Fantastic Four Fish Fillet

Fantastic Four Fish Fillet

So I get a text asking, What’s for dinner? and my answer was steamed fish fillet. In my head, there’s this pretty picture of my tilapia fillets steaming merrily away in a metal plate that’s sitting on a steamer rack that’s sitting in my big pot.

See, I don’t own a steamer. Not even one of those bamboo dinosaurs, and certainly not a 3-storey electric glass tower that one of my aunts proudly displays in her kitchen of appliances. Yeah, I can so see the poor fish taking the elevator to the top floor of her steamer? Hahaha!

Since I don’t have a steamer, steaming is a rare word in my kitchen vocab. I love steamed fish with all that colorful garnishing and tasty sauce. But the thought of doing those stunts with the metal plate and the steamer rack and that clunk of a pot puts me off.

The pretty picture in my head quickly dissipates and my enthusiasm falls to the floor. Surely there must be a better way to steam fish without actually steaming it. Lol, I’m full of fun ideas but not much of an Asian cook. Fun as in creative? crazy? weird? I think I’ll go with creative. A little boost in the old self-esteem department never hurt.

Cooking Asian food is something I’ve only started doing on and off in the last few years. Not sure if it’s cooking, more like creative fudging. On a good day, everyone will applaud and call for an encore. On a not-so-good day, I’ll be blaming my pots and pans.

Have I digressed? Yes, I have. Okay, back to the fish. Long story short, I told myself, forget the stunts and just poach the fish. Which was a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself. So the 4 fish fillets went into my pan and when it was done (or was it?), the poor fish had turned a pasty white. Which was quite off-putting!

So I put a drop of olive oil into the pan and fried them to give it some color? Haha, now there’s no question about the fish being fully cooked. Brilliant again! By the time, my fish fillets had been poached and fried and garnished, this is what we have.

Fantastic Four Fish Fillet

Now that looks much better and they smell heavenly too, like fish and chips. Not kiddin’! I made a light sauce and finished off with a ton of garnishing and ta-daa!

Fantastic Four Fish Fillet

I love how it looks. Almost professional, huh? Almost! Now for the million dollar question: How did it taste? Fantastic! Of course, and it sure beats dealing with those bothersome fish bones. We-eell, maybe it could use a little more sauce. Maybe. Definitely. Important thing is it passed the Picky Eater test and that usually means a repeat performance is next.

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

Our barbecue buffet lunch reminded me of how much I miss our almost weekly bibim-guksu which, by the way, isn’t guksu (noodle soup) but naengmyeon (cold spicy noodle). Anyhoo, I’ve been talking about it endlessly a-and well, it’s no use talking about it, let’s do it! *rolls up sleeves* (Oops, I’m wearing a tank top!)

Yup, I finally got down to cooking bibim-naengmyeon. This was after several blatant promotional campaigns to generate interest in this meal idea. You see, I was practically the only one who was crazy about that bibim-guksu while everyone else was just kinda meh. Yup, it took a while but I did eventually win them over.

I set to work creating my giant bowl of buckwheat noodles on a bed of white and purple cabbage piled high with cucumber and seaweed with the obligatory half-egg perched atop that fiery homemade sauce. I love how appetizing this looks.

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

Yeah, I know, you diehard Korean food fans are probably shaking your heads and going, “You know, she was doing so well up until the cabbage. So what’s with the cabbage? It has no business being there”. And you’re right, that cabbage has no business being there at all. I really do try but I’m just not very good at following recipes!

I wanted to have a bit of fun with my bibim-naengmyeon – add a bit of color here, a bit more bite there and a bit more veggie never hurt anyone. And you gotta trust me, the cabbage didn’t taste weird at all. In fact, all the flavors blended into one huge fiery mouthful, neutralized nicely by the sweetness of the cabbage. Downright delicious.

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

In the end, this brainchild of mine worked out really well. It not only looked tasty, it was totally tasty. The same people who needed convincing are the ones now calling for an encore. Now that must mean something, right? Muax! I love you, guys!

A very fruitful week

A very fruitful week

You’re no doubt wondering how far along we are with all those fruits we mindlessly bought last weekend. How much have we eaten? Are we almost done? Or is there still a big heap sitting there waiting to turn nasty? Well, it’s Saturday afternoon, exactly a week to the day we carted home more fruits than I thought we could possibly consume in this space of time. Let’s see…

The world’s best of the best grapes are all gone. You knew that. There’s no way we could’ve resisted chomping on them non-stop. In fact, someone was suggesting another trip back to that farm market this weekend!!!

We’re done with the other half of the first watermelon which means it effectively took the three of us 3 days to nibble through a whole watermelon. Hmm, not bad at all. The second one seems comfortable sitting in the fridge so I think I’ll let it sit there for a bit longer, partly to test how long it can actually last.

As for the blueberries, well, what can I say? The Oregon blueberries are enjoying an extended winter stay in the freezer. As for those from Canada, we’re halfway through. Yeah, slow-going, I know! *sigh* Why are they so freakin’ sour? *shudders*. Every morning, I dump a whole truckload into my overnight oats. See, there’s more blueberries than oats but there’s still so much left. Tsk!

A very fruitful week

How else can I finish them up quick? Brainwave! Blueberry pancakes!!! We made the batter and threw in a few blueberries hoping they’ll stain the batter blue. Wouldn’t that be an Instagram moment cool? Taking a quick peek at my babies at 5:00 in the morning here. Houston, do we have blue batter? Not a chance. Oh well! Sour and stubborn, that’s what!

A very fruitful week

The mushy black plums are long gone, slurped up in a flash in all its gooey sweetness. So good! And those bananas that were sitting tight on my counter top this whole week and which I thought were never gonna ripen are all gone now. .

We did good *burp*. Loved it. We devoured all the fruits we bought last weekend except for one whole watermelon and one box of blueberries.

Let the fruit overdose begin

Let the fruit overdose begin

If ever there was a weekend when we overdid the fruit buying bit, this would’ve been it. I guess seeing so many fruits in season and so inexpensive, we just kept hoarding mindlessly and no one even noticed. This is seriously a case of too many fruits, too little time… to eat in one week?

First into our grocery cart were the bananas. Six of them, thankfully all still very green so they can wait. Then came the black plums. Six of them. They ripened on our way home, no thanks to 98 degrees. Well, to me, plums are best when they’re overripe, soft and mushy, and these were insanely sweet with a fragrance too, so I guess I’m not gonna complain.

On our way home, we passed by the farm market where we get our supply of grapes every year. And I’m not kiddin’ when I say these are the best grapes in the whole wide world. Go California! Incredibly sweet with skin so crispy they pop when you bite into them.

Let the fruit overdose begin

At our regular grocery store, we saw those watermelons waving at us and we went craa-azy and picked out 2 big ones! Goodness knows we really need this many watermelons to cool ourselves down, right? Yeah, right!

Well, this morning, I cut one in half and here’s the other half sitting in the fridge, and the other whole one waiting in the wings. Omg lol! Apparently whole watermelons can last a week on the counter top and 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Let’s hope this works out for us.

Let the fruit overdose begin

Next came the blueberries. I swear I have no idea how we ended up with 2 whole boxes – one box Canadian grown, and another from Oregon which I thought it best to freeze while we work our way through the other fruits. Blueberries will stay fresh longer if you don’t wash them till you’re ready to eat them. Between the two, the Canadian blueberries (left) are small and sour while the Oregon ones are bigger and pretty sweet!

Let the fruit overdose begin

And with that, we’re set to OD on fruits this week. Breakfast. brunch, lunch and dinner. Let’s go!

Hip2bMom’s hair salon

Hip2bMom's hair salon

If you’re a mom, you’ll agree that moms have the world’s most unexpected job specifications, often running into uncharted territory, such as Chief Executive Hairdresser, for instance. One without proper qualifications, I might add lol.

Back in college, I used to attack my bangs every once in a while. It was the only part of my hair that needed maintenance. Since I have an aversion to hair salons, this worked out perfectly. And that’s all the ‘training’ and experience I have.

When time came for my kids to have their first haircuts, I naturally assumed it was my job. Taking them to the hair salon was never an option. It might have to do with having witnessed kids being hauled up by their parents, kicking and screaming, and pinned down to that dreaded chair so a complete stranger, armed with a deadly weapon, could attempt to snip off what little hair they had.

I couldn’t bear to think of subjecting my kids to that kind of trauma. So when it came time for my firstborn to have his first ever haircut, I took it upon myself. If I could cut my own hair, a kid’s hair should be a piece of cake and it’s not like he’s going to see the Queen, right?

Hip2bMom's hair salon

Image credit

So that’s how far back Hip to be Mom’s home hair salon goes. I designed my bathroom to be 3 times bigger than normal so I’d have enough wriggle room to turn it into a hair salon every few weeks. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do, right? lol Don’t even get me started on the things I’ve done to child-proof the house.

And so that’s how I ended up being my children’s hairdresser from kindy through college, and all the years in between. Those early haircuts were without struggles. My kids would sit there quietly and patiently while I danced around them. Cutting boys’ hair or even layered haircut for girls isn’t hard. It just needs confidence and some juggling skills.

I probably don’t say this enough but my kids are such sweethearts about a lot of things, which is why I’ve been inspired to do things with/for them that I might otherwise have been hesitant to try. They always cheer me on and tell me I do a good job – and in this case, give me the Nike assurance: “it’s okay, Mom, hair will grow back so just do it!” – and I love them for it.

There was a spell during their teen years when I got lazy found Nick and sent them on their merry way. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know Nick. He was just some random guy who had a different hairstyle and color every other day. But I figured, well, if he had hair like a k-popper, he should be okay. Yup, I’m deep like that lol.

Nick the Pro would definitely be able to cater to a whole range of different hair styles that I couldn’t possibly offer. “Kids, you’re not babies any more. It’s time you went to a pro. Nick does a better job than me. So off you go!”

And just like that, I washed my hands off this whole hairy business. Or so I thought…

(to be continued)

All hail, the mighty kale!

All hail, the mighty kale!

And so here’s my kale story. There was too much talk about kale to ignore. Heard all about it being top spot on the super food pedestal. That was long ago. Kale, avocado, and coconut have since made way for kefir, soylent, and burrito, I hear, hohoho.

Whatever it is, not being one to jump blindly onto any old bandwagon that passes by, I was unperturbed. That’s my general reaction to the iPad, organic food, big breakfasts, any kind of trend fad that has people climbing their fork tines and leaping off their bowls. Let the world go crazy. Leave me alone. I’m staying put.

Stay put, I did, for the longest time. My eyes would pan over everything else in the produce section seeking out my usual veggie choices but skipping over the kale altogether. I tend to get comfortable with the regular veggies that I know and love, and kinda like to stick with those.

If I bought kale, I wouldn’t know what to do with it. Where life is kinda laid back without any of that city madness, I feel like there’s no need to put my brain into high gear. So I thought, nyet, I won’t bother figuring out something new. Let me plog along with my spinach, broccoli and asparagus, thanks.

Until one fine day, I noticed kale going for only 99 cents a bundle. I had no idea super food was so inexpensive. Now that’s not bad at all. Even if I mess it up and it turns out funky, it wouldn’t be such a waste. So I started peeking left and right trying to spot the biggest bundle. Guess I lucked out. Look, a whole tree!

All hail, the mighty kale!

They’re usually tied together neatly in a bundle with no protruding stems but this one was different. Even the cashier laughed and went, “What’s this?” as she puzzled over the 2 plastic bags I used to tame this tree. (By the way, this picture was taken over the open door of Mrs Dolores, our beloved dish washer who fights crime grime with a rattle and a slosh!)

Okay, so now what do I do with my kale? I tried to imagine it juiced but my brain didn’t like how it tasted. So I figured I’d just, what, stir-fry it with, what else, garlic!?? I don’t know, I’ve never fried a tree before, have you?

All hail, the mighty kale!

Well, the tree was huge and filled a big bowl so we ate half and saved the rest. And the taste? Well, if our tongues could taste colors, kale would be dark green and bitter but a bitterness with depth, quite different from the shallow bitterness of bitter gourd. It’s not hard to swallow. We like it. Even my used-to-say-no-to-veggie kids.

Paired with this shrimp and tomato dish, it’s even better. The tangy brightness of the tomatoes takes the edge off the kale’s deep bitterness and they balance each other out perfectly. 먹을 만에요. It’s actually not bad.

So yeah, we worship kale now quite religiously. It’s a regular in our grocery cart. Not because it is or was a trend but because we really like it. You knew that 😉!

Working weekend

So there we are, wildly navigating the weekend mall crowd, trying to avoid body slamming any of the ten thousand people, faces buried in cellphones, walking straight into us, or trampling on random 2-year-olds toddling out of the woodwork. I honestly have a lot of trouble with this.

So when I hear someone mention the word lunch, I practically jump for joy. It’s only temporary relief, I know, but at least I can park myself somewhere…

… and put myself to good use! What, work on a weekend, you ask?! Let me explain.

At my girl friend’s suggestion, we wind up at a restaurant that I’ve passed by a million times without stopping. The place is always crowded but as you know, I’m not in the habit of assuming long lines mean good food. Umm, not necessarily.

We walk in. I’m not sure if we’re shown to our table or if we seated ourselves. Probably seated ourselves LOL. I’m not sure. I was distracted by the overpowering smell of pork in this place. We sit down and peruse the copies of menus strewn haphazardly across each table.

There’s the usual back and forth about what’s good here and my friend names a few things I should try, fried rice among them. Oh, and dumblings. Then she grabs pencil and order form, hands them to me and says, “Let’s fill this up”, and I’m like, “Oh, they make you work before they serve you, eh? Great concept!”

Okay so the customer has to fill out an order form, then wave like a marooned sailor to catch the attention of a willing passing server to pick up the form and send it along to the kitchen. Oh that’s right, I recall entering my order into a tablet at a couple of swankier places.

As we sit anticipating the arrival of lunch, I look around and imagine the food here must be pretty out of this world. I mean, if so many people are willing to line up and work for their lunch, there must be something special about this place. Here’s the spoiler: their food is meh! 맛덦어요 종말!

The server stops by with our bowls of noodles and dumplings just long enough to plonk everything at the edge of the table, then makes a quick getaway. Oh, more work, I see!?! Gotta give those biceps a workout before lunch, y’know! Like all good customers, we distribute the bowls between us, then help ourselves to the eating utensils sprouting from a stand nearby.

I look around the room and everyone is their weekend selves, including the wait staff. people are chatting happily away and having a good time. No one seems to be complaining. Well, I shouldn’t either. I should be lucky they aren’t hustling me off to the kitchen to cook my own noodles and steam my own dumplings!

Soon we’re done eating, chatting and fighting over who’s going to pay. Somewhere in the back of my mind, a giant question mark is popping up. Is there more work waiting for us? And bam, what do you know? My friend picks up the order form, physically transports it to the cashier’s desk and proceeds to hand over her hard-earned money, service charges and all.

You mean, all this time, I’ve been fooling myself into thinking that dining at a full service restaurant means I’m paying someone to cook and serve me without me having to lift a single finger? Haha, silly me!

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