The magic of the humdrum routine: Nuoc mam cham (Vietnamese fish sauce)

Nuoc mam cham: The magic everyday condiment

I’m afraid that I have fallen into a humdrum routine.

I wake up to the now chilly autumn mornings, struggling to unravel myself off the toasty warmth of our blanket, jammies and cotton socks and peel myself off the comforts of our firm mattress. Wiping all morning glory of yesterday’s dreams of distant lands, of friends from a bygone time and of inconceivable circumstances, I get up, wash my face, kiss The Husband “see you later” and head into the kitchen.

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The slow life and homemade pork broth

A bowl of homemade noodle soup

Like clockwork, at the strike of 6’o clock in the evening, while in the middle of my current reads, my eyelids start to droop, struggling to stay wide open to finish the latest chapter on the page. But, eventually, I succumb to the call of the afternoon siesta, a luxury I could never afford in my adult lives in both Manila and Dubai.

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Pork and greed: A story of homemade sisig

Hello porkaliciousness!

I found myself scraping every last bit of porkalicious sisig goodness: crunchy, chewy, savory, piquant & spicy, from the plate, licking it oh so clean that the plate did not require its ceremonial after-meal bath. Uh-oh. None left for The Husband? My sisig greed got the better of me! With pork evidence already hidden in the recesses of my stomach, I make a mad scramble to prepare another dish for dinner…

Greed can always get the better of us.

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Settling in the Middle: Tuyo (salted, dried herring) pasta

My favorite bottled Tuyo brand :-)

Being in the middle is often not a good thing. You’re neither here nor there, or neither black nor white. You are just lukewarm, neither cold nor hot. It can mean cowardice for some, lacking the balls to choose a side. It is the gray area, obviously a drab color, which best describes the feeling of being in the middle.

This is where I am at the moment: right smack in the middle.

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Homemade salted eggs: Something out of nothing

“Hey. What’s happening to you? How come I have not seen any new posts on your blog?” asked a couple of fellow bloggers and faithful readers. After getting that question from people who actually bothers to read my blog, I wanted to hide under the sheets from blogger shame. The absence from the blog seems that I have been doing nothing. And I’m the type of person who beats herself so hard when I do squander precious time, something that you could never ever gain back.

This blogpost has been sitting inside my head for a couple of weeks now. Oh, I stand corrected. Judging by the date on my last post, this blogpost has been over two months in the making. Night after night I thought of blogging, sitting on the couch and sharing my food adventures, which I have had a fair bit of, but somehow I managed to wriggle out of sitting still, digging up and sorting out the million and one thoughts in my head. And those thoughts just remained there…inside my head.

I did NOTHING.

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Going Away Granola

I hate going away. Both ways it is always sad. If you are the leaver, the one who left a place or a person, there always is a part of you, even just a molecule or maybe an atom of your being, that will attach itself to that somewhere or someone, leaving an emptiness in you. And if you are the leavee, the one left by somebody else whether by choice or by circumstance, well, this can even be more painful.

Last Saturday, I was a leavee. The Husband left for his much deserved annual home leave, while I was left here in our wee home in the desert to, well, work as most of us, expats are here for.

I knew he was leaving and was honestly quite excited to have time for myself, but as I’ve said earlier, being a leavee is always painful. I sent him off with a kiss as he was whisked away by the taxi to the airport. As I closed our wee home’s front door behind me, I found myself crying into my favorite pillow, imagining it was The Husband. Our wee home felt empty. I was alone and lonely.

But I knew I had to deal with this loneliness head on as this could not continue for the next two weeks. I brushed my salty tears away and went into a cooking frenzy in our wee kitchen. Somehow cooking has started to become my go-to zen activity, whenever I go through a roller coaster emotional ride.

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Upcycled: Leftover Arabic bread pudding

As a number of people truly imbibe the spirit of generosity in the Holy Month of Ramadan, there are a number of companies who share free Iftar and Suhoor packed meals to their employees, whether Muslim or not, who work during the odd hours of 24-hour operations. The Husband is luckily employed by one of those generous companies. Hence, I also get to enjoy the fruits of the free Iftar and Suhoor meals. Hehehe!

Why so? Doesn’t The Husband get to enjoy and finish the free meals?

Well, the meals are quite hefty. Imagine: 2-3 pieces of dates, 3-4 Arabic bread rounds, 3 pieces of Arabic pastries like kibbeh, spiced ground meat encased in a crunchy bulgur wheat mini football, a bowl of salad and / or a small plate of hummus, a humongous plate of rice and grilled meats like kebab or stews and a small tetrapack of fruit juice. That was a meal for one person. So obviously, The Husband and I had quite a pile of leftovers (literally), most of which were the rounds of Arabic bread.

The pile of Arabic bread was too tall that it practically begged the questions: What about me? What will you do with me? Will you just throw me away?

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Eid Al Fitr long weekend…Sweet!

After perhaps the longest work week ever, I floated out of the office in a silly daze, looking forward to 5-days of uninterrupted work-free rest, relaxation and much catching up. Ramadan is about to end and the Muslim community (and those living in Muslim countries like me) is gearing up for Eid Al Fitr. Aside from this weekend being considerably longer than the usual 2-day weekends all we work horses get to enjoy, this weekend is extra special as I have the luxury of time to catch up with three of my favorite activities: cooking (of course, eating after cooking), reading and writing.

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A fool for foul (medames)

The Husband and I have been smitten by Foul, homey Egyptian dish made with slow cooked foul medames or fava beans, usually anointed with some olive oil, a splash of lemon juice and chopped fresh parsley and served with warm Arabic flat bread. Maybe because foul somehow evokes some familiar flavors that’s why we are quite in love with it. Honestly, it reminds me of a Filipino comfort food favorite, monggo (mung bean soup), and a family favorite of mine, the chili con carne, which is actually on our menu list this week.

So, as I saw some foul medames on sale at the grocery (Yes, The Husband is a sucker for items on sale – aside from having a soft spot for foul. Hence, making it much easier for me to convince him to buy the lot.), I decided to be brave and try to just give our favorite bean stew, chili con carne a twist.You could say it was an Egyptian inspired chili con carne dish ;-)

How did my little experiment turn out?

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Bacon pimped monggo (mung bean soup)

There are just days that are plain ordinary.

In the morning, at around 7AM, I get up, do my morning routine in the bathroom, cook and eat breakfast and leave for work. Then for 8-solid hours, I work almost non-stop to get to clock out on time and get home. After a 15-minute trip home, I exercise (or sometimes just try to in my head) then cook or reheat dinner and hit the sheets. Those are ordinary weekdays.

There are also ordinary weekends like this. Uneventful, no parties or get-togethers to attend, no errands to run that I end up cooped up in our wee flat, busying myself with house chores including my favorite chore: cooking, watching TV series or movies, reading through my Kindle and surfing the net.

But somehow, there is this itching feeling to make something extraordinary out of the sometimes boring ordinary day. There has to be something special everyday, right?

Monggo (mung bean soup), one of the humblest and standard Filipino comfort food dishes, was on our menu list and I gave it an upgrade by using bacon to give it the salt and smoky flavor it needs.

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