The Traveling Chefs’ First Camping


The Traveling Chefs‘ first camping happened in the Little Talbot Island State Park. After months of trying to persuade Chef Alicia to try camping, she finally said yes with some caveats.

There should be water and electrical hook ups and the sleeping condition should be comfortable. Chef Pedro assured her she will be fine for he said he has camped before.

Chef Alicia didn’t know that his last and only camping happened during his boy scout days, about fifty years ago. As one of the smallest boys in elementary school, he wasn’t much of help in pitching a tent or in cooking. All he can remember is that he joined the knot tying and building a fire contests.

After a thorough search of available campgrounds, The Traveling Chefs decided to camp in the Little Talbot Island State Park. At this time, they had no RV yet, so they use a tent their friends gave them a long time ago. They paid $24 for a night stay at Little Talbot.

“What if it rains during the night?”, Chef Alicia asked. Chef Pedro said they’ll be alright. The tent should be able to handle that. If not, they can sleep in their Expedition as they did last night in Fernandina Beach, he explained.

A young courteous ranger welcomed them in. He assured them they will be alright even though they are new to camping. As soon as they found their site, they thought of pitching their tent right away.


Chef Pedro surveyed the site and decided to put the tent up on the level ground. To his amazement, Chef Alicia set her half of the tent up ahead of his. All the while, he was bragging that he is the pro in camping.

After the tent is up, Chef Pedro built a fire. He rummaged for dry leaves, twigs and roots and with only a match, started the fire. He had an axe with him and was about to cut a fallen tree nearby when he recalled that campers must use their own firewood.

When he reviewed the welcome paper, he found out he couldn’t use the dry leaves or anything on the ground to start the fire. They hurried back to the station and bought the firewood.

The Sweet Potatoes Look Dark But They Tasted Good

For their dinner, they enjoyed their newly-cooked sweet potatoes and paired them with chicken adobo they have brought from home. They were happy to note that there were no mosquitoes or other insects to spoil their fun. They thought the campfire drove them away.

At 9:30 PM, they were ready to sleep. Before they got into the tent, Chef Alicia mentioned that it was getting windier. Chef Pedro told her to stay calm because it won’t rain. He reminded her to be ready with her pepper spray as he is ready with his. He also told her that he has also a hunting knife beside him and an axe should there be a need for them.


So far so good until the rain woke them up! They checked their phones for time and found out it’s 2 o’clock in the morning! “What shall we do, honey?”, Chef Alicia asked. Ever the “expert”, Chef Pedro reassured her not to worry for the rain shall soon stop.

Thirty minutes passed, the rain kept pouring. This time, the water has drenched some parts of their sleeping beds. They scampered to their Expedition and slept there ’til morning. Chef Pedro realized that had he pitched tent on the hill, the water wouldn’t have soaked their sleeping bags.

As soon as they woke up, they broke camp and washed their tent and dried it on their makeshift clothesline. They then proceeded to take a shower. Chef Alicia found a laundry room equipped with washer and dryer on her way there. The laundry room thrilled her.

At this point, Chef Pedro remembered he left his keys and his wallet on his backpack which he had placed on top of the picnic table at their campsite. He sprinted back and found the backpack right where he had left it.

On their way out of the park, Chef Alicia asked, “Dad, where are we heading next?” Chef Pedro said I don’t know. “You mean, we don’t have to go home!” “No”, he said excitedly; “We don’t have to go home.”

Right here was The Traveling Chefs’ eureka moment. They felt in their hearts the freedom that travel brings, that living in their house limits that freedom, that the road could be their new home, that a motorhome will make that happen. Most importantly, they realized they could live together happier with less.

Instead of taking I-95 S, they turned north for their next adventure. This time, Georgia is in their minds.

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Chef Alicia Cooks Bibingka


“Hi Dad!”, Chef Alicia greeted Chef Pedro this morning. “I’d like to cook bibingka. Will you get me some banana leaves?”, she asked. “Sure,” Chef Pedro replied, knowing that they have a banana tree in the backyard.

It must have been windy these past days because all the leaves are torn apart. “These won’t do,” she said. “I will make it happen for you,” he assured her. He pieced together the torn leaves and shaped them into the four tin molds which she has found in the pantry.

Pau must have left these with us when she moved to California,” Chef Alicia said. She wished she had eight instead so she could cook one recipe simultaneously. She tried looking for them in the stores but couldn’t find them. She’s wondering where Pau bought these from.


Originally made in the Philippines and Indonesia, bibingka is one of the rice cakes baked during Christmas and other special occasions. It is usually eaten during breakfast on Christmas season or sometimes served as a dessert or snack.

Different parts of the Philippines have their own versions of bibingka. Some add young coconut slivers or cooked duck egg or both. Others used cassava flour instead of the original glutinous rice.

Today is just Chef Alicia’s second time of cooking bibingka. She said she learned to cook it from a YouTube video. Prior to watching it, she thought it is something difficult to do. When she tried it the first time, she found it surprisingly simple.

She employs the modern way of cooking bibingka, making use of dry glutinous rice flour and tin molds popularized by restaurants. The original way of cooking it entails soaking the rice overnight, allowing it to ferment by the use of wild yeast. Then the rice is ground into a paste using a stone mill. We saw some of these stone mills growing up.


Emboldened by her initial success this morning, Chef Alicia tried to cook a bigger bibingka. This time, she uses a much bigger mold. Whereas on the smaller bibingka, she only baked them for 23 minutes at 375 °F, she found out that she had to bake this for one hour.

When she called Stephen and Kay to try them, they both liked them. Chef Pedro who normally stays away from rice cakes or any cake, loved them. He thinks his wife has a knack for baking. Of course, it’s now Christmas season again. This bibingka is an addition to Chef Alicia’s traditional boat tarts which everyone love.

If you’re interested in the exact recipe Chef Alicia used for both bibingka, please check back on our website. We will post the recipe for every dish we feature on our blogs. Ciao!

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Chef Alicia’s Christmas Treats


Chef Alicia’s Christmas treats are boat tarts. She learned to cook these mouth-watering treats from a family friend and neighbor in Passaic, New Jersey – the late Ima Alfonso who’s originally from Pampanga, Philippines.

Pampanga after all is widely considered to be the Culinary Capital of the Philippines. Ima’s two daughters who are also Chef Alicia’s friends still live in New Jersey and they too, cook boat tarts.

Boat tarts are Chef Alicia’s most awaited treats because she only prepares them during Christmas season. She used to sell them to friends when her family lived in New Jersey.

The fillings are usually made of cheese, condensed milk, eggs, and nuts. Chef Alicia uses almonds, cashew nuts and walnuts; she personally prefers the latter. Some people even use purple yam and macapuno or young coconut slivers. She tries macapuno sometimes. Chef Pedro likes them.

She only bakes her boat tarts on this special season because it is time-consuming. Very few Filipino-Americans make them because of the scarcity of boat-shaped tin molds in the U.S. Goldilocks, a prominent Filipino bake shop with branches in Canada and the US, sells them here in the US for $12.31/doz.


Boat tarts require one to bake the dough separately from the fillings. Chef Alicia makes sure she lines tin with the right amount of dough. She learned that if the dough is too thick, the boat tart become less delicious. If it is too thin, then it easily breaks, unable to support the fillings.

The Christmas season has began. Christmas is just around the corner. We’ll soon find out if Chef Alicia will make at least one of her family and friends’ dreams come true.

Should you need a recipe for Chef Alicia’s boat tarts, please check back on our website in the near future as we shall be adding the recipe for every dish we feature.

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