My kids love cucumbers. My little cucumber-eating champ of a 21-month old daughter, who still only has barely ten teeth (why?!), always impresses me with the alarming amount of cuke she manages to put away at each sitting. Although it’s super easy to just thinly slice up a cucumber and feed it to them, I am always keen on introducing exciting textures and tastes to their budding palates. Using the vegetable peeler to create long ribbons of cucumber not only makes it more delicate and tender for the little ones, but the salad also looks elegant enough to serve as a starter or side at a dinner party. The children had this crisp salad for lunch today with fluffy Japanese rice and a simple steamed egg custard, but it would be equally great as a refreshing accompaniment to a fillet of spicy grilled fish.
It’s definitely ice cream weather right now! You would think that to get a thin coat of chocolate on your ice cream would be a simple matter of dipping it into some melted chocolate. Well, think again. I’ve made some spectacular mistakes. It doesn’t help that doing something like that in the sweltering tropics makes it doubly complex. But I’m happy to report that I’ve finally found a simple chocolate ice cream shell recipe that works: chocolate and refined coconut oil. I did try the venerable Thomas Keller’s recipe first, but it still resulted in a shell that was far too thick. It was the Chocolate Bombe Shell recipe from the fabulous Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams that did the trick.
I grew up in the Southern part of US. And what everyone now calls “comfort food” was just regular ‘ole food to us. Southern food is rich – with dishes like fried okra, ribs, creamed corn, BBQ, buttermilk biscuits, mashed potatoes and such being part of the everyday diet. When I go home and visit my mother in North Carolina every year, I start thinking about my mother’s cooking…and when she asks me, “do you want me to make anything special for you?,” it’s her homemade mac and cheese that tops the list.
One of the first blogs that really got me hooked onto reading about food, and inspired me to write about food, was Orangette. When I read Molly’s writing, I feel like I’m sitting right in her living room, sitting cross-legged on her sofa, listening to her stories. I fell in love with her heartfelt words, her honest photographs, and mostly, her delicious, never-fail recipes. Whenever I find myself in need of gastronomic inspiration, I browse her recipe index and pick whichever I’m in the mood for that day. She always has just the thing for me. Take this prosciutto pasta for instance.
I’ve found a new pen pal in my editor, Charmaine, who’s based in Hong Kong. We write each other about once a week, mostly just girl/mommy talk, but discussions inadvertently find their way back to food. One of our latest topics has been what we bake when we need a little pick-me-up, something that lifts our spirits on a dowdy day, or a sweet treat when we are simply in a gluttonous mood.
Regular readers may have noticed that I really enjoy making the odd children’s amusement from scratch. I think even CH didn’t fully comprehend my love of working with my hands until our toddler T came along. After almost a dozen years of marriage, it only recently dawned upon him that I’m a “crafty kind of girl” (I’m not quite sure if the pun was intended). I simply don’t believe that children ought to only discover things through pre-packaged stimuli that come out of a box. Of course, T receives plenty of toys, I don’t shun them, and he loves technology. But I try my best to throw in simple things like squishing play dough (yes, that’s a burger made out of play dough pictured above), touching grass with your bare feet, playing with ice cubes, finger painting, threading pasta, counting soybeans, and learning to tear sheets of paper into the mix.
The hubby and I are hoping to lose a few, seeing as we basically haven’t stopped eating since the Christmas season last year. Soups have been our go-to lunches since the amount of liquid in them deceive us into thinking we are full just after one big bowl. To my surprise one day, the hubby requested for cauliflower soup. Some time back, I cooked a roasted garlic and cauliflower dish with cheddar cheese melted over. It got him loving the veg, and he has since been on kind of a cauliflower bender.
Dining with toddlers when travelling is a world apart from eating out when it’s just you and your hunny bunny. On previous trips to Japan, I would have made reservations at cult places I’ve been dying to try or restaurants that I already love weeks in advance. Because many of my favourite haunts are uber-popular, booking ahead is essential. However, with the tiny one in tow, not only could I not plan ahead, but the kinds of restaurants we visited were very different.
My wife S and I have been to Kyoto many times. But until this past April, we’d never gone there with a young child in tow (of course, since we only had our first child two years ago, that would kind of make sense). This most recent trip, because we had brought along our son T, was remarkably different from all of our previous trips. Our schedule, because we had to plan everything around his schedule, was different. Where we went and what we did each day, because we wanted to do and see things that would be fun for him, was different. And where we ate, because we wanted to go to places that served food he liked, was different.