I opened the envelope and saw a short piece of paper with scribbled words that said:
Dear Ninang Malou, (Ninang is a Filipino term for godmother)
I miss you! Can you come here to Orlando, FL? I was wondering, did you read a lot when you were young?
I felt my face suddenly soften as I smiled. I love the way he calls me Ninang Malou like I am the most important person in his life.
He must be having problems reading his AR books I thought when I read the seemingly random question in his letter.. I told him that he could always come to me for any questions. Because you’re my ninang? he would ask. And I reaffirm by saying Yes I’m your Ninang and that’s what godmothers are for. And he would nod and you could see his lips get tighter as he smiles while his eyes are almost shut as he squints.
Peter and his sister Pia are my sister’s children in Orlando. When my family lived in Florida, we were always together. All the holidays, birthdays, long weekends, and yes even through all the hurricanes, brought us closer. All those lazy weekends and karaoke nights when we giggled hysterically as we belted out and danced to Madonna's Borderline... Ahh, I can't believe it’s been three years since we moved to California and it takes a letter to remind me how important it is to constantly communicate and to nurture the relationship, even if we're so far apart.
I should write him a letter soon, as this is the second letter I received from him. I received the first one last month, which I posted inside my pantry door. Whenever I open my pantry I see his letter and it never fails to give me a nugget of sweetness .
He ended his letter today by saying:
I am almost having my Eucharist. Yah I will .
I guess he meant he’s going to have his First Communion soon. I hope his Ninang Malou would be there to witness this important milestone in his spiritual life… and how profound it is that he conveyed it eloquently, the old fashioned way—through a handwritten letter sent by mail. Thank you Peter for reminding me of the important things in life, and for making me a part of your life.
Although Peter's favorite dish is Tinola (a soup-based chicken dish) I'm sure Peter will love the dish I'm sharing with you today, which is Patatim.
A few months ago, I posted another version of Pata -Tim using pork hocks. This time around, I am using pork butt, or you can use pork legs. I would say, the first one was a lot simpler to make. And this recipe has a star...... yep star anise haha! I love the flavor that this spice brings to the dish. It fills your house with a nice aroma, and definitely the star anise lives up to its name.
Pork Butt or Pork Leg
3/4 c soy sauce
3/4 c vinegar
3-4 pieces of star anise
3/4 c brown or white sugar
4-5 cups of water (you may add more if the pork in not yet tender)
bok-choy for garnishing
Rub the green onions onto the pork butt. Heat 2 tbsps of cooking oil on a skillet. Brown all sides of the pork. Set aside.
Caramelize sugar in another pot. Add all the ingredients except the bok choy. Let it boil. Put the pork butt in. Reduce heat when the pot is boiling and cook until the meat is tender. It usually takes 2-3 hours before the meat is tender and for it to have the melt-in-your mouth softness.
Steam the Bok-choy and use it to garnish the Pata-tim. Have a cup of steamed white rice and you are ready to enjoy the melt-in-your mouth goodness of Pata-Tim. Happy cooking!
You could serve the whole thing and carve it on the dinner table. The meat is so tender it will literally fall off the bone.
If the size of the meat above scares you, you could serve it in smaller portions.
And it can also be served as an appetizer