Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell 2009, Hello 2010

I hope this finds everyone well. I am still recovering from a bad cold that could've stemmed from allergies I could've caught in Austin. No worries, though. We got stuff done, anyway: just yesterday Jess had a haircut while I got me a facial, then we got new pillows from B3, got some produce from Whole Foods (including black-eyed peas for New Year's) as it's right across B3, then got my schedule from WEPCo, changed sheets at home, called it a day then had a late lunch of ceviche and crackers. We also took the trash out, and I plan to do laundry today: out with the old, in with the new, I think, extends even to this. I am so proud-grateful-glad J has been so patient thus far :) Let's hope it continues! As to what we'll do this New Year's Eve, we have no real plans, save eating some black-eyed peas tomorrow for New Year's Day tradition.

Aside from black-eyed peas from this side of the world, my family has traditions for New Year's too: peanuts and pineapple and grapes and tangerines and gold/silver chocolate coins (for money), totaling to 8 kinds of round-ish fruit/etc to be put on a round bowl/plate for the coming year. (8's the lucky Chinese number: it sounds like luck, just as pineapple sounds like luck coming in, once translated: J and I vetoed the pineapple as we already have a pomegranate that'll do, thank you very much) My mom also said no chicken on the first day of the year so our luck won't fly away: better fish or pork (and beef, I guess). I was also recommended a doctor in Manila who's into more holistic paths, hopefully, the path of the future :)

So what has 2009 given me? For starters, I eased off of Bikram yoga in March for a temporary leave that has turned indefinite, giving me more time to focus on commuting and also working at WEPCo. In April, my Dad underwent a quadruple stent surgery (oh no!) but J and I moved into a nice attic-space in the Heights with lots of room, a washer and dryer included (yay)! Of course and with the help of Yelp, I took it upon myself to learn more about our neighborhood, finding gems and friends in stores like Kaboom books, Hello Lucky, Antidote Coffee, Saturday farmer's markets like T'afia and Urban Harvest, Blue Line Bike Lab, Urban Jungle Self Defense and 19th St among others. July found me passing my driver's road test after the 2nd attempt and after many prayers and practice, ie not needing to take the bus anymore (unless I wanted to)! June-July also was our housewarming, and me getting into kickboxing and slowly getting some fitness back, as well as finding results in Natalia Rose's book, "The Raw Food Detox Diet;" thank God :) In September, amidst the catastrophe of Typhoon Ondoy, a volunteer spot turned into a job opening for me as a Montessori teaching assistant at Garden Oaks Elementary. Juggling two jobs just didn't give me enough time off, so I went down to pool/reserve for WEPCo in October, during which J and I also a took a pre-marriage class from Connecting Marriages. In November, my parents visited, and not only did we go to Austin for their first Thanksgiving, but we went to Peru (Machu Picchu, Lima and Cusco) before that! And before they left, J asked my Dad for my hand, to which my dad gave his blessing. In December, among the Christmas activities (gift-giving and eating), J, his parents, his sister and I all went to see Avatar in 3-D: not bad, actually. J and I've had our fair share of disagreements since then, more probably because of togetherness-pains and anxieties and insecurities and doubts (me), but we've made up and are hopefully better for it, learning to be more patient, and to be more accepting and let things happen if they do and make peace if they don't. This is where I am; I hope for more and better in 2010.

For manifestations, to start off, J and I are talking about getting married, so that's a big one, maybe with a ring and a question soon :) Hopefully too, and with my parents' help, we can get a house in the Heights, as well, and with a good price/location if we play our cards right :) As to more mundane matters, I would finally like to be able to bike on my own! ;) I am also hoping to see C soon, as well as go home in March and maybe Panama sometime and Germany/Russia in August; I would love to get a copy of J's Grandaunt Fanny's honey cake recipe one of these days, as well as make kombucha with J's help (and maybe more homemade creams etc in the future, too)! Then there's this rewards card, "Go Local Austin" I'm convincing J for me/us to get one the next time we swing by: the rewards look cool, and we're in Austin enough to use it, I think. And if we're not, it can certainly give us more reason to come by :) And more reason for me to go to Daily Juice: I want to try their smoothie "Cosmic Trigger" next :) I also want to get more Juara products: they are an Indonesian-based skincare line I've recently tried that reevaluated my whole thinking/treatment of my skin. My skin feels so much more relaxed and soft and supple. Asian botanicals for Asian skin: that seems to make sense. Of course, hopefully continue climbing and kickboxing, maybe even jiu jitsu in the future with more money, and maybe some swing dancing, too. I would also love to get back on track in getting certified to teach, especially ESL and Special Ed for traditional schooling, and definitely Montessori for Lower Elementary. Then get schooled in Holistic Nutrition from ACHS, maybe even a master's degree in Education from the University of Houston. There are other things I would like, like books, and cooking appliances (and a trampoline!), but for now, these are the big things, things I can accomplish in 5 years, hopefully. As to a more macro level, I hope more local products, markets and businesses will develop and flourish, as with more synergetic Eastern-Western medicine; more alternatives to coal and fossil fuel (connected to going local, too, like mass transit, and bikes, and electric cars) as those are on a steady decline, as well. I hope technology in these cases and such related will continue to grow and develop, as I believe this is the way of the future.

I hope this finds y'all happy, healthy and hearty :) Here's to a peaceful end to 2009, and great promise of 2010! I wish everyone love and blessings, peace and light. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Garlic soup, Callos, Papaya Salad and Russian Tea Cookies

I haven't posted in a while, what with work and holiday stuff (5 days to Christmas!), so for now, enjoy the following recipes:

Mom's Sopa de Ajo (Garlic soup) recipe:

Heat approx. 2-3 tbsp. of olive oil in a pot; add approx. 1-2 tbsp. butter; then, saute approx. 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup finely minced garlic until golden brown; add bread that's been cut into cubes (like croutons) say equivalent of 2 large pandesals (or 2 dinner rolls or 2 Hamburger buns). Once bread is lightly and evenly browned add approx. 4-5 cups of chicken or beef broth; bring to a boil, then add beaten egg slowly, stirring as you are doing so; season with salt and pepper to taste; add a few drops of maggi or knorr, then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and simmer over a low fire for approx. 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serves 2 people.

Tito Pocho's Callos recipe:

6 pcs garlic, dried
1 pc onion, dried
1 large piece carrot, diced finely
1 kilo tripe pre-cooked in pressure cooker
2 pcs. pig knuckles, pre-cooked in pressure cooker
1 big can chickpeas
1 can whole tomatoes
1 can pimientos
1/2 can tomato sauce
1 bottle olive oil
2 chorizos bilbao
1/4 lb. bacon

1. Tripe should be well-cleaned-- cook in pressure cooker. Once cooked, make sure tripe is well drained (important!) as trip absorbs a lot of water while cooking; if not (drained well), it will make your callos soupy.

2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole-- sauteed garlic, onions, tomatoes, bacon. Add the tripe and pig's knuckles and chorizo, over very low fire. Add salt to taste.

3. After 30 minutes, add tomato sauce and (rest of?) olive oil-- make sure trip has not stuck to the casserole-- if in #2 tripe begins to stick to casserole, add more olive oil

4. After another 30 minutes, add drained chickpeas. Continue cooking over very low fire; casserole must be covered at all times (important!)

5. Try the tripe; if already soft, then add the pimientos, and continue cooking for 15-30 minutes.

1.The callos should be sliced; one piece chorizo sliced into 4 pieces; bacon sliced into 4 per piece.
2. While cooking, stir once in a while.
3. Eat with French bread, while dunking bread in sauce-- delicious.

Urban Harvest Farmer's Market Papaya Salad:

1 small green papaya, or 1/2 large (papaya should be very firm, the flesh white to light orange in color)
1/2 cup honey roasted or plain roasted peanuts or glazed cashews
1-2 cups bean sprouts
1-2 tomatoes, cut into long this strips
1 red chili, minced
3 spring onions, sliced into long matchstick-like pieces
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped if leaves are large
a handful of fresh coriander

for the dressing:
1/2 tsp. shrimp paste (if vegetarian, sub 1 extra Tbsp. soy sauce)
2 Tbsp. good-tasting oil, such as olive
2 Tbsp. fish sauce or 2+1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2-1 Tbsp. liquid honey

1. Prepare the dressing by mixing together all dressing ingredients in a cup. Make sure shrimp paste and honey dissolve fully (if using glazed nuts, you may only need to add 1/2 Tbsp. honey). Set aside.
2. Peel the green papaya, then slice it in half and remove all the seeds. Using the largest grater you have, grate the papaya. Place in a large bowl.
3. Add the sliced tomato, spring onion, chili, bean sprouts, and most of the basil. Add the dressing, tossing to combine.
4. Add the peanuts or cashews. Toss again. Taste-test the salad. If not sweet enough, add a little more honey. If not salty enough, add a little more fish sauce or soy sauce. If too sweet or salty, add more lime juice. If not spicy enough, add more fresh-cut chili or dried crushed chili.

To serve:
Scoop the salad into individual bowls or into a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining basil leaves plus fresh coriander. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Stephanie's Russian Tea Cookies

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
additional powdered sugar for rolling

1. Cream butter in large mixing bowl, gradually add 1/2 cup sugar beating until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Combine flour, salt and pecans; gradually add to butter mixture, blending well. Chill until firm.

2. Shape into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes or until edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Roll in powdered sugar while still warm. Cool on wire racks; roll in powdered sugar an additional time. Yields about 4 dozen cookies.

Buen proveccio! Bon appetit! And happy holidays to one and all :)