Monday, December 12, 2011

what's in your wishlist?

I thought about making a vain post about what I wish to receive this Christmas as I usually do every December, but I found this thought-provoking image floating around cyberspace:

I know don't really need a new android phone, or  that DVD player with the USB port, or a whole new wardrobe.  I don't really need to spend money on gifts, on thingamabobs and space-eaters to give to friends who may or may not be my friends after five years.  I really don't.

Dear loved ones of mine: instead of buying me something I may or may not like, please give something to someone who really needs it.

If you truly believe that it's better to give than to receive, go extreme this Holiday season.  Instead of spending on stuff that people will probably forget about after January, how about giving to people who are really in need?

You don't have to go far to show kindness to the needy.  Every city has homeless people, orphans, widows.  And no matter how broke you feel, remember that there will always be someone poorer than you - your house helper, the manong vendor, the security guard at your office building.  Go beyond relief goods give them brand new, high-quality food and items you would be glad to receive yourself. Why not, right?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

red wine spaghetti meat sauce

I'm so not a fan of sweet, Filipino style spaghetti (the kind with hotdogs, sugar and cheddar cheese - blech!  >_< ).  I like it tangy and rich and thick - not the usual children's party fare.

Just last weekend I made a batch of red wine meat sauce for a family Christmas party, and I was so gladdened when others said they liked it.  The special, flavor-enhancing ingredient is the red wine.  Here's how I made it:

Photo not mine
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 to 5 large plum tomatoes
  • basil leaves (preferably fresh and finely chopped, but dried and pulverized works too)
  • two 200g packs of tomato sauce
  • half a kilo of ground beef
  • 1 cup of red wine

  • a can of sliced mushrooms 
  • sliced black olives
  • beef cubes or beef stock for flavor
  • oregano 
  • rosemary
  • pepper, to taste

  • Sautee the onions ang garlic.  I prefer to do the onions first because they take longer.  Once the onions turn transparent, fry the ground beef.  Set aside.
  • Boil the tomatoes until soft.  Remove from heat and mash them with a fork.
  • Over heat, combine the cooked ground beef-and-onions, smashed tomatoes and tomato sauce.  This would be the time to add your beef cubes.  If you want mushrooms and olives in your sauce, you can add them at this point.  Stir constantly to avoid burning the beef.
  • Sprinkle the basil (and if you wish, oregano and rosemary) and pour in the red wine.  Lower the heat, cover and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve over spaghetti noodles and top with more basil and Parmesan cheese. 
    Makes 4-6 servings

  • Meat-lover
    Throw in some meatballs.
  • Heart-healthy
    Instead of ground beef, use tuna flakes.  Use no oil, just water.  Mix in one cup of oatmeal into the tomato sauce. Don't add any beef cubes or flavorings.
    * Oatmeal and garlic help to lower cholesterol, red wine has antioxidants, tuna has omega-3 and tomato sauce has lycopene - all heart-friendly.
  • No Parmesan cheese? 
    Don't use cheddar!
      (I beseech thee! Please!) Instead, use Edam - that's the kind of cheese in Queso de Bola (marami tayo niyan 'pag Disyembre!). Local cheddar is too sweet, and i.m.h.o. ruins the flavor.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

oceanarium outing and thoughts on extended family

On my Papa's 66th birthday, we spent the afternoon at Manila Ocean Park with the cute little Nephew and the cute little Niece.

This here is my brother with his boy.

It was the most outrageously tiring of outings (the lines were suuuuuuuper long and inconvenient), but it was so nice to see the pamangkins smile at the sight of multicolored fishies, sharkies and friendly penguins. 

Photos mine.

The best sight of all was Papa having fun with his grandkids. It's not that often that we see my brother and his family, so a day with them is a special treat of sorts.

Family is a blessing.  That includes the extended part - aunts and uncles, cousins, in-laws and so on.   Mine is far from the warm, fuzzy Disney-movie kind of family, and there could be unnecessary drama sometimes (or a lot of times), but the bottom line is that there's a lot to be thankful for.  I kinda think we prefer not to see each other so much (hahaha, it works for us that way), but we make sure to make time every now and then.  Things don't have to be perfectly hunky-dory always, but you just gotta create happy moments and revel in them - realistically, you'll never know for sure if it's the last time you'll see each other, right?  Might as well make things golden when you can.