When I received an assignment to make slow cooker recipes, I was stumped. I didn't have a slow cooker. So I Googled my way around the internet to look for shops in Rome that sell them. I found a couple of big shops that were supposed to be selling them but after asking the salespeople, they had no idea what I was speaking about. At the second shop, I was lucky. They had the last one on display. And the salesperson also didn't have a clue about what it was. What is a slow cooker?
17 October 2014
13 October 2014
Today, I decided to have a mother-daughter shopping and lunch date after I picked up my 4-year old daughter from school. Sometimes she's in a grumpy mood and just demands to go back home immediately (sigh) while there are moments when she's in a hyper talkative mood, speaking incessantly for hours. You just need a good pair of earplugs if you can't make her stop and just keep on nodding your head on the right points making sure that your timing is right because she might notice that you are not following her and you will be in big trouble. She caught me a few times and believe me, an angry sensitive 4-year old girl is hard to pacify.
11 October 2014
It seems that my favorite line lately is "Why not?". When I think of what recipes to create and then I come up with strange combinations, I often challenge myself with why not? Anything and everything is worth a thought and simple planning. It can work or it can also fail. Like what I always say, I welcome failures because that is the only confirmation I have not that what I did was wrong and it is something that I will not repeat, ever, again.
09 October 2014
From such a young age, my daughter and I have shared a special kind of bonding in the kitchen. She was barely 3 years-old when she came to me asking to help me shell the small mountain of fresh fava pods that I took home from the market. I obliged, explaining to her how to go about it while I helped her with the more difficult pods that refuse to open. That started our favorite ritual of shelling pods together. We both enjoy our time while we chat about cooking, vegetables and toddler stories. In fact, it has been effective in making her eat her vegetables because peas are the only ones she eats - sandwiched between tiny pieces of bread. Well, we all have our strange ways of eating.
07 October 2014
What strikes me about this recipe is that all three major ingredients are rich in antioxidants. It is a powerhouse of nutrients! Blueberries, cranberries and pomegranates all rank high in the quantity of antioxidants present in each berry or seed. That is actually what I had in mind when I was putting together this very simple dessert (or breakfast if you want to start your day with it). I also wanted it to be something simple and quick enough to prepare in just few minutes. I have to face it. I already joined the ranks of the mothers whom I see rushing to the school with perennial flustered looks.
06 October 2014
If I can shout to the world that my favorite fruit in the world is mango, I would. When I was young, being a picky-eater that I am, I would eat loads of mangoes if I didn't like what was on the table. My Mom wouldn't let me off the table with an empty tummy so I would happily oblige to her demands as long as I have some chilled ripe mangoes in front of me. Since the Philippines is a big producer of them, and if I am not mistaken, it is also the national fruit, I literally grew up with gigantic baskets of them in one corner of the kitchen and with the natural mango scent permeating the room. With the heat of summer and cooking, the aroma intensifies. It was how a house in a tropical island should smell like.
05 October 2014
Time has passed so fast. When you are attending to a lot of things, you just don't notice that the clock is ticking. When I looked at the date of my last entry, the gap of the dates hit me. I should start getting back to the old rhythm of writing even if my mind keeps on resisting. It's hard to do mental work when the brain is clouded with thoughts and sadness. Ideas don't come flowing like they should and I have been trying but to no avail. I just end up blank, staring at the screen for days.
30 September 2014
What can I do without one-pot dinners? They are easy to put together, I use only one pot in cooking and yes, I wash only one pot too! There are times when cooking is great while you're doing it but when you finally conclude the plate with the finishing touch and you start looking around the kitchen for the mess that you created, you just want to seal the door of the kitchen and close it. Cooking is fun but cleaning up is another thing. But bring it on, I cook so I clean up after myself too!
29 September 2014
The colors of the Italian flag are red, white and green and that is always the first comment anyone says when they see the Caprese Salad. To be honest, I do love mixing red, green and white in salads because the colors depict freshness and it also epitomizes the Mediterranean diet. Red, plump tomatoes always play a big role in the red of my salads, I love using anything green like basil, arugula or lettuce and for the white, there are always fresh white cheeses like mozzarella, burrata or feta that go so well with other fresh ingredients.
28 September 2014
It's a lazy Sunday afternoon at home today and over everything, it's quiet. Both kids are busy with their separate activities in different rooms. With my son's recent change of selection in TV programs from cartoons to National Geographic and History Channel (hurray!), he is, as always, hooked in front of the TV watching a show. This time, it's all about submarines. My daughter is in another room drawing and coloring continuously while watching cartoons. Our dog had long given up making us play with him and he is sleeping peacefully outside under the sun.
27 September 2014
I'm not in the habit of preparing my salads or food for that matter, in jars, until I discovered that it is actually very convenient. And they are so compact too which makes them easier to take around than the regular food containers. I think if I am sitting on a bench to eat my lunch, a jar layered with the ingredients looks better than a food container, doesn't it? Plus, it is easier to hold too. Sometimes, when there's no one to cook for at home, I prepare my lunch in a jar the night before then I just grab it from the refrigerator and eat while I am working in front of the computer. Rarely does a crumb fall and I am done with my food within minutes with just a jar and a fork to wash. Convenience is the key word.
26 September 2014
Now that summer has finally drawn to a conclusion, my gelato fixes have also diminished. But hey, I will never stop eating them even in the cold months. We never stop eating them anyway at home. In my house, if the kids cannot find gelato, they start acting like it's the end of everything. If only they knew that before they were born, all the gelaterie (gelato shops) close in winter and the commercial gelato production stops too. Because of the current changes in demand, it is now normal to see them open even in winter and there is also a continued supply in of commercial gelato in the supermarkets. So nowadays, it's ok to have a gelato craving when the temperature is below zero. You are covered.
25 September 2014
Going around Asia, the streets are a melting pot of street food. Movable carts selling different kinds of specialties line the sidewalks while you walk around and hop from one stall to another. In those small carts are also portable stoves or grills to cook the food while you wait. The variety is incredible and most of the time, they taste even better than the ones at home.
24 September 2014
Swordfish and paccheri, I like putting them together in a pasta dish. Paccheri are a kind of pasta that are shaped like big tubes which can either be stuffed or just used as regular pasta. In this dish, it's delicious just mixed with the swordfish and vegetables and you don't even need to exert so much effort because this dish is so easy to prepare.
One of the best tasting tuna I ever had in my life was not in a fancy restaurant with chefs clad in their toques but in a shack of a restaurant in a faraway island in the Philippines called Siargao Island, a place not frequented by tourists at all. The cooks are clad in their simple flip-flops, shorts and tank tops, grilling the freshly caught tuna in their makeshift barbecue grill while you wait in their tired-looking tables. The only available food was the fish that they caught for the day grilled on coals and served in skewers, ice cold bottles of San Miguel beer or Coke and steamed white rice. Simple, straightforward and outstandingly cheap at a little bit more than a Euro for a whole meal that's even fit for two.
22 September 2014
Like most smoothies, this Strawberry, Goji Berry (or Wolfberry) & Elderflower Smoothie is sweet, healthy and easy to prepare. I just like to soak the dried goji berries in water a few minutes before mixing up all the ingredients in the blender. That way, they soften well and they can blend better with the other ingredients in the smoothie.
21 September 2014
When summer arrives, my family and I usually travel to the north of Italy to the mountains and to the sea. The different regions have different characteristics in gastronomy, terrain. culture and history. That's what I like about this country. Every single region has a surprise up its sleeve to make you marvel at its uniqueness. So every single place that I visit is always worth the trip. I have shown you Alto Adige/Sudtirol, Liguria (Italian Riviera), Tuscany, Abruzzo, Marche, Sicily, Sardegna and Puglia in my past posts (see other places at Travel in Italy) but this time, let me show you an ancient town more southern than Rome, close to Naples, in the region of Campania.
19 September 2014
When I was young, my choice of entertainment reading was my family's enormous dictionary that was a quarter of my weight which I alternated with our three sets of encyclopedia. One set was from my Dad's schooldays which had pages made of onion-skin paper with minute printing. The other set was current, bought by my parents for us kids to do our school researches (there was no internet then) and the third one was a child's set when we were smaller with more pictures and simple text. For years, I would carry one volume at a time to my bedside and read them. I thought it was normal because my older brother had the same choice of reading material too.
18 September 2014
Violet is my daughter's favorite color and when I use anything violet, she's very active in helping me set up the table for photographing. And when I say that I need violet flowers, she runs faster than a roadrunner to get me not one, but the whole plants' flowers, leaving maybe one so that the bees don't get hungry. Well at least there's a nice thought. Now that both my kids are bigger than when I started blogging, they participate in my work. They are my second and third set of eyes who help me coordinate the colors and give me ideas on what to use as props. My daughter specializes in violet while my son is more open-minded to other colors. After putting together plates continuously almost everyday, I run out of ideas sometimes and my two little assistants step in.
The first week of school is incredibly chaotic. Full-day and half-day classes all end at the same time. Since all the kids go out practically at the same time with 5 - 15 minute intervals in between them, looking for parking is hopeless. I always end up parking at where I am not supposed to (sshhh!), always fearing in getting a ticket. I'm that car that is always parked a tad too close to the traffic light. It's fishbone parking so making it longer than it should be takes away one lane for the cars who need to turn.
16 September 2014
Yesterday was the first day of silence at home. I enjoyed it - doing nothing, in spite of all the plans I had to do as soon as the kids left for school. I had such a long list of pending things to do but I just dropped everything for a couple of hours of relaxation. But yes, at the back of my mind, there was this voice reminding me to do this and that until finally, I tackled what I had to tackle which was laundry. The best part is to put everything in the washing machine and the chore gets worse as you take them out to hang. I have mountains of dry clothes waiting to be ironed that never get flattened. That only means that ironing is my worst enemy. Is there actually anyone who loves ironing? I wonder.
13 September 2014
Our fig tree yielded quite a good batch of fruit this summer and for the first time after more than a decade, we had the tree to ourselves. It's an old tree planted by the person who lived in our house years before we moved in and it's located right in the middle of two garages, one ours and the other, our neighbor's. Now that neighbor moved away and we had full access this year. And you know what? Figs are my second favorite fruit (next to mangoes).