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Limoncello by Me!

Yup! I made limoncello.  Not just say I'm going to make it like I have the past 13 years. It tastes pretty good, too. The Husband said, "Whoa!" on the first day of tasting. Potent. Today, the fourth day, he said, "It has mellowed." Yup. Still potent, but now the lemony taste is coming through. I chose Giada de Laurentiis' limoncello recipe because it didn't require months of waiting for the solution to do it's thing in a closet before we can drink it. Yup. Instant gratification. Of course I modified the recipe as I went along. I pared lemon peels from 15 lemons and added lemon juice to the sugar syrup. I waited six days to decant the liqueur because I didn't have any bottles and jars. The recipe says that it's good in the refrigerator for a month, but I think it can last longer. After all I used the Costco brand of vodka, which is 60 proof. Yeah, dragon fire. But, remember, it's a mellow fire. Giggle. I'm linking up with A

Taking a Break for Writing

Note: I wrote this post yesterday from the iPad, then sent it to my computer by email. Perhaps one day I'll learn to cope and paste on iPad. Anyway, by evening, I was too pooped to get on the computer and publish this post. In the end, does it really matter if I had? :-) I'm taking a short writer's break from being a domestic goddess. Brief no doubt because I have been thinking about writing that first sentence for the last 10 minutes. Every so often that sentence repeated itself in my brain when I wasn't distracted by The Solid Gold Oldies music station on TV playing in the background and by the ambitious things I want to complete before dinner begging for mental attention. Sigh. I forgot. What was the intent of this post? Probably to brag about the things I have finally got to and then some. Should that be one word: then some, thensome? To my great surprise the Blenheim apricot tree gifted us—and the birdies—with many branches full of fruit. We can't eat the

Setting Around-the-House Goals

Some mornings I wake up with a mission in my mind. Today, for example, the goal for the Husband and me is to bring down another bookcase to the living room from upstairs. Very easy, you say. Certainly. As long as I keep us on task, which means not getting distracted by something else. I have a not-so-committed goal to make something out of cabbage and ground turkey. Maybe make a non-stuffed cabbage casserole. Stuffing cabbage sounds too time-consuming. I know: What else do I have to do? Well, bring down the bookcase and all the books in that bookcase. I'd also like to go outside and prune the apricot tree while it's still cold. And, maybe one or two of the scraggly rose bushes. It's nearly 11:35 a.m. See what I mean about getting distracted. No? Well, I just wrote this post.

Cheers to a New Calendar Year!

"What got into you?" asked the Husband, looking across the table as I cracked walnuts. "The bananas got browner just like you said would happen," I answered. We bought the bunch of organic bananas yesterday afternoon. I only wanted three bananas, but when I saw that the bananas were a bunch for a dollar, I couldn't bring myself to buy three bananas when I could purchase eight for the same price. Would you? I don't remember if I fully answered the Husband's question. I recall that he went back to checking out Facebook so I must've said that I want the walnuts for making banana bread. Now I think I'll bake scones. Easier. Then I'll freeze the rest of the bananas. I found out I don't even need to peel, slice, or stick them in freezer bags. And when I want to use one or two for baking or smoothies, I simply microwave the bananas for a minute or two. Voila! It's been a good new year so far. I've been very productive, too. Alon

Yummy Pumpkin Bibingka

"I'm going to make bibingka," I said on Christmas morning. "Do you know how to make bibingka?" asked the Husband.  The Husband forgot that I've baked this Filipino dessert a few times before. Of course it was easy for him to forget since the Mama liked to make this cake treat nearly every Christmas and for any day she deemed special.  I don't know if I'll carry on the Mama's annual holiday tradition. It simply felt good to have some kind of warm sweetness enveloping the house on Christmas morning. The tradition I will carry on is the Mama's like to experiment with recipes. I read a recipe for pumpkin mochi which I thought would translate quite well into pumpkin bibingka. Both recipes use sweet rice flour rather than wheat flour. Instead of condensed milk, I used a combination of coconut milk and lactose-free whole milk. I'd give you the recipe but I modified it as I was going and you know how that goes. The result turned out pr

Time Flies. . .

When you have much to do. Yup. Time flies. Fly, fly, time. Within the next six hours, I plan to do this: Finish the Husband's tunic. All I need to do is attach the sleeves and sides, then hem it up. Make an appetizer.  The Husband and I are going to a party tonight. Fun. Maybe I'll make cheesy olive balls. They're easy to make, but that means going to the store for olives and cheddar cheese. Put together a photo collage.  It's for a luncheon fundraiser tomorrow. I could probably do that after the party, if I print the photos beforehand. Yeah, that's the ticket. Get this post done.  I threw this in so I can feel like I'll have accomplished something once its published.  Always look for the positive, I say. Thank goodness, I finished reading my novel last night, otherwise I'd forget about doing these things I plan to do. Enchanted  August by Brenda Bowen.  Just like the title, the story was enchanting. I could go for either a cup of coffee o

Summer Domestic Diva Challenge -- One Down!

Ha! I completed  #4 on my list of seven things to do before the summer ends.  A jar of lemon peels covered with vodka is now sitting in the cupboard with the glasses. In four to six weeks, it will become lemon extract. I hope, I hope.  The first thing I plan to make with the stuff is lemon cookies. They were the first—and when I think of it, the only—cookies that the Mama baked when I was a small kid. They were perfectly round, golden, and yummily lemon flavored. I have yet to taste a lemon cookie that rivals my memory of the Mama's cookies.  If you're curious, this was my recipe, which I adapted from Mommypotamus's . Zested 9 medium lemons. Don't get any of the white peel.  Pla ce lemon strips in a jar and cover with about 1.5 cup of vodka.  Shake well, then put in a cupboard. The rest of the instructions are from Mommypotamus: Shake the mixture every day for a week.   Shake every so often for 4 to 6 weeks, which I shall translate as once every 3

Seven Things to Do Before Summer Ends

It's time for me to make a list of all domestic diva things I want to accomplish this summer. Otherwise, I will just vaguely think about doing them, which in my world means "I'll do it tomorrow." As we all know, tomorrow really never comes. I shall ring Tilda-Hilda's ding-a-ling bell and...and...and...proclaim my list of things I shall complete before the first day of Autumn. 1. Sew the Husband another tunic. 2. Sew myself a tunic. 3. Sew the Christmas vest for the Husband, which I said I would do....uhm, two Christmases ago. 4. Make lemon extract. 5. Make limoncello. 6. Make candied ginger. 7. Bake energy bars. So, Tilda-Hilda and I can pedal farther and further down roads. I can do these seven things. I can!

From the Archives -- Taboongow

Here's another post that I wrote for my first blog, Cu'Pie Bird Says Chirp. Chirp. FYI: I slightly edited the post for today. Tomorrow, I shall be back to regular posting. Maybe. Gourds for the Eating (originally published November 20, 2008) Several years ago, in the upcountry of Maui, I heard birds coo, “Ta-boong-ow. Ta-boong-ow.” I wondered if they were hungry for the gourd, and whether they wanted the long, bat-shaped ones or the ones that look like hourglass women. Taboongow is the Ilokano word for upo, which is the Tagalog name for the gourd. (Please note that I’m phonetically spelling ta-boong-ow according to what my American ears hear.) Many people think of this vine-growing vegetable as an ornamental plant to dry and use for display or to make into crafts or musical instruments. Taboongow is also yummy to eat when they are still fresh. If you eat the gourd young, you can eat the center white part as well. Otherwise, you cut it away so you cook only the lig

Z is for a Zip! Zing! Zee! Party

Congratulations to all of us bloggers of the Blogging from A-to-Z April Challenge ! We did it. Zzzzzzzooo-hoooooo! So, for you, today, I'm cooking up a virtual feast as my final entry for my food theme. Enjoy! Appetizers • Lumpia (Filipino eggrolls. Of course! I can't throw a party without lumpia) • Potstickers • Inari Sushi (Deep-fried bean curd skins stuffed with rice, peas, and salmon • Assorted fresh vegetables with onion dip Main and Side Dishes • Kalua pork • Grilled salmon • Pancit   (Filipino noodle dish) • Stir-fry vegetable medley (onions, garlic, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, tiny corn, and water chestnuts) • Kim chee • Bamboo relish (The Mama's awesome, delicious, pickled spicy bamboo. Double yum!) • Brown rice Desserts • Apple Pie, Ollalieberry Pie, and Cherry Pie • Suman (Coconut glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves) • Fresh watermelon and pineapple Drinks • Local handcrafted beer • Local wines • Ap

X is for Xmas Cookies

I bake cookies at least once a year. And, that's at Xmas. What's Xmas without the yummy smell of cookies baking in the oven, right? Those first few years of baking Xmas cookies, I'd go through cookbooks, looking for interesting cookie recipes to try. But, always, I'd end up following certain recipes in a Women's Day cookie recipe booklet. That may be how I got hooked reading cookbooks. I used to bake a bunch of different cookies. Not anymore. Now, I bake three kinds of cookies. Persimmon biscotti, the Mama's favorite; Russian tea cakes, the Husband's favorite: and a persimmon, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or gingersnap cookie. Do you bake Xmas cookies? What cookies do you like to bake? Click   here  to find other A to Z challenge participants.

W is for What's Wrong with Your Cake?

Once-upon-a-time, a long time ago, when I was still a young thing. . . .   After the Birthday Gal happily blew our her candles on the carrot cake that I baked, the other student assistant and I cut the cake and served the slices to the Birthday Gal and everyone else in the Department of Secondary Education office. The cake looked yummy. Everyone took a bite. Several people looked puzzled as they chewed. The gruff teddy bear of a department chair said, "Sue, did you forget to turn on the oven?" "Huh?" The Teddy Bear Chair examined his cake. "It's flat." "That's the way it's supposed to be." I said. "I love it," said the Birthday Gal. "It's just like the cake from home. All full of nuts and carrots. Thank you, Sue." The Birthday Gal was from Central America. She gave me a hug and took another slice. The Teddy Bear Chair continued eating his cake. "Have you made this cake before?" he a

S is for the Mama's Spoon

This is the Mama's spoon, the one with which she cooked for as long as I can remember. And, for those who are new to the blog, I'm in my early 60s and the Mama is 30-some years older than me. I like cooking with the Mama's spoon. It's smooth, fits in my hand, and has the perfect heft to it. I also like the way the metal spoon sounds against a pot or pan. Most of all, I like cooking with it because it's the Mama's spoon. When I pick up the Mama's spoon, I think of her using it to stir her bittermelon chicken soup, eggplant-bittermelon stew, tabongow chicken soup, pork adobo, ginger beef, fried rice, scrambled eggs, pancit, and diningding (a soup of all the Filipino vegetables in her garden). In my mind, I see her making Thanksgiving dinner with that spoon. She sauteed the ingredients for the dressing. She basted the turkey. She mashed the potatoes with the back of the spoon. And, she stirred and stirred the gravy. She cooked a lot of meals with that

N is for Nighttime Snack

"Let's have a snack," said the Daddy. He sat in his Lazy-boy recliner, while my teenage self stretched out on the couch beside him. It was a summer night, with the doors and windows still wide open for the breeze. A rerun show played on the TV, at which I looked up now and then from the book I read. Without doubt, that scene took place around nine o'clock, the usual time the Daddy called for a snack when he was in the mood. The Daddy's favorite nighttime snack were the doughnuts without the hole that I made from canned biscuits. They were quick and easy to make, about 10 minutes, if I recall correctly. As the oil heated in the iron skillet, I opened the cardboard can of biscuits, the best part of making the doughnuts. Pow! A satisfying blow against the edge of the corner. Pop! The eight (or was it 10) small, soft, slices of dough smiled between the cardboard. Carefully, I dropped the round slices into the heated oil in the skillet. Sizzle. Sizzle. Sizzl

M is for Magical Meringue

Clang, clang, clang with my right hand. Clang, clang, clang with my left hand. Repeat and repeat. Then repeat again. And, again.   It always amazes me how I can get soft peaks of meringue just by beating egg whites. I'm sure there's a simple, straightforward explanation for the transformation, and maybe one day I will really want to know. Until then, I'm perfectly happy, making clang, clang noises with the egg beater against the stainless steel pan as the clear egg whites change to foam, to thicker, clingy foam, and finally to meringue. It's magic. OlĂ©! Click   here  to find other A to Z challenge participants.

H is for the Holy Trinity of Ingredients

If I could only have three ingredients in my pantry, they would be onions, garlic, and tomatoes. The onions could be yellow, red, or white, in that order of preference. The garlic could be bulbs or shoots. The tomatoes could be fresh, frozen, or canned.  Onions, garlic, and tomatoes are my holy trinity when it comes to making sautes, stir fries, soups, and stews. Casseroles, pastas, and rice dishes, too. If I had to do without one of the holy trinity, I could go without the tomatoes. Onions, garlic, and tomatoes. It's the way I learned to cook, which was by watching the Mama. Smash the garlic with a smooth granite rock brought back from the beach, or with the side of the knife with a satisfying whack as demonstrated by Martin Yan on Yan Can Cook .  Cut the onion in half, then cut thin slices out of each half. Repeat with the tomatoes, except the slices don't have to be so skinny. The above photo is pancit, a Filipino noodle dish made out of mung bean noodles. If you&

G is for Garlic

Garlic.  Yummmmmmmm. Can you tell that I like garlic? I eat so much garlic I can no longer taste the garlic. So, it's possible I have what people call awful garlic breath. I don't know.  But, I must not eat that much garlic since mosquitoes still love to bite me. About 15 miles from where we live is a garlic factory. Lots of people dislike the smell that comes out of the factory. Not me. I love driving by it and getting in that sweet spot on the road where you drive right through the aroma. Yummmmmmmmmmm. Too bad a tomato cannery doesn't stand right next to the factory. I was about 30 years old when I realized that not everyone cooks with a lot of garlic. At a dinner in which we, guests, helped prepare the meal, the hostess asked me to make the garlic bread. She set out a loaf of French bread, a cube of butter, and a bulb of garlic. So, I smashed, cleaned and minced the garlic, then cut the bread in two, slathered butter over the two halves, and sprinkled the garl

E is for Experimenting

I used to think that the Mama was a rigid, but, awesome, cook. Everything she cooked was perfect. Her cutting of meats and vegetables always came out precisely small and neat. Her dishes always tasted consistently the same—yummily delicious. When it came to Filipino cuisine, nobody, including Filipino restaurant chefs, came close to her food. The Daddy came very close. The one dish of his that surpassed hers by a tiny bit was his fried chicken. His was a subtle melt-in-your-mouth delicious, while the Mama's was more a pow! wow! in-your-face delicious. My perception of the Mama-the-cook changed when I was in my late 30s. Suddenly the food she put on the table when I came to visit was different. Her pork adobo no longer was the consistently same delicious taste. It was still delicious, but the taste slightly differed each time she cooked it. At first, I thought she was being forgetful when she cooked. And, perhaps, there was a bit of that. During one visit, the Mama served f

A is for Adobo, Pork Adobo

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants. The clatter of metal against metal and heady aroma of frying pork, garlic, and onions lured me to the dark, cool kitchen that hot summer morning. At the stove was the Daddy's young cousin who was staying with us while on leave from the Navy. One hand shook a large grey soup pot on a burner, and the other hand stirred the ingredients rapidly with a large silver spoon that made a rhythmic clang against the inside of the pot. His body swayed and seemingly danced. The sizzle of the meat and vegetables was his music. I was maybe four or five years old. I don't recall the Mama being home, otherwise why would the handsome, dark-haired man with a sweet smile be at the Mama's stove. But, maybe that day the Daddy's cousin said to the Mama, "Let me cook." So that she could care for Baby Sister who Died too Early. Now that I think of it, that was more likely what happened. The Daddy's cousin smi

A Ditzy Moment

A couple of weeks ago, the Appliance Guy checked out the burners on our electric stove. We were down to only one working burner. I actually watched the third burner spit up flames as it died. Both the Mama and I were worried that we'd have to get a new stove. All for naught. The Appliance Guy told us that all we needed were burners and immediately called in an order for us. Since the Appliance Guy was there, I asked him if it was possible to calibrate the oven. "It's not working?" he asked, opening the oven door. "Sometimes my dishes come out dry or undercooked, even though I follow the time and temperature on the recipes," I said, watching him take out the oven racks, turn them around, and insert them back. "Were they in backwards?" I asked. The Appliance Guy stood up. "The door wasn't closing properly because of the racks." "Oh." "The stove is also old," the Appliance Guy said, which he most likely