14 January 2014

Vegan Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna

For a want of a simple dinner after consuming holiday festivity foods in the last weeks of 2013 and during the New Year celebration, here's my vegan take with a noodle.

It is best to prepare the following ingredients for a stress-free cooking activity. You can use other brands and add or lessen measurements of listed ingredients here. The fact is, I often change my measurements or do not use it at all. I like variety. But we need a recipe so that we, especially me, will not forget. Use this then as a guide as well as to remember me by (ha,ha,ha!).

Ingredients/Instructions (and set aside all prepared ingredients)

12 Pieces Lasagna Noodles (Boil/cook/prepare according to the brand's instructions. A piece of noodle is about 11 inches long.)

180-250 Grams Fresh Spinach (If leaves are needed to be washed, please wash them in water and sea salt solution or water with distilled vinegar, then dry them up. Fresh spinach must be DRY, not soggy, when we preparing this recipe. Try to prewash leaves a few hours before baking or dry them with paper towels.) 

300 Grams Fresh Button or Crimini Muhrooms or combine, both (Clean and slice them; not too thin, not too thick)

1 Medium size Yellow Onion (Peel and chop coarsely)

6 Gloves Garlic (Peel, crush, and slice thinly or mince the garlic)

2 1/4 Cups Almond(/Coconut/Soy) Milk (I used the Silk brand, original formula, which is a little sweet)

1/2 Cup Vegetable Soup Stock

1/4 Cup Applesauce or Chutney

1/4 Cup precooked Garbanzos (You use the cooked canned ones)

1/2 Cup Sweet (Green) Peas

2-3 Tbsps Cornstarch (liquify with very little water)

1/4 Cup (or more) Vegan Butter

1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger (peel skin and mince)

1 Tsp Crushed Black Pepper, 2 Tbsps Dried Parsley, 2 Tbsps Dried Basil, 1 Tbsp natural Sea Salt, and (Optional:) 1 Tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce and 1 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother.

Cooking the Mushroom Sauce
        Place the butter and garlic together in the hot saucepan. If pan is too hot, just lift it up from the stove to cool a bit and, at the same time, melting the butter. When the garlic starts to smell, put the mushrooms in the pan. Mix them well with the butter, gently. (Try not to burn what you're cooking by adjusting the heat or gas flame too.) Cook for three minutes. Then pour the milk and soup stock onto the pan and put the applesauce or chutney, black pepper, parsley, basil, sea salt, and soy sauce. Stir. Stir often to avoid curdling of the milk. When near boiling point, add the liquid cornstarch, stir gently well; be sure that the bottom is not solidifying. (Be sure to check your heat temperatures or flame too.)  Cook for about a minute or two by gentle, yet thorough stirring. Turn off heat or flame and set aside cooked filler sauce.

Lasagna Filling Preparation and Baking
         Preheat oven to 375 (do not go over this temperature).
         Place some chopped onions on the bed of your glass pyrex (about 11x7x1.5 IN). cover it with Lasagna noodles (3 pieces, side by side). Top first layer with spinach leaves, about 2-3 layers of greens; it's up to you. Then place mushroom sauce and sprinkle with onions, garbanzos and peas. Cover this first level by laying the next set of lasagna, then spinach leaves, mushroom sauce, some onions, a few garbanzos and peas. Repeat the layering process for two more levels. Top the last layer set of noodles with the remaining mushroom sauce and sprinkle garbanzos and sweet peas.
          Bake Lasagna for 25-30 minutes. Take out from oven when cooked and let settle for about 5-7 minutes before eating. Enjoy!

Note: The sauce should be "light" so that 3 Tbsps of cornstarch is sufficient.

06 October 2011

Seeds for "American Spring"?

 Were you glad to see people protesting against Wall Street?

Protesters has identified themselves as part of "99%", and aim to, by non-violent tactics of the so-called Arabian Spring, fight the greed and corruption of the current to 1%. The top 1% are Americans who control 40% of the wealth, 24% of US income, over 50% of US stocks, and just 5% of US personal debt.

So someone puts forward these questions that you and me may answer. What are the diverse agendas that are presently gathering beneath the fortress of the US financial district, stretching from post-modern liberals to anarchists to billionaires like Warren Buffet who contend that Americans are already deeply entrenched in class warfare (and that his class is "killing the rest of us)?  How can we wipe the tear gas from our eyes and find the clarity and context for a protest that could very will be planting the seeds for a genuine "American Spring"?

And before or while you ponder on this circumstance, Why Me Generation Should Care About Wall St  and  A Proposed Demand For Occupy Wall Street could add more window view to Wall Street landscape.

22 December 2010

15 February 2010

"Burke Lecture: Buddhism in the Global Age of Technology"

I am an ordinary person and I recommend Lewis Lancaster's talk (UC-B) on the wisdom of Buddhism at this "digital age . . . our crisis on cosmology and causation (if clicking underlined words doesn't work, click below) to all people interested on existence and technology, Buddhist or non-Buddhist. 


01 August 2009

Melancholic August

The eight month of the Gregorian calendar, August, was Sextillus or Sextilis in ancient Rome. By 8 BC it was renamed in honor of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus whose powerful rule can be viewed propitious to Rome and her allies, but woeful to the vanquished like Alexandria which fell in this month. Beyond antiquity, many people regard August as just any other month with commonplace nuances, pleasant or unpleasant, or both. Personally, the eight month still fills me with foreboding.

Let me share a few aids that created my ominosus for August. While growing up and August nears, my parents usual admonition is to brace for the driest store period of the year. That meant weeks without week-end movies or coca-cola during school recess or new superhero comics, more vegetables in home chow, more recycling of old newspapers into "b&w" bags (as in brown bags), and stricter behavior of “waste not” rules on food to electricity and water. At this early time in my life too there were two episodes on mother which were retold many times later by kith and kin. That one hot afternoon while my ma and sister tend to the store and the sun drying of palay laid out on mats at the patio across the street, they saw a hen pecking the grains. Mama left her post and crossed the street. As she was shooing the poultry away, both hen and mama got hit by a truck. And a few years later on an august night, mama fearlessly fought one of the five armed robbers who stormed the grocery store. My adult encounters started tearfully on August 21 of 1983 when hubby and me heard the radio news about the late senator Benigno Aquino’s assassination. A year after, I discovered on an August afternoon that all photos of my youth and pages of favored books have simply been food to Marikina termites. Then on August 1st of 1997, back in the Bikol region, fire reduced to ashes half of Magsaysay house which includes my MA thesis file and lots of wonderful objects. More recent, mama peacefully passed away on August of 2006. By the end of those dog days of August of that same year, my youngest daughter and me immigrated to North America. And in 2007, I got the final diagnosis of cancer. It's not the "settle your affairs" sort of cancer, but the "treatment is going to change you forever" kind that is like an echoing voice announcing my mortality. Sure, it's coincidence that blue events fell on Augustus. Yet my mind brews premonition whenever I’m aware of the eight month.

I fought thoughts or feelings of bad omen by end-running, whereupon only a cycle of defeat-resist followed. Yes, stupid phase. Then about three years ago, I put to good use what I know decades back—“surrender“. Relearning the route to “surrender” and unlearning non-attachment proved to be difficult at this age. But I didn’t give in to impatience and wanderings. And I was kinder to my self. Before long, I loosened up, allowing whatever thought or emotion at that moment to pervade my being or self or mind. I started to spend time at ease. With slow quietness I noticed my self “within” or “a part of”, and at the same time, "observing" decelerating thoughts and emotions. Though my hypo-hyperthyroid condition and medications limit me, I can say, my awareness is getting keener these days. I am still on the journey. However, the hovering dark clouds
have, one by one, drifted away and disappeared.

Indeed doggy days have assets too like imbibed thrift, industry, tolerance, compassion, generosity, and flexibility as well as appreciation for simple life, good health, friendship or healthy relationships, diversity, sensibleness, and pragmatism. Add optimism—for months of plenty ensues August such as the Penafrancia fiesta, All Souls’ Day, Heroes day, Halloween, to the Christmas season. Or after a storm, sunny days follow. August shows that certain people and natural calamities can deprive you of money or things and even hurt you, but never can those steal your courage and compassion. Although money was lost and mama suffered bruises, she and pa pardoned the robbers (who were caught two years after the hit). Mama survived eyes surgery and broken ribs due to the truck accident and she waived the legal case against the snoozy driver who has nine children. Mother lived well until age 97. We saw the positive karmic effects of the death of ex-senator Benigno Aquino -- 1986 People power and the moral leadership of ex-president Corazon Aquino (wife of Benigno) that paved the road back to Philippine democracy. All those stories are, seen with today's sight, reminders of impermanence and interdependence of all that exist so that struggle and renewal make up human life.

Today I’m with my family in North America. The family is coping well in spite of the economic recession and state job furloughs. I’m a cancer survivor. I plan to continue life in the Philippines sometime in the near future. I continue to engage myself with my own mindfulness practice. Yes, I am happy. Yes, August remains to infuse me with foreboding. However, only for a moment, and only if I let it.

As I was writing this on the 1st of August 2009, the Filipino tube announced that the first lady president of the Philippines, Corazon C. Aquino had just died. (She had colon cancer.)The late president Corazon C. Aquino is considered as the mother of Philippine democracy for her key role in uniting the Filipinos in1986 that ousted from power former president Ferdinand Marcos. To the Aquino family, my condolences. Salamat, tita Cory! (Thank you, tita Cory!)

28 April 2009

Bacteria: Basic Lessons

The video shows how sophisticated bacteria are, and humans can learn a thing or two from the many implications of this latest finding for science, medicine, or industry. Bonnie Bassler and her group at Princeton New Jersey did the study.

21 February 2009

"Why is there measurement?"

Why is there measurement? Many people consider that as one of the many self-evident questions and need no explanation but they are often a challenge to answer. I think it is sometimes helpful to ask these plain queries and dig right onto them. Well my “why is there measurement” turned up this morning.

The thought of the upcoming actual driving test woke me up. I noticed annoyance emerging then hanged around, and in less than a minute, passed away. So I asked myself why this irritation for the test? In brief (I’m still in bed), I ended with: (1.) That my annoyance came from pride; I have been driving since the 80s with no moving violation record (I have an expired New Jersey and a valid Philippines DL IDs), but I haven’t driven in the USA for a long while. (2.) A readiness to comply with California DMV’s actual driving test. (3.) Besides social agencies’ demand to gauge or assess and compute roles to ensure security or peace and order of the society, among other things, why do we measure? Or why is there measurement?

Apparent reasons of measurements are furthered by moneytization so that even essentially free resources such as water and air -- because they are flowing, transient, ephemeral, or impermanent -- are accessed, packaged, and commercially sold to those who can afford to buy them. Learning, caring for the young and the elderly, the sick, illness and disease, health, or death are treated as market-profit opportunities. Lovers, couples, families, friends, and neighbors interpret and determine love or respect through convenience, subservience, control, or access to power/resources. One way to deal with problems mentioned or certain issues on what should government or business corporations should do or not do, is to ask “why is there measurement?, “why is there government?” or “what is the fundamental purpose of law?, “why is there air?” or “why is there water?”, “why is there an economy?” or “why is there a nation?” Try it. Discuss it with other people, especially. You’ll find out that what looks self-evident doesn’t stand up to close inspection.

Indeed, without knowledge of dimension, size, quantity, amount, extent, depth, width, breadth, length, weight, volume, area, magnitude, height, and so on of things and phenomena -- we would not be enjoying the comfort brought by the new science and technology as well as some understanding of and that better our selves and relationships, others, and our world.

Indeed, to reflect on “why is there measurement?” questions keep us from getting diverted or lost in details or confused in translations.

10 December 2008


I just read yahoo’s e-headline today, Wednesday 10th of December.

The World Health Organization (WHO) discloses that cancer would be the world's leading source of death by 2010, Associated Press medical writer Mike Stobbe reports (9 Dec. 2008). The existing staggering diagnosis approximations impacted gravity to readers like myself especially when populations of China, India, and Russia were added. Smoking is pinpointed as main causal of cancer.

While reading that news something rings in my mind, a gut-feel, that's near to “danger”. The cortical feeling arises not only out of my cancer mode or hypothyroid state. Or because I read a well-documented book about an industry’s greed at the expense of human’s well-being, even of life itself. Or due to the economic recession here in USA.

The story sounds newsy, a PR marketing prep to "create disease" in our emotionally driven minds, to quote pharmaceutical products advertising gurus themselves, Robert Chandler and Gianfranco Chicco. They also said that the “ultimate goal” is “to sell the consumer a message or product without the consumer even being aware that a ’sell’ is taking place” (Melody Peterson, Our Daily Meds, 2008; Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux: USA).

Although I take conspiracy theories with the tongue in my cheek, I'm beginning to open my mind to what others are saying (even from Kevin Trudeau) about the pharmaceutical industry's influence on the FDA, politicians, medical institutions and its practitioners, health and medical insurance companies, medical/health educational and research institutions, and other (public/private) organizations that share this industry's profits (directly and indirectly) through bribery, gifts, donations, funding, grants, "extras", "fringes", payroll, exchange deal, samples, aid, sponsorship, advertisement fees, and the likes. For one, pharma products and their ads are all over the place. Two,so many new diseases keep coming out that some of them sound stupid like, restless legs syndrome.

So why wasn’t I impress to know that WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer director Peter Boyle released this not-so-novel-cancer-update at a news conference and appearing together with officials from the American Cancer Society, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Cancer Institute of Mexico? Why am I not move by their statements: “If we take action, we can keep the numbers from going where they would otherwise go," from the cancer society officer John’s Seffrin. Or “Cancer is one of the greatest untold health crises of the developing world," according to president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Dr. Douglas Blayney, and "Few are aware that cancer already kills more people in poor countries than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. If current smoking trends continue, the problem will get significantly worse” And I didn't wonder on Komen’s chief executive Hala Moddelmog comment, “Where you live shouldn't determine whether you live.”

Why is smoking the lone cause marker for cancer? I think they targeted the cigarette industry because it is a dying industry in well-developed countries. The failure to mention and emphasize other variables that lead to cancer (and other illnesses and diseases)that are more prevalent and more damaging in terms of market duration availability and usage by humans - indeed make WHO story a twitter that plays on people‘s fear primarily. Another is the absence of a “real” view of cancer and prevention tips to organizing steps to stop both global corporations and small local businesses from manufacturing hazardous or harmful products and technologies that create or tweak illnesses in human genes of this generation to future generations.

The following are the most cited factors that cause cancer or chronic illnesses: 1) The accumulation of toxins (types: cellular toxicity, heavy metal and chemical toxicity, and toxic build up in the colon) that creates metabolism imbalance in the human or animal body - making fertile environments for cancer growth; (2) stress; and (3) unhealthy lifestyle. I suggest that when you do your search regarding these matters or any type of perceiving (this blog included) always check the presence of patron(s)and funding agencies or organizations behind faces, names, titles, stories, activities, content, and shadows. A little dose of cynicism would make us healthy and wise.

Oh, cancer is considered a chronic illness (not disease) like diabetes. Meaning, some treatment may always be required. Cancer is considered too, like many other illnesses, by respectable physicians and scientists curable if the body's affected organ(s) or system(s)is not severed and compromised to a point of no return. And yes, there are inclusive cancer cures that work as combination of conventional and alternative(s) do like, healthy nutrition and conventional radiation treatment or alternative therapy and traditional surgery (last resort please).

18 September 2008

Boredom & raison d'etre

A text message from an acquaintance reads: I agree with you - truly intelligent persons don’t get bored - since they’re concerned with raison d'etre.

Her sensibleness gladdens me but after a sec, a qualm arises. I’m unsure if her raison d'etre or “reason for being” means the same with or comes close to my understanding of it.

If you like to lessen or get rid of boredom, to expand/deepen experience, or just to know the reason for an emotion or thought, it might help to ask your self why you're having this feeling or notion at this moment. (You’ll be surprise where this leads you.) So that when you say, “I’m so bored” or “that movie is boring,“ be aware to follow that with a question like, why am I feeling bored or why did I think that that object is boring.

I believe that boredom, always through emotive expression, emerges from our view of the world with emphasis on “what is” or “what should be”. When relations or others come up against our own view, one of our reactions is boredom.

Boredom is a reaction to a stimulus, and may very well project our expectations (with oneself and from others - onto living beings, beliefs or definitions, ideas, activities, happenings, objects, environs, etcetera). Expectations can be a baggage full of our sense of self. And where we are is crucial to who we are. So that to question one's boredom (which, if practice constantly, might just end it) is vital to one's happiness.

Oh, I didn’t ask my sensible acquaintance to clarify her raison d’etre.

15 May 2008

On High Gas Prices and transport strikes

My email last week contained a sundry on spiking prices of gas and foods especially from KAIBAnews (an ‘Egroup of Bikolanos‘). The site had this 'voting' for or against the May 12 Philippine transport strike. I sent KAIBAnews a brief comment about high gas and food prices since these not only made world news, but these issues concern us all. This is to reiterate my ordinary denizen position.

I agree with KAIBAnews Rey Bilo when he wrote that the issue of gasoline's spiraling prices is everyone's problem. North Americans are greatly affected by the weekly or monthly price hike. (World Bank cited USA as number one oil consumer in the planet.) In various parts of California (the state is as big as the Philippines by land area) the running cost per gallon of gas is $3.85 to 4.28. And like in the Philippines, the minimum wage has not kept pace with the high cost of commodities, not just gasoline. Repercussions of higher gas prices during an economic slow-down had truly impacted North Americans. Directly affected transport cost lifted up prices of food and groceries. There is the on-going mortgage foreclosures to thousands of homeowners that can bring about the collapse of the real estate market. We can also mention the rising rate of unemployment and the weakening of the dollar value.

Of course, we all know why oil prices are hiking up and may continue to for a while, like the cause of supply and demand and commodities traders. News sources cites the surging demands from developing countries, China and India specifically, contribute largely to raise oil prices. Reports point to the reduction of oil supply from Nigeria and Iraq as another cause. The decline of the dollar is a factor too. For oil money is denominated in dollars so that the 40% decline in the dollar has surge pressure upwards for oil prices, according to BBC news (07 May 2008, Oil Price May Hit $200 a Barrel). Oil trading on the commodities futures exchange is said to be the main reason this year. The prices in commodities trading fluctuates every day, depending on how investors play with it or how they see the oil price in the future. Reports say that the increase in investment money are going into commodities markets. Perhaps the real estate investors are heavily investing in oil futures. But shouldn't this heavy investment stabilize oil prices?

Anyway, I voted against the transport strike— as a method to, as Kaiba Rey wrote, "ipamate sa gobyerno an kadipisilan na itatao sa halos semanang pag taas kan presyo nin gasolina" (to let the government know our difficulties brought about by the weekly rise of gasoline prices). Such might be the case since oil prices affect gas prices. (I don't know the numbers in the Philippines, but in North America, news reports disclosed that crude oil accounts for 55% of the price of gasoline and 45% are influences from distribution lines and taxes. The last two are described to be 'usually stable,' and the need for maintenance or when lines are disrupted, which are 'occasionally',increase gas prices even when oil prices are low.) However, can Pinoys tell the government by other ways? Would silent protests be better? Should we silently organize ourselves and think of means to go on with our daily activities with lessened dependency on fossil resources (from personal lifestyle to producing and designing foods, goods, services, and infrastructures for the community)? Can we think of practical creation/"new" ways to generate energy or its substitutes? As said beforehand, gas' rising prices affect all of us; it is interlinked with the human waste or abuse of fossil resources which, at the same time, grossly deplete reserves (so fast as to empty earth of it in less than 40 years from today), ’empower’ only a few humans/structures, and contribute to the planet's pollution and dwellers' ill health. Besides the Pinas government's lack of money, even if Pinoys reduce gas consumption,which sources approximated to 30-35% per barrel, this would not bring prices down.

It is time, as my friend wrote to me, to look for a radical approach to this problem as well as to our social dysfunctional systems. Radical here,my perspective, takes the whole, not partial approach. Long term solutions, with sustainability. This is applicable to the Philippines whose problems are compounded.

And let us not expect leadership from institutions. Let us look for leaders from charismatic groups or individuals that are comparable to Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or the Dalai Lama. They think global but act local, starting with self by lessening to loosing ego.