Category: Food Source

Rise of Parakeets

Parakeet in Childshill, London, photo by PH Morton

Rise of Parakeets

More and more wild parakeets are seen freely flying and nesting all around London.  I first saw parakeets on top of a tree at Hyde Park four years ago.  I thought they were not really a natural bird for cold UK.

As much as they are so lovely to look at, there are some negative implications to our local birds.

Dandelion

Through whayt fierce incarnations, furled
In fire and darkness, did I go,
‘Ere I was worthy in the world
To see a dandelion grow?

– G k Chesterton

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Dandelion
Photo by Jean Morton

April 2014 032

Dandelion Flower
Photo by Jean Morton

Yellow Dandelion Photo by PH Morton

Yellow Dandelion
Photo by PH Morton

 Dandelion "Clock" By PH Morton

Dandelion “Clock”
By PH Morton

Seeding Dandelion By PH Morton

Seeding Dandelion
By PH Morton

Dandelions are perennial plants, which are treated more like pernicious weeds in British gardens.  Dandelions grow wildly in lawns and pavement cracks.  They can be hard to uproot as they anchor themselves into the ground with unbelievable tenacity.

Dandelion got its name from the French’s dent-de-lion which literally means ‘lion’s teeth.  The lion’s teeth, of course, refers to the shape of dandelion’s serrated leaves (see topmost photo).

Did you know?

The young leaves of dandelions are edible.  They can be eaten as salad sprinkled with some crunchy lardons and croutons.  It is advised to choose the really young leaves before the dandelion flowers start to appear; the more mature leaves tend to be slightly bitter.

 

Pili Nut Brittle ~Recipe~

Pili Nut brittle, photo by JMorton

Pili Nut brittle, photo by JMorton

In my opinion, Pili nut is the king or queen of all nuts.  Its taste is something that you will appreciate.  It is delicious, it is actually indescribable.  It is buttery and floury with its clean nuttiness, if that make sense! 🙂  Once you have tasted it, it is almost impossible not to be hooked.

We were in Bicol when I had my first taste of pili nuts courtesy of my extraordinarily generous, angelic sister, Marilou.  She said it was delicious and it was.

We bought jars of the pili nuts and loads of pili tarts.  I am afraid I did not really like the pili tarts.  I thought there were not enough pili nuts over a rather tough and chewy dough which doesn’t really taste much as it was rather bland.

Anyway, when I unpacked our luggage from the Philippines, I found a jar of the pili nut.  I tarted eating it while watching back-to-back episodes of The Good Wife.  Well I finished the jar before the second episode of this favourite show.  It was so good; you won’t stop at just a small handful.

It might be hard to get Pili nuts from just any shop because it is not widespreadly farmed just yet. Only the Philippines do it commercially.

Lance Catedral from Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines - pili nut

Lance Catedral from Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines – pili nut

Canarium ovatum, commonly known as pili, is a species of tropical tree belonging to the genus Canarium. It is one of approximately 600 species in the family Burseraceae. Pili are native to maritime Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, and Northern Australia. They are commercially cultivated in the Philippines for their edible nuts. (Wikipedia)

If you happen to get lucky and find raw pili nuts, there is no better recipe to cook it with than as a Pili nut brittle.

Below is the recipe from http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Crispy-Pili

Pili Nut Brittle ~Recipe~

Pili, Photo by JMorton

Pili, Photo by JMorton

Ingredients

2 cups of raw pili nuts
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil

Part 1
Prepare the Pili nuts

1. Boil water in a saucepan. Bring the water to a full boil.

2. Add the Pili nuts to the boiling water.

3. When the skin of the Pili nuts starts to peel off, stop the cooking process.

4. Remove all of the Pili from the water.

5. Peel the skins from the nuts.

Part 2
Cooking the Pili nuts

1. Add vegetable oil to a clean saucepan.

2. Add the Pili nuts.

3. Fry the Pili nuts. Be sure to constantly stir the nuts while frying.

4. Add sugar when the Pili nuts are golden brown.

5. Caramelize the sugar. Allow the caramelized sugar to coat the nuts.

6. Remove the Pili nuts from the heat. Be sure they’re coated in the caramelized sugar evenly and thoroughly!

Let is cool; caramelised sugar is dangerously hot.

Time to enjoy (and share?!!!)

Birabid

I spent my childhood in Marag, the eden then of the Philippines.

Birabid, photo by JMorton


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My young Manilanian palate was greatly challenged by exotic fare found in Marag. One I remember most were the birabids. Birabids are fresh water shellfish which we used to gather from our rice fields just after the palay had been planted. They are tiny, the size of petits pois. They were easy to spot as they produce bubbles on the surface of the watery rice paddy.

They are washed and salted and left to ferment for at least a couple of days. They were eaten with boiled rice. I must admit the taste takes getting used to. I would say it was pretty disgusting at first because of its fishy and very salty taste, but you develop an appetite for it.

My mother does not like them so she did not use to make them but my Auntie Caring did and used to send a bowl of it for my father, who liked it. The birabids are eaten whole with their soft crunchy shells.

Lovely.

One for the bucket list:  To try  birabid again to see if it tastes just like I remember it.