Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spicy Stir Fry Noodles

Living with a fickle eater is a challenge.  We are constantly trying to get the Tiny American to eat something besides goldfish and M&M's. I know some would subscribe to the theory that if we just stopped offering him goldfish as an option he would eat other things....thanks, but he would rather starve!  He would just rather not eat.  I worry about it and about that time we will have a day where he eats  everything we put in front of him and then there are days when he eats nothing we put in front of him; on those days I think goldfish are better than nothing. I have tried sneaky ways of getting his fruits and veggies into his tummy, but if he doesn't want to eat I can't actually force it in his mouth.  He seems to be thriving and so we will assume he is getting at least enough of the good stuff and hope that at some point he becomes a more consistent eater.

One thing that he does like is stir fried noodles.  We have a favorite restaurant here that makes them and when I'm not in the mood to cook, they are one of our go to places. Their version has ground pork and big pieces of scallion in a brown sauce, they are yummy!  They are simple to make and I have tweaked a recipe to be more to our taste, we like things a little spicy, even the Tiny American likes spicy.  Last night when I made this recipe I used broccoli and red pepper for my veggies.  You could use what ever you have on hand that you would normally add to a stir fry.  Usually I would just coarse chop my veggies, but I decided to chop these really small with my Pampered Chef food chopper.  I hoped that they would stick to the noodles a little better and would make their way into his tummy without him even knowing! It worked pretty well.  I also used ground pork for this recipe, but ground chicken would work as well, for us ,the smaller the meat the easier it is for him to eat and the ground variety sticks to the noodles.

One thing that I have learned about doing a stir fry is to make sure you have everything measured and ready to go before you start.  I measure everything out and line it up on the counter in the order it goes into the pan.  My second piece of advice is to make sure your wok or whatever you are cooking in is HOT.  You don't want your oil to smoke, but you want it almost to that point. With a tiny bit of prep this is a super speedy meal to get on the table.  If you try these let me know what you think OR when you visit us in Taiwan I will make them for you!

Spicy Stir Fry Noodles

1/2 pound ground pork
rice noodles ( boiled and ready to use) I buy a medium width flat noodle
chopped veggies of your choice
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 eggs beaten
pinch ground white pepper
3 Tbsp veg oil

For the Sauce:
2 Tbsp Dark Soy sauce
3 Tbsp Light Soy sauce
1 Tbsp Oyster sauce
1 Tbsp Hot Chilli Sauce ( you can leave this out or add more depending on how hot you want it)

Heat your oil up in your wok/skillet.  Cook egg just until set and remove from the pan.  Cook garlic and  pork until pork is no longer pink.  Add veggies to the pan cook until they are to desired tenderness, we like ours crispy so it doesn't long.  Pour the sauce into your pork and veggie mixture and then stir in the noodles letting everything blend and warm through.  Add the egg back in, stirring to break it up.

You could always add a little red pepper flake if you really want to bring the heat up.  I wouldn't recommend that if you are sharing it with you toddler, the pepper seeds tend to make their eyes water!

I hope you try it and like it as much as we do!

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Our Three Peas

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Happy Birthday

I love birthdays!  I loved planning the boys parties when they were little and preparing their favorite meal for dinner the night of their special day.  It's one of my favorite things about being a mom.  Birthday cakes are a big part of the day.  Some years the boys wanted a special cake from the store, but more often than not they wanted me to make it.  I  remember one year Tucker wanted the Bat signal on his cake....well there were several years that he had a Batman theme, but his year he just wanted the Bat signal in the middle of the cake, BIG! So the night before the party I baked the cake, frosted the cake and with icing drew the perfect Bat signal in the middle and carefully filled it in with bright yellow frosting.  It looked awesome!  I was excited to show him the next morning.  When he woke up he said mom I think I changed my mind about how I want my cake....ok....I want the Robin logo instead. He didn't know I had already done the cake, he wasn't trying to be difficult.  He was 5 or 6 years old....and I wanted it to be the best birthday ever, until next year.  SO I scrapped the icing off the cake and refrosted and decorated his cake an hour before the party. I didn't have to, I wanted to because I love him and I wanted him to know that he was special and this day was about him.

From a completely selfish standpoint I was nervous about celebrating my birthday in Taiwan. I don't just love other people's birthdays, I love celebrating mine as well. In the States it's pretty easy for John to pull of a celebration for me.  I like a few restaurants really well.  I don't like to have a big crowd, just family that might be close by or maybe a few friends.  I am for the most part pretty easy to please.  It was a really busy week for John.  The weekend before my birthday he gave me my gift.  I had been wanting a set of bowls and Chinese soup spoons that match our dishes.  I love them!  it was the perfect gift for me.

In preparation for the big day I had been clear with John that I just wanted a plain white cake for my birthday, no fruit filling.  Fruit filling is a big deal here!  Now I want to preface this next paragraph by saying I really am easy to please and I think most people would consider me a pleaser rather than a complainer.  SO, the morning of my birthday John had to go to some meetings but we decided to get up and have birthday cake for breakfast.  The night before he had gotten home late and had brought in a pretty white box all tied up with a pink ribbon....I couldn't wait to see the cake inside.  When opened the box there was a plain white cake inside.  I mean a PLAIN white cake.  I tried to not be disappointed.  But it was all over my face and I hate that.  The cake was delicious and it was exactly what I asked for.  In hindsight I wish I could go back to that moment and change my reaction.  What my reaction should have been then, and what I feel about it now, is that this man will do anything I ask.  His one objective is to make me happy.  He scoffed at the girls in the office when they joked at him about ordering a plain white cake.  "It's what she wants."  And like I was with Tucker that birthday so many years ago, he was about making this day special for me.  I will always remember my white cake in Taiwan and how much love it represents.

We had tickets for an amazing show called Shen Yun.  It is a dance troupe that performs small stories representing the history of China.  Evidently it is very political and portrays the religious struggle of those in mainland China throughout history.  The guy in charge of the company is apparently on China's most wanted list. We just enjoyed the show, no political agenda for us.  The costumes were beautiful and bright and the music was lovely.  I would recommend anyone seeing it if it comes to a city near you.  They tour all over the world. We did get all dressed up for the occasion which was fun!

 After the show we went home and changed our clothes and met up with a few of John's colleagues.  His Boss and another board member as well as a couple of guys still in town from the U.S.  We had dinner at a great restaurant right in our neighborhood.  We had Hot Pot, which is sort of like Chinese fondue.  They have hot broth, one side spicy and one side not, that you drop meat and veggies into to cook. It was SO good!! We had beef and pork as well as scallops and shrimp.  I am pretty reserved about what will even try so when they put something in the broth that looked a little like solid pudding,  I was curious.  I asked what it was and was told duck's blood.  I had had just enough to drink that i thought this sounded good....much to everyone's  surprise, including mine, I liked it!  It wasn't chewy which is generally my hangup with this type of thing.  It wasn't tough, it didn't squirt anything out when i bit into it.  It was actually really good and had soaked up the flavors of the broth. It was so good I had a second piece! If you come visit us you can be certain we will take you here, and if you want you can try some duck blood, you might be surprised and decide you like it too!

After dinner with our bellies full we visited a local KTV.  I've mentioned before how very popular Karaoke is here.  It's huge, KTV's all over the city.  If you know me well you know I do not perform in front of other's and I don't normally get into this kind of thing, but we had a great time!  I enjoyed other people singing and we all laughed a lot AND John's boss surprised me with another birthday cake!  It was an awesome day! Cake to start the day and end the day and LOTS of love to fill the middle.  I am a lucky girl to have a husband who loves me and wants to make my EVERY day special.

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Let's Talk Mommy

Sunday, March 22, 2015

What did we see.....

We went walking what did we see...

These pretty Chinese paper umbrellas hanging in one of our new neighborhood restaurants.


These very fragrant purple petunias, my favorite, blooming in the park across the street.

This bumpy and very intricate rock path in a new park we found.

Chinese New Year decorations are down and the department stores are getting ready for Spring....these kites are hanging in the lobby.

More goats.  I like this one a lot and he has this cute candy stripped zebra on his back.

Zane has been working on his animal sounds.  He does the normal barnyard animals and like any good Asian boy he knows what a dragon and a scary Chinese lion say too!

I've mentioned before and shared them with you that Bears are everywhere....these two were at the Lantern Festival.  Captain American and Iron Man.

We had to make a stop at Miyahara this week.  It is an old Eye Clinic that has been turned into a Dawn Cake shop.  We went there to get their traditional Pineapple Cakes for the visitors that John was hosting this week.  Dawn Cake is the most famous Taiwan Pineapple Cake company. They only use pineapple from Taiwan. I'm not a fan of pineapple cakes, but they have lots of other very yummy products to offer!  The building reminded us of something from Harry Potter.  

Thanks for walking with us this week....

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

English Menu

Eating out is a challenge.  Not because we don't like Chinese food, but because we can't always order at a restaurant if we go alone.  Slowly we are adding new places to our list that either have English menus or picture menus.  We do a lot of hand gestures and pointing to finally get a meal in front of us.  This week we found 2 new places, very close to home that have exactly what we like to eat and both had English on their menu, SCORE!!  

John's boss was in town and he actually has an apartment in the same building as us.  He is Taiwanese and doesn't totally understand my reluctance with some of the food.  For me it is mostly a texture issue, plus I don't eat feet, internal organs, things with the head and especially eyes still intact, or anything still moving.  What's not to understand? Anyway...he called Saturday afternoon and said he had found the perfect place for us, close to the building, and our kind of food AND English. He invited us to dinner for that night.  

I know it looks like a lot of food...and it was.  But it was a small table and there were 4 adults. WE didn't eat it all, but it was SO good! 
It was fantastic!  John is easy, but he liked it.  I liked it and amazingly enough Zane loved it!  It was dumplings and potstickers and noodles....perfect for us.  They had a variety of flavor combinations.  I think our favorites were the Thai spiced dumplings.  Zane loved the pork and veggie potstickers and the noodles.  We will definitely become regular customers there!

I wish i could have gotten a shot of him eating the was very funny!

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lantern Festival take 2

I was actually worried we wouldn't get to make a visit to the largest location of the 2015 Taiwan Lantern Festival.  Between the Chicken Pox and work visitors from the States, it seemed like it might not happen.  We DID make it and I am so happy that we was AMAZING!  The weather cooperated, we took one of the visitors with us and we saw the most beautiful lanterns.  For those of you who might not have seen a lantern like this, they are basically structures built out of fabric and then illuminated with LED lights.  They are huge, full of detail and awesome.  

The Tiny American was in a trance the whole time we were there!

Something I find very interesting and obviously different from the States, this was free to attend.  There is NO charge at all. They want everyone that can attend to do so, and they DO!  We got there just a few minutes after they opened and anticipated it being very crowded.  We had plenty of room to walk around for the first hour we were there and then it really started to get crowded, elbow to elbow people with no personal space boundaries.  Fortunately I was really into the lanterns and it didn't bother me too much. By not too much, I mean, my throat only sort of closed up and I was only slightly sweaty....but it was totally worth it!

Zane loves Bee's right now.  He laughs every time anyone says the word.

The year of the Goat
There isn't a lot to say.  I just wanted you all to be able to see them.  The Lantern festival happens right after the Lunar New Year, make your plans now to join us next year!  We will even treat you to some stinky tofu, or chicken feet or any of the other  delicacies available from the food vendors.

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