The FooDorama Challenge: I Watch It, I Try It!

平和 (★´3`)ノ.☆.・∴.・☆:*・∵.:*・☆.。.:*, :*・∵.:☆.。

Jdorama Inspiration: Hotaru no Haka

The live action version of Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies) was a tanpatsu (movie made for TV) that was shown on November 1, 2005 on NTV.  Based on a novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, Hotaru no Haku was first made into a critically acclaimed animated movie in 1988. The story, set in World War II, is a heart-breaking tale of a brother and sister who were orphaned and taken under the care of a distant aunt.  The harsh realities and hopelessness caused by the cruelties of war inevitably affected everyone and thus, led the the two siblings to go and fend for themselves which ultimately brought about tragic and unfortunate consequences.

It would be better to see the 1988 movie before you watch the jdorama version.  A lot of people liked the original much better than the newer version – mainly because they disliked the auntie (played by Matsushima Nanako in the live action version) so much they prefer not to see her side of the story (which wasn’t implied in the animated movie).  The 2005 version tried to point out that it is understandable if people do make cruel, apathetic decisions and acts just to protect those who are precious to them in times of war. Both versions still showed a clear message though: war may bring out the best as well as the worst in us, and let’s hope and pray that something like this will never ever happen again.

“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” ~Bertrand Russell: Seita (Ishida Hoshi) and Setsuko (Sasaki Mao) try to stay alive during the war (above left); At right are their animated counterparts from the 1988 movie.

Jdorama Food: Sekihan

Sekihan or red bean rice is a traditional Japanese dish that is made of steamed glutinous rice and azuki beans.  The rice gets its red color from the water used from boiling the beans.  Red is a color associated with ‘happiness’ or driving away evil vibes in Japan; that is why, sekihan is served during celebrations like birthdays and holidays.

The FooDorama Connection: At the start of the TV movie, the husband of the auntie was called to serve in the war and will be leaving on that day. For his going-away party, the aunt cooks a big batch of sekihan which excited her two daughters for they hadn’t eaten anything as luxurious as sekihan since the war started.  Above shows the elder daughter Natsu (played by Inoue Mao) scolding her sisters, reminding them that their father’s departure is not something to rejoice about.

The sekihan in the TV movie being cooked in a wooden steamer.

Another jdorama that featured sekihan:

Smile (TBS, 2009): In episode 2, Hayakawa Bito (Matsumoto Jun), helps make and deliver sekihan to an elementary school.  Unaware that the rice in the sekihan was tainted with pesticide, Bito later finds out about the mass poisoning of the students through the TV news (above right).

The FooDorama Challenge: Sekihan for My Dad’s Birthday!

We Pinoys are no strangers when it comes to glutinous rice cakes (like biko and bibingka) which we also serve during special occasions, and occasionally as an afternoon snack.  However, ours have coconut milk and sugar so they’re sweeter and goes well with strong coffee.  So when I read the ingredients for sekihan – I naturally went: What? No sugar? WTH will it taste like?

Having doubts about it, I still went ahead with this recipe for my dad’s birthday, using whatever that was left from the expensive azuki beans that I used for shiruko (FDC#3).

To make Sekihan: I used half a cup of the beans and soaked them overnight in water.  Then, I boiled them with two cups of water for less than an hour, making sure they weren’t totally cooked yet.

Then, I placed the washed uncooked rice in the rice cooker, along with three cups of water (a portion of which came from the reddish water used for boiling the beans).  I also placed the semi-cooked beans in it and some salt and let it sit for an hour. Lastly, I turned on the rice cooker until the sekihan was ready.

onigiri sekihan

Sekihan for FDC#9 is done! You can mold the sekihan into round or triangular shapes (onigiri) if you like. 🙂

What did this biko-loyalist, Pinay amateur cook think of the taste? Hmm, as I said, I had my doubts but I decided to give it a chance.  I tried it with sesame seeds and salt (as stated in the recipe) but I wasn’t satisfied with it, and was only able to eat a few amount. I even tried store bought furikake (condiment used for rice) with it but I still found it lacking. The rice and beans tasted well together but I just blame my stubborn taste buds which is too used to eating rice cakes the way we usually make them… hence, I found my hand reaching up into the shelf to get the sugar jar….

sekihan with sugar

Topped with brown sugar and sesame seeds, this sekihan is much better and more satisfying for me.  And I did find out that in some parts of Japan (like in Tsugare and Iwate), they do use sugar to sweeten their sekihan. ^_^ V

sekihan for dad

This sugar-topped sekihan is for my dad who celebrated his birthday today! Happy, happy birthday to my dear old Dad!

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Postscript (★´3`): Btw, my sekihan turned out too dark (it was more like brown, not red) so my advice is to lessen the amount of the “red” water and use more clear water for the one you’ll use to cook rice with – that is, if you want a lighter red or pinkish colored rice.  (★´3`) Also, if you are a beginner, it is better to experiment with smaller amounts first (like 2 cups of rice and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of beans) and see if you like it.  If you do, you can make more next time. (★´3`) And lastly, of course, I don’t discount the traditional way of putting salt – but if you are watching your health and on a low-salt diet, I think brown or muscuvado sugar could be a tasty and healthier alternative.

^*・’゚☆。.:*:・’☆’・:*:.。 ~piisu~fireflies!~ v (゚▽゚)ノ.:*:・’゚:*:・’゚☆

My FooDorama Challenge Links:
FDC#10: Agedashi Tofu (Jdorama Inspiration: Jin)
FDC#8: Kareh Raisu (Jdorama Inspiration: Kaibutsu-kun)
FDC#7: Zaru Soba (Jdorama Inspiration: Attention Please)

———————————- fodocha

Sekihan info source: wikipedia (English), wikipedia (Japan)
Recipe sources: japanesefood.about, recipezaar
Jdorama info source: dramawiki
Jdorama photo credits: NTV, TBS
Anime photo source: News-Anime

Undas is a major holiday that we observed as the “All Souls Day” (Nov. 2) in the Philippines.  It is celebrated along with All Saints Day (Nov. 1).  It is a Catholic tradition that was adapted from ancient Mexican rituals of honoring departed loved ones (um, I think).

During the Undas, families and clans reunite.  They go home to their respective hometowns or regions, clean and repaint the tombs of deceased relatives, and cook up a simple feast (usually kakanin or glutinous rice delicacies like biko) to take with them to the cemeteries. Families would have picnics by the graves or tombs, offer flowers or food, play cards, camp out, eat and pray.  On the downside, there would be lots of traffic jams along major highways and naturally, plenty of headaches and occasional petty traffic spats and squabbles.

Offering flowers, lit candles and prayers for Mommy (Oct. 30, 2008):


Picnicking on the memorial park grounds at night and watching out for shooting stars together with Sis, Doc, Pchi, Paw, Levic, and Lolo Daddy.

Traditional holiday food: Biko prepared at home, made from glutinous rice, sugar, and coconut milk:

I remember when we go to the memorial park way back in the 80’s to visit mama.  There were a lot more people back then.  There was generally a festive atmosphere at that time.  There were food stalls all around and many families would stay for hours and hours or set up huge tents on the grass so that they could camp overnight.

Now, I have noticed that the number of people visiting the park during the Undas have dwindled down considerably during the past years.  Or that if they do visit, they will stay for a short time, and then leave.  Or some visit ahead of time (like what we did) so as to avoid the traffic hassles and headaches.  Times are changing, I guess but I am pretty sure the tradition will continue to live on…  After all Undas is all about remembering.  As an Irish blessing goes: “May you never forget what is worth remembering nor ever remember what is best forgotten.” Nobody wants to be forgotten so let’s hope we all live a life that is worth remembering… Have a Safe and Happy Undas, Pinoys!

A few hours from now, it will be September.  That means Buwan ng Wika (month-long celebration of Filipino Languages) will be over.  For the past two weeks, I wanted to write a post in honor of Buwan Ng Wika or Linggo Ng Wika (depending on how long you want to celebrate it) but I have been too busy finishing up all my trimester requirements for grad school, i just couldn’t find the time for it.  Nevertheless, as they say… huli man at magaling ay magaling pa rin… um, that’s not right …ano nga ba yon? …huli man ang matsing ay magaling pa rin? or huli man at magaling ay matsing pa rin? …oh, heck, di bale na…ingglisin ko na lang: Better on the last day than never!

(AFTER TWO HOURS OF THINKING…)

As it turned out, I have nothing to say pala!  Haha!  So I will just do what all bloggers do when suffering from ‘writer’s block‘ (or so they claim, hehe)—pose pictures instead!

Here’s to all things Filipino:

In schools, Buwan ng Wika is celebrated with programs, contests, fiestas, etc.  It is an occasion to mainly celebrate Filipino languages but as it turned out, we celebrate anything that is traditionally Filipino. Students and teachers are tasked to wear Filipiniana costumes, too.  Over the years, the only costume i can come up with during occasions like these was a malong draped over black t-shirt and jeans.  Not very imaginative, I know but if I were to wear a Filipino costume for Buwan ng Wika, I would wear this:

filipino tribal costume

…But not this:

If I were to eat a Filipino snack right now, I would like to snack on this great combo of crispy-thin ukoy (shrimp fritters) dipped in spicy vinegar and puto biñan:

puto ukoy binan laguna

…But not this (I haven’t tried balut or duck embryo and probably never will):

balut duck egg embryo

If I would want to see a Filipino movie right now, I would choose this (classic suspense 1971 film noir, Lilet by Gerardo De Leon-remake! remake!):

lilet gerardo de leon movie

And this, too… 1961 ensemble fun movie, Beatnik (feeling nostalgic):

Before: At TLC eleven years ago, I was usually tasked to make stage decors and props for Linggo ng Wika (and sometimes, to host as well):

Now: Still doing it, a prop (100 peso bill painting on a 20″ x 60″ illustration board) that I made for Linggo ng Wika stage program at my practicum school eleven years later:

And lastly, if I were to try out a Filipino ride, I would try this (but not when I’m in a hurry, of course):

Pinoy funny picture photoshopped

Sakay na!

Maligayang Pagtatapos ng Buwan Ng Wika!

i still dream about you, ma, from time to time…

in my dreams, i see you…

wearing one of your long house dresses or daster as we call it; cooking by the stove in the kitchen; laughing and chatting with lola azon and the maid while we lie on the marble floor watching a young ariel ureta on early morning tv…

in my dreams, i see you…

and the rest of us…complete; sitting around the old dining table; having a noontime discussion about politics, school, religion; the lazy susan spinning with your tinolang manok and steamed bangus slowly disappearing from their serving plates and into our bellies …while you refill your saucer with calamansi juice and more of that sinful bagoong…

in my dreams, i see you…

watching the carol burnett show late at night when everyone else was asleep; laughing your heart out to the point of tears at carol, harvey korman and tim conway’s antics; while peeling the largest santol that i’ve ever seen…which you kept from us…apparently to enjoy it alone since you deserve a reward after a long, long week of working and commuting from home to philcoa …back and forth, back and forth…you saw me catching you, and you smile and i smile; and then you offer me some; i accept, reveling in this special moment which was our little secret…

and in my dreams, i still see you…

happy, beautiful, and alive; grayer yet healthy and strong; and that you never left us; you whip up a batch of your macaroon cupcakes setting them on the old dining table in its new room filled with framed photos of your smiling grandchildren…you take off your glasses to wipe the lens with the hem of your daster, while you sit down, facing me to ask how my work is doing; and if i have already eaten; and if i needed anything; and if i’m happy, too…of course, i’m happy, ma, i would reply as i bite into one of your soft cupcakes…

but i’m at my happiest when i get to see you in my dreams…for in my dreams, you’re still here.

i love you, and happy birthday…

You have grown up so fast…now you’re 18 and a lovely lady whom I believe can be whatever she wants to be.  As long as you trust and believe in yourself.  May God grant your wishes and shower you with the blessings that you deserve.  We love you, darling!

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My former co-teachers held a reunion get-together last week.  It was because Charles was back from NY!  He’s the only one with the uncanny, fisherman-like ability to reel us all in– no matter which direction we’re coming from and from whatever hole we’ve dug ourselves in.

There are unsaid rules when we get together:  (1) No one should mention anything that deals with age and weight (a MUST!);  (2) No more mention of bad times…just the good times; (3) And no talking about our own personal issues and stuff that are deemed uncomfortable…except pertaining to the ones who were absent.  Kaya kung ikaw ay kabilang sa grupo namin at di ka nakadalo…Hala ka! Malamang pinag-usapan ka namin! 😛 Kaya ‘wag nang mag-aabsent next time!

Also present were Rose, Mama E., Del, Grech, Liza, Bel, Myra, Jenny, Joy and me.  We all came from this wonderful school called tlc.  The reason I’m mentioning the name is because I am hopeful that people we know from this same school could stumble upon this post by any chance that they decide to google it.  We would love to hear from them, especially from our former students, where they are now, what jobs some of them have…oh, yes! We’re that old…yikes (sabi nang walang banggitan ng edad e! 😡 ).

Here are some of the kadramahan that took place 😉 :

Of course, labasan na ng pictures ng mga anakis: Bel showing off her pics of her cutey brood.Tatlo na po!

Joy B, now Mrs. T, taking her young Baby Snooky look-alike daughter for us to meet and to marvel at!

Oh, my! Is this Del’s youngest? It IS!…It’s Ella, now all grown-up–slim and pretty!

What did we talk about?  We talked about how things have changed for the last…what? eight to ten years?…The kids of today, their attitudes, the mores, how technology seemed to affect everything that we do…

We also talked about how things HAVEN’T changed at all…teacher issues, the educational system and the ineptness of it all.

We talked about a former student of ours who is now in a certain TV show that has something to do with a ‘dream’ and an ‘academy.’

We talked about experiences of a Filipino teacher in the states (Charlie); well-kept secrets (Liza and Charlie’s), and current love lives (and still, of course, Charlie’s).  Charles’ in charge of everything, naturally…And we love him for it!  His life is a complete fruition of his dreams and I always find inspiration in his love for work, his focused determination and go-getter attitude in making all his dreams come true. 🙂

In a way, we all have changed and at the same time, haven’t changed.  We may be older yet wiser…more at peace and generally happier.  But what we had created as a group, as a unit in tlc, it’s still there…THAT will never vanish, wherever we go and whatever path we take.  Kahit saang school kami mapadpad at kahit saang panig ng mundo, yung samahan sa batch naming teachers sa tlc ay kakaiba, wala siyang katulad.  This is the thing that binds us.  And I’m lucky I was a part of this group, and always will be.

Keeping in touch: updating our email addresses (left) so as to maintain friendships and to further strengthen the bonds…

Here are some more photos from the reunion (slideshow via rockyou.com-this site totally rocks!)…hope you like it!

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One year older again…oh, dear!

Can’t groan about that. It happens and so better live with it. And how can I possibly get upset when good friends at work “secretly” gave me a wonderful birthday surprise last June 13? Hey, I could hear you a mile away whispering about it behind my back, guys…hehe.

My birthday treat: squid pancit, yummy barbeque (courtesy of donna) marinated overnight in Mama Sita’s BBQ marinade sauce (ssshhh! that’s our secret ingredient!), my favorite elbow macaroni soup, ever-present country-style iced tea plus birthday cupcakes with pink candles.

The A Girls serving up the simple feast…

We love to eat pero ano ‘to? Busog na?…kain pa!

I’ve been working with the A Girls for a number of years. Some new, some old. Some have gone, others have stayed. But one thing that sets us apart from others are our camaraderie and support that know no bounds especially in these times. I’m proud to be a part of them… “A GIRL” FOREVER!!!

The A Girls also gave me a funny Warholesque shirt with the many faces of the late Rene Requiestas in front. Thanks!!! Whenever i look at it, I could actually hear Rene’s voice, saying, “Cheeta-eh! Ganda Lalake! Heeheehee…

They know I love wearing shirts and that I grew up as a child of the 80’s. Hmm, I would also prefer having a t-shirt showing beloved comedian Chiquito in front. I miss him…I wonder where i could get one? I googled him up today and none of the sites carry even a picture of him…WHY? I mean, c’mon…someone put up a site for Weng Weng, for crying out loud! Why not Chiquito?

Oh, well. Maybe those could be my next birthday wishes for next year…a Chiquito t-shirt plus due recognition for a late great Filipino comic.

Here’s to another great year for me, i hope! Cheers! Heeheeeheee!!