"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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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Make Biodiesel out of Used Cooking Oil

I had been very lazy to blog about food lately, and I have not even started packing for my trip to Canada!

But last night, I somehow got into reading about biofuel and biodiesel.

We all have heard about global warming...many of us want to contribute to delaying if not preventing its catastrophic effects.

I read about how the Philippines has been making biodiesel and how it targets to be a major supplier to developed countries...As usual and as I expected, there is a huge manufacturing company involved, making use of coconut oil. Of course, this does minimal to help alleviate poverty, and while it provides job opportunities for coconut farmers, it does not address the potential of recycling used cooking oil and EMPOWERING the ordinary people. I read in a forum about some Filipinos already homebrewing it, but the latest was 2004. Was there a move by the government to suppress household production of biodiesel?

I PLAN TO SOMEDAY MAKE BIODIESEL out of used cooking oil collected from nearby restaurants (if I can get them for free). But, thinking of how ubiquitous carinderias, eateries, and small restaurants in the Philippines are, I could not help but post about it here. For a start, it will be a very good science project for high school students, not only because of the issue of recycling, but also looking into the issues of alternative fuels and less carbon emission into the environment to lessen global warming, use of resources naturally abundant in the Philippines, and empowering even the common household in my beloved country in that they, too, can lessen their need for fossil fuels and can even start generating income from this (if government allows).

Why I want the high school science project as a starting point -- the high school students usually have the right chemistry background and guidance; they can easily request to "haul away for free" the waste cooking oil used by restaurants (who would be glad to get rid of the "waste" without having to pay for disposal, and who would shy away from charging the students a fee); and they can easily generate funds through solicitation letters for other materials/equipment they would need to make the project.

The diagram for the process is shown here. The biodieselcommunity.org provides a very comprehensive resource for those who want to make it on a small scale (as small as a liter) or on a larger scale.

The small batch making is simple enough to be carried out using ordinary materials (and that's how I plan to start). Families who wish to make it on a larger scale (but still small compared to the big oil manufacturers) might find use of the diagram of the "Appleseed Processor found here (needs some engineering/plumbing know-how - I am expecting that a lot of scientifically-inclined Filipino HS students will find this interesting). Negotiating for Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) is a very interesting read for gathering the most important raw material, but this will be needed only if families start making their own biodiesel out of WVO from nearby restaurants.

For the common household who want to experiment first to come up with one liter of biodiesel, here is a recipe, from the "World Famous Dr. Pepper Technique." (Dr. Pepper is the soda brand of the bottle they used in this process.)

World Famous DR Pepper Technique (Pat Pend)
The idea for the Dr Pepper Technique came about one day many years ago (it seems) when I was trying to figure out an inexpensive way of making my first few test batches of biodiesel.

I will assume that if you are reading this for the information then you are new to Biodiesel making, so just a few words of caution:



SODIUM HYDROXIDE (Caustic soda, NaOH, lye) can cause severe burns and death. wash off with water.

Long-sleve shirt, full shoes and trousers are recommended, no shorts or sandals.
Wear chemical proof gloves, apron, and eye protection.
Always have running water available to wash off any splashes.

Now that I have managed to scare you, just realize that Methanol is the fuel used in most Model airplanes. In the USA methanol is available in small quantities as HEET brand fuel line antifreeze (Yellow bottle)
Lye is an every-day drain cleaner.
Both are freely available in most large shopping centres.

1 litre oil- new or used
NaOH (lye/ caustic soda), at least 6g. Used as a drain cleaner and can often be found next to the Drano.
Methanol at least 250ml. HEET® Gas- Line Antifreeze in the yellow bottle is methanol and readly available in most auto supply stores in the USA.

1- 2 litre (1.9 in US) Dr Pepper Bottle in sound condition with tight fitting top and dry inside.

1-measuring cup to measure out 250ml methanol
1-scales to measure 6- 7g NaOH
1 teaspoon measure metric or imperial.

1- container to mix the methanol and NaOH in which makes methoxide.

1- Funnel



If using waste oil, take one litre and heat to at least 120 deg c to remove all water. If water is present the oil will spit and pop and carry on. If there is a lot of water this could get very violent, so be careful.
Once the water is gone (Oil becomes calm and there is no more spitting and popping) let the oil cool.

If you are using new oil from the bottle it should have no water in it, so in this case just heat to 55deg c when you are ready to mix.


While the oil is cooling mix your methanol and NaOH(lye) to form the methoxide.
Use 250ml of methanol. This is more methanol than most people use but will help insure a successful first batch.
If you are using new oil this will require 5g (about half a Teaspoon) NaOH.
For used oil, you should do a titration to determine the correct amount of NaOH to use.
However, if you do not have the materials to do a titration, just use the imperical quantity of about 7g NaOH as this amount almost always achieves seperation. If you do not have a scales, this is about 1 level teaspoon measure (metric or imperial).

NaOH and Methanol do not readily mix, so if you are doing it by hand a bit of time and patience is required. Don't sniff the fumes. CARTRIDGE RESPIRATORS DO NOT WORK WITH METHANOL
For quickest mixing, start with the methanol at JUST body temp (not warm). As you mix, the temp will increase substantially. This is normal. Make sure ALL the NaOH (lye) is disolved. This may take 10 minutes or more.
Hand mixing can be accomplished using the back of a spoon to stir/crush the NaOH granules ina coffee cup or glass; OR placing methanol/NaOH in a glass bottle with a tight fitting top and shaking/ swirling until ALL NaOH is disolved.
After ALL the NaOH has disolved, top up to 250ml with fresh methanol, as there may be some evaporation during mixing.

When the Oil's temp has dropped to 60 deg c or a bit less, using a funnel, pour the litre of oil into a DRY 2 litre Dr Pepper bottle (in a pinch any other brand of bottle will do).
Take the mixture of methanol/NaOH (commonly called methoxide on this forum) and pour on top of the oil using the same funnel.
Remove funnel.
Screw the top down TIGHT onto the bottle.
Shake vigerously for about ten seconds/ 40 good shakes.
NO appreciable pressure is generated during this mixing.

Now place the bottle on a table.
If you were using WVO you will probably observe the oil change colour from a "Light Chocolate milk to a rich, darker brown."
Then, as if by magic, within 10 minutes the by-product (commonly refered to as glycerine on this forum) starts to settle out and form an increasing layer on the bottom of the bottle.
Be sure to notice that you can see a very definate, slowly sinking line towards the top of the Biodiesel as the glycerine slowly settles.
Within an hour, most of the glycerine will be settled out.
This is referred to as seperation.
NOTE: Neutral has shown through GC tests that although one 10 second shake produces very useable Biodiesel it is in fact not ASTM conversion standard.
To produce ASTM conversion biodiesel requires titration and a further four- 5 second shakes over the space of an hour.

If you used New Oil, the colour change is not nearly as great and you may have problems seeing much of a colour change at all.

You should now have a bottle containing lighter coloured biodiesel on top of a layer of darker glycerine.
If you reacted New Oil the glycerine layer on the bottom will not be much darker than the oil you started with and the biodiesel will usually be very light in colour.
The biodiesel will be very cloudy, and it will take a day or two more for it to clear.

If it does not work out come onto the forum and see if anyone can figure out what went wrong.

And that is all there is to it. Only a little magic is involved.

Remember, after producing in excess of 53,459 litres of biodiesel in any calander year using this process, please make royality check out to Tilly From Paradise and send it to me through your favourite Numbered Swiss bank account.


A few cautions: DON'T mix the methanol and NaOH (lye) in a plastic bottle as NaOH attacks some types of plastic. Once mixed it is quite acceptable to mix your biodiesel in a Dr Pepper plastic bottle.
Do NOT store unused methoxide in plastic bottles. Some plastic will degrade over time when in contact with methoxide.

DO NOT allow any WATER into any steps of this procedure.

Methanol boils at about 65 deg c. DO NOT mix until the oil is below 60 deg c.

Again, these are dangerous chemicals and care is necessary, especially if there are children in your home.


I have Up-Sized the Dr Pepper technique by using a 20 litre plastic drum (longish and skinny) and make 14 litre batches. I simply lay the drum on a wooden "cradle" and place the center of the cradle on a pipe and rock back and forth for 3 or 4 minutes.
I then decant the mixture into a "finishing" container and so am ready to process another 14 litres straight away.

Now that you have a Litre of Finest biodiesel you will probably wish to wash it and this is quite easily accomplished using the World Famous Dr Pepper Wash Technique (Pat Pend).

So now that is added to my list of "Want-To-Do" in the future. I will start with producing a liter, then, if I manage to convince my husband to build me the Appleseed Processor, move on to a higher scale of production, at least for personal consumption, mainly heating our house during winter.

And yes, I am a wannabe homesteader, who wants to take part in the "Sustainable Living" and "Voluntary Simplicity" movement, who wishes to be "off the grid," and who does not share the interests of those whose dreams include "world travel" and whose top hobby is shopping (I am so against commercialism of Christmas and Halloween and other Holidays). I may sound so foreign to a lot of Filipinas now, but I know I am not alone (hi stef!) in this.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Citrus and Ginger Chicken

My computer had a virus (a free hard drive cleaner pop-up) and I had to re-install my OS (it would not let me do a system restore). That was the reason why I could not post photo-blogposts in the past week. It is okay now...

My husband invited some Jamaican farm workers over at our house for dinner. At first he requested me to make beef pares, but then learned that Jamaicans do not usually eat beef apparently because it was expensive in their country (like in PI), but we were not sure whether there was a religious factor to consider. To be on the safe side, I looked for Jamaican recipes using chicken. Originally titled as Orange and Ginger Chicken using cut portions of a whole chicken, I modified it to cook the whole chicken, using lemon and tangerine orange(what I had in my fridge) as substitute for orange. Everyone was pleased with the results.

Here is the original recipe (I would have provided the link to the site but I could no longer find it, although I had a printed Word copy of it. You will notice there is no ginger nor "seasonings" in the list of ingredients.):

Orange and Ginger Chicken

The Plantation Inn, now Royal Plantation, once served this as a specialty of the house. This elegant resort has hosted many celebrity travelers and was the setting for Prelude to a Kiss, starring Meg Ryan.

1 whole chicken, cut into eight pieces
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp honey
1 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp sugar
1 green pepper, diced

Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Cut whole chicken into 8 pieces and season with mix of seasoning (I am not sure what they referred to here), garlic and onions. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour sauce over chicken in a shallow baking dish and bake for one hour, basting chicken as often as needed. Serve with rice.

What I used and did:

Citrus and Ginger Chicken

1 whole chicken
garlic rosemary paste - 1 whole garlic, roasted, peeled and mashed, plus 1 tsp of dried rosemary - this I placed underneath the skin (just like I do with roast chicken)
1 onion, sliced
marinade - made up of 1/2 cup tangerine orange juice (1 whole orange), 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 whole), 2 tsp honey, 1 tsp soy sauce, 3 tsp sugar, 1 diced green pepper, and thumb-sized ginger, pelled, crushed and sliced thin. (Note: Reserve the rinds of orange and lemon to stuff into the cavity)
cornstarch-water mixture (1 tbsp:1/2 cup) for thickening the sauce

Be warned that the way I did this required a whole weekend day (well, I really did not care because I was busy preparing other dishes).

Prepare the marinade and garlic-rosemary paste.
Apply the paste under the skin of the most meaty parts.
Lay the slices of onions at the bottom of foil-lined slow cooker.
Pour 1/2 of the marinade into the chicken cavity and 1/4 into the slow cooker.
Place the chicken breast side down and then pour the remaining marinade.
Cover and let cook on low setting for 3 hours (This allows the chicken to absorb the marinade while already starting to cook the chicken. The three hours will be enough such that you will be able to lift the chicken out onto a rack for browning in the oven without it falling apart. I thought my foil was sturdy enough to assist in that, but I should have used a heavy-duty foil.)
Transfer the chicken onto a baking dish breast side up and start to bake at 350 deg F. Gather the sauce and boil. Thicken with cornstarch water mixture. Reserve 1/4 cup for basting and the rest for use as gravy.
Baste the chicken and let bake for 30 minutes. Baste again and continue baking for 30 minutes. If it gets too burnt looking, cover with foil (but soy sauce will naturally produce that look. It will be up to you to judge whether that charred look is what you want. To me, this reminds me of grilled chicken in barbecue stands in PI.)

Here was my menu:

Arroz ala Valenciana (from the unofficial cook)
Escabecheng Tilapia (Fried Tilapia with sweet and sour chili sauce courtesy of JMom -loved it!)
Fish Lumpia with Jufran chili sauce
Fresh Lumpia with paalat sauce
Leche Flan (sorry, not in the pic)
Light Wheat Bread (using bread machine)
(I boiled one potato for hubby)

The Jamaicans brought beer (we in the family do not drink alcohol). We finished almost everything, but I forewarned the Jamaicans to remove the paper off the fresh lumpia. They ended up not eating even the crepes (waah! sayang pagod ko!). I should have eaten the fresh lumpia first to demonstrate to them how to enjoy it. Oh well...at least they went back to the table at least 3 times (I placed the dishes on a separate table a la buffet style to make space on the dining table).

Hubby was quite surprised at the small feast I prepared (his family of origin usually does not prepare appetizers and side dishes except for Thanksgiving or Christmas), and he was so proud of me. The Jamaicans were all praises as well (I could not understand them because of their strong accent, though. Hubby had to relay the message to me).

I did have leftover red meat from the chicken, which I chopped roughly and mixed with the leftover sauce, then used as chicken siopao. (More details on how I make siopao can be found here.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

I will be on vacation...and I need help!

But that does not mean I will not create new posts here.

What HELP am I talking about?

Well, I will be leaving for Canada in the first half of December to be with my (visiting) mom and my (immigrant) older sister. ("You must be excited to be with the people who eat the same things you do," hubby said. "Oh yeah!" I replied.)

As such, I will be leaving my boys (big and small) on their own.

Younger son: "We will just cook noodles every morning for our breakfast."
Older son: "Ma, you can make more siopao, freeze them so we can have them for snacks." (Which I already did - have 1 dozen chicken siopao and beef asado siopao frozen now, along with a disastrous looking puto pao.)
I said: "Hep, hep! You are talking only of food, but you have to think also about your laundry, watering the plants, keeping the house clean, and checking your lights and stove/oven."
Younger son: "You should make a list of things to do."
Older son: "And you should post instructions on how to do the laundry and everything..."

I have started "training" them for the routine. But I am still composing the daily schedule and instructions.

I am now thinking of what foods I can possibly prepare ahead, freeze, and then just instruct them on how to reheat these. So like I said, I have siopao and puto pao in the freezer. I also have two loaves of beef embutido (recipe by Iska). I am considering preparing poultry stuffing with chicken/mushroom sauce ready to pop in the oven, but I am not sure if this will turn out right. Also considering freezing chicken adobo but not sure if this comes out okay if reheated. What about par-baked rolls and how to make them so I can freeze them and re-bake for final browning? MY kids know how to cook mac and cheese, and hotdogs, but I would not want them to eat the same thing daily for two weeks. Husband is planning to buy pizza and Italian sandwiches more often. (He also said, "I will take care of the laundry while you are gone.")

I will greatly appreciate any suggestions (both on food and other things) that will help me prepare for my brief absence in my boys' lives.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Pichi-Pichi Espesyal

UPDATE as of 12-22-08:
A more special pichi-pichi recipe can be found here.

I would have tried stel's recipe, but I did not list down things that I should have gotten from the Asian store when my friend Anna asked if I wanted to go with her. So I forgot to look for the lye water and pandan essence. Good thing, in the comments section, Lani gave her recipe using just the grated cassava, sugar and water. It was very good! Although, I would have still preferred it with some pandan essence. (tita stel, nagpaparamdam po...

Salamat, tita Lani, for the recipe!

We Filipinos use cassava, but I cannot find any cassava here. Yucca is a good substitute. (I typed that on the search engine, and it showed plants different from what I have come to know as "kamoteng-kahoy." I then realized they are not one and the same.). It was my first time to buy yucca from the Asian store (have not seen it sold in the nearest grocery store), and I was quite surprised that it seemed to have been coated with wax...or is it a natural coating of dried up sap?


1 cup cassava [or yucca], grated
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 coconut, grated

Squeeze out juice of cassava [or yucca]using flour sack. Place squeezed cassava in pan with sugar and water. Cook. Stir constantly 10 minutes or until mixture coats spoon. Transfer cooked mixture on silicone muffin cups placed on the steamer pan and steam 10 minutes. Remove from muffin cups, let cool, then coat in grated coconut.

(I love these silicone muffin cups for steaming purposes! Muffin pan just won't fit in the steamer, and these solved that problem. Now I can also experiment on making puto, and I might get big cups also for steamed leche flan.)

My sons and I loved them, and my Filipina friends did, too! Of course, they asked for the recipe and I generously (ahem!) shared it (salamat sa mga foodbloggers!) My Sdaughter loved coating them in the grated coconut, but would not taste them (pretty much like her father). That same day I just had to make a second batch. Refrigerates and microwaves (30 sec) pretty good, too! Perfect munchkin for after-school!

I am still waiting for the day when I will have my pandan essence.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fish Lumpia

Fish Lumpia
Still on LP's theme, I have here leftover tilapia from a lunchdate with our barkada here. It was a large one, that I had more than 1 cup of flaked fish meat to make into fish lumpia. I was first introduced into fish lumpia by the "balae" of my previous MIL. I liked it so much that I asked how she made it. She said she would buy "galunggong" and steam them then flake the flesh, mix with chopped green/snap/"baguio" beans, carrots, onions, garlic, egg, salt and pepper. Now whenever I have leftover grilled fish, I do the same thing. A nice surprise was when hubby expressed liking it (yes, he did try without me asking him to!).

INGREDIENTS (amounts stated are only approximations):

1 cup flaked cooked fish meat

Chop together the following veggies then squeeze out excess fluid using flour sack:
1 medium carrot
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
handful of (leaftover) green peas 

handful of (leftover) grated mozzarella cheese (Of course the ingredients here depend on the availability of veggies and the cook's imagination!)
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

lumpia wrappers (I like best the TYJ spring roll wrapper)
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water for making paste


Mix everything together after squeezing out excess fluid of veggies. Prepare cornstarch paste: Mix cornstarch with cold water, microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave again for 30 sec or less, watching closely until you achieve the desired consistency (should be fluid enough to easily brush it onto the wrapper). You may have to add some more water to thin it. This is a cheaper alternative than using egg as sealant. Place about 1 to 1-1/2 tbsp of filling at the center of the wrapper to form a log. Fold over one end then roll tightly. Brush CS paste on the corners to create a good seal. I froze these until two days later when I had visiting friends. While thawing them, I cut them into three parts each and heated about 2 cups of oil on high in a wok. I did not wait for these to thaw completely; I just went ahead and fried them until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Drain on paper towels and serve while still warm (fried lumpia tend to get soggy and chewy when it has cooled down completely). I served these finger foods with Jufran sweet chili sauce (hubby's favorite dip for chicken nuggets).

This time, there were no leftovers!

Thanks to mikemina for hosting this month's

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