As far as I could remember, every trip I’ve made to Baguio always included a visit to the Good Shepherd Convent on Gibraltar Road. And, it seemed, so did everyone else.
The Good Shepherd Convent is the place to buy all kinds of enticing sweets: strawberry jam, peanut brittle, angel cookies, snowballs, lengua de gato, and, of course, the very desirable ube jam.
Bearing the label Mountain Maid, these products are made by the nuns of the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) congregation, and that adds much to their appeal. After all, they’re baked and cooked by virtuous nuns who have selflessly dedicated themselves to helping others.
Every jar of cookies, every pack of peanuts, every bottle of jam bought goes to helping finance the college education of youth from the Cordilleras.
Recently the nuns have come up with a new product, the second edition of their cookbook that was published in 2008. Titled “The Good Food Book, with Recipes from the Garden,” this new edition contains recipes contributed by the Lay Affiliates of the Good Shepherd, as well as by Sr. Guadalupe Bautista, RGS, and Sr. Marion Chipeco, RGS.
According to book editor Julie Cabatit-Alegre, the recipes are grouped into two categories: Bahay Kubo, which uses vegetables that grow in the backyard (as in the folk song); and Baguio Basket, for recipes that use fruits and vegetables grown in the highlands.
The recipes are thus anchored on the concept of freshness and simplicity. Many of them are also treasured recipes that have been passed on from generation to generation.
A bonus is the recipe for strawberry jam a la Sr. Mary Assumption Ocampo, which is listed at the end of the book. The recipe probably comes close to recreating the famous Mountain Maid jam sold at the Good Shepherd convent.
Meanwhile, here’s Sister Guadalupe’s recipe for banana chips, which I tried last weekend. Made with only four ingredients, it’s easy to do and makes an ideal, healthy snack.
The Good Food Book is P280 a copy, available at Good Shepherd Convent, 1043 Aurora Blvd., Quezon City (tel. 9136433 and 9136437) and at Mountain Maid Training Center, Good Shepherd Baguio, 15 Gibraltar Rd., Mines View, Baguio City; tel. (074) 4242496 and (074) 4423865.
Sweet banana chips
(Recipe of Sr. Guadalupe Bautista, RGS)
For the syrup:
1 c sugar
3 c water
For the bananas:
10 unripe saba bananas
1-2 c cooking oil
Make the syrup:
Combine the sugar and water in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil. Let boil until sugar dissolves completely and liquid is clear. Set aside.
Fry the bananas:
Cut the bananas lengthwise into thin slices. You may also cut them crosswise or diagonally. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan and fry the bananas until half cooked (you may have to do this in batches). Transfer the half-cooked bananas to a plate lined with paper towels.
Dip the bananas in the prepared syrup, then transfer them to a plate. Reheat the cooking oil and fry the bananas a second time until they are a golden orange color and crunchy. Let cool, then serve, or pack them in airtight containers. If desired, serve with extra sugar.