I’ve been staring at a blank screen for the past few days, trying to compose in my mind what to write for this post. I thought I had it all figured out: a tribute to my mother and her favorite buko pandan. A tribute to the strikingly green gulaman and the fragrant pandan. A tribute to the long, thin strips of young coconut and chewy nata de coco all dressed in cream and condensed milk. I thought writing the requisite Mother’s Day post would be easy but, obviously, I was wrong.
I could just write to tell you about how I’ve been enjoying my mom’s visit. About how I’ve been enjoying coming home every day to her home cooking that I have so longingly missed. Bistek, caldereta, mechado, daing na bangus and all the good stuff. But I wouldn’t be completely honest with you if I left out the part about my worries. I have become my mother when it comes to worrying. We are clearly cut from the same cloth. Worrying is what we do and we do it so well.
I worry about my mother a lot. About her getting older, about her health. About having my own life separate from hers. A heavy cloud of guilt hovers above my head all the time. A feeling of guilt that we’re thousands of miles apart and our mother-and-only-son relationship has been reduced to once-a-week twenty-minute hurried phone calls and once-a-year two-month condensed visits. As much as I enjoy having my mom around, her visits quickly turn into some form of inconvenience — an interruption in my life. Two months is a long time! There, I said it. Two months together under one roof is a long time but I don’t think we have any other choice given that we don’t have the luxury of money and time for more frequent visits.
I know, I am too foolish to dwell on such insignificant inconveniences. Life is too short to be constantly worried about such little things. There are so many things to be thankful for and I am. I truly am. Thankful for her good health at seventy five. Thankful for her getting along well with Dennis. Thankful for her home cooking. Thankful for her buko pandan.
Buko Pandan Recipe, makes 6 to 8 servings
2 3-ounce packages Alsa green, unflavored gulaman
4 pandan leaves, washed and tied into a simple knot
1 12-ounce jar nata de coco, drained
1 16-ounce bag frozen, shredded young coconut, thawed and drained
1/2 cup Nestlé cream
1/3 cup condensed milk
Prepare gulaman according to package instructions. Dissolve gulaman in a pot of water, add pandan leaves, and bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove pandan leaves and pour gulaman into two 8×8-inch glass baking pans. Once gulaman has set, cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
Combine gulaman, nata de coco, young coconut, cream, and condensed milk in a large bowl and mix well. Serve chilled.