Thursday, October 22, 2009

22 October 2009

Okay. I am finally starting a blog. It's been suggested that I do but I've dilly-dallied. I've actually become lazy about writing, preferring to edit other people's stuff and make them sound good. But while editing has been good for my pocket, I know I have to write for the good of my soul. So today, I decided to start blgging.

I am actually inspired by the movie Julie and Julia where Julie writes a blog about her adventures with a cookbook by Julia Child. It made me want to cook, and to write. Cooking and writing are my two passions. But since it is easier and more accessible to write, I am starting with writing. Hopefully, I am still inspired during the weekend to try some new recipes. Maybe I should write a food column.

I loved being in Sydney where I became the de facto cook in Monica's house, a.k.a. Inday. Edge gave me the run of kitchen, humoring me by getting the ingredients I needed for the dishes I wanted to try. On my first visit, they complained that I spent too much on groceries, buying too many esoteric ingredients that they would never again use after I left. But this time around, they seemed to give in and allowed me to get the spices I needed for Korean Beef Ribs and the salad dressings I love to concoct. Woolies became my favorite tourist spot! Did I tell you that my favorite aisle in a supermarket is where the herbs and spices are?

I realized that Monica has barely opened the Joy of Cooking that I gave her two years ago since the marker was still where I left it during my last visit. She just isn't very much a kitchen person. But she made mom's Icebox Cake like an expert only on the second try, and I persuaded her to make her quiche and her Butter Chicken recipes that we all like. I think she probably only needs an appreciative audience and she will shine as a cook.

On this visit, Monica found her true calling knitting and sewing, which I introduced her to. I bought her knitting needles, yarn, and a sewing machine. And since then, she has knitted a scarf, and sewed a large quilt for Edge, a rug for Jack,the dog, pillow cases for the boys, and a cover for a floor pillow. I am so proud of her. She is a true progeny of my mom, more so than I am. The best thing about our getting into crafts is Diego and Luis are now ardent knitters as well.

To get back to cooking, I like concocting dishes, figuring out why certain dishes taste the way they do, and finding substitutes for rare ingredients. Reading a recipe book is one of my greatest pleasures. And I actually clip recipes from newspapers (on Thusdays for the Star and Inquirer) and make them my own. I can talk about cooking with another ardent cook for hours, and I consider sweating it out in a kitchen as time well spent.

I have invented my putanesca sauce from the memory of flavors I encountered ordering it in many restaurants. I had the audacity to serve it at a dinner at home attended by an Italian-American who said he usually only ate spaghetti when his mother cooked the sauce but he thought my putanesca tasted authentic. I couldn't tell him that my secret ingredient was bottled chili that came from a Chinese grocery in San Juan!

I have earned a reputation for making the best lasagne this part of town, and my pecan pie recipe is unparalleled. My lasagne came from a recipe book and the pecan pie recipe can be found at the back of a package of pecans. But those who have tried to make them have not been able to replicate the flavors that I have put into mine. That's because while I follow the basic lasagne recipe, I like experimenting with herbs and spices. And I think my pecan pie tastes different because of the crust, which I make myself, and the liberties I have taken with the pie's ingredients, I won't tell which onees.

One of my greatest pleasures, aside from cooking, is experincing the cooking of close friends like Poch Lozano, Alan Robles and George Francisco -- male foodies all. Besides the excellent cuisine, the company is always great, and the conversation can't be beat. Send me a man who cooks!

Actually, I enjoy the adventure of cooking, presenting dishes, and feeding my guests more than the eating. And I always leave room for dessert. Now all this talk about food is making me hungry.