Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cooking After the Holidays Means...

After-the-holidays cooking is non other than cooking from scratch - it means cooking from the most basic and practical ingredients you have on hand. Foods made from scratch are considered healthier as they contain less preservatives and chemicals. Garden-fresh tomatoes, peas, corn, potatoes, greens and some sort of herbs and spices will give you the chance to cook from scratch. If you live in the city and you don’t have an area or time to plant, you can buy cheap but fresher scratches from your nearest cooperative store or local wet market.

Most of us have spent so much to give the best for the holidays. By cooking in scratch, you will have a lot of fun trying the healthier options, or creating your own, at the same time it helps save money. Homemade meals and desserts can be easier to make than you think and preparing a satisfying meal from scratch can take less time than dining out. It can be the perfect time to introduce to your kids how to create delicious meals using what you have on hand, and you will be amazed how long you can live off the food in your pantry if you have cooking skills.

It goes without saying that fresh vegetables like carrots, celery, potatoes and onions are  among the basic vegetables that you need. There are top reasons to eat local produce. Look for fresh beans and peas, or experiment with new vegetables. To get these items, visit your town’s farmer’s market to discover a wide array of locally grown foods. Aside from beef and poultry, rice also adds nutrition to any meal. Pasta is made from grains that add both fiber and nutrition to a meal. Your regular hams can be baked and eaten for dinner one day with the leftovers used for sandwiches, soups and other dishes; no need for bottled sandwich spreads.
Cooking from scratch after the holidays is not just about food, it’s drinks as well. If during the indulging holidays the family has “too much” of soft drinks, cocktails and other canned beverages, it’s obvious that these items can be minimized or, for the benefit of everything, avoided. These drinks contain a lot of sugar, preservatives and are made with reconstituted juice. Make homemade lemonade instead of buying pop, or for total wellness, drink water. Find out some other secrets to a healthy meal.
Cooking food from scratch is terrific if you have the time to prepare, but hardly for working people with families. The best thing experts suggests is the weekend. So, perhaps a weekly pilgrimage to the farmer’s market can be worth inserting to your precious schedule.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Homemade Sweet Bread Pudding For The New Years

What's for dessert on the New Years?

Let's take a moment to celebrate the coming of the New Year in an old-fashioned bread pudding. For it's going to be a special eve so nothing can top anything homemade.

Since New Year's day (January 1) seems to bring out the “let’s start with all things we think best for the New Year”, why not start with an old-fashioned pudding bread too? They say we're now  in the "let's go back to basic" days, so isn't it just perfect time to go back to  basic bread? After all, that's where it all began.

Pudding Bread! 
BreadPuddingRecipe.co.uk - Thanks for this photo!
  I actually grew up with pudding bread as part of my life.  Mom enjoys making them and we enjoy eating them, that’s the scene. We soak pieces of bread (often leftover and stale bread) in a mixture of milk, sugar and eggs and leave it to soak for more than an hour, or until bread feels melty. We sometimes mix in lots of fruits to eliminate sugar though you can choose the plain milk-creamy kind of a pudding. Then Mom would transfer the mixture to a shallow baking pan (baking dish today) and bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 300 degrees.

My assignment was to decorate the pudding, so I would put icing inside a cone-shaped parchment and pipe the pudding. I’ve always loved the way I do it and I could've taken a picture of our family pudding… oh well. But it almost certainly look like the one on the photo, though we had ours a bit denser when filled with fruits.

It's fun seeing the family pudding back on the table during holidays, and this time I would enjoy making lots of the pudding while it's the kids' turn to enjoy eating them, and what's more fun is to see friends and relatives widen their eyes in the simple taste of a plain old-fashioned pudding matched with hot chocolate on the New Year's Day.

Maayong Pasko ug Malipayong Bag-ong Tuig Kanatong Tanan!
          Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year To Us All

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Celebrating Christmas & New Years in the Philippines

Probably more food is prepared during the New Year celebration than Christmas. The same way other cultures welcome the New Year with food, it's tradition for Filipinos to go all out when it comes to food in welcoming the New Year. If Americans believe eating black-eyed peas on the New Year's eve bring luck for the coming year, Filipinos make sure there is plenty of rice and food on the table to ensure abundance of food in the upcoming year.

Filipinos welcome the New Year in a very sound and blissful way. Though most of the country is poor, it's a happy tradition for everyone to celebrate in whatever way they can. Aside from  abundance of food, typical Filipino families find it most important to gather up for the New Year's midnight mass then return home to bring all the blessings home. Everyone would then be busy with just about anything to make the night warm as can be.

Minutes before the clock strikes to midnight, it's magic seeing excitement in everyone's faces as they eagerly awaits the countdown, in fact it's a bit of a requirement to be in the hearty spirit, and if you happen to be in the Philippines, the very festive attitude could get you to holiday high gears as you join in the chorus of the New Year's countdown.

Although the countdown varies from place to place, it's usually at the strike of 12:00 midnight that noise starts abound, church bells ring, car horns blowing, ting cans dragged around,  banging things to create as much noise as possible, and everyone greeting "Happy New Year!". It is awesome to hear the sound of firecrackers ruling the streets and the breathtaking beauty of fireworks blossoming the cool night's sky as you hear awe-inspiring voices of enchanted young and old filipinos alike. It is believed that the loud noises and sounds of merrymaking are not only to celebrate the coming of the New Year but are also to cast out bad spirits.

It is fun seeing children jump as high as they can on the stroke of midnight with the hope to get taller. Some even massage their noses wishing to wake up with a more pointed one. Some people wear polka dotted dresses and shirts as the round shape of the dots symbolizes more money for the year, and couples kiss each other to embrace the New Year with love and sweetness.

After the noise, the family starts to eat a thanksgiving dinner called "Media Noche", a feast that symbolizes their hopes for a prosperous New Year. It is believed that there should be as much food on the table and twelve round fruits to symbolize prosperity for the next twelve months. Some families make a toast of their favorite wine drink for good health in the New Year, while others enjoy drinking beer all through the night.

On the first day of the year, almost all windows and doors are open to let in the good luck of the New Year fill the house. Most of all, it is to welcome the New Year and to thank God for all His blessings. That's how wonderful spending the New Years in the Philippines, it's not about what we have but its how we make the most of what is there. For this reason, I'd still love to spend holidays in the Philippines!

             Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon sa Ating Lahat!
                    Merry Christmas & A Prosperous New Year To Us All

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