The recipes in this blog were handed down from my aunt and other family members and friends. I do not know where they originated but I would like to imagine that they came from my Lola Alfonsa who, in her time, was legendary for her culinary arts. Any similarities to your own recipe is purely coincidental and not intentional. The rights to this blog and its contents are reserved by the writer and may not be reproduced without written consent from the writer. However, you are free to use the recipes for personal use. Products resulting from these recipes may not be sold commercially.

Doña Alfonsa Garcia Sabalvaro

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Auntie Nita's School of Life, etal

I basically learned to cook from my Auntie Nita who loved cooking and baking. She had nine children after all and my brothers and I along with the rest of my cousins would often stay at her house. It is not unusual for her to feed more than 20 or so friends and family during the weekends. In the Philippines, children rarely helped out in the kitchen as this was the domain of the kusinera (cook) and maids or katulongs (household help), But my Auntie Nita would be found in the kitchen with the help, preparing food for the hungry throngs. Although her culinary skills and inventiveness in the kitchen went unnoticed to us kids who would eat cardboard if it is put on a plate in front of us, Auntie Nita served us lovingly prepared dishes that were worthy of a feature in Gourmet Magazine

Being interested in cooking at an early age, I often took the opportunity to spend time with Auntie Nita in the kitchen. She taught me the basics and techniques of cooking Filipino dishes and the variations you can do to make each meal interesting. In addition, Auntie Nita insisted on teaching my cousins (boys and girls, alike) and I how to maintain a household including such chores as cleaning, sewing and laundry. She would often tell us that we need to learn all this because when we grow up, we may not have the maids to do everything for us or if we do, at least we can supervise them properly. It turned out she was right, as most of my cousins and I ended up living in the United States with no maids to cook, clean and do our laundry for us.
I liked hanging around the kitchen when meals are prepared. It amused me when the cook prepared chicken for our evening meal. It always started out with a live chicken whose neck is slit, blood drained off (and reserved for another meal or condiment), plunged in boiling water for ease of plucking the feathers and cut into pieces for whatever meal was on the menu that day. As long as I can stay in the kitchen, I was happy helping out with such chores like shelling the beans, macerating the garlic on a stone mortar and pestle, grating the coconut and extracting coconut milk and threshing the rice to remove the impurities. I really love the hustle and bustle that went on in the kitchen, Since we are a big family (between lolos and lolas, tiyos and tiyas and pinsans), every meal was like preparing a feast.
My formal cooking training came when I went to the University of the Philippines. As part of my Food Technology curriculum, I took a couple of courses taught by Dr. Matilde de Guzman. These were interactive classes where in the laboratory we experimented on the different cooking techniques, processes and ingredients. Here I learned the science behind food preparation, the interaction between the ingredients and cooking temperature and how they come together.
After I got married, my husband and I moved to the United States. Armed with handwritten recipes from Auntie Nita, my Principles of Cooking textbook written by Dr. De Guzman and a Recipes of the Philippines cookbook by Enriqueta David Perez given to me as a wedding present by one of my best friends, I felt I was ready to tackle the Filipino kitchen on my own here in the US.
This blog will feature the basic Filipino recipes from my childhood as well as adaptations to today's ingredients and conveniences.
Kakain na! Let's eat!

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