Archive for September, 2010

I’m Here to Learn

Hope everyone had a great weekend! It’s been a while since my last post, but things have been a bit hectic here with K starting school. We’ve also got some guests over from Vietnam staying here for almost two months, so you may see less posting from me. 

Anyways, most of you have already heard of Project Food Blog by Foodbuzz. If you haven’t, just click on the link. I just want to take some time and tell you why I didn’t enter and also talk a bit about why I blog. As much as I would love to win that $10 000 and a special feature on Foodbuzz.com for one year, I just don’t have the time and commitment to go through all those challenges with two young kids. The challenges do sound super fun though. Another big reason is because blogging is just a hobby for me, and I know there are many, many other bloggers out there who deserve the win much more than I do. By the way, congratulations to all those who made it to the next round!

Now I want to talk about something only a blogger can/will understand:

Like I said, blogging is just a hobby for me. It’s a huge way for me to help relieve stress, whether I’m reading blogs or writing a post. Before I even started my own blog, I would lurk around blogs. Yup, I was a lurker. I would just read blogs and would be a bit afraid to comment. Then after my first comment, I felt more comfortable commenting so I would comment more frequently. Then I started having fun commenting and I thought, why not start my own blog? That’s when I got sucked into “the abyss”, and I’ll explain why I called it the abyss.

I started my blog to help me document my own recipes and recipes that I learned from my Mom and others. I also thought it would be a great idea if this could be a visual journal of fun events and memories that Gary and I shared with the kids. Then there came a time when I got obsessed with getting comments. If you’re a blogger, it’s most likely you’ve gone down this road before, jumping around from blog to blog commenting and hoping to get a comment in return.  It was probably four months into blogging that I finally realized that this was interfering with too much of the time that I had to spend with my kids. That was when I finally snapped out of it. I no longer stay on the computer for hours and hours blogging. I no longer feel like I HAVE TO get a post up by a certain time frame. I don’t feel like this is a job. I only comment on blogs which I WANT to comment on, rather than commenting just to get a comment in return. And the biggest thing that set me free from “the abyss”, was that I am no longer obsessed with how many comments I get and who commented and who didn’t. Once I realized all of that, blogging became fun again. I hope any blogger who has been sucked into “the abyss” will be able to find their way out. Only then, will blogging become fun again. I know this may sound kind of funny and ridiculous, but in all seriousness, blogging should be fun, not a weight on your shoulders.

Another big reason why I food blog is because I’m curious about different kinds of foods, and I luvtoeat! But how can I eat if I don’t even know what that certain food is? So I also food blog to learn. When Aletheia at La Fille Naturelle tweeted about the cactus pear, it perked my curiosity. I had never heard of it before and was very intrigued. So I googled it to see what it looked like and I went on a mission to find it. I found some at Costco. At first from afar I thought they were potatoes. Then I realized they were cactus pears and got super excited the way a foodie gets super excited when they find a new food. I know all you foodies know exactly what I’m talking about.

The inside of this fruit is beautiful, my camera doesn’t do it justice. It smelled really pleasant, kind of like a watermelon. The taste was what blew me away though. Sweet like a cross between and watermelon and a strawberry, but not overly sweet. It did have many, many hard annoying seeds though. I loved the taste, but hated the seeds. 

I wasn’t sure how to eat this so I just winged it and ate the seeds cause that was the part that tasted the best. Then I decided I had to google that too (don’t ask me why I didn’t do that at first). I found this video:

The guy in this video actually threw away the seeds! So I tried watching other videos and it seemed most people just peel the skin off and eat the meat and seeds that’s immediately under the skin. So I was left confused. Do you just eat the meat? Do you just eat the seeds? Do you eat both the meat and the seeds? If anyone out there knows, I’d love to hear.

Another thing that perked my interest were these:

I read about these on Lynn’s blog over at The Actor’s Diet. I’m crazy over coconut juice straight from a coconut so I really wanted to try these. I found the mango flavor and passion fruit flavor at Planet Organic, but wasn’t able to find plain coconut water. That’s the one I really wanted to try. They were really refreshing, but like I said, I really wanted plain COCONUT water. I had a sip of each and let my kids have the rest. I really liked them both, but my kids liked them more. So what do you do as a Mom right?

Speaking of my kids, here’s something else I’m here to learn:

Baking! With K in playschool now, she brings 2 healthy snacks with her every time she goes (only 3 days a week). So I thought it’d be in my best interest that I learned to bake healthy snacks for her. Like I’ve said before, baking is not my forte, but for my daughter, I’m willing to learn. This was a delicious banana bread recipe I got from Ameena at Fancy That …Fancy This.

Only problem was, I left the bread in for too long and burned the top. Sorry Ameena, I’ll keep a closer eye on it next time, but it WAS delicious. Thank you for your recipe!

Here’s another recipe I tried: Honey Spice Fig Cookies

This lovely recipe is from Monet at anecdotes and apple cores. After reading her touching post, it inspired me to bake these “cookies” for K as an afterschool treat. I put quotation marks around “cookies” because you can tell that mine were obviously not cookies. I got greedy and made bigger balls (minds outta the gutter please :-)) than the recipe called for and I paid the price. Instead they turned into buns…lol. So I call these bun-ckies…teehee. It was a really scrumptious recipe, just poorly executed. Sorry Monet, I promise to make “COOKIES” next time. Thank you for your lovely recipe, now I can bring my daughter an afterschool treat.

Here’s another dish from another wonderful blogger I tried long ago, but forgot to post it till now, Laksa! If you like coconutty flavored curry soups, this is your dish. I put in fish tofu, mussels, salmon, okra, bean sprouts, and water spinach. It was divine!

I got this idea from Mary at Keep Learning Keep Smiling (love that blog name!). Thank you Mary for always sharing your lovely recipes. And thank you to all these sweet bloggers whom I’ve mentioned in this post. If you haven’t visited their blogs, please do. They really are sweet sweet ladies. Last but not least, thank you to all you bloggers out there for teaching me something everyday. I really enjoy blogging and learning from each and every one of you everytime I visit your blogs. I may not always comment (most of the time I do cause I like to talk a lot…haahaa), but I truly always do appreciate what you have to share and teach me in your posts. Cheers to blogging everyone!

So there you have it, why I didn’t enter the foodbuzz challenge, why I blog, and how I got out of “the abyss”. I’m glad to have found the light at the end of the tunnel and am able to enjoy blogging again. Have you ever been caught in “the abyss”? How did you get yourself out to enjoy blogging again? That’s it for this week. I hope everyone had a great weekend and will enjoy a wonderful week. Until next time, friends and family :-D. Don’t get sucked into the abyss 😉

The Hokey Pocky Avocado Banana Coconut Mingle

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all having a wonderful week! Denise at Quickies on the Dinner Table and Lazaro at Lazaro Cooks! are having another Quickies: Morning, Noon and Night Cooking Challenge. The challenge is to create a cocktail, alcoholic or non-alcoholic. The prize is Denise’s spectacular cookbook.

With two young kiddies, I decided to go the non-alcoholic route so that they could enjoy the treat as well. I present to you: The Hokey Pocky Avocado Banana Coconut Mingle.

As a kid, I loved avocados, and still do. My Dad used to make these  unforgettable avocado shakes for me. He blended avocado, condensed milk and milk for a simple treat. For this Quickies Challenge, I’m taking that shake to a new level. Be warned, this is not a “watch your waistline” kind of drink.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole avocado
  • 1/2 a banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs condensed milk
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 2 cups homo milk (I used homo cause that’s what my son is drinking right now.)
  • a sprinkle of coconut flakes
  • 2 Pocky sticks

Put everything in a blender and blend until all ingredients are mixed to a smooth consistency. Sprinkle coconut flakes on top, add the Pocky sticks and enjoy.

What’s up with the Pocky sticks you ask? As a child, I also loved these Pocky treats. My kids were enjoying some as I was making this shake. When I was done, I realised I needed some colour contrast to better the presentation so I thought, why not add something that they love, to a drink that I loved as a child? The strawberry flavored Pocky sticks went really well with the avocado, banana and coconut flavors.

“What we’re looking for is a delicious sounding and sexy cocktail – either with a sexy name, sexy or cheeky background story, or a sexy looking presentation, or best of all, ALL THREE!!! The entry which best exemplifies sex appeal, in a glass, wins!” (These are Denise’s words exactly.)

So let me try to convince you why I think this drink is sexy:

Sexy = naughty (bear with me). “Coconut” bikinis/bras are sexy aren’t they? Avocados are aphrodisiacs aren’t they (naughty)? And you know what naughty images most people get when they think of bananas. So I think my drink qualifies as sexy. If not, then E for effort? G-rated blog remember?

What were some of your favorite childhood treats?  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Until next time, friends and family :-D.

Expect the Unexpected

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! We had a meeting for K’s playschool last week and she got to meet some of her classmates, teacher, and see her classroom for the first time. Parents were allowed to bring their kids and drop them off in the classroom with the teacher while we went to our meeting. We thought it was going to be a difficult time dropping her off cause she would be attached to us and wouldn’t let us leave. Well, total opposite guys! She was so impressed with all the toys that when we told her we’d be back soon, her reply was, “Okay, see you soon.” Neither of us were expecting that response. Where’s my daughter and what did you do with her? Anyways, 2 hours later the meeting was over and when we went to take K home, she didn’t want to leave. Long story short, it was 9 pm, we were the last ones there, and Dad had to carry a shoeless, screaming Cinderella (who refused to say bye to the teacher) out of her classroom. Oh the perks of parenthood (forcing a smile). Let’s talk about something more joyful shall we? FOOD!

Visited Pagolac in Chinatown again this weekend. I usually order the “pho tai” (rare beef and noodle soup) with spicy soup, but today I felt like having their weekend special, “bun rieu“. Pagolac’s version is a tomato based soup with shrimp, (faux) crab meat and ground pork with vermicelli. When I make bun rieu at home, I put in a lot more seafood. If you dislike tomatoes, I highly suggest you steer clear of this dish.

Topped with some bean sprouts, Thai Basil and hot sauce.

Gary, AKA The Hungry Hubby, ordered a large “bun bo hue” (spicy rice noodle soup with well done sliced beef).

It comes with the thicker noodles, which I’m not too fond of.

I can usually finish my dish, but for some reason I couldn’t finish this time. There was nothing wrong with it either. It was totally unexpected, and as much as I hated it, I had to stop and obey what my body was telling me. Do you always try to finish everything?

Here’s something else I didn’t expect, The Hungry Hubby finished his large bowl, my leftovers and the children’s leftovers. Now you know why he calls himself The Hungry Hubby.

After all that, a long stroll was much needed. We went and got K her very first back pack! I think I’m more excited for her than she is. I’m loving those double-decker carts the malls now have (and so are the kids).

Also had dinner at my parents’ house again so I’d like to share this quick and easy beef salad dish with you. Sorry for the horrible phone pictures; I forgot my camera that day.

Makes two plates, feeds 4 to 6 people.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 an iceberg lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes (sliced)
  • 1 white onion (shredded)
  • 1/2 lb beef (sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil

Before you do anything, you’ll want to marinade your sliced beef for about half an hour.

Beef Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Start layering your plate with lettuce on the bottom, then the sliced tomatoes, then the sliced onions. Repeat this again with another layer exactly the same.

You can’t really tell by the next picture, but there are actually two layers of lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.

Before you start cooking your beef, you’ll want to prepare your dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce:

  • juice of 1 whole lime
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Next, heat up a wok with some cooking oil. Dump in the garlic and cook until they’re just starting to turn brown. Dump in your sliced beef and toss around until you achieve the doneness that you like.

Scoop up the beef and place on top of your salad.

Try to get a piece of everything and dip it into the sauce.

My Dad contaminated the sauce with a piece of something oily (I forget what) that he dipped in there so that’s why there’s a rim of oil; I was not impressed.

You can easily substitute the beef with chicken, shrimp, pork, or even fish fillets. This can be enjoyed as an appetizer or eaten with rice.

Here’s something else I wasn’t expecting from K:

Don’t ask. Just keep swimming……just keep swimming (anyone remember what that’s from?). Thank you for reading about my crazy life again. Untill next time friends and family :-D.

Oyster Sauce Isn’t Just For Chinese Cooking

What is shrimp Mommy?

Shrimp is “ha” (Cantonese) honey.

What is “ha” Mommy?

“Ha” is shrimp honey.

What is shrimp and “ha” Mommy?

Aaaaah!

So to avoid those kinds of questions all day long, hubby and I usually take the kiddies to West Edmonton Mall almost every weekend. It’s a kid’s paradise.

They have train rides and balloon rides for the kiddies.

Merry-go-rounds.

Dollar rides. (I’m too cheap to put money in most of the time, haha.)

Roller coasters for the bigger kids.

A big swing, and so much more that I didn’t get a picture of.

Are you a rides person? Not me, I’m a little chicken when it comes to rides.

This is more my kind of ride 😀

If you have more time you can even visit the world water park.

With lots of water slides.

If you don’t feel like swimming, you can enjoy some icy fun.

They also have mini golf and submarine rides too, which I didn’t have time to get a picture of either. Not to mention, SHOPPING GALORE!. This mall is a MUST visit if you’re ever in Edmonton.

Speaking of shopping, can someone answer this question for me: Victoria, what’s her secret?

Yup, this was the line up for the grand opening of Victoria’s Secret in West Edmonton Mall about a month ago.

A month later, I finally got in to see what the commotion was all about. Not much different than the Victoria’s Secret stores in the United States (I don’t think). Sorry for the lingerie picture boys (or not? :-D).

We don’t dare have guests over until we’ve drained out the kids for the day. Our friend Nancy and her hubby Frankie were brave enough to come over and join us, and then I suddenly realized I never shared my steak marinade with you. I know it’s a bit late now with summer almost over, but before I forget again, here it is:

(Marinades 4 to 6 pieces of steaks)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chicken broth powder
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1/8 cup melted butter

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

I used 4 pieces (1kg) of tenderloin grilling steaks and 3 pieces (1.5 kg) of boneless rib grilling steaks. Hubby enjoys the rib grilling steak, while I enjoy my tenderloin, so that’s the reason why we used different cuts of meat.

Before marinating, poke holes on both sides of each piece of steak with a fork.

Spread marinade on both sides. Allow to marinade overnight in the fridge. I like to use an ice cream pail rather than ziplock bags to contain the steaks.

We were so busy entertaining that I forgot to take pictures of our dinner (such a bad food blogger), but here’s a picture of another steak dinner we had using the same marinade.

I don’t eat meat a whole lot, but when I do, it’s gotta be medium rare. Nancy brought over some Boston Cream Whoopie Pie that she made. It’s not her recipe, but she was kind enough to share the link to the recipe with me. I really enjoyed these as they weren’t overly sweet like a Boston cream donut, yet sweet and creamy enough to keep you coming back for more. The dark chocolate helped to balance out the sweetness, and the “pie” itself was deliciously soft and moist. Well done, my friend.

They also brought over this Dr. Loosen Riesling. We didn’t have it that night, but the next day my kiddies were driving me insane, so this bottle came to the rescue. I absolutely loved it, as I’m a big fan of Rieslings. If you like sweet wines, you’ll like this one.

And there’s the shy girl.

Some of you may remember her from the time we made cakepops together with our other friend Anju.

Haha…no point hiding behind your hand when I have MANY MANY incriminating pictures of you. Just be glad I used this one 😀

As we were eating, a rather interesting question came up; so I thought I’d include you all in the discussion since this IS a food blog afterall. If you were having good friends over for dinner, would you think it’d be okay to wear your PJ’s? Don’t worry, that question didn’t come up cause I served them in my sexy Superman PJs (yes, I have Superman PJs and am damn proud of them :-D). It was a question Nancy had asked.

As soon as I get home, I’m out of my street clothes and straight into PJ’s. My point of view on that question would be, I think it’d be okay to wear “comfortable” clothing, like a pair of sweats and a t-shirt, but not full-blown matching top and bottom flannel cow PJs. What are your thoughts?

On another note, my baby girl is starting playschool next week (sniff sniff) and I know I’ve got some Mommies and Daddies out there who read this blog. I’d really appreciate any advice or input you’d like to share on the first day of playschool, or playschool in general. Or even past stories you’d like to share. I welcome all comments about kiddies/school/lunches whatever you want to share. With school starting, I’m probably not going to have as much time to blog as well, so just a heads up on that. I bid you goodbye for now from the Momoirs of a Food Enthusiast. I hope you’re all having a great long weekend! Until next time friends and family :-D.