Like many cultures, Filipinos attach great significance to the introduction of a special someone to their immediate family. It’s a signal of deep commitment to the relationship often called “taking it to the next level.”
In BORACAY VOWS, it was extra special for Blake when Krista’s mother invited him to their home in the province of Quezon. Marissa Lopez had been opposed to her daughter being in a relationship with a foreigner. He was understandably nervous right before their meeting but their warm hospitality, which Filipinos are known for, put him at ease immediately. Blake knew things were going to be all right when he and Krista were presented with a feast.
Here’s an excerpt from that meeting:
Krista stroked Blake’s back as they walked, and asked, “You okay?”
“I’m great, baby.” He smiled down at her. “They’re nice—your parents. I like them.”
“I told you—” The sight of their dining table, groaning under the weight of the platters and platters of her favorite dishes, brought her up short. Pancit Malabon, lechon kawali, embutido, menudo, kare kare, lumpiang Shanghai, relyenong bangus, sapin-sapin, maruya, and rice crowded the long table.
In NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT, it was Krista’s turn to be introduced to Blake’s family. That meeting also involved food since it took place at the pub the Ryans co-own with the O’Connors. They serve a fusion of Irish and Filipino dishes since the cook/part-owner Belen O’Connor is from Palawan in the Philippines.
These were the food served as explained by Craig, one of Blake’s brothers who will be the hero of SAMUI HEAT:
“In front of you, Krista, is Guinness caldereta, our version of beef stew. There’s steamed rice, of course. Or brown soda bread, if that’s what you prefer. Next to that is longganisa coddle. Instead of regular bangers, we use the sweeter Filipino pork sausage. Lastly, we have chicken lechon with mushrooms and whiskey-cream sauce. Enjoy.”
Both “Meet the parents” events were successful for Blake and Krista and the at the end of NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT, we see them planning a wedding for the following Christmas in the Philippines.
I will be writing that story soon, so watch out for announcements on publication here. In the meantime, please accept my gift for you this Christmas: the recipe for Longganisa Coddle.
8 ounces thick-cut bacon
8 pork longganisa
1 onion, sliced
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (substitute with 2 tablespoons dried if fresh is not available
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pieces dried bay leaves
3 cups chicken broth
my secret ingredient: patis (fish sauce) to taste
1. Cook bacon in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towel-lined plate; cut into 1-inch pieces. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon drippings.
2. Add longganisa to saucepan; cook about 10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove to paper towel-lined plate; leave whole.
3. Add onions to saucepan; cook ad stir about 8 minutes or until translucent. Return bacon and sausages to saucepan. Add carrots, potatoes, parsley, bay leaves, and thyme; sprinkle generously with pepper. Pour broth over vegetables; bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to low; partially cover and simmer about 1 hour 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add fish sauce to taste. Sprinkle with additional parsley, if desired. Serve with rice or soda bread.
*Recipe adapted from Irish Pub Food by Publication International, Ltd.
New York Engagement
Love takes you to unexpected places
Krista Lopez has traveled from the white sands of Boracay Island to the bright lights of New York City for love. Once again out of her element, Krista embraces Carpe diem as a motto. With her boyfriend by her side, she has confidence to take on The Big Apple and the prospect of ...
Meeting the Parents
Blake Ryan won the approval of his girlfriend’s conservative family when they met in the Philippines. Now, he’s eager to introduce the woman he loves to his Irish-American clan. To share his past with her as he prepares to ask her to be part of his future. But an urgent call in the middle of the night reminds him that things can change ...
In a New York Minute
A terrible crime and his family’s mixed reception of Krista conspire to derail their plans for a stress-free vacation. Will the circumstances cool Krista and Blake’s romance? Or will they seize the day and strengthen their bond?
With a poet for a grandfather, a short-story writer/teacher for a mother, and a voracious reader for a father, Maida's new career as a writer is a natural fit. Spouse to a USAF Veteran and mother to a kid who loves Texas and Super Mario, Maida writes multicultural contemporary romances set all over the world. At some point in her life, Maida has lived and worked in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States so it's not surprising those are favorite locations for her novels.
The holiday celebrations of my youth were a conglomeration of American, European, and Caribbean customs. Even with that mishmash of generations, languages, and foods, we took it all very seriously. Fine china, sparkling silver, and our best dresses were absolutes.
As an adult, and with my own family, I’ve personalized many of these traditions, often dropping the formality altogether. Thanksgiving and Christmas are perfect examples. I haven’t had turkey in a decade, because no one likes it. Blasphemy, I know!
The dishes on my table these days represent that same love for adding a special twist. My spicy black beans are a perfect example. In my upcoming release, Consenting Adults, I include this dish in a very unusual Thanksgiving celebration. (You’ll have to read the book to find out the extent of the craziness.) An eclectic group of friends adopt each other as family and create a cherished ritual imbued with their personalities.
This is a situation I understand quite well. For my family, my spicy black beans represent a nourishing and delicious dish that honors our Caribbean background and our American home. It is shared with my soul family—born and found—as part of the ever-changing celebration.
One of the difficulties in sharing this with you is the fact that no recipe exists. I learned to cook beans the way all the women in my family did, I believe. By watching, by adding my own unique twist, by testing and tasting and evolving. During my years as a vegan, I omitted the requisite ham hock, but these days, I crave that smoky, rich flavor. Some years, it’s a soup, while others it’s a stew.
The coolest part of this recipe is the ability to make it what you need. I know that many families find comfort in the predictability of long-standing traditions. I’ve been honored to share in many of these, and I approach them like a child seeing snow for the first time. It’s fun and interesting and heartwarming. For me, it represents a connection to the past and the ultimate changeability of the future.
From my family to yours, I send you a hearty hug, the warmth of loved ones, and something in your belly that puts a smile on your face.
PE Kavanagh’s Spicy Black Beans
1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and picked over to remove any stones
1 ½ green peppers, stemmed and seeded
10 garlic cloves
1 smoked ham hock
2 bay leaves
5 teaspoons salt, or to taste
¼ cup olive oil
4 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, diced
1-2 jalapeños, stemmed and finely chopped (depends on how spicy you like it)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1. Soak the black beans overnight. Drain the water.
2. Cut 1 green pepper into a small dice. Finely chop 4 of the garlic cloves. Put the green pepper and garlic into a large pot with the beans, ham hock, bay leaves. Add 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer until the beans are tender, approximately 2-3 hours.
3. Meanwhile, make a sofrito. Dice the remaining ½ green pepper. Finely chop the remaining garlic. Heat the olive oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the green pepper and onion and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño (leave out the seeds if you don’t want it too spicy. I keep mine in ;) ), oregano, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, tomato paste and 2 teaspoons salt and stir for another minute. Pour in the vinegar and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. This is your sofrito.
4. When the beans are cooked, discard the bay leaf. Remove and set aside the ham hock and let it cool. Pull the meat from the ham hock, leaving behind any tough or gristly bits. Chop the ham into small pieces and return it to the bean pot. Add the sofrito.
5. Stir the beans well and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so, skimming any foam from the top. Taste for salt and spice before serving.