Saturday, June 23, 2007

I Cook (On Weekends) and I Love It!

To say that I love to cook is an understatement. One of the reasons why I look forward to weekends is because I get to do what I love doing - cooking tops writing for me. As I satisfy my craving and desire to cook, I satisfy my family’s appetite as well. Thankfully, my three boys (my husband and two sons) seem to anticipate also what I'd prepare for them. My worst critics are my sons. If they don't like what I prepare they won't even pretend. They don't eat - that's it.

I’m not afraid to experiment. Somehow, the years of trial and error (I have a lot!), reading cookbooks, watching cooking shows and surfing the net have made me confident to trust my instincts when it comes to playing around with different ingredients. I know I’m no gourmet. I wish I were. Given the chance, I’d take formal education to become a chef. That’s a dream, actually. When I was younger I also wanted to be a food writer.

The dishes I cook are your normal daily viands. I have a few tricks also when it comes to pasta dishes. And living in Cavite has made me fall in love for mussels (tahong). More than eating it, I love cooking it.

Today, June 23, for lunch I prepared chicken curry. The twist – added fresh basil. Last Father’s day, Erwin and I went to Mahogany Market in Tagaytay and bought some beef (very disappointing, it was so tough!) and herbs (basil and tarragon). I’ve always wanted to have my own herb garden and I’ve somehow started. I now have pandan, basil and tarragon. Using them is a different story. I’d better read and research more on this.

Anyway, the basil added a refreshing flavor and aroma to the dish. To complete the Indian touch, I also prepared grilled tortilla – an improvised naan.

Here’s how I did the Chicken curry with fresh basil and grilled tortilla


Fresh Chicken – cut to serving pieces
Cooking oil
Onions – Erwin is not so fond of onions but the dish will not be the same without it. So what I always do (with any dish I cook) is finely chop the onions and he has no problem with this so long as he does not see them.
Patis , salt and pepper – there’s a certain aroma and taste that patis brings to some dishes. After putting patis and the dish still does not have the saltiness I like, I add salt instead. Somehow this helps moderate the entire saltiness of the dish. If I add more patis the dish becomes too salty. I use freshly ground pepper. I love peppermills! I’m thinking of coming up with a collection of it eventually.
Curry powder– I bought a bottle of curry powder in Singapore. I’m very happy with the quality.
Fresh gata – ½ cup of pure coconut milk and 2 cups of the diluted one (pangalawang piga). I didn't use up all all the coconut milk (from 2 coconuts) because I'm making Ginataang Bilobilo later.
8 fresh basil leaves – I forgot the term of the chopping style but what I did is roll up the leaves together then chop. They came out like thin ribbons.
Tomatoes – I don’t put the tomatoes at the stage of sautéing. I add it when the dish is almost done. I like biting into chucks of tomatoes and tasting its sourness against the creaminess of the coconut milk.
Siling haba - the one used in sinigang

Eggplant and Okra - I didn't have any potatoes and carrots so I had to improvise. I used what was available. I wasn't sure if eggplant and okra would affect the taste of the dish so I fried them separately.

Tortilla – I use them also for pizza – my version of thin crust.

I did not put measurements because I did not measure. Well, most of the time I really don’t measure unless I’m following a recipe from a cookbook.


  1. In a skillet, heat oil then add the ginger and onions. Then add the garlic.
  2. Add chicken and sauté until chicken is almost cooked
  3. Add the curry powder
  4. Season with patis, salt and pepper
  5. Add the diluted coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes
  6. Add the fresh basil
  7. Add the pure coconut milk and siling haba and simmer for 5 minutes
  8. Add the tomatoes and fried vegetables and simmer for another 3 minutes

For the Tortilla, it’s very simple. Just grill it over fire. Be careful not to burn it.

The finish product… I think fresh lime can also be added. Squeeze the lime over upon serving.

I didn't know that basil can also be ornamental. I place the pot it in our living room and people are surprised when I say that it's actually an herb.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Same Spot

I mentioned in my previous blog that whenever the family would go to Leslie’s at Tagaytay, my sons would always sit at the same spot and just gaze at the Taal. This photo was taken December 26, 2006. That’s me on the left, cuddling up with my two boys for warmth that cold December night.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Live in Cavite

I get different reactions when I say where my residence is. Three out of 5 are negative – mostly distance and traffic related. As far as traffic is concerned, yes, the traffic can get really ugly (especially on Saturdays) at times but normally it’s just an hour ride from Makati to Imus. So how is it different from Makati to Quezon City?

We, Erwin (my husband) and myself, decided on Cavite because:

  1. We could afford the lot size we wanted – not less than 200 sq.m. In other words, Cavite was within our budget.

The 216 sq. m. lot we got sometime 2004…

The home we built. We call it the green house for obvious reasons. We had the exterior of the house painted just last month.

  1. Fresher air – my eldest, Renmund, is asthmatic and I have allergic rhinitis. When we lived in Metro Manila, a year never passed without Renmund getting hospitalized because of asthma.
  2. For a change – for me at least. I grew up in the North – Nueva Vizcaya and Balintawak are my hometowns. So why not try the south?

My Lola Aning’s (we fondly call her Lola A) garden in Bayombong. Lola A is my paternal grandmother - Dadufalza side. Bayombong is very close to my heart. I studied in St. Mary's College from Nursery to Grade 3. Till today, we try our best to least go home every Holy Week or October - my Lola A's birthday. She's now 86.

The 45-minute Advantage

One of the two positive reactions is the fact that Tagaytay is just a 45-minute drive from our place - our advantage. Tagaytay is a lovely place. I pray that it stays that way. I hope that modernization and urbanization will not spoil it.

Last Mother’s Day, Erwin treated me to lunch at Taj of Tagaytay, an Indian Restaurant. Then we had coffee at Bag of Beans and drove around. It was then that I realized that Tagaytay indeed has so much to offer. The 45-minute drive was really something to be envied. When others would have to plan a major out-of-town gimik, with overnight stay, reservations, lodging, and all the fuss that go with a major road-trip, we could just easily hop in the car and drive to Tagaytay without much effort and planning.

My Vow

I always count my blessings and living in Cavite is one of them. I know the place has so much to offer and it would be my obligation (to myself) to discover each one of them (thanks to my Net-ferences). I'm starting with Tagaytay. I vow to conquer the “Probably The Most Pleasant City In Asia and share it through this blog.

So join me in my journey!

Lunch at Leslie’s sometime April 2007.

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to have lunch at Leslie's. That day we saw Renmund's doctor, whose clinic is in Dasmarinas, Cavite, and after the appointment, we all decided we wanted to have lunch in Tagaytay!

We had Sisig, Crispy Pata and Laing. That day we didn't order Leslie's famous Sizzling Bulalo because we had that during our last visit.

My sons, Irvin (in orange) and Renmund (in blue), enjoying the magnificent view of the Taal Volcano. They never get tired of it. After every lunch at Leslie's they'd both sit almost at the same spot and just gaze.

Monday, June 18, 2007

My Best and Favorite Net-ferences

Most of my work-related researches are for dining. No, I’m not connected to the food industry I just love to try new dining spots. I say it’s work-related because most of our meetings are held during lunchtime. We call it “working lunch” so it would sound more professional. Fortunately, people I work with, coworkers and associates, have the same interest. It has always been my task to be on the lookout for the next working lunch venue.

I am so thankful to these two sites. One’s a blog and the other a forum. They’ve been very helpful in carrying out my task in search for the next luncheon meeting venue.

Our Awesome Planet

I discovered Anton’s blog when I was looking for a resort in the south. It was love at first site – Anton’s blog, that is. Anton has a list of recommended restaurants all over Manila and out of town. He also includes contact details such as phone numbers, URLs, and addresses. Check out the Best of Our Awesome Planet for his best lists.

Girl Talk of the Female Network

This forum it has topics on food, travel and gimmicks. Girltalkers (members of the forum) post their recommendations and feedbacks. What I love about this forum is that their topics are well organized. Posts are categorized by area making it easier to search for good dining spots.

At this point, I only wish and pray that I can come up with my own directory of dining places I have personally tried and can recommend.

I’ll try.

Getting on the "blog-wagon"

My First!

For the past 3-4 years now, I’ve been very depended on the Net – for research, entertainment, and what-have-you. Whether it be work related, homework related (for my two boys – eldest is incoming 3rd year, and youngest is incoming 1st grader), or out of curiosity or boredom. I still love going through books, reading the morning paper but this is now leisure because who has time to do this? I wish I had. My heart I’m still old school though – printouts and hard bounds. Then again, softcopies are more accessible and readily available. They’re cheaper too.

My Passions
The Net has been the greatest help for me to be able to sustain two of my passions – travel and food. Now, the third one too, which is writing. My husband has been badgering me to start my own blog just so I could still write. Maybe he thinks this would be an effective and productive outlet for me. Having been in the banking industry for almost 10 years, my writing skills have been limited to business letters, proposals, inter-office communications/memos and concept papers. At least I still have use of my Journalism degree, I’d always say sarcastically and somehow gratefully.

So why a late bloomer is blogging for someone who’s suppose to be a skilled and educated (to be a) writer? A lot of reasons – insecurity, lack of time and laziness, are some of the reasons I can think of now. Insecurity – I don’t know if I still have “IT”, the skill and the talent. I feel it in my heart but… can I still really do it? There’s no other way to know but to try, right? Lack of time – aside from being a corporate slave, my family comes first. The little time I am able to spare I’d rather give and spend with them. As I write this, guilt is starting to creep – why am I in front of my laptop when I can be with them instead? Like any other weekend, I’m the one who cooks all the meals, which my husband and kids always look forward to. For lunch today, the liempo is currently being boiled to soften. Then it’s ready for the final stage to fully transform into lechon kawali. So I have a few minutes to spare and write this. Now we go to laziness. If I’m not cooking or playing with my sons, I’d rather be watching a movie or TV series on DVD or lie in bed. And when I start a new TV series, there’s no turning the TV off. So now, I’ve gathered enough willpower to start my own blog.

Food, Travel and Blogs
I think I should be able to use these three passions together. This is not unique or new at all. One thing I should have mentioned earlier is that my inspiration to do blogging is another blog. I got hooked to Our Awesome Planet. Ever since I stumbled upon his site, not a single day passes by that I do not visit it. If I will pursue this blogging thing, (I wish) it would be something like his. Well, I’ll try to be different, not totally just a copycat, of course.

Start of a Journey and a Journal
This is a new adventure for me all together – rediscovering my writing skills and pursuing my love for travel and food. I’m really excited! If there’s someone I don’t want to disappoint with this new venture is myself. I pray that I’ll be able to sustain this endeavor.

Wish me luck!