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale which is a part of my son's collection of Ferraris from the 2009 Shell promo. At present, he only plays with 3 out of the 7 in the collection.  We've completed the redemption of all models but his Dad and I only give him one car at a time...he gets one for special occasions like his birthday, Christmas or when he gets an award from school (which reminds me to give him the 4th one for doing well during the 3rd Quarter in school).
  6. Bursting at the seams (due to wear and tear), this Lightning McQueen folding toy keeper is what my children call their "toy chest".  It serves as home to the knick knacks and stuff that they play with on a daily basis. 
  7. The handy Maped travel stapler which I've had for more than 10 years now. It was the color combination and shape that got me attracted at first. Later on, it proved to be a mighty office tool despite its size...(one of my impulse buys obviously - form before function...LOL!)
Rounding everything up are my son's Valentine's/Chinese New Year's gifts to hubby and myself (center frame photo)...hubby got a hanging banner with the letters L-O-V-E in glitters while I received the hanging heart ornament...we were so surprised when Jarred brought these out on Valentine's Day morning...he hid them under the sofa (as instructed by his Siansi Michele) so that we wouldn't see them beforehand.  As my fellow 365er Jaz said in her blog entry..."This is worth more than any expensive box of chocolates..."

So now, I'm tagging my fellow Project 365/52ers plus those I will tag in FB to join this meme:
  • Take photos of 7 red things that you can find around your home
  • Tag 7 (or more) people to do the same thing

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Day 45: Our Family's "VALENTINE"

    My sister was born on Valentine's day of 1975. Being born on love day, she was aptly christened CHRISTINE MARIE VALENTINE. She doesn't know this but I've always envied her for having such a long and unique name.  I felt a little left out among us three since she and my brother both had 3 names each and I  guess this is the reason why I ended up giving all of my children two names. Today, as the world celebrates Valentine's Day, allow me to pay homage to my one and only sister on her 35th Valentine birthday...

    To my dearest Shobe,

    First of all, let me greet you a very happy 35th birthday (forgive me for broadcasting your age...hehehe)!  I am sure you will be celebrating your special day with a bang...hmmm...I wonder what Ray and Trei will be up to today.  One thing for sure though, they'll give you a day to remember.

    VALENTINE...As I mentioned in the caption above, I've always envied you for having such a long and unique name...yes, dear, even up to now.  I know that growing up you didn't really like having that name and sometimes resented whenever friends jokingly call you "Val" or "Valentina".  Being born on Hearts Day and carrying the name must have been a tall order for you.  You know what?  You've done St. Valentine proud (not to mention all of us in the family)!  Let me tell you that you are living your life worthy of your name.  A quick search on name meanings turned out your full name to mean "Christ's bearer of love in the bitter sea"You have showered all of us around you with so much love and affection.  In times of bitterness, anger or sadness, all you had to do was bring out that beautiful smile and it never fails to lift us up. Your infectious laughter and cheerful ways make life easier despite all the problems and difficulties.

    We weren't very close growing up but I will never forget that one year prior to your migration to Canada. It was the year we made up for all the time we treated each other like strangers.  If you'll recall that was one of the most difficult times in my life.  You saved me from being taken over by grief and sorrow.  You were the jester who could bring smiles even if only to my eyes.  You became the big sister, teaching me how to enjoy life even if at times it involved being naughty.  You made me see the rainbow after the rain.  So you see, you became God's bearer of love during my time in the bitter sea.  Those 365 days will be forever etched in my heart for they are very special days of friendship and sisterhood.

    When you left the country in 1998, I felt a part of me was taken away.  It was painful to miss you every single day.  The only thing that kept me sane was knowing that the reason you left was to follow your heart. It was four years later when we saw each other again. This time, we were both married ladies already.  I had recently given birth to my firstborn and I knew you had to be his godmother.  You showered us with your love, both in deed and in kind. Your generous heart is always at work in our lives.  I was one proud Ate when you gave birth to Tristan a year later.  I knew then that you'll be one great Mom to him.  Whenever I see and hear Tristan online, I know that you and Ray are doing an awesome job raising him.  It is not easy raising a family there and maintaining a career at the same time.  I salute you for doing very well in both.

    It's been 7 years now since we've last seen each other and though I thank God for Facebook and Skype, it's still not the same as being with you face-to-face and chatting away like we used to.  I just pray that we can get together soon and for our families to finally meet each other.

    I didn't know what to give you for your birthday.  I wanted to give you something special, something you'd I wrote.

    Happy, happy birthday Sis!  Thank you for your love all these years. I love you and I miss you very much!

    Cyberhugs and kisses,

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    Day 44: Smolderin'

    For my Hearts Day post, let me go back in memory lane to the time when hubby and I were still going steady.  Before prenuptial photos made a big hit, we already snapped up our very own prenup pic taken by my brother using a conventional point and shoot camera.  This was taken during Christmas holidays in 2000 at Fontana Leisure Park in Pampanga. Wouldn't you agree that this is one smokin' hot photo of us?

    A special Valentine's shout out to my hubby...Happy Hearts Day Ga!!! Love you so  so much! Mwah!!!

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Day 43: LaPiS - Hearty...

    This will be my first attempt to join Lasang Pinoy SundaysI've been following the Lasang Pinoy features of the different members for some time now but have always felt intimidated by their wonderful features and photos of Filipino food. 

    Having revived my blog at the beginning of the year, I've mustered enough confidence to finally join Lasang Pinoy Sundays.

    For this week's theme - HEARTY, I'm featuring the one dish that my family considers to always leave us "belly-full" and gastronomically satisfied...CHICKEN ADOBO.  Whenever I prepare this or any type of adobo for that matter, I notice that we always have our meal in silence, observing the "galit-galit muna tayo" atmosphere.  I guess there is really something about the Filipino Adobo that leaves that hearty and ultra-satisfying feeling all around.

    Lasang Pinoy Sundays is a bi-monthly FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY meme, Filipino style!

    Day 42: Puruntong

    Ever since his Mama Lola gifted him with 4 pairs of puruntong pants (loose-fit shorts/pants), Jarred has preferred to wear these at home instead of his usual shorts and jogging pants.  Maybe it's the comfort of the loose fit that has got him doing the groove?  I don't know...One thing's for sure though...he loves wearing them all the time!

    *** I'm not sure why these type of shorts/pants are called puruntong but I'd like to offer a guess...I think they're named after the character of comedy actor, Dolphy, John Puruntong from the defunct comedy show, "John and Marsha".  In the show, he's often seen wearing these loose-fit pants and so maybe when they hit the fashion market, people started calling them "puruntong".

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Day 41: The Spice of Life

    I love spicy food!  In fact even my dipping sauce always has chili peppers whenever I'm serving fried fish.  There's something about heat exploding inside the mouth that has got me hooked.

    However, this post is not about food but rather about the spice of life - the things in our lives that make living exciting.  These are the stuff that make us look forward to waking up each day.

    And since I'm one who enjoys heat in my food, it's no wonder that I have quite a long list of the things that spice up my life.  But for the purpose of brevity, let me focus on the top 5:

    1. hubby and I are opposites of each other (which is why sparks fly whenever we argue and the same goes whenever we make up)
    2. my son's stubborn streak (which he obviously got from has made me realize what my parents had to go through while raising me)
    3. my elder daughter's "allergy" to the word 'NO' (she has her means to get what she wants that gets to be irritating most of the time but it only shows that she has a very strong personality and will not take NO for an answer)
    4. my youngest daughter's independent streak (at 9 months old, she already insists on doing things her way...I feel that she's growing up too fast but can't help but rejoice that she's quite advance in her developmental milestones
    5. family squabbles (I believe this is normal in most strengthens relationships and enables family members to exert more effort in understanding each other)
    Now, it's your turn...what's your spice of life?

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Day 40: Meat Retailing and Pork Blood Stew (DINUGUAN)

    Early this morning, our piggery partners/caretakers prepared our 2nd hog for butchering and weighing.  By noontime I was in my son's school with my daughter Cailie delivering the pork meat orders I was able to gather there.

    The selling business isn't really new to me as I had experience in tuna and seafood trading during our short stint in General Santos City.  However, I found that meat retailing is a bit different and more detailed since I'm serving the consumer end of the business cycle whereas in my tuna biz before I was into wholesaling.  I had a minor boo boo when I switched orders and ended up not serving one order.  I felt bad but it was a learning experience I had to go through, I guess.

    Manang Rose, our partner, cooked some yummy Dinuguan (Pork Blood Stew) utilizing the unsold parts of the hog.  This dish is a favorite of the family so we requested for some so that I didn't have to cook dinner anymore.  We seldom get to eat this famous Filipino dish because we make sure that we know the source of the ingredients first and how well it was prepared.  Since this was cooked using our own farm-raised hog and we know who's preparing it, it was one dish we could enjoy as a family.  I haven't tried cooking this myself as I'm not familiar with how it is prepared so I'm just happy as a consumer in this case.  Manang Rose truly outdid herself with this dinuguan.  It was thick and the balance of sour and salty was just right with a hint of heat using "siling haba".  I couldn't believe that my two older kids (with the exception of the baby) enjoyed every morsel of rice and viand.  It is not everyday you see children enjoying this popular Pinoy dish. Suffice to say, it was a satisfying gastronomic experience for all of us.

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Day 39: TRISTAN REI

    Today marks the 6th birthday of my one and only nephew, TRISTAN REI.  He's the only son of my younger sister.  My children fondly call him "cousin TREI".  Due to distance, we haven't met him face-to-face since he lives with his family in Canada.  Thank heavens for modern technology, Jarred, Cailie and CeeJae can regularly video chat with him via Skype.  At times, they would spend hours online showing off their toys and actually playing with them onscreen as if they were just in one room.  Isn't that awesome?

    Trei is a cool and very smart kid...I love it when he says my name in that so husky voice..."Hello Tita Cathee!...where's Kuya Red?"  He sent tears to my eyes when at one time he said, "Oh wow Tita Cathee, thanks so much for inviting me to your home...I'd love to go there...Mom, Tita Cathee says I can stay in their house in the Philippines!"  He is such a well-mannered little boy.  No wonder he's got his Mom and Dad wrapped around his little finger...not to mention his two Lolas - Lola Linda and Mommy Cecille and his Tita Ninang Kate.  
    You've grown up so fast, little man...and you've brightened the lives of people around you...I can just imagine a room lighting up whenever you enter are that kind of full of energy and joy!  Continue to shower your goodness to those you meet and remember that there are people back in the Philippines who are loving you more and more each day.  

    Tristan, we haven't met you in person yet...haven't held you in a warm embrace...haven't kissed your head full of hair...but trust that you are loved deeply by all of us here.  We can't wait for that time when we can all finally meet and be together.

    Happy Birthday our dearest Trei!!!  We love and miss you very much!!!

    *** NOW photo courtesy of Tita Ninang Kate; THEN photo courtesy of Mommy Tintin

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Day 38: Fruit of our real Farmville

    Inspired by Facebook's Farmville,  hubby and I embarked on a new business last August 2009 - we started raising hogs.

    We started out with 4 piglets and last December, we sold 3 to the local meat market.  We retained one to be our "inahin" or Mommy Piggy.

    Just like any other business, it is a continuing learning process for us.  In the first set of piglets we sold, we didn't really make much profit due to weight disparities.  This is the reason why we changed our game plan for the second set of piglets.  When hubby saw that it was more lucrative, we decided to do our own butchering and peddling of hog meat.  Our 2nd set of 4 piglets were acquired in September and one of the four was sold only last week.  It was our partner and caretaker who personally butchered the hog and his wife was the one who peddled the meat.  It sold like hotcakes and we were left with only half of the liver.  It was this same piece of meat that I made into Liver Steak last night.  

    Liver Steak
    1 kg pork liver, sliced
    3 tbsp canola oil
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 medium red onions, cut into rings
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    2 tbsp calamansi or lemon juice
    a pinch of sugar

    In a hot skillet, heat oil and fry liver slices until half cooked.  Remove liver from pan and set aside. In the same skillet, fry the garlic and half of the onion rings.  Add the soy sauce, calamansi/lemon juice and sugar.  Add in the liver and simmer for about 5-7 minutes.  Adjust seasoning according to your taste.  Sprinkle with remaining onion rings on top and serve.

    We still have two remaining hogs to sell this week and just like in the first set, we are retaining one to be our Mother Piggy.  Hopefully, we'll make a good profit this time around.

    Day 37: 38 Years

    On February 6, 1972, Rey and Linda said their "I do's" to one another...3 kids and 38 years later...they're still antagonists of each other.  Seriously, theirs is not a mushy love story but a reality of life that majority of people live.  They were thrown lemons, so they made lemonade.  Being their firstborn, I was witness to their early romantic years.  Daddy was such a romantic Romeo (which was one of the reasons why he became my hero while growing up)...he'd always cook up something sweet and cheesy for Mom.  Mom, on the other hand, was the realist...and there were times I did resent her for not valuing Daddy's efforts during her birthdays, their anniversaries and other special occasions.

    It is only when I got older and experienced both married life and parenthood did I realize that living their lives weren't easy, especially for Mommy.  They made the best out of what they had and made sure they survived whatever storm came to their relationship and the family.

    It'll be 3 years straight now that they've been apart.  Since 2007, Mommy has been living in Langley, B.C. with my younger sister and her family.  She's there to lend a hand in caring for my nephew, Tristan while my sis and b-i-l focus on their careers.  Daddy, on the other hand, is left in the family home in Q.C. with my brother.  

    From time to time, I get trapped in between their bickerings and troubles with each other but whenever I step back and try to see what's really behind all the noise and chaos, I feel the longing and the sadness.  Deep in my heart, I know Daddy misses Mom and is longing for her presence.  Mommy, despite all the hardships, I know is sad to be apart from Dad.  They remain two halves of a whole, one won't be complete without the other.

    With God's grace, they've started to work on the documentation for their migration to Canada.  Hopefully, by being sponsored by my sister and her family, Mommy and Daddy can finally be back in each other's arms and the whole cycle of loving and arguing can continue...

    Happy 38th Anniversary Mom & Dad!!!  Thank you for showing us how both love and reality can strengthen the bond of two married people...thank you for being an inspiration to us whose journey in married life is yet but starting.

    Here's to many more years of twogetherness...cheers!

    Day 36: PTA

    I attended the Parent-Teacher Conference at my son's school today.  It was also Recognition Day for the 3rd Quarter of the school year.  My heart was filled with glee when the homeroom teacher announced the honor roll.  With God's grace, Jarred was able to maintain his 2nd honors position in the English Department and was able to return to the honor list in the Chinese Department by placing 4th.  His teacher was so happy about his Filipino grade most of all.  Filipino is, after all, Jarred's waterloo subject (we don't use the language at home so it's quite difficult for him to learn it in school).  From a grade of 85 in the 2nd quarter, he was able to climb 8 notches higher and achieved 93 in Filipino.  Filipino!!!  I couldn't believe it myself.  It was a job well done indeed!  If only his grandparents could hear him read the way he does now...they'd be amazed!   

    One of the major topics discussed during the meeting was their graduation in March.  Wow! In a few more weeks, my son will be graduating from preschool.  Wasn't it just yesterday that I took him to BFCS for summer school and he was but a blank canvas, with only eagerness to learn to boast of.  Looking at him now, I always go back to that scene when he first set foot in the blue and white school along Capitol Road...and I whisper a prayer to the Lord above for giving Jarred all his wonderful milestones in learning.

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Day 35: Healing Hands

    Maybe it's the colds...or it may have something to do with teething...whatever it is, baby CeeJae isn't feeling well today.  She was running a slight fever the night before and this morning, we asked our Manang laundrywoman to work her magic of "hilot" (Pinoy massage).  She said my baby had some "piang" at the sides below her armpits. CeeJae certainly began sweating profusely right after and her clogged nose became runny.

    In the afternoon of the same day, our trusty reflexologist worked her healing hands on all three children as they were all coughing and showing signs of respiratory allergy.  In this photo, she's working on the tiny foot of CeeJae.  My baby cringed and welled up when the pressure points on fever and coughing were touched.  It was pain that got rewarded by a well-deserved nap.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Day 34: Comfort Food (part 2)

    Nothing beats the homey goodness of comfort food any time of the day or night.  For those who've watched the animated film "Ratatouille", savoring one's comfort food is so much like that image of Anton Ego going back to his childhood upon tasting the ratatouille served in Gustav's.  It takes you back to the good old days of Mom's or Lola's cooking of your favorite dishes.

    Monggo Guisado would probably show up at the top of my list of all-time wonder comfort foods.  There's something about this steamy and starchy vegetable dish that reaches inside the soul.  It is but a simple fare of legumes, sauteed in garlic, onions and tomatoes, enriched with squash pieces and malunggay leaves and yet, it leaves the belly full and the soul so satisfied.  

    Monggo Guisado
    1 cup green monggo beans, washed and boiled until tender
    1 liter of water
    2 pcs pork cubes
    2 tbsp canola oil
    3 cloves garlic, crushed
    1 medium onion, sliced
    3 medium tomatoes, sliced,
    1 red bell pepper, julienned
    1.5 cups squash, cut into cubes
    1/2 cup malunggay leaves
    1 pc dried galunggong
    water (optional) 

    In a stock pot, boil the washed monggo beans in 1 liter water and 2 pork cubes until tender or "mashed" in consistency. Set aside. In the same pot, heat up some oil and saute the garlic, onions and tomatoes until wilted.  Add in the pepper and squash.  When squash is half cooked, put the monggo mash back in and add some water if desired.  Bring to a boil then add the dried fish.  Season with pepper and a little patis.  Add in the malunggay leaves then turn off fire.  Best served with hot rice and fried fish. Enjoy!!!

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Day 33: Child's Play

    On a regular day, right after my son leaves for school, the wreck you see on the photo is pretty much an accurate depiction of how the living room turns out to be.  I'd have to say though that the chaos and havoc do reach the other parts of the house, so evidence of child's play is all over the place.

    It is a is noisy...and sometimes, it does get irritating but what's important to note is that it's nothing that can't be arranged, cleaned or put away.  Once my firstborn gets home from school, he knows that it's his responsibility to look after the mess of his younger siblings.  Oh, he mumbles sometimes, but he gets the work done.  It's fun to see him, picking up all the toy pieces that his two little sisters have strewn all over the floor while reminding the two little ones to mind their mess next time.  I'm sure he realizes that his reminders would fall on deaf ears and he'd have to do the same thing over and over until the two girls get old enough to understand about being organized.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Day 32: A Rosy Start

    Oh my! How time flies so fast!  Today is the first day of the love month, February.  It officially marks the end of being in sick bay.  Slowly, the kids are getting back into full gear and their appetites are going back to normal (thank God!!!).  While we were all down with intestinal flu, you'd really notice the relative silence at home and today, it was obvious that it's back to business since the noise and buzz of the kids at home are indeed too loud to not notice.  Well, if there's anything I learned while being sick it's that I'd rather have all the noise and stinky smells of normalcy than being worried over some illness hovering at home.  If the usual cure would be an apple a day...for us, it was a tomato a day, kept the doctor away.  It helped that my "suki" vendor at the market had a lot of ripe and luscious tomatoes at hand when I did my marketing last week.  Even little Cailie was game at posing with these lovely tomatoes to show that she too, is back in form.