Archive for December, 2010

And Christmas Eve Was Forever Changed

Growing up, my family never really celebrated Christmas much. We put up Christmas lights if the person responsible for the chore felt like doing it that year, we hardly ever exchanged gifts, we never got a Christmas tree until after living in Canada for about 10 plus years (that was the first and final year we ever got one), and we always had Chinese food on Christmas Eve. So as you can see, I guess you can say I was quite Christmas deprived.

As a child, I envied how other children got to help put up the Christmas tree, open gifts on Christmas day, enjoy their beautifully lit house, and even eat turkey (sounds kind of silly now). As I grew up, I got used to not doing all those things.

Then one Christmas Eve, everything changed. You were born.

Yes, you (on the right) were the exact replica of your Dad (on the left),

but I was just fine with that, because although you looked like him, you did things like me.

You slept like me.

You dressed like me.

You had a temper like me when someone tried to take away your food.

You even cleaned (or as Dad would call it, OCD-ed) like me.

I gave you life, but you taught me the true meaning of life. This Christmas you even gave me the best present ever (other than your birth of course).

It was a mold of your handprint, and written on the back was this poem:

Ever since you came into my life, you changed Christmas Eve forever. I promise to make every Christmas Eve as magical for you (and your little sidekick) every year as you have made it for me.

With all my love, always and forever,

Mommy ❤

I also want to take this time to thank all my wonderful readers for dropping by every week and visiting. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and happy holidays with your loved ones. Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with love, joy, prosperity, good fortune, and good health!

Doesn’t our legislature building look totally different (and beautiful) in the winter?

Thanks for stopping by again everyone. I promise there will be food in my next post. Until next time, friends and family. 😀

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Chinese Dinner With A Canadian Foodie

The Good: 

If you don’t believe real friendships can be made through blogging, BELIEVE because here’s proof. My family and I had the pleasure of having the oh so inspiring Valerie from  A Canadian Foodie and her very charming husband Vanja, over for dinner at my parent’s house. After Valerie invited hubby and I to her taste tripping party  and my two holy terrors over again to her house for some cookie making fun, I knew I had to do something in return to thank her. So dinner and a lesson in making XO sauce it was (so I thought) . I’ll explain “so I thought” later. 

If you haven’t met Valerie yet, you sure are missing out! Not only does this woman make amazing dishes from her own family recipes, but her enthusiasm and eagerness to learn makes her a human walking cookbook expanding with recipes by the day. She is one of the warmest, most sincere, generous and inspirational people you’ll ever meet. She sees no colour, difference in age or difference in sex when she welcomes you into her heart (and home). A true Canadian indeed.

This was the first time I really got to talk to Vanja and get to know him better. He’s quite the gentleman and very charming, might I add; even offered to wash dishes after dinner. Valerie, you’ve got a keeper there ;-). You two make the perfect couple. I usually have to give my dishwasher a few boots before he it starts working properly…teehee.

The Bad:

I wanted to invite Valerie over to my house, but since my Mom was going to demonstrate her XO sauce, I thought it’d be better to have the dinner and lesson at my parents’ house. Turned out, Mom misunderstood me. She thought I wanted her to show us just the ingredients and explain her method. There was no demonstration. I was so embarrassed and disappointed, but I had to keep my cool as I didn’t want to ruin the rest of the evening. My apologies again, Valerie.

The Yummy:

So out came the wok and on came my invisible apron. I don’t like wearing an apron when I cook. The OCD in me doesn’t think I need one, but boy is she wrong. I won’t show you the mess I made on Mom’s stove. Valerie…shhhh 😉

I made three dishes and Mom made two dishes plus a soup. I’ll have to say, being brought up in a Chinese home, we don’t care so much for the table setting, but the food must be good.

Mom’s Freshwater Prawns in Tomalley and Shrimp Paste.

My steamed Tilapia with ginger, garlic and green onions, finished with soy sauce drizzled in at the very end on top of everything.

Another plate of steamed Tilapia finished with soy sauce drizzled into the pan while sauteeing the ginger, garlic, and green onions because I prefer it this way while hubby prefers it the first way. Two slightly different dishes for two totally different eaters. Also allowed Valerie and Vanja to try both dishes.

I also made stir fried clams with black bean sauce.

The last dish I made was a stir-fried water spinach with fermented tofu (AKA fu yu ong choy in Chinese).

Mom’s super easy sesame chicken. (Recipe to come soon.)

My Mom also made a winter melon soup but I forgot to take a picture of it. I was probably too excited that the food was finally being served. I don’t function properly when I’m hungry.

 There’s Valerie hard at work with her other camera. Oh come on food bloggers, you all know exactly what I’m talking about when I say “other camera(s)”.

Now I think I got her attention. Always a gorgeous smile for the camera from this gem. Yes Valerie, I remember “the rule”.

Getting to know the youngest in our family, my niece. If you’re a new reader and wondering why there’s so much hair product in the background, it’s because my parents own a salon and they live there too.

Finally the star of the night, Valerie’s kick butt Pavlova.  I kid you not when I say this is THE BEST dessert I have ever eaten! Look how beautiful. It’s every bit as delicious as it looks!

Valerie and Vanja were so kind not only to bring a beautiful, delicious dessert, but they also brought gifts for my holy terrors and my parents (no, my parents were not the holy terrors I was referring to earlier…harhar). Thank you so much Valerie and Vanja, K and L really enjoyed their flashing glasses (L was so excited, he wouldn’t stand still for his picture)!

“Whose big piece of cake is this? ”

“Hands off Dad, that’s MINE! Go get your own.” 😛

Valerie and Vanja, I hope you both enjoyed the food and company as much as we enjoyed yours. Gotta love how food can bring together such cultural differences and create  wonderful friendships such as these.

Kiddies getting ready for bed as Gary and I were about to head out to a Christmas party.

Happy Holidays from the luvtoeat family! I may be taking a blogging break for the holidays, but I’ll be by to visit your blogs as much as I can. This is a crazy time for us as K’s birthday is Christmas eve, and Gary’s is right after new years. Party hardy everyone, but always remember to party responsibly. Continue creating those wonderful bloggie friendships. Until next time, friends and family 😀

There’s Magic in the Air

Do you believe in magic…

…in a young girl’s heart? (Love that song.)

Cookie making magic that is.

When Valerie of A Canadian Foodie invited my daughter K and Kevin’s daughter Miss. E over to her house for some cookie making, I knew there was going to be some magic in the air. I just wasn’t prepared for how much magic. Check it out:

As if baking huge gingerbread men and sugar cookies weren’t enough, the kids got to choose a toy from Santa’s bag too!

Valerie, you sure do love Christmas! That’s my kinda gal! 😉

The kids got to make delicious gingerbread men and sugar cookies, decorate their cookies, enjoyed some play time together, and choose a toy from Santa’s toy bag. There were way too many pictures to post on here so I chose the best ones and put them in a slideshow cause I’m so OCD like that 😉 Hope you enjoy the slideshow as much as my kids enjoyed their cookie making day.

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Now K has gingerbread men to go along with her gingerbread house she made last weekend.

To be fair, the house was pre-made. She just had to decorate it and make the tree.

Ok, so the gingerbread men were kind of big for the house, but you can’t have everything perfect, right?

Thank you Valerie for creating such a magical day for my kiddies! I think cookie making will be a tradition we’ll be enjoying every Christmas. Check out Valerie’s post for more pictures and a rockin’ Christmas poem she wrote. What do you enjoy most about the holidays?

So did I get that song in your head? Well in case I did, here’s a video of the song along with the lyrics. Until next time, friends and family. Enjoy! 😀

Quickies Noodle Challenge: Bun Rieu

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all having a wonderful week! The lovely Denise of Quickies on the Dinner Table and my favorite Mohawk Dude, Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! are having another Quickies: Morning, Noon and Night Cooking Challenge. So this is my entry. What’s the challenge you ask? Here it is in Denise’s exact words:

The Challenge

“Prepare a noodle dish of your choice. It can be your unique twist on a classic like Mee Goreng, Pad Thai, Char Kuay Teow, Laksa, Fettucine Alfredo, Chicken Noodle Soup, Bucatini all’ Amatriciana, Mac and Cheese, Soba, Udon, …. or a concoction of your very own creation, making its debut here. Use any type of noodle or pasta and ingredients you wish. It can be vegetarian, vegan or piled with meat, fried in a wok, baked in an oven, swimming in soup or broth or sweetened for a dessert. What we’re looking for is a delicious sounding and interesting twist or creation. Think outside the box, turn cooking conventions on their ears, try something you normally wouldn’t. The most appealing and interesting or unexpected entry, wins!”

The prize is Denise’s spectacular cookbook!

If you’ve seen this recipe before on my blog, it’s because this is a repost. Out of all the Vietnamese noodle soups, this is my all time favorite. It’s a tomato based noodle soup with seafood. This dish is called “Bun Rieu”. Some of you may have heard of or seen this in some Vietnamese restaurants. Pagolac Restaurant has this dish as a weekend special. This is my “go to” dish when I have company over. I decided to post this on my blog because a lot of my friends have asked me how I make it. So rather than repeating myself over and over again, now I can just tell them to go to this blog ;-). It’s kind of a win win situation. You get to see and learn how I make this dish and I don’t have to keep repeating myself. Let’s get cooking.

Feeds 4 Garys or 4 – 6 people (you’ll see why I said 4 Garys later :-D)

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp purple shrimp paste (don’t ask me why it’s purple????)
  • 3 Tbsp canned minced prawn in spices
  • 4 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup clam meat (or 1 can baby clams)
  • 1 can escargots
  • 1 cup crab meat
  • 1 small package of deep fried bean curd
  • 3 cans whole tomatoes (or 8-10 fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 large can chicken broth
  • 1 package of fish tofu

Here are the brand of shrimp paste and hot sauce I like to use. The hot sauce is added to your bowl right before you eat it but never added into the pot of soup.

 Here are the brand of minced prawn in spices, whole tomatoes, and chicken broth that I also use for this soup.

Heat up the oil on high heat and dump in the garlic, shrimp paste, and minced prawn. Mix these around until the garlic turns a slight golden colour. Throw in the shrimp, clams, escargots, crab meat, and deep fried bean curd. Cook for about 10 minutes or until all the shrimp have been fully cooked.

Next throw in the tomatoes and break the tomatoes in half with a spatula inside the pot to let out more juices and flavor. Pour in the chicken broth. Then use the same can from the chicken broth and add in one can of water. Lastly, add in the fish tofu. Once your soup comes to a boil, it is ready to eat. I have a secret ingredient that I like to add to this soup. If you want to make this soup and would like to know, you can definitely shoot me an email. For now, I’m just going to whisper it in my two lovely hosts’ ears ;-). The soup will still taste good without the secret ingredient, but much better with it.

There’s one extra ingredient that you can add if you want but you can leave this out if it’s too much trouble or if you don’t have the time. I think this ingredient is worth the extra time though. You’ll need to add 5 tablespoons of minced prawn into a bowl and 5 large eggs. Some people like to add ground pork here as well, but I’m not a pork fan so I like to leave out the pork. Beat the eggs and the minced prawn together. Cover this and put it in the microwave for 4 minutes.

It should look something like steamed egg when it comes out of the microwave.

Spoon small pieces into your soup.

And now you have a large bowl of “bun rieu” to feed 4 – 6 people.

Don’t forget the vermicelli of course. Basically boil some water and throw in 1 pack of vermicelli. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes in boiling water. Strain out the water and let the vermicelli cool for about another 10 minutes. Here are some veggies that you can add to your bowl. On the left we have shredded regular and red cabbage. In the middle we have Thai basil (you can use mint as well), shredded ong choy AKA water spinach, and shredded banana flowers, and lastly, some chopped up green onions and cilantro.

This is my bowl. I added all the veggies cause I’m a veggie girl. The kids had a similar bowl like mine but smaller and all cut up into tiny pieces for their tiny munchkin mouths.

Here’s the hubby’s bowl. He added a piece of beef brisket from the beef noodle soup we had the other day (men and their meats). This bowl doesn’t look all that big here, but look at it in the picture below.

The happy, hungry hubby with his gigantic bowl of seafood tomato noodle soup. If you noticed, that bowl is bigger than his head. Dude has been referred to as “the bottomless pit” before.

If you order this at a Vietnamese restaurant, don’t expect to find that much seafood. This is my own special recipe along with the secret ingredient. I know, why I gotta be like that with the secret ingredient and all, right? Gotta keep things interesting around here somehow ;-). I hope you enjoy! Until next time, friends and family. Do you have a favorite Vietnamese dish?