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

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

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. Continue reading Home-cured Bacon

Words and Sound

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 too beautiful for any lens to capture, 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 drowning its sentiment, letting you fill the necessary spaces with your own voice.

When a poem is 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 familiar words. Continue reading Words and Sound

Whiskey Hot Sauce

Growing up, I was a wimp when it came to spice. Oh, I could ingest enough garlic to leave vapor trails and I’d pile the sauteed onions on my bistek Tagalog until you couldn’t see the beef underneath, but if I so much as half-bit into a whole peppercorn, I’d be fanning my mouth and asking for water. I couldn’t even tolerate our local banana catsup that was flavored ever-so-slightly with banana peppers.

A wimp. That’s what I was. Continue reading Whiskey Hot Sauce

Finding my groove

Some weeks ago, I received an email from a lovely lady named Anne. (Yes, I already knew then that she’d be lovely.) She wrote to invite me to spend a day in San Francisco taking photographs of the sights, followed by a 3-hour Lightroom workshop with the amazing Julieanne Kost the following day. Oh, and Adobe was sponsoring the whole thing. She then so kindly remarked that she thought I might need the break. Continue reading Finding my groove

Nutella Chip Cookies with Homemade Nutella Chips

Last week, I innocently tweeted:

Dear Nutella: I really think you should start selling Nutella baking chips. Seriously. They would rock.

I don’t know what made me say that. Maybe because these Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies have been on my mind, and when I went to my cupboard to check if I had chocolate chips, I saw two jars of Nutella sitting right in front of the peanut butter. Or maybe it was simply because I happened to overhear someone else publicly declare their deep and abiding love for that irresistible hazelnut chocolate spread. (That happens a lot.) Continue reading Nutella Chip Cookies with Homemade Nutella Chips

Welcome to the Ivory Hut. No, it is not made of soap.