This was the first time that I was able to take an aerial photo of Laguna de Bay---well, at least a part of Laguna de Bay. The heavily populated area on the lower left of the photo is part of Taguig City. The superhighway at the edge of the lake is part of C6, a beltway that will connect the southern provinces to the northern provinces of Luzon without passing Metro Manila.
Laguna de Bay is the largest inland body of freshwater in the Philippines with a total area of 95,000 hectares, with an average depth of 2.8 meters and maximum depth of 20 meters. It has a 238-kilometer shoreline that covers 49 municipalities and 12 cities in 3 provinces. 21 tributaries drain into Laguna de Bay and the only outlet of the lake is the Napindan Channel that merges with Marikina River and formed the Pasig River, which meanders along a 24-kilometer course and eventually discharging into Manila Bay.
The lake supports millions of people living in its watershed. People depend on it for food, transportation, irrigation, among others. Fishery and aquaculture are major industries in lakeshore communities, and the lake is the primary source of freshwater fish in the country. Laguna de Bay also serves as a reservoir for flood waters to minimize flooding in Metro Manila during rainy season and one of the sources of water supply. The lake is home to a variety of organisms, 31 species of fish, 269 species of plants and habitat for various species of birds. About 48% of flowering plants and ferns endemic to the Philippines are found by the lake.
Because of the lake's importance in the development of towns and cities surrounding it, the water quality and general condition of Laguna de Bay are closely monitored. But environmental issues brought about by rapid population growth, land conversion, industrialization and over-fishing are slowly killing the lake. A retired University of the Philippines professor was quoted years ago that the coliform level in the lake is too high "our microbiologists couldn't count it anymore."
Cassie, short for Casserole, was a stray adopted by Mang Rudy, Em's beach-house' caretaker. Em's husband named her Casserole after he caught her in the act of opening a casserole. She was sunning herself one morning at the patio when I crept behind her and took this photo. Cassie's light orange coloring is perfect for today's Mandarin Orange Monday.
From my recent visit in Cebu, C took me to Boosog, a homegrown restaurant serving Filipino home-cooked dishes. It's located at The Gallery in Mabolo. We had a long day and wanted something easy and familiar. We had a bowl of clam soup for starters---I always enjoy clam soup in Cebu because the clams are fresh and sweet.
C ordered Adobong Pusit and I got curious at their Bicol Express. The waiter told us they're using string beans. That's new to me but I wanted a vegetable dish. The Bicol Express has ground pork, diced string beans, coconut milk and chili peppers. It was sinus-cleansing hot, and I liked it!
I've been going to Cebu for over a decade but I have never tried "mais rice". In case you're confused, "mais rice" is made from white corn---it is more popular in Cebu and some parts of Mindanao.
It's called "bigas na mais" as opposed to "bigas na palay" which we are more used to. White corn is milled and served as rice. Corn grits are finer than the regular rice grain, and it is heavier in the tummy. It was served wrapped in banana leaf--love the aroma of banana leaf! I guess it's good for calorie-watchers---I've only eaten half a cup and felt full.
This last dish is interesting. When I read "Inutok" in the menu, I thought it was the same as the sweet delicacy from Taguig--then wondered why it's in the seafood menu. By the way, the delicious kakanin from Taguig is called "Inutak".
The waiter explained that "Inutok" is crab meat cooked in coconut milk, and it was wrapped in banana leaf and served in a coconut shell. This is a good idea, no crab shells to crack, no mess.
When I tried "Inutok", I tasted crab meat, creamy coconut milk and surprise, surprise---young coconut (buko)! It's quite delicious! I wondered why I haven't eaten this dish before...probably because I enjoy cracking crab shells and eat aligue with my fingers! Now I'd like to cook some "Inutok" at home!
Sorry for the poor quality of these photos--Boosog has mood lighting and as usual, I forgot to set my camera correctly.:(
A quick glimpse at the sunset while visiting a friend at her beach house in Subic. I wish we stayed longer here but we wanted to get home early to avoid the weekend traffic going back to the city. My friend and her family were loving the cool breezes from the West Philippine Sea that they decided to extend their stay. This was a quiet sunset, not as fiery as the sunsets in the summer but it's beautiful nonetheless. And I feel incredibly blessed to have seen this beauty---we're enjoying a great weather while the southern part of the country has been drowning in torrential rains that have brought flash floods to communities that are still recovering from a devastating storm last month.
"The most significant gifts are the ones most easily overlooked. Small, everyday blessings: woods, health, music, laughter, memories, books, family, friends, second chances, warm fireplaces, and all the footprints scattered throughout our days." ~ Sue Monk Kidd
As a Christmas treat, a friend invited to Rodgers and Hammaerstein's "The King and I" at the Newport Theater. Considered as one of the most beloved classics in theater, "The Kind and I" has captivated audiences world-wide since its Broadway run in the early 1950's. Timeless songs and melodies were accompanied by the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra and performances from the Philippine Ballet Theater. Internationally renowned theater actors Noni Buenacamino and Menchu Yulo played the lead roles. "The King and I" was the best gift I had for Christmas. Thank you, A.:p
It's still running at the Newport Theater until May 2013.
As a food-lover and weekend cook, I seek novelty. I'm a sucker for a new dish, a new ingredient, a new technique. This dish was brought about by my discussion with my mother about paprika. So I looked up some dishes with paprika that we haven't cooked at home yet, and found a Spanish-style oxtail braised with chorizo recipe here.
I have never cooked oxtail before because it usually requires long, slow
cooking. I don't have a slow cooker but I threw all cautions to the
wind and bought oxtail anyway. I made my own version with the same ingredients except for white wine (my mother doesn't like wine in her food--I'm still trying to convince her that wine enhances the flavor :p) and parsley (didn't find it in the supermarket).
Instead of braising oxtail, I slow-cooked it until meat was fork tender. What makes oxtail special is the gelatin in the meat and bones. This gelatin dissolves into the dish when slow-cooked, creating a rich mouth-feel.
I would have wanted this a bit more spicy but my "critics" have a low tolerance to spicy food. This is perfect with steamed rice or crusty bread.
All human lives are so profoundly and intricately entwined—those dead,
those living, those generations yet to come—that the fate of all is the
fate of each, and the hope of humanity rests in every heart and in every
pair of hands. Therefore, after every failure, we are obliged to strive
again for success, and when faced with the end of one thing, we must
build something new and better in the ashes, just as from pain and
grief, we must weave hope, for each of us is a thread critical to the
strength—to the very survival of the human tapestry. ~ Dean Koontz
I was in Cebu last week and when in Mactan Island and craving for some fresh seafood, we usually go to Sutukil. Sutukil is a wet market and restaurant row---we shopped at the wet market first then have the seafood cooked at the restaurant for a fee, of course. Because most of the customers here are tourists, the prices are more expensive compared to other seafood restaurants in Cebu.
Sutukil is a few meters away from the Lapu-Lapu Shrine, overlooking a mangrove forest; about half a kilometer away from Mactan Shangri-la Hotel.
The mangrove forest at Sutukil looks healthier now than the last time I was here. I'm glad they cleaned up and installed bamboo fences to protect the mangrove area from garbage coming from the coast.
Mangroves provide nursery grounds for fish and other marine life; food source and shelter for other animals, from crocodiles to snakes, monkeys to bats. They're brilliant adapters--each mangrove has an ultra-filtration system to keep much of the salt out and a complex root system that allows it to survive in the intertidal zone. Mangroves are also land-builders...their interlocking roots stop river-borne sediments from coursing out to sea, their trunks and branches serve as a palisade that diminishes the erosive power of waves. Source: NGM
Sutukil is an acronym for 3 methods of cooking popular in Cebu---Sugba (grill), Tola, Tinola (soup) and Kilaw, Kinilaw (ceviche).
At the intersection of land and sea, mangrove forests
support a wealth of life, from starfish to people, and may be more
important to the health of the planet than we ever realized.
I had red meat overload around Christmas so I looked for a chicken and pasta recipe on line and found this at AllRecipes.com. I love mango salsa with fish and pork and was curious at mango sauce for pasta. This was the first time that I used mango sauce on pasta and what a pleasant surprise! I love the creamy, delicate, fruity flavor blending with the mild spicy flavors of ginger and bell pepper.
I'd like to do this again using mango that is not quite ripe (but not green), and probably use more ginger, green & red bell peppers, garlic and onion. This was a hit to my cousins who came by on New Year's Day.