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One night in Boston, I ordered a big bowl of hot noodle soup and actually ate most of it while May sat in my lap feeding herself. The two old men who sat next to us kept on glancing our way, probably expecting disaster to occur, but that was a lucky night.

I kept the noodle bowl to my right side while holding May with my left arm, pushed all other dishes to the corner furthest from May’s reach, then with my left hand holding a tea cup, I picked up a hot dumpling, dropped into a bowl full of ice to cool it off, cut into smaller pieces, dropped the pieces into the teacup and helped May pick those pieces up using a fork – all the while I ate noodles soup with my right hand and my neck craning out toward the bowl to avoid scalding May by accident. You had to be there to admire the grace of the dance.

Photos are by Jackie using an iphone

Me: look, look what I’ve made for May today! Isn’t it awesome? I got bay scallops in it too!
Son: great
Me: taste it, good huh?
Son: yeah, good, yum…. What’s for us? What are we eating for dinner?
me: …uhh…I don’t know… There’s left over rice… Look around or something. Maybe there’s some Pho broth left in the freezer…. and I think some left over canh from last week…
just kidding!! We eat May’s food once the left overs are cleared.
Been busy cooking this weekend because we are moving so I need to stock up. First I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup and froze 3 pints in the freezer. Then today I made some more stocks with ribs and veggies, used part of it to make rice porridge, froze the rest. Also got a nice piece of brisket from the farmer’s market on Friday, so I simmered it and froze the stock. This is because we’ll be busy moving this next week, so I want to make sure we have nutritious food readily available for May. I’m just noting some info here for Trang, the busy super mom, in case she needs some quick ideals for the little one’s dinner:

chicken noodle soup (all ingredients organic)
– 1 small chicken
– carrots
– celery
– chayotes
– onions
– broccoli (crowns and stems)
olive oil and/or butter
pepper, salt, fish salt
pasta of choice

Chop up everything, simmer together in a big pot the following: chicken, carrots, celery, chayote with a dash of salt and a few peppercorns up to 3 hours (can be done in a slow cooker). In a pan, heat up some oil and/or butter, add the minced onion, stir, cook until translucent and then reduce heat to low and let carmelize for up to 1 hour if you have time. This process makes the onions turn really really sweet. Or if you don’t have time, just, you know, whatever. When done, stir the onions into the soup, add just a dash of fish sauce if you like. I cook the pasta by meal so that it doesn’t turn soggy in the soup.

For porridge, I simmered spare ribs (left the whole rack in tact, no need to chop) with celery, carrots, daikon radish, salted radish, onion, a few peppercorns and a small piece of rock sugar. Then I stirred in cooked rice (1 part brown 3 parts white), covered the pot and let simmer over very low heat. When finish, I took out the celery stalks, salted radish and daikon to toss, leaving just the carrots and bits of the onion. I took out most of the soup to save for later use, leaving just a bit over 1 serving in the pot. I added 5 pieces of small bay scallops – caught sustainably off the coast of Argentina (this wholesome shit costed me $9 for 3 oz!) and cooked for a bit, taking care not to overcook the scallops. With a dash of fish sauce and a sprinkle of fried shallots, I served this dish to her highness who promptly inhaled the whole bowl. It should not taste salty like the way we like our food to be salty.

May likes scallops and I prefer to serve it to her over fish, because the quality of fish here in York sucks. It’s considered a pretty healthy food.

I’ll figure out what to do with the beef broth later this week.

Also, Trang, dear, you can make your own oatmeals and that will save you lots of money, if you like. What I do is I guy the old fashioned rolled oats, cooked it in water (something like 2 tbsp to 1 cup of water) stirring every now and then for about 20 minutes. It will turn into congee – same consistency, same appearance. May doesn’t eat much fruits right now, so I typically add raisins or prunes or pear or apples into the pot. For sweeteners I use pure local maple syrup. Molasses would work too. Sometimes I spice it up with ground nutmeg or cinnamon occasionally. I’ve heard that canned pumpkin mixes well too. This would make about 2.5 servings. I save that in a glass jar and reheat in the microwave. You can store this in the fridge for up to 1 week. When you reheat and it’s too hot, just add some cold milk. This is pretty much a staple at our house. May eats it about 4x/week.

I was in the car nursing May while An and Son went out to look for food. 40 minutes later…

Son: We bought 2 tô phở togo
me: oh? From Nhà Hàng Việt Nam?
An: no, from phở place that only sells phở.
me: phở gì?
An: phở 76 “vô danh bất tiện” something
me: … you mean “danh bất hư truyền” ?
An: đó đó, that’s it.


Posted on: May 3, 2010

Now that May is eating at least 2 full meals a day, I’m busy cooking again. The child is definitely showing preferences and expressing her own taste. For the most part I have nothing to complain. She tends to eat just a tiny bit of veggies and fruits, and then toss the rest to the ground or spit them out. She does, however, eat them in pureed form or very well cooked form. Funny how they love tossing you a curve ball, so the saying goes. So I’ve been researching recipes. I’m still trying not to mix everything up into one dish of super nutritious goo. So far May has eatend green pea soup, minestrone, califlower and white beans, chayote and carrots, split peas soup. I generally eat the same soup she does, often her left overs, just so I feel more motivated to cook healthy AND tasty food for her. She dislikes lentils. I don’t blame her, both Son and I don’t eat it. But I’ll work hard on making something tasty that has lentils, and we’ll keep on eating it until May joins in.

Tonight’s dinner had rice (cooked a bit soggy) and ground pork braised in shallot and apple compote It’s basically the same idea as the Korean BBQ marinade – pulverize the vegetable and fruit, then marinate. May is in her not eating apples or most fruits phase, hence I use them to marinate her meats. For soup, there was carrot and apple soup – I found the recipe just before I began cooking, and it’s a keeper. I was making apple sauce for May at the same time, so I just scooped some of the apples from that batch out and added to the carrot soup. I used Gala apples because that was all I had on hand. Will definitely make this soup at least once a month for the whole family.

original author: Brian Hagiwara

Serves: 8 (my batch yielded 1 adult serving)
Total Time: 55 min
Cook Time: 20 min

* 2 tablespoon(s) margarine or butter ( I used 1 tbsp fresh butter)
* 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (I used 1/4 medium onion)
* 3 medium Golden Delicious apples (I used about 1/2 small Gala apple)
* 2 pound(s) carrots (I used 2 medium sized carrots)
* 2 can(s) (14 1/2 ounces each) chicken broth or vegetable broth (I used freshly made chicken broth with just chicken in it, no other ingredients)
* 1 tablespoon(s) sugar (I used a pinch)
* 1 teaspoon(s) salt (I used a pinch)
* 1 teaspoon(s) peeled and grated fresh ginger (I just cut a piece of ginger and tossed it into the broth for 10 minutes then took it out)
* Half-and-half or heavy cream for garnish (didn’t use any)
* Fresh chives for garnish


1. In 5-quart Dutch oven, melt margarine or butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook 12 minutes or until tender and golden, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, peel apples and carrots. Cut each apple in half and use melon baller to remove core. Cut apples and carrots into 1-inch chunks.
3. Into onion in Dutch oven, stir apples, carrots, broth, sugar, salt, ginger, and 2 cups water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until carrots are very tender.
4. Remove Dutch oven from heat. Following manufacturer’s directions, use hand blender to puree mixture in Dutch oven until very smooth. Serve soup with a swirl of half-and-half if you like. Garnish with fresh chives.

Source: Good Housekeeping magazine.

I cooked the 3 apples separately in water with a tsp of sugar added to make apple sauce; at the same time, I simmered the carrots in chicken broth with some apple peels. When everything was cooked, I put carrots, broth, apples, and sauteed onions into the mini food processor and pulverized everything. I think it was about 1.5 cup of broth for 2 carrots and 1/2 apple. Then i put in just a dash of seasalt and served with freshly ground pepper.

The temperature here today was 90+ degrees with 60+% humidity. Hope it will drop soon so we can return to the playground.

I’m not a stranger to restaurant food, but damn it, this godforsaken region serves their food with heart attack in mind. Cardiologists would do very well here. All the run of the mill food around here has one taste: salty. Especially their soups. I think the only few places where the soups were not overtly salty were $$$$ restaurants, the ones that charge you corkage fees and $30-$50 per main dish. Chinese food, Thai food, korean food – all salty!! Can’t vouch for Japanese food because so far we have only been to Japanese restaurants that are owned and cooked by Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean people. I was just at Panera this afternoon with May, calling their cream of chicken and wild rice soup, thinking May might eat some of that. She ended up with a load of my cookie instead, because the soup was so salty I didn’t want to feed her any.

I don’t really know who wrote those last 2 posts. Last night May slept crapily and then around 4:30am, after struggling on and off the boob for 2 hours but couldn’t drift off into deeper sleep, she finally sat up, tugged my shirt, and cried for help. So I picked her up and did whatever else I could think of at that most unholy hour of the morning and we got some nice snooze. She still woke up at 7:30am, about 2.5 hours too early in my book, but hey, I’m still in a good mood right now. it must have been the “normal” dinner we had last night. After 1 month of eating meat and starch, starch and meat and crap and chocolates and cakes and bread and more cookies, I got so fed up and went to Costco to buy VEGETABLES. So we had glorious veggies for dinner last night. Next month I’ll probably be crying uncle again because Son’s doing his away thing in Hershey – no car again, yikes. Unless we manage to get a new car by this weekend. Ha!

Seriously, though, once I write down all my deepest darkest moments and admit to weakness, I feel like I’m that person no longer. So if you came to offer me hugs and love the last 2 posts, thanks, thanks, thanks. I love you too. But I don’t know who wrote the last two posts anymore 😀

Tonight, May woke up and as soon as I turned on the light in the room, she pointed and it and said, “chè.” She’s also figured out that when we play hide and seek, if I keep on hiding in a circle, she’ll stop after making 1 round and go the opposite way to catch me in the act. She has done it with Son and with me every single time; and, if she can’t catch us that way, she’ll cut across the barrier. Trang, let me save you a comment, G-I-F-T-E-D – right ? 😛

NPR saves my sanity. I turn it on first thing in the morning, and turn it off before bedtime at night. All the shows make me feel less isolated and dumb. I get the news report at least twice a day, then I listen to “smart talk,” “all things considered,” “morning edition,” “fresh air,” “from the top,” “market place” … On the weekend I listen to “wait wait don’t tell me” and “car talk.” Sometimes there’s poetry reading and book reading. In between, there’s classical music. They really love “Carmen” on NPR lately, as I have heard various versions of it at least 3 times already. Thanks to spending 1 month with An, I can now identify most passages from the entire opera, not just the Habanera. Classical music is a hit or a miss though. I’m especially nervous during May’s nap time, as I like to keep NPR on in the background. Well, you know sometimes they play something kinda semi-contemporary or modern, and if it’s a frigging eastern influenced piece, the minor scale and high notes can really wake May up. One discovery is, Stravinsky makes nice nap music for May. At least the Stravinsky played on NPR so far.

I need to figure out how to successfully “velvet” the meat, specifically fish. I followed 2 different instructions 2 different times, and didn’t get the result I wanted. I got the eggwhite and the cornstarch, but the meat still came out not velvety like they have it at Chinese restaurant…

người xưa xửa xừa xưa ngày gần Tết ghé thăm lần đầu mang cho cái bánh chưng, ly chè đậu ván, mớ nem chua, túi mứt gừng… Người mới gặp lần đầu đã bảo, để chị giúp em nấu đám cưới. Chưa bao giờ Sơn và tôi được ăn chè đậu ván, thành ra chưa biết thèm. Ăn rồi hai đứa giành nhau cái ly bé tí sao thấy nó ngon mê ly. Chắc tại có người iu mình tha thiết nấu cho ăn nên nó ngọt ngào thấm thía.

Hôm kia Sơn trực. Trực thì hôm sau 12 giờ trưa bò về. Đêm hôm kia lái xe 3 quãng đồng x2, vì chạy phía Đông thì SM ngủ nap, thành ra đến nơi lại quành xe về, về thấy vẫn nap nên chạy phía Bắc, 90 miles và 1.5 tiếng đồng hồ sau thì kéo nhau vào chợ mua bịch đậu ván, lon nước dừa. Tối về thì tay ẵm con, tay ngâm đậu, tay bắc xoong ninh xương và giò heo nấu bánh canh. Sáng hôm sau SM dậy sớm, rồi kéo nhau đi Story Time về trễ, lỡ giấc ngủ của con. Vật lộn với SM một lúc thấy không phê, xách SM vô bếp cho chơi, mình đứng bóc vo? đậu. 1 tiếng sau con mệt phờ râu, mình cũng thấm thía, đã thế chờ hoài vẫn không thấy bóng chàng. Ruột gan nóng dần tại 3pm có cái hẹn đi thay nhớt xe, nếu 1:30 đem SM đi nap thì tức là sẽ không dậy kịp để đi thay nhớt nếu không muốn đánh thức SM ngang giấc. Gọi cho Sơn, Sơn nói hôm nay kẹt, sau 6pm mới về được, nghe nực nực nực. Gọi cho bên mechanics, xin hoãn hẹn đến 4pm, xong, ôm con đi nap. SM nap hơn 1.5 tiếng, mình cũng được nhờ. Dậy, lại tha con đi thay nhớt. Trời lạnh căm, vác con đi lội tuyết trên vỉa hè mà bụng chả có gì ngoài 1 ly sữa và miếng cookie ăn vội từ sáng. Vào Panera ăn lunch. SM ngoan. Hơn 5pm quay lại lấy xe, chạy vào chợ dùng cái coupon $15 seafood tại sợ hết hạn. Về nhà, cho SM bú.

Qua 6:30 Sơn về. Giao thẳng con cho Sơn, cắm đầu nấu cho xong nồi bánh canh, rồi bắt đầu luộc đậu ván. Quên không luộc đậu từ đêm hôm trước tuy co’ ngâm nước, nên dù đã cẩn thận lúc luộc đậu, nó vẫn bị nát, còn lại thì vẫn sượng sượng. SM bắt đầu mệt, càm ràm. Sơn cũng mệt, ngồi ăn phịt mặt ra, con khóc cũng không phản ứng. Mình vừa loay hoay nước sôi, bếp lửa, bồng con, cho bú, đặt xuống, đi khuấy nước dừa, con khóc, bồng lên, bú, đặt xuống… Càng làm càng rối càng stress, mà không thể ngưng được nữa. Cái ý định phải-nấu-cho-xong-nồi-chè nó nung nấu từ mệt mỏi cả tuần nay, từ mất ngủ, từ trời lạnh nằm nghe con sụt sịt mũi, từ tùm lum thứ có thể khiến con người ta trông chờ vào một ly chè như một phép màu, phải nấu cho bằng được cái thứ sóng sánh màu vàng đó, trên là nước dừa đặc quện vào lòng ly chè, nếu được vậy, vũ trụ vạn vật sẽ lùi vào quỹ đạo nguyên thuỷ.
Sơn vác con vào phòng chơi 1 lúc, SM vừa chơi vừa khóc vì mệt. Mẹ nó vẫn quyết sống chết với nồi chè. Lùng bùng tai nghe con khóc, lùng bùng cái đầu nhức, mắt muốn nổi sao vàng 5 cánh, nấu cũng xong nồi chè.


Nothing. Vô cảm. no closure. Ăn 1 mạch chả biết mình ăn ra sao. Chả vui chả buồn. Chả mệt chả khoẻ. Chỉ thấy như mình không còn là mình, mình đang ngó mình đứng ở sink, nuốt 1 ly chè rất giống ly mình ăn ngày trước (đậu hơi sượng tí tí), nhưng vô cảm. Ăn xong dọn dẹp thu rửa ráy, lao vào giường ôm con ngủ 1 mạch. Chồng cũng vùi đầu vào ngủ bù cho 36 tiếng không chợp mắt.

Sáng nay dậy, ăn 1 mạch 2 ly chè, đã thấy đời mang lại chút ngọt ngào. Ngon.

Tóm lại là, không nên ăn món mình vừa nấu xong khi đang mệt.

thadieu: ho` ho`, good news dear
thadieu: u’ll get apartment for next whole wk , and germans come back on Jan 10th
idlehouse: MI’U
idlehouse:ME LOOF GERMS
idlehouse:starting 22nd ?
thadieu: so we can resume our schedule starting monday already dear
thadieu:no no, next wk
idlehouse: sooner ?
thadieu: the 13th
idlehouse: so me can talk ma^’t da.y to Tram starting today ?
thadieu: he back on 19th-20th, (weekend), so we shift to Tram
thadieu: then back partying again from 22nd to Jan 5th
thadieu: all to yourself dear
idlehouse: me loike
thadieu:super nice eh
idlehouse: let me give him a gift
idlehouse:of a cat
idlehouse:in VN
idlehouse: it means a lot
idlehouse: me shiawwao
thadieu: don’t make moi laugh loud dear, he’s sitting right behind
idlehouse:back soon dear
idlehouse:mayo nappo 2 hrs
thadieu: so it’s all settled, u come over on 13th
idlehouse: mi’u
idlehouse: me loike
idlehouse: let me tell son’s momo
idlehouse:ask him where does he think i will stay on the 12th ?
idlehouse: push for the 11th dear
idlehouse:these people if you get aggressive you might get far

thadieu: damn, me hungry…
idlehouse:ba’nh mi` ?
idlehouse:‘me have ba’nh gio` fresh and boba dear
thadieu: ja, moi take 2 ba’nh gio` to worko
thadieu: ate 1.5 ba’nh mi` last night
thadieu: ra’ch me. no’ ho.ng
thadieu: will nu+o+’ng ba’nh mi` less tonight
idlehouse: ya ya
idlehouse: me had that problem aussi
idlehouse:super crunchy
thadieu: u think u can get another 10 o^? ba’nh mi` when u come back?
thadieu: and 10 ca’i ba’nh of all sorts from nha` ha`ng Van ?
idlehouse: definitely
idlehouse:you know how my mother in law is
idlehouse:just say the word
idlehouse:and you’ll get 20
thadieu: should we push it? 5 lbs ba’nh u+o+’t from huong giang?
idlehouse: no problem
idlehouse: really
idlehouse: not an issue at all
thadieu: ok, me’ll put together an order
idlehouse: you want the deed to their house too ?
idlehouse: me can start working on it now
thadieu: currently: 10 ba’nh mi` thi.t, 5 ba’nh gio`, 3 ba’nh te’t, 5 lbs ba’nh u+o+’t
thadieu: 1 ca^y cha? lu.a to eat w/ ba’nh u+o+’t
thadieu: please don’t tell yo mother in law, moi li?nh cha.y from ca’i ly smoothie…
idlehouse:me bravely drank it
idlehouse:you owe me

happenings right now


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