Archive | August, 2011

Super Mantou Cart

31 Aug

Have you heard about the food trucks? These aren’t your typical taco trucks. There are trucks for many types of cuisine  (Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, American BBQ, Korean, Indian); foods (pizza, pasta, sandwiches); and desserts (cupcakes, cream puffs, ice cream, and creme brulee)! The best part is that these trucks come to you! Well, they come to downtown San Mateo every Monday for the time being.

Food carts were a popular thing in Portland, OR when I was there and they seemed to have bloomed last time I went to visit in May! In San Francisco there’s a whole movement called “Off the Grid”. It’s spreading like wildfire. There’s even a realty television show based on food trucks- The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network (which I haven’t seen).

One thing that my husband and I do before going to the food truck event is check in advance the line-up of carts available for that week. This being important because the vendors change weekly which is reasonable since they are mobile. We then go to the company’s Facebook page, Twitter account, or website to gather information about the menu and ingredients. We’ve been able to reach out to some chefs in advance too, so that’s been great. For the first week we went to Seoul on Wheels – got their chicken tacos and chicken plate. This week we tried the lemongrass chicken at Haiyaa. So we hopped onto the bandwagon and we’re enjoying this food truck craze!

Oat Milk

29 Aug

Since we are avoiding cow’s milk my husband has created his own recipe for milk made from oats!

1 cup cooked oats (half cup raw)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

5 cups of water

BLEND for 2 minutes!

Family Values

28 Aug

My family is 100% awesome! They have been making sure that Mantou and I are able to have something to eat when going out. Last week my brother took us out to Sweet Tomatoes and today we ate out at a Chinese restaurant, as well as had a bbq meal ala chef Papa.

I picked Sweet Tomatoes over Hometown buffet thinking that I would have more options at a salad bar. Now that I have gone to Sweet Tomatoes though I don’t know if there would be much of a difference in options. The pre-made salads had either nuts, cheese, raisins, grapes, croutons, or noodles. So I stuck with making my own salad. Apparently you can ask for their ingredient menu but I didn’t know of this till after coming here. I couldn’t eat much from the hot food bar except for the soups and a baked potato. We ate their lentil soup and chili beans. Too bad their veggie dish was cooked with butter. Mantou was not a fan of the rice pilaf.

At lunch today we went to a Chinese restaurant and my mom made it clear with the waitress that Mantou and I could not eat anything with soy sauce, peanuts, walnuts, and flour. We had to double-check that the salt and pepper prawns were made with corn starch (which it was). Plus we got a boiled chicken with ginger and garlic. Everyone else shared a dish of chow mien, sweet and sour pork chops, Chinese broccoli with Chinese bacon, and pork with bamboo shoots.

Mantou napped after lunch right into dinner. My dad put a slab of tri-tip on the grill and my mom pan-fried some red snapper fillets.  The kids were probably full from our late lunch so they only ate a few morsels. However, we spent it together out on the deck, enjoying the nice summer weather.

Ah, how I love spending time with family. They love us so much and watch out for us as much as they can – Feeling the Love once again 🙂

Minty Fresh

27 Aug

It’s another ice cream post! I made a mint chip ice cream using fresh mint, coconut milk, and . . . an avocado! My husband’s favorite ice cream flavor is mint chip so I found a recipe online from a fellow blogger with similar food allergies to Mantou. Her recipe is called “Fresh Mint Ice Cream (Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Vegan, Cane-Sugar-Free)”  I think this one’s a keeper but I will have to halve the recipe next time since my ice cream maker only makes up to 1 1/4 quarts of ice cream. I am able to make 2 batches of ice-cream with this recipe.

Some other notes:

Mint: The recipe called for 2 cups of mint leaves and stems. It is pretty potent stuff so I wouldn’t put as much mint in next time. I would probably use a little less than a cup of mint when I make it again.

Coconut milk: For reference, one can of coconut milk was 13.5 oz. I had bought a huge can of coconut milk at the grocery store and had put them in separate glass jars. So I had no idea what a can of coconut milk would be. In total I used about 37.5 ounces.

Agave syrup: This is my first time using this stuff. I bought a container of organic brown agave syrup from Marshalls the other day and it came in handy. I think 1 cup was a good amount. I also saw that Costco is selling agave syrup so I will have to pick some up next time.

Avocado: Adds creaminess and good fat as opposed to the coconut milk fat 🙂 Used half an avocado but it gives the mint ice cream its natural “green” color.

Chocolate chips: I thought the chocolate chips were a bit too big alone so I chopped/shaved them before putting in the mix. I added some whole ones just to do a compare. Chopping the chocolate chips was a a good idea.

Refrigerate overnight: I let the mix of coconut milk, agave and mint cool in the refrigerator overnight. I had enough patience to wait!

So what is the overall outcome? We let the ice cream settle in the freezer for a few hours before eating it. When we scooped it, it actually felt like scooping ice cream rather than a big brick of ice (which was the case with my mango, purple yam ice cream). We were surprised with the big mint flavor but after the first bite the mint flavor did die down a little. Those taste buds were working overtime!

Mantou’s reaction? He kind of squinted his eyes at first, like he just ate something sour. His reaction was due probably from the burst of mint flavor, but we think he liked it because he asked for more.

Just Beet It

26 Aug

Beets are so versatile, did you know you can eat the whole beet, leaves and the root? When we went to the farmer’s market I searched through a big pile of beets trying to find a bunch that had lots of leaves and good size roots. The vendor had to help me get to the bottom of the pile.

For the beet greens: The leaves and stalks should be cut away from the root. Keep the roots aside for a totally different dish. Chop up the beet greens. Heat up a wok on med-high and add about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Sautee with some onions and that’s it!

For the beet: I cut them into large pieces so that they cook faster but others advise to use the beets whole. In a small saucepan boil place the beets in boiling water. Cover and let beets simmer for 20 minutes. The beets come out really sweet.

Mantou enjoys eating his beets. He’ll eat both the greens and the beets!

Loafing Around

25 Aug

1st attempt making gluten-free bread

We’ve been wanting to make our own bread for a while but didn’t find it necessary to invest in a brand new bread machine. We went to a the second-hand store once and almost bought one but we didn’t get it. Fortunately, a friend who is moving out of the country gave us his (which was also handed down to him from his friend who moved out of the country). It’s a Breadman and I think it’s model TR555LC.

We used the recipe from the Gluten-free Goddess, Karina Allrich, who has an amazing blog with gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free recipes. We actually tried making this particular bread recipe 3 times. My husband made the bread the first time and it came out pretty well, except that it was too salty. Was it because we used kosher salt instead of sea salt? For the second time, I actually helped and well, we forgot to put water in the mix, haha so yeah that was a big FAIL! So the 3rd time my husband made it again. This time he reduced the salt measurement to 1/2 teaspoon. All I had to do was take the bread out of the machine. Hehe, well I didn’t do very well and I kind of smooshed the bread. However, it tasted very good!

The calculated cost of making a loaf of home-made bread comes to $3.69. Food for Life’s brown rice bread and millet bread is about $3.99 at Whole Foods and they are only available in the frozen section. So it’s a pretty good investment as so long as we get it right!

Boring Breakfast

23 Aug

I need new ideas for breakfast. I think Mantou has finally reached his limit on eating the same breakfast day in and day out. No longer does he eagerly open his mouth for the next spoonful of oatmeal. I really don’t blame him. I didn’t really like oatmeal for the longest time. I don’t believe I even ate oatmeal regularly until this year.

I’ve even tried to dress up his oatmeal a bit with fruit. But this little boy will pick out the fruit! I have to alternate letting him eat some fruit and then practically stuffing a spoonful of oatmeal in after he takes a few chews.

So, I need ideas for quick and easy breakfasts, care to share?

Oops I Did It Again

22 Aug

I am really bad at planning ahead and asking food vendors about their menus and if there are ingredients that I could avoid. Today I had a craving for horchata. In my mind horchata is a drink made of three ingredients – rice, sugar, and cinnamon. I was pretty sure I was safe- who puts egg, wheat, dairy, or grapes in their horchata? It didn’t occur to me that in some recipes there is ground almond in the mix!  I didn’t even think about almonds. Based on my tastebuds though, I do not think my horchata had almonds in it, but I should have asked ahead of time before ordering the drink.

I’m not the only one that gets these forgetful moments. My husband recently had his own realization. First of all, yes, my husband has decided to join me on my new allergy-free diet. He does not nurse a baby, of course, so this new food choice is really his own choosing. I think that it’s a charming thing for him to do for his family. (When I think about it though, he actually did something similar like this before – he stopped being a vegetarian after he met me.) Anyway, last week on our vacation to Lake Tahoe, we decided to stop to rest our legs and let Mantou run around a bit. We got some drinks at McDonald’s. My husband ordered an iced latte. Right away I figured he was also “on vacation” from the allergy-free diet. But as soon as he finished it, a light bulb went off and he realized that he just had a drink with milk. He hadn’t intended to have a diet vacation after all.

By the way, did you know that some deli meats contain dairy? Here’s an article, Allergy-free alternatives to kids’ favorite foods, that I initially saw on msn regarding foods with hidden allergens. So it’s always a good thing to read labels or ask the chef!

Hey Chick-a-dee, Try Some Chickpeas

20 Aug

I love the season of farmers’ markets. It’s great to get out of the house, peruse the stands, and support the local farmers and vendors. I remember being in Portland, OR and having easy access to the market on the south park blocks. I would always be tempted by the fresh loaf of olive bread from Pearl’s Bakery.

It’s fortunate that there is also a farmer’s market in downtown San Mateo. It’s not a very big one, maybe 12+ vendors. The usual vendor list includes the strawberry man, the nectarine and peach ladies, the fish guys, some nutty guy, a hummus specialist, the orchid florist, the honeybee man, bread bakery dude, the Asian veggies people, a couple of other produce vendors, a couple of ready-made fresh foodies, and now a gluten-free bakery owner!

On top of being able to smell and squeeze the fresh stuff, there is an information booth which carries print-outs of recipes. The latest recipe we tried was the kale and chickpea soup. I would recommend using a food processor for all the chopping. I almost lost a fingernail trying to chop the kale. I don’t think it’s necessary that the kale had to be chopped finely; it would have been fine with larger pieces. The original recipe calls for a boiling potato but I used red potatoes and kept the peel on (extra fiber). Also, instead of 1/4 lb chorizo (casing discarded), I used 3 chicken apple sausages. It’s good stuff and another recipe keeper!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 small red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 bunch of kale leaved finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth (28 fl oz)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans (14-oz) rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 lb of chicken apple sausage diced

Directions:

In heavy pot sautee the onions, garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper in oil over med-high heat. Stir frequently. Onion and garlic should soften and begin to brown around 5-6 minutes. Add potato, kale, broth and water and let boil. Partially cover pot and let boil for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender. Reduce heat to low and add chickpeas and sausage and gently simmer for another 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf and season to taste*.

*My husband liked a dash of Tabasco sauce for added spice.

Boo-bear

18 Aug

Mantou LOVES berries. There’s a picture on the blog where his face is covered with blackberry remnants from his hands as he shoveled them to his mouth. His favorite berry by far is the blueberry. We used to cut them in quarters and give them to him but he’s perfectly fine grabbing these berries whole and stuffing them into his mouth.

Mantou learned how to say blueberry rather quickly. Probably because he liked them so much and wanted more. He signs “more” forcefully and says “boo-bear” at the same time. He says the two syllables together fast and jumbled so it is really very cute to hear. I have yet to get him saying blueberry on video though.

At the grocery store he spotted the berries in the produce section. He moved his body in that direction, signed “more”, and pointed to them. When I placed them in the back of the cart he almost had a fit! He wanted them right there, right now. I was able to calm him down a bit and move his attention to something else, but he kept looking towards the back of the cart. Even when I put them on the checkout conveyor belt, Mantou was determined to get a blueberry.

Blueberries are great portable snacks and packed with antioxidants. However as I had learned recently, I will not give too many at one time. I’m going to say it came out rather messy on the other end.

So get your blueberries now, pack them in the freezer for the future because we’re approaching the end of blueberry season!