Christmas and Family

Since coming back home to the Philippines in 2006, Christmas has been busier in the kitchen.  But I always get help from the Third Sister who comes with her kids to spend Christmas with us to be closer to our parents.  When we were in Colorado, Spouse and I almost always had Christmas dinner with Stepson.  It was a lovely time for me because Stepson had a girlfriend with three lovely young children and we decorated Christmas cookies at our house before the day itself.  The youngest  told me the last time we did that “You’re like our grandma, right Mita?”  I didn’t even think about being too young, in my mind,  to be a grandma because I was so touched by his question.  I miss those kids like crazy and now Christmas always reminds me of them.

Christmas is for kids.  Before I got married, I’d splurge on Christmas dinner and decor but never on gifts.  In fact, I’d recycle corporate gifts I got and give them to the little ones just so they had another present to rip open.  Eldest Sister’s Youngest Daughter was the best kid to give a gift.  No matter what it was, she would be happy as a clam when she opened that present.  Her tiny eyes always popped wide open and her joyous exclamations were always the happiest and loudest.  That was the  best part of Christmas always.


But the Christmas dinner, which is actually Christmas Day lunch,  has to be special because my family loves to gather round the table to eat and talk – usually about food still!  Last year on Christmas Eve, Third Sister and I were in the kitchen making our cooking plans for the Christmas lunch we always celebrated at our parents and she got so excited about the turkey she actually convinced me we HAD to do it right away.  It was almost midnight so we got started to prepare the bird that was by then defrosted and sitting in the refrigerator.  I regret not taking a photo of that bird.  I recently saw a turkey featured in some local newspaper and it was a far cry from the beauty my sister and I took home to Mama last year.  It was browned more  evenly than I ever made it – another set of eyes watching the bird does make a difference!

Yes, there was no sleep for us that night.  But what a lovely turkey breakfast we brought to Mama the next day!  It certainly wasn’t our usual thing but oh we had a great time!  The turkey was almost all gone before lunch when Eldest Sister arrived with her kids.  We made a lot of dressing to go with the bird and they got to sample some of that at least.  She brought lechon from Cebu and some other foods she cooked. Eldest Sister is a really good cook.

I’m looking forward to Christmas this year.   I’m just a Christmas person I guess.  My decorating is all done and I’m sitting here next to the Spouse with the Christmas tree all shiny and bright and cheerful.

I’m looking forward to Christmas next year even more.  We welcomed  a new addition to the family this year.   Eldest Nephew got married in October and now we have an Eldest Niece-in-Law,  our very first.  Next year, they’ll have a baby by the time Christmas comes so we’ll have the Eldest Grand Nephew or Niece.  Again, our very first and the first of his generation.  The cycle of life continues for our family.

Merry Christmas and may your tribe increase!

Birthdays and Cakes

Youngest Nephew turned three yesterday and no matter how many times I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, all he told me was “a cake”.  First it was a white cake,

then it was a green cake.

I have this theory about kids, give them what they want  now (if they’re not your kids) because you can’t afford what they want in just a few years.  For now, Youngest Nephew is happy with a Chinese-made, battery operated helicopter with lights, moving rotors, and sounds.  Cheap.  His older brother is happy with a real flashlight, “like a security guard’s” and a step trashcan – I got him both for his birthday last September.  He was happy.

Continue reading “Birthdays and Cakes”

The Round-Up, Lasang Pinoy 20: Binalot, All Wrapped Up!

Here’s the round-up for Lasang Pinoy’s 20th Edition for the month of August titled, “Binalot – All Wrapped Up!” Thank you to everyone who took time off from their busy lives and sent in a contribution for this LP edition. We covered appetizers to dessert like we all planned it! I hope LP followers will enjoy this round-up as much as the host did.

Continue reading “The Round-Up, Lasang Pinoy 20: Binalot, All Wrapped Up!”

Announcement! Lasang Pinoy Edition 20: Binalot, All Wrapped Up!

On behalf of Filipino food bloggers everywhere, we are proud to announce the start of Lasang Pinoy’s 20th Edition: “Binalot, All Wrapped Up!” for the month of August 2007.

There are a myriad ways of preparing Filipino foods and a favorite is wrapping in leaves. The dish is referred to as “binalot” and while it usually means picnic lunches, Philippine cuisine does have a thousand and one recipes that uses this technique of food preparation. It gives you a peek into the Filipino’s practical nature, ingenuity, creativity and propensity to have fun – wherever and whenever.

As in most Southeast Asian countries, the most commonly used leaf is the banana leaf. The banana leaf is huge and has this thin, waxy outer layer that makes it perfect for wrapping even the sauciest of dishes. Another commonly used leaf are coconut leaves, folded and woven into all kinds of shapes and sizes.

But Filipinos don’t stop at leaves. There’s fresh bamboo cylinders, then there’s crepes and wonton wrappers which are both an influence of the Chinese population in the Philippines. Whether the wraps are thrown on the grill over hot, live coals, or perhaps boiled or steamed, the wraps leaves its own distinct aromas and flavors to the dishes encased within. The experience of unwrapping while all the steamy goodness and aromas fill your nostrils is definitely half the fun.

The possibilities are just endless and instincts tell me there are more wraps out there being used for binalot recipes than we know of. It’s probably as many as the 7,100 islands of our modest archipelago in the South China Sea and the Pacific.

Perhaps you’d like to feature the technique of folding and wrapping, that will definitely be interesting to readers from all over. Or maybe you have the best recipe for lumpia wrappers or your very own Philippine-inspired wrapped concoction using your own wrapper idea, that’s certainly welcome.

Whichever you choose to write about in your blog or someone else’s blog (this one included), Lasang Pinoy only requires that you submit your entries to the current host or the Lasang Pinoy team with your name, blog name and the link to your entry. For quick identification, title your emails, LP20: Binalot, and please use the icon shown here on your blog entries. As always, our icon for this month was creatively designed by Iska Montero and Mike Mina – maraming, maraming salamat! Thanks to everyone at Lasang Pinoy for your support too!

For this August edition, entries will be accepted starting today through the 1st of August 2007. Unless the host gets all wrapped up in some unforeseen circumstances, we hope to release the round-up within the first week of August…then we’ll call it a wrap!

Let’s get rolling and wrapping!

Post-Christmas Barbecue

There was a blizzard in Colorado Springs when we held this American-style barbecue for the family in Bulacan a few days after Christmas. It was surreal to be sitting in the sun and enjoying a summer barbecue while the place we just came from a month and a half ago was in the middle of a back-to-back winter blizzard.

Back to the subject of this post, I always wondered what my family in the Philippines would think of an American-style barbecue with grilled burgers, salads, boiled corn and barbecued beef ribs. It’s very different from the barbecues we are used to with Inihaw na Bangus, Inihaw na Liempo, Skewered Pork Barbecue, etc. I got to try it on them last month and am happy to report that they loved it. Fortunately, the weather cooperated too…cloudy and just a tad windy so it wasn’t too hot for an al fresco lunch. Continue reading “Post-Christmas Barbecue”