Family dinner

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I used to rush home with dinner on my mind. What I served my son usually depended on how early or late I got home. 7:30 meant a regular meal, but anywhere after or closer to 8pm meant ordering out for the food to get there either before I arrive or as I walk in the door.

For the past few weeks, dinner while,sheltering in place has been a memorable time of bonding for my son and I. We sit together and choose a show we both like and watch as we eat dinner together. We used to eat in the living room, but mostly him eating as I sat to rest or prepare my dinner separately.

We used to order out for ribs, but I thought I’d give it a try a couple of weeks back. It was quite a success and I.m doing a second round today.

It wasn’t so much the recipe that I looked for but rather the method to cook the ribs in the oven, and I found this very helpful method reading “Easy, Fall-off-the-bone Oven Baked Ribs recipe”

Fall off the bone I’ve baked ribs

  • I like that this recipe taught me how to prepare the ribs by taking off the membrane at the back of the bones. I easily peeled it off from the corner of one end and gave it a tug towards the other end. This will make for a really tender rib by rib piece. You can cook the whole rack or cut it into two or three chunks.
  • The ribs will shed a lot of juice and fat while cooking, so use a deep pan. I made the mistake of using a cookie sheet covered with foil, and while the sheet held all the juice, I didn’t realize how much because it was covered with foil. Some of the juice ended up spilling into the oven as I pulled it out to remove the foil and put on the barbecue sauce.
  • After seasoning generously with salt and pepper, I let it cook in the oven for three hours, cooking covered with aluminum foil at 275F.
  • After taking the ribs out, I slathered both sides generously with my choice of barbecue sauce and broiled it on low for 30 minutes. I kept things simple and used the old reliable barbecue sauce from the grocery. Works well for my boy. There are a ton of recipes for dry rubs and barbecue sauces out there to try, but the picky eater prefers it simpler.

I plan our meals on a day to day basis based on a list of his preferred dishes, still asking him for his preference when he wakes up around noon. His repertoire has grown by half and any addition to the old reliables is a welcome alternative. He probably finds it weird that I watch him eat with gusto, but it flatters me no end to see him savoring each bite. His seal of approval at the end of the meal with a thank you and a simple “That was a good dinner, Mom,” makes all the effort worth it. I am heartened that even if I offer to order out, he prefers I cook him dinner instead.

This is one of the gifts of sheltering in place that I’ve come to appreciate despite all the other things that go with it. Being able to have the luxury of preparing long-cooking meals while working from home has been a plus. The regular meals, I cook after I shut down the laptop and rest a bit. I don’t miss the commute going home when I would usually be too tired that I would nap on the bus. Special meals no longer need to be reserved for the weekend.

We’ve pretty much settled into our routine, although I would prefer he woke up by noon. These days, I let him sleep as late as he wants. School will be over soon and he won’t have to go through the attendance and sign on routine of online learning. But the meals will continue… even when we go back to the routine of me rushing home from working in the city.

He makes his rice on the cooker and sets the table. I’m trying to train him to share in the meal preparation which is part of the whole routine of the family dinner. He chooses a show we will both watch only together, over the meal. It stops when dinner ends, to be continued the next time we sit down together. That, too, is a continuing conversation. We laugh and talk as we eat — sometimes I ask him for spoilers which he won’t give. He tells me to wait and see.

That’s our family dinner in the time of corona. The sheltering in place has given us a new routine — something we will continue as we move forward to whatever as close to normal we can get.

Friday Five for Memorial Day Weekend

Friday5

Five goals. Five tasks. Five things I hope to do over this long weekend up ahead.

I’m stoked. My day ended at just after lunch because despite the early close (2pm), the boss bid me to log off at noon as she was fine to go. I was grateful for that, even if I knew I would probably not really log off then. Just the thought was enough to help me start the weekend.

So I went to the post office and shipped out a sale, then did my usual stop at the community bake shop to get some treats, but more to help them out with a sale and a bit of extra tip. It’s a small operation but it’s been around for a long time, and the type that makes all the good stuff.

And suddenly the disposable masks are available aplenty! While I have been busy making my masks, I thought I’d buy just a box or two for the possibility of a second wave when sanitizers, masks, alcohol and toilet paper disappear from the shelves. Just enough to be ready– not hoarding. I could’ve bought from the chain pharmacy, but I figured again, I’d like to help the mom and pop stores around. So many businesses are hurting, and every little bit helps.

Here goes my Friday Five–

(1) Produce and post at least one item in the shop. Perhaps it’s because of the stress of working from home and the masks, but I haven’t really been paying attention to the shop. Lo and behold, I didn’t realize I was getting a lot of traffic and actually made some sales in the last week or so. I want to be able to take advantage of that spurt of activity and the best way is to keep posting. I’m being modest so I will aim for only one, but who knows?

(2) Work on my art journal. I actually started working on one spread already but want to get going with my journaling again. It’s a very therapeutic form of self expression for me and I have several ideas brewing in my head.

(3) I’m going to get busy in the kitchen. I plan to bake and cook and I’m particularly excited attempting a rather complicated Filipino / Spanish dish after I picked up one of the essential ingredients from the grocery earlier this afternoon. And there’s my oatmeal raisin cookie craving that needs attending to!

(4) Take the first step in replicating a favorite house dress. First thing’s first– have to create the pattern! I already made some measurements and just need to translate it into paper. I’m not going to attempt the actual sewing just yet. The pattern is one big project as it is.

(5) Start writing those letters I’ve been meaning to write. Talking about snail mail here. Earlier while I was looking for the padded envelopes I ship my jewelry in, I came across more stationery I had made a while back that I have yet to use. One letter at least.

There you go. I’m suddenly intimidated reading through that list, but I think I’ve got my work cut out for me. Like I said, I’m all excited by the weekend, even as I end Friday ready to start relaxing.

Here’s to a restful weekend for everyone.

Getting the Noche Buena going

ATC: Christmas Ornament no. 6 - Red and GreenThe leche flan is done, the bolognese is simmering on the stove.  It’s an almost tomato-less recipe except for the two tablespoons of tomato paste, and no garlic.  It does use a cup and a half of whole milk and around 2 hours of simmering.  I wanted to get this done for tomorrow’s lasagna.  The chateaubriand should be a breeze (I hope..) and there’s a roast chicken to complete the meal.  I think I’ve got a good headstart.

Angelo and I wrapped the gifts just before dinner and we’re all set.  Tomorrow, I’ll help him tape the holiday cards we got along with the Artist Trading Cards I received in the swaps (around 30 more or less) on the upstairs landing like we always do.  It’s so heartening to see my 8-year-old all excited about the holidays.  He had made a gift for me which he has been prodding me to open since yesterday, but which I told him I’d like to save for when we actually open the gifts.  I told him that is my favorite gift of all.

It’s been a busy, busy day for me.  I have an inch-long burn on the backside of my right hand as it hit the “roof” of the oven when I took the llaneras of leche flan out.   It still stings a bit but I simply put some toothpaste to help “cool” the surface immediately after, and now I’m good even if I feel a tenderness and sensitivity around the area.  Hazards of cooking.

One more hour of simmering and a quarter of a cup of milk more to go, and I can start cooling the bolognese.  It’s a little bland for even my bland preference, but I’d rather wait until the end to adjust the taste with seasoning because I’m skimming the fat off of the top before I add the milk two to three tablespoons at a time.

It’s noon in Manila right now, Christmas eve.  I miss Mom and the siblings who must all be busy getting the noche buena ready.  We’ll probably talk later, closer to their midnight.  It would’ve been nice to spend Christmas in Manila — but I’m not complaining.  It’s nice to be spending Christmas in New York again, more so since Angelo has grown so much and is now actually participating in preparing for the holiday.

He’s promised to get me a sketch book for my next Art Journal. =)  That’ll be a trip to Barnes and Noble sometime during the holiday.  My boy is telling me to pick something I want and he’ll pay for it.   So I turned to him and asked if he would still do that — take me shopping and pay for it when I’m older.  Yes, he said he would — as long as I show him what I’m getting before he pays.  (Makes sense if he’s picking the tab..)

I have my tiny queso de bola (but the original “Pato” brand) and some sliced ham.  We’re not really big on that, but I will cook up some tsokolate tomorrow for breakfast on Christmas day itself.  I’m tired but very happy I accomplished what I have on the day I planned it.  It lessens the stress of tomorrow considerably.

Merry Christmas, everyone!