Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taho in Hiligaynon, Salabat in Tagalog, Ginger Tea in English



Good for sore throats and a great soother during the cold months, whether it's called taho in Hiligaynon, salabat in Tagalog, or ginger tea in English, this hot herbal concoction is sure to heal your cold discomforts:

You will need:
  • fresh ginger
  • water
  • brown sugar


To make your own ginger tea:
  • Pound 2 inches of fresh ginger.
  • Boil in 4 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar for 7-8 minutes.
  • Serve hot, ideally with any rice-based Filipino delicacy, but also tastes great with most pastries.

Go Home and Plant Kamote

"Go home and plant kamote!" If you are being told this, you're probably dumb and stupid that you should better go home to the rural areas where people plant kamote for a living and for survival.

However, with the new trend of going back to basics, going home to plant kamote is getting the respect it deserves.

Kamote or sweet potato is a root crop that looks like a potato but is not. It is rich in carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins A, C, and B as well as iron and calcium.
Kamote leaves are also a excellent greens for many Filipino soup dishes.

The kamote tuber is usually steamed. It's cooked as soon as it softens and the skin breaks. Spread a little butter with every bite, or dip it into sugar for a healthy snack. Kamote may also be cut up about 10cm thick and deep fried with brown sugar coating for a deliciously hot kamote-cue.

So who's dumb and stupid? Let's go home and plant kamote. And eat some, too.

Yummy Yema!

Yema, also known as custard candy, is a very yummy healthy candy you can't resist to the last piece.

Yummy yema is so easy to make, a can of condensed milk and 12 egg yolks or less, depending on your preference, will do.

To make your own yema, just m
ix condensed milk and egg yolks in a sauce pan or a double boiler. Cook your yema mixture under medium to high heat, stirring continuously until the yema mixture coagulates and separates from the pan. Cool your cooked yema for about 30 minutes. Mold into bite-sized balls and roll yema on white sugar to coat, or shape into pyramids and wrap with colorful cellophane.

Tip: for a creamier yema, use full cream condensed milk like Milk Maid, as condensed filled milks tend to harden the yema because of its high-sugar, low-milk content.

So there you have it, yummy yema!

What to do When Eating Out Turo-Turo Style

You might want to try eating out turo-turo style at a local carinderia or diner.

For those who are not familiar with it, here are some of the tacit rules on what to do when you're eating out turo-turo style.



Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 1.
As nobody greets you at the door, you just walk straight up to the counter where the specialty of the day is written on a big menu overhead. Make you order at the friendly lady manning the counter by reciting the desired dishes or simply point want you want from the array of ready-cooked dish or dishes. That's the essence of a turo-turo (literally, point-pont) diner.



Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 2. If the carinderia is especially crowded but you still would want to eat there anyway, have a companion reserve a table by occupying the next empty one. If all tables happen to be full, follow the share-a-table-win-a-friend rule. Ask the occupants of a table with vacant seats if you (and your companion if any) can join in, and if the seats are not taken, they will customarily acquiesce. If there are no vacant seats but there is a batch that are almost done eating, it is perfectly okay if you stand behind their chairs and obviously wait for them to scram. If your table is secured, go back to No. 1.



Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 3. Follow the signs posted conspicuously at the counter.

  • "Pay as You Order" means you pay for your order at the counter before you cart away your food tray (sometimes there is no tray). Still tradition has inculcated in the Filipino mentality to "Eat Now Pay Later", so depending on your choice of carinderia it's also okay to not pay for your meal until you are down to the last morsel. The counter lady's memories are sharp enough to note which table you are and won't take her eyes off you until you've paid up.
  • "Self Service" means there are no waiters to serve your food, just bus boys. You get your own eating utensils, ask for tissue paper, and get straw for your drink.
  • "Share a Table, Win a Friend" applies to a scenario described in No. 2.
Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 4. Because of the situation described in No. 2, consume your meal fast enough in order to give way for the next customer/s. If the other tables are clear, you are no longer obliged to leave and can while away your time for as long as you like. You can watch an entire show on their cable TV or even ask that the channel be changed to your favorite program.

Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 5. Because of the self-service rule, you are not expected to give a tip. However, there are some carinderia where you are once in a while besieged by beggars. It is not advisable to give them money or even your left over food, because once you've given one, two or more beggars will show up at your table with equally practiced hungry looks, ready to claw everything off your hands.

Eating out turo-turo style can be fun and exciting, never mind the occasional annoyances that give a new dimension to the experience. For as low as PhP50.00, you can already have a satisfying meal.



Now you know now what to do when eating out turo-turo style.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Winning Essay in the 2008 McDonald's Champion Kid (Philippines) Essay Writing Contest

This is Bea's winning essay that made it to the top 20 finalists in the 2008 McDonald's Champion Kid (Philippines) Essay Writing Contest. Before her essay was finalized, she had to learn what every writer had to learn after gathering all her ideas. Edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, until her essay became compact and still able to convey her message in the available space given.

I have won nine medals this year! At the Western Visayas Junior Convention of Schools of Tomorrow in Iloilo City, I entered in nine events: volleyball, essaywriting, short-story writing, cross-stitch, colored pencils, quarted ({all}first place); large ensemble, one-act play (second placE); and poetry writing (third place). I won the most number of medals!

The most precious of all is the volleyball medal! It was my first time to join the Athletics. I wasn't the best player, but I did my best. We practiced everyday, except Sundays. Even when it rained we did not quit!

I felt the teamwork and hard work in my heart. Maybe God also felt the teamwork and hard work, too, because He blessed us with no fever, no cough, nor runny nose!

So, I encourage kids to work hard, persevere, and pray so they can finish the race and win, maybe even more than nine medals! That's a McDonald's Champion Kid.

See related blog by clicking here for a closer look at how Bea and I proved to ourselves that, indeed, we are a great team.

New Moon in the Forks of the Philippines

New Moon and Twilight fans: there's a place in the Philippines that closely resemble Forks!

It's a small secluded mountainous area almost constantly under a cool blanket of fog and rain, dotted with pine trees and shrouded with mystery.

Sounds like vampire haven!

You can almost imagine Edward Cullen emerging from among the caucasian denizens or visitors that pilgrimage to this mountain hideaway. Or Jacob Black showing up from among the culturally rich native inhabitants of this scenic spot. Incidentally, it is famous for its amazingly preserved coffins ceremoniously niched in the sacred chambers of its limestone cave walls.

Where else but in Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines. While there are no vampire/werewolf stories that abound here, there's a lot to discover in this hard-to-reach place that's truly worth the bumpy six-hour bus ride from Baguio City (not yet counting the other six-hour bus ride from Manila to Baguio).

Follow my blog by clicking here for a closer look at this truly stupendous spot where you can almost feel like New Moon in the Forks of the Philippines. http://joandarling.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/sacadas-in-sagada-2009/

Pork Estofado, Turo-Turo Style, Anyone?

Pork estofado, one of my favorite dishes! I miss the sweet-sour taste so that when I chanced upon it at the local carinderia or diner, I ordered for a serving of pork estofado, turo-turo style.

Turo-turo literally means point-point, an ordering system in a self-service eatery where the menu is written on an overhead billboard. You either point to a dish name or point directly to the food of your choice. In this case, pork estofado! ;-)

Wherever you are in the world, it is not difficult to secure the ingredients for this popular Filipino dish. Estofado can be pork or chicken or both.

For a home-coked, family-sized serving of pork estofado, you will need:
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 head garlic, cloves crushed
  • 1 kg boneless pork shoulder, cut into cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 carrot, sliced into ½-inch rounds
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup corn oil
  • 2 pieces French bread, cut into 1-inch squares and fried in oil
  • 3 saba (plaintain) bananas, sliced diagonally into 2-inch pieces
You will need about 45 minutes to cook your pork estofado.
  • Heat oil in a casserole. Fry the garlic until brown. Remove garlic from pan and set aside.

  • Combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and water in a mixing bowl. Set aside to allow flavors to blend.

  • Pour in remaining oil and heat. Add pork and brown lightly on all sides. Pour in vinegar mixture. Bring to the boil, then lower heat to simmer. (Do not stir, or the vinegar will have a “raw” taste).

  • Add bay leaf and simmer for about 20 minutes or until pork is almost tender.

  • Add the carrot and, 5 minutes later, the bananas. When bananas and carrot are almost tender, about 5 minutes more, stir in pan de sal.

  • Continue simmering until pork is fully cooked and bananas and carrot are completely tender, about 5 minutes. Garnish with French bread squares.

  • You may also add canned pineapple slices.
Great when served hot with steaming rice. Enjoy your estofado!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Legend of the Pineapple

In the Philippines, almost all things are explained by stories of myths and legends in the oral tradition for hundreds of years, until the introduction of science and logic destroyed the fantasy.

Even the pineapple, the only edible bromeliad, has its own legend. Called pinya in Tagalog and in most Philippine dialects, its oral history tells us that a young girl named Pina was fond of looking for her misplaced belongings using her mouth and not her eyes.

Her mother, sick and tired of Pina's constant oral search of her missing things, carelessly told her daughter how she wished Pina would grow eyes all over her head so that she would use her eyes more in looking for misplaced items and shut her mouth while making her search.

Unknowingly, the mother put a curse on Pina, who was in the garden noisily looking for her lost garden tools. A few days later, after futilely searching for her daughter who never responded to her mother's calls, the mother saw this strange plant growing in her garden. It had the shape of a head with eyes all over it.

Only then that the mother realized the power of her tongue, what an irreversible curse she had put on her daughter, Pina, who became the first pinya.

Wow! Siopao!

Siopao literally means steamed buns in Hokkien, also called bazoi. Thais call it salapao.

Best when steaming hot, siopao is soft to the bite stuffed with your choice of either pork (no red dot at the center) or chicken (with red food coloring marking). Other popular stuffings are asado or bola-bola, with exotic and new culinary inventions using shrimp, eggs, scallions, nuts, spam, ube, and pineapple.

To brush aside scare rumors commonly associated with siopao that it may be stuffed with cat meat, get your oven fresh siopao from a decent restaurant or food chain, or homemade from someone you know.

A filling treat, grab a bit of your wow siopao now!

Haring Damang or King Spider

A spider has eight legs so it is an arachnid, not an insect which has only six legs.

This is the strangest creature I have ever seen, and although the legs are not clearly seen, I'm quite sure it's a spider.

Since spiders (especially the more exotic ones such as this) are not my thing, I consulted a few people over at Yahoo! Ask, and almost everyone agreed that it's a spider and not an insect.

My classmate, Ruel an experienced spider derby enthusiast when he was a kid, had an Ilonng name for this one. It slipped my mind, but it's something like Haring Damang or King Spider.

What's the Color of Your Money?

The Philippine Pesos is color-coded in festive Filipino colors. You can tell how much Philippine Pesos one is holding from just the looks of it.



Philippine Peso bills start with the candy orange P20 bill. In the old days when the dollar is not a whopping PhP47 in present times, there used to be cool blue P2 and green P5 bills. These lower denominations are now in coin form, and the coins alone have had many interesting design revisions (and cost more than it's worth) as the Philippine Peso continue to crumble to coins over the years.

It's a good thing I that found one of those phased out green Philippine Pesos representing P5 stashed in my wallet.



The largest denomination so far is the blue P1,000 bill preceded only by the yellow P500 bill, which will soon include the late former President Corazon Aquino's portrait side by side her husband's on the yellow bill.



These days, a P1,000 bill can only get you a regular bagful of groceries, which is still not bad, considering that these blue Philippine Pesos are not that easy to acquire especially by those living in poverty. To them, this can already mean a fortune or a month's wage.

Which is why there was this ad I saw on the internet confidently announcing that, with only $1,000 a month or roughly P47,000, one can already comfortably retire in this side of paradise with sufficiently stashed colorful Philippine Pesos.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Itlog na Pula: What's in This Filipino Red Egg?

These colored eggs are called itlog na pula (it-LOG means egg, na means that, and pu-La means red). The undiscerning might ask: what's in this Filipino red egg?

If the Chinese have the century egg, the Filipinos have their own version of the preserved or salted egg. However, this is not your ordinary chicken egg. Itlog na pula are made from duck eggs. These ducks are not the white ones but the colored ones specially bred for the production of itlog na pula, and also another exotic Filipino food, the dreaded balut.

Because of the process of making itlog na pula which discolors the outer shell, it is by tradition dyed a red color.

Since its shelf life lasts only for about four weeks and doesn't last very long, itlog na pula is exported to countries such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Peninsula, Bahrain and the Trust Territory in the Pacific Islands, but further research by specialized agencies such as the Institute of Animal Science at the University of the Philippines-Los BaƱos, Laguna, Philippines, are finding ways to further extend the goodness of the tasty itlog na pula.

To prepare, just crack open the red shell covering and slice the hard-boiled egg content into mini bite sizes. Cut up same sized raw onions and tomatoes and they are now ready to be eaten, your very own appetizer of itlog na pula.

Filipino Chicken Soup for the Soul: Manok Ubad, Turo-Turo Style


The Filipino chicken soup has a lot of variations. While the most famous one is the chicken tinola, the pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao's energy secret, this exotic Filipino chicken soup called manok ubad or chicken with minced banana stalk center is also a hit.

I chanced upon this dish at a local carinderia or eatery which features this Filipino chicken soup on its turo-turo (point-point, because you just point among the array of ready-cooked dishes on display which one you would like to have) stand.

Best with rice, manok ubad for a very satisfying breakfast or lunch. Never mind if this particular recipe was too oily. This Filipino chicken soup is still one helluva chicken soup for the soul.

Filipino Food: How To Make Laswa, a Famous Ilonggo Vegetarian Treat

Laswa is a famous Ilonggo vegetarian treat. This Filipino food can be a side dish or the main dish.

While laswa means lewd in the Filipino main language, laswa in Ilonggo or Hiligaynon simply is the name for this sweet salty clear broth vegetable soup. Laswa in this dialect also means "to pour boiling water over".



In the old days, it is possible that the process of cooking laswa may have been pouring boiling water over the cut up vegetables (any choice of squash, eggplant, string beans, okra, alugbati, tugabang, etc.) seasoned with salt.



Nowadays, the procedure of making laswa is to bring a considerable amount of water with your desired quantity of chopped onions and tomatoes to a brisk boil. Simmer until the vegetables are soft, then add the rest of your choice vegetables (some or all of the above, depending on your taste and availability of the vegetables in your chiller) according to firmness. While there is really no hard-and-fast rule in cooking laswa and a lot of kitchen common sense will do the trick, just don't overcook your laswa!



For a more flavorful laswa, shrimp is added but any other seafood flavoring will do from baby shrimp paste to shellfish to dried fish or any substitute like tofu for the strictly vegetarian. Add salt to taste.

Laswa is a great diet food as it is absolutely fat-free and provides for your fiber needs.

Laswa ingredients are best if bought fresh from the market, or picked right out of your back garden. It is best to consume laswa while hot. The broth should have a slippery-watery consistency, depending on the kind and amount of herbs used. So, go ahead and make your own delicous and nutritious laswa.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Saging na Saba or Plaintain Bananas Still Rock!

Saging na saba or Plaintain Bananas still rock as one of the best source of fiber and potassium as well as vitamins C & B6. It is low in fat, and cholesterol- and sodium-free.

Saging na saba
or Plaintain bananas when green are starchy and are more of a vegetable in cooking rather than as a fruit. As they ripen to a yellow color, saging na saba or Plaintain bananas are sweet as the starch turns into sugar, thus they may be eaten as is or cooked.

Green or unripe saging na saba or Plaintain bananas may be baked or fried. Cut into extra thin slices, they make excellent banana chips.

Yellow or ripe saging na saba or Plaintain bananas make great snacks or desserts.

The firm ones that are somewhere between green and yellow may be steamed and served with butter while hot like you would a corn on a cob. In the absence of a butter or margarine spread, boiled or steamed saging na saba or Plaintain bananas as shown in this picture may be dipped in brown or white sugar, or eaten plain.

They may also be cooked in boiling oil and brown sugar syrup until the saging na saba or Plaintain bananas are completely coated, then string two or three of them on a bamboo barbecue stick for your own yummy banana que.

Whenever you are in the Philippines, don't fail to sink your teeth into these succulent and nutritious saging na saba or Plaintain bananas.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bobot: One of my Favorite Childhood Candies is Still Alive Today!

Bobot has been one of my favorite childhood candies, and I was surprised to see that it is still alive today!

It's no match to the more popular and expensive brands, but the I thoroughly enjoyed eating this candy coated peanut called Bobot before I knew there were M&M's.

Bobot brought a rush of memories -- pictures of my elementary school and the cacophony of other children during recess. And of course that sweet sugary taste melting over crunchy roasted peanut.

It's truly a blast from the past to actually see today a pack of Bobot!

Autopilot


Autopilot, that's me sometimes, lately, most of the time, my mind preoccupied about a lot of things.

Adam Sandler's movie Click comes to mind whenever I'm in this autopilot thing.

Not only while driving but in doing my usual routine, my mind drifts off elsewhere while I mechanically go about, unknown to other people around me, in autopilot fashion.

I remember Lea Salonga admitting that even on stage as Kim in Miss Saigon, she sometimes unconsiously switches on to autopilot mode. While singing and emoting, her mind would drift off to her grocery list and other stuff.

And I suppose it's not only me or Lea or Adam, but all the other people must have had, at some point, experienced switching on autopilot.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Negros Occidental High School



Negros Occidental High School was the school where I attended my freshman and sophomore years. I brought my girls here today for their PEPT (Philippine Educational Placement Test conducted yearly by the Department of Education) so that they would be properly placed in the appropriate academic learning level proportionate to their ages.



As they were taking their PEPT, I snapped pictures of my sort of "half" Alma Mater which is Negros Occidental High School or more popularly known then as the Provincial High School with a condescending tone it seemed to me. These days, people call it by its acronym, NOHS.



There were new structures and improvements, but most of the old buildings of Negros Occidental High School are still well-preserved, giving off antique charm bewitching to former students like me for a trip down memory lane.



1983. The shy girl that I used to be, I remember aloofly walking along these crowded walkways, dreading every step of the way, imagining myself melting from the stares before even reaching my destination.



I'm not sure if the students of today still call this place "maintain silence", so called because the phrase was painted in big red letters across the back rests of these concrete benches. Those words are now painted over with decorative painting. During my second year at the Negros Occidental High School, I was gaining a little bit of popularity so that as I tried to walk as invisibly as I could, I would still get noticed and get my share of that familiar fan cry, "Idol! Idol!" (Wow!)



I mostly attended classes at the Main Building, a stately structure in the sprawling Negros Occidental High School campus.



But I had to say goodbye to what I thought would be my high school until my senior year as I was transferred to the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos for my Junior and Senior years.

Truly it was a blast from the past as I was drawn by the statuesque goddesses serenely guarding the esteemed entrance of the Negros Occidental High School. Their seemingly blank faces beckoning me in a trance. They don't make elegantly poised statues like these anymore in these parts.

Modesty aside, my drawing figures are anatomically proportionate, so that, if I will one day aspire to be a sculptress, artworks such as these would again adorn the landscape of Bacolod City with pride (nyahaha! unlike the poorly executed sculpture of Lady Liberty in the Hall of Justice), in the tradition of amazing artistic feats as displayed by the architecture of the Negros Occidental High School.

Peace!

Peace to all! No offense meant here but it seems that this is the only crucifix sculpture in the whole wide world where the image of the crucified "King of the Jews" is depicted as making the peace sign.

In the Bible, Jesus was crucified, was challenged to step down from the cross but did not because He had to do what He had to do -- to die. There is nothing in the Scriptures describing the crucified Christ miraculously unnailing one of His hands and making the peace sign which is a more familiar image in other artworks but not on the crucifixion.

Furthermore, another "miracle" in this sculpture was never described in the Bible: that the Man who walked on water did not miraculously stick His back to the cross while one hand was freely hanging.

Just an observation. And I say again, peace!
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