domestic goddess for real

By Denise Rayala of ROYAL DOMESTICITY

In this modern world of canned, bottled and processed foods, preparing a bountiful feast for our loved ones can be done gracefully in a jiffy. Say, dialing the phone with manicured finger nails? Culinary-impaired individuals would say “it’s the thought that counts”, but those who could whip up gourmet dishes with one eye closed might say otherwise.

I, as a self-proclaimed domestic queen, would proudly say:  Both statements aforementioned are wrong.

Although it is practical to prepare meals that are products of what’s-available-in-the-grocery-cupboard, there are health risks we don’t want to actually discuss about. On the other hand, extravagantly-cooked dishes will eat time, effort and money; something hard to spare these toxic days. Sounds discouraging, isn’t it? Don’t lose heart for your pots, pans and spatula yet. Please allow me to turn the knob of fate 180 degrees and have you believe that you can be a [frugal] kitchen goddess; modestly but frankly speaking, like me.

This is my story.

I was in 5th grade when I first learned how to cook on my own. Mom was a widow with four mouths to feed, so she was barely home, working hard for us. I searched our tiny but organized kitchen on what I could prepare for lunch. I saw mongo (mung bean) sprouts in our vegetable crisper; I also found some tofu, just below the freezer. I sautéed it as I have observed how Sandy Daza do it in his cooking show, and I thought it was good. But when my younger brother finally ate, he told me it was too sweet. I didn’t feel bad, as I liked my food that way then. It was still satisfying enough to see that he finished his full plate without me prodding him to do so.

Some may see the whole cooking scenario as mundane and uninteresting, but when I first faced my mom’s stove and felt the warm steam on my face, I felt truly alive! My senses felt its worth ― my eyes saw how a garlic so pallid turned into beautiful golden brown chips, I smelled the sweet aroma of white onion strips cooked in low heat, and heard that sizzling sound fresh juicy tomatoes make when added into the pan. To say that I felt I reached the end of the line of a 21k marathon when I saw my picky-eater brother wolfed down his food is an understatement. I knew I will be good at this that I didn’t make everything a big deal.

Fast forward to my man-hunting days, although I knew feeding these always-hungry beasts, is the fastest way to their hearts, I didn’t cook for them (uhm… if my memory serves me right though, heehee). I was thinking I’d do this for “the one”.

Are you rolling your eyes now in disbelief? Hahaha!

Really, that’s how things went when I finally met my food-lover “solja” (soldier!) boy. With the aim to impress him (and eventually make him realize I’m wife material! Haha!), I asked him what his favorite dishes were and learned to cook them.

Can you relate now? Why do things you normally found normal become suddenly special when done for the one who got your heart?

Simple ― it makes you happy to see him happy.

Doing what you love = Loving those you do it for

My passion for cooking started whenever my then-boyfriend would come home from his military assignment. He would always complain about the bland and water-like fish soups he’d eaten at the camp, so I made sure I fed him healthy and delicious meals whenever he would be with me. (But, to be very honest, I was a struggling underpaid TV network employee that a kilo of shrimp would amount to a week’s transportation allowance, or two sticks of butter would rather be for my mobile phone’s prepaid credits!) I knew we could not always have fast food for dinner. I read food sections in my posh lifestyle magazines and I researched recipes with affordable ingredients that I could easily find in the supermarket.

I improvised; I did my best to make things work. This, for me, made me the kitchen goddess that I am now.

Everything we do, especially if it’s for the one we love (whether it is your partner, parents, friends, kids or YOU), must reflect the way we feel towards them. So yes, I am encouraging you to serve a dish for the people you truly care about for dinner today. It doesn’t need to be as complicated as Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon or as lavish as something served in a hotel’s buffet. The small effort to veer away from anything simply fried or poked from a can is enough to make things blissful for you and your family.

Now to answer this question ― can one really be a domestic goddess?

Oh, indeed! Are you ready to be one?

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P.S. Share your food photos with us on Instagram, OK? Please use this hashtag #makeitblissful when you do. Happy cooking!