Day 16 – The pesto makes things better

Epilogue. the first dab of pesto-boated pasta momentarily blurred my sanity and had me ascending to a safe psychedelic haven, I never knew I could make it, but I did. Thank God.

I think it’s wonderful to make two varieties of pesto to see how one is, based on personal preferences, better than the other. The thing with cooking is that you are sovereign over your domain, no one touches anything unless you let them to, and from the cook’s end of cooking, as a young cook at heart, I’ve learned a few things that can make it interesting:

  • You can always make things better, you know what you want and how you want it, now what you need to do is to make it, and with a degree of control, you can.
  • You are in control of everything, the taste, the aroma, the color, the entire experience, and through that you can share a part of your passion to those who will eat.
  • You learn a new things from trying what isn’t in the recipe. I mean recipes are there, yeah, to guide you, but you will always have a leeway an a margin to work on to make it more personal and hearty, yeah, the word is hearty even if it has a lot of fat in it.

There I was, wanting to make a legitimate pesto for the first time because some people told me they are fond of pesto, (I think I’m that easy of a giver in some cases, so easy that hings can be just a nudge away); I bought the ingredients, just three for the pesto:

  • Fresh Parsley
  • Olive Oil
  • Pasta (I used this flatter kind of spaghetti, it’s not flat enough to be called fettuccine but not round enough for spaghetti)

You might also need the following:

  • Your good arm and a good grip
  • A good chopping board
  • A cleaver (a less sharp one can bring out more juice from the parsley as it does to onions, and this time you want more juice)

Here’s to Pesto:

1. Leave the parsley (this is one of those times when I use a noun as a verbm e.g. Core the apples), like get the leaves, include the small stalks but do not include the bigger stalks – the more mature ones – then put it in a strainer. Bathe them in cold water to make them stand on end (you cannot see this but you can feel it, they stiffen a bit because their souls have been awakened, but don’t worry, their souls are simply auras, their feelings are triggered not by the physical but by the auras of what surrounds them, that means being chopped won’t hurt them but at least try to be happy when chopping them), afterwards chop them like how Manny Pacquiao sends his fist on air – continuous, seamless, and very sharp – I recommend you use a cleaver because that’s what I use, the effort is raising it but landing it on the chopping boards it already up to its weight.

2. Now place all chopped parsley in a bowl and pour olive oil on it, for batch one I made a submerged type of pesto with about a 3-cm layer of olive oil on top of the parsley, this is useful for mixing in pasta or rice because you get it with some olive oil to mix in with your base (pasta or rice), for the next batch (which I made about 1 or 2 weeks later) I only used enough olive for it to be pasty, the chopped parsley isn’t submerged, just mixed, this is useful for bread, but I also used it for rice and pasta, I just had to drizzle some more oil while mixing.

It’s a pretty simple no-cook recipe that lasts for about a week when refrigerated. At times I add it while sauteing cooked pasta so it gets a bit cooked but sometimes I just add it raw on cooked pasta without sauteing. your choice. The sauce/paste is unsalted by default, I prefer adding the salt on before/as I eat, you know, just in case someone wants to taste my pesto without salt because I kinda make it for sharing too.



Day 15 – QLC

You divide a deceased person’s age by 4, do this for a minimum of 30 other deceased people from the same place and get the average – this is the mean quarter-life of the population they belong to; this number also represents the age in which someone from their place is most likely to face an ascend to maturity that, unfortunately, warrants a descent of the self, ladies and gentlemen, The Quater-life Crisis.

  • Being exposed to the world and all the possibilities and changes it carries dilutes your concept of certainty inevitably planting the seeds of doubt on your young fertile heart;
  • Doubt, as it is unwillingly nurtured, grows from mere doubt of fact to a stronger and more powerful form – the doubt of self – causing us to seek certainty by re-assessing, changing and expanding our focus in many aspects of life;
  • The adjustment of your focal capacity causes the direction you are following, it be far or close, to blur and eventually be lost in a mist of light slowly delivering us to a fragile descent into fear;
  • Fear, as it is, is now more manifested in all our decision making potently fortifying barriers that deter expression, opportunity, growth, and strictly speaking – happiness.
  • These barriers introduce us to a new level of separation from the world chaining our perspective of independence to a bitter extent of isolation into different cells of loneliness representing every aspect of our life;
  • Our unstable and changing perspective towards life depresses our patience and attention effectively reducing the value we give to events in areas of our life making them appear collectively massive and unimaginably quick;
  • Finally, the spectrum of all the events coming in massively at a fast rate as perceived is coupled with doubt, fear, and isolation, this effectively develops into a seemingly meaningless and blinding form of new-found confusion.

All at 22, all at 22.

Day 14 – Tinolang Manok, no MSG

September 5 update: Nanay said the Papaya should be half ripe, already orange but not that soft yet. And you should cook the chicken in low fire throughout, this extracts more juice without drying it out quickly and burning the chicken.

One thing I learned from this activity: My cooking is near nanay’s (mama’s) because tatay (papa) barely noticed a difference in the taste, no one told him I was the one who cooked, not that I seldom cook, I just think it’s noteworthy that I’m near nanay’s cooking haha, at least for the family taste standard.

Now I’m gonna tell you how I did it: Love of course, that’s a given, but also include a certain amount of skill in measuring and timing. This is my Tinola story, or rather, the story of my Tinola.

Tinola is a soupy dish with chicken as meat combined with papaya and pepper tops (the young leaves of a pepper tree, talbos ng sili).

You will need*:

  • 1 kilo of chicken
    • 3/4 kilo of the leg part which is about three pieces of it (one leg drumstick and half a tail per piece, I separated them)
    • 1/4 kilo of chicken liver (ours came with the heart)
  • 1 ginger, not the yellow kind, tho the unyellow kind is mostly, uhm, yellow, about three thumbs big (shred)
  • Half a bulb of garlic (mince)
  • One purple onion, the purple kind has more flavor and is more fun to look at (chop)
  • Fish sauce, this we estimate, but have it at 1/4 of a cup for the sauteed base and some more to taste
  • A whole papaya that is about half a kilo (cube  as big as a billiard chalk if that’s what you call it)
  • Pepper tops, I used the leaves from our Scotch Bonnet Chili plant (get the ones about as big as your nose, seriously)
  • Green pepper, this not the bell kind
  • Just some oil, enough to drown the garlic when you saute (about 2 tbsp.)
  • Skills in timing
  • An eye to detail
  • A sense of color

*You see, when I cook I estimate measurements (tancha), I don’t always use the same cup when measuring and I commonly decide how much garlic to use based on how much I think it will affect the taste of the dish, so yeah, feel free to deviate.

This makes Tinola that is good for two meals of four people each haha, that’s the way it is, we reheat food, the catch with this dish (and to most of the dishes cooked at home is that the taste gets better on the second and third, or sometimes even fourth reheating).

Here  goes something:

Step 1: With the oil in the pan, turn on the fire, the pan should heat up with the oil, then put your hand above it every like two minutes or so to see it if can make your garlic sizzle, estimate, just do 🙂 Add the garlic afterwards, let it sizzle for about 1 minute while sauteing it then add the onions. Add the shredded ginger then continue sauteing, it should smell really yummy, and it’s better to just shred the ginger while adding it instead of pre-shredding it, that’s how I do it. Do not let the garlic brown, before that even happens add the fish sauce then saute, smell its goodness but don’t be tempted to stop haha, that’s no viand yet, that’s just your ginisa (sauteed base). Cover it for like a minute to let it simmer.

Step 2: Your ginisa is now ready, this is what you have to do,  get the chicken and mix it in your sauteed base. By the way, make sure your chicken is well defrosted, do not cook it fresh from the fridge. Stir-fry it for three minutes (or so I think that’s how long I did it) and cover it, leave it for about 5 minutes or check on it every now and then to see if it starts to juice out, that’s the secret to great tasting chicken dishes, don;t just toss in everything, you should stir-fry the chicken first. Mix it everytime you check on it and make sure it does not stick on the pan. You will know it’s well cooked if the juice is enough to bathe at least half of the chicken (or more, that’s better) and make sure the chicken is tender, just like the garlic, do not brown the chicken.

Step 3: Now that your chicken is almost fully cooked, or essentially it is, you can add water enough to drown the chicken; I use the term drown instead of submerge because it sounds more practical, so yeah, drown the chicken and stir it for about a minute. You can add some more water if you like it to be soupy, the drowning chicken thingy measurement is just enough for it not to be too bland or too salty. Cover it until it simmers. Once it starts simmering taste the soup, always remember to mix it a little before tasting as oil wil always rise above water, yeah, they have that kind of superiority complex, if it’s too bland add fish sauce, funny how you add fish sauce on a dish with chicken, it;s delicious, and probably because I can’t really find chicken sauce here. Then let it simmer again, it all depends on your taste actually. After achieving the right taste level that suits you, let it simmer for half a minute, no need to cover.

Step 4: All is settled, but all you have now after that 30 second simmer a tasty serving of boiled chicken, this is when you add the papaya cubes and the pepper leaves, fruits and veggies cook faster than meat so you want to put them at the latter part of your cooking process, mix them in and mix them lightly, mix it good and mix it brightly, because it sounds like a nursery rhyme 🙂 Cover it for a while, like three minutes until it starts boiling semi-briskly. Check if the leaves are helplessly resting on top of some papaya cubes, yes, helplessly resting like how the timepieces in Salvador Deli’s The Persistence of Memory rested on rocks and tree branches, that helpless. That means it’s all good. Mix it again before tasting. Top it with green pepper and cover it to let the steam seep into the pepper for a while then serve, also with the pepper on top, preferably.

Now you have your Tinola, please don’t mind the helpless pepper leaves, they are delicious to eat. The papaya should not be crispy in any way, or at least that’s how we prefer them. Be well, say graces before eating and have fun savoring this chickeny chicken dish made tasty by fish sauce haha. And yeah, no MSG please. Give your liver a break.

Day 13 – Seven lessons from five mountains

I’ve been to a series of field visits, just recent actually, hence the long pause from this thing called WordPress.

If I were to give you a briefer in less than a paragraph I’d say that my first fieldwork transformed my job into a calling, it is when I finally know who are the recipients of the Economics that i do everyday in the office – the grassroots (I mean of course, the grassroots), who they are, what they do, what they need, and what I, an Economist, can do to provide for them so that they, in turn, could provide for us. Okay, that’s like a paragraph.

I never imagined mountain climbing as a part of my job description; in fact it isn’t, but it did entail going on field to check on plantations and sites

So there I was, sent to a mountainous region way up north of the Philippines nine months after my incubation in the office ready to be born and christened as a bona-fide tree hugger; and after trekking on 5 different mountains in two days (plus a few lowland areas), I learned quite a lot:

  1. Always remember to breathe

Oxygen levels decrease as your altitude increases. Elevating in life certainly means having to encounter more responsibilities and challenges that can literally have you running out of air; take time to breathe, let your blood circulate well, everyone needs a breather every so often, don’t deprive yourself of that.

  1. Drink enough water every once in a while

Remember to rehydrate yourself; dehydration is not on the list of potentially exciting unexpected events that can happen on a mountain. However, Holding your bladder and holding on rocks are not two acts best best done in unison so don’t drink too much. As you ascend you get tired and drained, you compensate with whatever you have, don’t do it too much because it can get you off track at times and you might find it difficult getting back without wetting your pants.

  1. Always watch your step

You are bound to walk on tall patches of grass and mushy piles of mud. Always check the next move you will make, if you slip then stand up again, if you fall then make sure you have a way back up, just make sure you can handle whatever happens, we get ourselves in situations and we can find our way out, God won’t allow something to happen beyond His permission.

  1. Be mindful of your surroundings

Animals are not only on the ground, a portion of their population is on the forest canopy or on the mid level tree branches eyeing their next prey, that includes you. Keep a watchful eye for potential predators; avoid them at all costs to avoid unnecessarily decreasing their population, or yours. Do not disturb them if not needed. You will inevitably meet lots of predators, some won’t mind you and some will, you’ll just have to handle things well, find your balance, and walk right past them.

  1. Always have a purpose

Always have a purpose because the prospect of finishing it is what can keep you going. Climbing because you want to is a purpose in itself, climbing for visiting plantations and data gathering is another, let whatever is worth looking forward to be your reason for ascending,

The word is motivation, the essence is reason.  –  Eliseo Tupas

  1. Don’t bring excess baggage

Make sure that you have JUST everything you need and nothing else, otherwise leave it and spare yourself from unnecessary weight. Remember, we all have different needs depending on our purpose and how we happen to live it, if you don’t need it then it is excess, and you can’t afford any added weight when trying to go way up, it’ll just bring you down. Let go of it; digging deeper, the need to preserve the self goes beyond basic, so make sure you have just enough.

  1. Enjoy climbing

Many things happen when climbing, we slip, fall, and hurt ourselves at times but we get through; have a laugh and learn from your experiences, climbing is not an easy thing to do especially when you begin walking on higher altitudes and slopes, you may find it hard to enjoy at first, but it will come along, after all that’s often how new experiences are.

So much for a day in the life of an Economist, Be well everyone.


Day 12 – A marker and a whiteboard

One of the wonders of thriving in a very flexible field of discipline is having the liberty to deviate from practices with the premise of innovation without the promise of success – that is where the catch is.

In hopes of making something new out of the old, you take risks, you face trials and end up with errors, you add, remove, process variables in order for you to make functions work, you reorder, double, cancel, add operations for processes to yield good results.

Then, after facing these trials and knowing which of them will yield the minimum error with the highest proximity to perfection (if not perfection itself), you draw the ultimate conclusion after all the smaller conclusions-of-error you made.

Benefit is, you know what not to do, you find them all out before finally knowing what to do to make a process yield the most proper output, to make a function answer the questions you do have in mind, to do things the best and most acceptable way possible.

You now write all of them, let them be made known, why they are not to be done and what will happen if they are done anyway, you have to do this because the errors you had might be the answers to other questions, this then contextually validates your errors.

Paradigm is that you do this for a decision whose nature is very important like investments or even marriage, you try out many combinations and find out which of them yields the most profit, you try our many relationships and see which of them will work.

Shifting perspective will tell you it is not always the case, you can change your trading proportions instead of changing what you trade all together, and you can have one relationship and find out what goes wrong see what caused it and try not letting it happen again.

What people need is space for thinking, an inconclusive perspective to see contextual errors, multiple paradigms to see different perspectives, and  a mind that is willing to make efforts for thinking.

What do you think?

Day 11 – Then I met Priscilla online, I hope to meet her in person soon

Queer music painting the air with the rainbow-shaded colors of drag, flamboyantly neon feather boas slithering around muscular extremeties, and the story of making a literally mountainous dream come true, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert may not be royalty but it redefines what regal is all about.

The beginning is not as spectacular as what you think a musical would be, it’s more of a movie with songs interpreted by lip-syncing and movement, – a drag queen kind of musical, which is justifiable because they are, uh, drag queens (unlike Mama Mia where they actually sung the ABBA songs with their voice); however, this lack of spectacle is not a negative trait, it indeed lacks spectacle relative to the big musicals but for this kind I think it just has the right amount of pizzazz because it sets the mood, it says – being a drag queen is not easy, it’s not all spectacle and entertainment, there are times when even drag queens themselves say “I’ve never been to me”, which is the song on the first number, great choice.

Despite it featuring drag queens, the movie is not draggy; even if it involved them embarking on a journey with Priscilla the bus across the Australian Deserts (which reminds me of another drag movie involving a long journey in a car across a far distance, To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar); each stop over brought something new to the each of them e.g. learning how the differently accepting/unaccepting people from different places are i.e. the aborigines enjoyed their company and even joined them in dance while the Coober Pedy people were relatively unbecoming in terms of handling the members of drag royalty.

Drag wise, the drag they sport, as I see, falls in the spectrum of clown drag, not model drag, not haute-couture drag, but clown drag. Nothing wrong with it, clown drag is just another name for showgirl drag, like the casino showgirl get up – which really suits the title Queen of the Desert, very exotic and very, uh, sandy, in a good way. The music, well selected as I said, it sets the mood for every scene, and it’s a healthy sing-along movie without you really missing out on the story.

Lessons from this film are numerous, here are a few of them:

  • The loud get tamed without you expecting it
  • You get rewarded for helping out without you expecting it
  • Honesty will do wonders without you expecting it

Please notice how I add a common phrase to the three learnings – without you expecting it.

Really God has His own way of telling us things, these ways will always surprise us and leave us in awe, remember His ways are not ours, nor are His thoughts. The point is that these things come to us without us expecting it, we do our thing everyday thinking everything will be smooth sailing when all of a sudden we are taken aback because we’ve been stricken by something, or we help someone out just because we think we should or want then we get something we’ve been looking for along the journey, or maybe we decide to tell the truth to someone despite the fear of rejection and to our surprise everything turns our really well.

And in the end, we all get our dreams to come true: “To be a cock in a frock on a rock” whatever that means for your life.

I’m looking forward to see the musical here in Manila soon. God bless.

Day 10 – An Easter Sunday Sandwich

Easter Sunday Grammar before anything else.

  • He has Risen – when Risen is used as a verb.
  • He is Risen – when Risen is used as an adjective.

Both are correct, it depends on how you intend to use it, just make sure the way you choose will fit the context you intend to work on.

And now, A very simple Easter Sandwich.

Get a loaf of bread, feel its tender bristles falling off as they come into contact with your begroovened skin (I made that word, it means  to have been given grooves), get a jar of freshly preserved peanut butter, low fat if needed, and spoon a generous amount of it on top of the khaki-crusted slice on your palm. Now you can see a slab embezzled with peanut butter realness, but do not indulge on it, not just yet.

A slice of ham will do, the holiday variety preferably, you do not want salty, you want a juicy slice of pineapple goodness on your piece of bread. Now, rest the slice of ham on half of the bread’s bebuttered (I made that word, it means to have been given butter) face, watch it slowly come in contact with the creamy surface which you meticulously adorned and with graduations you intuitively imagine make sure it is aligned with the crust so it will be even when folded.

Fold the half-finished meal into half, now it is finished, it had been done. It’s a good way to end your fasting from meat over the holidays.

Personally, I find the contrast of the meat and the peanut butter really appealing. I used the semi-dry, chunky, unsweetened peanut butter whose thickness somehow engaged into a well choreographed waltz with the holiday ham’s meat fibers, and whose subtle saltiness sung in a very welcoming soprano which is then accompanied by the well orchestrated sweet-umami-pineapple symphony of the meat. You should try it.

Happy Easter, and I hope we all try to be in good spirits today and everyday, it won’t be easy but by Hid grace it can be done.