A Thousand Years piano cover by Jade

Like most you who are viewing this blog post, I also love this song.  I requested my daughter to learn this song so I can enjoy listening to her daily practice.  I remember well the night she recorded this video.  Thank you Jade!  You always touch my soul when you play piano.


Pork Binagoongan (fermented shrimp paste stewed pork)

Pork Binagoongan with coconut milk

This is Jade’s 2nd favorite Filipino dish.   I cooked this batch because she requested me to make it for dinner.

Just like the salty and fermented Korean Kimchi, the Filipino shrimp paste is a perfect match with pork.

This recipe is very flavorful and is best eaten with steamed white rice.

Here’s how I made it:

Boil 1 1/2-2 lbs. of pork shoulder (cut into small serving pieces) in a deep pot with 4 cups  water, 4 pcs. of bay leaf, 1 medium onion, sliced and ground black pepper.  Make sure to skim the broth to keep it clear and clean.  Once boiling, cover the pot and simmer the pork for 25 minutes until it is tender.

Uncover the pot and continue to boil until the stock evaporates.  We don’t want a lot of stock on this recipe.  When we see just enough broth, add in your favorite Filipino sautéed shrimp paste about 1/2 cup or more (depending on your taste), some sugar and 3 diced tomatoes.  Continue to simmer.  Add some green chili and a few tablespoons of coconut cream.  When chili is cooked, it is done!

Another variety for this is adding sliced eggplants into the recipe.  It’s like Thai curry without the curry 😊 but instead, it’s Bagoong (shrimp paste).

I hope you try this recipe.  By the way, you can buy Filipino fermented shrimp pastes at a lot of Asian stores.  You need to use the cooked/sautéed shrimp paste, not the raw (bright pink) kind.

Ginisang Bagoong Alamang (sautéed fermented shrimp paste)

Pineapple Glazed Ham

For Christmas Eve 2016, I attempted to make my first ever Filipino Style pineapple glazed ham.  I found a good small portion ham in Costco, probably about 2 pounds and I bought it for only $10.  I scoured the internet for classic Filipino style recipes and found Skiptomalou.net

I liked her recipe so I followed her step by step instructions on how to marinade my pre-cooked ham in pineapple juice, sprite, beer and some bay leaf.  After simmering for 30 minutes, I let the ham soak into the marinade overnight.  The next day, I removed the ham and cooked the leftover marinade to reduce for glazing.  I added sugar, some salt and a tablespoon of butter. When it was all reduced to about one cup, I prepped my ham by rubbing it with brown sugar then I brushed some of the glaze, I arranged some pineapple slices on the the ham using cloves to put them in place and baked the ham for 30 minutes in a 350 deg. Fahrenheit pre-heated oven. 

It turned out so good that my family and some after Christmas visitors really liked it.  Perfect with the Filipino quezo de bola and some hot pandesal.  

For New Year’s Eve, I made another one but this time I did not put pineapple slices on the ham. After cooking, I sliced the ham thinly and put it in the refrigerator.  My family enjoyed preparing their ham sandwiches using my homemade pineapple glazed ham slices.

This is not just a Holiday ham.  This recipe can be enjoyed anytime of the year, for any occasion even for daily school lunch box for the children.

Dog-friendly San Luis Obispo

I didn’t want to be lazy and wanted to start my year right that’s why I am posting my first blog post for the year.

Because we didn’t have international travel plans for the Christmas Holidays of 2016, we thought it would be fun to have a spontaneous trip out of town with our adopted dog, Lily.  We adopted Lily from Irvine Animal Shelter back in April 29, 2016.  Since then, she has changed our family 360 degrees.

It’s about a 4-5 hour drive from our home to San Luis Obispo.  I researched online and found out that SLO is truly a pet-friendly tourist destination.  This is our second time in SLO, Morro Bay was our first destination back in Spring Break of 2015.

This was Lily’s first family vacation.  As a 3rd -chance adopted dog, I think Lily is one lucky pet.

Old Porte Beach, Leash-free Dog Beach
Lily met some new friends at Avila Valley Barn

Lily at Laguna Lake Park, SLO

Lily watching her first sunset at Eldwayen Ocean Park

Lily and her Alpha
Stations of the Cross at Mission of Santa Barbara
Lily at the Old Mission of Santa Barbara

Overnight Oats with RED BEANS (adzuki) 

I am betting that there are a lot of overnight oat recipes online.  I actually learned to make this by watching YouTube videos of people sharing different ways to make overnight oats.

I was inspired to make this in order to serve a quick morning meal to our children while my husband and I enjoy drinking our coffee.

Both my children love oats (specially my 4-year-old), that is why I worked with an ingredient that they love to eat for breakfast.  Since we do not really eat cereal at home because it’s too sweet, this jarred overnight oats worked really well for us.

As you can see, the simple ingredients I used are Old Fashioned Oats, unsweetened almond milk, greek yogurt (flavored or plain), chia seeds and agave nectar.

Using a small mason jar, I just put around 3-4 tbsp. of oats, add in a little bit of almond milk around 1/4 cup, 1 tbsp. of chia seeds, and mix some greek yogurt of our choice.  I cover the mason jar and shake it  to saturate the oats with the goodness of the greek yogurt and milk, then place it in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, each one of us mix in whatever extra ingredient we want such as honey or agave nectar or nothing sweet at all, some berries, nuts and fresh fruits but this blog is all about our new discovery.  I bought sweetened red beans (japanese adzuki beans) from an Asian store and because it’s already sweet, we just mix in a tablespoon or two with our overnight oats and it’s heaven in a mason jar!!!  You should try it!

If you love sweetened red beans like my daughter does, this is really a treat.



Break from cooking – Ballet Recital

This is a video of Mei’s first ever Spring Gala with Pacific Ballet Conservatory back in June 2015.  She’s the little flower at the right end of the screen.  Enjoy!


Tradition: Kimchi-Giving

It’s takes an entire day – yes, a whole day to make a batch of Kimchi that will last my family 2-3 months depending on our appetite and craving for this crunchy, perfectly spicy, salty & sweet homemade kimchi.  

Since I started making my own kimchi back in 2007 when I first met Maangchi, my family has learned to eat a lot of complementing Korean dishes with my home-made kimch.  

I am proud that I make a good balance of flavor with the best ingredients I can find.  Every year I make more kimchi not just for our consumption but also to give and share to special friends who are always in line waiting for my freshly made kimchi.  

It is becoming a tradition.  Making kimchi and giving it away 😊.  Sharing food is one of my favorite ways to show love, thanks and appreciation to a friend or a family member.

Can’t you smell my kimchi?

Individually jarred and ready to give away Kimchi


Frugal but not Stingy with my Laundry (All Natural & Chemical-Free!!!)

I discovered Soap Nuts back in July 2015 while researching online about Eczema.  My children have eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) and I have used so many products for their skin care for I was so desperate to find a cure.  As doctors always say that there is no cure to eczema but proper skin maintenance,  I was still frustrated because I have done almost everything possible – bought all kinds of moisturizing lotion, emollient and oil but their skin are still full of irritation.  Back in July, both of my girls were suffering severe redness and itch and I couldn’t take watching them be in that situation.  I even became a member of the National Eczema Association and it somehow helped me be informed as a caretaker for eczema-suffering-children.  The NEA is a great resource and I really enjoy reading articles and learning from other parents whose children also suffer from Atopic Dermatitis.

Anyway, during my research, I came upon a website/blog It’s an Itchy World.  After reading Heidi’s story and seeing the photos of her baby I was eagerly inspired and convinced that Soap Nuts will work for my children.  I guess if you’re a mother, just like any mother, we will do anything to find a cure or even just find a way to relieve the redness and itch from eczema.  That same moment, I was online purchasing my first bag of Soap Nuts.

What are Soap Nuts (from NaturOli Website):

Soap nuts are known worldwide by many names such as soapnuts, soapberry, washing nuts, soap nut shells, wash shells, soapberry nut husk, Ritha (Hindi) nut shell, Chinese soapberry and many more. Very simply, soap nuts are the dried shells (or husks) from the soapberry (or soap berry nut). These berries are the fruit from a quite unique tree species. These shells contain a substance called saponin that produces a soaping effect. Saponin is a 100% natural alternative to chemical laundry detergent and cleansers. It can replace many chemical detergents such as those containing sodium laureth sulphate (SLS) that are becoming well known by consumers for being a skin irritant and health hazard

I first tried to use my soap nuts as how others traditionally would do it, by putting 4-6 soap nuts in a muslin bag and throwing it into the washing machine.  My laundry came out unbelievably clean and odor-free.  Because I’ve been using free & clear laundry soap for years before I discovered soap nuts, I wasn’t expecting my laundry to smell fragrantly fresh.  I’ve been using ALL Laundry Detergent for a long time.  It was recommended by our Pediatrician because according to the doctor it is very mild.  However, even with ALL, my girls’ skin were irritated.

With more research, I discovered that I can make my own Soap Nut laundry detergent.  There’s a lot of resources on YouTube but this is my favorite:

With my old Laundry detergent, it costs me $15.00 per month but now with soap nuts, I’ve been saving a lot of money and saving the environment in my own little way by not dumping my old laundry detergent plastic bottle.   I bought 4 pounds of soap nuts for $39.95.  I’ve been using it since July and I am only about half way thru my large bag.  That means I spend about $6.67 per month  on laundry soap.  I did also invest on a bottle of lavender essential oil and I add a few drops into my washing load.  A 2-ounce bottle of lavender essential oil cost $18.00 at Whole Foods.  This bottle will last me a long time.  I also bought Trader Joe’s Lavender Dryer bags.  It’s chemical-free and I use it to supplement my use of essential oil.

I still have another 3-4 months before my bag of soap nuts are all gone.  To those who want to try soap nuts here are a few things to note:

  • Soap nuts are fragrant-free.  Do not expect your laundry to be aromatic.
  • I personally buy NaturOli soap nuts but there are other soap nuts available online.  MAKE SURE YOU ARE BUYING FROM A RELIABLE SELLER.
  • Buy only de-seeded soap nuts
  • Read more about soap nuts before trying it.  There are a lot of resources online specially on YouTube
  • Be patient while learning to use soapberry nuts
  • Be creative and resourceful… I also put my used soap buts in my garden 🙂