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Food

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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.

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The meal

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Benji literally licking the bowl that had pho

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Benji is spending day 2 at daycare and I hope everything’s going well! Having no real work to do yet (we had to enrol Benji earlier in daycare than needed to ‘secure’ a spot; crazy, I know, thankfully the Australian government subsidises some of this!), Bry and I seized the opportunity to go on a lunch date at this new Mexican joint, Fonda Mexican, located in a fun and energetic neighborhood called Richmond.

Fonda Mexican serves gluten and dairy free tacos – YAY! – and delicious fries with an amazingly tasty aioli sauce. Price was about $6 per 6″ size taco – not too bad considering we’re in Australia. Bry ordered a burrito which tasted healthy and good. There were some crispy corn chips sprinkled in there which made it quite unique in a good way. We’ll definitely go back there again.

Now, I’m enjoying some QT by myself at home, catching up on housework and reading, when, really, I should be catching some zees.

As you know, I’ve been on a moderate wheat and total dairy free diet because of Benji’s eczema. Since then, I’ve been trying out different recipes that use different wheat and dairy substitutes. Today, I tried making spelt vegan pancakes for breakfast and it was amazing. Okay, so spelt is not gluten free; it’s a subspecies of wheat and who knows maybe Benji’s also allergic to it? I *don’t* think so, since he seems to tolerate traces of wheat (I’ve been eating soy sauce, for example). We shall see. Anyhow, I’ll say this recipe is even better than the traditional wheat, dairy, and egg version. Even Bry, who is rarely one to truly enjoy ‘new age’ ‘healthy’ foods remarked that it was quite possibly his favorite pancake: much lighter and fluffier than regular wheat ones. He was surprised when I told him the ingredients and especially when I said there were no eggs involved.  Here’s the link to the recipe. Next time I’ll also try a bit of vanilla extract for more flavor.

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Nice, smooth batter

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Cooking

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Couldn’t resist. Looked so fluffy and light (and it was!).

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Topped off with some olive oil spread and maple syrup. And strawberries on the side.

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We got turned on to Kale when living in Vancouver. Kale is a winter vegetable and since we were in Vancouver when it was winter and oh, so cold, Kale was readily available. I have only tried making baked kale chips before and absolutely loved it. So I was thrilled to find out that kale season had just started in Melbourne and was about to bake some chips, when one of my friends posted on her blog  that she had used it in soup, making a potato and kale soup. The recipe can be found on her Flickr site and blog site. It’s really delicious and very simple to make, and wonderful for the winter! I made the chicken broth myself: just boil the heck out of some chicken legs!

Main ingredients:

1 bunch of kale, chicken broth, 2 large potatoes, 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste.

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Benji’s been enjoying some pretty delicious homemade purées. Today’s brekkie (Australian slang for breakfast), made by his dad: apple, pear, and strawberry purée with organic oatmeal porridge and some fork mashed fresh sweet papaya.

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For those who know me personally, or have known me from reading my blog, you’ll know that both Bry and I are foodies. We love eating and making foods from a lot of different cultures. It also helps that both Bry and I, although we look fairly similar in skin, eye, and hair color, are actually of different cultural backgrounds: he is Korean-American who was born and bred in Los Angeles, and I am Singaporean Chinese. Through him, I got a solid introduction to Korean food (among other foods such as Mexican, which seems to be more of a comfort food to him than Korean – Hmmm!, Southern, and Jewish) and I LOVE it.

Over the years, I picked up a few Korean recipes from his mom and after Benji was born, she wrote me telling me to make Myeok Guk (seaweed soup) which was a staple post-partum dish in the Korean culture. It is supposed to be rich in calcium and iodine, which is said to help with the supply and quality of breast milk. At that time, my mom who flew over from Singapore to help me out with my post-partum cultural confinement was already making me all sorts of post-partum dishes (which were awesomely delicious, by the way) so I did not make it until much later. But OH MY when I did, I just wanted to keep eating it. The Koreans really know what they’re doing, making a winning combination of both healthy and tasty food. My mother-in-law was pleased that I made the soup and enjoyed it so much. In fact, even Bry had some of it and demanded for more. Apparently, this soup is also traditionally served at birthdays. I think in our household it will be enjoyed at anytime, just because it’s so yummy.

It’s also simple to whip up, so busy moms can make this easily. The only trick is getting the seaweed, which would be available at any Korean grocery store if you can get to one. The recipe I used was mostly “by taste.”  Here’s an actual recipe if you want to try it out. In one version, I used ground pork and marinated it for a couple hours in soy sauce, crushed garlic, and sesame oil, then sauteed it, added some chicken stock (was lazy!), then the seaweed, and let the ingredients cook for about 30 minutes, and the soup was done!

(A side note: I’m really into cross-cultural experiences and love how every culture seems to have their own post-partum beliefs and staple foods to help with breastmilk quality and supply. A friend of mine who is Russian Jew swears by cow’s milk and said to have it with tea “mother’s milk tea.” in the Philippines, I believe, it’s green papaya, in Cantonese, it’s red snapper, in Korea it’s seaweed. In the west, it’s milk tea, too, and fenugreek. Here’s an interesting article to read about cross cultural post-partum beliefs. )

My milk supply has been dwindling the last few days. I feel empty and it’s not getting better. Benji does seem to feed a little more regularly as a result.

Any tips?