Saturday, July 09, 2005

chop, dice, julienne, cube

Spent the morning putting away laundry while the Great Hunter, otherwise known as the fiance, searched the frame store for more mattes and frames for various family photos we wanted up and ready for the grand graduation celebration tomorrow for my brother. For my parents the epic trilogy is complete.

Spent the afternoon chopping, dicing, cubing, slicing tri-tip for papaitan, green peppers for igado and apritada, cauliflower and carrots for chop suey. For the carrots we had to cut three grooves along their edges lengthwise so that way when we sliced them, they looked like little flowers. Is that not love? My hands were orange afterwards.

Oh, we could have used food processors. But, as any Filipino cook will tell you, they just don't cut it quite right. ie keep chopping.

Later, installed a screen door so my mother wouldn't worry so much about the flies coming in, then took over my father's station at the gas grill which had been on since before noon and didn't stop until close to 8pm. The gas grill is much hotter than the regular charcoal bbq and seared the tri-tip in a matter of minutes. Burnt one batch before I got the hang of it.

I had hoped to learn my grandmother's bibingka recipe but it was already baked by the time we got there around 12:30. I will have to catch her next time around.

For dinner we ate arroz caldo. After skinning and cutting the chicken up for apritada, we could waste all the chicken knuckles as it were. My aunts tell me the chicken bone marrow adds a flavor and color tone it.

I learned the difference between igado, apritada, papaitan and sisig. There doesn't seem like alot of difference: meat, meat, and well more meat. The igado is more sweet, marinated in sweet relish and garnished with raisins. The apritada has tomatos. The papaitan is of course pait or bitter. And the sisig is spicy and sour. With fairly similar ingredients it's amazing how one or two ingredients changes the entire flavor.

In the evening, while they cooked some of the meat dishes half way for tomorrow's final mix, I whipped up a batch of Ninong's kamoteng kahoy with flan topping. I'm not quite practiced enough to know the recipe by heart but do try to make it when I can to get in the practice.

Tomorrow we pick up cakes from Neldam's and ice and watch as the each of the dishes takes shape. I don't think I had paid as much attention to all the cooking as I did today. It seems to mean more now. Perhaps it's because I see myself someday doing what my mom and aunt are doing though, I'd probably cater an item or two.

Last night I made nilaga, the beef and cabbage stew. It's ridiculously easy: beef (with the marrow), potatos, cabbage, peppercorn, pepper, salt, and patis. I even threw in some carrots for measure. We had gotten the cabbage and potatos in our weekly vegetable box and both my sister and I looked at the cabbage and thought of the same thing. My mother must have made this every other week and now I understand why. It's fast, it's easy, it's cheap. When she cooked it, I would wonder how Filipinos got to be Irish. But this dish had way more flavor than cornbeef and cabbage. Best part of nilaga, I have to admit, is chewing on the cartilage and sucking on the bones! Not something most people admit in public, but you know it's what you do, like spooning out the eyes of the fish when no one is looking. I've never been a fish eye person, but I've always been a bone marrow kind of gal.

Good thing I've still got three months til the wedding. There is no room for "dieting" tomorrow.

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