WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says…Sea Shells From Around the World (when it should say Soup, Nuts & Shells)

From a roadside store off of California Hwy 1 on the central coast,  the sign says…

Sea shells from around the world rdBut actually, the shells came mostly from ONE part of the world…the Philippines

pangasinan shell chimes and dried spiny fish
The sign says “wind chime Pangasinan w/ pink” but the wind chimes are bundled up in a plastic bag, while the eerie puff/spiny dried fish with big eyes are the prominent items on the shelf (Pangasinan is a province in the Philippines).  Look at the eye on the fish to the right, in the plastic bag.

Sea Shells detail

The sign also said ORGANICS but instead I found soup, baby food (??t?) nuts and, uh, no organics that day…

The shells for sale are on the lower shelf.

Soup to  Shells rd

Star Fish and Pineapple rings rd

So how about a star fish, and by the way, maybe some dried fruit, too?

sea shells, pasta and  lentils rd

A basket pack of mix shells from the Philippines, and oh yes, do we need pasta and lentils this week?

This is indeed a strange “Sea Shell” store!

Sea Shells detail 1

Beautiful patterns on these shells, I should have thought about these shell photos for the previous patterns challenge!

And here are photos of signs I found for sale at the Moss Landing Antique Faire last year.

Wine Classy

Gas Arm Leg Both sign at Moss Landing Antique Fair

I used the above gas sign photo for a recent post on which countries pay the highest and cheapest gas per gallon.  One never knows when a photo will come in handy for a blog post (these photos were from my phone camera).

Click here to see interpretations from the WordPress and blogging community for this week’s photo challenge theme from Sara Rosso  “The Sign Says”.

If not sit down rd

Lastly, do you know why this sign was above the toilet inside a stall at a Chinese / Vietnamese restaurant (spotted in San Jose, California)?

The “Ube” and Purple Filipino Food

Update January 2015 — I’ve added photos of more ube products found at Asian stores.  From ube flavored crackers, cakes….even ube flavored Otap!  Snack companies continue to add purple ube flavors to their product lines.

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The theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge on the Daily Post is the color Purple.

I thought about food…specifically Filipino food, as I was working on a purple food post.

Indian Eggplant at Moss Landing, California Market Stall

There are many food in shades of purple. There is the eggplant of course, and grapes, purple potatoes, purple cabbage, purple basil, onions — which we call red, but really is often the same shade as purple cabbages.

Boy behind “red” onions at his family’s vegetable market stall, Philippines

Purple shade foods — beets and onions — for sale at the Old Monterey Farmers Market

However, when it comes to purple foods, I think Filipino food wins in the “most” category.  This is all thanks to the ube — pronounced “ou-beh” — a type of purple yam from the Philippines.

Filipinos are accustomed to purple food from the flavor and coloring of ube — and it must be ingrained in us.

Ube flavored food varies from a light shade of lavender to a deep, dark purple.  It does not matter the shade as I think I can speak for most Filipinos and Filipino-Americans here, that when we see purple or an ube-shade of food, we immediately think…oh look, purple…yes, it’s ube…its good….get it….eat it!

The purple ube by itself is a health food, with anti-oxidant properties.   But perhaps how we prepare it in the Philippines — whipped with milk and sugars, or stuffed in breads, cooked with biko or other rice flour based desserts — takes away its health benefits.  Or maybe there is still enough ube in there to count for something…

Here are some of my ube food photos.  It is common to see these at San Francisco Bay Area Filipino grocery stores and eateries.

Pan de ube — bread stuffed with the purple yam jam!

Philippine sticky rice with coconut dessert “Biko” plain (brown) and purple ube flavored.

Philippine “kakanin” or snack food called Puto, in plain white, or purple, ube flavored.

“Sapin-sapin” a type of layered, sticky, rice flour based snack food and dessert, ube flavored

It is also common to find ube flavored drinks, ice creams and ube snacks at  Filipino eateries, and even fast-food restaurants. This is from Chow-King, advertising halo-halo (an icy treat that translates to “mix-mix”). Click on the photo for Lolako’s Halo-Halo post.

Woman selling snacks contained in banana leaves, at the market, Philippines. The tube shaped items are filled with sticky rice cooked in coconut milk, then steamed. The cupcake looking items are “puto”, a fermented rice flour sweet snack, also cooked inside a banana leaf. You can see purple, or ube flavored ones along with the yellow and pink putos.  Click on photo for more on the Philippine banana-wrapped snack foods.

Ube flavored snack contained in banana leaves

The food snack and Chinese style pastry  “Hopia” typically has yellow mung beans, but lately I have seen these with ube flavored filling, too!

Purple Yam is available in a powdered format, if you want to add a natural food coloring (and some ube flavors) to your food.

Jeff made pan de sal — a traditional breakfast bread in the Philippines — with ube, using this brand of powdered ube.

The recipe is from Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s cookbook, Memories of Philippine Kitchens. They are owners of the restaurant Purple Yam, in Brooklyn, New York.

Homemade ube pan de sal with store-bought ube spread.

Frozen UbeFrozen, whole ube is also available at most Asian or Filipino markets.

You can also buy frozen ube that is already grated —- so you can save time if you want to make ube halaya.

Booth at Pistahan Festival in San Francisco – August 2012

Ube Waffles with caramelized macapuno (coconut) syrup by Pinx (www.PinxCatering.com)

Philippine ube “flower bread”

Picture is a small dish of super purple, ube “halaya”…sweet favorite of grated and mashed ube, cooked with milk (cooked by stirring, then stir, stir and then more stirring).  It is usually topped with bits of coconut curd.

We noticed at our local Filipino store, there are more products with ube flavoring!

Ube flavors snack companies

Ube flavor crackers and more

I was surprised to see ube flavored otap — a type of puff pasty popular in certain parts of the Philippines.  When I was a kid, otap was just plain otap, and now there is ube otap?

Ube is now in so many products…which confirms how much Filipinos love this food flavor.  Or again, maybe it is the color that reminds us of ube “halaya” and other traditional desserts, and food and snack manufacturers know we will likely try it.

What do you think?  Way too strange or…I’ll try that!

Related links:

Purple yam, Dioscorea alata (in cross-section above courtesy Deepugn – via blog In the Company of Plants and Rocks)

 

Blog post “Will the real yam please stand up”, from the blog, In the Company of Plants and Rocks.

Excerpt…Plants of the genus Dioscorea, the true yams, are perennial vines.  The yams themselves are root tubers…

 

Ube Flavor Ice Cream from Magnolia – Ramar Foods Intl.

 

 

Lolako’s Purple yam…or corn and cheese ice cream…anyone? On the unique, ice cream flavors from the Philippines.

 

 

Champorado – chocolate rice porridge

Champorado – chocolate rice porridge

And more of Lola Jane’s Filipino food posts:

  • Champorado origins – a chocolate rice porridge and favorite Filipino breakfast
  • Burgers…and Bangus?  Why the bangus fish is often thought of as a Philippine national symbol
  • About ginamos & tuyo…and can you bring in your luggage when traveling to the US
  • About Sinangag, and how much I missed rice while in boot camp in the US Air Force
  • Use of Banana Leaves in Filipino food

pumnpkin spice oreo cookies webAnd just as Philippine food companies use purple and ube flavors in more and more products, see this post about the pumpkin and pumpkin “spice” flavor trend in the U.S.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside (Pacific – King Salmon)

The theme for this week’s photo challenge at the The Daily Post at WordPress.com is Inside.  From Sara Rosso…

Inside. I like to snap multiple views of something and often the inside of something is even more interesting than the outside. This canelé (a French pastry) was definitely worth photographing – I’ll remember all those nooks & crannies!  

I like the food theme from Sara, and I’m posting my salmon photos.

Background:  When we first moved to the Monterey Peninsula, Jeff went on a group salmon fishing trip with his co-workers, on a commercial fishing vessel.  Before he left (cooler in tow), I half-jokingly told him that he should not come home if he does not have any fish for me.  After all, I am from the Philippines, love seafood — especially fresh seafood!

When he came home — again, cooler in tow — he looked rather sad.  I said…”oh no…you did not get any fish?  It’s okay honey, I still love you”.

He was playing with me, as inside the cooler was a huge salmon!  For his first Monterey  fishing trip, he caught the first salmon — and the heaviest one — which won him a cash prize and a Home Depot gift certificate.  Lucky!  There were also rock cods in the cooler.

So you see…a little pressure is not such a bad thing!

Here are my photos of the salmon…outside, and cleaned (and by the way, the biggest fish I have ever cleaned), and the inside, cut up and in steaks and ready to cook.  It was the best tasting fish we have ever eaten.

Gills and guts removed, all cleaned!

 

The kitchen sink is the double sink type, and the salmon took up both sink spaces.

Maybe I should have done this cleaning business OUTSIDE…I made a mess.

 

Salmon inside — many slices and servings

Here are some of Jeff’s photos, before they headed out.

Monterey Bay Harbor, California, at dawn

Monterey Bay Sunrise

Almost ready to take off….Monterey Bay Commercial Salmon Fishing Boat

My other fish and creatures-of-the-sea posts:

On Tilapia – Top Aquaculture Fish, if you have ever wondered about the origins of Tilapia, and if it is a safe fish to eat…

On Sharks

  1. About the 4,000 pound Great White Shark caught in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez
  2. and A comparison of shark attacks vs. number of lightning fatalities, U.S.A. West Coast

On Seahorses

  1. Seahorse Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  2. Males who get pregnant and give birth?
  3. Seahorses, Magical Fish, about the dramatic decline of seahorses all over the world (the huge economic boom in China means even more trouble for seahorse populations, as seahorses are highly sought after for use in traditional Chinese medicines).

On Sea OttersThe Sea Otter’s One-eyed Peek

About the endangered leatherback sea turtles (which  can grow as big as a Volkswagen bug car!)

About the Philippine Bangus (Milkfish)…the #1 farmed fish in the Philippines and dried and fermented fish, luggage with a special kind of stinky.