What is one best way to spend time with the family? During merienda!
Afternoon snacks besides night chats is one part of the day I enjoy spending with my kids. My kids don’t have high levels of appetite (especially my elder daughter) but they have all the thrills and giggles whenever I serve something for them. We call it “Takaw-Tingin” here in the Philippines. It is summer and kids are out for vacation and as we all know, kids nowadays are unstoppable. They make it necessary for us parents to prepare something new for them, be it food, games, toys or unlimited number of activities so as to keep their nerves and minds busy! That somehow makes parenting one best way to explore and continue to learn. Hey! I have to somehow dig the internet for creative ideas from snacks to kiddie activities. Here’s one I imitated from a Pinterest pin – a unique way to serve ice cream!
Maybe I can say that our country is one of the many places where you can go on food exploration and pig out! Since kids this summer is most of the time at home, we bond by eating together. Check out these afternoon merienda I served them one time. You will definitely crave too!
I have cousins who do really good in terms of cooking. There may not be a chef in our clan but a lot of them (excluding me since I only have the interest but not the skill) really can make delicious dishes. We have been teasing one cousin to put up a catering business – this excites me in all honesty. I just wish she would soon agree and have the guts and capital to start the business.
I have been wanting to serve the family something out of the usual dish we have everyday and so I thought of Kare-Kare. Kare-Kare originated from Pampanga, Philippines. Kapampangans use either oxtail, tripe or beef but there were sophisticated variations which use chicken. This Filipino dish is normally served during special occasions as it somehow requires some time from preparation to cooking.
I decided to use beef since it was my first time and I was just to use Del Monte Quick n Easy Kare-Kare mix I bought from the grocery. I have added string beans, eggplant and Pechay leaves (Chinese Cabbage)to complete the stew. Thanks to Del Monte as my first attempt in cooking Kare-Kare turned out yummy, easy and quick! I was saved from the stress and effort in preparing the peanut sauce which I truly doubt to perfect. One huge off point though – I forgot the Bagoong (Shrimp Paste)! This dish wouldn’t be complete without the shrimp paste. Well then, next time will be perfect!
When I was still young, I never want to eat anything that has too much coconut milk in it. I feel like throwing up because of dizziness it causes me – no, I did not have hypertension then or even now. I think it was more of a psychological “kaartehan” or an alibi so I could eat or ask for something yummier for a child. My Mama was from Bicol province where people are known to cook almost all their delicacies with coconut milk and wild chili (local name: siling labuyo). But when I started to mature, and became interested working in the kitchen, my alibi faded. It came to a point that I finally enjoy Bicolano delicacies and even asked my Mama to teach me cook some. There is one dish I have never tried cooking though, Bicol Express!
I got the inspiration from one of my cousins, Ate Jen. One time I was planning what to prepare for the family, I decided to get all the ingredients necessary for Bicol Express dish. I even found myself browsing for the recipe even if I already know it. And, this was how it looked like when it ended in our table.
The pork was tender and the dish has a balanced salty-spicy taste that even my 10 year old daughter enjoyed it. My Bicol Express dish has given me added points of confidence in the kitchen. Having said that, I may have to try few more Bicolano delicacies soon!
With my electric oven, I can’t deny that I’ve been inspired to create and bake goodies for my kids. Aside from being able to make cookies and cupcakes for my elder daughter’s school snack, I also tried making muffins for my toddler. Healthy muffins that is. Something that excites her everytime and wouldn’t mind eating.
Last Christmas, my cousins invited us to join their annual Christmas party and exchange gift. Who would say no? Not me! My kids were totally excited! We all love family gatherings and fun parties like this one. Since there were several families attending the event, a potluck was suggested. I was asked to bring something for dessert. And this was the best way to again, to have fun and experiment and also use my oven! I told them I’d bring cupcakes but I wanted to surprise them so I also baked a cake. It was a 6″ round layered chocolate cake with choco ganache.
From this cake on top to this one below which also shows the cupcakes that came with it. The new cupcake holder of my cousin’s wife was perfect to display the colorful sweets. My nieces and cousins volunteered to decorate the cake and cupcakes and it somehow made me feel glad they had fun with an instant creative activity.
It was a memorable Christmas party we had and I still can see the smile on my face whenever I recall that at least, that chocolate cake I brought at the party was not a disaster. As I look at its photos, I want to be able to bake more successful cakes. Successful not just in terms of look but taste too!
ly difference is its size. This is totally a baby!
We visited a relative one time and as I look at her plants, I noticed this small Pineapple.
At first I thought it isn’t part of the plant and was just a decor but as I touched it, it made me realized its real.
I was amazed as I looked at it closely. It is indeed a Pineapple, I wanted to pick it! LOL!
Aunt Estel said this is a rare plant and it does produce this very small Pineapple fruit once in a while. Though she’s never tried picking and tasting the fruit, she knows for a fact that it is a Pineapple fruit.
Just as to share, I’ve found out that Pineapple canning companies doesn’t throw the core, ends and skin of the Pineapples they use because they use them too for making vinegar and animal feed.
Another fact is that just like this plant in the photo, each Pineapple plant only produces one fruit per year.
I remember to have craved for Pineapple juice when I was pregnant with my elder daughter and never had issues or problem with the labor… the fruit helped! I have read from somewhere that Pineapple fruit was traditionally use to induce labor. I know there are more strange facts about this wonder fruit, they’re just waiting to be discovered… or read.
I really did not bother prepare bigtime for this year. I guess the excitement was not totally within me. Something strange preoccupied my thoughts and my heart. I wasn’t feeling genuinely happy about a lot of things. I tried my best to shrug it off by taking care of the kids and finding ways to earn from home, so as keeping in touch with friends and relatives. These things and people kept my sanity.
I ordered what we call Biko and Palabok from a friend’s sister. I made those cathedral window jellos.
The fireworks blasted at the half of this month. We were half an inch away from “the end”, really. You can almost hear me sing ?? “all my bags are packed, I’m ready to go..” I was so sure it was the sign I was waiting for after attending the mass at the Quiapo Church last Sunday but then something else happened..and I think that was the real sign. I vowed to take care of my kids and love them more than I love myself and I will never leave without them.
Now, I am still here not because I can’t leave and live off him but because I glady gave it the chance to start over. Agreeing to correct mistakes at once and refrain to commit them as much as necessary.
Life goes on…a stitch and a patch made us go through a painful part of it but we both deserve a chance to be happy.
I’ve been having a hard time deciding on what to serve for lunch and dinner lately. If you are surrounded with picky eaters, I guess this really happens. It’s just so hard to prepare for a meal that will best suite 2 adults, a 4th grader and a toddler. It’s definitely a challenge to come up with something everyone would like, appreciate, and benefit from it too.
And as I was much more concerned about the kids, I decided to serve what we call “Nilagang Baboy” or Pork Stew. It’s healthy, and the vegetable ingredients are something that I already have in the fridge, if not, can easily be bought in the neighborhood veggie store. Good thing I bought Pork ribs the other day at the grocery and was able to serve the family everyone can enjoy. Keanna and I hoard on with the Cabbage while Roey loved the potatoes and the soup. Daddy concentrated with the pork with his favorite soy sauce dip. It was a sumptuous meal, I must say.
Birthdays are like Fiestas which means Food! Food! Food!
November is a month fully loaded with birthdays. Is it because these November babies were “made” during the LOVE month of February? LoL! That’s something for you to think about. A lot of my friends and relatives celebrates their birth anniversaries this month. For the CRUZ clan (relatives from my Father’s side), we have listed 18 (if I’m not mistaken) people. Some have passed away but most of them were able to celebrate with us last Sunday. This gathering was obviously planned since each family had to bring their specialties. I was tasked to bring loot bags for the kids but wasn’t able to buy the bags and ended up bringing 2 pots filled with candies. I thought it will be a lot more fun if the kids and kids-at-heart will have to play the game and get candies and cash prizes too. I was indeed right. It was totally memorable and we are hoping we could do this monthly perhaps? haha!
Notice how BIG the clan is? As far as I remember, we were not complete that day yet. It was a fun & deliciously filled day for each of us. My girls? – TIRED!