Liver Spread (Pâté) a la Pinoy

To satisfy a craving for pure (and I mean “pure”) liver spread, I set aside about less than a quarter of a kilo of the liver we bought for chicken adobo. I requested my hubby to fry the liver, not really knowing how to prepare the pâté I thought I could just wing it. How hard can it be?

So I came home to fried chicken liver ready for my experiment.

First mistake: I requested that the liver be fried first before tenderizing. Of course, it was too tough to mash.

Second mistake: I placed the liver in our Black and Decker blender with about a cup of fresh milk and around 63 gms (roughly 1/4 of a 250 gm bar of butter), with salt and pepper to taste.

This was a mistake because the liver was just fried, not tenderized, which made it tough. My blender whirred with much effort at this dry mixture. My blender was also on it’s last legs, I might add, and conked out at just that perfect time after 10 faithful years.

Third mistake: I was exhausted and stressed out and it is never really a good time for me to experiment on recipes in that condition. It took me longer to think of how to remedy the situation – the tough liver – in just a short amount of time. I was anxious to put my tired feet up.

Solution: I boiled the liver mixture (with the milk, butter, salt & pepper) in a pot with more milk, about a cup of milk, at very low heat, making sure to stir from time to time to prevent the mixture from burning.

As the liver softened and the liquid reduced to a mere buttery oil, I turned off the heat and began to mash the liver. Now that was the gruelling part, at least to my arms.

There is an upside to frying the liver before softening. The flavour of the liver is sealed before it is tenderized.

We found that the liver pâté tasted better with cream cheese on toasted bread. Any brand of cream cheese would be good, not necessarily endorsing the brand featured in the photo.

I believe mayo or mustard would work well as a condiment too since either one will lend a tanginess to the rich liver taste.

Overall I believe that my experiment was a success.

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The Gospel for Mental Illness

Today is my 49th birthday.

Yesterday was a terrible day, from the morning discouragements leading up to midnight’s breakdown.

Mental illness sucks the life out of me even though I am surrounded by people who love me. It makes me feel ungrateful, sometimes, and I beat myself up for feeling this way. But mental illness is like that – it eats you up. Sometimes I am neither here nor there. The unseen boundaries within my brain can cause me to be highly functional and productive one day, and utterly helpless and hopeless the next.

A very good friend and pastor posted this on his wall this morning and it was the first post I read. Maybe this is God’s special gift to me today.

“If your gospel isn’t good news for people who suffer from mental illness, it isn’t the Gospel of Jesus.

One of the most gracious, generous and selfless people I have ever known was tormented by an illness that limited mental function. And yet, God’s love was more evident in her than most able-minded people I know.”

The replies and affirmations to his post also gave me strength somehow. There is strength in numbers, truly.

May all of us who suffer from mental illness find strength within ourselves, as God gives us His strength to pull us through. It is a lifetime of extreme highs and lows. It is an illness that most will never even come to terms with. It is a black dog that is always close by.

I pray for all of us. There may not be a total cure for mental illness but there is still hope, whenever we are “well enough” to lift up our heads to see the light. There IS a light that penetrates all this darkness.

I long for that day when I will be freed from the agony of this illness, here or in the next life. When my brain will finally stop spinning from endless screams of anxiety. When I will experience some measure of peace.

Philippians 4:6-7 is my most-read Biblical passage. I firmly believe that this was written for all of us who suffer from anxiety.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What Philippians 4:6-7 Can Teach Us About Managing Anxiety

 

The Right Tools for The Right Job

ToolsThat’s right — the “right” (as opposed to the “left”) tools meant for certain jobs DO make that job easier.

Just a couple of weeks ago as I was de-cluttering and cleaning the house, this thought crossed my mind a few times.

While it is absolutely awful of me not to have changed my scouring pad (for pots and pans) for 2 months, I dilly-dallied on purchasing a new one. Why? I was still able to scrub the black soot off of the pot bottoms with the thinning scouring pad, though it took more elbow grease than necessary.

I became so used to exerting maximum effort that I began to believe that I was using the right tool for the job.

So I finally bought the heavy-duty and thick scouring pad just last week and voila! Just a little pressure from my fingers and the soot on the pans held no resistance. OMG! Why did I delay replacing my old thin scouring pad? All I needed was the right tool for the job.

Some of the other “realizations”:

Floor cleaner to mop the floors — an all-purpose cleaner simply doesn’t do as good a job as a cleaner formulated especially for cleaning the floors. Again, for the sake of not having too many products on hand, I used an all-purpose cleaner for the floors for several weeks. Not the same, especially when you have dogs that drool and leave traces of muddy paw prints in their wake.  It also doesn’t do a great job on glass. The glass cleaner was so much better!

A hack saw to “cut” thick branches – our shrub cutter (like humongous scissors) gave my elbow an unpleasant shock. It was just not built for thick sturdy branches full of hefty thorns. I finally decided, after many months of watching a pomelo tree in the back yard grow at the rate of 1 inch per hour (it seemed that way), to buy a proper saw. The hubby sawed away in just a few minutes. Whew! Now our cable TV satellite is no longer obstructed.

Honestly, not all the DIY posts we see on Facebook or Youtube actually work. I’ve tried many. While I try to avoid using too many chemical- based products, some DIY “earth-friendy” products are just not made for certain jobs.

The right medication and treatment for certain medical conditions – definitely no DIY or self-diagnosing here. A 10-session back therapy for lumbar instability (based on an x-ray) and severe back pain was the right tool for the job. All the mentholated patches, hot pads and exercises did not alleviate the pain because it was NOT muscle pain. I just self-diagnosed it as such.

So I think I will just stick with the right tools. They DO make life a little bit easier.

Trauma in Paradise

Lonely Beach

Paradise is a subjective word.

I learned this only recently – very recently.

Paradise for me is no longer just a place. It is being with the people I love – wherever we are.

Though living by the beach for a little less than two weeks would be like living in paradise, or so I thought, it was hell-on-earth for me. I did not know it would be. I would not have ventured out when I did otherwise.

I was lonely. My husband couldn’t be with me for many days as work required him to be in the city. I couldn’t do it. I could not last being with people who claimed to treat me as “family” but made me feel isolated. I could not last being away from my husband anymore.

I basically courted depression and anxiety – the very same conditions I thought would somehow be “eased” once I am surrounded by water and working in what seemed to be “ideal” work conditions. At 48 years old, I still don’t know myself that well.

It’s not the place. It never was. I was too anxious about the future and was blinded by the promise of a better career – and an attractive salary – that I did not stop longer to really think and consider. What do people always say? If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

And I finally saw through it. All this time, I had been listening — hardly talking — and I finally discerned. It helps to just listen. Usually, the more people talk, the more mistakes they make by revealing more of their real motives.

The promises made were as loose as as the fine grains of sand falling between my fingers. True characters were revealed, shattering whatever “good impressions” I may have had. I was lonely. I felt very out of place.

I was very lonely. And I left. I picked up whatever I could carry and headed out to the bus station. I had to leave – for good.

And so now I am home again – with my husband and our 3 dogs. I am still recovering from the trauma.

I will get better. We will get better.

Friendships Always Matter

Friendships

Whether one is suffering from depression or not, friendships — true friendships —  always matter and are a source of support, whether they know about one’s mental illness or not.

I find myself actually “forgetting” or leaving behind my feelings of depression for a while  whenever I am able to “force” myself to get out of the house to accept some meal or get-together invitations. After such events, I find myself feeling somewhat elated and am thankful for being able to accomplish it — it does feel like an accomplishment — a small step forward.

My introversion does make me feel drained after being surrounded for hours by people other than my friends, but that’s par for the course.

It makes me smile reviewing all my photos on Facebook, and this particular photo, taken by my husband two Christmases ago made me want to blog about it. This was a “staged” photo, guided by our friend on the rightmost side, who was into advertising a few years ago. He asked us if we noticed how most print ads show people with “open-mouthed” smiles. We then realized it was true.

So while having that Christmas meal 2 years ago, we tried to make our own “print ad”. We tried so hard not to laugh while the camera was on a 10-second timer. Being a print ad model was harder than we thought!

The people in this photo (save for my husband and me) have been our friends for many years. They all always be friends we will treasure.

Hope you find yourselves with true friendships that will stand the tests of time, like we did.

 

 

Skin Diary

Tattoo

I finally got my first tattoo last year, at 48 years old. Another item to tick off my bucket list.

I tagged my husband and sister along on this adventure, in one of the best tattoo shops in KL https://www.borneoink.com, which also happened to be within walking distance from her work place – very convenient!

After years of imagining and planning for it (I saved many designs from the web), I decided on this simple heart with “family” written inside. It’s a very common design, but the significance is deep. Family, my immediate family, is my life and inspiration.

The love we have for each other is etched deep in my heart, and now, in my skin. Just like a diary, whenever I look at this tiny tattoo on my arm, I will always remember that day – the excitement, the intimacy of having my husband and sister watching as I smiled through the whole painless (a 2 out of 10 for me — high tolerance for pain) process. It was an adventure we shared as a family.

So this is my first entry in my Skin Diary. I hope to add many more.

Photo credit – https://www.instagram.com/rsmdoftherock/” Rex S. Dela Peña (my husband and photography enthusiast)

The feeling of being homeless…

 

Homeless

My husband and I have been renting apartments since we got married. Where we live, it is not easy to own a home. The insecurity of being driven out of a place and being homeless has been with me ever since.

Just two weeks ago, we were informed that the apartment we are renting has already been sold and that we need to move out within 2 to 3 weeks. We were stunned and felt very betrayed. Looking for a relatively decent place to move into on a very small budget that allows pets is very difficult. We had to adjust our schedules so we could look at several places to rent at such short notice.

Without the money to advance to landlords (at least 3 months’ worth), we could just look at places but not reserve. We have been to most cities that are not too far from where my husband works and have seen really depressing places. We have been on a rollercoaster of emotions the past two weeks.

The reality that we will be homeless within a few weeks hit us really hard. Without the financial means to rent a place in such a short time drove us deep into depression. I have always been irate at the government for driving illegal settlers away without any relocation plans for them. It is cruel and inhumane. Every human being has the right to a decent place to live. Our society has blatantly ignored this basic right for decades. We are all answerable for this intolerable cruelty.

I know people who also almost lost their homes – and those who actually did. It is downright wrong.

I applaud people who establish shelters for the homeless. There should be more of them and more facilities for the homeless. No one should ever be deprived of this basic human right.

Now I personally know how it feels. I pray to God that we will be given the means to help others in this plight.

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