Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Asparagus, anyone?

I was going through one of my favorite food blogs yesterday (that's the Marketman for you), and he made broccoli sautéed in olive oil and garlic and chili, which inspired me to make a similar version (without the chili) with the vegetable in season here, the asparagus, which is one of the most nutritious, well balanced greens around. For the health concious, asparagus is low in calories, contains no fat or cholesterol, is very low in sodium, and a great source of potassium and fiber. So after work, i went quickly to the local grocery, chose about a dozen of them, and also bought some Prosciutto al forno (ham baked in those brick ovens). The hubby called up earlier to say that he was coming home around 8 pm, so i had ample time to prepare. I washed the asparagus, cut about an inch at the bottom and discarded them, then peeled the outer layer of the stems but leaving the tips intact, and then cutting the stems into small pieces. I put them into boiling water for about 2 minutes, starting with the stem parts, then the tips last. After draining the hot water, i washed them with cold tap water, then continued to immerse them in a bowl of cold water with some ice cubes while i cut some garlic, heated a pan, added some olive oil. I then sautéed the garlic till it was brown, then added the asparagus, some salt and pepper, and mixed them lightly. I never overcook my vegies, so as soon as it reached its soft-enough-but-still-crunchy state, i removed it from the heat. It was perfect timing as the hubby came home so i just had to transfer it to a plate, added the slices of ham, put some of that lovely olive oil sauce on the meat, and, eh, voila, a light meal at the day's end. Before we ate though, i just had to take a picture, then afterwards while showing him the cropped pic, he says it does not do justice to its taste. I'll take that as a compliment. :)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Spring can really hang you up the most

in my case, i guess it's what the locals here call Frühlingsmüdigkeit, just that feeling of being lethargic as spring sashays back into the scenery. fortunately i am not allergic to pollen like some people i know.
glad, though, that the long cold winter is over, although it still doesn't look like real spring outside with all that rain, i'll take this anytime over those freezing, below zero Celsius temperatures i had to endure all those months.
glad also to get that break last month and to spend four weeks back in the tropics, seeing my siblings, nephews, nieces, old friends and schoolmates, and then my husband and i met up with our friends on the beach.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Today is Emma's birthday. She's 84. What an incredible life she has had and she is still going strong (i hope). How does she do it? After ten children, a marriage which lasted almost thirty years till her husband left her for a younger woman, carrying on singlehandedly in raising the rest of her children that were still at home with her, surviving by making use of her culinary prowess to make both ends meet which included waking up at dawn to get the freshest produce from the market and then often seeking solace inside a movie theatre at the end of a hard day's work which sometimes ended up with her falling asleep for the entire duration of whatever film was shown that evening (the Chinese proprietor would wake her up to announce he was closing); then, to have a second wind to start an altogether new life in America as a 64 year-old nanny, living far away from her kin for twenty years and finding a second home with a family who have warmly welcomed her into their hearts, watching her two 'kids' grow from infants to students (the eldest is graduating from college in May), outliving the man she married and has always loved, as well as outliving two of her sons---i can only shake my head in awe and amazement at this bighearted octogenarian who is my mother.

It was a real pleasure to talk to her on the phone tonight and to hear her warm voice and reminish about the good ol' days. She still has such a good memory that she was even telling me stories about her old suitors, long before she married my dad, which made us both laugh. Sometimes she could still sound like a teenager. :) I also enjoy listening to her wartime stories as she vividly recounts tales of that period (my father and her got married when they were both 19 and got out of Manila where they went to college, which was occupied by the Japanese during that time, then took off by banca (an outrigger boat) slowly going from island to island till they reached Mindanao). I've also heard from her contemporaries that during her time she was popularly known as the 'Songbird'. In her generation, I suppose she would be a subtle version of the 'Music Star', clad in whatever garb women wore to perform in the late 30's. She won singing contests in our region, a feat that made my grandfather so proud he bought her a piano and she learned to play it by ear. (When i was growing up our house was filled with her music, sometimes we sang along or she would accompany us as my siblings and i took turns in singing solos which we picked up from watching musicals or whatever tunes fancied us then. Her piano playing inspired us all to sing.) To this day she still plays, but with wrinkled fingers that feel arthritis, and although the sound of her voice is not as forceful as it used to be, singing lifts her spirits and she still hits notes perfectly. Bless her. I hope and pray that she will continue to remain in good health.
Funny enough, i did not learn cooking from her, we devoured with gusto whatever meals she prepared for us. But i have inherited her musical genes, and so have my siblings! :)
I am eternally grateful to this wonderful woman for giving me the gift of life.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hola, Herb!

Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) are the aromatic leaves of several species of the Laurel family (lauraceae). Bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance and may be used fresh or dried.
Why this particular herb for my user's name? Because with this blog i think i'm going to be posting partly on what i've prepared from my own kitchen. Erm, no, i am not a gourmet, i just enjoy food, period. It is also because it's a word play on my real name. ;)
I've gone on a bloghopping rampage last week and they were mostly on the culinary arts and these ladies (and gents) have come up with things so enticing, not only from the wonderful photographs that they have presented, but also from the sumptous preparations that they have shared with everyone. They sure have given me hunger pangs while anxiously waiting for my lunch break, the more i looked, the more i drooled, the more my tummy craved for them. Thus, i was inspired to try to start with something of my own. A big thank you goes also to Puspha for the encouragement. Note: this is not necessarily a food blog, this is mainly the musings of a middle-aged Pinay (Filipina) living in an alpine country and enjoying the view. And the other simple pleasures in life.