Posted by: cris | August 11, 2017

My house is forested

My house in the city is a forest.

The terrace has these vines my husband says snakes may hide. There are plastic water containers containing 2 to 3 diff plants, broken basins with camote (sweet potato) vines crawling along the metal wires where we dry our laundry. black plastic bags full with mother strawberry plants and runners, turmeric, calamansi, herbs etc.

Along the fence on the ground floor , on the left side are dragon fruits intercropped with calamansi and malunggay; in front along the gate, is a grape vine crawling along the wires we placed above the gate; and in water containers are sampaguita, camia, rosal, ilang ilang and palmera.

On the sidewalk of our neighbor who has not built his house yet, are containers, with gumamela, talisay, sampaloc, lemon grass, etc.

Along the perimeter fence of our subdivision, i have bamboo, 3 different types of bananas, chilis, pandan, orange palm, planted in used tires; pomelo, guyabano, lansones, etc in plastic containers. I have been living a life of a squatter gardener for 19 yrs now in the city. I hope i can move them all to the farm soon.

Posted by: cris | March 28, 2015

Dragon fruit in the farm

About 5 years ago, I was given a dragon fruit from Vietnam but I did not eat it. I am so ignorant that time, declining without knowing how nutritious the fruit is. Three years after, I’ve decided to buy some cuttings of red dragon fruit to plant in the farm.  My husband prepared a few posts and planted 4 cuttings per post. They have grown and last year we got to taste the fruits. 20140718_083053 The dragon fruit mothers 20140722_133029 the first fruit produced 20140723_085006 Our first dragon fruit. With the nice color and sweet taste, it’s really better to plant your own than buy if you have the means.  Plant fruits and veggies based on your limitations, be it on the ground or containers

Posted by: cris | March 27, 2015

Recycle egg shells for your plants

Many of us use eggs in our cooking. We fry, poach, scramble, boil,  eggs.       We even use them for baking.  If you have cooked and ate eggs at home, then you have eggshells as garbage.  Please don’t throw them away as you can use them to feed your plants.  Egg shells are rich in calcium and has some potassium. Calcium helps prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

At home we have  a net bag where we collect all egg shells.  At the end of a period, which might be a week or a few months, i add them to plants in different ways:

1.   wash the shells and crush a bit and add directly to the soil.

2.  wash, sterilize in the oven for a few minutes, crush or pulverize then add to the soil in your garden.

3.  wash, crush and soak in water for 24 hours and use that water to feed your plants.

4.  add to your compost bin.

5.. Or, do what I did this time. crush, pan roast in high heat (I used charcoal) cool, then add to the soil.


crushed egg shells


pan roasting


finished product

Posted by: cris | March 23, 2015

How to make turmeric powder (homemade)

As I mentioned in my previous post, here is a method of making your turmeric powder at home. But let me warn you turmeric is used as textile dye so prepare for stains on your utensils your hands, fingers, nails, as well as your apron, hand towels and anything that you will use


Wash turmeric well and peel lightly.


Slice thinly


The result of two days drying under the sun


Use a blender which can grind dry items, or food processor or if you have it, a hammer mill.

And here’s the orange turmeric powder20150322_145516

Transfer in a container with tight seal/cover. Best to place in the freezer to avoid molds/fungus to develop especially if you are not so sure that your turmeric powder was dried to perfection. Transfer a little amount into a smaller container and place in the lower part of the refrigerator. Refill when used up but keep the main container inside the freezer.   Good Luck

Posted by: cris | March 22, 2015


It’s about time to make a come back and  I’m starting off with Turmeric.  A super food for me, I have been using turmeric for so long. I grow them and use for anything I can dunk then in.


Turmeric, Luyang dilaw, Dulaw, Duwaw, Kunyit (in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei) is a relative of the ginger we use in our cooking.  It is the main ingredient of curry powder. It’s color is dark yellow or orange. It is used to dye textiles, an ingredient in food and medicine. It is a good source of phosphorous and iron but not of calcium ( It has anti-inflammatory properties, good for diabetics, for people with high blood pressure and those with weak liver. It has anti cancer properties and might help people with gastrointestinal ulcer. Chinese and Indian healers have been using Turmeric for a long time because of its medicinal use.  Curcumin  is the yellow pigment in turmeric and the active anti-inflammatory agent in turmeric.

I boil turmeric everyday mixed with some ginger and drink about two glasses daily. I add it together with ginger to chicken soup, meat stew, fish stew, vegetables cooked in coconut milk and even congee (lugaw). In the next post I will show how to make turmeric powder.

Posted by: cris | June 25, 2013

Kundol (White Gourd Melon)

Kundol/Benincasa hispida Cogn., is also called as Chinese Preserving Melon, Wax Gourd, is a native plant of South East Asia used basically to make sweet preserves. The unripe fruit is used as a vegetable and the young leaves and flowers are steamed and consumed as vegetable.

This plant needs well drained soil and lots of composted manure or tea up to the time fruits have set. It needs a lot of space to crawl or a strong trellis to support its heavy fruits. Likes full sun and plenty of water. Young melons are good for eating as vegetables and mature ones good for candied melons.

This simple vegetable has medicinal uses: fruits are made into syrup and used to treat a number of ailments Even the seeds, rind, and leaves have medicinal values. There are also recent studies to support the support its use so check out for these.

Recipes from the web:

A. Kundol Preserve filipinovegetarianrecipe.comIngredients:

1 Mature Kundol or Kondol (white melon gourd)
2 parts sugar and 1 part water for sugar syrup
(for every 2 cups sugar use 1 part water)

How to make kundol preserve:

Select mature but firm kondol. Peel thinly and cut into desired size and shape.
Soak in lime water (one tablespoonful lime to one liter water) overnight.
Wash thoroughly and blanch in boiling water for 5 minutes. Wash in cold water and drain.
Cook in syrup made up of two parts sugar to one part water for 30 minutes and let stand overnight. Boil syrup again until thick.
Drain and pack kondol in 12-ounces preserving jars.
Fill with syrup. Half-seal and sterilize jars for 25 minutes in boiling water. Seal completely.
<= See More Fruit Preserve Recipes

B. Winter Melon Ham and Prawn Soup

First boil up a ham bone, a sliced onion and some peppercorns in some water for about 30-40 minutes until the broth is cloudy and nice flavored. Strain the broth to remove solids and return to pot. I buy ham bones from ham retailers who sell them for a steal – P50-60 pesos for the bones of a medium ham – throw them in the freezer so I always have a supply of them. If you don’t have ham bones, this works well with good chicken stock as well. Into the stock I add cubed kundol (peeled) and let that cook for a few minutes, add sliced ham bits (cheaper than sliced ham) and throw in whole large shrimp or small prawns and some salt and perhaps white pepper. As soon as the prawns are cooked (just 2-3 minutes), the soup is ready to serve. The kundol should have just turned translucent or somewhat opaque. If you want color, add some wansoy leaves. This is great on its own or with a bowl of steamed rice. If you put a lot of shrimp and ham it is a meal by itself.

C. Thai Chicken and Winter Melon Curry


9 tablespoons coconut cream powder
1 can kaeng kua curry paste (4 oz)
3/4 lb chicken
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb winter melon (see below *)
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
3 tablespoons palm sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce


Clean chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces, mix with 1 tsp salt and fry until dry. Peel melon, remove seeds and cut into 1 inch chunks. Mix coconut cream powder with 3 cups warm water, stir well. Put 1 cup coconut cream in frying pan and heat. When oil begins to appear on the surface, add the kaeng kua curry paste, then add the chicken and cook. Spoon into a pot, add the remaining coconut milk and the melon and heat. Separately combine tamarind concentrate with 2 tablespoons warm water, mix well. When the melon is done, taste and season with tamarind juice, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Stir and serve with jasmine rice.

*Winter melon is also known as Christmas melon, wax gourd, or ash gourd.

Posted by: cris | June 25, 2013

Patani ( Lima Beans)

Patani is also a leguminous plant thus, helps your garden soil. There are varieties of Lima Beans found in the Philippines. There is the wild variety, semi wild, and the cultivated ( The wild variety (esp the purple beans) is found to yield dangerous amount of phaseolunatin, a cyanogenetic glucoside, the cultivated variety though yields lower. So maybe we should be careful when we prepare lima beans. Sort of soak it overnight, discarding the water a few times, then boil a long time before finally eating them (just my idea since I remember we eat a lot of lima beans when I was young).

But I remember them to be still green when my mother cooks them not the old, dry ones. The seeds are removed from the green pods, wash and soaked then boiled. But since I haven’t tried cooking them myself, I think, I’d rather not try it. But for the benefit of those who are more familiar with this vegetable, some websites mention that it can lower heart attack risks, stabilize blood sugar, has iron, manganese and iron (


Here is a tip from when you cook Lima beans:

The Healthiest Way of Cooking Lima Beans

To cook lima beans, place them in a pot and add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. Lima beans generally take about 45 minutes to become tender when cooking this way. Lima beans may produce a lot of foam during cooking. Simply skim any foam off during the first half hour or so of the simmering process. Because of the foam limas often produce, it is recommended to avoid cooking them in a pressure cooker.

Do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after the beans have been cooked since adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time.

While uncooked lima beans contain compounds that can inhibit a digestive enzyme and cause red blood cells to clump together, soaking and cooking the beans renders these compounds harmless. Therefore, it is important to always eat soaked and cooked beans and not to use then uncooked for examples grinding as flour.

Posted by: cris | June 25, 2013

Bataw (Hyacinth Bean, Lablab Dolichos)

A number of vegetables mentioned in Bahay Kubo are from the Legume Family. It includes our topic now, Bataw. It is a vine plant and this vegetable is often sold in the markets in Luzon where I grew up. It seems that it is not very liked here in Cebu as I very very seldom see it sold in the markets.

The leaves, tender pods and seeds are eaten as vegetables. The pods and leaves are good source of minerals, vit C, iron and calcium. The leaves have medicinal properties used for gonorrhea etc., seeds are considered aphrodisiac. Please check for other medicinal uses and recent studies.

You may use Bataw for recipes that asks for beans. You may mix them with your stir fries, stews but may even be in salad (

Recipes that might interest you are the following:

A. Recipes of hyacinth beans

There are many nice recipes out there but in sweltering, humid summer day, the porridge made of hyacinth bean and rice is the one highly suggested. This recipe is simple but good at strengthening spleen while warming stomach, clearing away the summerheat and eliminating dampness, and invigorating Qi to cure diarrhea. You just need to follow a few steps to make it.

Prepare 25g beans and 50g rice;
Clean beans with water and soak them for 8 to 10 hours;
Clean rice with water and soak them for 1 hour;
Place both of them into a casserole;
Put in appropriate water and then bring them to a boil on high heat;
Simmer them until the beans turn soft.
That is it. By the way, prolonged cooking time is required.

This site also states that Bataw that we should be careful with Bataw, as it says:

Cyanogenic glucosides contained don’t dissolve in water. It has antitrypsin activity and inhibits the growth of experimental animal, which is the reason why it being considered poisonous. Another enzyme contained has non-competitive antitrypsin activity but it could vanish after prolonged heating too. At the concentration of 10mg/kg, the experiment shows that it extends the clotting time of citratedplasma from 20s to 60s because of the inhibition to thrombin.

Else, from the perspective of TCM, hyacinth bean is off-limit for those who are suffering from malarial fever. So, take it as a lesson learned the hard way and never let it happen to you like other victims already suffered.

Posted by: cris | June 25, 2013

Sitaw (Yard Long Beans)

Its scientific name is Vigna Unguiculata also known as asparagus beans, string beans, snakes beans and Dou Jiao in Chinese. This vegetable is from the Legume Family so this is a good crop to plant in your garden. The fruit/pod is best eaten when young and slender mixed in stew (sinigang, kare-kare), or just sauted/stir fry.

It has thiamin, riboflavin, phosphorous, iron, protein, Vits A, C, manganese, magnesium, and folate. Potassium is the most abundant element in the seeds.

Here are some sample recipes from the web.

A. Curry String beans/Mae Karal/Sitaw

Serves 4-6.

3 cups long beans (mae karal) cut into 2 inch pieces
1 tsp of chillie powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp curry powder
1 onion chopped
1-2 green chillies chopped
2″ piece of cinnamon
2 cloves garlic chopped
salt to taste
Curry leaves (optional)
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup of coconut milk

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl except coconut milk and oil. Heat a medium size pan under medium fire. Add oil. Add the mixture from above and stir. Cover add cook for about 5 minutes. Stir every 2 minutes or so. Next add the coconut milk and cook for another 5 mins. Serve with hot rice.

B. Thai Stir Fried Yard Long Beans

Preparation: 10
Cooking time: 5
Servings: 2-4

2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 tablespoons red curry paste, Phuket Curry Paste or Prik Khing curry paste (Mae Sri)
5 Kaffir lime leaves
1/2 cup calamari rings
1/2 cup shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup yardlong beans beans or green beans, cut into 1 inch-lengths
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup Thai basil

Heat the wok on high heat. When it is hot, add the cooking oil, then the red curry paste and Kaffir. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then stir in calamari, shrimp, beans, yardlong beans, cauliflower and sugar. Stir until the seafood cooks through and the vegetables are cooked, but still crispy. Add a few tablespoon water as need to create steam and sauce for the cooking. Then stir in basil for 10 seconds. Serve over jasmine rice.

Note from me: since kaffir is hard to find in the Philippines, maybe we an substitute calamansi leaves

C. Yard Long Beans with lime, basil and peanuts


A simple and delicious side dish from Thai inspiration.


1 lb beans (yard-long beans, or green beans, top, tailed and cut into 2 inch pieces)
1⁄2 c peanuts (roasted and salted, finely chopped or ground)
3 T sesame oil
2 limes (juice and zest)
1 T honey (optional)
2 t vinegar (rice vinegar or coconut vinegar)
2clves garlic (finely chopped)
1 spring onion (sliced thin)
1⁄3 c basil (fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped)
1 pn salt

In a bowl, mix chopped peanuts and lime zest. Reserve.
Mix 1 tablespoon sesame oil, vinegar, lime juice and honey. to make a dressing Set aside.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a wok, and stir fry garlic, onion and beans for about 4-5 minutes. season with a pinch of salt.
Pour the lime sauce over the vegetables and cook for a moment, until warmed through.
Scatter chopped basil and peanut-lime zest mix over the beans. Serve.


If you want to serve this recipe cold, Stir fry the vegetables and then toss them into the lime sauce. Allow to cool to room temperature and chill in the fridge until it is time to serve.

If you are worried you wouldn’t find some of the ingredients, know that you can substitute peanuts with roasted and salted cashew nuts; Thai basil with ordinary basil, coriander or mint; rice vinegar with cider vinegar; a spring onion with 1/2 small white onion, or a shallot, thinly sliced; sesame oil with peanut or olive oil… and still produce a delicious dish.

Posted by: cris | June 25, 2013

Peanuts (Mani)

For me, peanuts are definitely delicious and nutritious, but not all people will benefit from it.   People who are allergic to it may suffer from  mild skin itching  to severe swelling including the air passages which can be fatal.  Another concern is  the presence of the mold Aspergilus flavus  on damaged/spoiled peanuts. This mold produces a dangerous carcinogenic substance called Aflatoxin.

On my part, when I buy fresh peanuts in shell, I try to inspect the shells if they are tight and smells fresh.  I even taste them first before buying.  I  learned eating raw  peanuts when I saw  my husband eat raw peanuts as if eating cooked peanuts.   I used to think this may caused indigestion on my part but it didn’t. So my kids grew up eating peanuts raw, boiled, roasted, sweetened, fried, and  processed as peanut butter.

After harvesting, peanuts are removed from the main plant and washed. Immature and damaged shells should be removed. These are then spread out and aired. Stocked fresh peanuts may not dry well so make sure  they don’t smell moldy when you buy them fresh  or shelled. I also buy shelled peanuts from the market, fry them myself, and either add salt and chili or, sweetened them with sugar.

 For further info, you may check out the following sources: 


Recipes for peanuts:


A. Heart breaker nut brittle (no corn syrup)

Ingredients for Heartbreaker Nut Brittle:
3 cups nuts (blistered peanuts, raw almonds, macadamia, walnuts)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 TBSP butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda


 Makes about 5 cups brittle. Have all of the ingredients and equipment prepared before beginning. Once the sugar changes color you will need to act quickly. It’s also important to have even heat when you’re making candy. Use a heavy saucepan if possible. If you question your pan or your heating SOURCE, you can put your saucepan into a cast iron skillet to help distribute the heat.


1) In a saucepan over medium/medium-high heat combine sugar, water and salt.
2) When the mixture comes to a gentle boil and the sugar is dissolved, set a timer for ten minutes.
3) Stirring occasionally, watch for the color to change from clear, to a light amber color. This may take 10 minutes or up to 20, depending on the heat of medium/medium-high on your stove. As soon as the color is a light, golden amber – get it off the heat! If you’d like, use a candy thermometer and when the mixture reaches 300(F) take it off the heat.
4) Working quickly, and stirring continuously, add butter, vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will foam. Continue stirring until the foaming subsides and the mixture starts to get glossy.

 5) Stir in the nuts all at once and quickly turn out onto a silicon baking mat or very well greased baking sheet.
6) Flatten the mixture as needed and allow to cool for about 20 minutes, until brittle

B.  Boiled Peanuts (Nilagang Mani)

Note: Always prefer to eat freshly boiled peanuts because fungi may develop in stored/stale boiled peanuts and may lead to liver problems.

NILAGANG MANI is cheap snack or pulutan that are often sold boiled in the shell, salted, spiced, sweet or flavored with garlic by the street vendors in the Philippines.


  • 2 kilos peanuts in shells
  • 3-4 tbsp. salt

Cooking Procedure:

  1. Wash thoroughly the peanuts until all the clinging dirt are removed.
  2. In a big pot place the peanuts.
  3. Pour enough water to cover the peanuts up to 2” with water and add the salt.
  4. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the peanuts are cooked and tender. Add more water as necessary, open a piece of nut to check if the peanuts are cooked in between.
  5. Served.
  6. Share & Enjoy!


C. Fried Peanuts (Pritong Mani)


Peeled/Shelled raw peanuts
4 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
pepper flakes

1. Heat up oil in a pan or wok.
2. Fry the sliced garlic. Stir for few minutes until garlic gets brown but not burn. Take them out and set it aside.

3. Pour in the peeled raw peanuts and stir constantly for 15 minutes or until peanuts are cooked. Peanuts may be soft when its cooking. It’ll be crunchy when it cools down.

4. Strain peanuts, then add the fried garlic, salt and pepper flakes depending how much salt and how hot you want your peanuts.
Note: When I cook fried peanuts, I put the shelled peanuts first in hot oil and followed by pressed garlic and fresh hot chili after 5 minutes. it takes a few tries to know when its done.  It helps to try eating a piece when the color changes just to know when to remove it from the pan. When cooked, place in strainer then spread  out on paper towels. When cooled, transfer to a big bowl, add salt (a teaspoon per 1 kilo on my part).  If you prefer to use dried chili powder, add it to peanuts together with the salt and mix well.

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