Category Archives: Kitchen Experiments

Homemade chili flakes

[singlepic id=432 w=320 h=240 float=center]

What to do with ripe, red hot peppers? Not being a fan of hot foods, these little fiery spices have no use to me. Yet I can’t resist plucking these siling labuyo off the many bushes that grow wild around the house. At the most, my dad mixes them in bagoong, toyo or suka, but on the whole, it dries up without being used in any of the dishes we’d prepare.

My brilliant idea (born out of boredom) was to dry the chilies and pound it to flakes. Though I often opt to keep my food on the opposite side of hot, I don’t mind adding a dash of it to my pizza every once in a while. Hence, the brilliant idea. Given that the weather the past few days had always been warm, bright and sunny, it wouldn’t take long for my small harvest to dry.

[singlepic id=433 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Every day I’d pick a handful of chilies, and add it to my growing pile on the bilao. I’d place it on top of the kalan’s roof, away from chickens who would feast on it. A few days later, the batch is dry and crumbly. I remove the stalks, and use a mortar and pestle to turn them into flakes (A process which takes a while). Watching a movie or reading a book helps pass the time, while the action of pounding the chilies helps relieve stress.

[singlepic id=434 w=320 h=240 float=center]

My efforts were rewarded when later I had a nice amount of chili flakes, enough to fill a standard sized McCormick spice bottle. It smelled pretty good, and packed a pretty nice punch. Mama used it for the kilawin we had for our beach picnic lunch the next day, and while it wasn’t that hot to make me cry, it was enough to add a little kick in the flavor.

[singlepic id=435 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Better than the dried pepper flakes you get at the market. The color is so much better too, and it didn’t cost me a centavo. I love it.

Where I talk about food I ate today…

Cooked breakfast today: ground lean beef with carrots and broccoli. I wanted asparagus but the grocery didn’t have one. I also prepared my lunch: toasted German Bratwurst with steamed broccoli and carrots on rice.

[singlepic id=307 w=320 h=240 float=none]

The trip to Unionbank seemed successful, so I felt a little bit optimistic that my issue with them would be resolved. Still, I felt a bit down, so I thought I’d go get something to lift my spirits. Two things could make me a little happier: a set of Letraset Aqua Promarkers… or something sweet.

Since the former was out of my budget, I decided to go for the latter. On the way to the bank I spotted the menu of Chuck’s Deli. I skipped the sandwiches and headed to their dessert selection. Under it was “Mamou’s Famous Key Lime Pie”.

Most of you may know about Mamou, the restaurant in Serendra. Not me. I haven’t been there nor have I heard of it (shows you how unadventurous I am when it comes to restaurants… or, how low my budget is hehe). So when I saw the dessert on the menu, I didn’t hestitate to get it, despite the P145 price tag. Yes, one slice costs that much (though I heard it’s P40 more expensive at Mamou’s itself).

[singlepic id=308 w=320 h=240 float=none]

Key Lime Pie is an unusual dessert, at least in this part of the world. Not everyone has heard of it, nor had the opportunity to try one. I’d love to bake one myself (or have my friend Ian do so), but I lack one key equipment: an oven.

I was quick to look for Key Lime Pie recipes, and I didn’t need to look any further than Jun Belen’s blog. His recipe is made with calamansi instead of key limes. How’s that for being truly Pinoy?

So here I am, enjoying my pie and reading about how to make one. Wishful thinking: Someone would gift me a Kitchen Aid mixer and Sub Zero oven. Whohoo.

Speaking of blogs, my new discovery of Jun Belen’s blog was actually through one of the American food blogs I keep track of. The Cupcake Project is a favorite blog of mine, one I saved during the time my cousin and I wanted to create our own cupcakes. Today, I was surprised to see a blog entry from her with the word “Latik” in the title.

To us Pinoys, latik is a familiar word and delicacy. I don’t know if other South East Asian countries use the same word, so I was prepared to comment about it being Pinoy and all that. I was again surprised when I read that she heard about it from a SF based Pinoy blogger. I immediately went to the site and did the happy dance. Jun’s blog is my ideal Pinoy food blog. Not only does he talk about the places he eaten (actually, there really isn’t much reviews on his blog), but he talks about food he’s made and the memories of food as he grew up in Manila. He also shares recipes of honest-to-goodness Filipino food, partnering them with eye-catching photographs.

I’ve added his blog to my RSS feed reader. I look forward to reading more of his posts.

Hello, Summer

As a kid, Holy Week is the part of my summer that I look forward to the most. While every year I spent summer in my grandparents’ home in Candelaria, Zambales, Holy Week is especially fun because it’s when my cousins (of varying degrees) would come from all over. We’d have a few days of going to the beach, eating like there’s no tomorrow and playing in the fields all day long. It’s never boring in the province.

However, Good Friday is always the pits. Our grandparents would put a stop to everything fun. No going to the beach (or at least, no swimming). No playing in the fields. We’d ask why and we were told it’s because Jesus died and we should mourn. The more outspoken cousins would say “Eh bakit pa kasi namatay?” while the meeker ones would just follow what Lolo and Lola said.

It’s doubly bad when my birthday falls on Good Friday. My cousins would get their thrills by teasing me about my “bad” birthday. Being “pikon”, I’d easily get mad. However, my parents and grandparents would try to make up for it the next day. One of my titos, who also has the same birthday would join me in my misery.

Holy Week also counts as a reunion week. We usually have two major reunions: One for the Ebalo family, and one for the De La Llana family. Countless reunions were held here at home, with our branch of the family would be the host. My sister and I are usually delegated to man the registration table. Sad to say, I don’t recognize the people I meet, but it’s a pretty good way to get to know them for a bit.

Holy Week in the city
Since my summer is spent in the province, I grew up thinking that the traditions we’d do here were only for the province. It wasn’t until I started spending time in Manila during the Holy Week did I realize that it was also present. I’d see snatches of it in Manila, in Pasig, in Quezon City.

Wednesday night I got to see how Santolan celebrates. A long procession of statues of saints stopped traffic for a good hour or so. There were about thirty four or thirty five of them, each pulled by their respective devotees. The last of which was the local chapter of the Black Nazarene. The statue is carried by the male devotees, all of who were barefoot.
[singlepic id=236 w=320 h=240 float=center] [singlepic id=237 w=320 h=240 float=center] [singlepic id=238 w=320 h=240 float=center]

I am actually quite scared of these statues.

Going home
[singlepic id=239 w=320 h=240 float=center]
As expected the bus station was crowded. Thankfully, even though we had to wait a bit before we could get our tickets, it was organized. The trip took a while though, due to the traffic along NLEX. I slept most of the trip, waking up only to eat.

This cute baby entertained us during the whole trip. He was a smiling, good-natured little boy.
[singlepic id=240 w=320 h=240 float=center]

And my self-imposed Internet exile is a bust, because I needed to be online to work.

Random stuff
Good Friday procession here at home.
[singlepic id=244 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Tomatoes that my Lolo planted.
[singlepic id=241 w=320 h=240 float=center]

My carrot and banana cakes.
[singlepic id=242 w=320 h=240 float=none] [singlepic id=243 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Tomorrow, reunion.

Kitchen experiment again

When I was a kid, I hated Lent. First off because even though I had my cousins to play with, we’re not allowed to (Catholic tradition thing). Second, you can’t eat the “good” stuff (meat, candies, sodas) and third, you have to pray (an hour of kneeling isn’t something a kid can’t tolerate much). I’ve gotten past the first and last, but the second is still sort of hard to do.

Decided to cook dinner today, since I did manage to skip eating meat the whole day. I went to the grocery to buy my ingredients, but I didn’t really have a plan. I got cream dory, some mushrooms, a head of cabbage, dried seaweed and rosemary. Coated the fish in salt, pepper and rosemary, fried it in olive oil then tossed in garlic, onion, some water and a dash of soy sauce and sukang Iloco to taste. After the liquid boiled, I added the cabbage and mushroom, then for the heck of it, stirred in some dissolved sugar because I thought it was too salty. My sister suggested I added some evaporated milk and though skeptic, I did. I let it simmer.

It tasted fine to me, but it had to pass the judgment of my three siblings (Nunik was out because he was watching the Stone Temple Pilots). They all had one thing to say: “Masarap.” That’s good enough for me. I don’t expect them to wax poetic about my cooking, but the fact that they didn’t complain was testament enough. Did I mention that nothing was left of it?

Hurrah for another success!