While the kids and workers at CSC are safe, there are so many people in this familiar-to-me corner of the Philippines that need help to recover and rebuild. I so appreciate your willingness to consider helping the Children’s Shelter of Cebu as they serve people with disaster response.
That picture above is one that a friend of mine took yesterday outside the hospital where she is a doctor in Cebu. These people are in need of medical care and unsure of whether or not their hospitals will safely hold them so they have been displaced to the surrounding area OUTSIDE of the hospital. This is just one example of the chaos in Cebu right now. It’s raw and it’s real.
THANK YOU for your thoughts, prayers, and general care for this part of the world and these precious kids. I’ve received many kind emails asking about the safety of the kids during the last few days, which just makes me feel like we all really know each other and care about the same things. ♥ You all are amazing. I’m leaving my regular recipe post up today, which feels a little weird, but it’s with the hope that I can shine some light and joy on yet another piece of this country even in the midst of turmoil.}
MA-HA. That’s how you say the name of this Sweet Corn Maja yummy little dessert that is the better cousin of Jell-O.
It’s actually not Jell-O at all. If you have a coconut tree right outside, then maja is fresh creamy coconut gelatinous little squares studded with nibs of sweet corn, which, BTW, is one of the crops that the island of Cebu is known for. Deliciously fitting.
Like many of the Filipino recipes from the Children’s Shelter of Cebu that I’m sharing here, this was one of the more popular menu items at kids’ birthday parties at the orphanage throughout the year. The aunties must really love those kiddos because they’d stand over a pot of bubbling coconut milk in the world’s hottest kitchen as it thickened, and thickened, and thickened. Annnd thickened. When I watched them make this, Auntie E would keep lifting the spoon out of the pot and flicking it back down to test the consistency of the maja as it dripped off the spoon. It was the kind of motion that could put you in a trance: stir, flick. stir, flick. stir, flick.
I made this at the cabin with my family this summer for our Filipino feast night which also happened to be my parents’ 25 wedding anniversary. My brothers and sister grew up in the Philippines and lived at CSC for a few years before joining our family, the first words out of my brother’s mouth when he bit into the maja: “You have no idea how good this is when you haven’t had it in five years.”
On that same line of thought, I just got an email from a reader yesterday that she has wanted to cook Filipino food for her kids who were adopted from the Philippines, but her kids are too young to articulate what kind of Filipino food they like. She said that these recipes were helping her kids remember and be able to describe the kinds of Filipino food they liked because of all the pictures, and I smiled like a fool for the rest of the day.
These recipes have always been intended to build bridges and open doors, and seeing that happen and even in my own family is just The Best.
A Filipino dessert called Maja that contains sweet corn with a creamy coconut milk base. Recipe from the orphanage that I worked at for a year!
4 1/2 cups coconut milk (light or thinner coconut milk works best)
3 ounces evaporated milk
3 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sweet corn
1 cups corn starch
1 cup sugar
Mix all ingredients and transfer to a large pot. Bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble. Let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes.
When the mixture clings to the spoon and no longer drips, transfer to a 9×13 pan. (You should not need to oil the pan.) Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until set. Cut into squares and serve cold or at room temperature.
The ingredient amounts are a little weird, for example, 3 ounces of evaporated milk. I tried to take exactly what the aunties did and scale it down for the normal cook since most of us don’t cook for 30 kids at a time. Sorry for the awkward amounts. Substitute regular milk in a pinch!