Homespun and Fun


Jade plant is a succulent that's regarded as lucky...



Tejie and daughter, Meagan, planned for a Japanese...



Jopin soaks in the early morning stillness in her ...



Dragon fruit belongs to the cactus family, and fit...



The heat index jolts in this climate crisis with i...



When the temp tops 90 degrees, Snookie cooks smar...



Liven up the landscape, grouping pots and containe...



The Bicol region's stellar attraction, Mayon volca...



Story by Joy Manalac
Credit: Rhian Amores

The Bicol region's stellar attraction, Mayon volcano, is back in tiptop shape as the world's perfect cone. It's amazing how nature restores the damage with lava formations on Mayon's surface by successive eruptions. In a matter of time, ecosystems around it thrive once more. Vegetation flourish with the richer soil and the help of farm aides- butterflies, birds, bats, and bees. The benefits cascade to the richness of the region's cuisine. It's a tourist draw as well, with bold, spicy, lip smacking flavors. What's distinct about it is the use of chilies and coconut milk that meld perfectly with meat, seafood, and veggies.

Rhian Amores shares his Pinangat (also known as laing) recipe, among Bicol's popular specialties. Enjoy the depth of flavor that whets the appetite of locals and tourists. And pass the rice please! (Pics by Rhian Amores.)

1/2 kg shrimps, peeled and seasoned with 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/2 kg pork
tinapa (dried fish, flaked)
coconut meat, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons grated ginger
6 cloves garlic
some chilies
4 to 5 cups pure coconut milk
gabi (taro) leaves
salt to taste

For coconut cream and milk:
Freshly extracted coconut cream yields more flavor. For the first press, add 1/2 cup warm water into freshly grated coconut and squeeze directly into a bowl, about 4 3/4 cups. Set aside. For the coconut milk or second extract, pour 1 cup warm water over squeezed coconut milk. Squeeze over another bowl to yield about 1 1/2 cups. Strain and set aside.

Mix first eight ingredients in a bowl.
Spoon 3 tablespoons of the mixture into overlapping gabi leaves and wrap, tying it with a coconut leaf or kitchen twine. Set the pouches in a pot. Pour in the coconut milk or second extract first, and let boil, covered with a lid. Lower the fire from time to time and shake the pot to prevent the pouches from sticking together. When there is little of the coconut milk left, pour in the coconut cream (first extract.) Add chilies. Let boil until the sauce thickens. Serve with warm rice.

Other Articles


Story by Joy Manalac
Credit: Sue Tanada

With Sue Tanada's culinary skills, replicating her fam's fave meals comes easy. This delights her hubby and grandkids when they hanker for their fave resto dishes.

Her recipe for Salmon Teriyaki is straightforward, clear, and user-friendly for home cooks, even beginners. What's great about teriyaki sauce is its sweet, salty, savory flavor that smacks of umami. It's best paired with baked, pan-fried, grilled meats and fish. Scrumptious for Easter, yet quick and easy!

salmon (2 slabs)
2 teaspoons mirin
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake wine
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
sesame seeds (optional for garnish)
scallions (optional for garnish)
1 teaspoon cornstarch + 1/4 cup water (slurry)

Mix mirin, soy sauce, brown sugar, sake, sesame oil in a bowl and set aside.
Wash salmon and pat dry with a paper towel. Marinate in the sauce mixture for at least an hour. Bake till flaky at 375°F for 25 minutes. Save the marinade sauce.

Make cornstarch slurry. In a small skillet, heat the saved marinade sauce on low fire. When it starts to boil, pour only half of the slurry. Then discard upon reaching the desired thickness for the sauce.

Set baked salmon on a plate and pour marinade sauce over the salmon. Sprinkle sesame seeds and scallions. Serve warm.


Story by Joy Manalac
Credit: Zita Manalac

With the onset of spring, can Easter be far behind? We celebrate change and renewal of the spirit, and relish how spring symbols of new life have been incorporated into the celebrations, meaningfully linked to the faith. It's the children who enjoy it most, while adults prep eagerly for the Easter egg hunt, egg-shaped chocolates, baskets filled with treats, and get-togethers.

My sis Zita suggests these cute Easter bunny pastries. Bake smart with ready puff pastry dough made with butter, not shortening. The buttery flavor and flaky texture make this a satisfying treat with tempting add-ons: chocolate covered nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, and sugar sprinkles. Truly irresistible!

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

1 roll of pastry (store bought)
chopped nuts
chocolate chips
chocolate coated nuts or M&M’s
2 tablespoons milk
sugar sprinkles
colorful ribbons

Spread out the pastry and cut vertically into 4 equal parts. Cut again horizontally into 3 parts. The first 2 parts should be smaller than the lowest part to be used for the bunny’s body.
The first part is for the ears. Spread some chopped nuts and chocolate chips. For the head which is the middle part, set 1 chocolate coated nut. For the lowest part which is the body, place 2 chocolate coated nuts.

Roll the upper, middle, and lower parts into circles and set aside.

For the upper part, cut at the center using scissors leaving just a few milliliters to form the ears. Set the ears over the head. Set the body below the head. Place 2 raisins on the head to form the eyes.

Brush the entire bunny with milk or beaten egg. Spread some sugar sprinkles.

Preheat oven at 200 degrees. Place in oven and bake for 10-13 minutes. Let cool and decorate with ribbons. (Pics by Atiz)


Story by Joy Manalac
Credit: Zita Manalac

Oh the many delights of pastries! There's always one to accompany our cup of java or tea. Like our fave drink, they're a perker-upper for a boost of energy to the day. Whether you like them sweet, fruit-filled, or savory, they're the smarter choice- smaller than a cake with varied textures to enjoy, from flaky, crumbly, to soft and tender. They look so delectable, teasing the eyes and taste buds.

Zita makes them easy to bake at home with her Apple Roll-ups. Apples, with their natural sweetness and crunch, make dessert or snack light, refreshing, yet no less satisfying. There's alchemy as apples blend perfectly with cinnamon, vanilla, and assorted nuts ! And so irresistible served a la mode!

1 roll of pastry dough (store bought)
2 medium apples, peeled, quartered, then thinly sliced
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
juice of half a lemon

Brush muffin pan with butter. Set aside.

Peel apples, cut into 4, then slice thinly. Place in a bowl with water, sugar, and lemon. Heat in microwave for 3 minutes at 900 watts. Remove from microwave and let cool.

Cut the pastry into 6 horizontal strips. On each strip distribute the sliced apples halfway so they resemble petals when rolled. Fold the other half of the pastry over the apples and roll the other end. Place the roll in the muffin pan. Do the same with the other 5 strips of pastry till they are filled with apple slices, covered and rolled up to the end of the dough.

Filling :
50 grams sweet cream
1 egg
1 tablespoon corn flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
half teaspoon cinnamon
half teaspoon lemon zest or lemon juice
chopped nuts (assorted)

Mix all filling ingredients in a bowl. Pour into muffin pan. Top with chopped nuts for crunch.
Preheat oven at 200°. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


About the page



Be inspired!

We aim to spark creativity through tried and tested ideas from friends who share what they do best.
Be inspired with family recipes, arts, crafts, and gardening projects for fun and profit.
Because working from home need not be a chore.
Be dynamic and productive as we engage, reinvent, and stretch ourselves.
We'd love for you to share your ideas too.

About the Author

Joy Manalac is a writer with an extensive background in Marketing Services and Communications. She studied Communication Arts at St. Paul College Manila.

She wrote the corporate stories in “Simply Delicious,” the 50th anniversary cookbook of Liberty Commodities Corp. In 2016, this bagged 1st prize in the “Gintong Aklat Awards ” and 3rd prize in “The International Gourmand Awards," likened to the "Oscars" for the food industry.

She likes to write short and crisp lines, taking to heart her late Dad’s advice to write simply. What she loves most about writing is the cadence. As a tip, she suggests for writers to find their rhythm. There is melody in the play of words and phrases – the pace, lilt, and sway that lend music and grace.

Joy loves to tinker in her garden that needs a lot of tending. She enjoys the company of school chums who are keen about plants, coffee, and cakes. She takes inspiration from two spirited sisters, Monica and Zita . She can cook with a cookbook on hand and can craft with just enough nudge from Zita.