The broth is everything in the Chicken Adobo that Cynthia Mahaffey makes in her slow cooker.
“As I am a single working person, I most often throw everything in the Crock-Pot and turn it on high in the morning. At lunch I turn it to low. When I quit working at five, I put Basmati or long grain rice (no minute rice or Uncle Ben’s) in the rice cooker. That takes about 20 minutes. When that is done, the Chicken Adobo is ready,” Mahaffey said.
She serves it with preserved red ginger and cilantro.
In Filipino, or Tagalog, Chicken Adobo is called Adobong Manok.
“Unfortunately I don’t have chopsticks. It would look cool for the photo, but I thought of it too late in the game. That is how it would probably be eaten,” Mahaffey said.
She makes the Chicken Adobo several times a month.
“You can do it on the stove, but I like to do it in the Crock-Pot, because it’s so easy, and it makes its broth and I’m as much about the broth as anything.”
Any kind of vinegar except balsamic can be substituted for rice vinegar.
“It’s chicken and rice, but it’s got this vinegary taste. We don’t eat vinegar like that, unless you are raised in the South, where you would put vinegar on greens. My step-dad was a dust-bowl Okie. He taught me to make ham and beans and he always put vinegar on his beans. I grew up eating vinegar on spinach. I’m sure it was apple cider vinegar. … In this dish there’s way-more vinegar than we’re used to in America. It’s so good,” Mahaffey said.
Her recipe is adapted from her favorite and most used cookbook, “Extending the Table…A World Community Cookbook, by Joetta Heinrich Schlabach.
Mahaffey has also occasionally made it with beef, but believes that chicken would be more popular and more available in the Philippines.
She also uses a rice cooker, to make the rice.
“I eat a ton of rice. I’m not a person with a lot of gadgets. I don’t enjoy having a lot of gadgets, but this I use more than anything else, more than the Crock-Pot even. If you eat a lot of rice, you’ve got to have one of those, because you just put it in with water, or chicken broth, or whatever, and 20 minutes later it’s done. No fuss, no muss,” she said.
She gets Shan Himalayan Basmati Rice from the Middle Eastern Market in Sylvania. The broth gets sucked up by the rice.
“That’s what I love. My favorite dish when I was a kid was what my mom called rice and brown gravy. My mom was a single working mom, so I’m sure it came out of a can, but I love it,” Mahaffey said.
“There’s a lot of good rice out there, but I prefer this to what you get in the supermarket,” she said. “It’s fun. I love going into international markets. The people are super nice. Always. I’ve never had anybody nasty to me. I will ask what stuff is and it’s just fun. They have vegetables you would never see in Kroger.”
She thinks leftovers are even better. She will make enough for as much as a week and freeze individual portions.
Mahaffey, Ph.D., is a teaching professor in the English department at Bowling Green State University, who grew up in an international neighborhood in Southern California. That diverse environment molded many of her perspectives.
Mahaffey has been writing, or teaching writing, for most of her life.
Before finishing her undergraduate degree she had a couple of jobs, including newspaper editor at a small town, rural paper.
“I had a blast and I interviewed some very cool people,” Mahaffey said. “I was working about a hundred hours a week, doing all the sports photography, all the darkroom work, copy editing, everything but what they called, at the time, society news.”
This is her 32nd year of teaching and she loves it, but she’s almost ready to retire.
“I love to cook and I do a lot of cooking,” Mahaffey said. “I used to cook for a lot of people. When I was in the Chapman Learning Community I used to make two Crock-Pots worth of soup every Wednesday.”
Chapman is a BGSU learning community at Kohl Hall.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic Mahaffey tried to start her day with an 8 a.m. class and finish with a class at 5 p.m.
“I’ve always had dogs. I run home at noon and walk the dog, run back to school and do office hours, until five,” Mahaffey said. “But when I came home at 5:15 I have food (so) I’m not tempted to drive thru. I’m a Type-2 diabetic, so there’s stuff I shouldn’t be putting in my face and this is healthy and good.”
Now she teaches all four of her classes entirely online. She has 100 students a semester, mostly freshmen that are non-English majors, in programs as diverse as business, supply-chain management and psychology. Primarily she teaches academic research writing classes. Nine months a year she is reading papers.
It took her eight years to get her undergraduate degree, because of the variety of jobs she needed to get through. She speaks very highly of the California higher educational system of the time that cost her no more than $120 per semester.
“I feel sorry for the kids today. It absolutely changed the course of my life,” Mahaffey said of college. “I always say to my students, especially to the ones that are in the circumstances I was in, ‘If you work this right, school can save you. It can change your life. It can change your circumstances. If you grew up in the worst part of Detroit, you get your education and you are out. Or you can go back and help. Whatever you decide.’ I’m always on students who are frogging around.”
Mahaffey lives in Bowling Green within walking distance of the university. Her son Edward lives in Toledo and for the last 10 years has been a cook at Easy Street Cafe in Bowling Green.