A Merry Little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas...and we will, too!  This late (for us anyway) we don’t have a menu for Noche Buena and Christmas Day.  We’re not too keen and our pockets are way too lean  (hehe) for going all out on our Holidays spread.  My mom would still try for something “grand” for the table at the last minute, I know, but the rest of us are quite content to get a chicken bucket meal or pizza.  If persuaded, I might make our own pizza.    That is, if I am not too tired from baking! My project for Christmas is to make a Christmas cookies tree (not the sugar ones with the iced tops, too time consuming for me)! We have a wooden mug tree ( that I have to repaint white). On it, I'll hang cinnamon cookie angels  and sugar cookie trees (only cookie cutters I have that’s Christmas-y).  To fill up the tree I would make coconut crinkles, in green and white, with mom-made macapuno (sweet coconut strips in syrup) inside! I’ll string up a bunch of white chocolate pistachio, chocolate chunk, and raisin and nuts cookies as well.  Or, I could make a huge cookie pizza sampler, with each quarter wedge “planted” with whatever topping I could artfully, crazily pile on hehehe.  I’ll post a picture when I do make either tree or pizza. Biiigggg if!

I just about finished painting the walls and ceiling.  I just about had enough energy left to decorate the living and dining room with my hodgepodge collection of Christmas balls, angels, tin painted snowmen and my favorite Looney Tunes, Night before Christmas Mice and Tiny Tim character collection.  I’ve had them so long I forgot where I got them.  There’s Lady Taz writing letters (lost a hand at it, too) to Taz atop a peppermint heart; the Road Runner on its way to the North Pole; a squirrel (beaver?) sending Santa a Christmas wish mail and several mice either getting ready for his jelly (hehehe);  ice fishing on an ice cream float; and taking pictures on a camera as outmoded as Santa's perch.  Santa was enjoying his coffee and cookies, likely taking a break from answering gift requests.  These days he probably uses a call center agency (ok, BPO).

Santa's perch is ye olde analog (?) cell phone! Our very first phone was a Motorola unit - big and shaped like an ice shaver, the old-fashioned heavy metal piece you grasp with one hand and slide up and down the surface of a block of ice.  There’s a blade screwed on a slit in the bottom and the shaved ice gets into the slit and fills up the ship’s hull-like body.  You have to open the top (hinged) to take out the ice.  I’m sure those shavers still exist somewhere, particularly in country stalls selling halo-halo.  The shaved ice aren’t as fine as those you get from modern shavers, so you still get crunchy ice that won’t melt too easily and water down your halo-halo.
Anyway, we are feeling a bit of the Christmas spirit with the decorations.  Maybe we will just stare at the Christmas doodads and feast on the cookie tree.  I don’t think I could muster the energy to help mom with the slow cook meals and the endless prep and clean up. We may end up going out anyway.  Lots of balikbayan to fete or (most likely) be feted hehehe.  

Of course they have their hearts set on food they’ve missed like galunggong (yes, GG- the symbolic fish of the masses, now expensive for most) and talangka. A friend asked me to get her some.
Talangka ( small native crabs, not baby crabs or crablets) is not in season but my mom managed to get a clan of the feisty little carapace.

We say clan because we got a little less than a kilo of grandpa, grandma, sisters, brothers, uncles and aunt talangka, varying so in size and color but uniformly fresh and great escape artists all. I couldn’t take a picture because I was busy pointing at wayward claws and crab bodies trying to scale the side of the frying pan, so that mom can catch them in time with her tongs. After a three-minute struggle, the crabs were subdued and cooked nicely, halabos style (steamed in the pan with a bit of water). Talangka spoils fast if not cooked right away and ours had to be brought to the friend who was a long ways off. The galunggong is most delicious hot off the frying pan, with the skin fried crisp and crunchy while the meat remains tender and juicy so we packed that one in ice.

Galunggong was my favorite fish .  When we were in grade school, my brothers and I played with five little cousins (not ours), pretending to “picnic” on the neighbor’s dining room.  We would set the table with fresh banana leaves and eat galunggong with rice, fresh tomato slices and itlog na maalat (salted red egg).   We would eat with our hands (not quite boodle-like).  I think I ate seven whole fish, max, with a ton of rice.  One time we even set up a galunggong dinner by candlelight for two of the neighbors (not cousins) who were crushing on each other.  Weird, come to think of it, not terribly romantic.   What do we know about steak dinners - we were all kids having a giddy summer, sharing fish!  Simple joys, you know  :  )
Maybe we’ll have a GG Christmas hehehe. Or maybe, we will have a repeat of these pancit canton and spicy garlic alimango (I'm allergic to crustaceans so I get to have pata tim), take out from Legend Seafood RestaurantNow ain’t that grand?

p.s. it is a wet week this week so I don't know if Christmas week will be the same.  Hope not! My cousin in Montreal, Canada said it isn't snowing yet.  Weird times, you know.
"God bless us, everyone!"


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