Archive | September, 2011

What’s the Skin Knee?

30 Sep

Mantou had his 18 month check-up today and the pediatrician asked about Mantou’s allergies and eczema. I think his skin has cleared up a lot since removing the foods we tested for allergies. Even though some of the allergens like wheat and grapes were categorized low, we find that even a little bit of something like soy sauce triggers a little scratching – he’ll scratch at his arms, wrists and inside his legs. Those places on his body seem to be where the eczema remains.

Someone mentioned that 18 months can be a turning point for some kids with eczema. Mantou potentially can be rid of eczema by his teenage years. I don’t know why Mantou’s skin is looking better; it could be from restricting his diet to foods he’s not allergic to or it could be just that his little defensive antibodies are maturing. Fortunately his eczema is a mild case and can be treated with mild steroids and of course keeping those food allergies away.

At this point we’re not going to be running anymore allergy tests on Mantou. Maybe by age two we will reintroduce the foods slowly and hopefully it will not trigger a bad reaction.

We were inquisitive about giving him the flu shot because of his egg allergy but our pediatrician said that it was highly unlikely that Mantou would have an anaphylactic reaction. Mantou squirmed and tried to wiggle out of his immunization and flu shots but the nurse eventually was successful in administering them. Besides screaming loudly, he did not have a negative reaction to the shots. Now I should go and get that flu shot too. I actually passed up a free flu-shot because I was afraid the egg proteins passing through the breast milk would cause Mantou to get an allergic reaction.

Let’s get Hawaiian

28 Sep

OMG, one of the best and easiest recipes ever! If you have a slow-cooker this is one of those recipes you cannot pass up. It’ll be great for potlucks or if you have lots of people to feed because it calls for 5 lbs of meat. That’s a lot of meat for a small family of 3. Fortunately, I was able to share a couple of meals with a friends who also really enjoyed it. I found this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo – Slow Cooker Kalua Pig and added some cabbage.

Nice Try Brownie Mix

26 Sep

I was so looking forward to making gluten-free brownies after finding a pre-mix from Trader Joe’s. I figured I could just substitute the eggs by using the Ener-G egg replacer and follow the rest of the ingredients as the package mentioned. Ugh, this was one of the worst experiences I have ever had with a gluten-free pre-made mix. The ingredient list calls for a lot of oil. The package does mention that a “healthier version” would be to replace all the oil with applesauce – which when I think back, should have- but was mentioned as an after thought. When I first mixed it up I should have known that something was not right. The dough was very not cake-like and consistency was very solid. After baking for the recommended time I peaked in and the mix was bubbling but not in a good way. I added 10 minutes to the cooking time because I figured it was not ready. I was trying to find a short-cut and this was not it. Back to the drawing board on brownie mixes. Either that, use apple sauce instead of all that oil or find a home-made brownie recipe.

Rye Bread, Hold the Rye

25 Sep

I am every so grateful that there are people out there creating recipes or playing around with recipes and sharing them with me (and the rest of the world). The oasis of free information on the internet and the searchable, quick access to recipes, blogs, discussions, and pictures of food taunt me to try recipes myself. I don’t even think would have started my allergy-free diet with as much emphasis because I wouldn’t have known where to start. This time I made a Ryeless bread. We were actually looking for a rye bread recipe (Mantou has an allergy to wheat – he does not need to avoid other gluten grains) but fell upon this one because we just love Karina’s blog. She has hundreds of recipes and she shares tips for substituting ingredients. We followed the Gluten-Free Goddess’s recipe for “Gluten-Free Ryeless Rye Bread” to the T and it turned out pretty good. It was a similar texture and consistency of the other bread recipe that we made.


Chickpea flour, onion, and fennel seeds

21 Sep

Just recently one of the blogs I follow, Jeanettes Healthy Living, had a recipe for a “chickpea pizza“. It’s actually not a pizza, but having not had pizza in a LONG time, and seeing the picture she posted, I wanted to make this recipe right away.

Fortunately I was able to find chickpea flour at an Indian grocer when I went to visit my parents. We were actually catching the tail end of the local farmer’s market and had parked our car in front of the store. It was a sign that I needed to make this recipe!

I didn’t realize that the recipe asks that the chickpea, water, and salt mixture be set aside for a minimum of 4 hours. So I had to prepare this recipe for another day. Another side note is that I would also further reduce the amount of salt in the mixture. Jeannette already reduces the amount from her version of the recipe.


  • 8 oz of chick pea flour (I got to use my food scale!)
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups of water, short 3 tbsp of water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. In a medium sized bowl  slowly add water to the bowl to the chick pea flour, stir until smooth then add salt. Continue adding water and stirring the mixture.
  2. Keep covered in room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. In an 11 inch diameter cast iron pan, pour enough olive oil to cover the surface. Stir the batter and pour it into the pan. Again stir it well, so that the oil and batter are well incorporated.
  5. Evenly scatter sliced onions and sprinkle fennel seeds on top. (I would try adding olives or tomatoes next time)
  6. Bake  for 50 minutes until the top is golden and crusty.
  7. Serve it hot, sprinkled with freshy milled pepper, and cut into squares.

Serves 6.

I didn’t think it was done at the end of 50 minutes since it was a little wet on top so I added another 10 minutes. My husband thought it was fine at 50 minutes so you can experiment with the time. I thought it almost tasted like egg and quiche-like. I hope I made it correctly – though my husband has already said this recipe is a keeper.

Aw Shucks

20 Sep

This past weekend I met up with some friends in northern California for some fresh oysters. We were lucky that some people cancelled their reservations at Hog Island Oyster Farm so we could take over their picnic bench. It was a great day to be up there. All the kids were well behaved for the most part.

For the oysters, we had an option of getting them pre-shucked or shucking them ourselves. Since we had not experience shucking before we decided to start with half and half. Not too bad of a slow start we were able to shuck some of our own oysters. My husband was our official shucker and he did a great job! He became comfortable enough that we ordered even more.

I don’t know what oysters we bought but there were little ones, medium ones, and big fat juicy ones. The fat ones we had to put on the grill, but the others were all good enough to eat from the shell. We were well stocked – beside the restaurant providing the lemons and their vinegary sauce, our friend brought a homemade butter garlic sauce, and another friend brought the horseradish and cocktail sauce.  It was very delicious, I didn’t even know I liked oysters.

We also put a few fresh corn, peppers, zucchinis, and peaches on the grill along with some chicken wings. I couldn’t eat the zucchinis or chicken wings since the zucchinis had a garlic butter, and the wings were made with soy but the corn and peppers were sweet and the peaches were a fun touch.

It was a great experience and I don’t know why I never had done this before.

Summer’s Not Over

19 Sep

Wow today was a hot one… we’re having summer late this year. I have another recipe from the farmers’ market called “summer saute with okra, corn, squash and tomatoes” which I want to share with the masses. It’s a great one because it uses the freshest ingredients of summer.

  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 12 okra pods
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from ~3 ears of corn)
  • 6 baby green pattypan squash, cut into 6 pieces <– we used zucchini instead
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 chopped green onions

Cut the okra crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces. Mix cornmeal and cayenne pepper in small bowl. Toss okra into to mix and lightly coat.

Heat 4 tbsp oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add okra and saute until golden brown. Transfer to paper towel to drain; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wipe out skillet.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in skillet over medium heat. Add corn, squash, and garlic; saute for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes; cover and cook until squash is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in okra, cilantro, and green onions.

Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Makes 4-6 servings

It’s great with quinoa too!

Pork Shoulder and Apple Juice

16 Sep

Who remembers this episode on The Brady Bunch?

So last weekend I didn’t make pork chops and apple sauce but I did make pork shoulder ribs with apple juice and shared it with my parents for lunch. Since we knew we wanted to see them over the weekend we thought it would be a treat to bring one of our crock pot meals to them.  We have a 6-quart crock pot so we had plenty. The recipe came out sweet and the pork tender but I think just using a vegetable or chicken stock would have been fine. We altered the recipe very slightly from the one posted.

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder ribs, trimmed of fat and cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 2  pounds of unpeeled  cubed red potatoes
  • 2 carrots, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and chopped – we used Braeburn
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons  tapioca starch
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients except tapioca starch in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 9 to 10 hours, or on HIGH for 4 1/2 to 5 hours.

Mix 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch and 2 tablespoons of cold water and stir into the stew about 30 minutes before done.

Serve with white rice or by itself.

Serves 6 with left overs

Pork ‘n Beer

13 Sep

My aunt from DC was visiting over the Labor Day holiday and we invited her and my parents over for dinner before she had to catch her flight back home. We set out to get our important ingredients that morning: pork tenderloin and root beer. Usually we have at least one can or bottle of root beer in the house, but I had just finished my last bottle the evening before we started on this crockpot meal. We went to a few stores that morning. My husband got some fresh cut tenderloin from the butcher and a bottle of barbeque sauce from the Asian market, then went to the liquor store next door to get a couple of cans of Mug’s root beer. We also bought some sourdough buns from Whole Foods for our guests. Then we bought some white corn at the corner store in our neighborhood, 5 for $1 and very sweet!

So how do you make pulled-pork? Put the tenderloin in the crockpot, pour in one can of root beer, cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, drain. Stir in bbq sauce (wheat-free) and pull that pork. Serve on lightly toasted sourdough buns, or in my case over steamed white rice… Tada! Serves about 6-8 people.

Woman on the Moon

12 Sep

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! There are a few stories about this day but I know the one about the woman flying to the moon. Based on Chinese folklore tonight represents the moon at its brightest because of the love between a husband and wife. The wife flew to the moon after consuming a magical elixer and was not able to return to Earth.  When the sun and moon align, the night sky is brightly illuminated because of their love. That’s the story, more or less. Tonight, Chinese families will be celebrating mid-autumn with pastries called moon cakes.

When I was growing up I only liked one kind of moon cake, the lotus paste with double egg yolk. I didn’t understand how my dad liked the nutty ones or the date ones. When I went to China as a language teacher, I received moon cakes as gifts too. I was given fruity and chewy ones. I had never had anything like those before while in the states.

This year I was thinking about making moon cakes but after reading recipes about how to make them, I decided it was one task too big. I didn’t have the moon cake presses and the appropriate ingredients. I will have to try to make them another year.

My family decided to celebrate the harvest moon one day earlier at my parents’ house. I was a little sad that I couldn’t eat the moon cakes but my mom wanted me to eat, so she cut off the pastry shell and eggs so that I could have a little bit of the lotus seed paste. I also shared some of the lotus paste with Mantou and he enjoyed it as well. No allergic reaction, so it was a good night.

Tonight, make sure you look up at the moon and give your loved ones a big hug and kiss.