Now that my wife, Apple is not around to cook for us - she's in Tokyo for two months until Nov. 14, 2009 - I have to use my survival cooking techniques which I applied in Japan when I was studying at Nagoya for five years. I learned the basics of cooking from one of our house cooks, Tits when I was a first year college student. The most important task in basic cooking is how to saute' or "gisa" the garlic or ginger and onions. The next thing to remember is knowing which ingredients to put in the proper order - the meat comes first, followed by potatoes and/or carrots, then the vegetables. The seasonings - salt, pepper, soy sauce, sugar or whatever - are done for the taste. We never use "vetsin" or MSG! If you know these basic cooking tips, then the rest will be easy. Food recipes can serve as a guide only in your cooking.
Tomato sauce is a very useful ingredient in cooking many Filipino recipes. Shown in the photos are some of the tomato sauce-based recipes I cooked for the kids - chicken afritada, beef ampalaya, bangus sarciado and pork menudo. What distinguishes these recipes from each other are some of the ingredients and seasoning. The afritada has the red bell pepper strips, the sarciado has onion and tomatoes only while the menudo has assorted meat ingredients like liver, hotdog and potatoes. Of course, the beef amplaya has the bitter taste which the kids don't like yet.
When you cook, you must be organized. I prepare all the ingredients - chopped onions, potatoes, carrots, etc - before starting the fire. Cooking is a very relaxing and an exhilarating activity. It also enhances your creativity and resourcefulness - sometimes you have to invent your own recipe with the available ingredients in your refrigerator. My son, Geof, is starting to appreciate cooking - he's now a member of the Ateneo Grade School's Bleu Chefs. Happy Cooking to all Dads!