Sunday, January 18, 2015


Mr. F had been complaining: I talk food, I think food, I buy stuff to make more food, I watch food channel, I take pictures of food, I blogged food and I find reasons to celebrate to make more food.

Last weekend was my parents' 44th wedding anniversary; of course, I didn't let it passed without celebrating and cooking, how could I?

Few weeks ago, I asked my parents if they remember the menu they had on their wedding day or at least a dish that they remember they had. My plan was to recreate their wedding somehow.   Mom said their it was blur and couldn't remember that much details. I turned to dad - since grandma was one of the known cooks in my hometown - he just turned to mom.

Great. Plan B.

I remembered my mom's repeated stories that involved food: her grandmother's relative from out of town were coming for a visit with baskets full of freshly harvested fruits as a gift. To welcome them, my great-grandmother, would prepare the best dishes she could possibly make: Paella and Lengua Estofado.  I made estofado before but paella not yet. So paella it is.

Darlene Cooks: Paella

Mom told the story, again, as we eat; it wasnt their wedding day, nor the night of their engagement.

My parents' wedding may not be a fairy tale or something close to what I've fancied for myself. They have each other, and they have me along with my siblings between them. Marriage, obviously, is more important to them, not a fanciful wedding and they are 44 years strong.

More years to you, Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

family tradition and superstition

Darlene's Dinner Table at New Year's Eve

This post may come a little late; I welcomed the New Year cleaning my oven and subsequently caught a fever :'(

My dad worked here in Oman since sometime in the 1970's till his retirement in 2002. So till my mid-teens, I saw my dad 3-4 times a year and he'd made it to the point that he was around during Christmas, New Year or his birthday. And whenever he is around, he often cooks for the family and even packed my lunch for school.

And when there's a celebration while he is around, he cooks what he cook best: barbecue. And when he was not, we had barbecue and eventually, it became my family's tradition.

So we had barbecue for New Year's eve but, I went rogue this time: I concoct my own recipe. Though my dad passed to me the recipe he was very proud of, yet I'm still hunted by my mom's roasted chicken. Mom barbecued (or rather cooked some meat on an open fire) only once in my life, but I remember it very fondly: whole chicken stuffed with lemongrass. It was the smell of the lemongrass that I can not forget. So this time I took the opportunity to replicate that, much to my dad's dismay.

Darlene's New Year's Eve Menu
The Menu: Barbecue Chicken, Rice, "Veggie Meat," Pansit Molo (Filipino-style Wanton Soup)

So I cut up 2 chickens - each was cut into 4- saving the backbone to make stock for the soup. It sat in a brine consisted of lemongrass, onion, garlic, a bit of rice vinegar and sugar, and seasoned with salt and pepper for 48 hours. My brother again served as my sous chef for the night - he was the one played with fire, as I cook the side dish and the soup.

I met one nana (grandmother) this year; it was from her that I learnt the name of this side dish but, her version is with chopped mushrooms and young corns and a tin of condensed mushroom soup. My version however, is with corn kernels, cream-style corn and cream replicating the one I had in this restaurant back in a day. While the soup is something I learnt to make early this last year from the closest friend of mine. Our dinning room was filled with the aroma of the lemongrass which brought back my childhood memories. I let my family take the first few bite of their meal before I had mine (whilst taking pictures), as they are my biggest critics, and it was a big relief for me that my dad liked the chicken.

Chicken Barbecue with "Veggie Meat"
There is many superstitions in what to or what not to serve for the New Year's Eve which is greatly influenced by the Chinese culture. Each food or dish somehow represents: good fortune, blooming careers/relationship, more success in career, more opportunities to come so on and so forth. But for my family, fruits is a must for New Year's eve.

Darlene made this: Crema de Fruta
Crema de Fruta

I made Crema de Fruta for dessert, but we were so stuffed we forgotten to leave some room for it so, we had for the breakfast  - first meal of the year!

I really enjoyed celebrating my New Year's eve; I hope you enjoyed yours too...!

I wish you a fruitful and colorful 2015...!