It’s somewhat ironic that my husband, who is Filipino, loves to cook so much – especially Asian food – and yet he never cooks Filipino food! My mother-in-law makes amazing Filipino food, including pancit, chicken and pork adobo, sinigang, and my absolute favorite, lumpia. Joseph says that he doesn’t cook Filipino food because his mom’s food is so good, it’s just easier to go home for good traditional food.
That changed recently when we pulled Memories of Philippine Kitchens off the bookshelf. It’s a beautiful coffee table style cookbook, filled with mouthwatering photos, touching narratives from Philippine kitchens, and a cultural history of Philippine foods. It’s unfortunate that Filipino food isn’t more popular in the United States, because it’s good! Frankly, I’d take lumpia over a Chinese spring roll any day and my mother-in-law’s version of longaniza (basically chicken or pork sausage in a delicious tangy barbecue-like sauce) is so good I dream about it. It saddens me that most of my friends are completely unfamiliar with these foods because they’re really missing out. You should have seen my parents, sister, and brother-in-law flocking to the kitchen when we brought them food from Joseph’s mom at Christmas.
I love Thai food, but I would gladly sacrifice one of the hundreds of Thai restaurants in Boston for just one Filipino restaurant. Unless you live in California, you’re likely going to have to head to your kitchen and pull out some pots and pans to get some good Philippine food. There’s only one Filipino restaurant in all of New England, and while it’s good, it doesn’t come close to my mother-in-law’s food (and no, I’m not just trying to kiss up). Brooklyn has an outstanding Filipino restaurant, Purple Yam, which is owned by the authors of Memories of Philippine Kitchens, but it’s a little far from Boston to go just for dinner.
True to form, I’ve told you about dessert before dinner. What can I say, I was really excited about that key lime coconut cake! But the dinner definitely held up to the dessert that followed. We didn’t really have any plans for Easter dinner, but wanted something that was easy and celebrated spring. We had planned to make an asparagus and bacon quiche with a goat cheese and strawberry topped salad, but things took a turn when we got to the Whole Foods and saw that Vermont Smoke and Cure had a table set up with a bunch of different samples. We love their pepperoni but had never tried any of their other products. We both tried the ham, took one look at each other, nodded, and I picked out the smallest ham they had while Joseph returned the quiche ingredients that we no longer needed.
I hadn’t even known that ham was a classical Easter dish until about a week ago. I have no real memory of Easter dinner growing up. My Easter memories revolve entirely around the chocolate cake with green coconut grass and peeps that my mom made, and the absolute best Easter egg hunt you could imagine. Our good family friends had a cabin in the Shenandoah’s and we would all head out there for the weekend. After a hearty scrambled egg breakfast, we would venture out into the woods where the “Easter Bunny” (aka our fathers) had hidden eggs. As the youngest, Stanley and I would get a head start before our older sisters raced past us and got all the eggs in the higher branches.
The eggs were a mixture of hard boiled eggs that we had dyed the day before and plastic and metal (yeah, really old school) eggs filled with candy. After we scoured the woods for eggs, we would sit on the floor, decide who had won the biggest loot prize, and commence trading of candy for our favorites. Every year there was a “winner” of the special egg: a plastic egg with a carrot or piece of broccoli in it to the great delight of our mothers. We were considerably less amused. Continue reading
I get so carried away sometimes with finding new recipes and cooking that I forget to actually blog about the things I cook! Case in point, I was on the phone with my sister yesterday and she said that as soon as I’m back on my feet she’d love to see a risotto recipe on Pixelated Crumb. As soon as she said it, I realized that we had in fact made one and had photographed it and everything, but I’d never actually gotten around to posting it. Which is a shame because it’s really good!
When I went back to find the photos, I found several other recipes that I haven’t posted yet. Recipes that are really, really good, but I just forgot that I hadn’t posted yet! The good news for all of you is that I’m laid up recovering from knee surgery, so I have plenty of time to revisit them, starting with the risotto.
As long as I’ve known my sister (i.e. my whole life), she’s been replete with ideas both good and bad. For example, when we were kids she liked to play “chef” and take random ingredients in the small kitchen at our after school program and “cook” (or rather, mix) them and then serve them to poor saps like me. She and her friends would run around exclaiming about their marvelous creations and I only recently learned that, despite her proud exclamations of her masterpieces, she in fact found them as disgusting as I did. And it was such a relief! I mean, we’re talking about ketchup, flour, water, sugar, baking soda, and food coloring. That kind of thing. Yech.
But she does on occasion have really, really good ideas. Such as Apple Day. Here’s what it is in her own words: Continue reading