I Wish My Mom Did These…

I wish my mother took more photos of herself from when she was younger where I can see how vibrant she was, how she loved life, the friends she had fun with.  I want to see her eyes shining brightly during her wedding day when her family came up together to give her and my father a wedding.  I want to see photos of her carrying us when we were infants, when we were still toothless but still smiling for the camera.  I wish there was Facebook then so that every day I can look at the Memories and see what happened to her that day, what made her happy, what was it that made her write or share her day.

I wish Mama had a recipe book where I would be able to find her secret to the best tasting Mango cake with butter icing that until now I cannot replicate.  I wish I know how she made Brazo de Mercedes or macaroni salad where she would always put raisins that I would throw anyway.

I wish Mama took more videos.  Of herself so that during the times when I miss her terribly, I can listen to her voice and I can see her smile.

I wish she kept an address book of all the people important to her so that even if she is gone, I can still keep in touch with her friends and those that touched her lives.

I wish she kept a list of her favorites.  Her favorite songs, her favorite movies, her favorite kid (haha).  Or anything that can help me paint of picture of what she is like as a person so that I can tell Anishka about her and how wonderful she was.

I wish my Mom did these but since she was not able to, I will start doing this for my daughter.  And maybe as I write about myself, maybe, just maybe, there will be snippets of stories that I will remember about my Mom that I can share with Anishka, too.

Maria

 You dream of her

with her arms reaching out to you

asking for help.

 

You dream of her

floating everywhere you go

looking at you with tears

flowing, never ending.

 

You think she needs

comfort, love

time she was not

properly given.

 

You think she needs you

to stand and say

hey, look at Maria.

 

So you let it be known

that something needs to be done

that someone needs

to be shown

his fault,

his negligence,

his failure.

 

So you let it be known

that it’s you

who stood up,

spoke loud,

made everything right.

 

You dream of her

with tears in her eyes

Maria, looking at you

through your soul,

piercing your heart.

 

You dream of her

never realizing

your guilt

pierces your heart,

shatters your silent life,

with sound of breaking glass,

of lives you’ve broken,

of dreams you’ve shattered,

of hopes you quashed.

 

Maria looks at you

asking for help

reaching out

almost touching you

staring deep in your soul.

 

And then you realize

Maria wants you

to help yourself.

Creamy Matar Paneer

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When I first cooked this dish, I followed a recipe my sister-in-law gave me.  Sometimes, I would search the internet and compare.  But last week, I finally had the courage to make my own recipe and it turned out great.  When a friend asked me for the recipe, I realized that I did not even write it down.  So today, I made it again just so I can write down the recipe.  This is my own recipe and I am really, really proud of it.  If you like it, please leave a message.  If you have a suggestion on how to make this dish better, leave a message.  Let’s help each other make a perfect Matar Paneer dish.

I never tasted Indian food until I was already in my 30s and I think that was too late for me to discover the richest, tastiest food in the planet.  A lot of Filipinos are turned off by the smell and by the number of spices in Indian dishes so Indian restaurants never really became popular in the small city I grew up in.

Now, I will try to cook Indian dishes with subtle flavor that I know Filipinos will love.  This way, I will be able to slowly introduce Indian dishes to my Filipino friends.

As for me introducing Filipino food to the world, don’t worry, I will get there.  Just wait for the world domination of Filipino food.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups                Paneer

2 Tablespoons        Ghee (Canola or Vegetable oil).

1/3 cup                     Cashew

1 cup                         Red onion (coarsely chopped)

1 teaspoon               Ginger paste

1 teaspoon               Garlic paste

2 teaspoons             Coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon            Red Chili powder (lessen or add according to taste)

1/4 teaspoon            Turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon            Garam masala

1 teaspoon                Salt

1/2 cup                      Tomato Puree (Note 3)

1 cup                          Water, warm

1 1/2 cup                    Green peas

                                    Coriander, chopped

PANEER PREPARATION:

    1. Cut paneer into 1/2 by 1/2 inch squares.
    2. Place paneer in a deep bowl.
    3. Add 1 1/2 cup hot water.  (See note 1)

CURRY PREPARATION:

    1. Heat non-stick pan over medium high heat.  Add ghee.
    2. Once ghee is heated, add cashew.  Once cashew turns golden brown in color, take it off from the pan and place it in a plate.
    3. Add onion and cook it until it turns into a caramel color about 5 to 7 minutes.  (See Note 2)
    4. Add ginger paste, garlic paste, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, and salt.  Cook for 1 minute.
    5. Add tomato puree.  Cook for 1 minute.
    6. Transfer curry mix to a deep bowl, add the cashew,  and using an immersion blender, blend the mixture into a fine paste.  The finer the paste, the better and creamier your sauce will be.  Alternatively, you can use a blender to blend and puree the ingredients.
    7. Return the paste into the pan and add 1 cup of water.
    8. Add the green peas and the paneer (make sure to strain it).
    9. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 5-8 minutes stirring every once in a while to make sure the sauce does not stick to the pan.
    10. Add more water to change sauce consistency.  Add more salt to taste.
    11. Serve with fresh chopped coriander.

NOTES:

    1. In my experience, adding hot water to the paneer makes it softer.
    2. Make sure that the onion is well cooked because curry made of still raw onion does not taste good.  I wait for the onion to “caramelize” before I proceed to the next steps.  Make sure to constantly stir it so that it will not stick to the pan.
    3. Some people use fresh tomatoes but I like using tomato puree because I am sure that the tomatoes they used for the puree is ripe.  Sometimes fresh tomatoes are not that ripe yet and adding them into a curry dish makes it lean towards the sour side than the sweet side the puree gives.  You can use fresh tomatoes if you want, too.  Just puree it and use the same measurement.

 

 

The Tale of the Spider

I was taking a hot shower one day.

I could feel the fatigue being washed away by the hot water.

I could feel my lungs being cleared by the steam that enveloped the whole bathroom.

Then I saw it.  A golden spider the size of a dime slowly going down right in front of me.

I stared at it.  I was adamant not to be the kind of girl who screams at such a small creature who can’t even nick my skin to show blood.

So I stared at it some more looking for stripes or fangs or whatever.  It stared back.

I figured, the first one who blinks will lost but as brave as I thought I was, the spider was braver.

It swung.  From its rope made of spider silk that I thought would weaken from the steam.  Left and right, it taunted me.

I could crush it, I know.  But I wanted to be brave not cruel.

I closed my eyes praying it would go away.

I hummed to the tune of Hey Jude.

When I came to the line “Hey Jude, don’t be afraid…”, I opened my eyes and the spider was gone.

It could be on my head or down the drain or back to where it was hiding in the first place before it ruffled my senses.

It could be anywhere.

I chose to think it was just my imagination.

What we imagine can’t kill us.

But if I see you again, my dear golden, brave spider, remember the line from Hey Jude?

“Hey Jude, don’t be afraid. You were made to go out and get her.”

I will get you next time.

Triple Chocolate Mini Brownie Cups

My friend Arvi told me that she got her hands on my favorite Brownies Unlimited chocolate chip brownies.  I was drooling with jealousy but there is nowhere in this country will I be able to find something that good.  Then I remembered the wise words from Looney Tunes.  To paraphrase the “If you can’t beat them, join them.” line, “If you can’t find it, make it.”

So I did.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my Triple Chocolate Mini Brownie Cups.  In a very blurry photo taken at 4:30 AM.  Next time, I will do better with my baked good photos.  For now, this is the best I can do with what little energy I have.

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As we were pulling in the parking lot of Costco, I started telling my husband the story of famous bakers who studied in really good schools.  I told him that they spent thousands and thousands of dollars to learn baking techniques.  I told him that since I don’t have the time, and the money obviously, to go to culinary school, I will just experiment and keep on trying until I learn what I need to bake goodies.  He said, “But before you experiment too much, think of how much you will spend too because it can get expensive.”  So I went back to the “But culinary school will be way, way, way more expensive.”  So yes, I came home with a big bag of organic sugar and chocolate chips to last me until the holiday season.  Ladies, that is how you negotiate.  Or if that does not work, you can always go back to the “I am pregnant.”, “I just gave birth.”, “I take care of your kids.” tactic.

So why Triple Chocolate?  The brownie has a thin layer of ganache on top and decorated with chocolate chips.  Without the chocolate chips then it is just Double Chocolate.  Haha.  I know.  I am so good with naming baked goodies like that.  In fact, sometimes I feel like I can work for Margarita Fores and name her dishes.  Left-over adobo can become Twice Cooked Adobo and the Ilonggo “Laswa” can become Tropical Vegetables in Clear Shrimp Soup.  Seriously, she should hire me so I can eat all the dishes she cooks for free.

Oh and I baked these brownies in mini cups for the very important reason of not having a 9 inch pan.  So yes, I have to think of ways to negotiate with my husband to get me that pan tomorrow.

The recipe I used for this brownie is a combination of all the recipes I got when I solicited for a recipe so a big thank you for those who replied.  You’ll get a box of brownies from me.

So what is the verdict?  Well, my husband finished three pieces.  He actually likes it better without the chocolate chips but for a chocolate lover like me, anything extra chocolate in there is good.

So how do I like it?  It is good but I want the ganache to taste less dark and I want the brownies to be more gooey?  So next time, I will look for a better ganache recipe and maybe try cooking the brownies in a pan properly and cook it in less time for that gooey texture.

I know this is a long post for such a mini dessert but the brownies I just ate makes me write like I am high.