The Lenten season brought us moments of solitude and reflection, crowned by the joy of celebrating Jesus’ Christ’s resurrection. In Christian churches, worshippers woke up at daybreak of Easter Sunday to listen to the pastors’ call for moving forward. As Paul wrote in Philippians 3: 13-14: “The one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.”
On Good Friday, Rev. Noel Gatmaitan, the young and dynamic pastor of Pasig Capitol Community Church, did a “different” worship service. Instead of delivering a sermon, or asking church leaders to give their reflections behind the pulpit, he asked members of a small group gathered around a table to share their thoughts about Jesus’ seven last words on the cross. The common interpretations, spoken from the heart, revolved around God’s forgiving everyone, and of how humbling the thought that if God can forgive, why can we not forgive people and events that have hurt us? Yes, we should learn to forgive ourselves for our weaknesses, and move forward.
* * *
The long vacation offered the opportunity for families and friends to get together and have fun – away from the jungle city and the madding traffic. At their Highlands Birch Tree village in Tagaytay, the “log cabin” of former Speaker Joe de Venecia and former Rep. Gina, was filled with laughter and ribbings as “core group” friends exchanged tidbits about the goings on amongst men in government today, Donald Trump’s (who’s he?) quirks, every normal male’s having girlfriends, and some such trivia. And the cornucopia of food, typically Gina-prepared to overflowing was topped by grilled steaks (grilled by JDV himself) so tender they melted in the mouth. Guests included Swedish ambassador Harald Fries and his wife, business tycoon Nards Jimenez and wife Kay, SSS chair Amado Valdez and wife Nelly, Bel Cunanan, Veronica Jimenez and husband Lito, Joey de Venecia and wife, Carissa and husband and their two little girls (serving guests dessert and coffee like seasoned hostesses), and my husband Saeed and moi.
It’s always fun having dinner with JDV and Manay Gina. More so in the Highlands setting – so cool and sometimes cold one needs to light the fireplace.
* * *
I found my good friend whom I had not seen for a long time, “peanut queen” Roselyn Delloso in – of all places, the CR of Highlands Country Club. We joined her family in the restaurant – husband Fred, daughter Arlene (a former Miss Silliman) and her son Nathan, and Jason and his g.f. Roselyn and I were at Silliman in the late 50s, and after a few years, had dinner at her apartment in New Jersey where she specialized in cancer nursing in a hospital. Nursing by training, she shifted to food production. She now owns a chain of peanut stalls, and was a Silliman Outstanding Alumna in the field of entrepreneurship.
* * *
Once a journalist, a journalist forever, an old-time friend, Margie Logarta, who used to write for a broadsheet in Manila. Then she hied off to Singapore where for years she wrote for publications. The other week she called to invite friends to a cooking demo in the house of Myrna Segismundo, in Quezon City. Myrna is a chef doing corporate work with ABS-CBN. Margie is now an events organizer, but she will be writing for a paper here, too.
At Myrna’s place, Margie organized a group of cooking enthusiasts, public relations men, educators and editors to watch Evonne Lyn Lee, a chef she became friends with in Singapore, demonstrate making Asian pies. Evonne and a friend, Sarah FC Lee, are the authors of what is described a “stunning” cookbook of 50 pot pies, hand pies and tarts with a unique Asian twist. Evonne made some of the pies.
From beef rendang and chilli crab to red bean and pulut hitam, these alluring Asian-inspired flavors redefine the traditional idea of pies, Evonne told us. Evonne and Sarah also reveal their secret to making the fragrant, buttery and crisp short crust pastry that you have always dreamed of.
Complete with insightful tips and a comprehensive basics section that offers a variety of pie crust recipes and troubleshooting pointers, Asian Pies is a definitive guidebook to making pies. You will be amazed at how easy making the pies can be, Evonne said.
While in Manila, Evonne made the rounds of public wet markets for the best of meats and vegetables. She tried making a filling of our local adobo, which she said she liked very much, as well as our arroz caldo.
Evonne Lee is a PR consultant, freelance writer and recipe developer. She has always had a passion for Southeast Asian cuisine and each time she travels, she draws inspiration from locals and culls ideas to develop new recipes. She has contributed recipes to leading food magazines in Singapore and has also written editorials for publications in Malaysia and Singapore.
Sarah FC Lee unwinds by conjuring pie recipes in her mind as she drifts into dreamland. Her first attempt at working on pastry was far from successful, but with perseverance, passion and encouragement, she mastered pastry baking and has successfully developed several variations of fragrant, buttery and crisp short crust pastry to complement the pie fillings in this book.
* * *
I love creamy vegetable soups, like squash, asparagus and mushroom soups.
I’ve just discovered how likable carrot soup is. Let me share the recipe with you, courtesy of Family Network Magazine.CARROT SOUP
• 2 tbs unsalted butter or extra-virgin coconut oil1 onion, chopped
• 1 tbs red curry paste, or to taste
• 2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped - 1/2-inch chunks
• 1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
• 1 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
• 1 1/2 cup of water, or to cover
• 1 lemon or lime
1. Take a large soup pan, and over a medium to high heat add in butter and onion.
2. Stir well until the onions look well-covered. Sauté until they are translucent.
3. Stir in the curry paste, then add the carrots. Cook only for a minute before adding the coconut milk, salt and water. Although you may wish to add more water.
4. Let this simmer around 10-15 minutes until your carrots seem tender. Next puree the mix with a blender or hand blender, giving yourself a lovely smooth soup.
5. Try and get the soup thinned out as much as you like by adding water. Then season to taste. Optional - add a squeeze of lemon or lime.
6. Serve your soup with a topping of choice.