Beautiful spices for the pho broth

Ever since fentastic mum’s blog post about cooking pho from scratch (thank you!!!), I have been dreaming about making some myself. Her recipe was chicken pho, but because Bry’s favorite type of pho is with beef stock, I looked for a different recipe and found one from Luke Nguyen who is an Australian celebrity chef. I figured: celebrity chef, of Vietnamese heritage and host of a cooking show dedicated to Vietnamese food…his pho recipe must be at least better than average.

And boy was it even better than better than average! And it’s really not difficult to make, at all!

Even Benji, who is quite a fussy eater, and who was trying out pho for the first time, LOVED IT and kept asking for more! There’s definitely going to be more pho in our household in the weeks to come.


The meal


Benji literally licking the bowl that had pho


Executive Summary: Eat your fruits and vegetables! | EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™.

For those who don’t already know of this list, I recommend reading it. It is expensive, but we try to buy organic when necessary, for Benji’s sake. I like this list because it also tells you what foods are least pesticide laden so you can save some pennies buying non-organic versions of those foods!

With a baby in the house, I have to constantly think of ways to be more efficient in doing things, in particular, household tasks and cooking. Benji is still in the early stages of eating solids and I still prepare his food separately. Even though that involves just a steamer and a blender, it takes quite a bit more work and cleaning up. One of my girlfriends really swore by the Philips AVENT baby food maker she got, and after watching a YouTube presentation of it, I was also sold: a two-in-one baby food maker – what a nifty little contraption!

But alas, we live in Melbourne, Australia, where brands from the US (like Philips) cost twice as much (US128 on Ebay VS AUD250; exchange rate being about 1:1) and since the voltage systems are incompatible, we are unable to get it from the US and use it here.

At the local grocery store, Aldi, we saw a baby food maker, slightly bigger and less elegant looking, but still quite a time saver, for only AUD58 and decided to try it instead.


Although I know it’s not as good as the Philips one, I still really like it. It steams in one compartment and blends in another, eliminating quite a bit of washing and having to use more tools. I can’t quite stress how this little bit of efficiency has helped me so much in my daily routine.  Hopefully it will help you, too.

Do you use a baby food maker? Which one(s) and do you like it? How else do you prepare your food?




Benji’s been teething for a long, long time now. His two lower central incisors have since sprung up but he’s still feeling the itch once in awhile. I am not surprised if the two upper ones pop up anytime now given how much he still drools and bites. One of the things he seems to particularly enjoy gnawing on are these teething rusks. I also like how he can grasp them in his palm which makes it a great way to introduce finger foods to him. The ones I got are made in Australia and are wheat and dairy free; I’m still not 100% certain that he has these food allergies but since his eczema has flared up in the winter here, I’m not taking chances. (More on this topic later.)

For the moms out there who have more free time than me and want to try making your own, here’s a recipe. Let me know how you go with it if you do!

We’re now in Seoul, South Korea, and *finally* had a day to rest up today after nearly a full month of continuous activities. Bry’s been putting up hundreds of photos on our Flickr account for family and friends around the world to keep up with our travels (and Benji), and here’s a crazy one I just saw, of the baby food section at one of the inner suburban grocery stores where we got Benji’s jar food. What a spread!