28 years young,
12 years & counting w/ the LOML,
mommy to 2 amazing sons + a morkie.
in grade school who turned the pages of an Archie comic (always a double digest) with one hand during school lunches and picked at one of three foods (a Taco Bell chili-cheese burrito, a McDonald’s cheeseburger, or McDonald’s chicken nuggets) with the other. In high school, all I ate from the cafeteria were cheeseburgers (still the best cheeseburgers ever). I used to be the girl who took ages to finish a single serving of white rice and plain sabaw (broth). I used to be the girl whose palate hadn’t extended far past spaghetti with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, pizza pops, and french toast.
I became a mother young but when I did, I vowed that I wouldn’t fill my son’s belly with the unhealthy stuff served at the fast-food restaurants across the street. My husband – who grew up with home-cooked Filipino meals on the regular – also deserved to be fed well.
I took on my first recipe solo – a Filipino stew called beef kaldereta. I obviously had to overreach and select a dish that required a lot of vegetables, a lot of prep. But go big or go home, right?! My husband had kindly suggested it and if he had faith in my non-existent culinary skills, then I’d put on my big girl cape (er, apron) and get it done.
You know how there are mantras recited during meditation? That first night, mine was, “May this not be poison. May this not be poison.” I toggled between the thoughts, “Best. Cook. Everrrrrrr.” and “…Is it supposed to smell like that?”
It looked good but did it taste good?
My baby boy went down for a nap about two and a half hours ago, which was around the time my husband had left me to my devices to play basketball with friends. When I heard his footsteps approach the front door and his key turn in the lock, I had a vague notion of what my appearance looked like – disheveled hair, eyes rubbed red from the damn onions, a brown stain on my top from when a splash of liquid escaped the pot, and a peculiar smile plastered on my face.
He, on the other hand, had the biggest, most confident smile sitting pretty on his sweaty face. This man had the faith of a saint; I hoped he had a stomach made of steel. He sauntered over to the pot simmering on the stove. As he dipped a spoon in for a taste, I squeezed my eyes shut and thought, “However bad it tastes, I don’t give a $&#%, he’s eating it.” I had slaved away for a lot longer than it takes to make mac and cheese and I was slightly neurotic and tired as $&%#.
And then, drumroll please …
“Mmm, Babe! It’s good! I’m so proud of you!”
I did it? I diiiiiid it! And I didn’t poison anyone! I happily set the table, all pleased with myself. Dinner plates, forks, spoons, cups, rice, and lastly, the pièce de résistance. I didn’t even mind that despite all the vigorous scrubbing, the garlic smell still clung to my fingers.
I stood back, hands on hips, surveying my handiwork. I gazed lovingly at my beautiful homemade food (that I made. Me.) at the center, with its beef and its sabaw …and …its …chickpeas …and …peppers …and …tomatoes …and other …stuff.
It looked great.
The only problem was …now I’d have to eat it.
A few failed attempts, a few minor burns and sliced fingers, a few screaming smoke alarms later.
Now, although I have a younger son who was born with a healthy appetite and adoration of all kinds of food, my older son takes after his mother and continues to take ages to finish his food – except it’s not a single serving of white rice and plain sabaw. I’m the mom with a picky son who can’t yet appreciate why I insist he tastes a bit of every food made available to him. I’m the mom who permits pizza pops as snacks and not a main course. I’m the mom who sneaks Italian sausages, vegetables, and spices (and wine) into her bolognese sauce. I’ve become someone who swoons at the aroma of butter, garlic, and onions sauteed in a pan. I’ve become someone who owns a spice rack and cookware from The Shopping Channel (thanks, Mom!) I’ve become someone who likes cooking and eating, which is a completely different person from the one who thought microwave dinners were fine cuisine.
My love of food had to be learned. My love of books, however, has always been a part of what makes me me. The person I was, the person I am, and the person I will be has a love affair with books. The works of great authors were my trusted friends in all the stages of my life – through my parents’ divorce at age 6 (Paula Danziger and Ann M. Martin), the terrifyingly lonely solo trips between countries and parents (Gail Carson Levine) and the confusing teenage melancholy years (Wally Lamb, Sidney Sheldon, Davida Wills Hurwin), through the friendships that didn’t last and the great love that did.
The first book I ever learned to read was, “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr Seuss at 4 years old and I always hoped to make that the first read for any children I may have. I’m so happy to report that I’ve fulfilled that little dream with both my sons when they each turned 4. Like mother, like sons – they’ve also cultivated a taste for books. I spend every weeknight teaching my 4-year-old to read and then my 10-year-old and I jump into the Harry Potter universe – “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, to be exact. (My husband is a different story – he doesn’t read so he’s lucky I still think the world of him!)
I’ve always been a book lover.
Now I’m a book lover who cooks!
So I hope you enjoy the book reviews, the personal playlists, the odd personal piece, and the kind of food I drool over!