Monday, July 31, 2017

Blissful Mess

To wade through murky
water. That is what puddles are
for. Blissful, fun mess.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Realization

Everyday is a
gift to unwrap. A surprise
to be unraveled.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

When We Fall Hard

I see God's proud smile
with a little tear in His
eyes, as we get up.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

What Would Life Be

If you knew how it'll
end. Better to leave it to
chance. It's a journey.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Connected We Are

Connected we all
are. Relationships are what
make life worth living.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stir Fried Mushrooms

I was at my Zumba class when I had this craving for Chinese food at the Fortune buffet at our Miracle Mile Mall. This dish is one of my favorites at this place.

I bought two packages of button mushrooms waiting to be used in the fridge. It was on sale for only 69 cents per package at Aldis Grocery Store. I did not want them to spoil so instead of hitting the buffet I stir fried them to fix my craving for Chinese food.

Here is the recipe. I almost ate the whole thing with brown rice and steamed broccoli.  You might too.

Stir Fried Mushrooms

  • 16 oz button mushrooms, whole or cut in half if large
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch in 1/2 cup water

Heat the oil at medium heat in a wok or saute pan.  Add the mushrooms and saute till they are soft. 

Add the onions and garlic and continue to stir the mixture till the onions are cooked. 

Mix the miso paste, soy sauce, sugar and water in a small bowl. Add to the mixture in the pan and heat with stirring. 

Add the cornstarch slurry and heat through till the sauce thickens.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Empanada with Homemade Vegan Pastry

Empanadas are ubiquitous in the Filipino repertoire of snacks as well as in our Fiestas as one of the appetizers.  They are usually filled with ground beef in tomato sauce with pimiento, tomatoes, potatoes and green peas and I almost forgot raisins.  I wanted to prepare a vegan version so I used for the filling the Vegan Menudo using Cauliflower Walnut Meat the recipe of which I just published in this blog.  It has all the elements of the filling for an empanada. In that recipe, I used Cauliflower Walnut Meat the recipe of which I obtained from the wonderful website Pinch of Yum.

I wanted this plant based version to be straight vegan so I have to find a good homemade vegan pastry recipe.  I remember using one from Aarti Sequiera in the past that I really liked. I tweaked it a little bit by using instead of the buttermilk,  almond milk acidified with vinegar.  Below is the result of my search for a vegan empanada.  The pastry has just the right texture with the right crispness to it and not at all soggy. The filling from the menudo recipe brings back memories of the empanadas I sampled during fiestas and as snacks when I dropped by at the coffee shops when I visit Los Angeles or the Philippines.  You will not miss the ground beef or pork.

Empanada with Homemade Vegan Pastry

Recipe of filling from Vegan Menudo using Cauliflower Walnut Meat  in this blog

Filling of the empanada
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1-14 oz can green peas, drained
  • 1/2 cup roasted pimento from a jar, chopped
  • 1 large potato, baked and cut into small cubes
  • 1-14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups cauliflower walnut meat (recipe from  Pinch of Yum)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat the oil in a saute pan. Saute the onion and garlic in heated oil till the onion is cooked. Add the rest of the ingredients until they are blended and heated through. 

Cool. Meanwhile make the homemade vegan pastry (recipe below). 

Divide the dough into four portions.  Roll out each portion and make 4 circles about 5 to 6 inches in diameter from each portion.  Fill half of each circle with the filling. Then fold over the other half. Using a fork, press on the edges. Repeat the same process for the other three portions of the dough.

Bake for 25 minutes at a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. 

Homemade Vegan Pastry

Adapted from Aarti Sequiera Aarti Party
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 cup oil
Add the vinegar to the almond milk and let it set for 5 minutes. Combine all the ingredients including the acidified milk. Knead till the dough turns smooth and elastic. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. 

The River

Into the river
you step into. To follow
where it brings you to.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Maxim 75 Notes St.Bernadette Convent Prayer Group and a Prayer

The two pages above are the notes that Natalie prepared when we had our meeting at the St. Bernadette Convent on the Maxims.  The group is now on Maxim 75.  Natalie conveniently gave the Scriptural readings that are listed on the flip up booklet on Maxims for our convenience.  She also quoted excerpts from Marcia Allen's book on the Maxims and also a part of the yellow cover write up on the book Maxims of the Little Institute Intercongregational Research Team, Villa Maria College 1975.  

We ended our meeting with the beautiful prayer, "Daily Prayer for One Attempting to Live by the Maxims.. by Sr. Claire Olivier.  

Breaking the Wall

Gaze at the serene,
all knowing stillness of the
river. Be refreshed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Faith Not Belief

Is what carries us
through darkness, mystery and 
life's uncertainties.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Slow Cooker Chicken in Milk

One of the websites I read, The Kitchn, considers this the best chicken recipe of all time.  I would say however it is second to chicken adobo. But then being Filipino I am biased.

The original recipe is attributed to Jamie Oliver who used a whole roasting chicken which he browned first in butter or oil then baked with the milk, herbs and spices in the oven.

I decided to use the slow cooker and skipped the searing step of the chicken thighs I used. I just dumped them with the rest of the ingredients in the slow cooker. The combination of the ingredients look strange but it works. You obtain succulent chicken pieces swimming in irresistible sauce.

I added potatoes and carrots to the list of ingredients so the sides are taken cared of. A green salad and crusty bread can complete an elegant dinner with this easy but delicious dish.

Slow Cooker Chicken in Milk

  • 3 lb chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dry sage
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 2 cups baby carrots
Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook for 3 hours at high setting or 6 hours at low. I cooked mine in an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.

Simple Pleasures

Life's simple pleasures
are what our hearts treasure. Joy,
deeply relished, pure.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Vegan Filipino Menudo Using Cauliflower Walnut Meat

Menudo is one of the top four dishes that Filipinos love to eat.  They eat it for lunch, dinner with rice or for snacks on bread.  We cook it with ground pork or beef or cubed pork. I have also posted a plant based menudo recipe before using garbanzo beans as the protein source. In this recipe I used cauliflower walnut meat I discovered in the Pinch of Yum website.  I have used it before for the vegan picadillo I featured in this blog and I really liked the result. For the picadillo,  I used frozen mixed vegetables to add to the meat and tomato sauce.  This time for this new version of vegan menudo, I added instead the usual vegetables Filipinos use in menudo like cubed potatoes, roasted pimentos, green peas and raisins. I also added chickpeas to be sure you guys would have all the protein you need.  As for the sauce, I used catsup. The cauliflower walnut meat is pretty seasoned you do not need to add any other spices.   It was delicious and easy to prepare! You would not miss the ground meat.  I ate it with rice and in between white bread.

Vegan Filipino Menudo Using Cauliflower Walnut Meat

  • 2 tsps oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1-14 oz can green peas, drained
  • 1/2 cup roasted pimento from a jar, chopped
  • 1 large potato, baked and cubed
  • 1-14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups cauliflower walnut meat (see recipe below)
Heat the oil in a saute pan. Saute the onion and garlic in heated oil till the onion is cooked. Add the rest of the ingredients until they are blended and heated through.

Serve with rice or as filling between two pieces of bread or bun.  

Cauliflower Walnut Meat

Makes about 5 cups

From the website Pinch of Yum

  • cauliflower florets from 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 pieces chipotle from can (about 4 tbsp chopped)
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place all the ingredients in a large food processor. If you have a medium sized one, do it in two batches. Pulse till the ingredients are blended and the mixture is mealy in texture. Transfer the mixture into a sprayed pan and spread the mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes and stir half way.  

    Saturday, July 15, 2017

    From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 3. A Life Changing Question

    I arrived in the United States from Venezuela where I had a short visit with the family of a friend after the six week training course I attended in Sao Paolo, Brazil in November of 1974.  I was stopping at the United States to visit a friend and a cousin before I make use of my air fare back to the Philippines to tour Europe. I would then upon returning to the Philippines apply what I learned in the course if applicable.

    I do not remember at what port of entry I entered in the US this time around. The only thing that I could recall was I had to take a train to New York City to visit a cousin.  On my way to the Big Apple, I heard that the train was stopping at Washington DC.  I was surprised that the travel agent did not make Washington DC my first stop.  I decided to change plans and stop at Washington DC instead.  I called my friend who was a graduate student at Howard University with whom I was supposed to stay with at Washington DC. I notified her that I was arriving that day and that I would meet her at the Sheraton Hotel.  I waited for an hour for my friend who arrived later explaining she was in the other Sheraton waiting for me. It was winter then. She arrived with her coat on while I had an oversized black one my host in Venezuela lent me which I covered with a yellow and black poncho I purchased in Brazil.

    We went to her apartment at S street located just past the embassy row and at the start of the not so pleasant area of the city. We sat on the floor of her large kitchen with the green flowered curtains rather than at the cute bistro type table and chairs she had. She prepared a lavish dinner of steak and corn and we drank orange juice.  While eating she asked a question that I found surprising for her to ask in the middle of a meal. She paused and asked me "Are you happy where you are in your life?" I do not remember exactly what and how I answered her question.  The next thing I knew she was on the phone the next morning calling the Chairperson of the Chemistry Department of the George Washington University.  She bravely asked if they had an assistantship available for me for the coming winter semester.  The chair said they might have one available since one of the graduate students was going to give  up her teaching assistantship to concentrate on her research.

    The chair invited me for an interview the next day.  He and another professor asked me questions and that was it. I got the assistantship. There was one hitch though.  I needed to change my status to a student visa or F1 status and to accomplish this I have to exit the country. But which one? The choice was easy. Canada. It was the closest one to the US.

    First I left for New York to visit my cousin as planned. It so happened her father-in-law knew the Philippine ambassador to Canada who might be able to help me.  So I left for Ottawa the capital of Canada where the Philippine embassy was. At the airport, a Filipino couple on the same flight asked where I was staying and when they found out I did not have any they generously offered me to stay at their apartment. My mother's prayer was working.

    When I got to the American embassy I learned that in order to change my visa to an F1 status I have to change my official or government passport to an ordinary one. To do so meant asking the permission of my office in the Philippines where I worked to change it.  I already notified them of my assistantship and I requested them to help me change my passport status.

    I figured that the wait for the change of the passport would take time and decided to look for another place to stay.  I found a youth hostel by the lake which was frozen in the cold Canadian winter. I remember calling and asking if they have a place to store my things and the person on the phone mentioned I could put them in the cell.  I inquired what he meant but the person did not elucidate.

    When I arrived at the place, I saw a door marked prison and I was confused. I inquired inside and I asked if I entered the wrong place. Well it turned out the youth hostel is located right where the old prison was that closed since it was not according to code.  I did not mind staying there despite its history. The cost was only two dollars a day which would not take a toll on my pocket money just in case it would take a long time for the change of my passport to take place.

    The bunk beds were along the corridor outside the prison cells that were concentrated in the middle of the dorm. These were the cells the person on the phone was referring to where one could store ones belongings.

    There were only a few occupants on the floor for women.  Two were from Argentina and I distinctly remember they were taking so called cellulose pills that swelled in their tummy so they would not get hungry. Another resident was a weird one that looked like she was stoned. Aside from them, the dorm was practically empty with a lot of unoccupied bunk beds. We ate our breakfast at the basement kitchen and left the dorm for the day which was the rule and came back at night. To while my time, I visited all the museums in Ottawa.

    One day I heard the footsteps of several people coming in in droves. I could not believe my ears when I heard some of them speaking in Tagalog.  I later found out that the Philippine Canadian youth exchange program participants were staying at the hostel.  Was I happy for their company and for me to be able to speak my language.

    Days turned to a couple of weeks and I still had not heard about the status of my passport.  The office I worked at was having a reorganization at that time I was requesting for this change thus any action probably laid unattended on somebody's desk. In desperation, I boldly decided one night which was day time in the Philippines to directly appeal to the commissioner of the agency.  I changed several dollars into quarters for the long distance overseas call to be used on the pay phone in the youth hostel.  This was in the seventies so no cell phones yet existed and pay phones were everywhere. The conversation took longer than I expected but I was ready with all the coins I needed. But there was a problem, I filled up the pay phone I was using. The operator calmly advised me to move to another one fortunately located close to the youth hostel.

    Christmas was fast approaching and still no news was in sight about my passport.  I decided to call a former high school classmate in Toronto and requested if I could stay with her family. That was what I did during the holidays while waiting for my passport to be changed.  I do not know how I was able to remain optimistic that this would occur and in time for the start of the winter semester at George Washington University. But I was. It must be my mother's prayers. One day I finally got the news from the Philippine embassy that my official passport had been switched to an ordinary one.   My F1 or student visa was then processed by the American embassy.

    I found myself in January of 1975 in graduate school as a teaching assistant at the George Washington University. My trip to Europe had to wait and so was my return to the Philippines.

    I had thought of going to graduate school but never expected  it to happen this soon and in the middle of a trip.  Thanks to my friend asking that life changing question and doing the legwork for me.  I am also grateful for the opportunity afforded me by George Washington University and my office in the Philippines as I went with the flow of the events. There were challenges along the way which I was able to surmount thanks to the generosity of my family, friends and even strangers. Though I never answered my friend's question directly, my heart and mind were open. My determination to overcome the hurdles, in retrospect, show I wanted that change to move forward to fulfill my dream. It just took another person to initiate it with a question. And I might add a lot of my mother's prayers to get some problems solved on the way to fulfilling it.

    Note:  This is Part 3 of the series From Longaniza to Hot Dog which recounts my immigration to the United States from the Philippines. You might want to read the following:

    From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 1 Brooklyn and Sao Paolo
    From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 2 Muito Obrigada and Baden Baden

    Friday, July 14, 2017

    Green Beans with Basil and Miso Sauce

    This has a Thai flavor that I love.  Salty and sweet with the hint of basil in it.  This combination is found in most Thai dishes as in this recipe in this blog.  I did not have fresh Thai basil and instead used dry sweet basil and it fulfilled what it is there for, namely to give that taste I remember eating in Thai restaurants.

    To make it vegan, I substituted miso paste for the fish sauce that is usually used for this kind of sauce. I was pleasantly surprised it even improved the flavor.  It was smooth and not as strong as the fish sauce can be. My picky taster, my husband, almost ate the whole thing.

    This an easy and quick dish to prepare and good for you.  I used vegetable broth rather than more oil to cook the green beans.

    Green Beans with Basil and Miso Sauce

    • 1 tbsp miso paste
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tbsp water
    • 2 tsp oil
    • 1 onion, sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1.5 lb green beans
    • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
    • 1 tbsp dry sweet basil
    In a small bowl mix the miso paste, soy sauce, sugar and water with a spatula till smooth.  Set aside.

    Heat the oil at medium heat.  Saute the onion and garlic in the heated oil till the they are cooked.  Add the green beans and vegetable broth to the onion and garlic mixture and allow to boil gently with the cover on. Once the green beans are cooked, add the sauce.  Stir the mixture till it is heated through.  Sprinkle the basil on top.

    Serve over rice as a main dish or as a side dish to fish, shrimp or meat.  

    Our Focus

    We are called to do
    right not wrong but not judge if
    others don't. Love them.

    Thursday, July 13, 2017


    To breathe freedom to
    speak up is to feel the surge
    of life through your veins.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2017

    Slow Cooker Pork Loin in Red Wine

    The combination of the ingredients in the recipe I found in filled me with a bit of skepticism when I read it.  Frenchy red wine and Asian soy sauce! But it worked.  In fact my husband gave it two thumbs up.  The simmering of the ingredients in the crock pot helped blend them together like diverse voices in a choir. It is an easy and elegant dinner to serve to guests especially if they hear it was made with red wine.  Frenchy. I added sliced onions to the mix to further flavor the au jus.

    Slow Cooker Pork Loin in Red Wine

    Adapted from this recipe

    • 2 lbs whole or sliced pork loin (I used sliced ones)
    • 1 large onion, sliced
    • 3 tbsp garlic, minced
    • 3 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1-1 oz envelope dry onion soup mix
    • 1 cup water
    • 3/4 cup red wine
    • black pepper to taste
    Combine all the ingredients in the crock pot.  Cook for 3 hours on high setting or 6 hours at low.  I cooked mine in an Aroma Brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.

    Serve with rice or potatoes and steamed vegetables.  Do not forget to serve with the sauce or au jus.

    Need for Contemplation

    Let us stop and be
    with God. Get to know Him more.
    And grow, be transformed.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2017

    Monday, July 10, 2017


    Our goal is to gaze
    at the beauty of God's face
    and radiate it.

    Sunday, July 9, 2017


    Amidst the clutter
    and endless chatter find peace
    in the cosmic whole.

    Saturday, July 8, 2017


    A mystic sees the
    word and not or in issues. Their wholeness always.

    Friday, July 7, 2017

    Thursday, July 6, 2017


    Life becomes okay
    in the silence. Joy, sorrow
    can both coexist.

    Wednesday, July 5, 2017

    Cold Zucchini Noodles with Sesame Peanut Sauce

    My daughter arrived at my house with a box and a grocery bag with a large zucchini in her arms. She then unwrapped the box to reveal a spiralizer, an OXO brand.

    I told her I had small spiralizer and I have to confess I was not a fan of it.  Then she just started making linguine sized spiralized noodles from the zucchini. It was done quickly with not much effort from the twenty dollar gadget she bought from the Home Goods store. She then asked me to make the peanut sauce given in the booklet.  It was again very easy to make.  I find it actually better than a similar one I have featured before in this blog. My son-in-law liked the sauce and so did I.  It went well with the raw zucchini noodles. I like the proportion of the ingredients of the sauce which was adapted by the OXO pamphlet from Mark Bittman's book How to Cook Everything.

    Cold Zucchini Noodles with Sesame Peanut Sauce

    Recipe adapted from the OXO Spiralizer user pamphlet
    • 2 tbsp sesame oil
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter
    • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 3 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Water
    • one large zucchini spiralized into linguine size or whatever size you prefer
    • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
    • pepper flakes, optional
    Mix all the ingredients EXCEPT the water and the zucchini noodles with a whisk.  Add water to thin it out to the consistency you prefer.  Add the sauce to the zucchini noodles.  Garnish with the green onions and add pepper flakes if you like.

    Open Spaces

    Explore the open
    spaces around us, there we'll 
    find our inner selves.

    Tuesday, July 4, 2017

    Slow Cooker Southwest Round Steak and Potatoes

    If you want an easy dish to prepare with round steak, this is the one for you.  It has that southwest twang to it that will make your guests or your family members go, what is that? Hmmm this is different but good not weird they might even add.

    The steak comes out tender and tasty.  Having the potatoes cooked with the steak in the slow cooker cuts one more step.  I added green pepper but you can skip it. Complete hearty with rice and a green salad.

    Slow Cooker Southwest Round Steak and Potatoes

    Recipe inspired by the one from Taste of Home
    • 2 tsps balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp chili powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1/8 tsp black pepper
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges
    • 1 1/2 lbs beef top round steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 1 green pepper, cut into strips (optional

    Place all the ingredients EXCEPT the potatoes, beef and green pepper in the slow cooker and mix with a spoon.  Place the potatoes, the beef  and the green pepper if using on top of the sauce ingredients.  Cook at high for 3 hours or at low for 6 hours.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.