Amy Perez, also known as Chang Amy, can't stop talking about her love for cooking.
She remarked at her launch as Clara Ole's brand amabassador recently, “It's something na I love to do for my boys. Anything for my boys, I would cook for them!”
The host stressed the importance of keeping around the ingredients and gadgets that will help speed up the dish preparations and cooking time.
“...Mas napabilis at napadali yung pagluluto ko because I have no formal background naman with cooking.
“It was only after a while when I discovered I enjoy and I love what I do.
"Clara Ole made it easier for me, kasi nasa likod na yung recipe, yun na gagawin mo.”
MOTIVATION TO COOK. Her boys—Adi, Kyle, Isiah plus her husband Carlo—are the primary reasons why she feels she has to be good at cooking.
“Siyempre kasi, usually boys mahilig sila sa malasang food.
“And everytime I will come up with a special dish for my boys, talagang you will see that reaction na parang, ‘Wow, Mama, this is so good!’
“Ako naman feeling ko, ang galing ko na parang nag-aral ako sa culinary [school].”
She completed a three-month culinary course at the ISCAHM (International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management).
“I am always so pressured to come up with something that is unique and at the same time nutritious and magugustuhan ng mga boys.
"Alam niyo naman, mga moms like me, ‘pag boys, picky eaters kasi ang mga ‘yan.”
RECYCLING LEFTOVERS. She said that with pasta, she has learned to create and reuse leftovers.
“I can do that kahit 10 minutes lang, or even less. One recipe I created, alam ng mga nanay ‘eto, this is what I call a Castillo fave.
“Sa bahay namin, nangyayari madalas, if I check the pantry, or yung tira-tira, laging may mga, ‘Ay, bakit ako may sobrang ganito, bakit hindi nagagamit...’
“So one time, when I opened yung ref namin, nakita ko mayroon sausage, parang ang tagal na ng sausage na ‘eto.
"Kapag tumagal pa ng isang araw, baka puwede na etong tubuan ng kung ano... and then nakita ko na I have shiitake mushroom."
She added, “Usually for a mom like me, mayroon pressure na talagang kailangan iba yung huling niluto mo sa lulutuin mo ngayon.”
From that incident of having to create something from leftovers, Amy shared how she came up with the Castillo pasta favorite, which can be prepped in 10 minutes.
Amy joked, “Kanina pa akong one o'clock, nagluluto na ako para sa inyo.”
We all tried the Castillo fave, and agreed with Amy that it's a delicious pasta recipe
She then recounted an anecdote about her culinary discoveries.
“Gumawa naman ako ng salad, ginamit ko peanut brittle from Baguio kasi nakita ko, hindi yata ginagalaw ng kids ‘etong peanut brittle.
“So nilagay ko siya sa gulay at nilagyan ko ng Clara Ole na orange vinaigrette with a little suha and it works well with the boys.”
“OH, MY GULAY!” How does he make her boys like vegetables?
Amy revealed, “The technique with the boys is ini-slice ko nang maliliit yung gulay para hindi nila nanu-notice na, ‘Uy, gulay pala ‘to?’
“Actually, mahirap talaga pakainin yung mga bata, especially yung mga age na six.
“Yung two, they can eat anything, walang problema doon. Pero yung mga six years old, ‘pag nakita nilang may gulay, may carrot, ‘O, bakit may ganito?’
"Ang technique ko diyan is I slice it really small lang.”
THE SIMPLER, THE BETTER. She said she has stuck to a philosophy when cooking for her boys, “Mas simple, mas okay, mas malasa.
“'Pag spaghetti, sa bahay we always like it penne. For them, it's easier, isang ganoon ng tinidor and some subo, okay na, that's it.
"Or bow tie. Attractive din para sa mga kids.”
WIFE VS WORK DUTIES. How does a career woman like her find the energy to do some cooking?
“Alam mo, cooking talaga, it takes so much love for it, and you're happy na you can cook anything for your family.
“So talagang yung diskarte doon is if you have the time in what you love to do, you'll make time for them.”
She said it's a continuous balancing act, and it's harder than being an artista.
“Based on my experience kasi, every day, may pressure talaga to come up with a meal every day.
“Ako nga, ang feeling ko, mas mahirap yun than pagiging artista.
“Every Sunday, I have to sit down sa kitchen, check out my pantry, ano ba yung niluto ko last week, at dapat iba yung this week.
“Siyempre, nasanay rin tayo, 'pag Friday, munggo. Saturday-Sunday, sinigang, nilaga.
“So, ako talaga, what I do is I experiment a lot. Ako kasi when I open my pantry, kung ano nakita ko andoon, yung ang ginagamit ko.”
VARIATIONS ON A THEME. Amy also has encouraged mothers to try something new or use something old.
“I guess sa mga mothers, don't be afraid to try yung mga different recipes based on what you feel.
“If you feel like cooking tuna today, mix it with this and that.
"Basta lang, you know you can always try. 'Pag medyo pangit, try another dish.”
For her, as soon as she found out what her boys want, she kept experimenting with variations of the dish.
She added, “Yung mga boys ko kasi, they love pasta talaga. My basic pasta recipe before, yung ground beef 'tapos tomato sauce and with cheese lang.
“Nag-evolve na how I cook that. Minsan niluluto ko siya, I put a little egg, I put a small can of milk or I put a little bacon.
"So may ganoon ako ginagawa. Not just the regular spaghetti and meatballs.”
SUMMER STRESS. Summertime is vacation time so it's quite a challenge for mommies.
“Sabi ng ibang magulang kapag bakasyon, ‘Oh, finally we can take a break from all the gastos.’
“But no, kasi ang mga bata, ang lakas talaga kumain, and so siyempre iba yung feeling na nasa bahay lahat ng mga bata.
"So as a mom, may pressure sa akin to come up with a very special dish each day na nagigising sila for lunch, for dinner.”
She shared some of her own challenges in cooking for her boys because of the different age stages they're in.
“I guess yung second ko, si Kyle, siya yung picky eater.
“Every time I'd cook pasta, talagang sasabihin niya, ‘Mama, I want white sauce.’
“And then gusto niya penne. Yun talaga ginagawa ko. Kadalasan, if I cook pasta sa bahay, one tomato-based for [husband] Carlo and Adi and Isaiah and one white sauce for Kyle lang.”