Its fall again (Yes!) and it means pumpkin season time. Pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, pumpkin pie, pumkin scented candles, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin scented soaps, pumpkin flavored cream cheese, yadayadayada…
PUMPKIN FREAKIN’ EVERYTHING!
To me, avocado is a fruit. It always was and always will be.
Back home, we slice it open, remove the pit, scoop out the buttery flesh, lightly mash it, drizzle a generous amount of condesed milk, add ice cubes and place in the freezer to cool. It one of the simplest yet most indulgent desserts one could ever have. Sometimes we even whizz it in the blender with milk, sugar and ice to make it a shake.
Even in Dubai, the avocado shake is one of the most popular fare at the juice bars.
Avocadoes have never ventured to the vegetal, savory side of the food spectrum…until Texas happened.
Calamansi is one of those fruits that was just there, always there – on the table, in the fridge, in the backyard, in the markets, in restaurants. I used it in my dipping sauces, especially the ones with patis (i.e. fish sauce) or toyo (i.e. soy sauce). I used it to marinade meats – pork, chicken, beef, fish. I used it in tea – both hot and iced. I made a juice of it, sweetened by local honey. I squeezed the juice over a plateful of pancit (i.e. noodles). I couldn’t live without it….at least in the Philippines. But when I left the country, I had to learn how to live without it.
Over the few months we’ve been here, The Husband and I have learned that just as the seasons change, so do the products that line the shelves of supermarkets. At the height of Autumn, there came an invasion of all things pumpkin flavored. Apart from pumpkin pies, you had pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin spice ice cream, pumpkin spiced cream cheese, pumpkin spiced carrot cheese cakes and pumpkin spiced Chinese egg rolls and instant ramen…I kid. Unfortunately, The Husband and I have not taken a liking for these pumpkin fiends; some products we’ve tried remain untouched in our refrigerator, gathering errrrrm microscopic friends, which hopefully do enjoy the carby, mildly sweet, cinnamon and nutmeg laced flavors. Though we did enjoy spiced apple cider, another autumn seasonal product, this post is not about that because pumpkin and apple season is so OVER.
Since we’re on the topic of Filipino-Mexican food comparisons, I also stumbled upon another Mexican treat bearing the same name of a popular Filipino breakfast fare: champurrado. Unlike the Mexican menudo, which is a world apart from the raisin peppered Filipino menudo; the Mexican champurrado is closer to its Filipino counterpart.
Ever since we’ve seen “menudo” on the menus of Mexican establishments, restaurants and supermercados alike, in Atlanta and Texas, The Husband and I vowed that we would one day try it for ourselves. “Menudo”, a classic Filipino dish with teeny pork cubes, pork liver, red hotdog (Yes, only the red kind), cubed potatoes and carrots, and raisins in tomato sauce, or even ketchup – tomato or banana, was not anything like the Mexican menudo, except maybe for the red hue rendered by the chilies.
We finally did get to try a bowl of Mexican menudo while in New Mexico, where we learnt these key differences…
When I was younger in the era bereft of cheap flights and the Internet, it always baffled me that my mama would always make a mad scramble to hoard boxes upon boxes of polvoron as gifts for our balikbayan (i.e. Filipino expats / migrants visiting the Philippines) relatives. The polvoron, a beloved Filipino snack / dessert made from toasted flour, powdered milk, butter and sugar, formed into ovals and delicately wrapped in rainbow-colored papel de japon, was just one of those things that was worth their precious balikbayan baggage space. And they didn’t just want any ordinary polvoron, but they craved for the Goldilocks brand polvoron, piles of these sweet creamy, crunchy snack stuffed into those infamous yellow gingham boxes.
How OA (overacting) I thought. But why?!? Can’t they make their own polvoron?
Today’s burn / cut count: 3. One below my right pinky. Another above my left elbow. And the last one below my left pointy finger.
I don’t know if it is just my natural klutziness around the hot stove. But I do know that these battle scars are part of the kitchen territory. If professional chefs still gets cuts and burns, what more a humble home cook like myself?
After much pining, The Husband finally gave in to my simple American dream: to own a cast iron pan. Yes, I am now a proud owner of a 12-inch Lodge cast iron pan ($18.97 + Tax @ Kroger).
It now is permanently glued on one of the burners of our electric stove and I’ve been using it everyday for the past week in both Asian (vetegable stir fries) and Western cooking (steaks, pasta and more sautéed veggies). But then again, my cast iron pan and I didn’t have this buddy-buddy relationship earlier. It took me three weeks before I garnered the courage to work with it.
It is a daunting cookware, especially if you are inexperienced with such, so you need to ask yourself a couple of very important questions before heading to your favorite kitchen store and getting one…
The Husband and I have been having a lot of pasta noodles the past weeks. I love pasta, especially its delicious simplicity. I don’t need a whole gamut of ingredients and long prep times to finish a dish, but the clincher for a start-up kitchen like mine is we still don’t have a COLANDER. For pasta lovers like me, a colander is crucial because it helps produce al dente pasta, one that I am a stickler for. Yes, my friends, how can one al dente pasta cook survive without one?!?
Well, you can! Thanks to very, very basic things you can easily find in your kitchen, no matter how small.