Saturday, December 22, 2012

TAGAYTAY (our little piece of heaven)

Whenever I see achara I think about our little piece of heaven in Tagaytay. Maybe it's because of the fresh vegetables that I see at Mahogany market, or maybe the numerous plants surrounding the house. My parents bought a small piece of land and erected a modest 2-storey house right before my father retired from working in London for more than 30 years. Yes, my Tatay was an OFW even before the word was invented (that was in 1972).
the girls when they were younger

Around the house we planted trees... Indian mango, atis, anonas, rambutan, buko, santol, duhat, chico, papaya, langka, guyabano (soursop), guava (the big ones), we even had an apple tree (it flowered, but never had any fruit). We also have sili, malunggay, kamias, kamoteng kahoy, tubo (sugarcane), luya, at one time my brother planted eggplants, okra, even pineapples. My Nanay also have flowering plants like roses and orchids.

How can you NOT love a place like that? The cool, fresh air, the serenity of the place, the plants, the crowing of my brother's fighting cocks early in the morning, the sound of birds greeting you upon waking up, and the chirping of crickets at night lulling you to sleep... yep, it's heaven all right!

Bea loves exploring around
the property
At first, we only stayed there during weekends because the kids go to school and hubby works in Manila. We'd leave for Tagaytay every Friday evening, then return to Manila a little after lunch on Sundays. All we did there was sleep, eat, watch TV, sleep some more, and eat, eat and eat. Oh, I forgot to add that I cook a lot when we are there, and the kids get to run around and have fun outside.

We would go to Mahogany Market and buy beef for bulalo, vegetables for our lumpiang sariwa, tinapang tawilis, danggit, and tuyo, fruits in season (if there are no ripe ones in our yard), espasol, kalamay Indang, and other kutkutin like nilagang mani. We very seldom buy chickens because as I have said, my oldest brother owns a lot of fighting cocks and hens too, so when we want to make tinola, we just run after one of the hens foraging around. Occasionally, when one of his fighting cocks win in sabong and he gets to bring home the loser,  but fighting cocks need to be stewed for a loooonnnnggg time before you'd be able to eat it, but the broth is oh so yummy!! Come to think of it, a fighting cock is called "tinali" in Filipino, when it loses in a cockfight it becomes "tinalo", and when it is brought home it becomes "tinola" hmmmm....
Ate and I 

The tinapang tawilis, fried crisp and served with my nanay's homemade atchara (the papaya comes from the yard) is to die for. How can you go wrong with that? I think we always go back to Manila a few pounds heavier everytime LOL...

It is so much fun to pick fruits and vegetables in your own backyard. Somehow, fruits and vegetables that you yourself have planted and harvested seem to taste a lot better than the ones bought elsewhere. Isn't it nice to hear someone say... "pumitas ka nga ng kamias para sa pinangat", or "ikuha mo nga ako ng dahon ng saging at magsusuman ako", or "kuya, ipitas mo nga ko ng dahon ng sili at ihukay mo ako ng luya para sa tinola."

We miss going to Tagaytay now that we're here in the US, even the kids talk about it often because there they're free to roam around, run, explore , play with their cousins, pretty much like how I spent my childhood days in Valenzuela City. 

Maybe this is why I used love playing FarmVille and Country Story on Facebook,  it reminds me so much of that little piece of heaven that we call our second Tagaytay :)

Below is the video for Nanay's homemade achara, which we make all time time whenever we're in Tagaytay because we have lots of papaya trees there. I've been told that this tastes  better than the store-bought ones, so I hope you'll like it too.


4 cups (or more) of grated raw papaya (squeeze out juice)
2 cups julienned carrots
2 cups julienned bell pepper
2 cups sliced shallots (sibuyas Tagalog)
1 1/2 cups sliced garlic
5 cups vinegar
12 teaspoons (4 tablespoons) salt
6 1/4 cups sugar

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I consider courtship Pinoy style unique. I know that some cultures don't have any form of courtship (like in India where most marriages are arranged), but  it's sad to think that courship may now be considered  a dying art, or maybe I should say that it is  evolving into a different style now with the proliferation of cell phones, the internet and other electronic gadgets.

my barkada from Canumay and Maysan
During my grandmother's time, I was told by Nanay that ligaw (courtship) was also done differently from what I experienced during my time. Back then, if a  guy likes a girl, he expresses his love by singing love songs  to her (harana) by her window, at night. A guitarist accompanies him and if  the guy doesn't have a nice singing voice, a substitute singer also comes along. The girl listens to the song by her windowsill and once the song ends, the manliligaw (suitor) is invited inside the house so that he could chat with the girl with the parents just beyond earshot (the guitarist and singer goes home) . Back then, Filipino homes were usually  just a square nipa hut, with no rooms, just one square house (more like a bachelor's pad) where the dining,  receiving area and everything else is in. If the guy stays longer than he is supposed to, the mother or the father would unroll their mat (banig) used for sleeping, a sign that it's time for him to go home bacause it is already late (no they won't tell you to go home explicitly, Pinoys are not like that) As for the courtship ritual, the parents of the girl expects the guy to help them with some of the chores at home (called paninilbihan), chopping firewood, fetching water among other things to show his love (and perhaps his ability) for the girl and her parents. Women back then wore saya's (long skirts) and (not sure if this is true but that's what Nanay said) if a guy sees her heels (talampakan) then he must marry her (crazy right?)

Not sure how courship worked during Nanay and Tatay's day, but I suspect it was more like how Inang and Tata did it, but maybe not much of the paninilbihan, and women back then wore shorter skirts :)

still with my Canumay barkadas

During my time, it's more like the boy giving you love notes or love letters by either asking a common friend to give it to you (pakiabot) or inserting the notes between the pages of your school book when you're not looking. Some boys do ligaw-tingin (admiring you from a distance, not having enough courage to approach you and express their feelings), Some asks  friends to do the talking for them, and this is what we call a bridge or tulay. If a boy musters enough courage, he'll ask your persmission if he could visit you at home, and that means that he really likes you because he is willing to be scrutinized by your parents. If you agree, then the girl asks her parents if the boy could come visit, and if the parents agree, then courtship starts. The boy usually visits every night, often times with his whole barkada (close friends) in tow, and sometimes bringing a small gift  for the girl...a rose, chocolates or some other stuff. Personally I have been given stuffed toys, food of all kinds...tikoy, balut, siopao, name it. I don't ask for them though, they voluntarily gave it to Nanay (which made me wonder at times if  it was me they were really courting me or Nanay hehe, but I knew back then that they were just nagpapadulas) There are parents who really scrutinizes the suitors, asking a lot of questions about their family, and other personal questions to see if he is suitable for their daughter, but I don't recall that happening to any of the guys who visited me at home. Nanay was I could say liberal, any boy who wanted to visit could come and visit, she'd even prepare merienda (snacks) for them, isn't that cool?

with my friends from Pag-Asa during my 18th birthday

When my family and I came here to the US, one of my fears was that our daughters may not be able to experience all that I have experienced  when I was younger, and I was right. Ate (our 2nd child) said that a boy approached her at school, asked "wanna go out?" and that's it, that's their ligaw here already. Fortunately Ate said no, much to my relief.

Nowadays ligaw has evolved into something totally different from what I knew, now young people send love notes through text messages, love letters through emails, or talks to the girl by phone or by online chatting. It's not uncommon for couples to fall in love and break up even before they see each other in person, and I am saddened by this. To me, no email or text message compares to the thrill that  a girl feels when a boy comes to her house to court her. By doing so you both learn about each other's personality and  know each other on a much  deeper level. Until now I still remember the boys (and their barkadas) who visited me back then. I have fond memories of each of them, the laughter we shared, the songs we sang  when we hung out together, the food we shared, the places we went to for picnics and outings...all those are still with me and will always be with me. I share those wonderful memories with our kids, and I can't help but smile whenever I think of each of them. 

I'm sharing with you  NANAY LILAY'S MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH LECHE FLAN,  a favorite among my many barkadas. I still think of them  them whenever I make these. 


1 dozen whole eggs
3 cans evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
1 kilo white sugar 
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon or vanilla extract

please see video for instructions

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Parol or Christmas lanterns
Chistmas is just around the corner but I don't seem to feel it yet. It's the 6th of December now, and if I'm back in the Philippines then everywhere you go you'd be able to hear Christmas carols blaring, at the malls, the radio, on public utility vehicles, there would be kids going from one house to the other singing the karoling medley starting with "kay sigla ng gabi ang lahat ay kay saya...." then stopping right in the middle of the song once you give them a coin or two then following up with "thank you, thank you, ambabait ninyo thank you" then scurrying over to the next house and starting all over again.

There will be parols hanging everywhere including inside jeepneys, christmas lights twinkling, and even the humblest of homes will have their own christmas tree even if it is just made of walis tingting turned upside down decorated with candies tied with thread and cotton to simulate snow. Others who could afford to buy plastic Christmas trees decorate them with pretty trinkets and christmas lights which are turned on every night as soon as dusk comes. Wrapped Christmas presents are placed beneath the tree ready for the inaanaks (godchildren) who will surely come visit on Christmas day.

typical noche buena feast 

Divisoria and Tutuban is by now packed with shoppers looking for gifts for their numerous inaanaks and pamangkins, Too many shoppers in fact that it is hard to navigate the narrow pasilios (isles) to check out the best bargains. We almost always end up buying just a few things and going home so tired that I don't think the trip was worth it. I actually hate shopping during Christmas time, too many people on the streets, too much traffic, and too many madurukots (pickpockets) everywhere. :(

Moms are now starting to buy ingredients for their noche buena fare (Christmas dinner), buying a kilo of spaghetti here, a can of Nestle cream for the salad there...and it's all for that one day, probably the most special day among Filipinos, PASKO or CHIRSTMAS. For the more fortunate ones there would surely be at least two types of salads, chicken macaroni and buko or fruit salad, there will be ham, queso de bola, lechon de leche perhaps, fruits of different kinds (at least 12 round fruits is a must  for Nanay both for Christmas and New Year), spaghetti or pancit and many others. Even those who don't have much will surely find a way to prepare something for the family to share...half a kilo of hotdog, a loaf of tasty bread, a small box of cheese, a few apples or oranges and their Noche buena is ready.

Christmas 2011
Simbang Gabi starts on the 16th of December, and for 8 consecutive days people flock to churches all over the Philippines to hear mass at 4 in the morning, then after the mass, on their way home,  they would buy Puto bumbong and bibingka. (I miss those so much!)

On the eve of the 24th  people would go to church and hear mass again, this time at night. The church will surely be jampacked with people wearing new clothes especially bought for Christmas. There will be a reenactment of the birth of Jesus too, then after the mass everyone would go home and share the Christmas dinner (Noche Buena) with the whole family.

On Christmas day kids get up early and wear their best clothes, then go visit their Ninongs and Ninangs, Tito's and Tita's (aunts and uncles), Lolo's and Lola's (grandparents),  kiss their hands (mano) and say "Meri Krismas Po!" and wait for the gift or money that  they  have prepared for them.

At the end of the day kids would count how much aguinaldo (money) they got, and boast of the new toys and clothes that their Ninongs or Ninangs gave them. There will be leftover food that will last a few days, and people complaining that they've spent too much, But then they'd go out shopping again this time for the coming New Year.

Christmas in the Philippines is something that I truly miss, it's just not the same when you're not there, sure there are grander Christmas trees here, even freshly cut ones, prettier trinkets to hang, the food you could prepare is much fancier that what you would normally prepare, but it's just not the same if you're not sharing it with your love ones  back HOME. :(




BONE-IN HAM (I used a 6 pound ham in the video)

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2/3 cup pineapple juice
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 to 2 cups water (add more as needed)

a few pineapple slices
halved cherries


Mix the brown sugar, pineapple juice, mustard, honey and ground cloves together  in a bowl until blended.

Place the ham in a roasting rack, cut side down, baste with the glaze every 10 minutes.

15 minutes before the timer ends, remove ham from the oven, stick a few pineapple slices around it, brush with glaze for the last time, return to the oven.

When the timer runs out, remove ham from the oven, place a halved cherries in the middle of the ham, allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I love native kakanin!! My chilhood memories are filled with them because my grandmother on my mother's side made them for a living. Biko, puto, kuchinta, sapin-sapin, palitaw, bibingka, suman and a lot of other yummy stuff!!! I remember her making two big bilao's everytime, one for selling, and the other one to divide among her many apo's. My Nanay told stories about them walking long distances (from the now Valenzuela to Sta. Maria, Bulacan) just to sell my grandmother's kakanin especially during fiestas.

Mateo Family, no one in the family knew of this photo's
existence until a few years ago when my Tito Totoy
visited a relative of ours, and this photo was given to him.

I bet you don't know that there are many tpes of suman... among them are: antala (malagkit with coconut milk best eaten with minatamis), maruecos (the purple ones made from pinipig with latik in the middle, one of my favorites!), kamoteng kahoy (looks similar to maruecos but uses cassava instead of pinipig), suman sa ibus (like the ones sold in Antipolo), suman sa lihiya (the ones wrapped in dark green banana leaves and served with grated coconut and sugar on top (another one of my favorites!!) and many others.

Another one of my favorites is the kalamay. But... I am not too particularly fond of the ones sold in Antipolo (sorry!). What I love is the kalamay sold during fiestas and Christmas in our place and coincidentally made by our lola's. They're very thin and laid flat on banana leaves, so chewy and a bit sweet topped with a bit of latik and comes with a small packet of budbud (pan-roasted grated coconut) that you sprinkle on top just before eating... arrggghhh!! I miss that sooo much!! All the Lola's who used to make them are now gone, and I guess they were not able to pass the recipe on to their children :(

FRONT ROW: Mommy Celing, Inang Regina, Tata Bestre, Nanay Lilay
BACK ROW: Kuya Isaac, Tita Dela, Tito Nato, Tita Ete and Tito Totoy
I also love love love puto bumbong!! That purple elongated kakanin brushed with butter or margarine, with grated coconut and sugar mixed with toasted sesame seeds on top... yum!!!! It's one of the things I missed so much last Christmas because for the life of me I cannot find puto bumbong anywhere here in Oregon :( . I remember my Nanay and I going to Meycauayan (we live in Valenzuela which is about 2 jeepney rides away) just to be able to buy some puto bumbong near the big church there. I was never into drinking tea but somehow I loved having it with my puto bumbong. My Nanay told me that in the old times they did not use food coloring for puto bumbong, rather they use a dark-colored sticky rice called pirurutong. 

I have here a recipe for Bibingkang Malagkit that reminds me so much of the bibingka that my lola used to make that's why I named this after her.  INANG REGINA'S BIBINGKANG MALAGKIT:


2 cups malagkit (glutinous rice or sweet sticky rice)
2 1/2 cups kakang gata or thick coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
3 pcs. pandan leaves (screwpine leaves)

1 1/2  cups thick coconut milk
1 cup brown sugar


My kids went to the same school I went to when I was in high school, so they're in fact 2nd generation Louisians. My two eldest went to JOLCA for Junior Kinder, then transferred to SLCV. Having 3 kids in private school is no laughing matter, and with only my husband working in the family (I stopped working after giving birth to my 2nd child), it was really hard managing our finances. But my husband and I made a commitment to try and give our kids the best education we could afford so we enrolled them in a private school.

All my kids are gifted (in my opinion, but don't we all!!! LOL...) My eldest has always excelled in academics (he was the salutatorian when he graduated in 6th grade), he was at the top of his class when left for the USA last year, and has always participated and won in interschool Math and academic competitions. My 2nd may not be as academically gifted as my eldest (she's doing good in school too) but she is exceptionally good in arts. She loves to draw (most especially anime) and the drawing she submitted recently to her school's literary magazine made it to the front covers. The youngest, though not as brilliant as her Kuya either (she's an honor student too) is a good writer and a voracious reader. They were also into taekwondo when we were still in the Philippines. Lance is a 1st grade brown belt (which meant he's just 1 promotion away from being a black belter), Bea in 2nd grade brown belt, and Kaye is a 4th grade red belt, and they also competed and won in tkd tournaments back home.I (or my angel at home) usually bring lunch to my kids every school day. Why you ask? Because they never got used to eating cold food. There was a time when I let them bring their lunch in the morning and they would come home in the afternoon with their lunch boxes still full, complaining that the rice is cold. So I decided from then on to will bring their lunches to them every single day so they'll eat it (their school was 1 jeepney ride from our house, about 5 minutes away without traffic, 30 to 45 minutes with traffic.)

I take them to school every morning, riding the jeepey (they have a jeep service to take them back home in the afternoon), all 3 of them, with their big bags full of books (8 or 9 textbooks, notebooks, pencils, 
pens, etc,), their snack for recess, umbrellas (when it is raining) and other things that they needed to bring to school, and they had to be in school at 6:45 at the latest. After dropping them off to school, I rush to the talipapa (mini market) near our house to buy ingredients for lunch, then rush home afterwards to start cooking. I had to be in school by 10:30 am, their lunches ready. It was that way every school day, except on Fridays because they come home at 12 noon. I bring them piping hot rice, hot soup (they love sinigang) or other ulam, fruit and juice. And the breaded porkchops shown in the video is a favorite among our  kids.

One day after coming home from school, my eldest asked me "Mom, why can't we be just like the other kids in school?" I thought why, on earth is my son asking me this question? Am I doing something wrong? So I asked him what he meant by that, and he told me "why can't we be like other kids in school who eats rice and hotdog for lunch everyday? Hahaha!!! There I was, knocking my head off thinking about what to prepare for lunch everyday and all that my son wants is rice and hotdog!!! That made me remember this funny comic strip Pugad Baboy by PM Jr. On once scene, the son of one of the characters was complaining to his Dad:

son: "Tay, araw araw nalang hotdog ang baon ko sa lunch, pwede bang bukas iba naman? nagsasawa na ko sa hotdog eh."

Tatay: "sya sige bukas frankfurters naman"

son: "Yan!!!"

After that, I let them have hotdog and rice for lunch once in a while, just so they'd feel like "normal kids" hehehe...

Now they're here in the USA, my eldest is in 12th grade, the second in 10th grade and the youngest in 7th grade. My son buys his lunch at school (or he goes to Mc Donalds or some other place after school, yeah he's complaining again about school food), the girls bring their lunches with them in the morning, and that means... I am less stressed now than before yay!!!

And on that note i'm sharing with you my recipe for breaded pork chops. This is a favorite among our kids. It is easy to prepare and requires just a few ingredients, you may also prepare this ahead of time (say the evening before) then just fry it in the morning before the kids leave for school.


1 kilo (or less) PORK CHOPS
4 eggs
a little water
panko bread crumbs (available in supermarkets)
salt and pepper
oil for frying

sweet chili sauce, catsup or tonkatsu sauce

Do check out  Pinay Cooking Lessons on Facebook:

And watch our videos on Nanaynikikay (Pinay Cooking Lessons) channel on Youtube:


First of all let me introduce myself. I'm  Tes Fajardo-Baldridge, a wife and a stay-at-home mom with 3 wonderful kids (2 are teenagers, Kikay, the youngest, almost a teenager)

I am the administrator of Pinay Cooking Lessons (PCL) on Facebook and the hands and voice (yun lang kasi ang makikita sa akin sa mga videos na ginagawa ko) behind all the the videos on NANAYNIKIKAY (PINAY COOKING LESSONS) channel on youtube.  

Pinay Cooking Lessons  started when I posted a photo of the cupcakes that I made for my youngest daughter's birthday.  My friends asked me how I decorated them and I made a video  showing them how (ang hirap kasing iexplain through words lang). I uploaded it here on facebook, they seem to like it (or were they just being polite? :D),  asked me to make more videos, which I did, and after making a few more videos, I decided to make a page so that I would be able to share them with others who are not on my friend's list too, and presto!! Pinay Cooking Lessons was born!!! I was afraid that no one else aside from my friends would like PCL, but then one after the other friends came (that's what I call those who like PCL, I'm not comfortable calling them as Fans) and now PCL  have 7364  friends and still counting!  Yay!!

Nanay and I, circa 1968
Sino nga ba si Pinay sa Pinay Cooking Lessons and the Nanay in Nanaynikikay?  My  real name is Maria Teresa.  (If you're curious who Kikay is, she  is your youngest child who's real name is Charlize Kaye whom we fondly call  Kikay, thus...Nanaynikikay) actually, i'm a nobody, hehehe, just a simple stay-at-home wife with 3 wonderful kids who all love to eat. I didn't take up culinary arts, (I have a degree in Foreign Service though, ang layo ano?) I'm not a chef or a cook in any restaurant or turo-turo, just an average person who happens to love cooking.

My family and I have been living here in the USA for 3 years now, but  I am originally  from Maysan, Valenzuela City,  I was born and raised there, and my family is what you call "taal na taga-Valenzuela", because even my  mother and my grandmother were born and raised there. Almost everyone in my famiy cooks, my grandmother and my mother, tita's, cousins.... Making kakanin and minatamis was a family business. I learned how to cook from my Nanay, and one of my fondest childhood memories was going to the market in Meycauayan, Bulacan  on Sunday mornings with her. She would haggle with vendors down to the last 50 centavos and it would exasperate me when they don't agree with the price because that means we have to go to the next tindera and start the whole process all over  again... 

Nanay did all the cooking back then, and I don't really recall helping her, but maybe I was watching and learning unconsciously. The first time I cooked was when my Tatay (who worked in London for 32 years, an OFW even before the term was invented) asked me to make an omelette for him (you know, the one with onions in it?) I was maybe in grade school at that time, and I didn't know how to make that, so what I did was I sliced the onions, beat the eggs, mixed them together, and placed them in a frying pan with a little oil in it. I'm not sure if I put salt in it, but when it was done, it looked good and I was quite pleased with myself. I served it to him and my younger brother, and was so proud of myself when he said that it was the best omelette he had ever tasted...until my brother told me that it tasted bad, and I think it did, now knowing that the onions should have caramelized first before adding the egg... hahaha!!!  I started to bake when I was I high school, my friend Jho and I would bake cakes out of ready-made cake mixes and we had a blast!!

Then I got married, had 3 kids, and at one point  both my hubby and I became jobless. What we did was we set up a makeshift halo-halo stand in front of our house and sold what else but... halo-halo!!  At 10 pesos per glass  it had everything...sago, gulaman, monggo, beans, kaong, nata de coco, langka, saging na saba, camote, leche flan and ube halaya. Everything was made from scratch, and we sold a lot, up to 180 glasses per day (which explains why my hubby's left arm is more muscular that his right (he's a leftie) :D). We added fishballs and squidballs to that, then moved on to other things like pancit, mami, pizza, tapsilog, and ulam.  We didn't really have a restaurant or turo-turo, what we did was  post signs on our gate saying "we sell...." or "... available" and people would come and buy from us. And it was great!!

my family (Rex, Lance, Bea, Kaye (Kikay) and I

From having that makeshift halo-halo stand, my family has come a long way... now we're here in the United States. Hubby has a nice job, the kids are doing great in school, and I do a little catering here and there... life is good, God has been very generous to us. I never really ask for anything from Him, but He gives us a lot. By sharing my videos with you, I feel like i'm giving back to Him a little of what He has given us. We are not rich, we don't have money to give away, but we do help others as much as we can. Lagi kong sinasabi na di mo kailangang maging politiko or maging isang kilalang tao para makatulong ka sa kapwa mo. And this, I guess is my way of helping others, my way of paying forward God's generous blessings to me and family.

I hope that through this (my litany) you were able to know a little more about me... thanks po for reading.

Do check out  Pinay Cooking Lessons on Facebook:

And watch our videos on Nanaynikikay (Pinay Cooking Lessons) channel on Youtube:

As a preview of the videos that I make, I'm sharing with you of my most cherished recipes, and this is my special  CASSAVA CAKE, everyone who has tried it LOVES it, do try it please and let me know how kung nagustuhan ba ninyo. 


1 kilo grated cassava also called yucca or manioc (I use frozen grated cassava available in Asian supermarkets, but you may use fresh grated cassava)
2 cups sugar
4 cups thick coconut milk
1/4 cup melted butter (plus additional  for greasing pans)
2 eggs

Optional ingredient: egg yellow food color


1 cup thin coconut milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can condensed milk