“A Blur of Green Mangoes & Cazuela with Fabada” Marketman, 2010.
It’s been a week since I wrote a post. Yes, I did write that farewell post several days before I went on “sabbatical”. And I have to admit, I was a bit overwhelmed with the responses that readers left on the post, and the several dozen more private emails I received. So I told myself maybe this is a bit like quitting smoking, maybe nicotine patches are good all around to modulate the withdrawal symptoms for myself and some readers. So while I am very much in relaxed sabbatical mode, here are a few snapshots of the past week to keep you amused. Up top, an accidental photo that turned out pretty cool.
On my first blog-free morning, we baked two batches of wild blueberry muffins. Later the same day, The Teen’s friends were over and while munching on the muffins, one of them said “these are really good muffins, where did you buy them? oh, no, they are probably home made, right?” Yes, they are homemade, and I wish more kids these days experience coming home from school to the aroma of home-baked goods…
There are some dishes I have been unable to do right, or was simply too intimidated to try, so they are on my personal food challenge list. Pan de sal is one of them, dinuguan another. I have never managed an acceptable plain white puto, nor have I perfected a chicharon. And for some reason, I never made a Pancit Malabon, thinking it must be difficult to get it just right. Well, I was wrong. Nailed Pancit Malabon on the first try. :) Made a spectacular platter of the dish for the birthday lunch of Mang Jun, our part-time gardener for the past 10 years, and I have to say this was a definite 8.5/10.0. Will have to put that recipe in a book. Chock full of flaked tinapa, shrimps, squid, chicharon, eggs, shrimp sauce, etc. Decided to make it at 10am, had to hit a market and managed to get this platter onto the table at 12:30pm!
Without much warning, a box filled with 40 kilos of airfreighted, organically raised, carabao mangoes arrived fresh from an orchard in Guadalupe, Cebu. We were leaving town a couple of days later, and plans to make these into mango jam experiments were scuttled since they didn’t ripen fast enough.
So I have left instructions for the crew how to use them all up. Several kilos sent out to friends and neighbors. One platter worth to be ripened and their meats/pulp frozen in little plastic bags (two mangoes per bag) for instant fresh mango shakes to be enjoyed in the future. One platter to be made into a mango and dalandan jam. We made a couple of bottles of mango chutney with the unripe-ish mangoes today that tasted a bit too acidic but might mellow in the days ahead…
We finally put the clay pot cazuela that Mrs. MM purchased at Terry’s several weeks ago to its first use, perfect for a fabada (bean and pork/sausage stew) for three with leftovers. Remember to “season” your cazuelas before you use them for the first time…
A trip to Cebu to take care of business, and we brought the Teen along to participate in another “tree-planting” activity at a family related company. The local public high school was happy to get involved and we didn’t realize that the Department of Education requires all sixth graders to plant at least one tree before they can graduate and move onto high school.
So we provided the 400 mahogany seedlings, the trowels, hats, snacks and the rather barren land to plant the trees on, while the kids planted a few trees each. We will continue to do this type of activity over the next few years, and it is my hope that we are able to plant several thousand more trees.
While in Cebu, Mrs. MM and The Teen picked up a VERY, VERY SPECIAL box that was ordered as a birthday present for MM several months ago. Proudly filipino-made and of a classically beautiful shagreen (and no, it’s not endangered, nor on the CITES list), this is the most opulent, uniquely designed and spectacular box I have ever received. I guess you could say I collect boxes, so this is now the absolute gem of the collection. I post a photo of it here for one special reader, Apicio, who is apparently away on holiday at the moment, but I trust he will return someday… :)
And as seems to happen when the Teen is around, serendipity struck with a capital “S”. We were at the shagreen box manufacturer, and she and Mrs. MM were browsing through shagreen minaudieres (small evening bags), and flummoxed by the different materials and colors on offer, one of the salespeople said “aha! I have the perfect bag for you, young and colorful!” and she ran back into the workrooms and emerged with this absolute beauty. A hand-painted, extremely colorful and one-of-a-kind piece. They make other ones, but as they are hand-painted, none are exactly alike.
For an impressionable teen, who was already swooning at this point, the owner of the business said “ay, may ganyan si J. Lo” and that sealed the deal. :) One spectacular piece that will last many years… yes, just like single-use silver implements, as reader Socky might say, “frivolous and fabulous!”. And no two month wait for production plus acquired at a fraction of the retail price, I gather. Many thanks GG for making this possible. Serious bag aficionados amongst you will figure this one out, but keep it to yourselves. :) The Teen may never walk a red carpet, but she has THE bag, just in case.
Finally, a note on a FANTASTIC book that is the perfect present for someone to remember the Philippine seas by… “Bahura” by Scott “Gutsy” Tuason. I was at the bookstore looking for a book to give someone and while I had wanted to give a book of photos of the Philippines above sea level, I was mesmerized instead by this book of underwater photos. It is BEAUTIFUL. A bit pricey, but quality costs. If you can’t get yourself to buy one, at least stop by a bookstore or library and glance through its pages. So timely now that newspapers report that our reefs are dying at a scary pace.
One of my favorite photos in the book is the one above, of a male cardinal fish that is keeping unborn fish eggs safe in its mouth until they are ready to venture out into the big scary ocean. Amazing. Now that’s fatherly love, if you ask me. And while on the topic, did you know male seahorses give birth to their young? Enjoy the rest of your week… Thanks for all the comments on the previous post. :)