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July 28, 2006

Recommended Reading

LOVE WALKED IN, a book I read over 4 months ago, written by Marisa de los Santos, a half Filipino poet who decided to write a novel in addition to her poetry collections. I read somewhere that it will be made into a movie with Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City playing the main character, 30 something Cornelia.

The book is not great but a good love story, not just between a girl and the Cary Grant of her dreams, it is also finding love in other way and other people, one of which is the 11 year old daughter of the aforementioned "Cary Grant". He walked in the coffee shop Cornelia was managing just when she was daydreaming of the perfect man who will come in the shop and sweep her off her feet. She realized later he is not "the perfect guy" after all, he is divorced and estranged from his child because he chose to, one of his flaws. The book also touches on her relationship with her parents and siblings, and her neighbors' mother who loved her enough to leave her her home when she died, instead of to her own children. The several story lines are touching, sometimes heartbreaking. Her true love, a half Pinoy doctor (of course, doctor, Pinoy eh), married to her sister also walked in the coffee shop on Christmas Eve(?) and later he cooked pancit for her and the daughter of "Cary".
Some readers blasted her writing style, complained about how ALL the characters are beautiful, begrudged the author for making Cornelia thin, beautiful and oh so saintly, that the ex wife is a blonde beauty living in a high end condo, that the daughter is very smart for her age, in other words, that the book is not credible because they do not know anybody like these people in real life. People can be so petty and stupid, really. This is a work of fiction, duh, dreaming about a Cary Grant to appear and fall in love with you IS fantasy! Maybe they prefer a "believable" story line that features an obese, ugly, pimply intelligence challenged alcoholic to be able to relate to the character properly. Geez. Anyway, those things they were complaining about did not bother me and I enjoyed reading this book regardless of a few cliched and contrived situations because there are many other good things about this book. Highly recommended.

July 27, 2006

Spaghetti Squash for Dinner

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Spaghetti Squash
Spaghettu Squash

The Washington Post food section today features spaghetti squash which I never tried before maybe because I never liked squash. The writer says it stays crunchy so I went out and bought one, cooked it exactly as she said, boil whole for 40 minutes. It really is crunchy and sweetish and I like the texture. This vegetable does not need elaborate sauces, just add less than half a teaspoon of sea salt, half a tablespoon of unsalted butter, and dried sage (the store did not have fresh) and you have an uncomplicated side dish. For the main dish I fried store bought frozen falafel patties. This is surprisingly good specially with buttered steamed milagrosa rice flavored with lemon and herb, sea salt, and sprinkled with sumac powder. Tzatziki is a must for this Lebanese(?) style dinner.

Vegetarian Dinner
a vegetarian meal of meatless falafel, spaghetti squash, and seasoned rice

White Peaches in Syrup
dessert: fresh white peaches in syrup with a splash of peach schnapps

In the article the writer mentioned that she would probably eat vegemeat (seitan, tvp, tofu) more often if they were not impersonating animals as in tofurkey, soyburger, or soyhotdogs. I completely agree with her. If you try to make veggies other than what they really are you will just get disappointed because it will NEVER taste like meat or fish. In my opinion the best way to enjoy it is to cook them as they are, without disguising its natural form. Add lots of seasoning and vary the preparations and I think more people will enjoy eating meatless meals regularly. This may also stop them from making fun of tofu.

July 25, 2006

Pancit Lomi

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Pancit Lomi

I found these lomi noodles last week in the
Korean grocery
(where else?). Never tried cooking these before but eaten them more than 20 years ago in Manila maybe once or twice. I looked online for the Pinoy recipe, substituted soy puffs (fried tofu) for the shredded chicken. I did not add sesame seed oil because the lomi I remember did not have it. The beaten eggs added right after the heat was turned off give the noodle dish an interesting texture and of course added protein. The ingredients I used are pictured above (I forgot to include the carrots in the photo). With plenty of seasonings you won't really miss the chicken. This is a very substantial and satisfying Filipino meal.

Pancit Lomi

For dessert: homemade strawberry ice cream and jacobina

Strawberry Ice Cream and Jacobina
Jacobina

I'm sure most Filipinos know Jacobina: crunchy, flaky, milky(?) snacks with just a hint of sweetness, perfect with halo halo or ice cream. These are tiny, about 1 x 1 inch, the jacobinas I used to snack on were bigger than these. Everything seems to be getting smaller in the Philippines, perfect example: ChocNuts, they are now 1/3 their original size.

July 23, 2006

Book reviews:

POPPY SHAKESPEARE by Clare Allan ***
The book is good, sometimes funny, but I think the only way to appreciate it is to read it with a working class British accent, preferrably aloud, which is not so easy. Not bad, not great either. 3 stars.

ALENTEJO BLUE by Monica Ali *
A complete waste of my time, very disappointing. This author is overrated, so much glowing reviews by several "official" book reviewers. I thought this one would be better than her first, Brick Lane, which was not bad, I rated it 3 stars, but I was wrong.
I guess this will be the last Monica Ali book for me.

July 21, 2006

Coffee Ice Cream and Mangosteen Preserves

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Coffee Ice Cream and Mangosteen Preserves
the best dessert pairing: coffee ice cream and mangosteen preserves

I have been lurking in several Pinoy food blogs and read about the discontinued Magnolia coffee mangosteen ice cream. The blogger said that he prefers to top the coffee ice cream with mangosteen preserves. It is an excellent idea, but I couldn't find mangosteen preserves here in the US. Fortunately I found Thai canned mangosteen in syrup at the Korean grocery, bought several cans and boiled the syrup with 2 tablespoons (per can) sugar until very thick, then added all the fruit, boiled it down some more until almost caramelized, somewhat brown red, dark purplish in color and very thick. I made coffee ice cream using very thick brewed espresso. The result is oh so heavenly. The half gallon ice cream and the preserves were history in a matter of days.


Baked Eggs With Asparagus

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Still trying to make meatless dinner but cheated just a little bit by adding half of a Spanish chorizo because it is essential to this dish.

Baked Egg and Asparagus

Ingredients: 1 lb asparagus, eggs, half of a Spanish chorizo, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 each medium size onion, tomato and sweet red bell pepper, salt and pepper to taste, a pinch of pimenton, and extra virgin olive oil for sauteing and sprinkling after baking.

For dessert I made fresh white peaches ice cream.

Peach Ice Cream

July 18, 2006

Fresh Fruits

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Figs
super sweet, soft, juicy figs

Bing Cherries
bing cherries

White Peaches
juicy and sweet white peaches

Avocado
avocados

Strawberries

I love summer. It's hot and muggy, yes, but you get all the wonderful fruits and vegetables at this time of the year, and most important they're grown here in the US. I especially love the white and yellow cling peaches, black and Italian honey figs, red and green grapes, avocados, and of course strawberries. Avocados have always been a favorite either sweet with milk and sugar or savory in California rolls and Texmex fare. This is also the season for the best tomatoes: beefsteak, cherry, roma or vine ripened cluster.

July 17, 2006

Meatless Spaghetti Bolognese

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Meatless Spaghetti Bolognese
vegetarian spaghetti Bolognese with beef flavored seitan and textured vegetable soy protein

Meatless Spaghetti Bolognese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup chopped beef or chicken flavored seitan
1 cup hydrated TVP
16 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning (or chopped fresh basil, oregano, and rosemary)
cooked spaghetti
grated Parmesan cheese
  • Heat oil and saute garli and onion for 2 minutes. Add seitan, TVP, and tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute then add tomatos, broth, dried herbs, and salt. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Spoon on spaghetti and top with cheese.
Avocado Iced Dessert
  • Iced avocado dessert: scrape ripe avocado with a spoon into a small bowl, add milk and sugar to taste then chill for an hour. Add a few ice cubes to individual cups.

Book Reviews: THE FUTURIST and THE HUSBAND

Book reviews

I have 4 books to read, 2
of which I finished over the weekend:
THE FUTURIST by James P Othmer and THE HUSBAND by Dean Koontz. I will tackle the other two POPPY SHAKESPEARE by Clare Allan and ALENTEJO BLUE by Monica Ali this weekend, both due at the library on July 26.

THE HUSBAND ****
As much as I like Dean Koontz novels, I will only give this book 4 stars. I did not like that it reads too much like a movie, specially the super rich Hollywood type gangster and the final confrontation with the abductor, they both seem contrived. He could also have eliminated the somewhat slapstick comedy part where there is an old guy in the SUV Mitch was trying to steal; It would have been better if Mitch had grabbed the screaming geriatric from his seat, plopped him on the road, and drove on to rescue his wife. I love the book though for the suspense, surprises at every turn, and of course the creepy serial killer. I also like that this is a very quick read, less than half a day. Will still look forward to reading his new novels. Highly recommended.

THE FUTURIST ****
Very entertaining, laugh out loud funny, with weird characters (example: Giant Nordic nymphomaniac) but at the same time dealing with serious current issues. Some situations are cliches but that's alright, it still earns 4 stars in my opinion. Highly recommended.

July 14, 2006

Eggs In Red Sauce

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Eggs in Red Sauce

It's only been 5 days since I promised to cook meatless meals and I'm already running out of ideas even after consulting my Filipino vegetarian cookbook BEST RECIPES for the Home published in 1970 in Manila by The Seventh Day Adventist. This is my mother's who gave it to me (after much cajoling). I don't want to serve seitan/tofu /beans all the time, that would be boring. Hay naku, meatless ulam takes sooo much effort and imagination. I'm like this pinoy teen I saw on TV learning/practicing inline skates at Greenhills, after several spills he cried "ayoko na!!" with an agonized expression on his face. Ooh, Spanish baked eggs with asparagus sounds good but will need at least half of an El Rey chorizo (which btw I learned from a pinoy blog is now made in Nebraska!) for that Filpino/Spanish flavor. Oh gee, now I have to go out and buy fresh asparagus. I don't wanna , I haven't ironed my hair, I can't be seen outside with frizzy, unruly hair even in the grocery!! Besides, I hate driving on a Friday afternoon when all the bad drivers are out in full force. Maybe I'll use canned but it's only good for soups and chicken asparagus sandwich. No, I'll make it next week. I'll think of something else, maybe boiled eggs with tomato/ketchup sauce, parang breakfast fare.

Eggs in Red Sauce
  • Boil 5 eggs for 8 minutes, peel, halve, place on a dish sliced side up, set aside then saute a half sliced onion, add Jufran, Malaysian sos cili, Hunt's ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, a little water, boil 1 minute, pour over eggs. Serve with salad greens.
Salad

I also made fresh green grape juice smoothie. To finish the meal: fresh bing cherries, strawberries, Fibisco choco mallows and Perugina baci.

July 13, 2006

White Chili

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White Chili

Wednesday's dinner : White chili topped with reduced fat cheese and Carr's table water crackers.
Dessert: homemade Cherry Garcia ice cream

Ingredients: 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 medium size chopped vidalia onion, 2 diced hot green chilis (the long meaty ones), 1 chopped green bell pepper, 2 teaspoonss ground cumin, 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, 8 ounces shredded seitan, and a 16-ounce can of white beans.

Yumm. I should warn you , this meal is so light (meatless, eaten with crackers instead of rice) that you might end up snacking on leftover Chef Boyardee at midnight.

July 11, 2006

We Need To Eat Healthy

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Vegetable Dumplings

I decided to eat healthier and will try to serve my family vegetarian meals 3 times a week .
I used to 5 years ago but got lazy (vegetarian food requires a lot of work, you have to consider variety and taste) and did not serve vegemeals regularly. For starters last night I prepared Chinese: Ma-Po's Bean Curd AND shumai with baby bokchoy and peanut filling. For the Ma-Po I used shredded chicken flavored gluten (seitan) and cubed firm tofu, both are available at Korean supermarkets. I didn't have hot bean paste so I substituted Thai shiracha and yellow bean sauce. It came out tastier because the Thai sauce is spicier and has garlic in it. The baby bokchoy is truly baby, about 2 inches long and very tender.

Vegetable Dumpling

Both are really good although I should have bought the supermarket wonton wrapper. I used gyoza wrappers which are thicker, the shumais came out a little bit makunat (chewy) but still so yummy. The filling is similar to the kuapao we used to have in Manila. Kuapao is a relative of siopao, rectangular or oval in shape and usually filled with green vegetableses, never meat. Hmm, maybe I will make kuapao next.

Ma Po Tofu
ma po tofu

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