An Anniversary

A year and some 9 days ago, my husband finally convinced me to start a food blog.  He had no idea there was so much HE had to do to help me get started.  But I was interested enough when I got the hang of it…then I really got into it and was posting almost everyday. Unbelievably, this blog has been around for more than a year and is still getting hits despite the fact that I have been too busy attending to LIFE in general to take care of it

A year ago, we were in beautiful Colorado Springs staying warm indoors and heating up the kitchen with my cooking.  This year, I’m back in the tropics where I belong. My cooking activities have decreased quite a bit, not only because of the heat but also our eating so much less because of the heat…there’s also my mom who lives close by who always invites us over for meals.  Who can say no to Mama?

Thank you to everyone who came by, browsed, left a comment or just found this site by accident.  It amazes me how many people have been through here at one time or another…and from so many places, some of which I’ve never even heard of before. One time, I actually took out a map to look up where in the world the Faroe Islands is located!

Sincerely, thank you.  I feel so honored that my sometimes awkward words about  my kitchen successes and disasters, my memories and my cuisine were read.

Cucina Colore – Denver, Colorado

 

 

Spouse treated me to lunch at our favorite place in Denver, Cucina Colore.  I like this place because the food is no nonsense and always fresh, the staff is friendly and the restaurant is just so bright and contemporary I always enjoy my meals so much more. 

The first photo is the Carpaccio served with arugula, shaved grana and caper berries with a perfectly tangy vinaigrette. I never knew capers had berries so this was pretty interesting for me.  The caper berries looked almost like olives.  There were a gazillion little seeds inside the not so thick skin.  The berries were pickled and tasted pretty much like  regular capers, which are the flowers of the plant.  I thought this whole appetizer dish would make the perfect Italian sandwich….soo good!  Continue reading “Cucina Colore – Denver, Colorado”

Filipino Sari-Sari Store, Colorado Springs

 

 

Here’s a picture of the Filipino Sari-Sari Store in our city by the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies.? The photo shows the restaurant side of the store.  You can’t miss the cafeteria-style counter since it has that canopy over it, reminiscent of a nipa gut.

Like most Asian stores in our area, Wednesday is the day to be here.  They offer live crabs, fresh fish and fresh Asian vegetables that you normally wouldn’t get on any other day of the week.  I believe everything is flown in via Denver, probably from California. Most store owners will make the drive from Colorado Springs and have their haul ready by noontime.

 

Greek Desserts and Pastries

 

 

Saturday was a day I almost died and went to Greek heaven! I was introduced to those rich and mouth-watering Gree ?pastries I’d always heard of but never had.  It was all so good, the recipes must have come directly from heaven through their ancient gods.

At the risk of sounding morbid….if anything untoward happened to me because of a sugar overload that day, I was comforted by the fact I was in a churchyard and would receive the last sacraments….from a Greek Orthodox priest maybe.  But if it’s THE last rites…does it really matter if I’m Catholic? Oh well… all went well and I’m still here….OPA! Continue reading “Greek Desserts and Pastries”

Colorado Springs Greek Festival 2006

Today was what Spouse and I call a “Glad we live in Colorado” kinda day.  It was warm with light breezes….bright and sunny with a clear, blue sky dotted with just a few clouds to make it pretty.  Spouse and I knew this was not going to be a day spent in front of our desks.  We had a good work week spent mostly indoors, so this Saturday, we headed off to check out what was happening in the city.

The Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church in Colorado Springs is celebrating a Greek Festival this weekend, July 14-16. We headed off for lunch there and found a good-sized crowd enjoying the beautiful summer day on the church grounds.  Here’s a picture of the lovely Greek ladies manning the dessert line at the festival.

Continue reading “Colorado Springs Greek Festival 2006”

Noche Buena

Literally meaning “good night” but not to be confused with the greeting “buenas noche” in Spanish. Noche Buena to Filipinos and other countries around the world with ties of colonization to Spain, is the Christmas Eve meal where families gather round the table to feast on traditional dishes of the season.

Why Christmas Eve and not Christmas Day? This is because Catholics attend a midnight mass on Christmas Eve to welcome the day Christ was born. Families heard mass together for this special day, and the big meal came before that.

In the old days when my mother was responsible for the Noche Buena meal, we had to have her chicken gallantina or relleno. She did the de-boning of the native chicken herself, a skill she learned from her mother. This skill was also handed down to a sister and a cousin, who was only a few years old when he first saw my mother doing it. The chicken had to be marinated while the meat stuffing prepared. Any left-over stuffing was rolled into a log and wrapped in the “sinsal” and cheesecloth for embotido. The chicken would be stuffed, sewn up then wrapped in cheesecloth which was also sewed up to keep the chicken all tight. This was then boiled for hours until the tough native chicken was tender.

We also had pochero, a stew made with various meats boiled and sauteed in a tomato sauce. The broth from this dish was saved for fideos, a soup made with angel hair pasta. This particular soup always reminded us of our grandmother, my Lola Blanca, this was her dish. I remember it from years past, with that “bahay guya” and unhatched eggs sliced in with it. It’s a rich, satisfying soup, perfect for those cold December nights of years past.

My father was in charge of the ham. Weeks before Christmas, he’d buy the ham from the same Chinese deli in Quiapo his side of the family got their ham for years, and it would hang in the kitchen until it was unwrapped days before Christmas. He would soak it for a day or two, changing the water twice daily. Then it would be ready for the cooking in my grandmother’s old, heavy stainless steel laundry basin which was cleaned mercilessly in preparation for its change of role.

Boiled for hours until most of the salt is gone, the water in the ham would still have to be changed several times to get it right. The last boiling was done with several other ingredients to flavor the ham. All of this was done in our backyard, over a wood fire. After they determined it was ready, the skin would be peeled off and the ham would then change hands. This time, it went to my mother who prepared the fat on the topside, scoring it into a diamond pattern, putting the brown sugar and then searing it with a heated and ancient cast-iron syansi with a long handle. Pineapple, cherries and cloves would then be decorate the top and off the ham went again into the oven for a final, quick roast. The whole painstaking process was a joy to watch, and the effort produced a great ham unlike any you can find today.

I loved how the best china, silverware and linens were brought out for the occasion. There was nothing better than to sit at that table groaning with all the good food and the sounds of a family gathering. The food and its preparation just brought us all together as a family and now partaking was only a pleasant experience.

Over the years, there’d be a rotation of other entrees, salads and desserts: a large fish with mayonnaise, mechado, morcon, paella, macaroni salad, fruit salad, potato salad, jalea ube, macapuno, leche flan, pabo embuchado, stuffed turkey, roast pork loin and others I cannot recall right now. We all had a hand in preparing the meals, it was such a joy to just sit and watch my grandmother and parents. I cannot recall the stories my mother told us as she was working, but I remember she always explained things, teaching us her secrets while laughing and enjoying herself.

These were the essentials that made Christmas Noche Buena a traditional one for my family. It wasn’t just the food – it was the bonds of family, from past generations to the next one, that made all the difference. I can only hope the next generations can recall Christmases past just as happily as I do now.