CAGAYAN DE ORO—Aside from tending your own kitchen garden, another surefire way to eat well and healthy while keeping within the budget despite rising prices and the world falling apart around us, is to eat according to the seasons. (Related: How to survive till the rest of the world sorts itself out (I) , How to survive… (II): Setting up an urban kitchen garden)
The first step is to go to the market and see what is available in abundance. In Baguio, it’s the vegetables. Down here in Mindanao, it’s the fruits.
For example, bananas. There is so much you can do with banana and there are so many kinds available. You can boil it, fry it, eat it as is, or make it into cake.
Tomatoes are another seasonal crop that go through wild price drops. From a high of P130 per kilo, sometimes they go as low as P10. They can be made into sauces or put in salads, as the base aromatic in many Filipino dishes. Or you can make shakshuka if you’re feeling adventurous.
Shakshuka is the perfect traditional Mideastern recipe to cook during tomato season. For an affordable alternative to the whole eggs you need, cracked eggs are available at market stalls for less than the usual price.
Malunggay flower fritters
I had to trim the malunggay tree because it grew so tall after two years and it became difficult to harvest the leaves. The tree had seed pods and flowers. I cooked the pods a different way, and the flowers became fritters.
Naan, pita, chapati, and roti are different kinds of flatbread. I don’t know what I made this time but I was craving for some kind of flatbread with body, so I made this.
I grew up with my Lola Puring Neri Ramos making mango jam in the kitchen whenever mango was in season. She would stand there by the stove, stirring the boiling pot.
Afterwards, we would have the jam with bread, keseo, and sikwate. Nowadays I put it in yogurt, which is totally easy to make at home as well!
When I was still living in Baguio City, I would buy the reject strawberries that were being sold to restaurants by the pail for making shakes and jam. I’d pick the good ones for eating and make jam out of the overripe ones.
Where I live now, there is a prolific Natal Plum tree. Such a tree is known as an ornamental tree, but I found out how to make jam out of its fruit.
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from scoby (or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), black tea, water and sugar. They say it has many health benefits. I just like how it tastes.
Maya Racuya of Little Milky Way on the ground floor of Ili Likha Artist Village in Baguio gave me my first scoby. I left it behind when I moved to Cagayan de Oro and it died. I was asking around for anyone making kombucha here, and my cousin Dujie Quitos-Lord referred me to her friend Lynn Gordiel, who came to art class with her on Saturdays when I was teaching before the pandemic.