"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

A Filipina's unabashed chronicle of her adaptations in the American kitchen. Includes step-by-step photos on how to make pan de sal, ensaymada, pan de coco, siopao, hopia, pandelimon, pianono, atsara, crema de fruta,etc., and if you are lucky, you will find videos too!

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Friday, September 17, 2004

The Food Chain

Be forwarned: This is not a recipe, not a kitchen tip, nor a health and nutrition tip.

After saying grace before meals, my younger son looked at the food on the table and asked me. "Ma, pwede ako mag-hotdog sandwich?" (I cooked steak, served with the usual boiled potatoes and boiled vegetables, which is the way my husband like his dinner most.)

I quipped," Anak, the best way to show God your appreciation for the food that He gives us is to eat what's on the table and avoid as much as possible wasting anything."

Quite reluctantly, he acquiesced, then, not looking directly into my eyes and with furrowed brows and puzzled look, he asked, "Ma, panong nanggaling ke God yung food? Di ba binili mo yung iba sa Hannaford, tapos yung iba sa garden mo galing? Tapos galing ke Grandma yung beef tsaka eggs natin, tapos yung milk galing ke Aunt Stacey?"

Is this scenario familiar to you? How do you approach it? How do you answer your child's questions?

Here's how I did it. I looked at it as another opportunity to teach my children about how the earth sustains us humans. What I told them was something like the stream of conversation presented below (and I have been repeatedly instilling the lessons in them)...

Do you believe that God created the Universe?


Do you know that the sun and the earth and the other planets are in the Universe?


Hindi ba, kaya tayo kumakain, para me energy kayo pag naglalaro, tumatakbo, nagba-bike, mag-pile ng wood, etc. etc.?


Di ba pag di ka nakakain ng matagal, nanghihina ka, nauubos ang energy mo?


Ganito kasi. Sa planet earth, the energy that we get ultimately comes from the sun, which is in the Universe that God made. But we can't go out on a sunny day and expose ourselves for a long time to try to get energy from the sun directly. That is not possible and will just create cancer of our skin. We have to get the energy indirectly. Here's how we get that energy.

Plants have the capacity to convert the sun's energy into a form usable to humans (and other animals). Some of that energy is stored in fruits (cucumbers, tomatoes, berries, apples, squash, zucchini), flowers (cauliflower, broccoli, squash), a bit in the leaves (pepper, spinach), some in their roots (like camote, potato, carrots, beets). Some plants we can't eat (grass, etc.) can be eaten by cows, goats, chickens, pork, deer, etc. which we can eat.

You see how the cows eat the grass and some other plants...

So we humans eat the stored energy in the plants' fruits and flowers and stems and roots,

Or we humans (and other animals in the upper level of the food chain) eat the animals that eat plants, like the cows that we call beef when it ends up on the dining table.

So if you want to make the same approach to your kids, please do so, and help them become more aware of how our very existence is sustained by the earth.

Here are some links about the

Food Chain and Food Webs (features an interactive food-web making that is printable)


Chain Reaction (What will happen if a living thing is removed in a food chain? Have fun with your kids trying this one.)

These will also help teach your children to respect other forms of life, because in so doing, we are preserving our very own species.

Isiningit ko po itong post na ito in between canning-related posts, despite this being a non-kitchen and a non-recipe post. I just felt the need to share this with mothers like me.


  1. What a wonderful lesson! This is one of the most rewarding parts of motherhood, when you can instill in young minds ideas that make them realize they are part of a much larger world. It's wonderful to watch them realize this. Your conversation with your son reminds me so much of the conversation we had with our daughters when we first moved to N.C. from Los Angeles and my daughter asked, "Dad, who owns all the trees?". I think this conversation lasted for days :)

  2. Hi JMom,
    Yeah, that's one of the rewards that I cherish despite the hardships of parenting and doing most of the household chores where we can't afford a housekeeper...haha! Though madalas I tend to scowl sa kakulitan ng mga bata, when we do things together, I think about what desirable outcome I can have and how to go about it so kids will learn to accept the chores and the rules quite happily and really learn a lot, creating substance in their very person. That's not quite possible when mothers rely heavily on yayas and maids.

  3. That is so true. Although it is a great convenience to have maids and yaya to help out, the daily interaction with your kids and the resulting bond cannot be beat. It is one of the hardest jobs, motherhood, but its rewards are immesurable.
    Thanks for your kind comments on our blog, Jade was really flattered. BTW, tell Patrick she is 11 years old. She has an older sister who is 12, and a younger sister who is 6. They all have blogs too, check out their links from Jade-n-Mom.

  4. Manang, is this cut of beef fr one of your in-law's cows? Kasi dito, they only offer the standing rib roast or hotel style rib roast, bone in, during THEIR holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter)... It's our favorite cut, really juicy and flavorful and so easy to cook. Only need A1 and oyster sauce.

  5. drstel, yap! from my in-law's cow. That piece was my last roast cut for the whole year's beef supply, which I cooked during my older son's 10th birthday. The other roast cuts I have used also for the various holidays/occasions. I have always slow-cooked them in the crockpot, not in the oven. So juicy and yummy!


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