Cravings, Emotions and Filipino Food

Halo-halo

When you have cravings, there are emotions attached to it.

Suddenly craving for an ice cream? Everything fell into place and you want to celebrate!

rainbow ice cream
Happy eating!

Dying to eat chocolate? You just want to shove the piece in your mouth because you are upset.

chocolate waffle
Looks delicious… yes it is.

Angry at someone? You see yourself getting the potato chips in your pantry because you want to release stress.

Feeling bored? There is a bottle of wine somewhere…

There are various reasons why we crave a particular food or drink. I will not discuss alcoholic drinks, coffee or soft drinks.

I want to focus more on FOOD.

CAKE – This is always present on special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s day and other special days. In spite of that, when you feel you are an actor in a drama series, the cake is one of the options for stress eating. I could already hear the song “All By Myself”.

ube cake
So happy to see you!

There was one night when I craved for Ube Cake. It is a purple yam cake with macapuno (coconut sport)  in it. Oh, it was one of those nights I couldn’t do anything about it! I do not know how to bake it or if the ingredients are available at the Asian store. I only see it when a talented guest shares this treat in the party.

ICE CREAM – There is something about ice cream that makes you want to eat more. I couldn’t sleep one night and went to the freezer to get two scoops of Rocky Road ice cream. I asked myself, WHY AM I DOING THIS? My mind didn’t even bother to answer and just gave in to temptation.

rocky road ice cream
Eating ice cream with family and another one for midnight snack

What is your tempting ice cream treat? Vanilla? Strawberry? Chocolate? Special flavors like pistachio ice cream perhaps? It even tastes better with an ice cream cone, just like the good old days of childhood. Yum.

CHICKEN – There are two types of chicken I CRAVE: Chickenjoy from the Filipino fast-food chain JOLLIBEE and the spicy chicken from KFC. At the moment, I could not eat chickenjoy here in Australia because it does not have a  Jollibee branch yet. However, I see myself most Tuesdays falling in line at a KFC branch ordering the Cheap Tuesday option.

three boys with Jollibee
We miss you Jollibee especially your chickenjoy.

CHOCOLATE – This is my weakness, is it yours too? There are days I do not even look for it in the pantry or not even eat it for days even if it is just within my grasp. When the craving starts, as if I am a little child coming back to the pantry eating a part bit by bit.

MEAT: BEEF? PORK?  MUTTON? This is not much of a craving for me but other people are craving for these. Do you want it grilled or barbecued? Fried? Baked? Stewed? Eat the jiggly  fats that come with it? Mmmmm…

LECHON
Lechon, where art thou lechon?

POTATO CHIPS – You are not much of a fan of sweet food but you suddenly get uneasy when you crave for something SALTY. Disgust fills your mind when you open the cupboards or the pantry without potato chips. You promised yourself in the grocery store that you will start a healthy life by not buying potato chips. You breathe in and breathe out and close the pantry.

Boy Bawang Cornick
We travel for half an hour just to get one of these!

Stop it. Hold it. I could go on and on with the other food cravings. Don’t make me start with pizza. Let’s go a bit deeper with this. Something familiar.

Furthermore, there is another cause why we desire a particular food: HOMESICKNESS.

–  It was part of your childhood.

–  Father or mother used to cook it for you.

– You associate it with a friend back then.

– It is the food that you devoured during a special occasion in the past.

– Foodstuff that reminds you of home miles and miles away.

Good for you if you can buy it in the shops or the ingredients are available and you can cook it from scratch. Other times, you just have to grin and bear it. Wait for the chance to visit your country of origin and eat it all you want until you can’t take it anymore.

Here are the  Filipino foods that I craved once or twice or more.

Taho – I grew up eating this for breakfast during my childhood years. It is made up of soft tofu with caramel and sago pearls.  Most of the time, the peddler shouted TAHOin front of our house so I asked my grandmother to buy some for me. The answer was always yes. *grinning*

I ate this in front of the house with my childhood friend who was still wearing her pajamas. We didn’t even wash our faces or combed our hair but we were already outside eating taho for breakfast.

Taho
One TAHO for me and one for you

Philippine Mangoes – I already ate different types of mangoes but my heart still craves for Philippine mangoes. Maybe, it is the taste I grew up with or the special memories associated while eating it. Looking back, I always ate mangoes with my loved ones.

Philippine mangoes
I want to eat you all!

Lumpiang sariwa / Fresh spring rolls – The fresh spring rolls prepared by the experts will make you forget your diet. Different vegetables are wrapped in a soft white wrapper then topping it with sweet sauce and peanuts. The secret here why it is so delicious is the sauce that comes with it

one fresh spring roll
The last fresh spring roll… mmm.

Banana cue – This was my afternoon snack growing up. Deep fried bananaplantains with brown sugar are the best! My friends and I devoured it while drinking coconut juice.

two banana cue
Banana cue, when can I eat you again?

Chicharon/ Pork crackling – Dipping this in vinegar and stopping yourself finish the pack is an effort. Hearing the crunch of the pork crackling in every bite and catching up with friends is a match wherever you are.

chicharon/pork crackling
It takes self-discipline to stop eating this.

Balut – fertilized duck egg. Do I have to say more? It is best to eat it with salt or vinegar. It is not for the faint of heart. Legend has it that even the most adventurous, thrill-seeking food lovers have said NO THANK YOU to this.

Balut
I am challenging you to eat BALUT.

Dinuguan – is pork blood stew. I do not know how to cook this but every time I see it in parties, I always taste it initially. When my son first saw me with this, he exclaimed: “ Mum, you are eating dirty food!”   NO, I AM NOT.

Dinuguan
Dinuguan by Nelia

Pandesal – It is a part of breakfast of every Filipino family. You buy it in a bakery early in the morning then fill it with your favorite peanut butter, margarine or cheese. When I was young, the pandesal was bigger. Nowadays, it became smaller and more expensive.

Hot pandesal for breakfast = good start of the day

Leche flan and polvoron – My mother rarely prepared these special treats so when she did, I was in sweets heaven.Leche flan needs 10 egg yolks, condensed milk and evaporated milk. These ingredients are expensive for simple folks. I controlled myself eating the whole serving so I could eat it for days.

3 leche flan
Party Leche flan… I know you want it.

Polvoron is another one. Mama didn’t bother anymore wrapping the treat. She just put it in a big container and gave me a spoon. How I loved eating polvoronwhile watching my favorite cartoons! Be careful eating it or else you might cough and scatter the powder all over the place.

sweet polvoron
Polvoron (right)

Halo-halo – It is a Filipino dessert with shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweet beans and bananas, jelly, leche flan and other ingredients. Halo-halo becomes special because of the other ingredients you decide to mix.

Example, other people put macapuno (coconut sport)  in it or vanilla ice cream on top or jackfruit. It depends upon the preparation and available ingredients. Delicious!

Halo-halo
HALO-HALO: Mix all the ingredients then eat.

Kakanin – Filipino delicacies or rice treats

To prepare these treats, patience is needed because there is a lot of mixing involved. I am still a work in progress in cooking. The last time I made one, it got burnt. I rather eat the food prepared by someone who knows what they are doing. If you are interested to cook Filipino kakanin then here is the website for you.  Click here.

KAKANIN/ RICE CAKES
Examples of KAKANIN/RICE CAKES
sapin-sapin
Sapin-sapin: layer upon layer of sweet sticky food
colorful puto
Colorful puto by Joselito

Tamales or Bobotu to Kapampangans- There is the feeling of anticipation every time I remove the banana leaf wrapper from the tamales. Will the tamales be huge like the wrapper or is it small? My father loves tamales and I love it too.

Tamales wrapped in banana leaves
Surprise! Huge tamales in the house!

Street food – OH YESSS. Air pollution from the public vehicles didn’t stop me from eating street food. I only ate siomai (dim sum dumplings) and quail eggs. I was not adventurous enough to eat the grilled organs of the pig.

street food on a stick
Street food on a stick. Yum!

Pancit Malabon –  Savory noodles with toppings like smoked fish, eggs and sea food ( shrimp, oysters, mussels)

Pancit Malabon
A plate of this and you are good to go!

Reno – It is a canned good of liver spread. Yes, we do love this and we put it in Caldereta or Beef stew.

Reno, you will always be special.

To sum it up, there will always be a time that you start to crave for something. Sometimes it is okay to give in to the temptation. Just have the discipline to STOP yourself when you know enough is enough.  My enough is when my belt needs to get loose. *giggling*

A friend once  told me ”  JUST BUY A BIGGER T-SHIRT  if you don’t fit in it anymore.” Funny yes. In the long run, it will not be.

There you have it, folks. At the moment, I am craving for BALUT.  How about you? What are you craving for?

10 Advantages of Having a Mums’ Night Out

shadows of three women

The definitions of mums’ night out for me are the following:

⁃ going out on a Friday night with other mums in a restaurant that will offer excellent food and service while chatting to your heart’s content then go to one of the mum’s home  for wine or coffee until late night or

⁃going out on a Friday night to one of the mum’s place with a share of food or wine, then conversing late at night while  the responsible dad takes good care of the family while mum is out or hosting

The reason Friday is the best one is that even if you come home late, you still have Saturday to do the rest of the household chores and catch up with the needed rest and sleep! You still have Sunday for family time, grocery shopping and homework if there are project materials that have to be purchased.

Photo by Yutacar

glasses of wine
Let’s drink to that!

Furthermore, the mum that will drive the rest of the group will have to make the ultimate sacrifice (for some) …drinks only one shot or stay sober for the rest of the night. We are two in the group alternating this task but she does more of the driving. It is not a big deal really because we are not into drinking and the company of the mums is what we are after. We love them so much.

So here are my 10 advantages of having a mums’ night out. Better start organizing your own because YOU DESERVE IT, my friend.

  1. You can eat food that you don’t usually get to cook or prepare.

As a mum, you get tired of the usual food you prepare daily.  Your family or other people may appreciate your meals but as a mum, it is a delight to eat other people’s cooking for a change. You are dressed up for the night and ready to try a cuisine with friends.

If all the mums were happy with the food and service then it is a guarantee that they will recommend it to friends and family. They may even go back to the same diner with their family next time. Happy and satisfied mums can spread excellent feedbacks like wild-fire when they had a wonderful night out in a particular restaurant.

Photo by Paula Borowska

oysters
Eating what I don’t prepare at home
  1. Knowledge of alcohol is enhanced.

Before, I do not have the slightest idea about the different alcoholic drinks. When mums’ night out started way back in 2013, I got the chance to try various beverages from red wine, white wine, vodka, gin and cider.  It took me just a couple of sips then stop. I do not like it. Really, you might think. Yes, really.

Alanis Morissette’s song Ironic has lyrics  There’s a black fly in my Chardonnay. I got excited to try it but I didn’t like it as well. Recently, we do not drink as much as we used to. As a mum, it is a must to think of good health long-term.

  1. Friendship is strengthened.

If there is family bonding time, there is also connecting time with friends. Household chores will always be around 24/7 but your friends may not. It is easy to say no to an invitation because there are cleaning tasks, monotonous errands or even a job requirement that demands your attention.

Looking back, I don’t regret leaving the clothes that required ironing or the messy rooms that needed organizing. I appreciate the belly laughs and tears of joy about silly things with the mums.  They have your back because they made time to see you. You are not alone in the struggle.

Photo by Levi Guzman

shadows of three women
Vacuuming is better than this! Hell… no
  1. It is a FREE outlet of unexpressed emotions, insecurities, doubts and all the issues mums deal with.

As a mum, it is normal to feel confused and overwhelmed. The responsibilities and decision-making both at home and work result in STRESS. When the plan goes awry, sometimes there are things you can say to your friends but not to your spouse. The spouse may interpret it differently. Here are the close friends to save the day. After the release of all the fears stuck in your head, it felt good because the burden became light.

There is a note of warning to this. Be careful whom you trust.  Some can be good listeners and may even give good advice throughout your discussion. After you spill your guts out, the world will know your dirty secrets in minutes.

Photo by Rob Potter

diving airplane
May Day!May Day! My reputation is going down!

My point is trustworthy friends are treasures here on earth because they will not judge. They will accept you for who you really are, no pretensions. True friends will genuinely care about your well-being and will help you.

Moreover, they have the capacity to keep secrets no matter what. Close friends can be mums like you because they know what you are going through first hand. They will say in your face things YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR. Ouch. Don’t be too sensitive about it. YOU COULD BE IN DENIAL FOR SO LONG.

  1. IT FEELS GOOD but preparation is important.

Isn’t it exciting when the mums’ night out is set?  Anything goes during conversations. It is an opportunity to unwind and enjoy the moment.  Because the night out is scheduled mostly Fridays, we tend to prepare EVERYTHING beforehand like the dinner of the family.

Do not forget to comfort the youngest child with the idea that mum will come back and she is just out with friends. The spouse should be well-informed like sleeping routines of the children and your whereabouts.

One good tip is NOT TO PROMISE the time you are going home.  As long as he receives texts that you are okay, it’s good. Keep the phone near if your spouse calls or texts you about urgent matters. The first mums’ night out will be a lesson learned but the following ones will get better.

Photo by Adi Goldstein

man lying in bed
So tired with the chores… Thank God the dads night out will be next week!

Alternatively, it could be the dads turn to have a night out in one of the dad’s home. You are just being fair. If it becomes a part of your social activity every year then you started a tradition that makes everyone feel good.

  1. You can get advice or another point of view.

An issue has nagged you for weeks. You blurted it out to the group and asked for an advice. Your close circle of friends will have a say on the matter and it is up to you to filter which ones will make sense.

All of you mums could be crying during the night out because the subject is upsetting. Occasionally,  there are breakthrough solutions for the troubled mum. All it took was a night out and she got an answer to a pressing matter.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Laughing woman
Hahaha! Why didn’t I think of that?

At times, a way will be made because the person you are talking to know someone who can help. Furthermore, your friend might say a keyword that will give you an idea. Finally, you can customize the choice you have made based on their ideas and yours. Listening to another mum about your issue wakes you up to a realization that “Hey, it is not a big deal after all. I need to relax. I can handle this.”

  1. You learn information mostly based from experience.

When the boys were younger, they always called me while I was driving.

Example:  Son: Mummy.

Me: Yes?

Son: Mummy… Mummy…Mummy… Mummy..

Me:  What? One mummy is enough… What do you want?

Son: I just saw a flying bird.

Seriously? There was a minimum of 5 mummy words before they told me what they had to say. I told them repeatedly that 1 mummy is enough.I told the mums about it one night out because it was driving me crazy! It turned out that I was not alone. Their children too even teenagers called them multiple times before saying their topic. HA! I thought I was the only one suffering from this. I rest my case.

In addition, information is available on the internet but if the data are proven with experience, then I try those tested methods first. You can learn a lot of general facts from mums’ night out. It could be about:

  • Raising children

Example:  As parents, do not contradict each other in front of the children. It results in confusion.

  • Recipes

Example: The secret is to add sugar. It makes the dish tasty. That’s the reason why.

  • Personal development

Example: The mum informed the group about a seminar about handling your finances.

  • Epic mistakes worth sharing (I don’t want that to happen to me!)

Example:  Read the fine print.

  • Sale, discounts and free stuff

Example: Hey! The rice is half-price this week.

  • Relationships

Example: Don’t forget your spouse. He needs your attention too. Experiment.

 

  1. It maintains your sanity.

One time my son was talking to me about his classmate in school. I know I could hear him but the words don’t register in my mind. I was so absorbed with my own thoughts that my son finally exclaimed, “Mum, you are not listening!”

I answered him with a weary and confused “What?” He gave a heavy sigh then continued his story. I captured random words: YouTube, handball, lunch and the word hungry. On the contrary, the keywords that wake me up no matter what are:  homework, submit, buy and problem.

Photo by Aaron Andary

bulldog
I can get through THIS!

When the day becomes like this, it is time to unwind and have a mums’ night out. You are tired, stressed, sleepy and cranky. After a night out with the mums, you are ready to face the world again invigorated. It took you out of your rut.

 

  1. It is one way of taking good care of yourself.

Resentment emerges when you have to sacrifice most of the time. I know you love your family but sometimes the duty that comes with it makes you sick. Going out with other mums reminds you that it is okay to treat oneself once in a while because you love yourself too. The well-being of the mum affects the overall mood of the household. The family is not anxious because they notice that mum is cheerful and not snapping everyone’s heads off.

 Photo by Krista McPhee

relax
Do not forget it.
  1. You create memories to reminisce that will make you giggle in your lifetime.

I have a friend in the group who has her smart phone ready for documentation. The selfies she was able to capture were really good. Also, we always ask the service staff to take our photos. Most of the pictures ended up posted on Facebook while the rest are not for public consumption.

There are three memories that stand out among all the mums’ night outs:

  1. We saw an adorable baby koala passing by across the road. The driver stopped the car and we just gushed how cute the koala was. The koala successfully crossed the road.
  2. We went on a road trip after eating at a restaurant. One mum recorded our non-stop laughter in the car. In the end,  we ordered chocolate loaded sundaes at Mcdonald’s just because we wanted to.
  3. When one mum was experiencing a difficult time and all the mums set up a night-out just to be with that worried mum for encouragement and support. You will schedule a time for people you love.

Photo by Joanne Turner

2 seals lying on ice
I can’t take it anymore!
I feel you friend.

 

There you have it. Mums’ night outs are the best! Our way may be different from yours but we definitely get lots of benefits from it.  I hope you will find time to organize one because it is FABULOUS.

 

Multicultural Dinner at Alexandra Hills (Redlands): A Mouth-watering Experience

LECHON

One of the things that get me excited is FREE FOOD!I have been eating free food every year since 2011.  It all started 26th February 2011 at the hall of St. Anthony’s Catholic Parish. The parish priest Father Emmanuel Aguiyi and parishioners started to organize a multicultural dinner.

It created an opportunity for all the church goers and their friends to cook and introduce their national dish for all the attendees to try. It was a huge success and it became a part of the social activity of the parish every year.

two cute boys attending a Multicultural Dinner
First Multicultural Dinner
26 February 2011

Recently, my friends and I attended the multicultural dinner that was held at the Hall of  St. Anthony’s Catholic Primary School. More than 20 flags of different countries were represented.

multicultural dinner invitation
Facebook page of the parish

As usual, the wait was killing me because I was so excited to taste what the participants had to offer! I am a food lover at heart. My share for the night was pastillas de leche.

daysofmum.com pastillas photo
my sweet pastillas ( Philippines )

I asked for permission from the early comers to take a photo of the food they brought. Some brought a savory dish while others chose sweets. My apologies for not being able to take photos of ALL the food.  I was busy tasting and coming back for seconds to the food I discovered to be really good! Sad to say, the other dishes I wanted to try were gone in minutes because they were a huge hit! I hope next time, I will have the chance to eat it!

In no particular order, here are the photos of the diverse cuisine I took before I started stuffing my mouth with food I cannot even spell or pronounce.

Maltese Bread Pudding
Maltese Bread Pudding ( Malta) 

According to Sylvia, Maltese Bread Pudding is a mixture of bread, eggs,  flour, butter, nuts and other ingredients.

Chicken Rendang
Chicken Rendang ( Malaysia)

According to Felicia, Chicken Rendang is chicken with coconut milk, toasted desiccated coconut and a paste of mixed spices ( ginger, galangal, turmeric leaves, lemon grass, garlic and shallots).

Pastiso
Pastitsio ( Greece)

According to Anna, Pastitsio‘s main ingredients are macaroni, minced meat and white sauce.

Tiramisu
Tiramisu ( Italy)

According to Annita, Tiramisu has cream and cake in it. It is alcohol and coffee flavored.

Sri Lankan cuisine
Sri Lankan cuisine

According to Jennifer, she prepared Vegetable rice, Spicy Yellow rice ( right) and Chicken curry.

Indian food
Indian food

The food nearest to the flag is Mutton Gravy ( Goat meat ) while the food with eggs on top is Biryani.

Here are the other photos.  I could not comment on the food because either the person that made it was not available to be interviewed or the program was about to start.

Pavlova
Pavlova and other sweets ( Australia)
Muesli ( Australia)
 Gyoza - Japanese dumplings
Gyoza ( Japan)
sweet food from Brazil ( don’t know the name )
dessert from Portugal
chocolate dessert ( Portugal)

Furthermore, my friends are excellent cooks! Here are the photos of the Filipino cuisine.  The church goers’ table representing the Philippines was loaded with food you definitely want to try. Believe me. I wasn’t able to take a photo of ADOBO but it was a hit as well.

The food that many people took photos of is LECHON… ( roasted pig )

LECHON
Lechon ( Philippines ) by Eddie
Pork Barbecue by Nikki
Sisig by Ronald ( almost gone )
Pan de Coco by Gina
Dinuguan
Dinuguan by Nelia
Puto by Fernan ( The partner of Puto is Dinuguan.)
Maja Blanca
Maja Blanca by Dulce
Pork and Prawn Spring Rolls by Pete

I just want to make something clear about the multicultural dinner. It is not a guarantee that the food you see in this blog will be served each year.

Every year, the cooks prepare a different dish. Similarly, one family could be absent. We will miss their presence and their mouth-watering dish.  I prepared pastillas this year because one of the ingredients of cassava cake (my share for many years ) was out of stock.

Everybody had a marvelous time. It was a chance to catch up with friends while dining. Moreover, there was entertainment after the feast. There were live performances from theatre-like singing to cultural dances, singing in their own language to guitar playing. I was able to capture only 3 performances. I needed to drink tea and get some fresh air outside. Inhale.. Exhale…

singing teens
impressive voices
cultural dance
cultural dance
Filipino girls singing
singing Filipino and English songs 

The event was well-attended. Kudos to the organizers of the multicultural dinner! Thank you to all the participants that brought delicious food.

Also, thank you to all that helped set up the hall before hand and the clean-up after the dinner.

Please do not be absent next year. Share your national dish with us. Everyone is welcome.

lady with lechon
See you next year!