I grew up in an environment where there was always home cooked food. We didn’t eat out so much. Actually, eating dinner outside of the house in a restaurant was a treat. If we were eating out it was usually to celebrate a big event, a milestone or some really great news. So, for the most part, my siblings and I grew up eating my mom’s good ole’ home cookin’. Mom could (and still can) pretty much whip up anything on a moment’s notice and could do a sit down meal (family style of course) for about 30 people with a few hours to prepare.
My mom has always liked cooking for others, preparing simple or more complicated dishes for her guests depending on their tastes. For the Italian side of our family she would always prepare the staples of meatballs and pasta or eggplant parmigiana. For other guests, she might venture into making polenta with a mushroom sauce or veal saltimbocca. For the Pinoy side of the family she always prepared pancit and the cousins always loved mom’s shanghai rolls. There was so much cooking going on in our house that my husband often jokes back to the time when we were dating and he could surmise what my mom had cooked that day just by walking into our home on Post Road because of the lingering aromas of delicious food.
I know that my love for cooking and baking came from my mom. The fact that she doesn’t enjoy baking so much allowed me the room to explore baking more when I was younger. I wanted to compliment the meals she would put on the table by adding a dish of sweets for us to share afterward. I experimented, and sometimes I even baked with my friends. My friend Liz and I would make chocolate chip cookies pretty much every time we got together whether it was at her parents house or mine. My best friend Van and I tried rolling out our own sugar cookies one year for Valentine’s Day too. As Van and I got older and I acquired a kitchen of my own, we experimented by baking our Christmas treats and giving them as gifts every year, instead of buying them from a store.
Even my Godmother Anne enjoyed cooking. I spent so much time with her and my mother in the kitchen that I got to know many of their recipes by heart. Auntie Anne would help chop all the veggies for the pancit even though she had no idea how to make it, but that’s how we did it during the holidays. We were all in the kitchen with our jobs helping mom with the small things while she prepared the entire meal for up to 50 people on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas! In fact, my godmother often said that when she was sad, you would know it, because her therapy would be to have 4 burners going. The irony in that is that once I moved here to Manila, I found comfort in preparing meals for my family and for Nino’s family too. Only difference was that I would have 5 burners going and was baking dessert as well.
Now that my daughter is older I love that fact that she enjoys being creative in the kitchen. We can spend the afternoon in the kitchen together, often times with the music playing, Gelli on the floor playing with her plastic cups, and the boys coming in and out of the kitchen asking to taste what we are creating. It seems that as I’ve gotten older, I have taken on the cooking of the meals more, (just like my mom) and Gia has excelled in baking. In fact, just the other day when I had some friends come over so we could cook brunch together, Gia decided to whip up some home made brownies to pair with her homemade vanilla ice cream that she had in the freezer to share with our cookfest buddies.
I love being in the kitchen with family and friends! This particular day we decided on a brunch menu that included Cottage Cheese Pancakes and Portobello Stuffed Mushrooms with Scrambled Eggs and Gruyere Cheese.
When I attended the Marriage Encounter Weekend Seminar with my husband back in March of 2009, we learned that there are five ways we can show love for one another. M.E.W.S. is a retreat to strengthen your relationship with your spouse, however, you can pull what you learn from the weekend to enrich all of your relationships in your life. During that weekend, we learned that there are 5 languages of love. These include affirmation, physical touch, service, quality time, and gift giving. Of these five languages, I know and understand that cooking something delicious and tasty for my family falls under “service.” I enjoy pouring myself into researching recipes, putting healthy ingredients together and watching my kids or my husband appreciate the final product that I bring to the table. Quite literally, I enjoy “serving” my family healthy meals-and through my “service,” I get to show them just how much I love them. So, when I put meals together that I know will satisfy, delight, and sustain my family, I do it because I love them that much…I do it because that is what my mom did for me and my siblings.
Ok…but let’s be honest here…I LOVE FOOD. So, my desire to prepare something delicious also comes out of the fact that I like to EAT too! Eating with family and friends is just so much more fun…just like cooking with family and friends is more fun!