“You’re only a dog, old fellow; a dog, and you’ve had your day;
But never a friend of all my friends has been truer than you alway.”
– Julian Stearns Cutler
Almost a week ago, I lost my oldest dog, a Labrador Retriever mix named Swift. She was very sweet, understanding, obedient, intelligent, loyal and a friend to all she met, humans and animals alike. She was even close to another pet that we had, George the bunny. It’s been hard and also difficult to write this post, but I have to dedicate it to her, one of my truest friends.
She was by my side since I was 10 years old and was my best friend while going through my pre-teen, teen, and college years. My companion through thick and thin. As I practiced the guitar and tried to sing, she was my #1 fan. I would play a lullaby for her when she was sleepy. I think that lullaby was her favorite song.
I still remember the day that we got her. I think I was 10 years old. One afternoon my dad and my sister came home with a fluffy puppy! I named her and when I called out “Swift!!!,” she came wiggling her tail, shaking her butt and shimmying towards me very energetically. On that afternoon we started our special bond, a true friendship. She got along with the other dogs and was very playful. She loved attention, but was never jealous. She didn’t mind you giving attention to the other dogs too. The only time she was jealous was when I was eating “honey bunches of oats” cereal and I was sneaking in some of the cereal flakes for her to eat. My sister came by and started eating some so Swift yapped to tell her to go away. We laugh at that moment now. Another funny memory was when my sister and I were in the garage waiting in the car with the doors closed and we noticed that Swift was near the garage door. We screamed to get her attention and Swift jumped on the car and made her way on top of the roof of the car! She was a funny dog, had a puppy-like energy and loved life.
Swift, trying on a ladybug costume for Halloween. She always knew when someone was taking her picture so she always (actually 98% of the time) looked away from the camera. My sister framed this picture for me when I moved out of the house about 4 years ago. I missed seeing Swift everyday so this picture made me smile while I was away living close to campus in grad school. Looking at pictures of my dogs always makes me feel good 🙂
Found some funny pictures of her while looking through my old Blackberry phone:
Her, “I don’t like pictures” look.
A picture of Swift and Keiko that makes me laugh.
The good old days playing outside, enjoying the day and Swift not wanting to take pictures 🙂
Among Swift’s favorite foods of cheese and castañas (chestnuts) was mung bean stew, which we call “monggo” or “monggo guisado.” This is a great dish that many Filipinos love, my family included. She had great taste in food. I’m sure she would approve of my take on monggo, which I am finally making for the first time.
From my parents, I learned about soaking mung beans. A few hours or an overnight soak is a good amount of time, though some people soak their beans for 24 hours. You could still cook this dish without soaking, but it takes longer. It’s debatable whether soaking beans aids in digestion, but it’s up to you to decide. As for me, I like soaking beans. I noticed that it helps me against flatulence and it’s discontents.
I like to use steak seasoning (with no fillers) and garlic salt to flavor this dish in addition to salt & pepper and the usual aromatics, onion and garlic.
The garlic salt and steak seasoning are used to marinate the pork. If you aren’t into eating pork, you could use tofu, which is another traditional ingredient in monggo.
Greens are another component of this dish. Malunggay leaves are often used, but spinach works well too. You could even use the Power Greens Mix that I used in the matza lasagna.
Part of the flavor base for this dish: sliced onions, minced garlic, and cubed tomatoes.
Before you start cooking anything else, start cooking the soaked beans. It usually takes about 35-40 minutes, which gives you enough time to prep and cook the other ingredients.
While the beans are simmering, the onions and garlic have been sautéed with seasonings and the pork is browning.
Once the pork is browned, to get some of the flavorful brown bits on the pan, deglaze with wine, stock, or water. Then throw in the tomatoes and let those cook and soften.
Once the beans are cooked, add them and the cooking liquid into the pot with the other ingredients and let it simmer.
You can add more liquid if you want or keep it thicker. Once the stew is at the consistency that you like, turn off the heat and add the cooked shrimp & spinach. I like to add the spinach with the heat off so that it wilts but stays vibrant.
Swift loved mung beans and when she got sick a couple of times and didn’t want to eat dog food, this is what she would eat sans garlic, onion, tomato, and seasonings, of course. The other dogs like mung beans too, but Swift ate this dish with gusto, not like anyone I’ve seen.
You could use crushed pork rinds as a topping or put whole pork rinds in the dish. Last weekend while shopping at Sur La Table, I got a kitchen lighter that reminds me of Swift. Now I can be reminded of her when I am in the kitchen. 🙂
At the Asian market, I found a fish version of pork rinds which is pretty good. You could use that if you want, especially for days during Lent.
Filipino Mung Bean Stew (Monggo Guisado)
- 1 1/2 cups mung beans (soaked in water overnight)
- ½ lb pork, cubed (or can use tofu)
- steak seasoning, to taste (optional)
- garlic salt, to taste (optional)
- ~32 ounces water (for boiling)
- cooking oil
- 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 0.5-1 cup onion, sliced
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 bouillon cube, any flavor (optional)
- dash of white wine (optional)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
- 1 cup tomato, cut in ~3/4 inch cubes
- 2 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup cooked shrimp (optional)
- pork rinds aka chicharron, crushed (optional, for garnish)
- Soak mung beans overnight (at least 6 hours) in enough water to fully submerge them.
- Marinate cubed pork in steak seasoning and garlic salt in the fridge for 1 or 2 hours or overnight. (optional step)
- In a pot, ring the ~32 ounces of water to a boil and add the soaked mung beans. Simmer for 40 minutes to an hour or until soft.
- While the beans are simmering, heat a large pot on medium, add a dash of oil and sauté the onion and garlic until soft and starting to brown. Season with salt & pepper to taste and mix in the bouillon. Add the pork and stir-fry until browned, about 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with white wine or with water and add the fish sauce and tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes longer. Add the cooked mung beans and liquid. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes longer. Turn off the heat and add the spinach and cooked shrimp. Stir and let the spinach wilt. Serve with rice, chicharron topping, and enjoy!
Everytime I make and eat mung bean stew, I’ll always remember my true friend Swift.
There’s something missing in my home,
I feel it day and night,
I know it will take time and strength
before things feel quite right.
But just for now, I need to mourn,
My heart — it needs to mend.
Though some may say, “It’s just a pet,”
I know I’ve lost a friend.
You’ve brought such laughter to my home,
and richness to my days.
A constant friend through joy or loss
with gentle, loving ways.
Companion, friend, and confidante,
A friend I won’t forget.
You’ll live forever in my heart,
My sweet, forever pet.
— “My Forever Pet” by Susanne Taylor
We all miss you Swift! The dogs, Keiko, Jack, Pipi, and Bella miss you.
In Loving Memory
- Red Lentil Stew – a Remix of Filipino Mongo (mung bean stew) (foodflavorfascination.wordpress.com)
- How to make Togue Guisado (Sautéed Bean Sprouts) (pinoychizmiz.wordpress.com)
- Mung Beans and Ham Hock (thebloggingpath.com)
- Filipino Chicken Noodle Soup with Turkey Meatballs (Sotanghon Soup) (foodflavorfascination.wordpress.com)
- VEGAN mung bean curry >>~~**** (veganlivity.wordpress.com)