Thursday, December 31, 2009

Following tradition

Day one of the new year/decade, I shall follow a family tradition that was burned into the nuggets of my brain cells: be out of the house, travel, and the year that follows will be full of travel. Or at least spent out of the house. I'll be on the bus for a couple of hours, then on a plane to the frozen north. By evening, I shall be cavorting with friends, and spend two more days in the wintery capital, before heading back for more work and sober reflection.

Tonight, not much happening around these parts. Not a whisper of firecrackers popping, no feasts laid out, no champagne to guzzle. If there was a place to consider the past year, and lay plans for the future, this is it. Zero distractions. Instead, I think I shall make some strawberries with mint and vanilla and watch some Monty Python. Silliness is good for the soul.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The girl in my life

Gabi is not too far from my mind, but she is at my parent's home. Ebi, no longer the puppy, is also there, domiciled and giving my mom some needed pet love. I wasn't expecting to take on another pet while in China, but the opportunity arose, and I have a new feline in my life, a kitten, calico, and I've named her Loopi. She is probably the first kitten I've raised in over 20 years, so her playfulness, her acquiescence to my moments of overwhelming need to cuddle her, her demanding mews, her high spirited antics, her never ending motor of a purr, her dog like devotion which includes sitting between my feet when I'm on the throne (er, does she not understand the need for privacy in those moments? How would she feel if I bothered her while she was eliminating?), and her tiny warmth on these cold nights, how wonderful it is, how exasperating, how sweet and loving (or is that just me, anthropomorphic as ever?).
She is fearless, lets me rub any part of her body, rarely attempts to squirm away, and enjoys giving me love nips. I feel bad leaving her all alone so much of the time, but she hasn't started acting neurotic. On Christmas, I had four guests over for a long brunch and she ended up playing with everyone. A kitten definitely makes for easy conversation starters.
May she live long, purring her way through a good life.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tableas, Nutella and sticky rice = champorado in China

Christmas is a week and a half away, it won't be much of a celebration over on this side of the Pacific, but we're going to make the students do a song and a dance and a play at some celebration outside of school, and then I'm going to go home to cook up some champorado for the other Filipino teacher, perhaps invite the other teachers to come along too. I did a bit of online research to make sure I got a decent recipe, and have improvised with the materials I found in several local stores. The amazing find was tableas, straight from the grinding stones of La Resurreccion in Binondo! I've made several cups of tsokolate eh (or ah), and am ready to make some chocolate goodness for a few guests. The one addition I've made is putting a dollop of nutella into each bowl before ladling some of the chocolate rice pudding in, since I've found that makes for an extra layer of chocolate-ness.

Champorado with Nutella:

1/2 cup of sticky rice
1/2 cup of short grain rice
whole milk (3 cups)
5 to 6 tableas, preferably grated or chopped into small pieces as they dissolved faster
sugar and evaporated milk to taste

Add the rice, the milk and the grated tablea chocolates in a pot over medium-low heat. Stir constantly. It takes about 20 minutes to get the rice tender. Put one tablespoon of Nutella in a cup or bowl, ladle the rice pudding into the bowl and serve with evapoated milk. Add sugar if needed.

Along with the champorado, I plan to serve some fresh strawberries (they're in season now), bread, cheeses, and a selection of jams. A student gave several of us a lot of good tea, but my only resort for coffee might be the instant stuff. Or I'll just make them drink tsokolate eh. A double dose of chocolate never killed anyone I think!

Pike Market Peonies

Pike Market Peonies