food moment: NEW YEAR TABLE

New Year Table

New Year Fruits

Celebrating New Year with just delicious food isn’t enough if you’re not sharing and eating it with your loved ones. It’s really your family and friends that you’re dining with… on your New Year’s table that counts.

New Year Cake

Welcoming 2014 with a bang! Happy Bountiful New Year!

Photos by: Sukito San

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food recipe: BLESSED COCONUT OIL on GOOD FRIDAY

coconut oil

Once a year, whenever “Holy Week” comes… I always see my mother extract oil from coconut on Good Friday and have it blessed on Black Saturday in a mass called “Blessing of the Fire”. It was believed that the blessed oil and water from this mass can heal sickness and can cure “spiritual illnesses”. This tradition were followed by devout Catholics during the Season of Lent and should be cooked with the use of wood through an “ulingan” and be extracted from coconut oil. This custom in cooking became vital not only in Philippine cuisine but also among the conservative Catholics especially those living in rural ares or in the provinces. Anyway, you can also use it as an alternative cooking oil for your specialty dishes or just by simple frying. It’s also healthwise because it’s natural and free from any preservatives. You can also use it by oiling your hair with it… 20 minutes before you take a bath to achieve thicker volume and to avoid a dry crowning glory.

You will need:

gata

coconut milk or gata ng niyog (4 coconuts will do)

pandan

4-5 clean and washed pandan leaves (for aromatic scent)

oregano

4-5 oregano leaves (optional)

calamansi leaves

6-7 calamansi leaves (optional)

ulingan

ulingan or any improvised stove wherein you can use wood or charcoal to fuel fire

Here’s how:

1. Have your coconut milk ready.

2. Fire up your ulingan using scrap wood or charcoal.

3. With the use of a wide mouthed pan or “kawan” heated in your “ulingan”, Pour in your coconut milk.

4. Cook it with cover for around 20 minutes while stirring it once in a while to prevent it from getting burned and to maintain the good consistency of the coconut milk.

5. Add pandan leaves. Stir it a little.

6. After a while, you can add up the oregano and calamansi leaves followed by slight stirring.

langis

7. After an hour or more, keep on stirring it once in a while. As the liquid dries up, you will just see the natural oil from the coconut on the pan with the “latik” or the coconut curds. By the way, the “latik” or coconut curds were commonly used as a main topping or as a garnish on local Filipino desserts like “biko“.

8. Keep on stirring until only the pure coconut oil remains on the pan and the “latik” as well.

latik

9. Cool it down for a while and use a strainer in filtering to separate the “latik” from the oil.

10. Put the oil in a dry, clean and empty bottle or medium-sized container for lasting storage.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

1. You must cook it on Good Friday and it should be done before 3:00 pm (which is the time of the death of Christ).

2. If you wanted it blessed. Take it with you and have it blessed on a Black Saturday mass which is the “Blessing of the Fire”. Then, you can place it in your altar at home.

Photos by: Sukito San

food trivia: “SAWSAW”… BREAD DIPPED IN COFFEE

bread dipping by sukito

If Americans dip their cookies in milk before they consume it like in an “oreo television commercial”… Filipinos have also their version of doing it, and that is “sawsaw ng tinapay sa mainit na kape” or bread dipped in hot coffee before eating it and drinking the coffee afterwards. Guilty as charged… I am doing it too!

When we were young, we usually see our elderly, our parents and grandparents dip their bread particularly “pandesal” in their hot coffee (with cream or black) every breakfast. They commonly call it as “sawsaw“, a Filipino term which means “to dip“. Traditionally, this manner of eating was passed on from many generations of our families and turned out to be a part of our culture by how Filipinos, wayback since the Spanish times until now consumes their bread and coffee every morning. Research also stated that it is the “aristocratic” way of how Spanish have their breakfast wherein they dip their “churros” which is a Spanish fried doughnut in hot chocolate or “café con leche“, which means “coffee with milk”… and that is why Filipinos tend to adopt it and apply it in the food they eat. With this way of eating for many years usually of common “pinoys“, dipping bread in coffee became one of the identity trademark of Filipinos when it comes to food consumption and also earned its spot to be a part of our “pinoy” culture and tradition as it was being adopted along the Philippines’ rich history up to the present day.

Another reason that can also be associated with “sawsaw” is that it adds flavor to the bread when dipped in coffee… especially when there’s no available  spread on the table. But nowadays, pinoy folks still dip their bread even with butter or margarine on it which makes it more tasteful. In fact, the bitterness of the coffee compliments the sweetness of the bread. In addition, the old ones, our grandparents, loves dipping their bread in hot coffee because it softens the bread and it does enable them to consume it easily because of the fact that elders have this difficulty in swallowing their food as they age or should I say… as we all are. Others say that its hard to drink their coffee while it’s still hot, so they dip in their bread to lessen the hotness of coffee as they consume it with a taste of their bread at the same time. Well, a good way of time management for busy people. In rural areas, the dipping of bread in hot coffee were usually done with some body formation or eating it accompanied with a habit which is bending your one leg up on the chair while your heel lays flat on the seater.

Anyway, it’s ironic how a simple habit that was imitated turned out to be a viral custom and became a part of one country’s culture even if it really wasn’t originated from that particular place. Actually, we have the freedom to eat anyway we want as long as it satisfy our hunger while sharing our food or eating it with someone whom we love or having a good company with while munching.

Enjoy eating and happy dipping!

Photo taken by: Sukito San

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