End on the Positives!

Is this for real? I am reminded of that scene in Julie & Julia where Julie pleads for comments to her blog, just to know if anyone's reading hers.  I put off opening this blog to everyone, for the longest time, much less announce that it exists.  I thought no one would be interested. As my blurb says, I don't know what to blog about, my life now being so much 'austere'.  And like the baking, its a work in progress (so is the photography hahaha).

Anyways, I fiddled around some with the settings and 'add gadgets' on blogspot and I got this statistic at the bottom of my page.  Its a counter for who has viewed me (sorry FaceBook, couldn't resist borrowing the phrase).  I have five hundred and then some viewers! Whether you read all my posts or just clicked on it, I thank  you, whoever you all are.  There's a map, too, so I know my readers or clickers aren't all my friends.  I hope you all find something amusing, thought provoking, useful or whatnot in the workings of my mind.

 I have a few posts for December, because I got busy and too tired to do anything but bake. Surprise, surprise I got orders! Not a lot for the tax collector to get excited about, but quite a 'production' for a one baker, one home oven operation. I would have wanted to go around taking pictures of all the Christmas decorations and lights at Ayala Avenue, the Narnia-inspired displays at Rustan's; SM's little drummer boys; Greenbelt's toy soldiers and Landmark's pastel light up ballerinas and chandeliers (The Nutcracker Suite?).

It's like a gigantic mood board to me, all the day glo colors, neon and bling. It seems as if this years' forced economizing needed a whimsical, fairy tale Christmas, all the twinkly lights mandated to lift us out of a gloomy, hard-up year.

Jesus in the manger is too close to most everyone's reality for comfort.  Isn't it ironic that the season is  the only time you have the wherewithal (and the excuse) to be generous; to celebrate as grandly as you can manage when Christmas began so simply?  I know Christmas is really about His birth and all, but living as He did is so out of synch with kids wanting IPads, game consoles and TV phones.  I myself wants a Kindle (my eyes are getting old).

The nativity story is more and more upstaged by frankincense and myrhh.  Or maybe it is the magis' story, with the modern day magis helping out the homeless (tripled at year's end because of fire  breaking out almost every other day.  It's not even March, fire prevention month.) . I also hope there's plenty of help pouring in to year end calamity victims all over the world.  It seems that nature is fighting hard to survive us.

I would have gone to the numerous tiangge and night markets  to be around so many people happily shopping. I also want to check out all the silly, techie, funny, novel gift ideas. Watching the news coverage and man on the street vignettes though, it looked like shopping is a chore for most.  My own godchildren and nephews wanted money so they can buy what they want, asking their parents to pony up the balance.  They're smart that way now.  It does take away from the big-eyed surprise of unwrapping presents, but it sure beats getting something practical and educational ; )

My family isn't one for gift giving (to each other).  The emphasis is on food shared with others.  We live in a community where people still give food as gifts.  I baked lots of lemon crinkles and packed it in woven bags and boxes to give away.

 Our neighbor across the way  sent over a bottle of sweet chickpeas (you top your suman or rice cake with it, instead of sugar).  Another sent their signature kare-kare (ox tripe in peanut sauce) and bagoong (salty-sweet anchovy paste). The one from two houses away sent ham.  It is unbranded, which generally meant blah tasting (not to be confused with bleah) but that's no biggie. I fried the slices in a little butter, some of its juice and maple syrup which my friend Ruth gave as pasalubong from her visit to Canada ( I hoard these things for such an occasion). Again, its the gesture that counts and ham has a flavor you can build on.  Last year I brushed pineapple jam on DAK ham then roasted it. My dad's friends in the US occasionally sends us a care package, DAK ham included, a product of Denmark    I think I saw some on S&R but I found this Ebay seller.
We finished off  the neighbor's ham at Noche Buena (Christmas Eve dinner) and Christmas week.  This week, my brother's boss sent over ham for New Year's Media Noche.  My friend Joy (in New Jersey) asked her sisters to buy cookies and cakes from me and sent me home with a fruit basket! More than the Christmas money and fruit, I am happy to see Joy's sisters MaJud and Ate Jean, brother Eric and niece Angeline.  I don't have a big family and theirs (sixty of them!) is a raucously happy one.  That meet up more than made up for my dawn dates with the cranky oven, which broke down after the nth cake order.  I was afraid I had to cancel delivery for another batch.  It wouldn't heat properly. You can imagine my frustration, tired and numb as I was. I couldn't cry.  My mom said think of it as a nudge to rest a little, while the oven guy fixed it.

The round fruits (apples, golden pear, oranges) we set aside for New Year's prosperity basket  -round fruits are like coins.  You need 12 or 13 kinds of fruit, depending on what your family believes is an auspicious number (the new year is invariably greeted with a hodgepodge of wealth-luck attracting superstition and rituals).  We ate twelve grapes each at the stroke of midnight for luck.  I forget whether we're supposed to do so on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve so we'll just do it both times.  The strawberries we stored in the ref so I could make strawberry cake for New Year. We're having cake and pizza, because they're round : )

Our Christmas dinner is sinampalukang manok (chicken with a broth of tamarind flowers and ginger, like sinigang (sour soup) or tom yum minus the lemon grass); barbecued pork belly (marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, lemon, white wine, sugar, pepper, chilis, and garlic); ham; pasta with chicken (I made a tomato-based sauce with roasted peppers and garlic, olives, capers and basil, searing salt and pepper chicken breast fillets first and deglazing with white wine before throwing everything else in.  And we had rice! Only Pinoys eat pasta with rice (no curbing the carb)! Actually, rice goes with the barbecue and sinampalukang manok, that's the main course.  Pasta is considered an appetizer, at least at our table hehehe.  Christmas day is all about left overs and my mom's famous garlic chicken - all white meat chicken marinated in a 24 hour bath of worcestershire, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, pepper, chilis and sugar then dredged (minus marinade) in batter, fried and reunited with the spicy garlicky sweet sour marinade until its reduced to a dark, thick but absolutely heady sauce.  You'll want more rice, trust me!

I didn't bake for us this time, because we have suman (the rice cake).  They're thin, tubular and steamed in layers of banana leaves.  There's a sweets maker at Polo Market who cooks and bottles macapuno (tender coconut meat strips in thick sugar syrup)  and white beans to sweet, sticky perfection, the old way (on a huge wok, gigantic even, stirring all the while with an oar, err, paddle).  I piled a teaspoon of each (also the chickpeas) into my heap of suman and feasted.

I did get recycled gifts.  My brother got a Globe Telecom cordless mouse that he passed on to me while the other brother got a speaker from a client.  He doesn't have a laptop so now that one's mine too! I spent all Christmas day with my laptop tuned in to free music radio Jango.   

Such is my largesse this Christmas.  I'm sorry I don't have much pictures but I'll try  for New Year's post.  That is, if I don't get too busy writing down my resolutions and gratitude list.

Thanks again for clicking! Merry Christmas!


  1. Gayeoux...so glad you appreciated the fruits & most esp. my family. My sis jean said likewise! If God's willing,i'll see you next Christmas...More blessings to you! MMuuuaaah!!!

    Love you....Joyeoux


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