Archive for March, 2011

Last month we made a major change in the kitchen: we threw out all our Teflon-coated pots and pans and replaced them with thick-bottomed stainless ones.

Why? Because we came to a realization that cooking with Teflon-coated kitchen gadgets did not fit into the kind of lifestyle we wanted for our family.

A lot can be said about the dangers or non-dangers of cooking with Teflon. I won’t even go there and I don’t care if people think I’m overdoing the “healthy lifestyle” thing. It is just enough for me to know that my family can actually ingest (or has been ingesting) itty bitty pieces of Teflon mixed in with their food. Not a pretty picture.

So HB and I took time out to overhaul our cooking utensils. And the verdict?

First, the pans are obviously heavier (weight-lifting, anyone?).

Second, food doesn’t stick to the pans. It’s actually a pleasure cooking in these things.

Third, they are easier to clean if done right after cooking, when the pan is still hot.

Fourth, it takes a long time to heat up, but can be very hot once it gets going. When using, one has to always watch the flame as the pan can easily burn the food. In my experience, it definitely burned a hole in my pocket.


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I know it seemed like there was only one cat making frequent…er… visits to our garden, but the truth is we have a plethora of them, both strays and from our neighbors. In the summer we are plagued by slugs. In winter, cats.

Today another frequent visitor, let’s call her Ginger, stopped by to…..er…. visit the piggies. Ginger is very fluffy, playful, and cute. At first she pretended to roll around in the sun……

Sunning himself quite happily

Keeping an eye on the piggies?
But of course we all know she only wants one thing…..

Mudbud faints
Like its larger relatives, Ginger waits patiently…… while I sit freezing on the floor, camera in hand…. When the piggies finally notice her, Mudbud faints. Or falls asleep. It’s hard to tell.

Ginger makes his move
And then! She moves in for the kill…..

Trying to get in
Cat: “Erm, little pigs, little pigs, let me in!”
Piggies: “Squeak!”

Pretending to sleep
Cat: “Hmmmm, I got it! Maybe if I pretend to be asleep they will come out.”

Cat: “Nope! They’re just too yummy! Come here little pigs!”

Come here little piggies....
Piggies: “Can someone help us out here? We are so NOT having fun.”

What are you staring at?
At this point the Shnufflebubby started shrieking: “My piggies! My piggies!” leading Ginger the Cat to give us a long, hard stare…. walk towards us to stare some more…… and jump over the garden wall.

Hasta la vista, kitty cat!

(This story is brought to you by: Too Much Sugar in the Cookies, with cameo appearances of: Our Laundry)

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HB and I have a favorite store for kitchenware. It caters to restaurants, so everything they have are of good quality and built for heavy-duty cooking.

Prices are not always cheap, but we take advantage of sales. One time we came across these unique salt and pepper shakers. I was just about to grab them when I noticed the price tag: NIS 70 each. Frigging $20!!!! I can only think of one reason for this.

Must. Be. Bullet-proof.

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Something really strange has been happening to the garden. I know that this winter is not particularly severe, and in other places winter here would be considered spring, or even summer (in, like, Siberia).

Nevertheless, it is still cold, especially at night when temperatures drop. But instead of going dormant like they did last year, the garden is in FULL BLOOM.

It was delightful at first but now it is starting to get creepy.

Exhibit A: Our lime tree, which is virtually exploding in flowers and fruits. Did anyone pump this with fertilizer without my knowledge?!?!?!
lime tree flowers in winter

Exhibit B: The kalanchoe blossfeldiana (otherwise known as that bushy thing with the pink flowers) has also exploded in a profusion of flowers.
kalanchoe blossfeldiana in winter

Exhibit C: Flapjack kalanchoe which was on the verge of death last year, very happy and fat, albeit a little bruised from a hail storm.

kalanchoe thyrsiflora in winter

And Exhibit D: Our monster money tree which, I believe, will soon grow legs and climb out of its pot.
money tree in winter

It’s the ultimate garden mystery.

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I think I hurt my friend’s feelings recently. Yes, Valentine’s Day and all. There is this grey area in friendships where I wish for the happiness of my dearest friends, and when they find someone who might be THE ONE, I join in their hopes, go along for the ride, cheer them on when they do find happiness, and provide the convenient shoulder when things don’t turn out the way they wanted.

But the grey area also includes those times when friends enter relationships which are not beneficial for them, can be outright harmful, or go against my beliefs.One of these is infidelity.

I’ve seen first hand the damage that a cheating partner can do; to the other partner, to children, to themselves. And I’ve always subscribed to the belief that if someone wanted to sow wild oats, then that someone has no business getting married, or staying married, in the first place.

I’ve also seen a number of friends who fall for men who are “unavailable” (to put it mildly). And the rationalizations are always the same: ‘They’re on the rocks,” “He’s leaving her,” “He’s really a good person,” “He’s just going through a rough patch,” “He’s not like that at all” (like what, a cheater????). Or worse, “It’s not going anywhere and I just want to have fun.” (Ano daw????)

What baffles me is that these are smart, empowered women, who could find someone much, much better. But they don’t and instead, they settle for these people who give them the crumbs of their attention and time, and they expect their friends to share in their version of happiness.

It is in these cases that I am severely torn: between supporting my friend(s) and affirming their happiness, or telling them off for being party to something that was going to hurt a lot of innocent people. Throw the wet blanket and rain on the parade, so to speak.

In the folly of youth (mixed perhaps with the culturally ingrained fear of confrontation) I tended to keep my silence. But not last month. Perhaps I have grown too old and cranky. Perhaps it was a bad day. Perhaps it was the commercialized atmosphere. That conversation did not go very well. I hurt her feelings. We both talked and did not listen to each other.

I am heartily sorry for it. All I wanted to say was: You don’t deserve his empty wishes and promises. I wanted you to know that you are worth much, much more than what he can give and it hurts me to see you get the short end of the bargain.

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We come from an island known for its sugar. For more than a century, sugar was the lifeblood of our island. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, was connected to sugar some way, somehow. Plantation owners. Field workers. Factory workers. Truckers. Pastry makers. Oh, do we have pastry makers.

Everything we ate had sugar, even the most unlikely things (think spaghetti, adobo, tinola, etc.). All throughout my life there it always seemed as if we put at least a little bit of sugar in everything we cooked (perhaps for good luck?). There are also times when some people in my family would go overboard, as in, equal-amounts-of-cream-and-sugar-in-the-fruit-salad overboard (yes Vru, I’m talking about you!).

But one can live on such sweetness only for so long. Is it a wonder that so many families I know, including my own, have diabetes?

Yeah, I thought so too.

I’ve seen grandparents, uncles, and even siblings struggle with diabetes. I’ve seen the injections, dialysis, foot wounds, and all those complications that go with the disease. I’ve also seen the opposite in my brother, where there is never enough sugar, and one missed meal could mean a collapse, or worse.

Hence the conscious effort to lessen our sugar intake. But it can be hard, avoiding all those pastries back home. At least the Shnufflebubby reminds us often: “You’re one-half diabetic, you’re one-half diabetic, so I’m one whole diabetic!”

DNA plus fractions gone haywire. I have my mother-in-law to thank for this.

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“I need to make a model. Using 3-D shapes like cuboids, cylinders, pyramids, etc,” the Shnufflebubby announced early this week. Ok, I told HB. This is your turf.
HB and I share homework duties. I, being the allegedly more “artsy” one, take charge of spelling, history and all the non-scientific subjects. He, being an engineer, takes charge of math and science.
But as SB started rambling on about tropical forests and how to make a 3-D model, it was becoming increasingly clear from HB’s face that it was all Greek to him. I tried to help out by explaining how to make trees out of paper and mountains, but by the time I got to the painting part HB was already panicking.
“If it’s so easy, why don’t YOU do it?” goes the Engineer.
“You build things. YOU can do it,” I assured him.
“I build computers, not forests!”(Ok, Jedi mind trick not working.)
So Shnufflebubby and I dug around for our Christmas crafts box with the requisite glue, paints, tape and cardboards. She had already found her way to our sack of garden soil and filled a cut up shoe box, and we spent two nights making a little bahay kubo, some paper banana trees and a mountain, clouds out of cotton stuck to barbeque sticks, and a yellow sun made out of rolled up scratch paper.
For added measure we also placed a pink Play-Doh carabao outside the nipa hut. Why pink? Because it was an albino carabao. Also, we were short on Play-Doh.
Towards the end I tried to enlist the help of HB to get the trees and the nipa hut to stand properly. But it only drove him into a state of further confusion, he being the engineer who does not build forests (“I am not even a civil engineer!”).
It never ceases to amaze me how HB, who always has his hands jammed up wires and monitors and whatnot can be so stressed out over a bunch of cardboard and scissors. I guess even wonder boys have their limits.

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