A state of randomness – notes from the holidays…

7 01 2009



I PRACTICALLY closed shop at the office last year because I still reported for a full day of work on the 24th of December.  Towards the end of that day, as I wished my friends the best the season had to offer, I got a steadily escalating sense of foreboding as almost everybody wished me back without missing out to say: “Watch your diet!”


I know they meant well – especially the likes of Partner who had seen me lose my first 11lbs. (18 lbs. to-date!), all through dieting.  And to a certain extent, I know what they also wanted to tell me was that it was just okay to give myself a breather – and break all the rules!  After all, it was the holidays.  I know that was what my good good friend Jeck Sapnu meant.  Hahaha!


So I attacked the holiday eating frenzy with an open mind and more importantly, with a stomach raring to be filled up.  But apart from getting myself busy in the kitchen, I also had to do a little carpentry to make some repairs I had put off for quite a while already.  I had inadvertently hit my fingers with the hammer; and sustained cuts in practically every way imaginable.  But in the kitchen, I was pretty okay.  I’m not a learned chef.  But I’m pretty happy with  my knifework!  I can finely mince onions like it’s nobody’s business!



In between days, I also attended to purging my music collection and organizing my years-old (as far back as 1999) newspaper clippings.  My collection runs the whole gamut – from works of my favorites like Teddy Locsin, Jr., to interesting interviews, to features on wristwatches!


So here’s sharing with you some of the more noteworthy things from the past 2008 holidays – “my” holidays.


Christmas Morning Ham and Pan De Sal.  We didn’t get as many hams as we used to.  But there were still quite a lot.  So when I got up on Christmas morning, all I wanted to have was the ham, together with the pan de sal (literally, ‘bread with salt’) from the friendly neighborhood bakery.  I prefer the ham pan-fried, doused with pineapple juice for sweetness and a little sugar for both sweetness and a caramelized finish.





Tinapa (Smoked Herring) Fried Rice.  I don’t know if this is offered anywhere but I have had “tinapa fried rice” on my mind for quite a while now.  I was actually asking for it at Fely J’s in Greenbelt 5 when Batman and I first had dinner there, only to be politely told by the waiter that I must have gotten in the wrong place because what they are famous for is the “Dilis (crispy-fried dried anchovies) Rice.”  For my tinapa fried rice, I used lots of finely minced garlic, sauteed until just about to turn golden brown, the deboned flesh of two large smoked herrings, and lots of leftover rice.  The resulting dish?  Only the best accompaniment to my family’s super delicious ginisang monggo (mung bean stew with bitter gourd tops)!







Angel Hair Pomodoro with Shredded Marca Pato Edam Cheese.  Like a broken record, here I am, going on again about my to-die-for (only me ‘dying’ here!) angel hair pomodoro.  Since I had all the time in the world, I cut down on the canned stewed tomatoes and used lots of fresh roma tomatoes!  I went through the tedious, but meditative process of cleaning the tomatoes, blanching them, plunging and shocking them in a cold water bath, peeling and seeding them, and finally chopping them coarsely.  What I made could very well be one of my best pomodoro so far.  And since the supermarket shelves were literally wiped out by the holiday shoppers, I had to be creative!  I used Marca Pato Edam Cheese Ball in place of parmesan cheese.  And since there wasn’t fresh basil anywhere, I just totally omitted it!









Marca Pato Edam Cheese with Grapes and Wine.  This one I did totally for the vanity of it all.  Hahaha!  But yes, I gobbled everything up after the pretty pictures were taken.  And yes, that’s as cheap a wine as you can get.  I love boxed wines anyway.




Salad of Delicate Mixed Lettuce Greens, Arugula, and Asparagus Spears, topped with Grilled Prawns and freshly grated Marca Pato Edam Cheese, drizzled with Honey Mustard Dressing.  Now that’s a mouthful!  And a bit meticulous too, as Spider-man pointed out!  Each time I put this salad together, I accomplish a number of steps – like clockwork!  I start by ensuring that the greens had all been triple-washed (if not already done so by the produce vendor).  The asparagus, if really reed-thin, can be left as is.  If not, as in this one, I blanch them for EXACTLY 30 seconds in briskly boiling water, then plunge them in really cold water.  With the greens set aside and ready for assembly, I grill the prawns.  I usually do it on the stove top – on a non-stick pan.  A regular pan, brushed ever so lightly with oil, can work well too.  My prawns this time were not ‘giants’ so I didn’t fuss about deveining them anymore (the veins were thread-like anyway).  I season one side with a light dusting of salt, and lots freshly cracked black pepper.  I put the seasoned side down on the pan, and proceed with seasoning the other side (now the top side).  I cool the grilled prawns to room temperature so as not to wilt the greens.  Then I beautifully put everything together.  In place of the parmesan cheese, I grated Marca Pato Edam Cheese.  And to save time, I used the trusty Honey Mustard Dressing from Dizon Farms.  I’m fond of this salad.  And Superman is fond of this too.













Steamed Tofu with Onion Leeks and Steamed Asparagus Spears, with Hoisin Sauce.  This is one of my ‘diet’ dishes that’s low in calorie but high in flavor.  And aesthetics too!  I slice a 500-gram block of firm tofu into six equal pieces and steam them.  For the asparagus siding, I used the leftover ‘hard’ ends of the asparagus spears I used for the salad above.  I steamed them too.  I brushed the tofu with hoisin sauce (sweet fermented soybean paste).  Usually, I make other sauce or dip options for steamed tofu.  The sauces for Hainanese Chicken – chili, thick dark soy sauce, or grated ginger in oil – work well too.  My other faves are beef sauce, and soy sauce with calamansi (Philippine lemon) and onion leeks.







Some of the other photos I took, because of the lighting, didn’t do justice to the actual dishes.  So unfortunately, I decided against posting them here.  But I have to say that I became fond of my sister-in-law’s Carrot Cake, Chicken Casserole Fettuccini, and Waldorf Salad, and my mother’s Chicken Salad.  I don’t eat Potato Salad.  But the one my mother has been making since I was a kid is tops!


As I had said above, I also did a lot of house work over the holidays.  Finally, I had arranged the tens and tens of DVD’s that Batman handed me down (with the exception of a few brand new originals of hard-to-find, must-see-in-this-lifetime movies).  I had fixed the shelves of my study table and organized everything on display.




These are the books constantly within my reach.



Tens and tens of DVD's from Batman. The Mabuhay magazine came from Cafe Breton in Tagaytay - I asked for it because I loved the Beijing cover story. The GQ, I bought during a leisurely stroll in the streets of Mumbai in India. The Men's Vogue with Barack Obama on the cover is now a hot item.


The holidays – while being advertised as one of the longest we’ve had – flew by so quickly.  I hung on to its tailend and didn’t want to let go.  But hey, reality beckoned and now, it’s back to the work place.  It’s just good that on this last one, I feel like I accomplished a lot and this means memories to look back to.



One of the best presents - semi-precious stone tiger charm from my brother's trip in Hong Kong.