Don't let the overcast skies fool you. Even though it feels like summer has been eluding us in California, summer is definitely here. Growing up in the northern tip of the Philippines, summer was best described in one word: HOT! So it makes me cherish this mild and very comfortable weather!
The usual signs of summer are also present, including the sound of my kids taunting and laughing with each other -- even to the point of annoying each other, obviously a sign of summer boredom haha! I really enjoy this time of the year.
Summer brings forth memories that defined my youth. And like my 3 kids' upbringing, growing up in a large, tight-knit family had the same benefits: playing, taunting and yes, laughing and goofing around. Our usual question to our mom was "what's for merienda (snacks)?", and I remember we would always request for "dudul" (our version of maja blanca - a dessert made of coconut milk and corn starch).
The aroma from making latik (which is a reduction of coconut milk) teased our nostrils and titilated our pallates... I call it kitchen seduction since all of us always found our way to the kitchen just to check whether the treat is almost done. The hot afternoon eased us into an anticipation of something good.
There were times when we would request for "dudul" but my mom complained that it was too tedious to prepare. I can't blame her, for extracting coconut milk the traditional way entails a lot of work, even now. Luckily, we had a good alternative back then. Long before there were fast food chains that dominated the food business, we knew a nice lady, whom we called Dideng, who walked around town, carrying with her a "bilao" (basket tray) on her head. We would sit and wait by the porch for her to pass by. And when we saw her, we would run towards her, carrying our own serving trays. I remember how the "hot" steam from the sun-baked asphalt had felt on my feet after running barefoot towards her; I was so carefree and unmindful... Even when my Mom screamed that I should wear slippers and watch out for tricycles (local taxi cabs, a motorcycle with a side car), I just heard the dudul beckoning!
Making majah blanca recreated those summer memories. While I was cooking the latik, all my kids asked me, "What are you cooking, Mom?" I smiled as I remembered those days when I could not wait to have a bite of dudul. Recreating something that I experienced when I was little warms my heart: I can recall the exact feeling when the same aroma comes from my kitchen. The only difference is that I don't have to extract the coconut milk the hard way anymore; I could conveniently just open a can of coconut milk to use.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Flashback to almost 24 years ago:
My husband, who was still my boyfriend at that time, picked me up from the university.
"Ooh, roses!" exclaimed my friend who joined us, as she saw the flowers carefully hidden in the back seat of the car. "What's the occasion?" she asked further.
"Nothing," replied my husband. "I just thought of getting it for Malou," he said.
"Shucks Teyene, you ruined the surprise." I complained. But deep down inside, I was so touched; I could not help but smile.
So let's fast forward to today, 24 years later:
My husband's idea of grocery shopping is to come in early -- as in when the doors first open. Today, we were really early also because of the World Cup finals. There were only a handful of people at Trader Joe's as the 4 of us-- my hubby and I plus our two girls -- did our shopping. I was busy going through the meat section when I heard my daughter's voice.
"Hey Dad, what's the occasion?" She asked my hubby as he was holding a bouquet of spring flowers.
"Nothing, I just want to give it to your mom..." My husband replied (the same reply after all these years).
With only eight other people there with us in the grocery store, I heard it so clearly. I couldn't help but think back to 24 years ago.
"Gosh, Isabelle, you ruined the surprise," I laughed. I felt my heart skip a beat and my face warm up. I was giddy that my husband still gives me flowers after being with him for 24 years!
Through the years, my husband and I grew together. As a young couple, we knew how different we were from each other and how difficult it would be for us starting a family so early. Yet because of these 24 years, our marriage is what we call "beautifully imperfect." Over the years, we learned to accept our differences, laugh it off and make these differences work for us.
There are a few things that we do enjoy together, and surprisingly one of them is this blog. He is amused at how I'm so passionate about writing and sharing both my stories and my recipes. He always encourages me to cultivate my interests, and he is as excited as I am to read comments from my readers!
The flowers he gave me today brought me into a nostalgic frame of mind; it made me remember those days long ago, when I would make Iced Tea for him whenever he visited me at home (like a loyal boyfriend would).
KETTLE BREWED MANGO GREEN TEA WITH TAPIOCA PEARLS
5 bags of green tea
brown sugar (or you could use agave)
6 cups of water
sweet mangoes, cubed
tapioca pearls, cooked
Boil 6 cups of water. Add the green tea bags and stir in the sugar. Let it cool. Add the tapioca pearls and the mango slices. Add ice cubes. Enjoy!