Gratitude at 120.

Hay are for making wishes. Hay field. North Pole, Alaska. Photo by JAH. July 2018.


Here’s an undeniable truth: I launched the Echo Muse because I wanted to continue writing long after all the research and creative writing papers for the degrees were done. When reflecting back, I realized that even as a child, I was also writing.  And, as I went on my academic journey–I felt a bit lost as to who I truly am as a writer.

We’ve all been there, right? Sitting in a class where we’re surrounded by other writers who also felt passionate about their craft, and all were pretty damn good.  So much so that we begin to question our own ability. I’ve literally sat in grad classes where I quietly asked myself, “what am I doing here? Why am I listening to this? Wait, what the hell did that one kid just say?”

I remember wondering why am I even bothering to pursuit something that I’ve always loved? How do I silence the stories in my mind and the characters who seem to come out of nowhere.  I don’t know about you–but my characters surfaces in the oddest ways.  They either present themselves the way that huge ass clam shell slowly opened to reveal a beautiful Venus, or they show up as I am imagining myself sitting on a bench overlooking some river–and he or she sits right next to me and start talking. One of my favorite character unveiling was the one who cooked for me. I was sitting at a bar stool in a kitchen, a counter separated us, he looks at me, smiles and says, “you know what you have to do.” It didn’t hurt that he looked just like Tom Hardy in a chef’s jacket. He could’ve burned whatever it was that he was concocting, I didn’t care–because watching a Tom Hardy-esque chef cook should be a national past time.

Anyway back to the point, for years, I’ve shut these characters and storylines out. I gave tons of excuses: soccer practices, my office work, ballet practices, had to cook dinner, had to focus on a paper—you name every excuse, I’ve done it. But, truly, they weren’t excuses–they were devotions and dedications to the choices I’ve made in my life. The characters, and those story lines sat in a folder waiting, and waiting for their unveiling.

Then one day, after teaching a class full of first time college freshmen and listening to myself preach about how they should always remember their “voice” in all things they do, and that there will be people who’ll want to edit their craft–but it’s the heart of their voice that calls for preservation.  I realized “Gurl, you need to practice what you preach! Where the hell did you tuck your voice way? You best go find it!”

And, so The Echo Muse was born.

I remember New Year’s eve going into 2017, and as I watched the fireworks under a cold ass Alaskan night trying to avoid a runny nose while keeping my glove covered hands warm—I told myself “just write. Who cares if some people think you suck? Who cares if your stories don’t resonate with others? Who cares? Just write, and by sharing–you’re setting it free.  Write them and set them free.”

So. Here we are. To many bloggers it may seem that having 120 readers/followers is like a penny in an unforgotten corner of our jeans’ pocket, or even in a forgotten compartment of our cars. These days it’s not even remotely celebrated.  However, for me who was once hesitant about diving into any new explorations, I find the thought of 120 endearing.

This past weekend was filled with several accomplishments. I was given an opportunity to do some research and talk to many Fairbanksans about their craft (more to come about this later!), and I was reminded about how generously kindhearted people are, and more than willing to answer questions and provide advice. And, still true to my devotion and dedication to life–I watched my daughter perform with the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. The stage is her platform, and I as her mom was quite grateful that at a young age, she already understands the importance of staying true to her art.

To celebrate these mini-accomplishments (you’re all going to laugh because you’ve seen my writings about my fascination for this numerous times), I decided to bake my own version of the Ube pie–for the first time EVER.

I’m not even kidding. I felt like a contestant on the Great British Baking Show–you know that part of the competition when Mary, and Paul leave the tent and the bakers are provided with a very shady recipe and instructions, and the bakers are left to their own baking intuition? I totally did that this weekend. I scoured the pantry, and thought “Welllll, ube is kinda like sweet potato pie… Sooo, maybe if I use somewhat of the same methods… I might just be able to pull this shit off!”

I literally yelled out loud “Baker, on your mark, get set, bakkkkkkkkkke!” (of course in a British accent). Not to worry–the husband and the primadonna daughter wasn’t around to question my sanity–after all they are the recipients of the fruits of my labor.

And, because I have obsessed over ube so much in the past year, and I am ube-r grateful and appreciative for the readership The Echo Muse has reached (that’s 120 of you), that I am gifting you with my very own recipe of the Ube pie.

Thank you a million times over.


The Echo Muse Ube Pie. Photo by JAH. July 2018.

UBE Pie The Echo Muse Version

2 large purple potato (organic preferred. Wrap them in foil, and bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until soft–pierce them with a fork to be sure. But, when piercing, don’t do it through the foil or you’ll get foil bits stuck in them)

2 organic locally grown eggs (if you don’t have a chicken farmer on speed dial, feel free to use eggs from your nearby grocery store. No one’s gonna know!)

1 1/2 cups of sugar (or honey. But it’s a friggin’ pie–so sugar it is)

3/4 cup of coconut milk in a can (yesss, instead of the condense milk or evaporated milk called for sweet potato pie, I figured I need to stay close to my Filipino-American roots and use good ole’ coconut milk–Mabuhay Bitches!)

1 tsp. Maldon Sea Salt (or Kosher salt. I’m a huge Nigella Lawson fan and I sprinkle Maldon Sea Salt on everything like a Fairy sprinkling magic growing dust in a garden)

1-pie pan crust (so, here is where I cheat. I used an already made Pilsbury Doughboy pie crust. Don’t hate. I suck at pie dough making. I will, one day, perfect it. But, for this recipe-we gonna cheat a little)

  1. Mash the purple potatoes with a masher once you take them out of the oven. Peel them first, of course. Here’s what I did though, I baked those suckers the night before and placed them in the fridge because I was super lazy.
  2. In a stand mixer (my 16-year old Kitchen Aid mixer did the job for this), pour the sugar, coconut milk, maldon sea salt, and the eggs in the mixer bowl.
  3. With a spatula scrape the purple potatoes that you mashed in a bowl, and plunk them in the bowl with the rest of ingredients.
  4. Use the white paddle for the stand mixer for this filling. Put the mixer on medium speed and allow all the ingredients to combine. You’ll have some little bits of purple potato chunks, but it’s all good.
  5. Your pie pan should have your already made pie crust on it. Make sure to be very careful when pressing the crust up against that pan. I inadvertently created holes and I just patched that ish up and called it good!
  6. Pour your purple mixture into the pie crust (that’s in a pie pan, right?), and place it in the oven to cook for about 45 minutes. Your pie is set when it is gloriously a bit jiggly in the middle, but when you insert the toothpick, it comes out a bit clean.
  7. Let it set on the countertop for about 45 minutes or so until it’s cooled and good enough to eat.
  8. Eat with vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream. OR, just eat it the way I did–like a savage–the minute it cooled down.



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