I thought that 2012 was a very lucky and auspicious year. By the end of Winter of 2012 and as Spring stepped in, I knew the year wouldn’t be different as the two other previous years. I was, of course, still in the kitchen doing the line, but my boss-owner was a menace. I was strangled at work for something simple and easy to do and my pay was delayed for about a week or so. I took everything with a grain of salt; understanding her tight situation and hoping the pay will come sooner or later, but when it became extremely unbearable, I just disappeared at the middle of service on a weekend.
Summer was more or less the same, working in another seasonal line job together with my more regular part-time job, but with better hourly rate. However, the drawback and trouble with this seasonal work was the intolerable clients it deals with on a daily basis. I was able to manage my work properly, but with clients as pesky and as rude as cockroaches, I would have been better off not having the job at all and stayed with my more regular work.
These jobs were difficult, hot and dirty, and by the end of year, I was left with unknown scars which I am dealing with now. These are signs that I should have slowed down early during the year and I totally ignored it. I went on working my ass off as I did the previous summers, and thus I suffered in the end. The signs of the Dragon of 2012 reappeared only at the end of the year. My hardwork, through all the years working the line; actually working two simultaneous lines in a day, paid-off with a more stable, full-time job with more offerings and with better co-workers and a more appreciative staff and clients. That was the big bonus. Despite the distance to and from work from my apartment and the still difficult job involved, my work was still being fully recognized and they are actually saying it. I can finally leave the tough job in the line where stress can overflow and erupt at any time during service and speed is an absolute requirement. I lost that second essential requirement when I hit 40.
I’m still adjusting to this new environment, but I am taking care of myself now than I did a couple of years ago. My eating and sleeping habits have changed dramatically. I’m badly looking for sleep though with the longer travel time and workhours involved, but I know in time I’ll be able to finally adjust.
I’ve narrowed down my meals to the following: quick-grilling, braising (on my days-off) and stir-fry. I lost more than half of the time I used to have creating imaginative meals during those slow, easy afternoon, and in one point during this week, had vaguely no idea what to prepare for myself.
This stew is a classic: Pochero. I had this growing up and loved the root vegetables and the ‘saba’ that was braised with the stew. Beef is the usual main ingredient in Pochero, but I replaced it with Pork. I have this motto of using what I don’t have and apply it with whatever comes in my head. I believe the creativity of the cook comes in play with not having everything as required by the recipe and being able to recycle leftovers into another meal.
The ingredients of this Pochero is similar to the ingredients I used with a Vietnamese Curry I cooked around two years ago; enhancing the Southeast Asian flavours involved and preparing a Pork Broth (Nilaga) ahead of time for easier and faster cooking.
- Yellow Fingerling Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes
- Plantain (as substitute)
- Yard long beans
- Bay Leaves
- Chicken Stock
- Crushed Tomatoes
- Tamarind Paste
- Brown Sugar
- Filipino Soy Sauce
Pork Broth (Nilaga):
- Pork Butt
- Bay leaves
- Black peppercorns
Prepare a pot of water and pre- boil the pork butt. Throw the first boil, clean the pot, and return the pork butt back into the pot. Re-start the pot with warm water together with the other ingredients included under the ‘Pork Broth.’
Saute onion and garlic in another pan. Add the crushed tomatoes followed by the tamarind paste, patis, and Filipino Soy Sauce. Pour some of the pork broth and some chicken stock and incorporate the pre-boiled pork butt into the pan. Let it boil to simmer. Add the root vegetables until tender followed by the yard long beans. Season to taste.
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