Monday, January 24, 2011

Snack time

Kids can be picky about their food. The other day, I watched as my nephew ate half of a tomato. I was so excited that he was eating anything that I didn't even think to stop him.

When you're a nanny, you sometimes have to be creative when it comes to food. If the kid can play with his food, then some of it might actually be eaten.

Unless, you're just playing with pretzels and peanut butter as your nephew sleeps.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Leftover mashed potatoes

The holidays are over, but did you notice that it's still cold outside???
Garlic mashed potatoes with neufchatel cheese
On New Years Eve, we had pan seared steak, garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli with cheese. Don't worry, it was delicious. However, I found that I had a lot of leftover mashed potatoes, with nothing to accompany it. 

I thought about making llapingachos, an Ecuadorian dish that my friend Paula in NC introduced to me. It's basically a mashed potato patty that is stuffed with cheese, and then fried. Oh sweet merciful mother, I salivate when I think of them, they're THAT good. However, they're a little indulgent, and after eating my mama's cooking for a month, I wanted to make something a little lighter. After a quick google search, I found these recipes, and settled on a mashed potato soup.

Per my usual style, I didn't have all the ingredients called for in the original recipe, and made up my own halfway through. I did my best to take photos of the entire process...Here's what you do:
Chop up some garlic and onions/shallots.
Pop them into a medium pan with a little bit of oil. Once they're soft, plop in the mashed potatoes.

Realize that your pot is too small, and then...
...switch to a bigger pot.
Remember...every single step is extremely important! Do not skip any of the steps! 

In the original recipe, you would have added chicken broth and later cream, but I had a quarter of a jug of skim milk that I needed to use up before the expiration date! So guess what went into the soup instead?
"Skim milk adds creaminess, but is healthier!" I said.
I also had about 2 tbs. of neufchatel cheese leftover, and a third of a block of cheddar leftover from our NYE dinner. So those were also added in once the soup was hot.

Slice up some green onions for garnishing...Oh yeah, most recipes will tell you to fry up some thick cut bacon, and then saute the garlic and onions in the rendered fat. I baked some pre-cooked Oscar Meyer bacon, and crumbled it instead. I'm so clever.*

Potato soup and the Huffington Post...Does this make me a douchebag?
Once all the cheeses have melted, add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with shredded cheese, green onions, crumbled bacon, sour cream, etc. It's a pretty simple soup, but is a great way to use up leftovers. Really great for a cold day.

What do you do with your leftovers?


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year, holla holla hollaaaa

My mom has been visiting for the past 3 weeks, and it has been wonderful to eat some of my favorite dishes everyday. It's also been great to show her some recipes that I've learned, such as French bread or oatmeal peanut butter cookies.

My, what an oddly shaped loaf you have there.

I love cooking, and find great joy in it, but there is something so comfortable about standing in the kitchen with my mom. I don't know how to describe it...The other night, I made a pot roast for dinner. My mom stood in the kitchen as I browned the roast. Still watching, she started telling stories about our family during the war.

During the Vietnam War, she was 24 years old, my oldest sister was 4, second oldest sister was 3, and my brother was only 6 months old. While our father fought with the South VN army against the Viet Cong, my mother was trying to escape from north VN to the southern part of VN. So with 2 toddlers and a baby, she fled. Along the way, they found food wherever they could, and often ate spoiled scraps that Communist army wives threw out.  
Your (oldest) sister was 4 years old, so she was old enough to beg for food. Afterward, she would share it with your (other) sister...Your brother was just a baby, but the (Communist) soldiers had taken the hat I used to protect him from the sun, so his skin was all red and peeling. 
I cannot imagine the pain of having to coach your children on how to beg for food, or the desperation that my mom must have felt watching her newborn's skin redden and crack from constant sun exposure. I don't know how they survived, but can only attribute it to God's grace. I don't understand any of their struggles from that time, but can appreciate that it enabled me to live a good life in America.

Sometimes I wonder, is my adoration of food too extreme? I love food, because my family loves food. If we have something good to eat, then we love to share it. We find comfort in the kitchen together, and I think we laugh harder and louder when cooking together, or sharing a good meal. It probably stems from the knowledge that we almost didn't have this life. My family survived for a month on rotten and foraged food, and today we are able to appreciate the pleasure that good food brings. They suffered greatly, but God saved them, and He's continued to bless our lives. God has enabled me to appreciate His creations that aren't just nourishing, but absolutely delicious. He brought my family out of war, starvation, and desperation, and now 27 years later, I am blogging about food. This amazes me. As the new year begins, and I reflect on the past, I am thankful that my life is so abundant that I can taste/create good meals, and I am thankful that I am able to share it with all (6) of you. I am so blessed. Happy New Year, everyone.
Mom and I playing with Kyle in the snow.