Monday, June 25, 2007

Pinoy Cooking the Easy Way

Cooking has always been one of Rowena Royola de Pano’s passions. In fact, this first-generation Filipino American’s fondest childhood memories are of helping her mom and grandmother prepare dinner and experimenting with an easy-bake oven.

“I think the positive feedback from relatives and friends is what kept me cooking!” says Rowena, 36, who is based in Corona, California, with her husband and newborn twin boys.

Knowing that many of her friends and family members share the love for Filipino food but find cooking too intimidating, Rowena started compiling easy-to-cook Filipino recipes with the help of her mom, whom she
considers her cooking teacher. (Her mother’s best cooking advice, according to Rowena: “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!”)

Since 2001, which was the year Rowena got married, the soft copy compilation grew and grew, becoming a family heirloom that she meant to pass on to her brothers and their future wives.

It would be many years later that the recipes would find their way into e-books—Easy Filipino Recipes, All Things Adobo, and Lumpia and Pancit Recipes—that can now be purchased and downloaded at the site,

East and West jibe
“The idea of an e-cookbook came about when I realized that so many of my friends and family members did not know how to cook Filipino food and simply relied on buying convenience food or on their own mothers or grandmothers,” says Rowena, who has an MBA as well as a bachelor’s degree in sociology at the California State University.

Rowena wanted to show that one can certainly whip up timeless Pinoy recipes and not have to spend hours in the kitchen. “My cookbooks bring together the best of both worlds—a dash of Filipino tradition and taste, with a sprinkling of American convenience,” she explains.

In celebration of Philippine Independence Day this June—as well as the launching of Easyfilipinocooking—all cookbook prices are discounted.

All Things Adobo, which has recipes for 16 different variants, is priced at $2.99, while Easy Filipino Recipes, with over 100 meal ideas, is available for $4.99. The Lumpia and Pancit Recipes book is offered at $2.99.

The best of two worlds
Rowena was 12 when she visited the Philippines for the first time. “I think my fondest memory is the food!” she exclaims.

Home, however, has always been California, where she has spent the majority of her 36 years.

“Growing up a first-generation Fil-Am has its benefits, certainly, but when you are a kid, it also has its trials,” she says. “Overall, I would not change anything about my upbringing or my culture.”

These days, aside from attending to the site, Rowena also has her hands full babysitting her twins. Perhaps, she says, when the kids are older, they may be able to visit the Philippines again and know the taste of
sinigang, dinuguan, and monggo—her three favorites—as they are cooked in the old country.

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