Tuesday, October 24, 2006

circle of life

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
At any given day I would be in my room tucked in my bed either with a good pocketbook or an ever-so-constantly updated medical book. But today, this past week, or these past months is not like any given day. Remember the saying that goes "ang di marunong tumingin sa pinanggalingan ay di marunong makarating sa paroroonan". Well, I did just that and went back to my roots. If someone among the Dicang-Oyam clan would host a get-together, my mom would be the center of it all. For as long as I remember, she has been the one people go to in any occassion or for whatever purpose they might have. More or less, I've known their faces or names but pairing those up would be difficult for me. The past months are no more than a downhill or an uphill, it would be more of a very rocky road. The past months were more of an awakening for me of where I stood, of what I stood for. You see, I've spent most of my life ensconed in "my life". I've never bothered for the things that went on within my relatives. And one event of life ocurring twice would be an eye-opener for me, that my concerns in life does not just include me or my family but also to my other relatives as well. This year was a full year. At this age, I do have an apo, not really a direct one, but well being simplistic and all, I really do have an apo. Giving birth, living life, arriving the end of the road. A complete circle. A closure in a sense.

fragile: handle with care

You may have heard of a person's second childhood in the lectures or around the hospital or maybe even in the T.V. I have heard of it, but never really have listened. A few days ago, I've seen my Grandma stripped of the personality she's been tagged with all of her life. In a mere fraction of a day, I've seen her go from an old lady whose presence commanded respect and voice toned with authority to a person so serene and so innocent. Her life riddled by paranioa was now erased by her new and authentic smile. But the going gets tough, in the hours that followed, with determination she fought off her sleep afraid of not waking up again... dozing off once in a while then checking if me and my mom were still beside her.The past that she has kept now visited her intervalled with lucid minutes. She continues to gaze into the distant past with glazed eyes and once in a while staring at people only she could see. She's gone from the picky eater to eating whatever was served. She, my lola, was the one who took care of me in my infant years. She took care of her many "apos" and in turn her "apos" are now beside her.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

the list

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I've promised myself that I would log-in to the internet at midnight... well at least I can assure that I would be able to see THE LIST and not wait for the posting of it. But then, very like the other things I've promised myself, here I am waiting for the results of the medical boards. Waiting is very much part of the medical field that often times I loath it. :) Specially when you are so used do doing something and having your days planned and filled with so many things to do. Specially when you are waiting for a list that seemingly would sentence you for life. then after all the waiting... what now? I think I'll leave that to "que sera sera".

Friday, August 4, 2006

lola's leche flan

Friday, August 4, 2006
I don't remember my grandma cooking leche flan, all I've remembered from her being in the kitchen is either cooking up a batch of potatoes (which she obtained by sacks!!!). It cost around 20 pesos per sack before. From salad to mashed to fried to whateever concoction, you name it, we lived on potatoes for a whole summer and still a lot to give away. Going back to leche flan, those who still can remember was that my lola would make leche flan back then for a living. So, being in a period of reminiscing, I looked up tons and tons of recipes of leche flan, read and asked for tips about making leche flan.
A good leche flan for me would be smooth, not too sweet, with a tinge of lemony flavor, not eggy, not bubbly, not too much caramel. I've liked the caramel running down the sides not the ones concentrated on the top, not too sweet to cover the lemony-vanilla flavor of the flan. I tried to skip the caramel, but then decided to experiment on it. So I came up with this recipe. not too sweet yet sinful to taste.
1 cup of muscovado sugar
12 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp of lemon flavoring (I didn't have lemon zest then)
2 tsp of vanilla flavoring
3 cups of fresh milk
I started to caramelize the muscovado sugar in medium heat, but then my dilemma was when it would caramelize, and since I was a beginner and didn't wan't to have a bitter caramel, decided to add water bit by bit until I attained the consistency I wanted. Quickly poured the caramel to the pans (I used the traditional oval flan pans) covered the bottom and sides and placed the pans into the refrigerator to cool.
Next the flan, I gently mixed, take note GENTLY, the remaining ingredients together. I didn't beat the eggs, which others would do initially. I just used a large spoon and mixed and mixed and mixed and mixed until the milk coulldn't be singled out and the sugar was dissolved. At this point, there was still discernible egg whites in the mixture. So strain I did do remove the solids and some of the egg whites. Pour the mixture in the caramelized flans
As far as I've read you can make the leche flan by baking or steaming. So since a day before I was making this I made a terrible disaster in the oven, steam it was. I proceeded to cover the pans with aluminum foil to avoid from water dripping into my experiment. Steamed for 25 or so minutes. I didn't know if it was ignorance or not but I used as toothpick to check, and it came out clean. Careful not to overcook the flan, I immediately took the flans out of the heat.
The verdict? The one's my aunt took didn't last for the day and at home, even my egg-avoiding grandma decided to end her vigil.

deep seated memories

I’ve been reading old copies of Reader’s Digest lately and this one article was one that had struck a chord. An excerpt from Reader’s Digest December 1970 entitled “The Importance of Childhood Memories” which was condensed from Family Weekly and authored by Norman M. Lobsenz.
“… I have asked many friends to reach into their childhoods and tell me what they recall with greatest clarity. Almost always their mention similar moments – experiences or incidents not of any great importance. Not crises or traumas or triumphs, but things which although small in themselves carry sharp sensations of warmth and joy, or sometimes of pain…. My friend is a man who experiences the world as a busy place but who basically feels all right about it and about himself. His favorite childhood memory is both clue to and cause of his fundamental soundness.”
“Clearly, the power that parents have to shape the memories their children will carry involves an awesome responsibility. In this respect, nothing is trivial. What to a grown-up might seem a casual word or action often is, to a child, the kernel of a significant memory on which he will build. A grownups, we draw on these memories as sources of strength or weakness. Author Willa Cather saw this clearly “there are those early memories,” she wrote.” One cannot get another set; one has only those.”.”

In essence, our parents had the power to build the foundations of our characters, of who we will be. But then as our own selves, we have the choice to change or continue building what has been started for us. True that our earliest childhood memories play an integral part on who we are and how we are to the people around us. But later on we build memories for ourselves and memories for the little ones. As my mother had said and I quote… “there should be improvement of the race”. We learn and we change.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Venture into culinary cuisine

Thursday, August 3, 2006
For as long as i could remember, the menu at home would have a wide variety of viands, be it meat, seafood or veggies. It depends on who cooks (rarely us, as kids), the fresh food at the nearby farm, occasions or whatever else my mom would think of cooking if she had the time. But as genes and aging would have it, my line of family isn't that fortunate. So as I buried myself in books and info on medicine and the likes, my mom too taught herself of the foods that would likely cause the pruritus and inflammation of arthritis, of the sinfully sweet candies and desserts that would spike up the insulin and hence cause the see-saw of glucose of diabetes and the oil-laden and fat clogging properties of food that would bring the heart to a stop. Life too would put a twist into the now minute menu of our family. As development progressed the farms around us would be plowed through and the then soil would be replaced by cement and stones. To place a positive thing into development, it made cooking and baking into the reach of the do-it-yourself population, as the now "instant" world made easy the then boggling recipes. But the most gut and heart wrenching of the twists is the ever changing and ever mysterious appetite of our ever-dearest grandmother. These are a few of the reasons why I brave the culinary world, to experiment and innovate, to cater to my family

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

a kitchen with an amateur is not a recipe for disaster

Wednesday, August 2, 2006
I've been in a hiatus these past 2 months and what more to fuel my boredom is a pantry full of baking ingredients and a very encouraging mom. So armed with recipes and courage to face the formidable oven, I've managed to concoct a few recipes of my own. Well of course, as a child I've loved science. No kidding. Not those scientific, geeky, nerdy things. The part where we get to experiment and bring unknown things together. So where else would I end up with the love of experimenting and food... the kitchen. Much to the dismay of my mom, I wouldnt' budge to her request of taking cooking classes. I kind of thought that being a graduate and all I would be able to follow the recipe right but then since being a wanna-be and all, I didn't discount the fact that even the wheather and science would still influence my baking. That's trial and error then. And we'll see how much error would push me to give up my dream of being a cook/baker.
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