Entries in Lao Lao (7)


sunday morning

May 1.  9:06am.

My kids are not great eaters.

They eat when they're hungry and turn food away when they're not. They won't sit at the table for hours on end, happily chomping away before finally being denied any more; you know, those kids who make what they're eating look so yummy that I want to scoot in and chomp on some too. My kids can't wait to bolt from the table when they're done. And it's usually in under five minutes.

I am not a great feeder.

Unlike Lao Lao, who is a truly dedicated feeder and who I admire tremendously for it, I won't chase after them with a spoon full of dinner. Likewise, I won't argue with, badger or beg them at the table. If they say they're full, then I excuse them. If they say they're hungry later on, then I say, "Too bad for you."

So it makes me very happy when they enjoy eating something, regardless of whether I made it or not. It makes me triumphant when they enjoy eating something healthy, like this morning's breakfast oatmeal.

I simmered it in milk and added paper thin slices of banana and a heaping spoonful of flax meal.

They, in turn, drowned it in maple syrup.


At least it's organic maple.



daily specials

I've started a weekly dinner menu plan.

I've wanted to do this for a looooong time:  plan a week's meal, grocery shop on Sunday, prep and ziplock ingredients to use throughout the week. I've started and stopped and wasted many-a-produce simply because I was lazy. Dining out was just easier and more...exciting! After being spoiled with Lao Lao's cooking four times a week for the last two months, her departure, again, sparked a fire in me. Or maybe it was having to dine out with not two but three kids, one of which hates the car seat. (I swear we gave birth to the only newbie on earth who hates sleeping in a car seat!) This was the perfect time to start. So I vowed to follow through.

This looks kinda gross but makes cooking so much quicker.

My first meal plan is titled "That's What Friends Are For" and was inspired by my friends. Most of the recipes were given to me in conversation as we talked about what was cooking at their house for dinner.

This week's Daily Specials:

Monday:  baked penne
{inspired by Jennifer and this}
Jennifer is the mom of June29's partner at swim school. As we chatted during their lesson, I asked her offhandedly what she was cooking for dinner and she replied, "Baked Ziti". For some reason that stuck in my mind and the first meal I wanted to make was baked ziti. To make things easy, the night before I pre-made a ragu with a mix of turkey and chicken italian sausage adapted from this recipe, and combined it with a bechamel sauce. Then on Monday, I cooked some penne (we didn't have ziti in the pantry), added it to the ragu-bechamel sauce, mixed in cubes of smoked mozzarella, and topped it with bread crumbs and diced butter. Ten minutes to assemble and 30 minutes to bake. Super easy.

Tuesday: popcorn chicken + basil, roasted broccoli
{inspired by Shelly and Erik}
Shelly and I were chatting in front of the classroom before our kids were released from class, and she told me how she made the popcorn chicken that she brought to her friend's house. Now, I am not a deep fryer - it freaks me out and contradicts the healthy cook in me, but it sounded so easy and yummy and I knew it would satisfy the Hubs. Shelly said deep frying also freaks her out so she told me her technique of using less oil and it instilled a bit of confidence in me. Start by marinating the chicken pieces for 24 hours in wine, soy sauce, sugar and garlic. Dredge each marinated piece in potato starch and allow the starch to absorb for a few minutes before frying the pieces in a shallow inch of grapeseed oil. At the end, fry a handful of basil leaves for 5 seconds. This is where I nearly set the kitchen on fire. Note to self: Make sure the basil leaves are completely dry!

After my first stint at deep frying, I realize I have a lot to learn.

This roasted broccoli technique was introduced to me by my friend Hanna and her husband, Erik when we went to their house for dinner. They served a platter of broccoli that literally blew my socks off. How did Erik make it? Toss long stalks of fresh broccoli (not the packaged, shortcut kind) with olive oil, salt, pepper and a handful of sugar. Roast in the oven at 500º for 10 minutes. That's it. The sugar and high heat caramelize the broccoli and it's heavenly. It's so good and so easy, I make it at least once a week. My kids love it.

The charred florets are the best part!

Wednesday [tonight]: chicken curry
{inspired by Jenny}
Jenny, a mom from our mommy-and-me class, described how she made curry Southeast Asian-style and I wanted to run home and try it immediately. I'm used to making curry from those packaged blocks and since my kids won't eat that style of Japanese curry, I couldn't wait to try her simple, healthy version. So far, it's been the hit of the week.

The curry simmers for an hour before adding the yogurt + cream thickening sauce.

Thursday: quiche
{inspired by Eugenie}
Eugenie and I were emailing one day and she mentioned how she and the kids would be spending dinnertime at the tball field. So the night before she pre-made a meal that was transportable and tasty - a quiche. Her simple recipe - "egg base: 4 eggs to 1 cup of milk...you can put anything in it...great way to get rid of leftovers...store-bought crust" - was intriguing and inspiring! I figure I would add the leftover baked penne and that would be that.

Friday: Ah-Ma's Cooking!
Grandma's coming over and I'd take her cooking over mine any day.

Saturday + Sunday:  Where should we eat?
Traditionally our dine-out nights. This is when we get to pick the best and most popular restaurants, get there really early, like, right when they open, and not have to wait in line or need a reservation.

So far, the week's half gone and I've stuck to the plan. Momentous.

I hope to write about my weekly meal plans more often. Maybe my next inspiration will be from Dinner: A Love Story, my favorite food blog. I can't promise next week so for now I'll just say, See you next time.



sunday morning

October 3.  Bittersweet.

7:22am. Our beloved Lao Lao (maternal grandma) packed up, loaded a UHaul and moved herself and her belongings to a better place - her own home. (That is, better for her.)

It would be a giant understatement to say that she did everything for us. The truth is, she did everything and more. We were lucky enough to have her living with us for more than four years. Now, after years of taking care of three generations and a dog, she's finally getting her life back.

And us? We'll survive, though not easily. Her home-cooked meals, Chinese nursery rhymes, abacus expertise, monster-shooer-awayer abilities, money advice, boundless energy, constant love and effervescent spirit will be sorely missed. The boys still call for her, especially the little one - she and he had a very special bond.

She promises to be back for extended visits, holidays, weekends and special occasions. The amazing way she is with the kids, I can't imagine she'll stay away for too long.

Now we just have to think of a reason to move her back in for another four years...



foodie fest

Last weekend we attended a first annual gourmet food truck festival. Food truck as in roach coach. Isn't "gourmet food truck" an oxymoron? Boy, have times changed. I'm still in disbelief at how hot these vehicles are now. But, after watching half an episode of The Great Food Truck Race, and having never eaten at one of these Twitter-happy trucks, I was intrigued.

The event was held in a stadium parking lot. It was sold out and packed.

I'm sure if you owned one of the food trucks, you were in cash-only heaven. But if you were like us - hungry and hot, with hungry and hot children - then you may have had a miserable time waiting in lines that were longer than Disneyland on a Saturday. Most of the trucks ran out of food hours before closing. And the grub? Let's just say the hype was more exciting.

In all fairness, we did enjoy some good eats:

  • shave ice from GetShaved  (truly fantastic)
  • sweet potato fries with nutella and peanut butter from Fresh Fries LA  (sounds gross but really good)
  • beer battered avocado taco and watermelon cubes with mint and lime from Seabirds

I so wanted to try Coolhaus, Nom Nom, and Buttermilk but they had all sold out. Oh well, maybe next year.

Then again, maybe not.

Fortunately for us, the boys had the most fun. After Lao Lao spent over an hour waiting for the balloon man, they spent the rest of the time entertaining themselves.



sunday morning

May 23.  10:26am.  Breakfast adventures.

Selling succulents in an Airstream bus. One of the most creative florist shops I've seen.

A tree made out of rusted metal with giant leaves made out of felt.

Waiting for a table at a breakfast favorite located in one of the most picturesque spots in town.

The wait is too long so we walk across the road to eat at another fave.

After breakfast, we re-cross the road with the fastest cross walk sign in the world. We literally step off and the red hand starts flashing.

Thankfully, we survive the crossing and stop in American Apparel (the ugly building above). Can't resist what we find hanging on the rack. Laughter quota for the day is fulfilled.

He doesn't think it's so funny though.