April 19, 2014

Adobong Kangkong and Theft in Twilight

Last Saturday, I had found myself wondering why I feel a little strange, becoming aware so suddenly of the virtual isolation I have these days. It dawned upon me that I was really living a kind of a hermitic life, although not any of my intention to be so.

I was not always like this. As recent as two years ago, I was always out that I felt then that I had no time at home even when I was already married and having kids toddling around. I was always with my fraternity brods for some meetings on weekends or if not, I was out practicing with my band, then called “The Dirty Sox”. Yeah, I had a band then with my friend Aziz, who have passed away already due to a highly debilitating sickness. This story may need elaboration in future entries and Aziz is an old friend that needs an elegy.

Now I felt like I have not seen the sun for the longest time. Not really though, since I have to fetch the kids every day from school. I just felt like I haven’t had time for myself lately.

This April, I’d be thirty-three years old and you might think what’s a guy married and with four children having nothing to do. Do not get me wrong for in actuality, I have so many things to do.

You see, I am legal person but until now I haven’t pass the bar yet. I had jobs offered to me before but I was always looking for the impermanent ones since I really have my mind set on taking the bar again. A regular office job would intercede gravely with my readings. You’d asked: “How do I support my family?” It is for me to keep on my own, I guess. There are just so many things of my life that I couldn’t really articulate here yet. You can say I have some viable business on hand. Not so viable, but when it grows in the future, with attendant persistence and discipline, it could become huge that my kids may not even have to work no more. Just kidding, but every businessman dreams of such kind of success---the kind of success that makes you appear in front of Fortune Magazine.

I read my law books these days with hurdling that ever formidable bar examinations in mind. I was planning previously to take the bar this year but sadly, I felt so unprepared and I never had the inkling to risk resources by going to Manila like a warrior without a sword. I am setting my sight for next year’s edition of the Supreme Court examination instead.

Besides, I am in the stage of organizing a spiritual movement that I have in mind for a long time. I have already made the initial moves with some of my friends and members of our neighborhood. I just hope that this humble beginning would soon bear fruition. I do it for the Lord, since as a visionary, my mission to impart to the world a message of repentance and renewal is far from over. I have already a name for the movement and it shall be called “Renew The Spirit Movement”. I hope many would join on this voyage of our soul.

Let us go back to where I started in this post.

And so, last Saturday, I decided to give myself a break and thought of going downtown by myself for a great change. It had been months since I had this sort of activity. I hopped on my ever-reliable Jeep and headed for downtown not really having a particular plan in my mind. First, I went to a gaming station and found out that every one seem to be crazy about Ragnarok. I was looking for FIFA Soccer game but it was not available downtown. Usually, I play the game in a computer station somewhere in Sta. Maria, a barangay farther from the town proper by five miles. FIFA 2004 is the game I am most fascinated right now since it stimulates the soccer game so realistically that every time I made a goal, I could shout with joy. Really shout. And besides, I could play as Beckham or Lampard every time.

Next, I went to a video store. Maybe, I’d like to see some interesting movie. It had been weeks since my last rental. I scoured for titles but no movie caught my fancy. I had seen “Lost In Translation” in the racks weeks ago but it just disappeared. I did not bother to ask the sales counter when a very long line was in front of me.

I thought maybe I needed to read a book again so I went to a bookstore that sells both new titles and second-hand pocketbooks. This is my most favorite part of every sojourn I make to downtown---skimming for book titles. I could go on for hours and hours among the racks of books and I felt like I was back at the Ateneo library at which I spent a lot of time when I was there so many years ago. I went immediately to the used book section since I really had no inkling to buy a brand new title, for the good ones could go high as five hundred bucks per pop.

There were a lot of good titles available but most of them I have already read. There was Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” which came so cheap at forty bucks. Would I want to read it again? I decided not since I did not want to cry again. This book was a Pulitzer Prize winning story of a Negro girl with her diaries full of despair and failings. I do not remember what happened to her in the end so maybe I will read it again in the future, if I can afford to shed some tears again. There are only three books that had called for my tears while I was reading them and that was “The Thorn Birds”, “The Prince of Tides” and “The Color Purple”.

There were a lot of Joseph Wambaugh’s titles at that store but despite the number, every other one on the rack I have already read. Yes, that is how I loved his works. They are not very literary in nature or the kind that brings in the awards and prizes but I never had enjoyed police stories like I enjoyed his work. Imagine a former policeman like Mr. Wambaugh entertaining us with the written word. Who would have thought?

There were a lot of copies of “Primary Colors”, the one written by the controversial Anonymous, available and I wonder why they remain unsold. If only many knew how good this political satire is, it would not have stayed untouched for the longest time.

All in all, there were a lot of books that were authored by writers I haven’t had the slightest hint before if they really existed or not. There were names like “Dan Brennan”. Who the hell knows Mr. Brennan. Maybe, if one goes to a party full of pretentious guys, you could just drop the names of writers like that of Mr. Brennan. And since nobody know him really, you would sound cool for knowing something they do not know.

“Have you read Brennan?” You could start the conversation this way.

Of course, your companion would be taken out of sort and say “Brennan,…No…I have… not read him.” And he starts to lose some footing even while the conversation was just starting. With enough ground gained, you could completely dominate him by going on like this:

“Oh pity, Dan Brennan wrote this and that and according to him, the world is like this and like that.”

The guy would not really know who Dan Brennan was but at least you came out cooler than the lake in Alaska.

So much about unknown authors. I would be greatly embarrassed if someone in the blogworld really knows Dan Brennan and I will look stupid and ignorant after all.

I decided against coughing out some bucks for a new read. I reckoned that reading novels at this point in time is just all too time consuming when I still have to read my law books and at the same time do blogging every now and then. Maybe later, when I start to feel that time is becoming easier on me. Right now, time is such a word that evokes a highly-pressurized cooker that can overheat just about any time.

I went to buy the weekend papers and decided maybe I had enough time already enjoying some free moments on my own. I passed by a nearby Internet cafĂ© and went surfing for more hours than I had initially planned. When I arrived home, it was nearly eight o’ clock, way past suppertime. I ate a stir-fried kangkong that I have cooked the morning of that day. In the fancy Patio Palmeras, on the road leading to the famous Pasonanca Park, they serve this meal and they call it Adobong Kangkong.

When I reached home, I finally realized that the toolbox was missing and of course all the tools of the jeep were lost with it. I was furious that some lowdown urchin might have done me in. You call this kind of thing as robbery because the malefactor has to force the thing out by breaking the lock imbedded in it. It felt a little scary realizing that I had just become a victim of a crime. To reconstitute my tool system would mean about a couple of thousand bucks. That is just too much at this point when every penny means a lot. Now I could not drive with enough confidence knowing that I haven’t got the tools needed when something goes wrong. My mind thought about what kind of soul a guy has that he has to do such thing to me. Maybe he needed the money. Or maybe, he needs it for medicine for someone who was in the hospital. You know the usual alibi. Or maybe, it was just a frank on me by the some owners of establishments in the area where I parked the Jeep. Many of these establishment owners feel always as if they own the sidewalk that they can prohibit any vehicle from parking in it. Even if the sidewalk is approximately in front of their stores, they have no right to ban any parking in it except if the government prohibits it in that area or if the particular area blocks a driveway. Maybe the Lord may one day take care of them for doing such devious thing to me. I just have to leave it to the Lord.

Might as well forget about that darn robbery that happened in twilight of that Saturday of my life. You might ask how I was able to cook the Adobong Kangkong meal. Here’s the way to do it.

Buy the following:

300 grams of fresh Kangkong leaves.

2 red bell pepper.
2 cloves of garlic.
2 fresh tomatoes.
2 onions.
1/2 ounce of powdered pepper.
2 ounces of corn oil. If you use olive oil, it will taste even better.
1 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup cane vinegar.

Slice the kangkong leaves into four inches length including the stalks. Minced or slice the red pepper, tomatoes, garlic and onions and set them aside in one place. The stalks are more salacious than the leaves as you will find it later on.

Heat the pan until it the surface smokes a little and pour the corn oil. Sauté the minced spices until the onions become transparent in appearance. After that, pour in the sliced kangkong and simmer with a very slow fire.

While it is simmering, pour the soy sauce and cane vinegar and seasoned with pepper and MSG according to your taste preference. The more pepper poured, the more piquant it would taste. After two or three minutes, the heavenly vegetable is ready to serve. Do not overcook and observe carefully the way the kangkong leaves look while it is simmering. The moment it becomes too soft, you must stop simmering it. It really depends on you if you like a crispier meal. In that case, you have to simmer the leaves for lesser time.

I must warn you that although this may look like a simple meal to cook, in reality, it took me about three cooking experimentations before I made it right. You may experience the same thing. So be patient for the meal is really worth all the fuzz.

This meal is really called Adobong Kangkong so if you know how to make adobong manok, then just apply the same principle in cooking this recipe. You know, the right amount of mixture between soy sauce and vinegar and the right amount of garlic.

I used to order this meal at Patio Palmeras. When the wife and me got married in that place five years ago, I wanted to include Adobong Kangkong among the food served. But at the last minute, we decided against it because who have ever heard of fried kangkong on a wedding day? (a re-post from 2005)