The Ayes of My Storm

I thought this blog to be a bleep in the net world, a pinprick in a pincushion – making a mark so faint you hardly know it is there.  Big surprise to me, then, that I have page views yippee! Thank you too, to people in Europe and Russia who visited.  I hope you get something nice out of reading the blog. Though I am unapologetic - I knew I wouldn’t be able to come up with roses all the time, I don’t live that charmed a life – I do worry that I am breaking a tenet of a blog – be positive and cheery always.  I did set out to pan some gold out of my everyday, but it is impossible for me to overlook the part that made me seek it.

 Food is the universal dish (pardon the pun) that sharing is a knee jerk reaction.  Eating is also just about the only adventure I am on this year (so far) – which does so much for the figure (too much, aarrrgh)! So for now, you can expect a hodgepodge of stories about food, some things fashionable, unsolicited advice and tips, and my baha (flood – tis’ the season) adventures.

And here it comes again! Flooding has gotten worse every year and it is everywhere it was unlikely to happen.  An aunt says she suffers the beginnings of a heart attack whenever she hears of a storm coming.  There’s no need to wait for signals 1-2-3 to be raised: we all automatically assume the worse. Even if my dad used to be a meteorologist and he is aghast (what a word huh? Sounds like it too) that his kids will ask – like the general public -  “may bagyo ba?”  (“is there a typhoon?”) when the horizon darkens and a big fat raindrop splats our upturned nose sniffing the air for more portent. Now it seems we can expect fifteen more typhoons to come, which means fifteen more cycles of packing emergency supplies, reviewing what to do with the dogs and plants and the huge clean up afterwards.  This last double whammy of Typhoon Egay and Falcon hot (??!) on the heels of one another raised flood water levels to waist high inside our house and higher still elsewhere.  I wasn’t home when it happened.  It always came to pass that every “big” flood that occurs never find me home.  I am either stranded somewhere and end up staying at a friend’s place or at my dorm.

I worried over my parents, a two year old pit-bull, a boxer terrier and shaggy puppies cohabiting for three days on the second story.  I kept calling my house to check on everyone, worrying if the puppies’ yapping might drive the pit to go on attack mode.  Big sigh of relief that no mayhem occurred (puppies shut in at one of the rooms and the pit guarding the hall at the top of the stairs. 

They were also ok for food, since one brother brought Chooks-to-go roast chicken and the other cans of sardines and bread.  I have several mini cakes stored in the refrigerator so they ate those as well. The ref had to be unplugged and it’s a good thing we cook everyday so what little needs storing was on temp stay at my aunt’s ref (she lives three houses down).  Another aunt (thanks Tita Lily) sent “relief goods” – more sardines, canned corned beef, luncheon meat, cheese, bread, Presto Peanut Butter  Cookies.  The dogs have their pellets sans their usual rice and veggie soup combo.

No cooking can be done,  the gas range too big to bring up to the second floor and the gas had to be turned off and hoses out (besides, the upper level is made of wood).  It would have been better to have a convection stove that runs on electricity instead – no fire, just heat.  The oven toaster and microwave takes care of hot food too. A neighbor swears by boiled egg cooked in one of those water heater pitchers ubiquitous to hotel rooms.  I guess they were careful about the yolk breaking and coating the heating coil, huh?

Btw, our house is wired so we can turn off electricity in parts of the house.  Downstairs, wall sockets are at five feet height – hence our big collection of extension cords.  We’ve got stuff (including photo albums) in stackable humongous plastic boxes too, so that takes care of storage and space.

I have cleared a space for the dogs last time: floor laid out with washable linoleum and surrounding cabinetry and foyer table legs shrouded in old shower curtains so if they pee, no stinky wood smells.  After we mop up pee with a super mop, we usually squirt the pee spot with a solution of liquid detergent, Zonrox bleach and water to disinfect the area and take the stink off.  Just saw on TV that Zonrox actually had a ready mix. Mom only had to take extra spray bottles upstairs and plenty of newspapers and cut up realty brochures (mighty handy for cleaning up messes so if people thrust flyers at you at the mall, collect them all hehehe).  You’ll need air fresheners and insect spray as well.  At the bottom of the stairs is a big pail of wash water placed on a metal chair, also germicidal soap (no sissy scented soaps, you need something more potent for germ protection) – for washing feet and legs if you really must wade downstairs for something. You can’t do much for personal hygiene - alcohol, astringent, baby wipes and Alco gel would have to do.   

Once the water subsided, I came home to help clean up.  My parents has done most of the walls and floors and my end is to wash everything else (including bathe the dogs) and reinstate whatever – the barest minimum we need downstairs, the less we have to haul up again.

It is depressing to have to go through it over and over.  It was a good thing I was fortified by  a hefty send off dinner of  mini steak with rolls, a pat of butter, a slaw, and piping hot soup at the House of Minis at Greenhills, with Kim and Chuck (who made me take back my steak sandwich order and get the steak - thanks Chuck!). I got home very late but I had to scrub and mop and what have you before bed.  I am very OC about cleaning my baking area too. It is physically exhausting work and I worried over the ref and oven which was half submerged.  It failed to work properly for a few days until seen to by a tech.

The next night I stayed up baking baby shower cupcakes.  I had to bake by batches because the oven won’t heat properly.  When I brought the cakes over to my BFF Dianne’s office, I felt better because though I don’t work there, I am known to most of her team and was welcomed into the fun party.  I had my fill of Amber’s barbecue, jumbo hotdogs (way cool, they have a Hotdog Express rolling grill), pancit and spaghetti in a bilao! Talk about localizing - an American staple packaged in a native, woven serving "plate".  There was pichi pichi (cassava cake) topped with grated coconut or cheese, puto with cheese and the tablea (native cocoa moons pulverized in the Cuisinart grinder) cupcakes with white frosting, rainbow sprinkles, pink hearts and Hello Kitty heads and ribbons (Dianne et al’s nice work)!

Of course, I couldn’t take pictures.  The House of Minis is all dark wood and mood lighting, festooned with dude ranch knickknacks and wagon wheels. My poor phone cam don’t stand a chance.  Suffice it to say that I enjoyed my steak very much, medium well and cadged some of Chuck’s fries and his mayo, pepper (lots) and salt dip to boot.  At the party, I was too busy assembling the cupcakes (brought my mixer to fluff the frosting some more).  After the party, Dianne and Debbie (sisters), with R.K. met their mom at S&R Macapagal to do some food shopping.  I tagged along, because it would be nearer my bus stop and I missed being with my extended family (I used to sleep over when Dianne and I worked in the same company).  I don’t have a sister and bonding with them felt like I have a whole gaggle of them – hyper happy and rambunctious!
Mommy Divine is also like a mom to me. I found a gorgeous pack of beef bones, thinking about soup and something for the (big) dogs.  Mommy Divine bought them for me, along with a pack of dark chocolate-coated Raisinets.  Love! Do I need some chocolate covered sunshine!
 I, and the dogs, thank you, Mommy D!  I took the flying bus home and slept through half the ride, which I never did before.  My mom even heard me snoring that night– news to me.  I was that exhausted.

So what have I got a picture of? The beef bones my mom boiled for a long time, relishing the tendons and gatel (that’s how she calls it) – those jelly like, soft and chewy bits you pick off the bone – real sweet with the clear broth the perfect rainy day fare, needing just a bit of calamasi and sili in patis  (fish sauce with Philippine lemon juice and chilis) to wake us up from tired stupor.  Mom said good beef bones pay “interest” – it gives a lot of flavor with every boil so you can have all the soup you want and use the bones for kare kare (tripe and ox tail in peanut sauce), goto (porridge) and plain bulalo (like here, with ginger slices, salt and pepper).

Tito Joe and Tita Carol visited their old place to check how it  fared in the flood and treated Tita Lody to lunch at Nelia’s, a local eatery, where I eschewed real food and had mais con hielo (sweet corn kernels with milk, sugar and crushed ice).  I was sweaty and hot after a run with the puppies, that’s why.  They also gave me suman sa lihiya– a nifty cube of rice cake wrapped in a square of banana leaf, a square plastic pack of sweet caramel sauce (made of melted panutsa and coconut milk) taped on one side.  This is truly suman-to-go hehehe.  I thought it looked like kesong puti or tofu squares.  Delicious! The sauce not to sweet and the rice cake itself finely grained but not too soft.   They bought it along the road in Batangas.  I didn’t get to note the name, I think it reads Noel’s.  Can you make it out?  Sorry I didn’t have a clearer picture, I was holding up the eating hehehe.

And oh, I was fired up by the S&R visit that mom and I had to go to the Congressional branch for meat stuff and buy one take one Bounty Fresh Primero Pollo (free range chicken) to celebrate the ref working again.  We wouldn’t go home without the New York Style Pizza (mozzarella cheese, olives, green pepper, meats) combo with the pepperoni and cheese for Sunday post lunch, dinner, and Monday breakfast. 

These are the ayes of my stormy week – friends who cared to call and check up on me (Ruth, my steadfast friend through thick or thin, sink or swim), prayed for us (Riz), gave us a discount on fixing the appliances, threw me some business, and shared some love. Also, that we can cook and enjoy real food till Friday, when something brewing this way comes.  Again. 


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