What I Needed to Hear

These are some of the quotes from my friends, that I saved on my old Facebook Quotes page. I like to read them when I’m feeling desolation. These quotes represent times when someone said exactly the right thing, and reminded me who I was.

These are just the ones I had the presence of mind to record in my Facebook Quotes; there are others that I didn’t manage to record for posterity. No particular order.

“What gift are you going to give him? What gift are you going to give my friend?!” Marco

“They take you back.” Josh

“Perfect people suck.” Jim

“Nah, you’re not evil.” Shawn

“All is forgiven, friend.” Bryant

“Fear is false.” Amber

“You’re an honorary Aussie already – drinking like a fish, taking the micky out of people, and giving your mate shit – you’re on your way mate!” Nigel

“Hey you know what, I said it wrong, I won’t be proud of you one day, I am already.” Leo

“Your writing makes me jealous that I didn’t wake up at 6 am and do laundry.”  Evan

“You love yourself when you do music.” Shawn

Long Beach Adventure

I don’t blog enough anymore.  I end up forgetting details.

Yesterday I met R for breakfast and then drove west on a California Adventure to Long Beach. We didn’t plan it that precisely; the only ideas we had were beach, seafood, Daiso, and an Asian grocery store.

It was early when we left, so we made it to Long Beach after 10:00. We parked at the marina just to get our bearings, and then drove to Daiso, which is ridiculous, but it was fun.

Next we went to San Pedro Fish Market, which was a pretty fun experience. It was a little disorienting and overwhelming so we just split a shrimp tray. Next time I’ll pick out seafood at the market. The customers were Mexican by a vast majority, and a few black families. There were not a lot of Asians there, and if I were to guess it’s because they can probably do it cheaper. Anyway, there were so many Mexicans there, it felt like Mexico, sitting in the sunshine all day and enjoying a beer.

Afterward there was frozen yogurt, and then a quick trip through the Museum of Latin American Art. The gift shop lady mis-identified me as Indonesian! R was disappointed that the entire museum was some prints, as it was an exhibition called Gráfica América. There was also a section where patrons were invited to participate in a diversity flag, and we ended up chatting for a while with the artists Chiachio and Giannone, who were super nice, and very interested in us. I wish I could have contributed to the diversity flag but I couldn’t think of anything to write. I regret not asking them for a selfie.

We got coffee at a place called Rose Park Roasters. It was good enough that I bought beans.

After that was a trip to H-Mart, and I found my favorite spicy peanuts and bought some kangkong 空心菜. Our final stop was at a Zankou Chicken. I had a falafel plate. It was delicious. That’s another restaurant where you see people from a lot of different ethnicities. Mediterranean food is good; God bless the Armenians.

After that it was non-stop back to the desert. I declared R to be the DJ and subsequently did carpool karaoke for the rest of the two hour drive. It probably weirded out R but I can always make other friends.

Four Days Back in Seattle

We have a nine day break in February; I like to call it Black History Month Break. On Friday night I drove to Vegas, and by Saturday night I was back in Seattle.  I was really bummed that H and K were out of town, but they were gracious enough to let me use their apartment and a car!

I was joined on this adventure by my coworker R, who shares my love of getting the heck out of the desert. R stayed in the guest room and joined me on all of my fun Seattle adventures.

It’s already fading from my memory, so here’s a sloppy list of stuff we did rather than a coherent narrative.

While I was taking care of some business, R made his way to the Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, the Monorail, Westlake Center (including Daiso!).

There’s more stuff, and if it comes to me, or if R reminds me, I’ll add it to this list.  Some of the stuff on my list was new to me, but most of it was my normal life. Sigh, quality of life.

There was more that I wanted to do, and places that I wanted to take R, but four days is not enough.  Next time there will be Ly’s Doughnuts, karaoke, Sunfish fish and chips…

Christmas Break 2018

After proctoring the last final exam I took my friend to the airport, got my act together, and hit the road for Los Angeles.  I showed up for M&F’s annual tamalada, which was a fun time, and I stayed the night there.  The next day I drove to Las Vegas on the 15, which was a seven hour trip due to traffic.  I stopped in Barstow for a late lunch, and by the time I got to Baker it was dark.

I spent a few days in Las Vegas with the folks, which was fine; I wish I had blogged at least once because I’ve forgotten a lot of it already. We made a whole steamed fish, and pansit, and I lumpia-fried some of the leftover pansit.  My mama and I go grocery shopping recreationally, and found out that the junction between I-95 and I-15 is open and pretty smooth now. We went to my parents’ friends place on Christmas Eve for dinner. They had Filipino catering but none of it was pescatarian friendly so I didn’t eat much.

I flew to Seattle on Christmas Day, and I’ve been here for three sleeps already, and have been having dreams that are banana-pancakes; probably due to caffeine. I think the rain is amnesia inducing effect because it feels like I never left; it’s nice to be here, but nice in a comfortable way, not an ecstatic way. My sister and I have been planning adventures, but mostly it’s been cooking food and rainy days; so it just feels like home.

I have a few projects to complete while I’m here, so I might spend some of the rainy days in coffee shops just like this; blogging and grading papers.

Thanksgiving Break 2018 and my bread recipe

I’m back in the desert after Thanksgiving in Vegas with my family. We went and saw Fantastic Beasts II, went to bingo, ate at my favorite Chinese restaurant Bund Shanghai, went grocery shopping at both the Mexican supermarket and the Filipino supermarket. What else is there?

Our family’s T-day menu was an 8 lb turkey roasted beer-can style; a roast lamb, shrimp pansit, tarragon mashed potatoes, slow-cooker dressing, stir-fried brussels sprouts, roasted brocoli, fresh baguettes. K made gallo pinto. The guests brought a not-that-sweet bibinka and some goat caldereta.

We failed to make the salmon, totally forgot about anything cranberry. For dessert, we got two free pumpkin pies from the casino, and the dessert eaters declared them disgusting. The guests brought another free casino pumpkin pie. My dad proposed giving them to the poor, but my mama vetoed cursing the poor with something that was not good enough to serve to her own family.  I think those pies got junked. The dessert eaters were in heaven sucking on some sugar cane that my mama bought at the supermarket.

K wants to make bread, so here’s my recipe:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 0.5 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1.5 cup water

Stir the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Add the water and stir with the back of a wooden spoon until all the dry flour is gone; you’ll have a shaggy mass. Clean all the scraps from the sides of the bowl and dump it into the mass of flour. Cover and leave it alone until the next day, up to 48 hours. At the very least, give it eight hours. It will transform itself into a wet, sticky pool.

It’s ready to bake after that, but if you want to work it a little, you can fold it, let it rest, fold it again, let it rest… whatever.  Cook a round loaf in a Dutch oven with or without parchment; or  with a little more work you can shape baguettes.

So here’s the minimum gear you need for the dough: measuring cups, measuring spoons, big mixing bowl, something to cover it with.  Optional: silicone spatula, bench scraper.

Here’s the minimum gear you need for the round loaf: Dutch oven. Optional: parchment paper.  I’ve made a round loaf in K’s apartment before so I know he has all these things.

Here’s the minimum gear you need for baguettes:  baking sheet.  Optional: Silpat liner, sharp knife for slashing, little container for steam bath.  You can buy the baguette cradle if you’re into it; I would buy this one because it will make larger loaves. The one that I bought really makes ficelles, which are delicious but should be eaten hot and fresh… they get hard and crusty if you let them wait.

I enjoy hard and crusty but my mama adds stuff like flax and chia to her recipe and the finished product turns out softer. The last round of baguettes I made were yellow from turmeric.

October Break 2018; Tomato Sauce Recipe

  1. I drove through the desert at night, from the Coachella Valley to Las Vegas. It was a full moon in the Mohave National Reserve.
  2. Selfie with mama.
  3. Selfie with dad.
  4. This is my new soap. The pour was a fail, but the color and the formula was perfect. I was going to try dancing tunnels but the batter thickened up and I was lucky to get it into the mold with a spoon. I’m getting close to perfecting my signature soap.
  5. I discovered these beans in my mama’s fridge, labeled ‘betswelas,” a borrowing from Spanish “habichuelas.” I’m surprised that they didn’t get the Mexican word (ejotes) or the European Spanish word (judías verdes). Habichuelas reminds me of Caribbean, Andean, or maybe Central American Spanish.
  6. I made pansit. It was really good, and the key was the broth. But also I burned the veggies in the wok, which makes them taste better.  The whole time I was thinking about that America’s Ethnocentric Test Kitchen, where they decided definitively that woks don’t work for stir fry.
  7. The next morning for breakfast I baked baguettes and made a tortilla de patatas.
  8. That night for dinner I made pupusas, curtido, and even that thin tomato salsa that they serve with pupusas. The pupusas were loroco y queso, and my mama recognized the loroco and identified it as bagbagkong, or sabidukong.  It’s good in Ilocano garden vegetable recipes, and it’s available at the Mexican supermarket.
  9. I made bread with my mama’s dough.  I was trying to slash a star. There was an issue of the paper sticking.
  10. My mama says the bunot (coconut husk) polishes the floor better than the electric polisher the bought. Added bonuses, she gets her exercise, and also the dogs don’t lose their minds with the bunot.
  11. My mama helps me with my sewing project.
  12. She sewed me a Möbius Strap for my ukulele!  Apologies to the inventor.
  13. My mama tested out her new pasta making extruder by making bucatini from scratch!
  14. I made a tomato sauce from scratch. It was spectacular.

JP’s Tomato Sauce Recipe

Toast some black pepper in a pan over medium.  Douse with olive oil and start roasting your garlic in there. Don’t wait for it to finish, just get it started. Add in some oregano.

Dump in half of a little thang of anchovy filets in olive oil and crush them into the oil with your stirring spoon. Don’t tell skittish people about the anchovies, they will be annoying.  Drop in some chopped onions and get them to translucent.

Drop in a bunch of chopped tomatoes. Add salt, more oregano, thyme, bay leaf, whatever you find.

Stew it for half an hour over medium low. If you need more umami, splash in a dash of soy sauce and don’t tell Italian people; they will talk about their nonna as if that’s relevant to the situation, nun me ne frega, mi hai capito?  Eu! Anyway I forgot to add the soy sauce, but I did add some red pepper paste.

Tell your guests to wash their hands and sit down at the table.

Boil the water off. Then add the hot pasta and spoonful of the pasta water.  Crank the flame up to high and then toss the pasta into the sauce until that water has boiled off again and the stewed tomatoes are clinging to the pasta for dear life.  Turn the heat off and drizzle with more olive oil.

That’s eat. Serve it hot with grated parmesan.

There are a few things that add umami to any dish (besides just adding MSG). They are cooked tomatoes, parmesan cheese, soy sauce, and anchovies.  The reason pasta in tomato sauce is appealing is because it’s super umami.  I’m so, so sorry for all that sour tomato sauce you’ve eaten over your life. For the Filipinos, that half cup of sugar in your tomato sauce is why we’re all overweight and diabetic.

I drive back to the desert tomorrow.




Maybe I Should Hoard Fish Oil Pills

This post is for Bocatas, who didn’t ask for my advice.

So for my second round of laser eye surgery, the guy who was helping the doctor prep me for the procedure (I’m not sure if he is a nurse or an expeditor of some sort) told me to take flax seed oil pills.  He said they’ll help keep my eyeball tissues juicy and that will stave off dryness.

Off-handedly, he mentioned that fish oil pills were actually the best, but that most people were grossed out by fish.

I was like, listen dude, I have been Filipino a long time and I’m not afraid of no fish.  I chuckled to myself and muttered, “… desert people.” He looked up at me and said, oh, ok, with a look on his face like, “wow, that’s never happened before.” He told me that I’d be taking these pills for the rest of my life.

The time I ran out. Ever since the procedure, I’ve taken my 1000 IUs of fish oil pills twice a day. One time, I was driving to Vegas through the Mojave National Preserve and my eyes hurt, a stingy, stabby hurt. It took me another day or two to remember that I had let my bottle of fish oil pills run out, and that I needed to buy another. I bought the pills in Vegas, and my eyes went back to being juicy and stab-free.

The lady at work. One of my coworkers had the procedure done a few months before me, and I was picking her brain for information. She said the whole experience was great, which made me feel better about getting my own procedure done. Later, after the surgery, she complained to me that her eyes felt dry, and that drops didn’t help, and that sometimes her eyes felt stabby.  I asked her what kind of fish oil pills she was taking, and she said, “What are you talking about?” Apparently the nurse/expeditor didn’t tell her to take the flax seed oil pills. So I told her the whole flax seed oil/fish oil pill story, and she said, oh, I’ll take fish oil pills.

I checked back with her a week later, as she passed me in the hallway. Did the fish oil pills work?  Yep, she said, fixed everything, that was it. I’m fine now, she said, and then disappeared down the hallway.

Check-up.  I did a one year post procedure check-up with my ophthalmologist. I mentioned that I was taking the fish oil pills and told him about the lady at work. He didn’t seem that impressed; maybe he thinks fish oil pills are not that necessary.  He asked me if I ate fish at least once a week, and I was like, chuckle, “… what is it with these desert people?  I eat fish minimum fifty times a week!  He looked at me and said, you know you’re probably getting enough fish oil through your diet. And then he took a harder look and said, “I would worry about mercury poisoning, if you’re eating that much fish.”

Listen, if I die from eating too much fish, I will die satisfied. If I die from anything, please let it be from eating too much fish.  Also, I reduced my intake of top predator fish like tuna down to once a month, and now I eat lower mercury fish like salmon and sardines.

The Dreaded Yellow Bottle.  So another time my bottle of fish oil pills ran out, and I bought the yellow bottle instead of the green bottle because it was on sale.  I took it for about three days, and then drove back to the pharmacy and bought the green bottle at full price. I don’t know whether the yellow bottle was lower quality or bad product or what, but I felt the stabby eye pain and I didn’t like it.

Text message panic.  Another friend from work texted me very early in the morning complaining of stabby eye pain. I told her to wash her eyeballs out and see the doctor.  Later I checked back with her; she did see the doctor, and he told her to take some drops. Dryness. At that point I remembered OH RIGHT she had had the procedure too.  So I told her about fish oil pills in a series of several detailed messages. I checked back with her a few days later, and she said, yep, all better.

1400 IUs.  I emptied out another bottle of fish oil pills, and coincidentally I was in Vegas again.  I went with my mama to Costco and I saw that the green bottle was on sale, but not at 1000 IUs; only at 1400 IUs.  So I bought it, and took the pills and everything was fine.  Once that bottle was empty, I went back to my regular pharmacy in the desert and bought the 1000 IUs bottle.  I didn’t feel stabby pain, but I did feel a little dry and my focus was not as sharp.  It’s not bad enough for me to go back up to 1400 IUs, but it’s clear to me at this point that I actually need fish oil pills for now.

Maybe I’ll try to wean myself away from fish oil pills gradually, lowering the dose until I stop needing them. When the economy crashes and the republic falls, I don’t want to be caught dependent on these pills without a reliable of supply. Who knows when order will be restored;  it might take years for society to recover steady distribution. Maybe I should just start hoarding them.