Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spinach soup, attempt number 1.

Spinach soup! Yum yum! And such an easy way to eat all of the spinach in our fridge, in one sitting.

Inspired by this recipe, I took the spinach leaves off the stalks and put them in our food processor. Then I made three cups of chicken broth (using a chicken cube). While the chicken broth was boiling, I sauteed 2 cloves of garlic and some chopped leeks (I had some leftover from a previous dish) in a tablespoon of butter, and after a few minutes, added some chopped potatoes. I added the chicken broth and simmered until the potatoes were cooked. Then I threw in two-thirds of the spinach leaves, added a cup of fat-free milk, and simmered for 10 minutes.

I seasoned the soup with nutmeg and lemon pepper. When that was done, I put our handheld blender in the soup and blended the soup for a short while. When that was done, I poured the soup into bowls, and garnished with the remaining spinach.

The soup came out tasting quite yummy, but the consistency was too thin. I guess going totally fat-free has its drawbacks. The next time, I might add a tablespoon of cream just to thicken the soup a little.

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Eating well, doing good.

I have a confession to make. Our family aren't the healthiest eaters. Well, we aren't the most unhealthy eaters either: we consume very little processed food (thank goodness my husband loves to cook), and we try to choose high-quality ingredients. But we're very carnivorous, and we definitely don't eat enough vegetables.

But as my son grows up, I've become more concerned about trying to make sure our family has healthier meals. So when some friends of mine told them about their organic vegetables venture, it didn't take a lot of convincing for me to sign on.

My friends put up Good Food Co. as a social enterprise apostolate for their small Catholic prayer group. While the number of organic vegetable suppliers are increasing in Metro Manila, what sets Good Foods Co. apart from most other vegetable suppliers is that it is inspired by the spirit of Community Supported Agriculture.

For the last five decades, Community Supported Agriculture has been an alternative model of food production/distribution in many parts of the world. Unlike normal market-driven models of food production/distribution, Community Supported Agriculture emphasizes ecological sustainabiity and fair trade. Customers (who comprise the community) commit to purchasing an entire season's worth of food, thereby assuring farmers of a market. In turn, the farmers produce high-quality food for the community, often using organic methods.

The risk and reward of the farmers' hard work is shared by the whole community. Every week, the consumers receive a box's worth of whatever produce is ripe, and everyone benefits from a good harvest. And should anything go wrong--if the harvest is lean or if a typhoon destroys some of the crops--everyone shares the risk too. This liberates the farmers to focus on growing quality produce and practising sustainable farming practices that are gentler to the soil/animals.

In the case of Good Food Co., I as a consumer "subscribe" to three months' worth of vegetables from their partner-farm. For P400 per week, each consumer receives 3 to 4 kilos of a nice variety of vegetables: lettuce, tomatoes, malunggay, green beans, spinach, saluyot, gabi, ginger, squash, etc.

The amount of veggies we're projected to receive is so much that in my family's case, we actually split our weekly box of veggies with a friend. We pay P200 and they pay the other P200, and the veggies are still enough to make sure that every meal we eat at home has a generous serving of veggies.

The amount might be a little more than what I would normally spend on veggies in a supermarket, but unlike supermarket vegetables, the vegetables I get are guaranteed fresh (having just been harvested: the roots are still on them!), they're organically grown, and best of all, I know that the money is going straight to the farmers who worked hard on them. With this in mind, I don't mind at all sharing the farmers' risk.

And taking the long view, P200 -- or even P400 -- is just the price of one meal at a restaurant these days. It's a small price to pay to support what I believe to be a very good enterprise.

Two weeks into this cycle of veggie subscription, my family is already eating much more healthily than we used to. We've gone beyond our old salad repertoire and now know how to make a greater variety of vegetable dishes. Just last night, I successfully made a spinach soup, and surprised myself at the amount of healthy green leaves that could be consumed in just one bowl of soup!


Good Food Co. won the I Am a Changemaker competition sponsored by the British Council last year. Read more about Good Food Co. here.

Information on CSA is from here.

Photo by Joel R. Terrell

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Ultimate Chopper


Apologies for the looooong absence. I stopped cooking in the latter part of my pregnancy and left all the cooking to Mike. Mike on the other hand started cooking everyday, but since he never writes anything down and just makes things up as he goes along, it wasn't easy to record his recipes for posting here.

I'll start of the year, however, by raving about Mike's second favorite kitchen gadget (next to the 9-Minute Marinator), the Ultimate Chopper. (Yes, we have become TV shopping fans!) I ought to mention that the product was actually recalled in the US because when the locking mechanism ceases to work, the product is no longer safe. But we figured that as long as the locking mechanism is still working, there ought not to be any reason to worry.

Just like the infomercial suggests, we've used the Ultimate Chopper for various things. We tried making ice cream once, and it was cool to eat our own ice cream! But our regular uses for the Ultimate Chopper are: grinding coffee beans, chopping onions (no more tears!), and making cream cheese-based spreads. As the infomercial says, because the device is small enough to sit on your counter, you actually use it (unlike a complex food processor which you need to take out of its storage cabinet). Our only complaint is that the chopper bowl really is on the small side, so you can only put in a little bit of food at a time.

How often do we use the Ultimate Chopper? At least twice a week. I guess that's proof enough of how happy we are with this kitchen gadget.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Teriyaki Chicken Rice

Mike made a really yummy chicken dish yesterday. He never takes measurements, so I'll just describe what he did.


teriyaki sauce
1 onion
4 chicken breasts, deboned and deskinned
steamed rice (cooled)
1 egg, beaten
cooking oil


Marinde the chicken breasts in the teriyaki sauce and honey. In a wok, sautee the onions until translucent. Add the chicken and fry until cooked through. Add the rice and egg, mix well, and continue to fry.

Serves 2.
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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saving money in the kitchen.

Saving money in the kitchen.

In this age of high prices, I'm always on the lookout for ways to save money in the kitchen.

One thing I'm thrilled about is the rise in the number of home-based businesses that either sell or manufacture dishwashing and detergent chemicals. The prices are often amazingly cheap.

I usually buy from Speedy Clean which sells dishwashing liquid a P50.50 per liter, fabric softener at P68 per liter or P149.50 per gallon, 2-ply bathroom tissue at P340 for 48 rolls, and detergent powder at P30 per kilo. All of this is less than half the price of what you would spend on Unilever or P&G products in the supermarket. They deliver to certain parts of the metropolis. (Tel. 6355719 to 23).

Sabon Express sells detergent powder at P21 to P50 per kilo, depending on the amount of lather (i.e., how bubbly it is: the more lather, the more expensive), whether you intend to use it for washing machine or handwash, and whether the detergent incldes bleach and antibacterial formula. They also sell fabric softener at P160/gallon, bleach at P80 per gallon, multipurpose liquid cleaner at P160/gallon, glass cleaner at P120/gallon, liquid handsoap at P160/gallon, and mild liquid laundry detergent at P160/gallon. They deliver too, and you can contact them at tel. 994-8853.

Soap on Whells sells detergent powder at P27/kilo, dishwashing liquid at P33.75/liter or P135/gallon, and fabric conditioner at P35/liter or P140/gallon. They deliver for a minimum order of P300. Telephone numbers: 4225308 and 9125645.

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Learning to cook

An friend of mine sent me a flyer for something which I think is a really cool idea: home cooking lessons.

A group of Metro Manila-based chefs is now offering professional culinary lessons right in your home. They've taught cooking to individuals, couples, entire families, children, et cetera, et cetera.

For more details, email Chef Jonas Ng at jonasng[at]gmail[dot]com

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Meat thermometer madness.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband bought a meat thermometer.

Not just any thermometer, but a deluxe kind, with a metal probe that you insert into the meat, attached by wire to a digital read-out that you can keep outside the oven.

With our brand new meat thermometer, we experimented on some steaks that we cooked on our electric grill. The meat came out perfectly done: perfectly medium rare for Mike, and well-done (the only meat--sniff! sniff!--I can eat until I give birth, sigh!).

The following day, we brought the meat thermometer to our friend's house and made a beef roast.

Again, perfect.

The center was an exquisite medium rare, and the ends just hit well-done.

Since then, we've become meat thermometer addicts.

Mike and I eat a lot of steak, and we used to always just rely on the second hand of our kitchen clock and guesswork. We had gotten good at estimating cooking time for medium rare (which, when I'm not pregnant, is the kind of meat I eat), but when we'd have friends over who would want their steaks medium or well-done, or when we cut the steaks slightly thicker or slightly thinner than usual, we'd often get it wrong, having to throw back the slab of beef onto the grill or into the pan to cook out more of the blood.

But having a thermometer takes all the guesswork out of making roasts and steak. Pop the meat in, check the chart for the correct temperature, and a few degrees before the thermometer reads that temperature, take the meat out and let it rest. (It continues to cook while resting, so you want to take it out slightly before it hits target temperature.)

Result? Perfectly cooked roasts/steak every single time.

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