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Z is for Zamboanga and How to Make Bagon de Gata

How did I not know about bagon de gata?  How did I miss out on this Zamboangueño sawsawan? Bagon is Chavacano for bagoong. Chavacano is the creole language spoken in Zamboanga, based heavily on Spanish. Bagon de gata is bagoong alamang, or salt-cured shrimp, simmered in gata, or coconut milk. Bagoong alamang is cooked slowly…

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How to Make Fish Sarciado

I propped my camera up against a nest of beach towels I crafted on the picnic table. It was a silver point-and-shoot, a present he gave me for Christmas. I framed the photograph with him standing on the beach, blocking the sun that was about to set behind the peaks, casting a long shadow on…

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Happy 2014 from Jun-blog!

I trust you had a wonderful holiday. Spent with family and friends, with loved ones. Around the dinner table, in the kitchen. On the road, perhaps. Across time zones, with a little help from the internet, of course. With time-honored traditions. With good food. Always with good food. Many thanks to you, my dear friends,…

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How to Make Kutsinta

Pancit bihon and kutsinta [kooch-in-tà].  I can still taste the rice noodles and the coconut crumbs on the soft, round rice cakes. They were makunat [mah-koo-nat], the way I like them, the reason I fancy them. I don’t think there’s a word elsewhere that comes close to describing the cake’s one of a kind texture.…

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How to Make Pinipig Polvoron

It feels like only yesterday when I was standing on the tips of my toes on a rocking kitchen stool, holding on to my mom’s shoulders while craning my neck until I get a glimpse of the flour she’s toasting in her deep kawali. The warmth of the flame. The clang of the spatula. The…

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How to Make Apple Dumplings

It was a crisp fall day. The sky was blue with wisps of white clouds. The golden mulberry glowed in the warm fall light. Mitzi was chasing Stanford while Stanford was chasing his ball. Mom was sweeping leaves and Dennis was herding chickens in the kitchen garden. I was standing under the tree, next to…

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How to Help Typhoon Haiyan Victims

There’s one image from the news feed back home that’s been etched in my mind from the moment I saw it. It’s a harrowing image of a young mother holding her two children in her arms.  All three lying lifeless on the ground blanketed in mud and dirt. My heart aches for my country. Her misfortunes are too much to bear. They come one after the other. There was the magnitude-7.1 earthquake last month, there there’s this deadly typhoon, the strongest on record, right after. The news and images of the ravaged countryside are too heartbreaking. Please be generous and give as much as you can. This is the least…

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Pasalubong

It always feels like Christmas when my mom visits from Manila. I’m like a wide-eyed little boy eager to know what she has brought from home. My eyes light up as she reveals her pasalubong [pah-sah-loo-bong], pulling them out from her suitcase one by one. Salubong [sah-loo-bong] is to meet, to greet. It means to…

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How to Make Beef Tapa

I sat silently at the last row of hard plastic seats, flanked on both sides by strangers who spoke what sounded like Mandarin. I pulled out my boarding pass for my connecting flight and examined it under the dim, yellow lights. China Airlines Flight CI0008. Taipei to Los Angeles. September 7. It hit me. It…

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Miss Blanche

“Thank you for being a friend. Traveled down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant.” — Theme from the Golden Girls The hen house feels hollow. Blanche, our dear Silver Laced Wyandotte, has passed away. She fell ill and within a day she was gone. Too soon. Too young. She passed away peacefully. Without too much pain, I hope. She passed away in the garden, with Dennis by her side. Rest in peace, Miss Blanche. You’re a dear friend and you’re terribly missed.     Meet Our Golden Girls The day-old chicks came in the post office yesterday, all twenty-five of them…

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