Since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), many have turned to cooking as therapy, a balm to ease anxiety and alleviate stress. Others have even mustered the courage to start home-based food businesses. 

Here are some of the more interesting.

Aisa Parajo de Jesus is a mother who’s been baking loaf bread for her children; they’re small enough for little hands to handle, and are made with fresh ube, avocado, squash and beets. 

The bread is all-natural. It is her version of the 1980s rainbow bread served with cheese pimiento and sometimes, condensed milk. 

According to de Jesus, the bread was part of the family’s birthday party fare, paired with tuna egg salad and downed with root beer float.

She’s accepting orders for rainbow loaf. (Tel. 0917-6862472)Tata Lantin is also a homemaker and baker who makes delicious chocolate crinkles.

Her perfectly cracked dark chocolate cookies rolled in powdered sugar are fudge-like and delectably soft. They melt in your mouth but have that “kunat” quality to them, which makes them chewy and addicting. They’re not too sweet, too chocolatey or too rich. One keeps coming back for more.

Available in a box of 20 crinkles, they’re best served cold. (Tel. 0917-8005349)Diane  is a mom who bakes from home. Her carrot cake is not fancy but comforting. Although neither too sweet nor too rich, it is packed with flavor and is refreshingly moist.

It is made from a mix of grated carrots, toasted walnuts, crushed pineapples and sultanas, which probably set her cake apart. A generous sprinkling of plump golden raisins gives her cake character and twist.

Classic cream cheese frosting finally ties this cake together. I request mine without walnuts. That’s the way I like it. (Tel. 0917-8432133)ECQ has also encouraged mothers to trade recipes for variety. Here are two delicious recipes from our group.

Nancy Yu and Vivian Go’s Char Siu (Barbecued Pork, Cantonese Style) 
1 kg pork neck 
4 Tbsp light soy sauce
4 Tbsp dark soy sauce
4 Tbsp honey
6 Tbsp coco sugar or brown sugar

Divide pork neck into three to four long strips, depending on size. (Make local pork lomo your reference for size when cutting.)

Mix marinade ingredients well and marinate the pork overnight in the fridge.

When ready to cook, put the pork in a wok with the marinade. Cook the pork and the marinade over high heat for about 15-20 minutes with the wok lid on. Stir occasionally to make sure the meat is evenly coated with the marinade.

The char siu is ready when the marinade has been reduced to a thick gravy and the meat is caramelized.

Transfer the char siu to a rectangular baking dish. Spoon the remaining gravy over the pork. Set oven to broil. Put the baking dish with the pork on the lowest rack in the oven. Broil for 3-5 minutes until charred. Flip

 the meat with a pair of tongs and broil for another 3-5 minutes.

Instead of broiling the char siu, you can also grill it over charcoal for better flavor.

Slice the pork into bite-size pieces and serve with rice. Spoon the remaining gravy over the sliced char siu.Tip: Double the marinade ingredients if you like a lot of sauce. You may add char siu powder for color, but that’s optional.

Imelda Go’s Inihaw na Liempo with Orange
1 c UFC Banana Catsup
¼ c oyster sauce
¼ c soy sauce
½ can Sprite
¼ c kecap manis (dark sweet soy sauce available in Chinese supermarkets)
Juice of 1 orange
Zest of 1 orange
1/3 c sugar, or to taste
¼ c cooking oil
Set some of the marinade aside for basting.

Marinate pork liempo  overnight in the fridge. Grill. Baste with marinade. Do this several times during the final stages of grilling. INQFollow @iamreggieaspiras, www.reggieaspiras.com

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