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COOKIN’ RECIPE: Dinuguan

Vegan Dinuguan One of my grandmother’s specialties is dinuguan and I grew up eating so much of it that I have plenty of great memories surrounding this dish. When I lived abroad, most Filipinos call it “chocolate soup” or “chocolate stew” to trick others to give it a try. Traditionally, it is a stew of  pig innards cooked in pig’s blood with vinegar. It is beyond me how Nanay (my maternal grandmother) can make a pot of magic with pig carcass and its body liquids. Naturally, becoming vegan is not an impediment to enjoying this dish I loved eating growing up so I made my guilt-free pot last night. Replicating looks, taste and texture is front and center of every successful veganized dish and in this case, I needed a lot of  chew and substance. Taking the pig out of the picture and pulling out my vegan swaps, I used black beans for blood, reconstituted dried oyster mushrooms, fried tofu and pig-free pork belly (vegchon) for innards and dense vegetables for substance. Software: 2.5 cups dried black beans (soaked overnight and slowly cooked in 2 liters of water without salt until tender–I used a slow cooker for this as I cannot be bothered with tending a pot on a stove for hours) 2.5 nori sheets 500 g of extra firm tofu, cubed and fried 125-250g pig-free liempo (vegchon), cut into 1-1.5 inch pieces and flash fried (you can get this from The Real Happy Cow) 2 cups packed dried oyster mushroom, reconstituted and excess water removed then roughly chopped 2-3 sayote or carrots or potatoes, cut into small cubes 5 finger chilis 3 laurel leaves 1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised (white part only) 2 large red onions, roughly chopped 1 head of garlic, peeled and sliced 1 vegetable stock cube or 1 teaspoon mushroom powder 1/3 cup vegan patis 3/4 to 1 cup coconut vinegar (I used half coconut cider and half white vinegar) Cracked black pepper to taste *for those sensitive to yeast and mushrooms, replace with more dense vegetables and add more black beans *for those sensitive to soy, forgo the patis, you can use salt and/or coconut aminos *for the garlic and onion free, replace with asafoetida Procedure: 1. Blend beans with the nori sheets with the cooking liquid. Make sure the cooking liquid is double the amount of the beans, if not, add more water. 2. Saute garlic in a bit of oil until golden brown. Turn... read more

Love in 6 Kittens, Ticks and Madre de Cacao

For several years, I secretly longed for kittens as I missed the days that Castor, Pollux and Fuma were tiny and cute. My boys are still pretty cute but evolved into their own respective beings with very distinct personalities and specific demands, including predilections–they were less demanding when they were tiny is really all I want to say. Little did I know I would take in more than 3 cats, in fact, stumbled upon six newborns found in the trash. Today we woke up with the sound of multiple cries and we found out that an unnamed stranger put 6 little kittens in a plastic bag, right next to our community garbage bins and kept them hidden under a piece of plywood. Knowing they will never survive and no one will take them in, we made an irrevocable decision to take them in without any plans if we are keeping them all or fostering them until we can find new human slaves parents for all of them later. We didn’t even bother telling and preparing our über territorial cats of five to six-ish years. May the one who threw these babies be held accountable for his actions (I dare say kidnap and frustrated murder) and may he wake up to compassion. I had the privilege of caring for different types of animals growing up but in that fairly robust list of critters, newborn kittens (infested with ticks, mind you) are nonexistent. Good news is, we can learn and we are blessed with many friends who are experienced raising very young kittens–and successful at it too. So, here we go. Slightly, I get teary eyed as I say goodbye to my goodnight’s sleep for a few weeks and some of our plans since these kittens will need a lot of care until they can do it for themselves. Here’s to hope that we know what the heck we’re doing and foster these kittens well. Little did I know kittens this size need to be fed every 2 to 3 hours, then you need to help them pee and poop too right aftereach feeding (definitely not prepared for this) need to be warm as they cannot control their body heat yet so that means stealing my husband’s socks and wrapping the hot bottles with it. I am sure he won’t mind. And I’ll have to give the critters another madre de cacao bath to get rid of the tick infestation (happy to report that... read more

A Vegan For Every Reason

I suppose the hearts who used to read my blog wonder what happened to me during my nearly 1.5 year hiatus. To put it simply, I was “growing”–both literally and figuratively. My last post is essentially telling everyone we are moving to a new house and how unpacking drove me a little insane–I changed my domain twice and lost two years worth of blog entries, focused on hugging my cats most of my time, to say the least. Little did I know that the last two years is about reevaluating my path, and deepening and growing vigorous roots in veganism. People who know me are well aware that I started this journey in late 2010 (perhaps even earlier), with so much focus on reclaiming my health through raw vegan food. At the time and for some time, it was just that, food–there is absolutely nothing wrong with it–until I discovered that food is a single part of the entire picture. Like Yoga, asana is only one of its 8 limbs. There is more to it than I thought. I experimented tirelessly with the aim to find what kind of vegan diet works best for me and this is where I found 80-10-10, a fully raw lifestyle based on fruits and vegetables. Since I am known for being an idealist and a bit of an extremist, I dove in, head on and smashed in 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day in mostly fruit for months waiting for “results”–I was hoping to get fitter–and the results I got is gaining almost half the excess weight I lost a few years back. Before I go any further, I am not blaming my weight gain on 80-10-10, I blame it on my excitement to log in empirical data (aka experience) without adequate education on physiological science and full awareness of my starting point. Not to mention that I transformed into a sedentary office potato whose only major activity almost on a daily basis is working in the kitchen. Literally, I lost all common sense that I do have to burn most of what I eat and I cannot eat the entire world without sweat and putting my body to good use. Going back, what I find balancing for my constitution and disposition right now is eating mostly raw, high carb, low fat, whole, vegan (although I will partake of vegan cookies and processed food on occasion) food. Mostly, I subsist on green smoothies for breakfast and lunch if I am incredibly busy, and loads of rice, beans, lentils, leafy vegetables for dinner.... read more

We’ve Moved

photo from Home Fries It has been two weeks since we moved to our new home and we’re only halfway done with all the unpacking–not to mention organizing everything to fit our new casa. Relocating two adults, three cats, one kitchen and whittled-down stuff can be nerve-wracking and energy taxing. Before I go on a long tirade how it has been for my family of five, let me tell you that I took my sweet time oscillating between the state of whelm and gratitude for fresh starts in the last three weeks. Boy, it’s so much easier to be whelmed than be enthusiastic as you grow older. Making the decision to move was definitely not penciled in for this year. The mere fact that we have been dealing with a slippery wet floor each time it rains hard which lead us to shut down our kitchen operations and caused ceaseless whining and annoyance from our cats each time are enough reasons to jump ship. Time to chuck the idea of moving later and move ASAP. After hours of being on all fours, armed with a wet rag and a bucket. KK and I just said it out loud, “We have to move. I hope we can move somewhere super close by where we can fit everything plus a dedicated area for KNL.” Lo and behold, after 24 hours, we found such a place two blocks away. Now, if only we can manifest the unpacking and reorganization just as fast however, these require time and patience. In the midst of the organized chaos of opening and emptying boxes, we slowly resume our living food operations. We understand that even with the best of planning and intentions, it is just as important to respect the “flow of things” . KNL is undergoing massive transformation–to which I will give a more detailed update when it’s time–since June and while moving to the new HQ makes the development slower than what is desired, it simply is nothing more than... read more

COOKIN’ RECIPE: Laing

Laing is one of the regional Filipino dishes I “dread” cooking but is extremely fond of–I’d pick it over anything except for sinigang. Traditionally, I will always eat it but not make it. In fact, I never made it before until yesterday. I love it with hot steaming unpolished rice or rice noodles–laing pasta anyone? Armed by accounts of KK watching his Bicolana grandmother cook this time and time again, Tinkerbelle’s Bicolana mom’s instructions and a YouTube video of Bugnay (see below) as my guides, I set out the make the best meat-free laing my kitchen can produce. SOFTWARE: 1/8 kilo of dried taro leaves (give or take) Coconut cream (kakang gata) from 4 coconuts 4-6 cups of water 4 medium red onion, chopped 4 inch ginger cut into short julienned sticks 1 head of native garlic, chopped 5 siling pansigang or siling labuyo to taste (I happen to have only siling pansigang so that’s what I used but for a more authentic laing, labuyo is a must) 1/2 cup KNL’s Bagoong How did I make it? Just watch this video. I did not include any meat and that green packet of everything but good. How did it turn out? The kid who grew up with Bicolano cooking said, “This is very good, you are very close. Are you sure there’s no meat in this?” WOW! made my day! Who knew it’s not as hard as it seems?... read more

Manic for Ice Cream

The scorching hot summer sun makes the average citizen long for the beach, jump in cold water, take frequent showers, turn on the a/c to full blast, sweat like a pig, develop migraines and during unfortunate times, suffer from heat stroke. These days, any excuse to open the fridge, down cold treats are welcome, especially if we’re talking about my husband–when under the hot sun, is no different than the average citizen. KK LOVES ice cream and this love goes straight back to more than 30 years of beautiful and poignant memories. He can eat a pint in less than 10 minutes, I kid you not. When the temperature rises to as hot as 38 to even 40 degrees,  I do not have the heart to raise my hand and stop KK from grabbing the closest half-gallon tub of ice cream to cool himself down. My husband doing this almost daily made me uncomfortable because I know there are a lot of hormones (because of the cow milk), artificial flavors, refined sugar, stabilizers and other things I cannot even pronounce in ice cream so I started making the kind of ice cream our bodies will thank us for eating: Raw (hardly processed, 100% nutrition) , non-dairy, coconut-based, no extenders, stabilizers, white sugar and no artificial anything. The plan is to stuff the freezer to the brim and give the husband zero excuse to buy commercial ice cream, especially when what I make tastes much better and is nutritionally superior. So far we have two half-gallon tubs in the freezer (awesome way to recycle all those ice cream tubs from the store). Tomorrow, I shall make durian ice cream or perhaps passion fruit and orange sherbet? The options are endless. Super soon, our kitchen will offer these–and more flavors– for sale. Watch out for... read more

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