The Family Tree

My dad planted two trees when I was about 4 years old, a peach and an avocado.  My favorite tree was the peach tree because as a kid, it was one fruit that I couldn’t get enough of.  His favorite was the avocado tree.  Over the years, a decision had to be made – which tree to keep as they grew bigger.  There wasn’t room for both trees in the backyard, so the avocado tree won and there went my supply of peaches.

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Here’s a pic of the avocado tree on the left and the peach tree on the right.

You should know that I was introduced to the avocado in a strange way.  My dad liked to mash it up, sprinkle sugar on it and pour milk over it. Being Filipino, he called this his merienda. No one in the family was a fan of this dish so it always served a party of one.  Today I like avocados, but not even sugar could get me to eat them as a kid!

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Me when I was about 5 years old.

It dawned on me that the avocado tree has truly grown up with the family and is like a second sibling to me.  We have various pictures with the tree and of the tree.  It’s been a backdrop for birthday parties, bbqs and backyard shenanigans.  I’m sure the tree would love to tell the story of when my brother and I launched his Hot Wheel cars off of the roof.  (It was my brother’s idea but I was a great cheerleader).

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Avocado tree when it was about 3 years old.

One year, there was a fruit fly infestation that was coming to the area.  We couldn’t give the tree preventative shots or take the tree inside to protect it.  Worried about the health of the tree, my dad found an advertisement for a local forum on the fruit fly.  He attended this meeting along with several community farmers.  They all shared with each other to gain insight to their problems, “How many trees do you have?”. Dad answered, “One”.  They were all growers for local groves of avocado farms and fruit trees.  Dad had a grove of one.  After the initial shock from the farmers that dad had a single tree, they tried to offer him suggestions.  They had ideas, products and suggestions for lots of trees if dad had a farm, but with one tree…it wasn’t going to work.  So dad had a good story to tell family and friends about his interaction with the farmers but ended up concocting his own recipes to help the tree and prayed for the best.  It seemed to do the trick as we still have the tree standing today.  (There’s a recipe for this concoction that has gone through several versions to perfect it, but I was sworn to secrecy!)

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A photo close up of avocados when the tree was about 11 years old.

Another year, I visited my parents and there was tension in the air.  I asked my mom what was the problem and she explained that they had had some plumbing issues.  They were trying to decide if they were going to take care of the problem.  In most houses, this wouldn’t be such a big decision?  Of course you would fix the problem!  But because the pipe ran under the avocado tree, this became an impossible situation.   One thought was to just let that bathroom be non-operational.  That’s not an option in my mind but I guess if you gave my parents a decision of harming their third child vs. fixing their toilet…they just couldn’t bare it.  Luckily another plumber came up with another solution, so they didn’t have to compromise the tree.  It was plumbing or the tree, and the tree won again.  Thankfully the toilet works again too!

Proud dad with his 11 year old youngest kid.
Proud dad with his 11 year old youngest kid.

My dad loves to give avocados to family and friends.  If you express any desire to eat them, you can expect a bag the next time daddy sees you.  They have been gifts to people far and wide.  Recently, a family friend from the Czech Republic asked dad for some avocados to take to her grandmother on a visit.  We weren’t quite sure she could get through the airport checkpoints with an avocado?  She got nervous and gave the carefully brown paper covered grenade-looking item to her husband to take back home with her after dropping her at the airport.  Before he left, he chatted to a TSA agent about the avocados and they said she could take them with her!  So he quickly passed them to her in line and she flew happily Continue reading The Family Tree

Heat Wave Cooking

I don’t mean that I have some fancy schmancy “Heat Wave” or confectioner’s oven or anything.  I am referring to the unbearable heat that Southern California has been experiencing this Summer and into now October!  We’ve had record highs and unusual humid days like the South.  I can’t begin to know for sure how prayers work, but my affinity for the South might have been heard a bit too loudly?!

So in the middle of this heat, I was asked to co-host a baby shower for a dear friend. Three others and myself split up duties of décor, food, games, etc. We managed to plan the entire party via text, which was a first for all of us. Some days, you came back to your phone with 20 messages, but you got the gist of the conversation and knew it was all coming together.  I can’t take credit for anything but the crust-less quiches and having talented friends!  Thanks to my co-hosts Amy, Nancy and Sharon!

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After some discussion, we decided on brunch menu items and I offered to make crust-less quiches. I asked my pal, Debi to help me. She often is the Ethel to my Lucy antics. (Although she has red hair, so we should really think of her as the Lucy!)

On a 100 degree night in Pasadena, we sweat and cooked up the party food in my small bungalow with a window air conditioning unit in the living room. I should add that Debi doesn’t even like eggs. I am really lucky to have friends like Debi in my life. She’s proven it on more than one occasion!

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I decided to make four different quiche-ish dishes. 1. Carmelized onions, prosciutto, gruyere cheese 2. Veggies 3. Spinach, tomatoes, and 4. Meat lovers

Each crust-less quiche is made essentially the same, we used about 8 to 12 eggs depending on the size of the dish that we were baking it in. We whipped eggs with some milk to lighten the eggs and to make sure they were fluffy and well mixed.

IMG_2210We prepped the ingredients for each dish first by roasting the veggies, cooking the sausages and bacon. Nothing like frying up some bacon when your kitchen feels like 400 degrees.

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Oven was set at about 375 degrees. To be honest, we probably didn’t even need to put the food in the oven. It probably would have cooked just fine in the kitchen air.

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You can layer any ingredient of your liking in these quiches. I prefer to roast or cook the ingredients first. The flavor tends to come out more and not just get lost in the eggs plus it’s a good idea to make sure any meat is fully cooked before you bake the quiche.  We also prepped and chopped bite size ingredient pieces so that lady party goers wouldn’t have a long piece of spinach to chew or chomp on a giant piece of eggplant.

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They bake about 15 to 20 mins depending on the size and the amount of layered ingredients. I always stick a fork or a skewer in the middle to make sure they come out clean.  Notice my special cooling racks…we had chairs and stools all over the place to hold dishes cause I don’t have adequate counter space in my 1920’s bungalow kitchen.

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We baked these the night before the party and they definitely would have been better fresh right out of the oven and not re-heated. Nobody seemed to complain though, so let’s just call this a win especially for having not lost a friend in the process or spontaneously combusting from our own body heat.

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Now!  Somebody else have a baby, get married or celebrate something special!  I’ve cooled off and I’m ready to get planning and cooking!