taga-luto: projects I-III

I’ll always admit to being a foodie. Chalk it up to growing up with gourmets on one side of the family, and down-to-earth cooks on the other, teaching, by showing, how to love food in all its iterations, flavors and textures. Eating food is one thing, though; preparing it is another. And, as I have always been telling myself, I harbor a bit of a frustrated cook inside of me. Chalk that up to mom keeping the TV tuned to the Asian Food Network every time I am in Antipolo, and the fact that there is an awesome, awesome herb garden outside the house that isn’t as used as often as it should be.

Imagepictured: assorted patches of basil (Italian and Thai), lemongrass, and oregano; not pictured: mint, coriander, tarragon, rosemary, all sorts of peppers, etc.

And Iron Chef. Always blame Iron Chef. Because Iron Chef is always awesome.

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pic via tvtropes.org

Since unemployment and un-enrollment have given me all the time in the world, I have spent the past two days walking back and forth between the kitchen and the herb garden, seeing what I can use with what, so that I might just make the family’s evenings a little more entertaining. Hence these little projects.

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Project I: Thai stir-fried beef with basil

Beef, garlic, chili, basil. Almost stripped the Thai basil plants bare because the dish is more awesome when you don’t scrimp on the herb. Easy peasy, as long as you have enough basil to toss in.

No pic though, because it was gobbled up too quickly by a family that had too light a lunch. Sadness, but also delicious happiness.

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Project II: Fried lemongrass chicken with cucumber and tomato vinaigrette salad

Too much lemongrass in the garden, so I looked around for another way to use it instead of steeping it all to make a huge batch of iced tea (which is fine and all, but the taste gets old when you’ve been drinking it for years). Figured I’d use it, along with some garlic, honey, vinegar and fish sauce (patis) to marinate some chicken, then decide how I’m cooking it later on.

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Fresh from a day in the fridge

Was planning on grilling it, but some miscommunication on what time people would be home for dinner meant that I didn’t have enough time to prepare a fire. Decided to fry it instead so that it could feed four hungry people without having to be cooked for at least an hour. I think some of the flavor was lost in the process, which is sad since lemongrass has a pretty subtle flavor, especially in the face of the other things I used for the marinade.

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Still awesome, though

Decided to serve them with a quickly put-together salad made up of things I found in the garden and in the fridge: cucumbers and some small tomatoes that grew near the herb garden, with a dressing of olive oil, white vinegar, dayap lime, a few coriander leaves and lots of pepper.

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Stuff from the garden

Sigh, vinaigrettes: easy as hell to make, but they go with pretty much every salad vegetable you can think of. Plus, changing the type of oil and/or vinegar lets you go crazy with whatever flavor you want: Asian, European, etc.

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I think they’re called currant tomatoes, but I’m not really sure

Oh well, lesson learned: plan grilling waaaaay ahead.

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Project III: Pork in rosemary-infused oil

Remembered tasting very awesome roast pork with rosemary at Chelsea’s in Podium, several years ago. Remembered that we still had a rosemary plant or two growing in some corner of the garden. Decided to find out for myself how else to get all that aroma and flavor into the meat without having to marinate it overnight, and to see if I can cook it the way people make lechon kawali, so I decided to stick several crushed sprigs’ worth of leaves into a bottle of cooking oil and leave it for two days, and see if it works. Cat kept me company all throughout the process.

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Freshly-picked rosemary with cat

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Rosemary and just-cleaned bottle with cat

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Rosemary and bottle with cat competing for attention by threatening to push stuff off the table

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Rosemary leaves floating in oil with cat present in spirit (actually, sleeping on the floor beside this table)

Double-fried the pork in the oil to make sure it was crispy enough before serving. True enough, rosemary makes even lechon kawali taste all kinds of gourmet awesome.

Unfortunately, no pic of the finished product, for some reason. Odd, I knew I took a pic or two of it somewhere…

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I have no idea for a title because this is all incoherent and I apologize if you haven’t understood any of it

I think I’m coming down with a cold. Oh well, first bit of disease I’ve had in months. Maybe it’s true, that talk about every cold virus you get being of a different strain, with resistance against said strain developing right after you come out of that cold. Maybe a thousand more bouts before I turn forty, and I could be comfortable for the succeeding years. Just goes to show how many viruses there are out, er, there.

No cold, however, trumps nocturnity.

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Been living off whatever profits from small toy sales for the past week or so, just to support my collecting habits and frequent trips around the metro. Not bad, considering some pieces of my collection are literally gathering dust, and could use new owners. Funny when I think about how toys more or less paid for my last few dates. Oh well, time, as well as the things you use it on and the corresponding memories that result, is a currency in its own right too.

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Went to the first job interview I’ve had in a while (three years, to be exact) last Wednesday. Feels strange to be on that side of a desk again, trying to justify stuff like strengths and weaknesses in front of somebody who, you hope, is trying to take note of all the significant things you say, and not the fidgety manner you say them in. Spent the rest of the day lounging around at said office, taking in all the gossip and whatnot between the people there, most of whom are friends recently gained.  Work work, as them orcish peons put it.

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Just had to watch Pacific Rim on its first day. Hurriedly got tickets and kind of pressured Angel to be at Trinoma early enough. Thankfully, t’was a movie well worth its wait. I am now even more of a Guillermo del Toro fan than ever. Angel and I are considering watching it again on 3D, as it looks like a flick that would benefit a lot from that sort of treatment.

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Joined the family to visit the funeral of a great-aunt a few hours ago. Everything was solemn and slightly depressing, in the way funerals are. Reminds me of my lolo’s funeral, which lola planned to be more like than a party than anything else, with good food and hearty conversation, punctuated with more laughs than the chapel behind Mt. Carmel Church’s walls would ever hear again. That is, of course, unless lola decides to have her own funeral there as well. Don’t worry, my lola’s waaay more candid than I am when talking about death, she’d probably even be amused with this if she could read it.

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Reading some of my old posts on this blog, and wondering where and when I lost my nerve to write, where and when I lost that stream of words that would, at the right time, come tumbling forth into some crazy revelation, put into prose or verse. It has been too long.

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Trying to make it a habit to purge these stray thoughts at least once a week. At the very least, it could get me back into my old habit. Still haven’t gone back to my old pen-and-paper days though, that will take even more time.

In the meantime: bum-bum-bum-buuuuuuum (or, to quote my cousin: funemployed)

wandering aloud

Visited the school where I used to teach last Wednesday, because it was celebrating its 21st, and heck, I was bored. Also had a few good, long talks with some of the people who stayed there after I left, which I learned a lot from. For instance:

– There is a line between being a rockstar of a teacher and being a plain old jerk of a person. It is, however, not a fine one, and is usually only crossed after it is noticed repeatedly. Biggest factor to consider is when somebody’s “nocturnal amusements,” to quote ye olde Revised Penal Code, begin becoming detrimental to the welfare of one’s students.

– Apparently, the methods of teaching used in law school have long been criticized by those in the field of education. Makes a lot of sense really, since the trend in education has long been to cater to the needs of students in order to arm them with what they need in a certain field to survive in the outside world, not some ego-fueled, wishy-washy fiasco of a class. I mean come on, the real reason why the Socratic Method worked in the first place was because it allowed people to explore ideas which came from them as well, not only those from something they were required to read and comprehend in a certain way, one which they would not be informed of until their grades came. Plus, Socrates never needed to grade students.

– K-12 is a bit of a bitch, since you’re on the edge of tempting people to not pursue a college degree. People still need a diploma to get anywhere in life, barring the occasional exception. I mean, come on, not everybody is a Bill Gates or a John Steinbeck.

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Saturday was a geek milestone: got to travel from QC to Tagaytay just to visit a fellow Lego collector and his collection. Makes me wonder where I’d be as a collector now if I kept all the sets we used to play with when we were kids in tip-top condition. That, and if I had started collecting with Lego instead of with Magic, Transformers and other action figures. And no, the trip to Baguio from Antipolo waaay back when for L5R Kotei (Nationals) doesn’t really count for me for some reason.

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Am almost halfway done with going through A Storm of Swords alongside watching it in TV series form. Unlike the first two books and seasons, this latter is starting to deviate heavily from the former, which I do not really appreciate. The dialogue is still very faithful to the books, yes, but mixing up characters and all might give the series’ producers some pretty big loopholes to fill in the future.

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I am starting to enjoy being a bum. This is dangerous.