Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Inspiration of Love and Strength

Daddy Boy slid in the shower yesterday while the rest of us were having dinner. We all rushed to the bathroom and saw Dad sitting by the shower, the glass wall and door, cracked and shattered. Thank God he was alright but we were all scared and nervous, Daddy included. After that, Daddy smiled and Mom said thank God his guardian angel was watching over him.

I watched over Dad while he was having dinner in the room. We talked and laughed about our love stories. I guess this was one of our bonding sessions. While Daddy slowly worked his way through his dinner, I realized that right before my eyes was a survivor, an inspiration of strength. Here was a man who had undergone 4 major, life-threatening operations and lived to survive them all. Here was a man whose physical body has been weakened by the passage of sickness and ailments but whose spirit, will to live and faith in God remain intact and strong. He has weathered so many storms but here he was, chewing the okra and baked salmon and sipping his chicken macaroni soup, a smile in his eyes as he retells how he courted Mommy.

In a few minutes, Mom went in the room and Daddy's eyes lit up. Daddy's inspiration just walked in the room :-)

Mom's role is not an easy part to play. She, too, is an inspiration of strength. More than being physically strong, having to take care of Daddy and his needs, she is also strong emotionally as she gives Dad reasons to fight for his life and live while putting up a brave front even when the situation is hard to bear; she is spiritually strong as she lifts and entrusts everything to the Lord and her roster of Saints, knowing and believing He is constantly by their side, even if the trials become too complicated. She is strong in will, having to force herself to say no to Dad when he asks for things (particularly food!!!) that are bad for him when it would have taken so much less trouble to say yes. When I look at Mom, I can only wish to possess even half of her strength.

Dad and Mom... they're inspirations of strength, individually. Together, they are an inspiration of love. Being married for 38 years, having gone through ups and downs, raising 5 children, seeing them get married (waiting for 2 more sons to follow suit...hehehe), pampering grand kids, helping others, facing challenges... their love has only grown stronger. More than that, their love has grown bigger as they share this love to those around them and inspire us and others to love like they do by their example. We are only so lucky to be witnesses and recipients of this love.

As I spent time with Dad and Mom in the room, I couldn't help but feel blessed. Back when I was younger, I was a daughter to a couple who loved each other so much. When God took my Daddy away, Mom's love went with him since Dad was my Mom's one true love. Back when I was much younger, God gave me a chance to be pampered and loved by a father who was generous, loving, funny and oh so patient with me. His memory will always be in my heart.

Now, God has blessed me with another set of parents whose love for each other is just as great, and just as true. He gave me a second father, too. Indeed, I am two times lucky in one lifetime. I only have God to thank for these bountiful gifts.

I hope one day, some day, Boydee and I will also be an inspiration of love, just like Daddy Victor and Mommy Nonie, just like Daddy Boy and Mommy Shalene. And whatever trials may come our way, I hope we could emulate our parents' example of strength, resilience and most specially, their faith.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Brazo de Hyundai

My hubby has this thing with cooked eggs. Despite his allergic reactions to it, he just can not resist its white and yellow allure. Maybe it is true what they say about our subconscious rebellious streak in wanting the things you can't and shouldn't have. For my husband, it's eggs... For me, for now, it's something else but it's censored... hahahaha..... just teasing....

Anyway, back to eggs... His favorite dessert are those with eggs - canonigo, leche flan, tocino del cielo and yup, brazo de mercedes... the white fluffy roll with yellow custard filling. It's cross section looks like an egg cooked sunny side up.

In a trip to Cebu last year, we went to our restaurant since he wanted to learn how to make his own brazo. Helen, our pastry chef, gladly demonstrated the procedure and it looked easy enough. Back in Manila, we followed the recipe to a T but concluded we missed out on the technique part since our first attempt flopped. The egg white perhaps wasn't beaten well enough or it was overbeat. Nobody ever said baking was easy. :-(

Ever the persistent (a.k.a. kulit) one, Boydee insisted on going for it a second time. The second attempt only succeeded in wasting more of Lola's tray of eggs. But we did get some insights from the experience. We realized the following: our clean kitchen oven doesn't produce the right heat temperature; the clean kitchen oven can only fit small trays; in baking, the recipe isn't the secret-it's the technique and the timing; it is not advisable to change ovens midway into baking; equipment is important; always pre-heat the oven; and lastly, is there ever such a thing as overnight, instant bakers?!?

Boydee calls our creation Brazo de Hyundai because it definitely did not pass for a Mercedes. Up to now, we laugh at our first attempt at baking. It was a fun experience especially when Lola started looking for her eggs. That was during the Christmas season of last year.

Fast forward to August of this year... It was Ate Rona's and Boydee's birthday party last August 6 and I took charge of the 'celebration'. I prepared a Spanish buffet spread and of course wanted to include Brazo de Mercedes in the dessert menu. First, because it was Boydee's favorite dessert (tocino del cielo proving to be very expensive from Cafe Ysabel at P25 per piece. Imagine that!) and second, it was conveniently a spanish dessert.

I went through my reference book "Guide to Manila's Best Restaurants" and called Tita Margot Osmena to help me choose between two suppliers since one of the suppliers was a Vargas which meant that maybe she was related to Tita Margot. Carmen Vargas WAS her Tita and she made the best Brazo and butter cake in town, according to Tita Margot.

So on that Sunday gathering, I served the Brazo de Mercedes and the Butter Cake. Both cakes earned raves especially the Brazo. The brazo was sinfully rich with the luscious, yellow filling literally oozing out of the dessert. The outer layer was light and white with a super thin layer of burnt sugar coating. It was a sweet tooth's dream come true.

On that day, we consumed 2 orders of 17-inch Brazo and for the upcoming baby shower of Lai, Ate Rona specifically requested for the Brazo to do an encore. So this Saturday, it's Brazo time again!

For now, there is no immediate need to learn how to make brazo since we've found the perfect supplier. For now, no more brazos de hyundai and wasted eggs. During Christmas time, that's another story since Boydee is determined to make his own version of his favorite dessert to give away to friends. Lola better start hiding her trays of eggs!

Our new-found Brazo and Butter cake supplier:
Carmen Vargas
Brazo de Mercedes - 17 inch - P650; 6 inch - P320; Mini - P150
Butter Cake - 10x14 - P650; 8x10 - P400; 5x8 - 300; 3x7 - P150