When I was young, cooking was an obligation. There were times when I just hated it.
I was told off a few many times for either over cooking or undercooking the rice.
Those were the times when rice cooker were unheard of.
We had 2 kitchens; one inside with gas, very practical when heaven opened up and it rained non stop, the other one like most houses in the Philippines was the outdoor. It was built on a shed and underneath it wood for cooking was piled up.
Part of my household obligation of course was to collect wood. Our house is surrounded (it is IS: the house still exists) with coconuts. Once a palm branch fell we would chop them and build them into square like tower for drying.
I do have happy memories of my mother and myself in the kitchen together.
Normally on Sundays when we came back from the market, I would eagerly help.
When not made to help, I was at the happiest, chopping, stirring etc.
But when the moment of obligation come, I was not cooperative.
It was on those afternoons when all the kids played and I had to cook. That was the moment I despised. Why couldn’t I just spend time playing instead of keeping an eye on the fire and the rice.
I must have been in 5th grade when I started to prepare food; mung beans, noodles, fried fish and my favourite……pancakes.
I remember well. I used to stand on those big tin buckets used for storing rice. This was my stool to stand on in order to be able to see the pan.
When my mother’s family gathered at my great great aunt’s house (she was the one who gave me my first dog), my mother and her aunts would all be in the huge kitchen, chopping, slicing, cooking and gossiping for sure.
I would stand around and look what they were preparing. Us kids were shooed away but some aunts were more than happy to let me join in.
I have always been surrounded by women who are passionate about food.
When I was in 6th grade, one of my class was Home Economics. I loved that class. Cooking and making simple desserts. Oh yes I aced that subject.
Now for the Lasang Pinoy 8th edition, our host Iska who has an adorable son Cean, came up with the idea: cooking with children. Kusinang Bulilit, Lutong Paslit
Her ideas are the following:
How we have become foodies.
How have we been encouraged to cook.
Family food traditions handed down to extra pair of hands.
Since I do not have my own child, I rang up a friend and asked her if her daughter would like to join me cooking. Her daughter gladly said yes and she is the one who has helped me baked few food I posted on this blog.
My sister and Nick were getting hungry but I told them they had wait. Angelica will be cooking lunch for us.
Our chosen menu was menudo. This is one food I learned when I was young. This is one of my maternal grandmother’s favourite food. I loved going to the market with her, except for treating me to some snacks, she would also buy me toys made of clay. What toys? Pots (palayok) of different shapes.
I would sit with her and her housekeeper preparing this dish. All vegetables and meat are cubed.
Menudo is the Spanish word for tiny. This common dish in the Philippines is so easy to prepare and a staple at corner eateries (carinderia)
Menudo, according to Doreen G. Fernandez’s Palayok: Philippine Food Time, On Site, in the Pot, is a stew dish of diced pork, chicken, sausage, potatoes, carrots, peas, and tomato sauce usually eaten with rice on the side.
Angelica said she has seen this food at Filipino homes but she has not eaten this one because she does not like liver.
I did not use a recipe to follow this cooking. Menudo is a mix of cubed pork and liver with carrots, potatoes and peas.
I explained to Angelica that she would have to start peeling the vegetables, either she uses a small knife or a peeler.
Then she must cube them the carrots and potatoes.
She got scared of my big global knife so I showed her how to handle such sharp knives.
After chopping the carrots she got the hang of it. Here is an important lesson, DO NOT CRITICISE KIDS. The cubed vegetables were becoming rectangles etc and I explained to her if possible all of them will be of the same size.
Oh dear she asked for a ruler. Nah no need of that.
Saute the garlic and onions
Add the pork
Add the liver
Add a small amount of broth
Then add the potatoes and carrots
When soft add the peas
I added a bit of tomato
I let Angelica decide whether the food needed more seasoning.
We savoured her cooking and she told her mother she would love to cook it again at their place.
Soon after lunch she asked me if I have time to bake some cupcakes this weekend.
We had fun and she was so surprised how easy it was to cook menudo.
What shall I teach her next, I wonder?