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Weekending: Little Chef

T-t-t-urtle. What? You’ve never heard of turtle bread before? In fact, I hear that there is an entire children’s baking book with recipes for every letter of the alphabet. Sophia made this turtle last week.

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Her culinary learnings didn’t just end with kneading and shaping. Sophia helped peel eggs for a salad, too.

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Fall is really here to stay and we’re trying to think of exciting things to do given the rainy/windy weather. On the upside, Franklin Square has been decorated for the holidays complete with a Christmas market, food trucks and a craft show. The lights are twinkling everywhere as the sun sets and the city is ready for the season.

Coconut Lemongrass Chicken Meatballs

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I’ve begun to grow tired of familiar flavor profiles and decided to look around for some inspiration. Fascinated by southeast asian and indian cuisines for a long time now, I find their spicy and flavor-forward profiles incredibly inviting. Lemongrass, to me, is an incredible edible the aroma of which is so fragrant that it instantly perks up anything you add it to. It just so happens that lemongrass goes great with ginger, garlic and chiles (which I did not use this time around). These aromatics lend themselves naturally to infusing their flavor into coconut milk and make the perfect sauce.

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

 

Ingredients:

2 stalks of lemongrass (~6 inches each) battered and minced

2 inch knob of ginger, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1.5 lbs ground chicken

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 egg

15 oz coconut milk

1 tbsp fish oil

juice of 1 lime

3 tbsp vegetable oil

 

Instructions:

Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, lemongrass, ginger and garlic to a large, 12 inch, stainless steel skillet and sauté on medium heat until the aromatics are translucent and tender or about 10 minutes. Meanwhile combine the ground chicken, salt, bread crumbs and egg in a bowl mixing lightly. Add half of the aromatics to the meat mixture and reserve the remaining half in a dish. Add the remaining 2 tbsp oil to the skillet. Form 12-15 meatballs and place in the heated oil in the skillet searing them until golden brown on all sides ~10 minutes. You may have to sear the meatballs in two batches to avoid crowding. Once all the meatballs are browned, add the remainder of the aromatics back into the pan followed by coconut milk. The milk will help deglaze the pan. Make sure to use a wooden spatula to scrape up all the bits of browned chicken off. Stir in the fish sauce and lime juice to the pan. Return the meatballs to the pan, cover and cook for 6-8 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with vermicelli rice noodles and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!

 

Tasty Tuesday

Though every day is tasty at our house, there are some days during which we share a special treat. Donuts, Hot Chocolate, Philly Pretzels, and Pizza are good examples. I have to confess to not at all liking, no, disliking, okay really disliking soft pretzels. It may have something to do with the fact that I have a mild allergy toward mustard which I imagine is a must on a soft pretzel or the fact that I didn’t grow up eating them.

Despite keeping tabs on whats been going on in the city, we’ve missed out on experiencing culinary happenings while living in Maryland. And so we’ve been slowly trying out all the exciting places that have popped up since 2010 and there have been many. This weekend, we tried out Federal Donuts which were divine. We had high expectations after reading the menu which featured Vanilla Lavender, Blue Velvet, Cherry Pie and Blueberry Mascarpone to name a few.

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The donuts were light and cake-y and didn’t feel fried or greasy. The glazes were tart and light and didn’t overwhelm the senses with clawing sweetness that is often times the case with glazed donuts. My favorite were, unexpectedly, cherry pie and blue velvet.

Full Circle

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We’ve been back in Philadelphia a little over a month now. While I didn’t expect this—we’re still adjusting and unpacking and, from the looks of the boxes all over the place, we will be for a long while. I shouldn’t be surprised as I don’t make any Herculean effort to unload the boxes what with, together with Evan, cleaning, cooking, feeding, and playing with the girls. I just rewrote that sentence from “having to cook, clean” to what it is. In reality, I don’t have to cook or clean or even play with the girls. All of that can be bought. You can have someone clean your house and you can order take-out or bring your family to a restaurant and even hire a sitter to spend time with your kids. The one thing you can’t (or maybe I wouldn’t) do is offload taking care of sick kids. That’s something that I would never do unless I absolutely had to. I want to cook and clean and play with Sophia and Eliza because I LOVE doing it. But I digress. The point is that after having been in Philadelphia for a month, we have no regrets about making the big and rather expensive move.

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I was thinking about our lives now and thinking back to what they used to be like the last time we lived in Philadelphia. Back then, it was just the two of us. I was already working and Evan was finishing up his Ph.D. We lived in the same place and yet it felt infinitely larger and almost always immaculate. I felt like we were both incredibly busy with work and school but in reality, that busyness is nothing compared to the new normal, the new busy. Our home is busting at the seams with all things toys and kid-gear. We are “on” which means up, functioning, ticking things off the to-do lists from 6 AM until 9 PM at which point even TV watching can at times seem like an exhausting and daunting task. What’s more, my life, much like is the case for all the other parents, is a series of lists—groceries, to-dos, work things, and planning/packing lists. The latter has been banished to the furthest corner of the universe since we no longer have to stay overnight when visiting our family. Amen.

During our previous tenure in the city, I also didn’t have this blog and that is something I regret. I very much enjoy the outlet that this space provides me and in turn reward the readers with stories of our life, our everydayness. One day, many years from now, my kids will hopefully read or at least page through the blog and see what I was like when I was younger or even their age. Perhaps they will find the that me (the now me) is someone they can relate to or understand. If anything, they’ll see what their lives were when they were little and the choices we made to ensure that they grew up in a home filled with love, with great food, with family close by and surrounded by their cousins and grandparents.

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Looking at the mirror, I see a much different me. I look older. I no longer have to squint to see some fine lines and even wrinkles. I am thankfully not graying but look tamed and steadier none-the-less. The last few years have made me realize that life has a way of teaching us that we’re none-the-wiser, that we don’t know what is yet to come and that we shouldn’t judge or say “when I am [in the same place you’re in…]”.

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And so we have come full circle, we are in the same place—literally—where we were living 4 years ago and our life couldn’t be more different. Not just different, but better because of the choices we have made, to embrace and enjoy the chaos of the every day.

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{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see. Original here.

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Weekend Shenanigans

We had such an eventful weekend that it has taken all of Monday to recover. My nephew turned 11 last week and our family celebrated his milestone in our usual style with good food and even better company. I was supposed to make cake pops but had to back out after Sophia came down with a cold. I did however manage late-breaking brownies which were quite good.

Evan and I enjoyed some down time with my in-laws on Sunday along with Princess Sophia

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and Eliza.

PrincessSophia2I must admit that the move hasn’t been flawless or very easy. We still have boxes in our new place and our house isn’t sold. This state of limbo can be quite tough but it is absolutely worth it to have this:

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We The [Young] People…

Mondays, as I have just learned, are best spent in the company of friends, walking to a beautiful museum and spending a glorious morning there with your daughter. Now that I know this, I shall endeavor to spend more Mondays in just this very way.
A good friend of ours happens to have a lovely tradition where she takes her two and a half year old son to a different museum/event every Monday. She was coming into town to visit the Constitution Center and invited me and Sophia to join in. The invitation was an offer I couldn’t resist and so Sophia and I [with a hot cup of tea in hand] headed off toward Philadelphia’s Independence Mall.

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I love, love, love the recently constructed Constitution Center. It is a modern, light-filled building offering a variety of exhibits from art to educational multi-media displays that teach about the various inner workings of our nation’s government. I know that some may think that Sophia is a little young for this type of a museum but my outlook on these kinds of outings is simple: Sophia and soon enough Eliza being part of our family, will participate in our family activities and learn to find something to learn and enjoy in every situation. In fact, Sophia and her young partner in crime loved the 3-D models of our government buildings in the nation’s capital as well as the interactive displays about states where one could see the official flag and bird for each one. Sophia and I went through the voting exhibit too and having had to go into a faux voting booth with her, I can say with a mild tinge of disappointment that she seems to side with a party the views of which directly oppose mine.

The kids were marvelous in the museum and soon enough we decided to take them to a nearby playground for some fun in the sun and lunch. The day was a great success. I enjoyed my time with a great friend whose child is close in age to Sophia during an educational experience within walking distance to our home, time outdoors and the sights and sounds of the city during the peak of fall foliage.

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