Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eat SLOW Food - Arroz a la Cubana (Filipino Style)

Dear Family and Friends,

Simplifying life, especially during the Lenten season!

That is what we have been attempting through our own small ways, and ne way we have been trying is through cooking. Vince and I are passionate about good food, and we love to cook and eat. Therefore we thought of trying different recipes.

Some of you may think, what does cooking have to do with simplifying your life? As some of you may be flustered with the idea of heating up a pot and then have to clean it after the fiasco - something far from simple. Well, as in a homily we heard a few Sundays ago, our world is obsessed with everything being done in an INSTANT. Even with food, we forgo the good quality home-cooked meals for instant meals such as; instant soup, microwavable meals, fast food, etc.

We want the food in front of us with just one push of a button and we want it now!

Vince and I thought, let's do less of the "instant meals" and try cooking the "long" way. Mind you, it not only helps you to slow down your life, but it also promotes health (unless you are cooking with lard and such). The idea is to use less of the pre-mixed spices, or sauces, or broths and truly make everything from scratch. You then know exactly what you put into your food. Plus it is more fun and fulfilling knowing that you prepared a dish on your own, without help from those premade spice sachets.

One of the recipes we would like to feature today is:

ARROZ A LA CUBANA - Filipino style!

One day the dish just popped into my mind and I asked Vince if he ever tried it. And to my surprise he had not heard of it, which gave me more more motivation to cook the dish so that he could try something he never had before.

Arroz a la Cubana or Arroz Cubano means Cuban-style rice. It is a Spanish dish that consists of rice, fried egg and tomato sauce.

Arroz a la Cubana is also popular in Peru and there the dish consists of rice, fried egg, fried hotdog and fried bananas.

The Filipino style is somewhat a mix of the Spanish and Peruvian style. Arroz a la Cubana in the Philippines is made up of rice, fried egg, fried bananas and minced beef sauteed in garlic, onion and tomato sauce.

As we have modified the ingredients and method, our recipe is based on the one on the following website:

(note the website's name: home cooking rocks) :-)

  • Steamed or boiled rice or garlic fried rice (Vince's idea)
  • 1/2 kilo ground beef (use sirloin or top round)
  • 3 carrots, cubed 3 potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 c. of sweet peas
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • can of chick peas (Vince and my idea)
  • 2 tbsp. of raisins (optional) we didn't add raisins (Cay doesn't like cooked raisins)
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 c. of tomato paste
  • finely chopped parsley
  • pinch of basil (we used fresh basil, from Vince's basil plant)
  • 3 tbsp. c. of olive oil
  • 1/4 c. vegetable cooking oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 eggs, fried sunny-side-up
  • 8 saba bananas, each sliced diagonally into 3, fried


  1. Heat a heavy skillet. Add 1/4 c. of cooking oil. Heat to smoking point. Add the cubed potatoes and carrots. Once the potatoes and carrots are half way cooked, add the chick peas. Fry until the edges turn a light brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  2. Pour out the oil from the skillet. Pour in the olive oil. Add ground beef, breaking it up. Cook over high heat until the meat is no longer pink. Add the garlic, chopped onions and tomatoes, bell peppers and raisins, if using. Cook, stirring, just until the vegetables start to soften.

  3. Add the tomato paste, salt and pepper. Stir to blend well.

  4. Add the sweet peas. Stir and cook for another 30 seconds then put the carrots and potatoes back in. Cook for another 30 seconds.

  5. Add the basil and parsley. Give it one last stir then turn off the heat.

  6. If you want garlic fried rice - Heat cooking oil in a non-stick skillet. Add minced garlic. sautee until light brown. Add cooked white rice and mix well. Add salt to taste.
  7. Frying the bananas - If you can get hold of Saba Bananas, then great. If not, you can use the Plantain Bananas which you can purchase at an Asian store. Make sure to buy the ones that are half way ripe. Slice the banana in half length-wise. Then slice again in half from its width. Fry the bananas in cooking oil until golden brown.
  8. Et voila, serve with white rice/garlic rice, an egg and fried saba/plantain bananas on the side.

Cooking time (duration): 45 minutes (including time to cook eggs and saba/plantain bananas)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: supper


The dish turned out quite successful, but I will allow my husband to truly rate the dish. One thing, you may want to make the minced beef more saucey, so add water and more tomato paste.

As for me, aside from eating good food, it gave me a great satisfaction. I cooked something for the first time and we did it with our own bare hands :-) Home cooking truly rocks!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cay and Baby Elijah...

Dear friends,

A lot of people have been asking for a shot of Cay and her belly. I managed to convince her to take a couple of pictures of our gorgeous belly.

Let me just say that as a witness to the beautiful challenge of carrying a child, I have come to greater understanding and a more profound respect for every mother.

Comments welcome...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vince's Ramblings on Manhood...

Hello world,

It is day 2 of Lent and let me tell you I have not missed using facebook or surfing the net one bit. I think it is because of the preoccupation of this upcoming weekend. This upcoming weekend is a men's retreat that I, together with my good friends Ian and Raynard, are putting on for the men of our Church community.

What the heck could you possibly talk about at a men's retreat? Isn't talking something of an enigma to men? True... many of our conversations with those we love can end up in grunts and "yeps" and "mm hmm". I am certainly guilt of those. But I am a person that believes that we can always improve. I am not satisfied with my "yeps" and "mm hmms", and I want to become a better man for not just myself and my God, but for my wife and my future son. In my research for this retreat I hit a pretty astounding realization:

Men, unless through intervention and transformation, become their fathers.

Wow. In this one particular book I was reading, this point was emphasized over and over. A child learns through the example of his parent, and they are far more likely to do as a father does than what a father tells him to do. Pretty crazy. Men in particular are extremely influenced by the leadership (or lack of) of another man. As boys we yearn to be like our fathers, and when we don't have them things can go pretty sketch.

And in a generation where positive examples of male role models are going out the window, I would say the little boys of this world desperately need men to emulate so that they can become the men they are meant to be: Men that love immensely.

I am pretty sure that boy never plans on becoming like this guy.

But... because of so many factors - and one of them being the absence of a solid male role model to form you, coupled with the lack of conviction to be a better man - a boy is capable of becoming the most detestable of men (sorry Charlie, I know you are a good person deep down inside).

I firmly believe that men all over need to reclaim their masculinity. And I believe that masculinity is more than just spitting, playing poker, grunting and throwing clubs around. Call me old fashion, but I believe that authentic masculinity is the harnessing and implementation of those strengths that are unique to a man, such as: sacrificial servant leadership, desire to protect the defenseless, integrity, discipline, and more.

Some men I talk to ask me how the world has gotten so bad.

I answer them with this question, "Why have we let it?"

Anyways... that is what is happening this weekend. There are about 17 of us men going and we have high hopes. I'll be sure to post some pictures!


Vince and Cay

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

40 Days...

Dear world/friends/family/and the sorts,

We just wrapped up some posts on simplifying life, and it makes all the sense in the world that we did these posts because what is around the corner? (Actually, it is tomorrow.)



What is Lent? Click here for the very thorough explanation of Lent, click here.

Anyways... the way we see Lent is the same way we see a detox diet. On a detox diet you basically cut out certain (if not all) foods so that you can be cleansed and healthy. It's the same way we see the period of Lent; we are sacrificing things that we either enjoy so that we can be cleansed and have a healthier (spiritually and physically) life.

So you're probably wondering what we are giving up.

Cay and I are both giving up USING THE INTERNET.

The exception is of course email and this blog. (also if emergency arises and we have to book plane tickets or something, we'll use the net to get those)

But why?

Because as we were evaluating our daily activities we realized how much time we spend (after work) surfing the net. Do we need to be surfing the net every night after we get home? Probably not the extent that we have been. And what do we get out of giving up the net?

More time!

We foresee us having more time to read, do chores, take walks, talk.

Good stuff.

Maybe having more time will give me the opportunity to start writing a book :-)

What are you all doing for Lent?


Vince and Cay

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Excess of Activity... Part 2

Greetings friends!

So in our previous blog we enumerated the constant excess in activity that Cay and I have been facing recently. I am sure that some of you can relate to having so much going on in your lives that you just want to retreat to the Seychelles for a year. We feel for you. We want to do the same thing (after the baby is born of course). But alas, that is not possible for 98% of us. But we can give you our suggestions on how to slow down and simplify your life. We also would love to hear from all of you guys about what you do to simplify and slow down as well.

Check it out:

1) Sit down and examine your schedule for the week. I think a lot of the times we just breeze through the week and the activities, and at the end of the week we wonder what the heck happened to all the time. Examining your schedule allows you to be mentally prepared. Go through each day and what is necessary and what could possibly be taken out. Of course we know that things can change, and most of you with kids will probably attest to that, but it doesn't hurt to prepare as much as you can. Also, when you are adding things/events to your schedule discern the event and figure out where on the priority list those things go. If you a husband/wife/significant other then you should do this together.

2) Wake up early. The world is quieter in the early morning and as hard as it is, once you are in the habit it will soon become the best part of your day. Plus, in the morning you can get a lot of things done (i.e. working out, writing, meditating, praying, etc.) which will free you up for the rest of your day. Consequently this means you should go to bed earlier :-)

3) Learn how to say no. This is essential for the balanced life. Learn to say no when you have to and learn to say it gracefully.

4) Take a moment each day to be timeless. Take five minutes each day to do nothing. Get out of your office and take a walk outside and breath the fresh air. Walk outside for a moment and look at the stars.

What do you all have to add to reduce/cope/help with the business and excess of activities? We'd love to hear your input in the comments.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Excess of Activity... Part 1

Dear all,

I'm typing for my very pregnant wife right now as she dictates to me what she wants to convey. It's very lovely.

Today in we are talking about the excess of activity in our lives. WHY ARE WE SO FREAKING BUSY?!


Vince and I are both "doers". We have a lot of interests and thus a lot of activities that we like to do both together and separately. There has been a lot of traffic in our schedule this past week; there has been something happening every night. Usually we don't mind this lifestyle but now with the pregnancy and then the baby we are getting a bit cautious.

The question we brought up in our concern is, "Why are we always doing something?" and "Why do we feel like we always have to be doing something?"

Maybe it's because I associate having a fulfilling and meaningful life with having a full schedule. Basically I (and I am sure a lot others) have no idea that they are cramming their lives with activities. Choir practice... Church meetings... grocery shopping... birthday parties... lectures... dinners with friends...sports... etc. So many things!

Living in a Fast Age

I think part of it is that we live in a world that is packed with activity. And the activity happens fast! I mean we truly live in a digital age. We can get instantaneous access to information, food, clothing, entertainment. You name it! Everything happens so fast! Instantaneous. We were talking earlier and we realized that in previous ages, people had to take their time with certain things. Travel was not quick as it is now. Correspondence with other people would mean at times waiting for weeks/months till they replied by letters in the post. Microwaves and pizza delivery were not options.

What happened to taking your time with things? What happened to the silence in the world? Why do we always have to be racing through life a million miles per hour?

I believe the answer to these questions are found in the following:

Freaked Out by the Silence

We just don't. I think it is foreign to some of us. I was talking to a colleague of mine in the office and she told me that when her and her husband go on vacation for longer than a few days they go stir crazy and they can't handle it. Mobile phones, internet chat, DVDs, Ipods and constant chatting have been with them for so long the thought of not having them after a few days is foreign to them. They forgot that old saying in the movie theatres before the flick starts is so true: Silence in GOLDEN. It's because in silence and quiet we are faced with our thoughts and all the other junk we push away by taking up our time with the new episode of Grey's Anatomy on our iPhones. And when we are in the silence and our thoughts and issues start speaking to us, it freaks us out! I think that may be a sign that we need to practice being in silence more often. Take 15 minutes every day and shut off everything and just listen to your thoughts. Write it down in a journal if you need to. What are the things you are not dealing with?


We live in an age where we have to be constantly entertained. One thing Vince and I like to do every night is watch a TV show together to unwind. It was almost like a bedtime routine. Grey's Anatomy or Glee (don't judge us). Side note - We hear that watching TV in the bedroom is bad, because the bedroom is meant for sleeping and... well you get the picture. It's like we always have to be stimulated in some way at every moment. We can't even be bored while we are sleeping! (Vince sleeps with an "ocean sounds" CD).

Obligated to do Things

This is a sticky subject because I believe most people reading this blog suffer from the "yes" monster. It's like we can't say anything but "yes" to things.


Can you do the PowerPoint for the Church event? Yes.

Can you drive my aunt to the hair-stylist? Yes.

Do you mind making a roast turkey for the dinner tonight? Sure.

Can you be my kid's Godfather? Of course.

Will you co-sign for my car? Absolutely.

Can I borrow a thousand buck? Hmmm... ok.

Man... the list goes on and on. And the reasons why we keep saying yes would take another post to explain. But in short, we believe that a big cause is guilt. We just feel plain old bad when we have to say "no". After all, no one takes joy in disappointing other people (unless you are a person who likes to see other's suffer - then shame on you.) And in our minds when we have to say "no" we think it is the end of the world and that since we can't pick up our uncle's-best friend's-cousin's-son in law from the airport no one else with a car can.

We can't assume all the responsibility and burden by thinking that other people will not be able to function without us. Of course there are things that are our responsibility (our spouses, children, family, friends, and dying people on the side of the street) but in a lot of cases, when we know we are already busy, I think it's ok if we say no. The world will continue to turn without us. Sad but true.

Moreover, not only is it ok, I think it is to EVERYONE'S benefit that we say, in a loving way, "No, I really want to but I can't do that this time." (Then you smack them and take their wallet... just kidding.) We should do this because it teaches us virtue of prudence. We cannot give too much or too little of ourselves. The key is balance in all things. When we have pushed ourselves too far we usually burnout and that can take its toll on ourselves as those closest to us (i.e. when we take out our stress, exhaustion, anger, etc. on them).

Plus people will begin to respect not only your "no", but more importantly your "yes". This is the key to increasing your integrity. When you say you can do something, people know you will follow through; and when you can't, they respect that too. With that said, when you do commit to something, do it all the way. But more importantly, when we say no...


We will talk more about this subject tomorrow :-) Love you all!

Vince and Cay