Monday, July 20, 2009

Hearty Smoked Fish chowder

Nothing beats fresh vegetables when it comes to good cooking. However, chopped, frozen veggies are sometimes practical, especially if you're pressed for time and you just can't be bothered preparing the ingredients--chopping, dicing, slicing, etc.--which is very time-consuming.

This smoked fish chowder was one of those recipes I saw on "Food in a Minute" (a one minute advertorial program to fill gaps between programming), which got me interested. However the recipe required for a packet of ready to cook frozen potatoes, capsicum and onions. Stingy me, would rather use fresh veggies (some of which may come from our garden), rather than buy the more convenient packets of frozen goodies. So I peeled, diced and sliced equal amounts of potatoes, capsicums and onions. Plus, I altered the quantity in the ingredients as the original recipe was meant for 4 - 6 people. I do not like using butter so much, so again, I used substitution--olive oil instead of butter. I'm sorry, I could not tell the difference in taste had I used butter, but there probably isn't much difference.

The picture may not have done justice to the taste of the dish because I took the photo in a rush before dinner, but David and I find it really nice. He asked me to do it again soon.

Hearty Smoked Fish Chowder

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
1 leek, trimmed, rinsed and cut into 1 cm slices
1-2 stalks celery cut into 1 cm slices
1 tbsp flour
1 cup vegetable stock or water
3-4 pieces medium size potatoes
1 piece onion
1/2 cubed red and green capsicum
1 cup frozen sweet corn
250 g smoked fish fillet, skinned and flaked
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped celery leaves
1 cup of milk
1 tsp (optional) grated lemon rind

Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the leek and celery until tender, but not brown. Stir in the flour and cook over a low heat for 1 minute or until frothy.

Gradually stir in the vegetable stock and milk, stirring continuously as the sauce thickens.

Add the cubed potatoes, green and red capsicum and onions. Add sweet corn. Simmer gently stirring regularly until the vegetables are hot and tender

Stir in smoked fish, herbs and lemon rind if using. Season as wished.

This can be divided into four servings for small appetites.

Crispy Vegetable Rolls



After three days my mung bean sprouts were ready for the harvest and for the wok. I don't know why but even after years of making this lumpiang prito, there would always be excitement and a feeling of satisfaction as I look at the pile of just-rolled lumpia on my kitchen table ready for frying and freezing. Moreso, if they were rolled properly and they are in uniform sizes.


Here's how I did them:

Lumpiang Prito
(Vegetable Spring Rolls)

250 gms ground pork
500 gms mung beans sprouts
1 medium size carrot (grated)
1 good size sweet potato (grated)
1/2 small cabbage (shredded)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch (for sealing)
soy sauce to taste
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Vegetable oil for frying

Heat oil in a big enough wok, saute garlic and onion till fragrant. Add ground pork and cook until pork loses its raw color. Add the chicken stock and boil for five minutes. Add the grated sweet potato, carrot and shredded cabbage, Cook till veggies wilt then add the mungbean sprouts. Cook for five minutes more, turning the veggies to make sure they don't go soggy.
Remove from heat when veggies are cooked. Transfer into a colander to cool and drain.

Dissolve cornstarch with a little water, bring to the stovetop and heat, stirring until it thickens. This can be used instead of a beaten egg to seal the spring rolls.

Separate the spring rolls skin and cover with a damp cloth to prevent from drying. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the filling onto the skin about two inches from the bottom corner, then fold it over the filling and roll upwards encasing the filling. Fold in the corners and press down firmly to seal, creating an envelope. Moisten the left and right corners of the skin with the cooked cornstarch and seal. Repeat with the remaining filling and skins.

Using a deep fryer or a deep work, heat the oil until almost smoking and begin frying your lumpiang prito until they turn golden brown.

Drain with paper towel.

Vinegar Dip:

In a small bowl, combine half a cup white vinegar, 4 cloves or more garlic (crushed), half a teaspon ground black pepper and salt to taste.

Enjoy!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mung Beans Sprout



David loves crispy vegetable spring rolls (lumpiang prito) dipped in ketchup. Sometimes, he prefers Mang Tomas Sarsa ng Litson, while I am a vinegar dip (made with white vinegar, lots of crushed garlic, a little salt and black pepper) fanatic. I make lots of these and freeze them in packets of 10 pieces, ready for when he wants something crispy for lunch.

I am quite choosy with the mung bean sprouts I put into my vegetable spring rolls, though. I prefer them when they are just two or three days old--when the beans are still in their 'button' stage and the 'tail' is just about a centimeter long. At this stage, the sprouts have a nutty texture and are more preferable than the fibrous texture of long "tailed' sprouts. So I grow my own to make sure they are in the right stage of growth when I need them.

Mung beans are definitely one of our comfort foods when we long for the warmth of home. Unfortunately, they are high in uric acid and at a certain stage in our lives, we just have to accept that we could no longer indulge in 'ginisang munggo' every Friday. Not to worry though, we can still have 'lumpiang prito' since there other ingredients to it other than mung beans sprouts. With all that uric acid talk, mung beans are still a good source of Vitamins A, B, C and E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Amino Acids.

If you want to start sprouting your own, here is how to do it:

First you have to have a bean sprouter. Mine is made of plastic--round, three layered. The first and second layers are transparent and there are small openings on the side where water drains so the beans are not swimming in water. The third layer catches the water that drips from the first two layers.

If you are like me who prefer more beans than roots: Rinse the beans and drain them every 8 to 12 hours for two to three days.

For long roots: rinsing and draining should be done in 4 to 5 days.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Article in Pampango

Apulung Minutu King Arayat National Park
By Imelda Cruz Wood

"Pagnasan kung tuki ka
Batyawan te itang bunduk ning Alaya
Kareta ding batu manukluwanan kata..."
- Indung Balayan

(Arti Santa Rita,Kapampangan Ku CD)



Nung mipasyal kayu Mt Arayat National Park kening milabasan a pilan bulan, siguru apansinan yu ing makadismaya nang hitsura ngening kasalukuyan. Ing buri ku sanang ikutang, ninu na ing mamalakad king Mt. Arayat National Park?

Apat a beses neng tinuki keng pamanuli ku Pampanga i David. Pero e ke pa aturung magsalitang Tagalog o kaya Kapampangan mu man anya Inglis mu ing balu nang sabyan. At e ne pa ikit ing kabilugan na ning balen kung tibuan. Anya ing tauli ming pamanuli binalak ku talagang maglambat kami Santa Rita, ban kanita apasyal ke kareng lugar a pagmulalan keti Pampanga.

Ing mumuna nang diling buring akit, alang aliawa nune ing bunduk Arayat. Prumeru ya pamung minuli Pilipinas, apansinan na neng David ing bunduk Arayat a mayayakit ketang tiknangan nang matas a hotel king Cubao, Quezon City. Anya ginagad yang sinaling mapa ning Pampanga king National Book Store, Cubao. Karin, ikit na nung makananung miras king San Juan Baño, ing baryong sasakop keng entrance paukyat king Mt Arayat National Park.

December 30, 2008, alas kuwatro na ning gatpanapun inyang miras kami San Juan Baño. Menibat ke Santa Rita, dinalan ya ing sasaken ming karag-karag a jeep king Mexico kaibat Santa Ana bayu miya ikit itang arkong ating makasulat - "Arayat Malaus Ta Pu". Adwa keng pulu katao ketang kilub ning jeep - labing apat a anak a mangalati, edad apat anggang labing apat at anam a makatuwa.

Palub king parke adwa lang arko nung nukarin makasulat ing lagyu "Mt Arayat National Park deng abungaran mi. Muna kung apansinan ing mangabakbak a pintura karetang adwang arko. Tahimik, at alang tao ketang gate a makabuklat. Mapali, malisangan at maalikabok. Misumangid ating adwang tanaman a mengalagas na bulung pauli ning malanging gabun at angin.

Kalagpas ning jeep karetang adwang arko linto la ring apat a kelalakian at metung a babae. E ku ikit nung nukarin la menibat. E la karagulan a katawan detang lalaki. E la mikakandayu edad - siguro atilu keng 30 anyos o mahigit. E marayu keng limang talampakan at limang pulgada ing katas da. Paka-salol lang putut at sinelas a goma. Itang kabud babae, bilugan ya at makuyad ya buwak. Kulang lang metung deng ipan na keng lalam at makasulud yang malutung kamiseta, kule asul a korto maki bulsa king arap at gulut at lawe ku, maskup ya ing salol na. Ating makakuwintas a ID kaya pero balamu e ne buring ipakit malapitan.

Tinakiki la keng jeep ming sasaken. Mipakirutu ku pa inyang bigla na la mung sinalambo keng jeep a sasaken mi - ding atlung lalaki sinabit lang king estribo, itang metung pa keta naman gilid na ning driver at itang kabud babae, sinabit neman ketang passenger side nung nukarin makalukluk ya i David.

"Tsa-beinte pesus balang metung a katao," nganang sinabi ning babae.

"Ali, treinta pesus balang metung!" masiyas nang salabat nitang metung karetang lalaking makasabit king estribo anyang apagmasdan ne i David. Inisip ku iya ing tatalakad lider na ning grupu da.

"Aba, ninung tutu kekayu?" ngakung mengutang, medyo mesora ku king kagarapalan dang asal. Mataram ya paglalawe itang lalaking balamu lider, medyo mipakamakama ku. "Basta, treinta balang metung." Kaibat nang memilang sinabi nang 480 pesus ing bayaran mi. Mayap namu e ya masyadung biyasa keng kuwentahan. Binye ke ing metung a Ninoy at sinabi kung karela ne ing sukling beinte pesus. Pero matsura naku aiisip tungkul karening lalaki.

Menguldas ke ngan kaparada na ning jeep ketang masalilung a gilid na ning parke. Bandang kailli nung nukarin migparada ya ing jeep, ikit ko retang mengalumang kubu-kubuan a ilib. Siguru, manayun la reta anyang bayu lang gawa at marakal a mag-piknik. Ngeni, lupa nung mengapaburen at e na malyaring gamitan. Keng arapan mi, ating metung a swimming pool nung nukarin atin limang anak a mangalati magtampiso keng danum.

Manibat king kagulutan mi, atin pang adwang lalaking dinatang. Maibug kung mapuput anyang palibutan da kaming miyasawa. Pamilitan da keng mukyat karetang eran a matas. "Karin akit yu ing malagung view na ning bunduk. Ala kong akit keni lalam," nganang sinabi nitang lalaking lider da kabang makalawe la mu reng aliwa. Malangi ing tonu nang magsalita. Balamu utusan na kami pang tuki keng buri nang malyari. "Tara na! Dakal ko pa akwang letratu karin," ngana pa nitang metong anyang apansinan ne ing kamerang dadala ng David.

Miglalawe ku ketang direksiyon a tuturu da. Mangalabung la at mangatas ding tanaman dutung a ikit ku keng misusumangid na nitang eran. Masukal at madalumdum. Menalakad ku buwak kayagnan na ning aisip kung matsurang eksena. Aganaka ku pa ing ababasa ku keng diyaryo keng internet, deng miyaliwang tau pangidnapan da at patubus maragul a pera. Makananu nung mabisa ke ping manik? Makananu nung marok la palang tau rening kasabi mi? Makananu nung atyu na kami ketang babo, kaibat bigla rang sinabing "e ke malyaring magbaba anggang eke mamiye maragul a pera?" Mengilabut ku. Telanan keng masalese i David, pota bigla reng abitan. Pero lalu kung mengilabot anyang aisip ko reng anak. Agyaman dakal kami karela, puro no man anak a mangalati reng abe mi, makananu nung panasakitan da la nung ala kung aibie pera? Ay rugo.

Kakabug naku salu, pero e ku bisang payalata lalu na kang David. Pepaliwanag ku kaya ing buri dang malyari detang lalaki, pero siyempre, eku sinabi ing kutub ku uling makarine kaya nung matsura ing maging karanasan mi keng kanakung balen.

"Pilan mong minutu bayu tamu miras ketang babo?" ngakung mengutang, agyaman e ku interesado.

"Saguli mu."

"Makananu kasaguli?"

"Siguro, metung oras ati ta na ketang babo."

"Ay, rugo…ali na. Maina no reng tud ming miyasawa, e mi na agyu ing matarik a ukyatan. Saka e ku bisang mabengi. Siguru muli na kami mu. E bala nung mesayang ya man ing kekaming biaje papunta keni".

Kasabi kung muli na kami mu, pengulait ko reng anak at pepasaken kung pasibayu king jeep. Tinerku la at migtaka. Ala la pa kanung ikit keng pasyalan a ita. Bakit kanu kasaguli ming mumuli. Tunggal-tunggal, ginulut la retang lalaki at e ku no ikit nung nukarin la migbanda. Melakwan ya itang babai makalawe kekami kabang kukusad ya ing jeep paluwal king parke.

Malaut na ing pilai na ning jeep, makanyan man eku pa mu rin mikuldas a salu. Malyap la pa mu ring maglalawe reng kanakung mata. Makananu nung ati lu mu pala keng gilid-gilid detang lalaki, kalupa nandin at bigla na lamung sulput manabat pala keng pagluwal mi? Nung malyari ya mung sulapo ing jeep, siguro, sinabi ku na keng driver mi ing pasulagpon ne ing sasaken mi ba keng agad milako karin. Inyang abatyawan miya ing boundary ning Sta Ana, karin ku pa mu mipangisnawang saldak. Pepasalamat keng Diyos at alang nanu na mang matsurang milyari kekami.

Pero siyempre, mekaramdam ku naman lungkut. Agya mung keng isip ku, menyawad kung tawad king Apung Ginu keng pamanisip kung marok tungkul karetang kabalen ku. Pero nung ikayu ing atiyu keng lugar mi at makanyan ing milyari, nanu kayu isipan?

Buri ku sanang sabiyan, nung ibilang deng metung kareng pasyalan Pampanga ing Mt Arayat National Park, sana naman ayusan de at linisan mu man bang kanita maglupa ne mang pasyalan. Matsura ing meging karanasan mi ketang lugar a ita at e na ku siguro magbanda pa karin. Lalung e ke irekomenda kareng kanakung kaluguran.



About the writer:


Imelda Cruz-Wood is a native of Santa Rita Pampanga. A graduate of BSC Economics, she was able to use her Economics course for two years and from then on pursued her real interest - writing. She was first employed as product researcher for Graphic Arts Service Inc., then one of two major publishing companies in the Philippines. When opportunity knocked, she grabbed the chance to be trained as writer and editor for the same company. For eight years, she was writing and at the same time editing Comics scripts and short stories in prose (1988 to 1996). From 1996 to 1997, she was appointed food editor for a weekly English women's magazine, called Chic magazine, and eventually became its editor for eight years prior to migration to New Zealand in 2004. She continued writing a monthly colum for St. Paul Publication's Homelife magazine until July 2009. Apulung Minutu King Mt Arayat National Park was her first attempt at writing in her native diallect.