Tag Archives: cooking

Love in Lasagna

15 Nov

lasagna-copyThe very first dish I ever learned to make was a lasagna. Not adobo, which took me 15 years to learn; not sinigang, which I could not stand to eat till I was in my forties. Apart from grilled cheese and liver pâté sandwiches my father taught me to make for our midnight snack dates, lasagna was the only thing I knew how to make for years. I learned from necessity, because I wanted to eat it.

In the beginning, I cooked only for myself. I would make one 9 x 13 pan and devour it in one sitting. No leftovers, I’m not kidding! Well, most of the time, really, heehee. Today, I’m sorry I did not share with my brothers and sisters more, maybe then, I’d  have shared part of my heft too.

When I had made the dish enough times, I found the confidence to share it with others. And so, I made it for my friends in med school. They seemed to like it, judging by the empty pans I would lug home. Well, it was that, or they were just being kind to me.

I also made lasagna to impress my then-boyfriend and years later, when we got married, the dish became his special request for occasions like his birthday or our anniversaries. Of course, as much as we would have wanted to have it everyday, it was a bit over our measly budget as newlyweds and, later on, too labor intensive for new parents.

One memory that comes to mind when I think about lasagna happened when we were very young. On his 25th birthday, amid a series of family disputes (long story), I burnt the lasagna meant for his birthday dinner. In the drama of the day, I totally forgot about it and by the time I remembered, thick, black smoke was coming out of the oven. I remember holding the burnt pan over the sink, crying over it and our woes. I was about to throw the whole thing in the trash when A♥ silently took it from my hands. He set it on the table, helped himself to a huge serving, and ate it without complaint.

“Thank you for a wonderful birthday, hon,” he whispered in my ear.

“It’s burnt,” I bawled loudly.

“I could eat everything in one sitting. I love it because you made it. And I got to spend my birthday with you again,” he said gently.

I cried even harder after that. I also never burned a single pan after that day.

Last weekend, upon request, I made lasagna for the family and an extra pan for Alex’s friends. I worked late Friday night to get them ready and then woke up extra early to bake them. Making them was not easy for my numb, clumsy hands anymore, I discovered, but I worked with only the best ingredients and poured my best efforts into making sure they tasted the same as they always have.

Alex has already asked me to teach him how to make it. On occasions when he is inspired to make something more than a lazy cup of instant ramen, this son of mine dabbles in the kitchen. One day, he will be making the lasagna in the family. Hopefully, he will share it with friends, with loved ones, and with the family he will make. I find this thought comforting.

When he makes his own lasagna, he will be sharing more than just food that has become a special part of our family. He will be passing on years of our memories, of a family history that included one special dish, and all the joys and sorrows that came with it. He will also be passing on love and snippets of our lives.

Which, I hope, much like the lasagna I served for lunch last Saturday, will be enjoyed to the fullest and to the last bite.

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Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids: A Review

27 Aug

I owe my kumareng Leirs this review. I had given her a copy of this short piece after I had come back home from Japan (and before my Dad got sick), but with all the things that have happened since then, I had been unable to attend to my blog to post this. So Mareng Leira, this comes with a lot of love and appreciation, as also my apologies. Thank you for sharing the cookbook with me. And thank you to Josh for “signing” my copy.

healthy cookingOne of the things I learned last as a married woman was cooking. Until I had children and, by necessity, had to learn to feed my family, my culinary experience was limited to a few specialty dishes that came in handy for impressing the occasional family guest. As the kids grew up and demanded a heartier-and healthier- fare than Spam and rice, I learned to work on my kitchen skills mostly by way of television cooking shows (Alton Brown was one I could easily relate too, being a geek myself). Then too, a library of cookbooks, and, later, recipes drawn from the Internet helped add to my self-acquired knowledge. Cooking was always a joy, although it was also often a hit-and-miss experience.

If there’s one cook book I hope every parent would have in his/her library, it would be Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids by Katrina Ripoll and Lara Saunders. Having read it and used it as a guide for my menu planning these past couple of weeks, I am glad to say that it is one great resource for parents on the lookout for healthy but easy ways to feed their kids. As a mother to almost-grown men (one is 21, the other, 19), there is still much the book offers even to those like me who’ve been kitchen cooks for the last two decades. The recipes are remarkably simple to prepare and follow; most do not require extraordinary ingredients but ones readily available at your local market or supermarket. And because they are simple and fuss-free, they don’t strain the household budget.

I like that the recipes are organized into sections that feature the main ingredients, but makes special the categories of breakfast and merienda, which, incidentally, is a lot of help as Filipinos are huge on great breakfast fares and snacks. The Chicken and Beef & Pork sections come very handy in spicing up our rotating menu. The chapter on Vegetables is a little thin but then again, other vegetable dishes can be found sprinkled in other sections. My favorite section would have to be Sauces and Marinades because those can be used in more ways than one can imagine and on just about anything!

Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids inspires parents like me to think outside the box when it comes to feeding our kids. Eating healthy is always a choice, and it is best we remember that our children’s choices begin with the ones we make for them.