Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk (Kalabasa at Sitaw sa Gata)

ivoryhut Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk

Lately I’ve been on a Filipino food kick. Perhaps it’s because I’d grown weary of this overstaying winter (though today was beautiful and warm). Or perhaps because some of the best comfort food is the food you grew up eating. The food of my home makes me think of my grandmother, the sound of a tropical breeze rustling coconut leaves, and Sunday afternoons playing in the sun with my cousins.

(Then I remember the time we played hide-and-go-seek outside in the middle of the night and no one came to look for me for half an hour. That part? Not so comforting.)

Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk (Kalabasa at Sitaw sa Gata in Filipino) is one of my favorite Filipino vegetable dishes. It’s not truly vegetarian, though you can easily make it so. Traditionally, we flavor this dish with tiny shrimp and ground or diced pork. I had neither, so this is my simple, adapted version. In place of shrimp, I used fish sauce; for the ground pork, I used my home-cured bacon.

For Japan with Love

In this evening’s news, I watched a clip of an elderly couple walking through the rubble left behind by the tsunami. They were searching for their son, who worked at the post office. They found the building in ruins. The camera pulled back to show the mother, in tears. The father stood in front of the building and began shouting his son’s name. Only silence met him. Not even an echo of his own voice. He shouted again and you could hear the desperation in his voice, knowing that there was little chance his son would shout back, but compelled to keep calling out. Finally, standing outside the desolate post office building where the water had reached all the way to the roof, the final resignation: “It’s over.”

It was heartbreaking.

I know what it’s like to lose everything you have overnight. But I was fortunate. The gloom of that night eventually gave way to the light of the next morning, and I still had my family with me. We had friends who gave us a place to stay, we had food to eat, and an outpouring of support from so many people—all of you—that I still wake up every morning telling myself I need to find a way to thank each and every one of you.

Many people in Japan are not as fortunate. Many have no electricity, water, food, shelter … it’s cold, and many have lost their families. And now, I have a chance to join other bloggers in doing something—anything within our power—to help the survivors. We have a chance to help.

Making Busy Nights Special (A Stouffer’s Review and $100 Giveaway from BlogHer!)

This is a sponsored review from BlogHer and Stouffer’s.

Tom and I are simple folk. I can’t recall the last time we planned a candlelit dinner. (I suspect it will be a while before we light any candles.) We rarely eat out, for which I am grateful because at the end of a long day, I’m really not in the mood to get all gussied up to drive to a restaurant. Besides, I don’t even know how to gussy up. It’s a wonder I even know what the phrase means.

Home-cured Bacon

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

Ever since Michael Ruhlman wrote about home-cured bacon, I’d been wanting to take a crack at it. As a dutiful Filipino, I’m no stranger to pork belly. We slice it thick and grill it, cut it into large cubes and make adobo or sinigang (a tamarind-flavored soup, the Filipino version of tom yum), or we dice it up and serve it with fried tofu cubes and a soy-vinegar-garlic dipping sauce.

Filipinos love pork. Don’t even get me started on sisig, which takes the pork love to a whole different level.

Words and Sound

Ivoryhut Maui sunset behind clouds

There are few things that can make me just sit still, or instantly transport me to a different time and place: the cry of a plaintive violin, a lingering sunset, the warm nuzzle of Pacific waters, music that gives heartache such enviable beauty. And poetry—the kind that cuts right through, needing no excess of words to drown its sentiment, letting you fill the necessary spaces with your own voice.

When a poem is so masterfully written, hearing it read aloud is often a hit-or-miss affair. When it misses, it’s almost painful to hear. But when it hits, oh, what new life it gives to those familiar words.

about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

If you want to learn more about me, here are 43 things I'd like to do. Here's a little something about my name, in case you were wondering. Here are some other places you'll find me:

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One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.

I'm proud to belong to an amazing community of Filipino food lovers. Together, we celebrate this often-neglected Asian cuisine, sharing our family's treasured recipes and discovering new ones along the way. This is our club.
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