Thursday, April 10, 2008


Here are more pictures of Kiki our cat. Observe, dear Readers, how she is draped over the lap of our friend Doug Noble. And observe also how she drinks from a dripping faucet.

And lest you think all I do is follow my cat around with my digital camera, let me correct you, dear Readers. Today I did beading with my friend, Elizabeth Allen; and I also took care of Grandson Luke. I made Roomba clean four rooms. And I shopped at Smart and Final, and also went to the post office. I did other things too but I'm keeping that a secret until next week - and then, I'll let you know what's up!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Everyone told me not to see The Other Boleyn and so I didn't. I bought the book however. It's historical fiction by Philippa Gregory.

What can I say? The book is readable; it's light reading; the characters do not have a lot of complexity to them, but it's engaging. I'm actually enjoying the book. Each scene has a beginning, buildup and end. The characters have clear motivation and are easy to tell apart. It goes from scene to scene, and it sucks you along. Even though you know the overall plot, it's fun to read the book. But there's nothing complex about the characters or situation. It's linear and the characters are what they are; there are no underones, no hidden selves. The Howard family (i.e. the Boleyns because their mother was a Howard) are all ambitious and will do anything to climb socially. Anne Boleyn is clever, conniving and manipulative, all for the greater glory of the Howards. Mary is a pawn of the family; she's the one with some heart. Henry VIII wants a son and will do anything to try and get what he wants. So most everyone is intriguing and plotting, and using one another to get what they want.

I didn't know about Mary Boleyn. I thought I knew my English history, the Tudors, Plantagenets, Stuarts and all of that. I could rattle off the names of the six wives of Henry VIII, and knew about Sir Thomas More, Cromwell, etc. For some reason, I missed hearing about Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne Boleyn.

(Remember the ditty? - Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived - so that would be Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Katherine Parr. Hmmm, I've just noticed that Henry had three wives named Katherine. I note also that Jane Seymour became queen after Anne Boleyn. The Seymours and Howards were political rivals. I note that Katherine Howard, a first cousin of Anne Boleyn, also became queen and also got herself beheaded. The two cousins are buried together in a chapel in the Tower of London.

The English do this thing about burying people together as some kind of statement. Consider how they buried together Queen Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots - side by side, in Westminster. It was Elizabeth who had Mary Queen of Scots beheaded. So, the English put the two right beside each other.)

Anyway, the story of Mary Boleyn is interesting. She became a mistress of Henry VIII and had two children by him - Catherine and Henry. Her husband, who lent his family name to the Royal bastards, received many royal gifts and became wealthy. Very little of this wealth ended up with Mary when he died, and she was destitute for many years until Anne asked Henry to help her. While she had low moments in her life, she seemed to have had the best deal in the end. She literally kept her head (her sister didn't),married a man she loved, and had a private life somewhere with her family. Her three children went on to serve their cousin or half-sister, Queen Elizabeth.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


One of the Maryknollers who went to Arrowhead, Meldee Perez, talked about her skincare products. She uses Obaji - 6 steps. This product is recommended by a topnotch dermatologist in the Philippines. Indeed Meldee's skin looks great.

So I developed a guilty conscience about my neglect of my skin. Let me mention here that in fact, I'd seen a dermatologist and have used all sorts of products including: Azalex, Retin-A, Hydroquinine. I've used products by Clinique, L'Oreal, Dermalogica, Almay, Revlon, and God-knows-what else.

I've learned some things about my skin: It hates Retin-A and any Retin derivative. It also hates Hydroquinone. The blemishes that the stuff is trying to fade become more fierce. I've learned to read the ingredients of all skin products, fearing retinyl, retin-anything, as well as Hydroquinone.

Inspired by Meldee, I decided to resume the Clinique 3-step, because it's pretty basic and simple. I have three huge containers: the cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. I've also ordered Obaji Sunblock - it sounds like good stuff. And I ordered Dermalogica Microdermabrasion for exfoliating. I shied away from Meldee's Obaji products because it uses Hydroquinone.

I get the feeling that these companies tell people to use their products everyday, but that one should pay attention to their own individual needs.

I know Clinique's toner seems pretty strong for twice a day use. Even though Dermatologica recommends using Microdermabrasion daily, I think I'll use it once a week, for starters.

We'll see how this skin program works. I do know that a good sunblock is worth the money because the inexpensive ones don't really cover your skin, and the sun is what harms the skin most. (Oh, yes, all this stuff's pretty expensive!)

I've seen people who abused their skin, and their skin looked it. I've seen people who have taken care of their and their skin looked good. I'll try to be kind to my skin.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


The Taft High School of the Los Angeles Unified School District had its Passport to Reading 2008 event yesterday, Saturday. I was one of 40 writers and illustrators who participated. The concept of this event is wonderful - getting 3,000 students and parents involved in a literary event. Taft had done this event in the past; the last one they did was in 2002. Unfortunately, yesterday's event was poorly attended. Organizers talked of too many events going on that day. Indeed it seemed as if there were more authors and illustrators than students. But I will say that the students who showed up - even if it was just for extra credit - were attentive and interested and asked intelligent questions. My escort was a smart young woman, Danielle Mekahel - here shown, who talked to me about her visits to Israel.

I also was interested in meeting and talking to some of the authors, most of them writers of Young Adult material. I was able to grill them about this genre.

The organizers of the Passport to Reading event (Dr. Ogo Okoye-Johnson and Kathleen Sheppard among them) should be congratulated for their efforts in trying to instill a love for reading among their students!

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Today I'm sharing recent pictures of the grandchildren: Robert, Luke and Dylan (young to old)

Thursday, April 3, 2008


A couple of years ago, I heard of a Filipino American going to the Philippines for a kidney transplant. The person had arranged this with a Filipino doctor, and he flew to Manila, had the transplant, stayed until his doctor said he could return to the U.S. Apparently the waiting time for a kidney in the U.S. was quite long, and he wasn't sure he'd survive to qualify for one. There was hardly any wait in the Philippines. He had to pay for the kidney. This whole matter was, as I understood it, arranged by his doctor.

Today, while lunching at my favorite Filipino restaurant (nothing fancy, turo-turo on Vermont) I read Midweek Balita. It had an article about kidney black market. The headline reads, "Filipino Kidneys Cheapest in the World Black Market, says NGO."

The article says that Filipinos who sell their kidneys to foreign clients are shortchanged. "The asking price in th U.S. starts at $30,000 while kidney vendors get as much as $10,000 to $20,000 in Israel; $7,500 in Turkey; $6,000 in Brazil, and $2,700 in Moldova and Romania.

The article mentions Filipino farmers who received P112,000 from selling their kidneys - that's around $2,692 - an amount that did not change their financial status, but left many of them in poor health.

The Asia Against Child Trafficking recommended a total ban on kidney trade. Some Filipino doctors said the new administrative order aimed at eradicating a thriving black market was a wrong response to the problem. Doctors are accused of receiving P57 million per kidney transplant; foreign transplants cost $60,000. There's talk of new guidelines for kidney transplantation; guidelines which would limit foreign transplants. There's bickering back and forth among the concerned parties.

I was sad to read this. Is it is not enough for Filipinos to sell their sons and daughters as workers, entertainers, sometimes prostitutes all over the world? Must they resort to selling their body parts to make a buck?

I thought the Philippines was getting better economically. I understand the salary per day is higher than that paid in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and a few other countries in the world? So what's going on here? If the Philippines is getting wealthier as President Arroyo claims, why are Filipinos so desperate as to sell their body parts?

Source: Midweek Balita, April 2-4, 2008, p. 22

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Today, I'm posting a picture of our tuxedo cat, Kiki, whom I found sleeping on a handtowel that happened to be on the bed.

Isn't it charming how cats will find that bit of clothing on the bed, and sleep on it?

This is Ms. Kiki's routine: up at around 7, hang around near her Staff, jumping on their chests and bugging them for her breakfast. Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. She gets her Immugen and her Glucosamine with her canned food. There is dry food at all times; she will eat this only when desperate.

She suns herself in the morning. In the afternoon, she's back inside the house, sleeping in the guest room or in the den. Sometimes she hangs in my office and wants to be picked up to have her ears scratched. She LOVES having her ears scratched! Early evening she visits the den where her Staff are watching T.V. She will jump on laptops, newspapers, make an absolute pest of herself, to get her ears rubbed. She usually falls asleep, and stays asleep even when her Staff have gone up to retire. Sometimes her Staff will carry her upstairs; if not, she will - sometime during the night - join her Staff upstairs. She's old now and has difficulty jumping, so she claws her way up the bed. And then she wants her ears rubbed.

She HATES it when her Staff is holding her and reading the newspaper at the same time. She hates children - I am embarrassed to write this, but it's true; she will disappear when children are around. In general she hates people and is very selective of the people she will allow to see her. She does not even like my housekeeper who's been cleaning our house for over 20 years. You must never, never touch the lower part of her body - that is her butt end - she will bite!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


The trip to Arrowhead was great! Activities consisted of non-stop talking, eating, praying, shopping, and watching August Moon. It was still very cold in Arrowhead - remember, we are all Tropical girls! There was still snow along the banks. It rained Saturday night and there was a flurry on Sunday.

We had a lot of Filipino comfort foods: Sinigang, Binagoongan, fried dilis,longaniza, plus other dishes. Maria Ciocon brought a wonderful Corn Soup, and below is her recipe. I've asked the others for their recipes, which I'll add to this blog entry:

Maria Ciocon's CORN SOUP
Here again is the basic- the soup I cooked Saturday was - 3 small cans of
cream corn (salted) and also 2 or 3 chicken broth. Start with 2 if you put
3 might get too watery and not as creamy.

1. chicken breast-boiled and diced into serving pieces (your sahog can
also be shrimp, artificial crab or ground pork

2. sauté garlic, onion, with cooked chicken breast. Add a little
Fish sauce for flavoring.

3. add 2-3 cans of cream corn. Stir for 2-3 minutes allowing corn
to mix with your chicken. Then add your chicken broth. Low to medium
fire, when your soup is boiling put 1-2 eggs and whisk fast. This will
make the soup thick in consistency.

Soup I cooked was good for 2 meals It will last and still be OK
for 2-3 days as long as its refrigerated.

Maria Ciocon's LAING
Your gabi leaves should really be dry cause if not you throat will get itchy.
Cut gabi leaves. Your sahog will be shrimps, dried fish (daing) pieces of pork w fat so to make it tasty. Don’t use beef, it will not give it flavor. Sliver of ginger and little garlic. I don’t think you use onions.

1 can of coconut milk or two depending on amount of gabi leaves
Bagoong (shrimp paste)
chili-small red or green ones, depend on how hot or spicy you want it to be.

1. saute your ginger , garlic,

2. add your pork, shrimp or daing or all 3 to make if you want it really tasty

3. add your leaves

4. pour your coconut milk, not the top or creamy portion. (do not dilute your coconut milk with water)

5. season with bagoong, and when leaves are wilted or look more or less like pureed, add creamy portion of coconut milk

6. when ready to serve add chili, cause if you put this early it will really be spicy

Your dish should look like spinach deep with a little oil from coconut oil, it shouldn’t look watery.

Or since this is a poor man’s dish you can just put all of the above together,let it boil. When creamy (like a spinach deep) add your creamy part of the coconut milk. Add or season with bagoong and add your chilis
Meldee Perez's SINIGANG NA BABOY Ingredients: cooking oil, pork neck bones cut into
serving pieces (you can also use pork ribs), garlic,
onions, tomatoes, rice water, patis, 1 green or yellow
chili, Knorr tamarind soup base in packet, baby
bokchoy, talong (optional) and white radish

For SINIGANG NA HIPPON , just boil tomatoes first in
rice water. Once tomatoes turn soggy and soft, add
slice onions. Add patis and knorr tamarind to taste.
Then add shrimps until cooked. Add bokchoy before
serving. Serve hot.

Saute garlic, onions,in oil then add pork. Brown
pork, then add tomatoes. Saute around 15 to 20
minutes or until you see fat coming out from the pork,
then add little patis for the pork to absorb the
patis, stir and wait for around 5 minutes. Add rice
water. This is usually the time I cook rice. 1st
wash, I throw, and add the 2nd wash into the pot.
Broth added depends on how much soup you want.
Usually I drown the meat. Let boil until meat is
tender. I remove the fat w/c surfaces on the broth.
You can add water if you think you want more soup.
Put the tamarind powder in a bowl and add water and
stir to blend. (Most of the time, I just add the
tamarind powder directly in the pot when I'm
tinatamad). Add some more patis to taste and blend
w/the tamarind. Add talong, radish and bokchoy and
serve hot.

Meldee Perez's TINOLA
Ingredients: cooking oil, garlic, onions, ginger,
chicken cut in serving pieces and remove skin, patis,
rice water, chayote cut in 2, then cut horizontally,
spinach wash well (optional) or green onions, optional
(cut into 2 inches long) to add green color.

Saute garlic, onion and ginger in oil. When you can
smell the ginger, add cut chicken and brown around 10
to 15 minutes. Add patis generously . Add rice water
and let boil until tender. Remove floating fat.
(marami iyan!) Before the chicken gets too tender,
add chayote w/c cooks like 10 minutes. Add spinach or
green onions before serving. Serve hot.

Read also:
Cooking with Cecilia Brainard - Quiche
Cooking with Cecilia Brainard - Linguine with Clams
Cooking Lengua Estofada
Food Essay - Fried Chicken Caribbean-style
How I Learned to Make Leche Flan (or How I Met my Husband)
Cooking with Cecilia - Leche Flan (Vietnamese Style) 
Recipe of Balbacua Cebuana from Louie Nacorda 
Easy Filipino Recipes from Maryknollers 
Cooking with Cecilia - Beef Bourguignon 
Cooking with Cecilia - Chicken Soup for my Bad Cold 

tags: food, wine, cooking, recipes, Filipino