Current status: I’m in a food-state of mind

Next week is Holy Week, and for Catholics, it’s the climax of religious worship. But because most of us aren’t at work, we’d usually go home to our provinces or go out of town. Either way, Holy Week is not only a matter of worship, but also a time to be with family.

I used to remember when we’re little kids Good Friday is about food and new clothes. Because my mom would often say that you’re attending the funeral of Jesus, wear something decent. And all our relatives will be coming home for vacation therefore we always prepare delicious food for them.

Ever since I started cooking, I’ve been planning our Holy Week menu. We’ve managed to veer away from meat—anyway, it’s only on Good Friday that there’s fasting and abstinence—but still couldn’t avoid but to over-cook, just in case an unannounced visitor suddenly comes to our house.

Here are some suggestions for your Holy Week Menu… and some great finds that you could try for the first time… (These are not just exclusive to Catholics only)

  1. Fresh Lumpia – If I have time, I make my own “pabalat”-it’s just a mixture of corn starch, egg and water- but “hubad na lumpia” is also acceptable. Try doing a shrimp and fillet of fish version instead of the usual ground pork or chicken. In Pampanga, we accompany our fresh lumpias with osyo. It’s a brown sauce made of flour, soy sauce, water and a lot of fresh garlic.
  2. Kare-Kare – I love this dish. For ordinary Kare-Kare, we use pata ng baboy. It’s soft and chewy. But on big occasions, I prefer using oxtail instead of ox tripe. It takes awhile for the oxtail to become tender, but if you have a pressure cooker, then you can use that too. Invest in a good brand of peanut butter because if it’s good, a little goes a long way. Don’t forget the bagoong. I have Spanish friends who eat Kare-Kare with fish sauce. It’s just not the same! I sauté the bagoong in lots of garlic and oil, I sometimes put a teaspoon of sugar, cayenne pepper or siling labuyo just liven its taste.
  3. Salted Egg flavored Ice Cream – Yes, it exists and it tastes darn good. It’s not too salty, actually it tastes a lot cheese, but the texture is different. It’s made to order, if you want I can recommend someone who makes it, just in case you’re interested in tasting it.
  4. Bringhe – It’s like the Filipino take on Paella. But instead of a tomato sauce, we use turmeric, that’s why we end up with yellowish colored rice. My mom taught me to put in the liver when it’s about to be fully cooked, or else it’ll just melt the liver instead of biting chunks of it.
  5. Ginilo – Our grandmothers have their own takes on this old Filipino drink. In our family, we’re used to sago, gulaman, fresh coconut milk with sugar then top it off with pinipig crunch.
  6. Dinuguan and puto/ kutsinta – My heritage on my mom’s side is all about food. I was exposed to Kutsinta, Tamales, Puto, halo-halo at a young age. No matter how good the Dinuguan is, we always look forward to pairing it with Puto. For beginners, use spare ribs. Cut them into small pieces.

No matter what you serve your family this coming week, make sure you don’t so stressed in the kitchen. It will reflect on the food you cook. Believe me, a happy cook serves great dishes.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

When the game itself starts playing you

Couple crossing the street holding handsI’m exactly not a pro when it comes to dating. Even at my age, I still consider myself a novice when it comes to this topic. I guess I’m used to going out, having fun and not really consider it as “dating” per se. Besides, what is dating anyway? Flowers, chocolates, fancy restaurants, classical music, the whole shebang?

I have friends who are serial daters. They like to go out with their date/s almost every week. It’s funny that when I ask them if they enjoy their dates, they would mention everything from the food to the ambience to the service, except for one thing: what really happened during the date. It’s not that they’d like to keep it a secret, but, to be honest, they don’t really pay much attention to the “date” itself.

I was talking to my cousin a few days ago about courtship and dating. She said she still prefers traditional courtship. I asked her what she thinks traditional courtship is, and she said she wants the guy to visit her at home, get to know her parents and maybe go out once in awhile, preferably just the two of them so that they could get to know each other more.

What if the game of dating turns the tables and starts playing us? The game’s so old that most people take it for granted. They assume that since dating is a way to meet someone, they become accustom to the whole process, and it becomes mechanical.

I see hearts getting crushed because they thought that they were having a good run, but it turns out that they were being outrun. People get tired of all the mind games when it’s just supposed to be easy. Why has dating become so complicated?

I know, I don’t have much experience when it comes to dating and therefore I can’t make any expert opinion on it. But what I do know is that when you like someone, things shouldn’t be difficult. Even during dating stage, you shouldn’t need to pretend to be someone else. Like, if you can’t eat what you want during your date because you’re afraid of what your date might think, then probably it’s not worth going out on that date altogether. There are things in life that should happen naturally. Sometimes, the more you make things complicated, the more they’ll worsen.

And a chef’s advice to people who are beginning to enjoy dating: when it comes to choosing the restaurant, make sure the place is comfortable for the both of you. When it comes to the food you’ll eat, go for those that are easy to eat and digest. You’ll probably want to avoid “logistical” difficulties 😉 But don’t limit yourself the usual pasta and or salad! There’s no harm in ordering a yummy steak or fish. And don’t worry if you’re lipstick ends up on one of your teeth; just make sure to lick your teeth once in awhile. If you’re a clumsy eater, avoid ordering shellfish, and anything with red sauce. And while I don’t suggest kissing on first dates, maybe you should refrain from eating anything with too much garlic or onion to be safe. But you can always bring your breath freshener.

Kidding aside, dating should be fun. Because you get to go out with the person you want to be with. Don’t use it as an excuse to play around, remember, sometimes when you think you’re playing them they’ll end up better players than you are.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Video interview: Adee Caluag on the beginnings of Agahan

Adee Caluag (Agahan, Metropolitan Ave., Makati)Pinay Lifestyle interviewed Ms. Adee Caluag on the beginnings of Agahan, an all-day breakfast place in Makati which opened in December 2011.  Adee talks about how Agahan arose from her own needs and realizations, and about how some items in the menu came from her childhood experiences.



G/F Buma Bldg.
1012 Metropolitan Avenue
San Antonio Village
Makati City



Agahan’s store closed on June 29, 2012, but it continues to entertain catering requests. Please contact Agahan via their Facebook page.

Funny videos: banana potato song (Despicable Me 2) and covers!

The minions singing Banana Potato (Despicable Me 2 Trailer)Did you like Despicable Me? Whether you did or not, I’m sure you’ll like the trailer of Despicable Me 2. The video’s just perfect for those few minutes of rest 😀 If you figure out what the lyrics mean, do tell us in the comments.

And in case you’ve thought of memorizing that song and performing it yourself, you should know that you’re not the first! Check out these covers. Most of the ones I’ve found on YouTube were lip synchs, but these brave women memorized the lyrics and sang the song themselves.

Is this song original, or does it follow the melody of another song? I remember hearing an 80s song that had this melody but I can’t recall the title.

Continuing the dating game

Many couples tend to relegate their “couple status” to the back burner once the kids start coming. Jack and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this year, and I have found that we have had to very deliberate about our couplehood, so that it stayed on top-of-mind for the two of us.

It’s not that married couples don’t want to spend time together anymore. It actually has more to do with the demands of parenthood. One child gets sick, another one is having a tantrum… First child gets well, the other child catches the virus. The yayas nowadays come and go at lightning speed. Husband and wife are often just trying to keep pace with the daily mishaps that crop up. Before they realize it, the month has passed, and they have not managed to go out on even one true-blue date.

What can we wives do to get back into the “dating game”? (And I speak to the wives because I believe the women carry the tone of the relationship… or at least, women read up more on relationships!)

  1. Don’t always expect to be surprised by your husband. Before life takes over, sync your calendar with your husband’s, and set your dates.
  2. Pencil in your dates, but don’t break your heart if plans change. Be flexible, especially if your husband has to deal with urgent matters at work. But, make sure to reschedule that canceled date.
  3. While on your date, DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR KIDS! I learned this from a book I read to prepare me for the birth of my second child. The author devoted a short section to “protecting the marital thread” (as having another child always turns a couple’s world upside down). She specifically gave this tip. Couples should make the deliberate effort to focus on each other. Talk about things that you learned at work, new interests you want to pursue, challenges that you have in the office. Anything about YOU!
  4. Last, but not least, don’t give in when your kids cry as they see you leave for your date. They will be thankful later on when they see their parents continue to be happily married to each other. When they shriek and beg you to stay home—or worse, beg to join you!—be firm. State what time you’ll be home and why you’re heading out. “Friday night is time for Mom and Dad to spend time together.”

Ironically, switching off the “parent mode” for a few hours every week has helped Jack and me become more effective and happier parents. And the wonders, of course, that dating has done for our marriage. Getting married does not excuse couples from continuing to play the dating game!

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

Lessons from LBM

February’s been a busy month for me. Maybe it’s because of all the activities that I did that my body gave up on me, literally. Age is slowly creeping up on me. In my early 20s, I can stay up without sleep for three days straight and still function normally. During my Manila Bulletin days, deadlines and overtimes are nothing to me. I don’t even take any supplement vitamins, and mind you, my lifestyle then was so different from what I practice now.


I’ve been down for almost a week because of diarrhea. Yes! Some might still consider discussing diarrhea as taboo, but people do get sick from it a lot (it’s #4 on Philhealth’s Q1 2011 list!) so I’ll talk about my one-week experience of it.

Thank God for Gatorade and hydrates. I survived because of these two. At first I tried plain water to replenish my body with the fluids that I kept on flushing out. But on the second day, I literally had to drag my body out of bed to go to the bathroom. I felt too weak already. Plus the fact that my mouth and my esophagus seemed to be in agreement that no solid food will enter my body while going through this diarrhea phase.

The doctor gave me medicines to prevent me from vomiting, but the tummy ache I chose to let out all the toxins and just ate apples instead. The apples did help. It’s funny how when I’m feeling normal, I don’t like the taste of apples, but when I’m sick, I can eat it with much gusto.

Things that I’ve learned from this period of “momentary weakness”…

  1. You’re not too old to want your mommy to be by your side. It’s a comforting feeling. And, she’ll get you whatever it is that you want 😉
  2. Always have Gatorade, hydrate and or an alternative first-aid remedy in the house. You’ll never know when sickness will strike and sometimes, it takes forever to find simple things like saltine crackers in your not-so-dependable neighborhood tindahan.
  3. Make sure to seek the help of a professional. Don’t self-medicate, especially with children. It’s better to always be safe than sorry. No matter how trivial the sickness or symptom is, your friendly doctor will tell you what to do.
  4. I believe in mother’s instinct. But I also believe that ONLY YOU can know what’s wrong with you. I usually do “no.2” thrice times a day, but last week, I was going almost every hour. So I knew that something was wrong. It’s best to understand your body dynamics.

Many times, life’s lessons come from simple things 😀

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Pre-Valentine brunch… Korean Style

I’m the kind of girl who thinks that Valentine’s Day is overrated. It just feels like everybody is forced to be sweet and extra generous on this “special” day. I appreciate it more when I receive gifts randomly, just because that person thought of me that day. I don’t need an assurance on the 14th of February that someone loves me or is thinking of me.

Our pre-Valentine brunch

But my family finds this as an excuse to get together and dine outside. Any excuse to be able to dress up and eat in a fancy place is always good on my book. So we decided to eat at our favorite Korean restaurant. Disclaimer: I’m not mocking this special day, because I know a lot of people are really looking forward to this, but my family and I are game on anything so we all wore red that day.

I love Korean food. Actually, I love spicy food, but contrary to popular belief, not all Korean food is spicy. And even if it’s spicy, you can still taste the different ingredients in it. My favorite part in eating Korean food is that they have tofu in almost all their dishes. I love tofu. It literally melts in your mouth.

I like Sundubu-jjigae, which is spicy stew with soft tofu. I love how it’s served in traditional clay pot and it’s really piping hot. I like having it with rice and some kimchi. Of course, Korean food wouldn’t be complete with their array of side dishes, including the famous kimchi.

My mom likes Japchae, but we didn’t order it because we often eat stir-fried noodles. We opted for the clear beef broth with transparent noodles. It’s good in clearing the palate, especially when you’re eating spicy and oily food.

I would’ve loved some Tukbokki but they don’t offer it (I wonder where I can buy my own rice cakes so that I’ll just cook it myself when I feel like having some!). Bulgogi is an all-time favorite of my family. We always order it, as Pansit is always ordered whenever we eat in Chinese restaurants. I know, it’s just four of us in the family, but we love to eat.

And for our protein, grilled pork wrapped in lettuce leaves. I don’t know how much lettuce leaves we consumed that day but it was so delicious. I don’t get it? I grill pork belly all the time, but the taste is different. Maybe because of all the side dishes, and the dipping sauce, but grilled meat is something to look forward to when you crave for Korean food.

We’re too full to even order dessert, so we decided to walk it off and do some grocery shopping. Lunch was not just about the food but also the company that made it so much fun. So, maybe I do celebrate Valentine’s day, if that means spending it with the ones you love.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.