Team Philippines at the Darden International Food Festival: Take Two

IFF 2014

A more organized, prepared and polished crew this time around. We improved our lumpia, adobo and pancit recipes, along with our clothing and decor, from the prior year and felt much more confident and united this time!

Team Philippines reunited in SY for the Darden International Food Festival to not just attempt to defend our 2013 title, but more so to learn from last year’s (in)experience and embrace our heritage with more confidence.

Perhaps participating in the IFF held more meaning for me this year, as my time in Charlottesville has been the most distance and time away I’ve had from my immediate family in my adult life. With determination, I re-made the dish I vowed never to make again last year after enduring the meticulous process. I ditched the Allrecipes.com instructions and tried to go more traditional from the filling (no potato this year!) to the wrapper (explicitly labled “lumpia” not “spring roll” paper). After a few batches, I came up with the following tried and true recipe for lumpia (AKA Filipino-style egg rolls).

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Lumpia Recipe

(adapted from my mom’s recipe and a few Pinterest suggestions)

For the filling:
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil – for cooking the filling
1 lb ground pork
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced very finely
1⁄2 cup white onion, chopped
1⁄2 cup carrots, shredded (can buy pre-packaged)
1⁄2 cup green cabbage, shredded (can buy pre-packaged)
1⁄2 cup green onion, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
1 large egg, beaten

For the filling’s seasoning:
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp soy sauce

For wrapping and frying:
~ 30 lumpia wrappers (28 came in the package I found) -> Make sure to go to an oriental market and find “Filipino lumpia” wrappers not “spring roll” or “egg roll” wrappers in order to get the right crisp, papery texture.
2 cup vegetable or canola oil
A couple beaten egg whites with some water

For the dipping sauce:
Lumpia traditionally goes with sweet-chili sauce -> Find a bottle of this in an oriental market as well.

Directions:
1) Coat a wok on medium-high to high heat with a tablespoon of oil. Break up and brown pork, stirring often and cooking until no pink shows. Remove pork from pan and set aside. Drain the grease from the pan, leaving a thin coating. Cook down the white onions, along with fresh garlic, for a couple minutes until  white onions are soft and translucent. Stir in the carrots and green cabbage and cook for another couple minutes so that they wilt and meld with the onion and garlic. Stir in the green onion. Finally, add back the cooked pork. Season with soy sauce, pepper and garlic salt. Once the mixture is well-combined and the seasoning is distributed, set aside so that it will be cool enough to handle. Stir in the beaten egg to hold the mixture together and maintain consistency.

2) Place about one and half heaping tablespoons of filling onto the edge of the lumpia wrapper. Roll tightly to the thickness of a cigar. Wet the sides with the egg white mixture. Fold in the edges and roll over with the crease side down to seal it all in. Check out this Youtube video that shows you how to wrap it.

3) Cook the lumpia. Select one of the following methods:

  • Frying method: (w/o deep fryer) Heat deep skillet over medium heat, add 1/2 in. oil and let it heat up for five minutes. Put four to six lumpia in the skillet at a time – however much the skillet can hold with some room around each one. Fry one to two minutes, turning when necessary, so all sides are a golden brown.
  • Baking method: (easier for larger quantities, slightly healthier) Grease a baking sheet and place lumpia with the crease down in rows with room around each. Brush oil over the top and sides to ensure crispiness and a golden brown color. Place baking sheet in a pre-heated 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. Then, take the sheet out and carefully, using tongs, flip the lumpia over to the other side. Bake again for another five minutes until evenly cooked.

4) Let sit for five minutes to drain on a paper towel and cool slightly. Make sure to cut in half before serving (to let the hot steam out so it doesn’t burn your tongue). Add green onion as garnish and the dipping sauce on the side. This is best served immediately to fully experience the crispiness!

P.S. You can freeze your pre-formed lumpia and cook them later, if you so desire to portion out the servings.

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This dish is a little piece of my childhood that my mother still cooks for me when I come home to Michigan. For the ultimate Filipino feast, fit for a special occasion, don’t forget the pancit (noodles are meant to be eaten on your birthday to represent a “long life” you’ll live) and the lechon (whole, roasted pig) as pictured below from my dad’s uncle’s recent birthday party.

Filipino Party

My dad is one of 17 so we have a lot of extended family. Many of them happen to reside in nearby Norfolk and Virginia Beach. I was so grateful to spend time with relatives at this special party in honor of my dad’s uncle’s 89th birthday.

Congrats to the students and partners of the Class of 2014!

Graduation

As I watched the Class of 2014 graduates walk across the stage while their partners snapped photos, I felt more emotion than anticipated yesterday.

On Saturday, when I volunteered at Darden’s 29th Annual Pig Roast in honor of the graduates, I briefly chatted with a few SY partners in the midst of running around and refilling trays and bowls of food. But on Sunday, I could actually take in what was being said as an onlooker in the audience of the Final Exercises in Flagler Court at Darden.

I soaked up every detail, and in the course of a couple of hours, I felt emotions ranging from excitement and pride to sentimentality and nervousness. These emotions stood out the most to me:

    1. Anxiety – while getting advice about reserving hotel rooms and restaurant dinners as early as possible for out-of-town guests (some saying to even start now – one year away from when my husband will graduate!)
    2. Admiration – while seeing proud parents carry their infant children, born during the years at Darden, across the stage and knowing how much those students and their partners had to juggle with an already hectic schedule
    3. Awe – while listening to special recognition from faculty of students who contributed in a myriad of  ways to Darden, such as mentoring FYs and running different organizations
    4. Nostalgia – while taking a photo of the entire crowd of graduates in caps and gowns because the moment transported me back in time to when I used to work at the graduation ceremonies in my past profession as a high school teacher
    5. Mixture of sadness and gratitude – while watching students sing the Irish blessing “Until We Meet Again” and then while realizing that we are only one year away from this moment…
    • I grew tearful because not only was I finding it hard to say goodbye to certain SYs I’ve gotten to know, but I was finding it much harder to recognize that half of my time in Cville is now done.
    • Yet, I am grateful because this past year has truly made me a better person and because I at least still have one more year left in this place that has become my home.

Part 2 of Family in Cville: What’s ‘Fun’ in Undergrad vs. Grad School

My cousin April and her husband Jake drove from Metro Detroit to Charlottesville the weekend after my in-laws visited. This family weekend had a different twist: April, Jake, Michal and I went through undergrad together at Michigan State University, so Michal and I were excited for them to experience another sort of college town.

The infamous Foxfield horse races could not have been better timed. We each anticipated this event as if we were preparing for Halloween by scouring for outfits we’d never normally wear, classified as “country club prep.” It was a total cultural experience for us to transform our usual, casual T-shirt and jeans combos to pastels and floppy hats.

All photos are courtesy of my cousin April (except for the group photo on the top left that a friend's husband took on my phone).  My husband Michal and April's husband Jake had actually bought the same shirt. Michal found a new pink one to match my searsucker dress.

All photos are courtesy of April (except for the group shot on the top left that a friend’s husband took on my iphone). Fun fact #1: My husband Michal and April’s husband Jake actually bought the same shirt in different stores. Michal later found a pink shirt to match my searsucker dress!

While we embraced the wardrobe change, we were a bit more wary of the actual event as we heard it would be similar to all-day tailgating. In the end, we were grateful to experience the races from the more civilized grad student area tents where Darden and the Law School were side by side in front of the tracks. The backdrop was breathtaking in the sun, the food was classic Southern BBQ, the bartenders made drinks to our liking, the music started with a live band, there were no lines to the bathrooms, and the tables had fresh, floral centerpieces.

Needless to say, the atmosphere was a lot different on the undergrad side.

Again: All photos are courtesy of April. Fun Fact: Michal worked with Three Notch'd this school year as a member of the Community Consultants of Darden.

All photos are courtesy of April. Fun Fact #2: Michal worked with Three Notch’d this year as a part of the Community Consultants of Darden. Jake enjoyed the beer there so much that he bought a growler!

Michal and I also spent some time showing Jake and April the differences between undergrad nightlife at the dive bars on The Corner vs. the local breweries in the more upscale Downtown Mall area. Although it was fun to be outside at the picnic tables at The Biltmore on a warm night, we decided relaxing in lounge settings with board games and higher quality craft brews at Three Notch’d, Champion and South Street was overall more enjoyable. We’ve each definitely grown more discerning with two home-brewers, Michal and Jake, at our side.

Ultimately, what we discovered is that we still like to have good time just like in the glory days … but now we just have higher standards.

All photos courtesy of April. We managed to include a hike to Elliott Knob and a walk around Grounds. Fun Fact #3: We purposefully picked out one of the highest peaks in Virginia to tackle with April and Jake because they're so adventurous!

All photos courtesy of April. We managed to include a hike to Elliott Knob and a walk around Grounds. Fun Fact #3: We purposefully picked out one of the highest peaks in Virginia to tackle with April and Jake because they’re so adventurous! At the top, Michal and Jake started a fire right before the rain hit.

Part 1 of Family in Cville: Blending past with present

When Michal's parents visited, we had a lot to celebrate: the Easter holiday, Section B's back-to-back Darden Cup win and Michal's first time in a brewing competition.

When Michal’s parents visited last month, we had a lot to celebrate: the Easter holiday, Section B’s Darden Cup back-to-back win and Michal’s first time to enter his home brew in a competition.

With Polish and Filipino heritage, my husband Michal and I have religious and cultural traditions associated with Easter. However, with limited vacation days for me and the onslaught of final exams for Michal, we decided to spend yet another holiday away from home.

Thankfully, my in-laws made the approximately nine-hour drive from Metro Detroit to Charlottesville with maintaining tradition as the major motivation.

In addition to celebrating Easter Sunday with a Polish brunch of kielbasas, stuffed/fried eggs and pastries, we celebrated Section B’s back-to-back Darden Cup championship with a crab feast.  My in-laws and I also supported Michal in the first home-brewing competition sponsored by Darden’s Wine and Cuisine Club. It was the perfect blend of old and new, family and friends, as my in-laws attempted to understand our daily life with Darden, with a reminder of where we come from.

Welcome Round 2 admits of Darden students and partners!

ImageA few Darden partners (significant others of students) are sporting our trademark Darden Partners Association swag of neon-colored sunglasses in the above photo. We can’t wait to meet all of you!

Are you new to the DPA and interested in hearing more from us?
Sign up on the DPA Website to get access to the Relocation Guide, housing leads, job listings and other Charlottesville resources. Join the DPA Facebook Group and follow us on the DPA Twitter Page to get up-to-date information on events. As the DPA Communications Chair, I would love to help you in this transition by getting you connected and keeping you informed!

Bidding farewell to the ‘Bird’

Although students will no longer be taking classes with their sections after they return from Spring Break on March 17, it’s hard to drop the identity. As a partner of a student in Section B, I inevitably started proclaiming myself as “one of the birds,” becoming friends with students and partners alike in the group.

The experience of “being in a section” reminded me a lot of my cohort from my senior year and student teaching year at Michigan State University in the College of Education, or of the transition period when I went into my first year of teaching with a group of fellow novices.During an extremely stressful time, it helps to have the camaraderie, as well as the commiseration.

Paying homage to a couple of my favorite Section B traditions:

*Bird is the Word

As my husband likes to make funny comments in class, he tends to be in the running fairly often to take the responsibility of carting around the mascot for a week. Coincidentally that little, stuffed Big Bird seemed to find his way into our home on special occasions like my birthday during first semester and Valentine’s Day during second semester. Can we say #thirdwheel?

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The Bird on adventures with us on date night celebrations and gatherings with friends around town.

Thankfully, no one gave us a hard time when taking photos of the Bird at the Top of the Hops Beer Fest in downtown Charlottesville on my birthday, as many others were lining up to take photos with a gnome any way.

However, it was a bit more difficult to snap a pic when the Bird made an appearance while we sampled sweets from a local bakery paired with wine at Keswick Vineyard. At a slightly less casual atmosphere in the roped-off area behind the wine barrels reserved for Valentine’s Day couples, we didn’t leave him out in the open too long… 

*Dinner of 8

Bonding with fellow birds took on a variety of forms, including get-togethers like FY/SY mixers, themed events (e.g. costumes starting w/a letter B, ugly sweater), local adventures (e.g. apple picking at Carter Mountain Orchard), post-Darden Cup celebrations and simply hanging out in smaller settings.

My favorite was the dinner party each semester that consisted of eight students in the section and was hosted at a volunteer’s home, with all randomly assigned to the group. Each semester was a different set of people. Of course, students could bring partners, so an introvert (disguised as an extrovert, most often) like me really looked forward to chatting in a comfortable environment.

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For the first dinner, the organizer ordered yummy Italian takeout from Bella’s. For the second, we did a potluck style meal. It was fun to get a taste of varying cooking styles and ethnic cuisine!

Snow Days in the South

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On the left is the view of the Snowpocalypse of 2011 in the Chicago-area from our old apartment. On the right is the view of the snowstorm from our apartment in Charlottesville on Feb. 13-14 of this year. The biggest difference is that we got three days off in 2011 and the snow stuck around for a while in Chicago. Whereas, the snow melted away soon after the storm ended here in Cville.

I’m no stranger to snow.

I grew up in the Detroit area, went to undergrad at Michigan State University in Lansing, and I lived in the Chicago area for five years. I know how helpful it is to put the windshield wipers up on my parked car when a snowstorm is coming, I’m used to keeping a snow brush in my car all year – just in case. I own a formal winter coat, as well as a puffy, ski coat.

But for most of this winter, I have been surprised at being able to wear my fall trench coat around Cville, as it’s been in the 40s and 50s, sometimes getting as high as the 60s. While, my friends and family in Detroit and Chicago have been slammed by the Polar Vortex. One former colleague even remarked that this is the worst winter he’s seen in the Chicago area since the 1960s.

Then, Cville finally got the first official snow days of the year, and I had to fish out my old ski pants and boots from storage.

Because my job is associated with the University, I had two unexpected days off from work, but I found myself home alone for these snow days while my husband interviewed (ironically enough) in Chicago this week. I did the usual – catching up on work and personal emails, watching the Olympics, cleaning the house, reading ahead for book clubs. But I couldn’t stay cooped up for long as I started to develop a bit of cabin fever…yet I didn’t want to venture out into the snow drifts by myself.

Fortunately, some Darden partners came to my rescue!

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Being kids again in the snow with some Darden partners and students! I found out different MacGyver-like techniques for sledding (AKA – riding a shovel like a broom stick, covering large pieces of cardboard with trash bags and re-purposing old tires). And I found out the best method for creating an igloo is to use half melted snow: It’s more pliable, and when it gets colder, it starts to freeze together.

One partner brought his new snow shovel to my apartment complex to help clear the 10 inches of snow from behind my car and my husband’s car. Another partner invited us over to a nearby park with a sledding hill and a field to build an igloo. I’m glad they got me out of my solitary state to appreciate the beauty of the fleeting snow, as it has already mostly melted with the rising temps and sun.

After our outdoor excursion, we warmed up by tossing our socks into the dryer, cracking open a few local craft brews (my fav being the Devil’s Backbone Blonde) and ordering Mellow Mushroom – the best pizza in the area (although I still miss my Chicago deep dish from Lou’s) for dinner. Plus, smores dip for dessert! My new fav, easy sweet snack in cold weather. 

So grateful to have partners and students keeping me company, especially while flying solo during B-school interview season! 

What are your favorite snow day indoor and outdoor activities? Please comment below with your ideas!