A Jedi Knight's "Colorful" Holy Week

Friday, April 29, 2011 4 comments
Many of us spend our Holy Week out-of-town, going on vacation or enjoying the alluring scene at the beach. This year, while I spent most of the Week at home, the highlight was one unforgettable out-of-town trip, not with swimmers or tourists but with kids who "live life to the fullest."

Being a member of the Philippine Chapter of the Rebel Legion, I've been to a number of events where our presence as a costumed group was requested. The principle of the Legion, inspired by its sister organization, the 501st Legion, is to don costumes for charity. And one charity we've promised our appearance this year is the Rainbow Camp at Hermosa, Bataan.

Rainbow Camp is an annual Holy Week camp designed by volunteer doctors, nurses and health professionals for kids with diabetes. Everything from food, activities, schedules and games take into account the risks involved and the needs of the participants, the oldest at 18 years old.

This year, they've chosen Star Wars for their camp theme. So, I and Macy, a fellow Rebel, together with the 501st Legion's Jerome and Jovan set out for Bataan to surprise the kids and show them how we adults enjoy donning costumes and playing with toys.

The camp was so enjoyable. After our appearance, we were whisked into the judges' table to give scores to the participants' costumes. The kids (and the adults), in all their make-up, clothing and props would resemble an invasion in the Empire. The effort was just enlightening.

In the end, it was the kids' time to shine. Despite battling with a sickness, no hint of tire or weariness can be seen from them. The camp was like a home where they learn the beginnings of being normal... that having diabetes is just a different lifestyle for a normal person. People must learn from them, to not dwell on problems but live and work with it.

Before leaving the camp, we saw some of the participants graduate. We're sure that they will bring to their lives what they've learned in their years at Rainbow Camp. Not to mention the friendships they've earned... when they've grown mature over the years, they themselves will be teaching young ones how to cope with their disease, just like a Jedi Knight teaches his Padawan Learner...

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Lenten Surprise!

Friday, April 22, 2011 1 comments
It's Good Friday today. For all practicing Catholics out there, it means it's the last day of the weekly gastronomic sacrifice of fasting and abstinence for the Lenten season...

For weeks now, in keeping with tradition, our family has restricted our Friday diet to seafood and vegetables, which was the perfect time for me to experiment on new recipes to utilize our limited stock. One of my favorite discoveries was... Shrimp Thermidor.

I've always known Thermidor as a lavish and luxurious dish served on rare occasions. The movie "Julie & Julia" featured the making of Lobster Thermidor during the birthday of one of the protagonists. What surprised me is that the sauce itself is easy and inexpensive to make... it's the seafood ingredient that makes it expensive.

The sauce is a superb melange of buttery, cheesy and bit-of-spicy flavors that it can be eaten in itself as a viand along with rice. Mix in a bit of the cooking water where your seafood was boiled and you'll have the flavor of the sea in it. I've done this dish twice already, and it never fails to surprise me.

My Shrimp Thermidor was actually an improved version of Food.com's recipe. If you wish to make the sauce but you don't have access to lobster, shrimp or other seafood, adding a shrimp flavor cube dissolved in a cup of water does the trick. And if, like me, you don't have an oven, try melting your parmesan cheese into the sauce right before you take it off the heat. That way, it's flavors blend into the sauce...

The sauce works with most seafood, but I prefer lobster, shrimps (the big ones), scallops & cream dory.

Try tweaking the recipe a bit... add other spices, play with the formula... That's what I do in the kitchen when I feel like it or if I'm missing an ingredient. Your cooking skills may just surprise you...

Here's the recipe from Food.com: Shrimp Thermidor
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This Time Around in Boracay

Friday, April 15, 2011 2 comments

Ah yes! Boracay, the exotic beach-lined tropical getaway that always makes it to the list of favorite summer destinations. Getting there isn't easy... nor is getting out. And yet, I found myself in its pristine beaches again this 2nd week of April, with a full week left before vacation-laden Holy Week started.

It was my 2nd time in Boracay. The first one was in 2008, in a stress-relieving post-concert treat for my college choir... I remember, we took the RORO route then, eating half a day for travel time one-way. This time, I took the plane with 2 of my cousins, and 3 friends who've all had their fair share of traveling around. We landed at Kalibo... where we took off as well.

The main reason I thought of going to Boracay was to visit my cousin Dale, who's doing his training as a chef in one of the hotels there. The trip was essentially fruitful since we were able to meet him up and bond while he was enjoying his day-off. I have high hopes that his training at a fiery, busy kitchen will finally teach him lessons on ample schedule and preparation of dishes... Good luck, mate!

Boracay hasn't changed much in 3 years... the same bars stand, the same hotels reign supreme, the same food get served and the same waters hit the shores, much to the delight of the beach-savvy folk. Underneath all those exterior displays of bliss is the blessing of nature through the peaceful sunset, the white sand and the leisurely contemplation of families having fun and friends hanging out. Just ignore the occasional lumot and you'll enjoy Boracay just by walking along its shores, with all the sights of heaven before your very eyes...

And, I have to say this... the Chori Burger remains immaculate!

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The Friday Blog

Friday, April 8, 2011 0 comments
This is Jerricho, signing in... it's been a while since I last blogged over at my Livejournal account. For the past 2 years, it's been pretty much social networking and micro-blogging sites... just letting people know where I am, what I'm doing or what-the-hell fancies my coconut.

I make a living out of writing nowadays. Varied stuff from cyanobacteria to recipes eat my week that when Friday comes, my brain is all stuffed and ready to be delivered to the oven. Here enters the Friday blog...

Starting today, I'll be blogging about interesting stuff that make my life vibrant: dishes I make, places I've been to and other quirks unbeknownst to most of my friends. Think of it as my weekly dose of coffee. I hope you enjoy this as much as I hope to... the Echo Brew...

Let's start brewing!!!

P.S. The blog banner was made by yours truly: the scrabble tiles were taken by a good friend, Lianne; the bamboo path and the crabs were taken during my recent trip to Bohol, about which I'll be writing soon.

Off to Boracay within 12 hours. Watch out for the entry next week...
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