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Thursday, October 09, 2014

Foods of the Wild

Picture shows more of my favorite foods back home. These may seem familiar to you, but I'm telling you these are all natural foods from nature, not grown or cultured so they are healthy and organic. I truly love them all, too.

Leftmost image is of wild blackberries. Anyone familiar with it? This one doesn't grow on vines but on big tall trees. Several times I've fallen on these trees when I was young in my attempt to get the blackest of them all. The blacker it is, the sweeter the taste. Red or green is sour. I like to eat it with salt by putting the berries in a cup, adding a pinch of rock salt, shake it til the salt is mixed, and you've got a yummy snack. I'm salivating as I write this :)

Middle image is of wild mushrooms that comes out from anthills, decayed leaves, and decayed woods. Look for them a week after the rainy season starts and you may be surprised by their abundance. Take note where they sprouted for they will continue sprouting for a month or two. Once the rainy season is over, just protect the place for next year's harvest. The largest we got of these wild mushrooms was a large pail-full.

Rightmost image is of a wild boar. Since there was once no electricity where we lived, any animals hunted or captured in the traps have to be preserved this way. String the meat in wooden or bamboo sticks and dry it in the sun from sun up to sundown, or hang above the fireplace so it would remain warm and dry and won't rot. Another method to preserve it would be to salt it and keep in jars but many do not like the smell of meats preserved that way so drying is often preferred. Just take a slice to cook or add to vegetables whenever you want meat.

Can anyone relate to my stories so far? Do you want more?

I know these were from days far gone but it helps to know. Besides, some remote places in the mountains still have no electricity up to now that they still practice these things. We still pick mushrooms and climb blackberry trees though we now freeze our meats rather than dry them coz dried meat takes longer to cook.

Anyone want to join me next time for a trip in the mountains? Hehehe, it would be hard but is fun, so let me know by leaving a comment below.

Missing Home and Calla Lilies

Earlier today, I was out with my colleagues to buy foods for lunch when I saw a withered calla lily along the pathway to the church of Glad Tidings. 

Immediately my heart and mind thought and missed home and the mountains.

I remember myself traveling in the mountains of Cordillera and stopping at places that I find and feel significant like this garden along the road to Mankayan, Benguet. I would have wanted to pick and bring home the calla lily here but I contented myself just having a picture taken with it. Next to chrysanthemums and tulips, this is my other favorite flower which always evokes happiness inside of me.

Calla lily is a flower used in both weddings and burials. However, I see it more of a pure and happy flower full of meaning, promise and magic. To me, it holds a mystery of something beyond ordinary. It makes me feel at home just holding one close to my heart. Were I to marry again, this would be the bouquet I'd like to use.

Does any flower evoke such emotions within you? Or is it just the weird me feeling an attachment to a flower?

The Gift of Family: Samuel's Arrival

To my godson Samuel,

Do not listen to the rumors you hear. Trust your feelings about the love your parents have for you. As to the story of how you arrived home, let me be the one to share it as your mother shared to me. I know she tried many times to share you the story but you failed to listen to her, but you listen to others and hopefully that includes me your godmother.

Your mom and dad used to have a fruit stand in the nearby province that is open from 4am to 11pm daily. One early morning in 2006, a midwife who is a friend of theirs arrived knocking at their shop with a newborn baby wrapped in an old tattered shirt. That baby was you. Still bloody and with the umbilical cord freshly cut, it was your father and mother who first washed you and clothed you to the best they can in that wee hour of the morning.

Sorry my son, but the midwife who brought you home didn't know the whole name of the woman who gave birth to you. She was just called to help a woman in labor at that time and she only was told of the woman's nickname, Ka-Nene. You were a healthy boy, but the woman does not want to keep you so the old midwife brought you to the couple she knows who will be good parents to you.

Know that your biological mother loves you but couldn't keep you because she is part of a dangerous movement and living in constant danger. She does not have the capacity to take care of a baby by herself as she could barely support herself at the time. She loves you, be assured of that. She did not give you up early on by aborting you or leaving you at birth in the wild or in the sea. She preferred to let you see the world and be a blessing to others. She wanted a good future for you under the care of loving parents who would care and love you.

Yes, YOU ARE A BLESSING to your parents, be assured of that. They got married the second time in the church because of you, on the same day they had you baptized. They are very happy and you complete their family. 

I love you too my son, and you can always come to me for I will be here to help you anytime.

With all my love,
Godmother Isay

Teh Tarik (Pulled Tea) Preparation

I just couldn't help but share the fun and joy of watching how they prepare my favorite drink Teh Tarik. 

Hence, I'm here to share a video of how they mix it and why it is named as such.

An annual Teh Tarik competition is held in Kuala Lumpur every March to see who can mix better without spilling. I have not attended one but I heard it is really fun and worth a look. Maybe next year, I'll go see it.

The video below was from last year's 2013 Tea Trade Association of Malaysia's 57th Annual Dinner Teh Tarik Performance. I sure had a good laugh watching it. 


Go ahead and watch a unique tea mixing performance and be amazed too.


It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)

"She was always there every time I needed you."

This is a line from that Merle Haggard song of the same title which I find so realistic and relatable.

"No, it's not love, like ours was, but it's not bad."

This came to mind after reading various posts and Facebook status about friends and acquaintances about some husbands or wives working overseas or out of town and are having affairs. If not them, it's their partners who were left with the kids who are having affairs.

It is sad somehow, but I felt that this song is the most fitting description as to why they are doing what they doing.

Are you guilty of this? 

What makes you feel confident?

A post of a friend on FB about what's keeping him grounded somehow reminded me of how I learned about confidence when I was younger. 

We often focus on how different we are, how we are unable to follow the norm or the trend, how our skin differs with some of our neighbors, or how our house is smaller than our friends. 

Because we tend to focus too much on these things, we lose our chance to be confident of who we are and what we can do. We don't really think of how similar we are with each other, thus create the gap that causes us to feel lower and lesser than others. I know I do this at times, but I would stop myself when I notice it. 

What about you? Do you always think you're different? Is this affecting your confidence?

As a kid, I'm scared to speak in front of the class, or join school presentations. The Principal kept sharing during her speeches that she used to be very poor and couldn't even afford a pair of shoes, but she persevered and worked on her studies until she became the best in school, thus went to college on scholarship grant. This is supposed to inspire us to do our best and be confident, but it never worked for me. 

One day, an older Teacher Mr. Cuttiyog, came to me during a practice for the valedictory address and pointing to the mass of students gathered in the hall said, "These people do eat the same foods you eat, they poop and pee like you do, and they fart too. Maybe even louder and smellier. And they get embarrassed too, you know. Why would you feel scared or embarrassed when we're all just the same?"

I was quiet, reflecting on what he just said, so he went on.
"They're just bigger than you and know of other things that you'll eventually learn too. Think of it that way and don't be embarrassed. You see, some people just came out to this world ahead of you. Let them hear you now so they'll listen to you when you get older."


He then asked me, "Won't you like them to hear what you have to say? Just talk to them and for all you know, they might listen to you and like what you say."


Right there and then, I realized I'm not that different from other people whether young or old and shouldn't fear speaking to them. I went to the platform, looked around, smiled because I was thinking of loud farts, and went on to recite my speech like I'm just talking to my brothers. :)

Do you recall when you learned to be confident? How did you learn to be confident? Or should I ask if you are confident? 

I'd be interested to know and will appreciate if you'd share it below.

Malaysian Food: Nasi Lemak

I want to start a series introducing the local foods of Malaysia and so I'll start with the most common breakfast food here.
This is called Nasi Lemak. It is composed of rice that is cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaves for fragrance, curried chicken, fried prawns and dried fish with chili sauce, peanuts, hard-boiled egg, and cucumber. It's a complete meal that easily became everyone's favorite.
Nasi Lemak is considered a traditional Malay food and is usually eaten with bare hands (right hand). It is such a common food that you can buy it even from classy Malay restaurants and the ordinary shops along the streets called "mamak shops".

Malaysian Food: Nasi Goreng

Today, let's enjoy my favorite food the Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice). It's another Malaysian specialty and a common favorite of both locals and tourists, just like Nasi Lemak.

Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) comes in various flavors and is available in many Malaysian, Indonesian, and even some Chinese restaurants. If you ever travel to Malaysia and want to order Nasi Goreng, you can try ordering the varieties below.
a) Plain Nasi Goreng with eggs - my friend Jayne's favorite
b) Nasi Goreng Seafoods (Seafood Fried Rice) - my personal favorite
c) Nasi Goreng Kampung (Traditional Fried Rice - similar to plain) - 2nd favorite
d) Nasi Goreng Kornet (Fried Rice with Corned Beef)
e) Nasi Goreng Belacan (Fried Rice with Shrimp Paste)
f) Nasi Goreng Ayam (Chicken Fried Rice)

The basic ingredients are rice, sliced or ground spices which are a mixture of shallot, garlic, green string beans, green and red pepper, salt, sambal or chili sauce, and a bit of soy sauce. The more ingredients added, the more varieties could be created.

How do you like Nasi Goreng so far? Would you dare it with all the chilies? Me, I always ask the uncle or the aunty cook to just add "normal" amount of chilies as you can see on the image.

Malaysian Drinks: Limau Panas, Teh O Limau, and Teh Tarik

A good time to talk about Malaysian drinks. Above three images are my favorite drinks at anytime of the day. These drinks are very common on Malaysian restaurants and is a good combination to Nasi Lemak and and Nasi Goreng foods.
 
Limau Panas or Hot Lemonade is made of hot water mixed with fresh lemon juice, with a bit of honey and sugar. It's my usual morning drink with my favorite nasi goreng breakfast.
Teh O Limau (also called Teh O Limau Ais) or Lemon Iced Tea is a combination of tea (from a tea bag), fresh lemon juice, hot water, sugar, and ice cubes. It's a refreshing drinks during midday or after a walk in the sun. It is also good to drink after eating a lot of spicy foods.

Teh Tarik or Pulled Tea is a warm drink considered as the national drink of Malaysia, that is made from black tea and condensed milk. "Teh" is for tea, while "Tarik" is to pull so the name is derived from the preparation process wherein the milk is pulled away from the glass while pouring it.

If you ever get to this corner of the world, don't forget to try those three drinks and let me know how you like them. Enjoy your lunch everyone, and I'm enjoying my Teh Tarik.

Lovers' Locks and Bells as Temple Donations

A month ago for the birthday of my friend Jayne, we went to the border province of Thailand and Malaysia. It was a 9-hour travel by bus from Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai and another 9 hours back, but it's all worth it.

The highlight of the trip was when we went to Tang Kuan Hilltop at Songkhla City which you could see in the picture. There I saw for the first time a lot of love locks and love bells like what is usually seen in pictures in Paris and Japan. This time, the locks and bells are in a temple and not on a bridge or alleyway.

Our driver/tour guide explained that the locks and bells actually are helpful for the temple and is good luck for the lovers too.

With a surprised look, I asked, "How could writing the lovers' names in the lock and bell be helpful to the temple?"

Because when the wall is filled with love locks and bells, the monks collect it all. Then they mint the locks and bells to make metals for making bigger bells and statues. Minting and combining the locks is also symbolic of strong, united, and unfading love for the couples.

Ah! What a clever way of getting donations for the temple. Next time you're traveling and has nothing to leave on the donation boxes, buy yourself and your sweetheart a lock or a bell and lock it on the wall to help the monks get more metal.

Have you ever thought your love locks and love bells are your donations to the temple? Have you even tried this love lock or love bell with your beloved?