Monday, January 23, 2017

Nature's Orchestral Beauty

Together they play
a soothing melody to
calm the restless souls.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

To Forgive is to Understand

Less you forget, you've
gone through, done that same bad stuff
you cannot forgive.

Mixed Vegetable Shrimp Delight

This is one of my go to dishes in any Chinese buffet. It is simple in taste but still packs a lot of flavor. It is just as simple to prepare. Just salt and pepper are the seasonings to add. The cabbage and shrimp do the rest to showcase the dish's delicious flavor. You can add any other vegetables you want for color and added flavor and nutritional value. The procedure is practically steaming in the same pot all the way. The key is not overcooking the ingredients but even if you do it will still taste good. This got two thumbs up from my picky tasters. I am so happy to duplicate a favorite from the Chinese buffet and it did not take a long time either, less than twenty minutes or even shorter.

Mixed Vegetable Shrimp Delight

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head cabbage, cored and cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into two inch slices
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined either cooked or raw
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil to medium heat in a wok or large saute pan. Saute the onion and garlic till the garlic is lightly browned. 

Add the carrots, celery, cabbage and broth to the wok and cover until the steam from broth and vegetables cook the vegetables till crispy and not limp. 

Add the green beans and the shrimp if using raw during the last minutes of cooking when you see the cabbage is about cooked. Cook the shrimp till it changes pink in color if using raw shrimp. If using cooked shrimp, microwave them and add with its juice to the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over rice. Awesome.

Tales from the Stairs

When I recall my childhood spent at my fraternal grandmother's house the imposing stairs that greeted anyone that entered the house looms over my memory. It was shiny with banisters on both sides almost a foot wide and it was made of narra with a rich patina. Its steps were not steep and numbering about twenty of them with one serving as a landing in the middle. I would estimate the width of the staircase to be about an adult arms length which frustrated me as a child since I could not reach both banisters as I walked down this stairs. In this post I am recalling childhood tales related to my mother I could not forget that have this stairs as the backdrop.

We lived upstairs of my grandmother's house and my mother stayed practically all day up there.  She was a full time housewife raising a family that grew to a total of six children in the twelve years my family lived there. When I asked my mother why she decided to have many children her answer was "I enjoyed having and raising you all".  I found this hard to believe then since I viewed her life to be boring at this house with her in her duster swaying her latest baby to sleep in her arms as the highlight of her day. She must have indeed relished her role as a mother since she could have instead continued to teach biology in high school which she did unto her first year of marriage but gave up when the first of her six children, my sister, was born.

When I was in high school, a classmate of mine quoted to me something my mother said during the talk she gave to a group of young teenagers attending a cursillo, a popular religious group in the sixties. My classmate said, "Ondes, your mother mentioned that she would not even allow a single fly to touch her children and would watch over them in the duyan or hammock that she swung while driving flies away with a light towel". This impressed my classmate apparently and she wanted me to know how much devoted my mother was to us.

One thing my mother loved doing during our first day of school was to make sure that my sister's and my hair were properly combed and usually bedecked with a large ribbon for that day. I remember this particular incident during one of this first day of school. She had just dipped a comb in a glass of water and was parting my hair to one side while my youngest brother who must have been two years old at that time was marching while singing his favorite song.  At the corner of my eye while my mother was combing my hair I saw him put one compartment of the three tiered metal lunch pail (piyambiera) on his head to simulate a soldier's hat and started marching around the house and then towards the top of the stairs with his eyes covered by the pail.  Before we knew it, we saw him rolling down the stairs and my mother screaming in horror.  The landing did not stop his travel down the stairs.  Fortunately my father was sitting in the easy chair in front of the house and heard my mother's voice and caught my brother as he rolled from the last step.

The house had another set of stairs made of white marble before you get to the main door of the house. The house had to be raised from the ground since we lived by the Malabon River which could overflow during heavy rain.  It had a wide landing at the top with a corner big enough for a large easy chair to be placed. My grandmother loved to spend her afternoon in this easy chair looking at what was going on in the fish sauce factory her family owned which was located on the same grounds as her house. When the drivers of the fish sauce delivery trucks came back to Malabon from their travel around the country, they would sometimes come and visit my grandmother. A memorable incident that I remember was when my mother panicking ran down the stairs from our living quarters into the group of drivers visiting my grandmother for help. My oldest brother swallowed a large hard candy and was choking. Somebody did dislodge it and one could see a red color liquid coming out with the hard candy which my mother was so worried was blood.  I remember one of the drivers, Mang Ico, assuring her it was just the dye from the red hard candy my brother swallowed.

These two incidents with the stairs as a backdrop were funny to recall now and which I and my siblings loved to tell among ourselves and our own children once in a while. However, one particular memorable thing I remember was more poignant and sad. I remember my mother going up the stairs sobbing after she answered a phone call at the adjoining office by the house, telling her that one of my uncles, her brother, had a nervous breakdown. I remember her saying," He just lost his mind".  My uncle was single and lived with his other sisters who happened to be single too with my maternal grandmother at their house in Quezon City. His ambition to be recognized and allowed to be one of the council's candidates was not fulfilled and he got despondent. He fortunately recovered after a short stay in a place in Mandaluyong.

In a way the stairs was a metaphor for the life I witnessed especially with regards to my mother in my grandmother's house. It has its ups and downs, funny and sad tales and at its center the heart of a loving, caring mother whose goal was to protect her children from any harm including a tiny fly to touch them.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Slow Cooker Five Ingredient Barbecue Chicken

This is awesome, delicious and extremely easy needing only five ingredients including the chicken. These ingredients are also ones that are readily available in your pantry. This got two thumbs up from my picky taster, my husband.  The ketchup used is transformed in combination with soy sauce and lemon and that dash of garlic powder into a sauce that is not cloying like most store bought barbecue sauce but is slightly sweet and tangy.  Very addictive and full of flavor.

Ditch your barbecue sauce and use the ingredients here to coat your chicken.  This is excellent also when you are feeling tired and just want a nap, you just place all the ingredients in a slow cooker and forget it. Love this, I almost did not leave any for my husband.  You will too.

Slow Cooker Five Ingredient Barbecue Chicken

  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cook at high setting for 3 hours or at low setting for 6 hours.  I cooked mine in an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.

Serve over rice with a side of your favorite steamed vegetables and you have a great meal.  Enjoy!

What Moves You

A true follower
seeks to share or give and not
just get what they need.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sr. Paula's Prayer Group Meeting January 17, 2017

The title of the beautiful handout prepared by Sr. Paula "trust in the slow work of God", brings to mind what Richard Rohr said in his Daily Meditations:
The spiritual journey is a gradual path of deeper realization and transformation; it is never a straight line, but a back and forth journey that ever deepens the conscious choice and the conscious relationship.  It is growing up, yes, but even more it is waking up.
The title invites us to the idea of gradualism instead of instant conversion or discovery of ourselves.  We live not in our time but in God's time.

May the Spirit of God bless you all and let us pray for each other in our journey.  As the last paragraph says, we are all one, we are in unity with God and the same Jesus Christ.  Peace, love, joy and patience.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Chili

This chili is a high octane one.  Spicier than past chilis I have posted in this blog, here and here. I had pulled pork chili at Luca Restaurant in Pittsburgh and loved it.  I researched for recipes and opted to follow the one on the blog howsweeteats. I had most of the ingredients and some I substituted with what I have.  My procedure is simpler skipping the browning of the pork and a separate slow cooking of it before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.  

As was mentioned in howsweeteats, it is better the next day and the next.  It is true.  It was not love at first sight or taste for me but when I tasted this chili three days later, I could not help myself wanting more and even craving it some other time of the day.  I had it with rice, green onions and avocado slices on top but you can use the usual garnishes.  I also used chipotle from a can rather than the powder chipotle. I also added bottled jalapenos. I love my food spicy. 

You will love this.  Give it a try.  Let it sit for a day or two.  Hope you can wait.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Chili

  • 3 lb pork butt or shoulder or loin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 ounces of beer
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1-28-oz can tomato sauce or puree
  • 1- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1-14oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 piece chipotle from a can, chopped
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp chopped jalapeno slices from a bottle

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cook for 6 hours on high or 12 hours on low setting.  I cooked mine in an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 4 hours at slow cooker setting.  At the end of the cooking time, take out the pork and shred with two forks or chop them to fine pieces.  Place them back to the slow cooker and heat further at keep warm setting like in my slow cooker or other slow cookers. Otherwise cook further for half an hour.

I topped my chili with rice, green onions and avocado.  Other garnishes you can use are cilantro, corn chips, cheese and sour cream.

When Things Go Awry

I found I need to
forgive myself first before
I could the others.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

To Grieve is to Heal

It is part of life.
To feel the hurt. Allow tears
to fall. We're human.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Are you still dreaming?

Have you seen your stars?
And followed them? Or you just
quit looking? Missed them?

Monday, January 16, 2017

As I Grow Older

I wish not to lose
childlike trust as life's questions
grow still unanswered.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

In A Good Relationship

Always the best is
tomorrow's promise. Today's
beauty plants that hope.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Seeing Beyond

Compassion is to
walk in their shoes, not seeing
how worn out they are.

Slow Cooker Pork Afritada

Afritada is a Spanish influenced Filipino dish that is cooked in tomatoes. I used diced fire roasted ones and tomato paste in this pork version of this very popular type of dish in the Philippines. You can use also tomato sauce, ketchup or even fresh tomatoes. I have posted Chicken Afritada in this blog in the past which had similar ingredients as this pork version.

The vegetable that I consider a must in any afritada recipe is green or red pepper. For me it gives that taste that distinguishes the dish from other Filipino ones. Potatoes and carrots are also added. Typically fish sauce is the source of the salty flavor in the afritada but in this recipe I used soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. You can use either fish or soy sauce depending on what you have on hand. As in most dishes of Spanish origin in the Philippines, bay leaves and whole peppercorn were added.

The pork gives the dish a lot of richness and I would say equals or even beats the chicken version in flavor. My husband, my picky taster, gives this dish two thumbs up. Pork is always on sale and any type will work in this dish. It has the advantage of keeping its form in the slow cooker, my favorite cooking gadget.

You just dump all the ingredients in the slow cooker and forget it, and you can be assured of a dish everybody in your family would love especially over white rice. Have plenty of the latter.

Slow Cooker Pork Afritada

Inspired by this recipe in this blog
  • 3 lb pork country ribs or any other type, cut into one inch cubes
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1-14 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp whole peppercorn
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook for four hours at high setting or eight hours at low.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for three hours at slow cooker setting.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp Ramen Noodle Soup

This is one way to glorify Ramen noodles using Thai hot and sour flavors and shrimp as a juicy protein treat. A simple, easy and delicious noodle soup you can savor anytime that will give you a satisfying feeling after and really feel good about the world even though how dreary it is outside. Spicy and addictive.

Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp Ramen Noodle Soup

Inspired by this site

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 dry red chili, chopped thinly
  • 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp chili paste
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, (I used frozen deveined and peeled ones)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, optional
  • green onions and cilantro for garnish, optional
  • 1 packet Ramen noodles, cooked without the seasoning packet
Place all the ingredients except the shrimp, green onions, spinach and Ramen noodles in a medium pot. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer and then add the shrimp and spinach.  Continue to simmer till the shrimp is cooked about 3 minutes.  

Divide the Ramen noodles into two soup bowls and add half of the soup.  Garnish with green onions and cilantro. Add more fish sauce or lime juice or the chili paste if you like.

Seeing and Believing

Hope is seeing the
beauty in life's struggles, and
believing their worth.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Courage to Weep


I refuse a heart 
made of stone, rather one that 
breaks. It is meant to be.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

When I was in graduate school at Iowa State University in Ames, IA, members of the research group I belonged to under the late Dr. Glen Russell, were always invited to a Christmas dinner at his house at the end of the first semester of the school year.  His wife, the late Dr. Martha Russell, was an excellent cook and we always looked forward to her Beef or Chicken Bourguignon which we relished with crusty bread and a side of green peas. Before the meal, we were also served her awesome Onion Quiche and after the great dinner we savored an equally unforgettable dessert of either chocolate mousse or a parfait.

This dish is my attempt to mimic what I remembered I had during those Christmas dinners.  Hers featured a dark red sauce that was obtained from simmering pounds of chicken breasts in four bottles of wine.  She only added whole pearl onions and bottled whole mushrooms. I do not remember her using any other vegetables as I have done in this recipe.

Warm memories of those comforting dinners at the Russell's home came back as I prepared this dish.  This is a simple slow cooker version similar to what I did in this recipe for oxtails from this blog adding whole mushrooms to come close to what I remembered Martha's recipe was like. The carrots, celery and potatoes were added so my husband gets his share of plant sources of nutrients.

This is a hearty, comforting, crowd pleaser of a recipe for a family gathering or any party for that matter.  I am grateful to the late Glen and Martha Russell for their hospitality at their home and the warm memories.

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Inspired by this recipe from this blog
  • 3 lbs beef chuck steak
  • 2 cups carrots (I used baby carrots)
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into slices with 1/2 inch thickness
  • 2-4 oz bottles whole mushroom, undrained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 bottle (around 300 ml) red wine
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and black pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker bowl.  Slow cook for 4 hours at high setting or 8 hours at low.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 3 hours at slow cooker setting.  Serve with rice, crusty bread and simple salad greens.

Note:  You may concentrate the sauce by evaporating the liquid till the sauce thickens in a sauce pan and transfer it back to the slow cooker.  

For Love To Shine Again

Look back to when it
all began before time has
tarnished what once was.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sweet Potato Bacon

Let us face it, life is not complete without the taste of bacon.  I said taste of bacon and not bacon.  Or else I will be slowly dying since I really want to practice plant based eating. I am sharing this recipe because I do not want your life to be incomplete especially if you are plant based.  I came up with how to cure my bacon craving with this recipe of sweet potato bacon.  I refrained from adding brown sugar and relied on four ingredients other than the potatoes.  So good.  It fulfilled my bacon fix or any cured meat cravings for that matter.

I am presenting two ways of cooking.  I prefer the oven version since you tend to use more oil with the skillet version.  The latter way gives a better grilled taste especially if using a good heavy iron skillet.

Sweet Potato Bacon

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
Oven Version

Preheat oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Set it aside.

In small bowl place the coconut oil and heat for 10 seconds to melt it. 

Add the lemon juice, soy sauce and garlic powder to the melted oil.

Place the sweet potato slices in the pan and brush them with the oil mixture on both sides.

Bake for 15 -20 minutes.

Skillet Version

Add the oil in a skillet and heat at medium heat.  Add the sweet potatoes and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook the sweet potatoes till brown. You might need to add more oil.  

When Life Was Simpler

We were young once. We
did not have all the answers.
And we did not care.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Just Do It

Live is the question.
Yes is the answer. Cast the
self doubts. Take that step. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Slow Cooker Vegetable Black Bean Soup

There are black bean soups and there are black bean soups.  This one is healthified with the superfood spinach, carrots, celery and onons that have been added to the black beans.  This is an easy hearty soup made flavorful with the various spices used that are all found in your spice rack.  A couple of cans of staples in your cupboard with nutritious vegetables and spices and you are good to go for a hearty, healthy, easy and comforting soup for this cold wintry weather.  You can easily double or triple the recipe to feed a family. This is a generous two nutritious, delicious serving recipe.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Black Bean Soup

  • 1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cook for 6 hours at low or 3 hours at high setting.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.

Serve over brown rice or with corn chips.

Lovely Sweet Treat

Stroll in the white snow
like stepping into sugar
sprinkled wonderland. 

Note: This painting is one of those hanging in the hallway of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St Joseph, Baden PA.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

After life

Is there? So I asked.
Then two deaths made me think, there
should be more to this.

Halal Cart Flavored Cauliflower and Turmeric Brown Rice

I had Halal Cart Chicken twice when I was in New York City recently.  This is a vegan take on this my favorite New York cart food using cauliflower instead of chicken.  The Halal Cart chicken or cauliflower is not complete without the fragrant delicious Turmeric Rice.  I opted to use brown rice instead of the traditional basmati or extra long-grain rice to make this must-have accompaniment to the halal court inspired vegan version.  

When this is served in the styrofoam containers by the cart vendors, a side of lettuce with tomatoes, doused with white sauce or hot sauce, (which was over the chicken and rice also) goes with the order.  For the white sauce I used Ranch dressing which I have a vegan version of in this blog.  You can add sriracha to the dressing to make it a bit spicy but not quite as hot as the hot sauce they pour over the chicken.  

The list of ingredients for this vegan recipe which I obtained from the one for Halal Cart Chicken, copy cat version, featured in this site is short but still gives that bold spicy flavor.  The list of ingredients for the turmeric rice is also short but full of the characteristic flavor identified with this popular accompaniment to the Halal meats.   

Halal Cart Flavored Cauliflower

Adapted from this site
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 whole head of cauliflower, cut into chunks including stem and leaves
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water (optional)
Heat the oil at medium heat in a saute pan and then add the coriander powder and oregano.  Heat the spices till they shimmer.  Add the garlic and continue to heat till the garlic is cooked.  Add the cauliflower and lemon juice and continue to cook with stirring till the vegetable is cooked but still crispy.  Add vegetable broth or water if necessary.

Turmeric Brown Rice

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 4 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan and add the spices.  Heat the spices with stirring till they shimmer and give off their aroma.  Add the rice and stir until they are coated with the oil mixture.  Heat for about 4 to 5 minutes till the rice is toasted or lightly brown.  Add the broth and allow the mixture to boil and then cover the sauce pan and simmer for about 45 minutes till the brown rice is cooked.


Place the rice on a plate and top it with the cauliflower.  Serve with a side of lettuce with tomatoes salad doused with Ranch dressing (vegan version recipe is here).  You may add sriracha if you want to the dressing. Top the cauliflower and rice with the dressing also.