When my daughter decided a month ago to take a nursing job up north, I loudly expressed my protest but silently untied my apron strings at the same time. She is her mother’s daughter~resilient, head strong, free-spirited~so I know no amount of opposition can re-direct her once she made up her mind. I may be ambivalent about her decision to move hundreds of miles away but I had to trust that she was raised well enough to choose wisely for herself. She has, after all, proven herself worthy of such confidence. She finished her undergraduate studies with high honors and without any of the unsavory entanglements every parent dreads. She is, for the most part, a well-rounded, responsible young adult. I am proud watching her thrive in this new phase in her life. If I may quote Anne Frank, “Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
Despite her proclivity for independence, there are still in my the daughter little snippets of the child who enjoys nurturing. She sent me a text last Friday asking if I can cook nilaga for her when she comes home. She also requested that I prepare and pack a a couple of dishes she can bring back with her to Coalinga. Hah! She has learned all aspects of living self-sufficiently…except how to cook! Actually, the nilaga she had in mind was the boiled beef shank soup I normally make. I suprised her, instead, with this nilagang baboy version which substitutes calabasa for the usual potatoes and pechay for the customary cabbage. Bent on a beef nilaga, she was whining all throughout her meal about being “disappointed” but had two servings of the soup nonetheless. Hah!
- 2 pounds pork picnic or belly, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 8 cups water
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- ½ teaspoon pepper corns, cracked
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 small calabasa, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 bunch pechay, ends trimmed and leaves separated
- salt to taste
- In a pot over medium heat, combine pork and water. Bring to a boil, skimming scum that accumulates on top. When broth has cleared, add onions, pepper corns and fish sauce. Continue to boil for about 3 to 5 minutes. Lower heat, cover and cook for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until pork is tender. Add more water in ½ cup increments as needed to maintain about 6 to 7 cups.
- Add calabasa and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until tender yet firm. Add pechay and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until tender yet crisp. Season with salt to taste. Serve hot.