For Bok Choy and Broccoli

bokchoyandbroccoliMy friend Boots and her son Joshua of Kuya’s Notebook is launching a food blog and I wanted to give my wholehearted support for their joint project. It’s called Bok Choy and Broccoli and will feature vegetarian dishes kitchen-tested by mom Boots and approved by Josh and the whole Cobler family.

I have to say upfront, though, that I am an omnivore. As an “all-eater,” I have eaten plants, animals, algae and fungi, often without thought to how they got on my table. But Boots and Josh’s campaign to get more people eating fruits and vegetables, as opposed to meat, is a wonderful step to reducing our dependence on animal protein. I may not completely go vegetarian but I am willing to modify my diet to make it as healthy and as cruelty-free as possible.

And so this morning, I share with you this video, and anyone who has ever had second thoughts about vegetarianism will agree that this makes an absolutely strong case for it.

This is for Boots and Joshua, and for Bok Choy and Broccoli.

I wanted to put this in, a quote attributed to (I couldn’t access the site to verify) and which came from the Mail & Guardian Online article penned by Haji Mohamed Dawjee: “It just goes to show, compassion towards all animals doesn’t have to be taught. It is only untaught.”


Update: I changed the source of the YouTube video because it inexplicably disappeared. Bok Choy and Broccoli is up! 🙂


A Critter in the Kitchen

I was reading RocketNews24 on the iPad yesterday afternoon when a little critter pounced on the screen. I let out a little squeak in suprise and almost dropped the iPad. A little white critter stood before me, looking at me imperiously. It was Kittymama.

I hadn’t seen Kittymama all day yesterday as she hid in the safety pockets of my Pacsafe Toursafe handbag. Kittymama had been complaining of the heat these last few days and her little mewling whines had been getting to me. We haven’t been exactly getting alongas she complained almost daily about the heat, about the lack of airconditioning, even about her accommodations.  As it turned out, the only reason she had ventured out of her cocoon was because she was hungry.

Kittymama:Meow! I am ravenous!”

Me: But didn’t you have halo-halo for dessert just a few hours ago? And before that, you had two porkchops and a bowl of rice!

Kittymama: Meow, meow…But it’s so hot! And I am hungry! (stomps her feet)

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Kittymama: (looking at the iPad) Well, what about this? Can I eat this? Can we make this? Can we? This looks yummy! I can do this all by myself, you know, and I wouldn’t even need your help. Meow! (eyebrows raised)

Me: Oh, really? Well, let’s see you try!

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Kittymama: Oh, thank you, kind one (sarcastic tone). Apparently, my friend here is a sizist and discriminates against little critters like me-

Me: I do not! I vehemently deny that! I just don’t like bossy little critters who demand to be fed all day!

Kittymama: Tsk…tsk… so you say…so you say… (dismissively). Let me continue my commentary then. I am sure MY readers would be glad to hear from me-

Me: YOUR readers? You’re in MY blog! (starts tearing hair in exasperation!)

Kittymama: Meow! Meow! The ref and pantry were poorly stocked yesterday but since I am quite an expert in the kitchen, (pauses, waits for applause) I was able to substitute.  I used ham for bacon, whole cheese for cheese slices, and regular loaf bread for thickly-sliced sandwich bread.

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Kittymama: I cut a rectangle out of the bread, setting the piece aside for later use. Be sure not to cut too close to the edge or your sliced bread will break. Thick slices of extra-large loaf bread are better for this but since I had none yesterday, I settled for what was in the kitchen.

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Kittymama: I fried the ham quickly just to shorten the process of cooking when I put them all together.

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Kittymama: In a separate nonstick pan, I put the bread- the one with the hole- and cracked an egg inside the hole. I placed a little butter in the pan to brown the bread. Oh, I just love butter! Don’t forget to season with a little bit of salt!

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Kittymama: Once the egg is half cooked, I added the ham, cheese slices and the piece of bread, which I have buttered on the outer side. I flipped the whole thing on the other side to cook it evenly.

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Kittymama: And voila! A self-contained ham, cheese, and egg sandwhich!  What could be easier?

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Kittymama: It’s very filling, and ordinarily, just one SCHCES is enough for a person! But seeing how famished I was from the heat yesterday, I thought it best to save two for me. A glass of Coke Zero on the side completed this perfect afternoon snack! Thank you very much!

Me: I’m glad you had a great snack, seeing how you didn’t even leave one for me! Next time, Kittymama, I am coming with you in the kitchen!


Friends, if you want to extend your ingredients to make more SCHCESes, you can use beaten eggs instead of whole eggs, and divide one beaten egg into two slices of bread. You can also make the ham smaller to fit just the rectangular hole in the bread. Ditto with the cheese. You may skip the butter too especially if you are using nonstick or well-seasoned pans.

Thank you to RocketNews24 for this wonderful inspiration! You can read the article here.


My husband and I have not always been particularly adventurous when it comes to food. In the early days of our marriage, date nights were mostly confined to traditional dining places, aside from the most obvious and most convenient choices of fast food joints. I guess when you’ve got small kids, convenience accounts for the greater part of deciding where to go to for a quick date.

With the kids a lot older and able to be left on their own (well, Alphonse is always surrounded by nannies and there’s always Alex as the bossy substitute parent when we’re not around), A and I have gone outside the box of our experiences to see more of the world and experience more of the things it offers. Years back, I would not be caught dead gobbling up oysters, but a few weeks ago, I did just that. (Thanks, Farley and Mabelle!) I’ve only learned recently to enjoy a glass of wine ( I like Shiraz) though I am still not a wine lover.  And where once my choices in meats were ignorantly well done and seared black to ensure these were absolutely cooked dead, I have learned to appreciate the different textures and flavors a medium rare piece of meat can sometimes bring. It’s not always pretty to look at, true, but it can be yummy.

A and I love Japanese food and our humongous appetites make buffets perfect for our walleta and satiety levels. We have a favorite buffet joint of all-you-can-eat Japanese food, but of late, our enthusiasm for their dishes has waned a bit. Our other favorite, found in a swanky hotel in the business district, offers even better choices in their buffet but comes with a hefty dose of eater’s remorse as the bill eventually comes out in the thousands. With our tastes finally moving away from the usual tempura and teriyaki fare, we’ve  become more daring in exploring reasonably-priced sushi and sashimi places.

One of these places is the three-year-old Sakae Sushi, which came to Manila in 2007 by way of Singapore. Their first restaurant in the country was at the SM Mall of Asia and through word of mouth, they have established a cult following of kaiten-zushi lovers.

Kaiten-zushi means conveyor belt sushi, and this, literally, is what sushi lovers find so appealing in this fast food version of a sushi joint.  Differently colored plates with various versions of the sushi move around on a rotating conveyor belt and all one has to do is pick the plate of your choice and gobble it up. No fuss, no mess, and no waiting. With prices ranging from PhP39 to PhP99 per plate, you really don’t notice the bill till it stares you right in the face. I guess that was what kept us away at first, the horror stories of persons being shocked by the amount of money they shelled out for an hour or two of eating pleasure. And it’s easy to make that mistake, we realized, because the process seems so painless at first. You just keep picking up plates till you are full, never mind the cost.

With the introduction of an all-you-can-eat buffet, however, A and I finally took that as our personal invites to the restaurant. Sakae Sushi has a branch at The Annex, SM North Edsa, and one sushi date night, A and I went there to explore their food.

At PhP399 per person (it’s PhP199 for kids) with miso soup and bottomless green tea, Sakae Sushi does give you your money’s worth. The key to enjoying any buffet is to eat a lot more than the buffet’s face value (aha!), and of that, A’s and my appetites certainly lived up to the expectations.

It was a lot of fun, albeit a little dizzying too (watching the plates go round and round) and A and I enjoyed the sushi. Their version of agedashi tofu was absolutely delish that I had tons of the stuff (okay, I exaggerate, heehee, but I certainly ate a lot of that thing). And even as A and I tried to pick up everything to try them out, in the end, our stomachs could only tolerate as much. What we missed the first time will have to wait till the next time.

I like that almost 19 years into this marriage, A and I still find time to enjoy each other’s company. Our dates are really not just about food; it’s about US and how 29 years into a relationship that commits itself to friendship and love, we still find each other enjoyable company. Sushi and date nights, I’d recommend it for all.

Two piles- one is mine, the other is A's. Guess which one is whose?

I ♥ Negros Occ

In my other life, I must have been born Ilonggo because for some reason, I feel like the best food in the country must come from their part of the islands. Imagine me, a city born-and-bred quarter-Chinese Tagala (a female of the Tagalog-speaking ethnic groups in the Philippines) , wishing to be Ilonggo.

Indulge me, please. My sister-in-law, Joyce, just came home from a week-long vacation in Silay City, my father-in-law’s hometown. She brought back some really delicious food- lumpiang Bacolod, thin and chewy piaya, and dulce gatas (or what others will call dulce de leche) — three of my family’s favorite local foods of all time. We’ve been having an Ilonggo food festival in the house since then, eating lumpia at the oddest hours, munching on piaya during late night movie marathons, and sticking our fingers into the dulce gatas tub and licking them clean. Eww, not exactly sanitary, but it’s the best way to eat it. (A has a tub solely for him because he is so… hygienic, haha.)

I’m a sucker for spring rolls in any shape, size, or form, but the best spring rolls I’ve had are the ones called lumpiang Bacolod. Technically, the ones I do love should be called lumpiang Silay since Ms. Emma Lacson of Silay City makes these fabulous spring rolls, but let’s not quibble over terms, shall we?

Lumpiang Bacolod is what we Tagalogs refer to as lumpiang ubod or fresh (not fried) spring rolls made of heart of palm. The ingredients for this vary according to personal preferences, but traditional recipes call for ubod, ground meat, and shrimps, sautéed in pork fat renderings and wrapped in soft crepe-like wrapper. Some versions include minced crispy, meaty chicharon (pork cracklings), a bed of lettuce, and spring onions. Joyce actually brought back two kinds, ones with and without the chicharon, and what I can say- I love them both! Unlike Tagalog lumpiang ubod, however, the sauce for lumpiang Bacolod is inside the wrapper and not drizzled on top the way we normally do it here. As a result, the ubod soaks up much of the sauce, making it juicy and soft, but not mushy. The natural sweetness of the ubod plays off the tangy sweetness of the garlic sauce.

As for piayas and dulce gatas, there are variations and copies of these in Manila. The closest that comes to the latter is pastillas de leche in a jar. I’m not too enamored over dulce gatas (just looking at it makes my blood sugar levels rise) but an occasional dipped finger (or for the hygienic, a teaspoonful) takes away the “umay” or “suya” (palate fatigue) off any meal. Piayas, however, I can eat by the dozens, especially if they’ve been warmed enough so that the flaky coat of this cookie-like confection becomes chewy with the warm muscovado filling.

Ahh, as you can see, I have become totally obsessed with these delicacies. When I think about inasal, bagoong guinamos, even napoloeones, it makes me miss Ilonggo food all the more. They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but I guess that applies to women as well. And if that is the case, then I ♥ Negros Occidental forever.

Food Storage 101 for Moms

hello-kitty-canned-ramenWe all need to take stock of what’s in our pantry. Common sense dictates that the best way to save in a time of recession is to buy only what we need and to use them. But what if some items, like staples or canned goods, go on sale? Do we simply buy as much as we can, without thought to how long they’ll keep? This is a no-nonsense guide to  helping consumers plan their food purchases wisely.

Click on the link below to read the article.

If you can, print the guide, laminate it, and post it in your refrigerator door. I’m sure it’ll save you the headache of deciding which products to toss or to keep when you do our pantry inventory. Just remember to note the manufacturing date of your items. 

Food – Food Storage 101

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NSE Kicks A**

I normally stay away from blogging till Wednesday morning, and only after I’ve submitted my articles for the week. This I do as a matter of discipline since blogging eats up a lot of my time (verrry, verrry addictive!). But just this once, while sending out an article to my editor this afternoon, I finally gave in to the temptation to bloghop and surf the web. Lo and behold, I found this:

See the arrow I put over there? See the name?


No Special Effects is a finalist in the Food and Beverage Category of the 2008 Philippine Blog Awards! Man, I am definitely impressed. And soooo proud!

To Manggy, my young friend, whose amazing talents have given us this wonderful, quirky, enjoyable, and highly compelling blog, I send you all the positive energy of the universe and wish you success. If it were up to me (and no insult to the fine blogs who are nominated with you), I’d hand you over the  award, hands down.

And with this in mind, I hereby bestow this award that has been waiting for quite a time to move on to its next recipient: The Kick Ass Award given to me by the very generous Teacher Julie.   

This is for you, Manggy, because you definitely kick a** (sorry, I try not to use the word very often because my son reads this blog, heehee).

Hats off to you! Hip, hip, hooray!