Monday, November 9, 2009

Fresh Basil on a Rainy November

I woke up early this morning and I noticed the still wet pavement. Wow, since moving to the always-sunny-but-ohh-so-dry Southern California area, I feel surprised every time it rains. But it is a pleasant surprise, as I love the feeling of stepping outside as the rain is gently falling. Especially on an early morning like today. It gives me a refreshing feeling, with the crisp cool air hitting my face and the soothing sound of the falling raindrops.

As I checked my email, I got a message from my friend Basil. He sent me the design he created for Impromptu Diva. It was a pleasant surpise and, if it was not that early, I would have called him up to say thank you.

I never realized that writing a food blog can take a lot of time and emotions. Emotions because people react to your blogs differently. I have family and friends who love the blog, albeit others are hyper-critical about it. It takes a lot of time to write, not just the blog entry, but also to answer emails, Facebook comments and phone calls from friends who have gazillions of suggestions as well as questions. Basil is one of Impromptu Diva's avid follower. He would call me to inquire about the next blog, even though the newest entry was only posted 10 minutes ago, hahaha. "I still have to get inspiration for the next one", is my standard reply to him. But his comments, along with other friends and family members positive input, always thrills me and excites me to write ... ultimately they inspire me to write the next blog entry.

As I sit here and stare at my computer screen, my husband reminds me that I am writing a food blog and not my memoir. I laughed as I continue to think of what to write which is suddenly interrupted as the phone rings.

"Aww Malou, that was so sweet of you" says Basil, who was on the other end of the line. He was reacting to the email I sent him. Funny how you find friends along the way and you know who are the friends you want to keep for life. Yes that's Basil for me. Although we don't see each other often, we know we are there for each other, in good times and bad. I asked him if he's going to charge me for the design he made and he said: "No, just prepare good comfort food for me. It's chilly and cold...", he further said "...but please, I don't like pork but would prefer chicken instead...and please no white rice".

Ok fine, no pork, no white rice, its raining... what else would best "comfort" him... how about my take on a traditional dish - "color me brown arroz caldo". And to be able to follow his request of no white rice, I will use brown rice instead.

The results were amazing. This dish has a certain nutty flavor not commonly tasted in a traditional "arroz caldo". And the mind can play tricks on you, as eating "brown" rice is healthier, it makes you forget the number of calories, although brown rice and white rice are not so different in terms of calories. Hahaha! Nonetheless, the color me brown arroz caldo is always comforting, like knowing I have friends like Basil, someone I can count on, even on a rainy November day.

Color-Me-Brown Arroz Caldo (congee chicken)


2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
½ medium onion
3 slices of ginger
8 pcs. Chicken (drumsticks/thigh or if you prefer white meat do so)
1 ½ c brown rice (soaked in water for about 30 minutes)
10 cups chicken stock divided
A dash of safflower

Heat pan. Saute garlic until light brown. Add onions and ginger. Cook the chicken. Brown both sides. Drain the water from the brown rice and add it to the pan. Add 5 cups of chicken stock. When the water dehydrates, add 5 more cups. Add a dash of safflower. Cook for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Cook longer if desired.

For garnishings: Toasted garlic and ginger (slow on the ginger though) Slice some boiled eggs.. Sprinkle some green onion leeks.


  1. It's just so different emulating your recipes. I try to always keep in mind all the love and detail you put in all your tasty creations!!!

    I have to admit I EXTRA LOVE this post, COZ its about ME!!!

  2. I love this version because it's brown rice. I was thinking the other day of making arroz caldo but didn't get the chance to check the recipe online. I'll definitely try this one. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. @basil: when asked what my secret recipe is, i tell them it's LOVE! hahaha. i still have to recall what was in the topping that I made when we were at your house. Maybe Roushel can remember.
    @ jeanette: don't forget to soak the brown rice prior to making it... let me know how it goes!

  4. definitely will try this....remember our goto in florida...yummy...this will be good with tokwa't baboy.

  5. you're right, the dish is certainly good with tokwa't baboy. I should make that one of these days,

  6. Hi, I would like tot try your recipes but we are only a family of 4 with 2 small children and I don't know how many people your recipes would serve. For example, your arroz caldo sounds A WHOLE LOT to me and I don't know if I should make half of the recipe for even 1/4 for a family our size. You have very creative recipes I'm looking forward to trying them


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