April 28, 2013

Lotus root chips

My son is already 11 months old. When I wrote my last entry on steamed potatoes five months ago, I didn't foresee what was to come: mealtime struggles. The fear of rejection and stress plagues me everytime when mealtime comes. Apparently babies cannot be manipulated when it comes to eatingthey simply keep their mouths shut. To get my son to eat, we exhaust every possible distraction technique, such as using lots of props, so that we can quickly shovel spoonfuls of what we call "food" - purees of unidentifiable ingredients - into his mouth. We sing too; sometimes we even bark and meow.

That he is unaware of the act of eating really troubles me. I'm secretly keeping my fingers crossed this distraction technique won't persist into his toddlerhood! That's why I'm also sitting him next to us during adult mealtimes and giving him bits and pieces of what we eat as his finger food, even letting him squish and squash them in a playful manner. He's still in his mouthing stage, probing the world by tasting everything within his reach. Needless to say, I'm not particularly impressed that his favorite "food" is remote control and my cell phone. I just wish his curiousity in biting can replicate on the dining table.

That said, as a mom of a restless child, I need to bring out the sensory and textual appeal of the food I serve in a more playful way. We love stimulation, don't we? That's when lotus root comes in. I can imagine my son poking his fingers to fit in those tiny holes of the plant when cut crosswise. The shape of the chips resembles flowers. How beautiful! Its texture is a cross between crisp apple and mealy potato; its taste a subtle earthiness that reminds one of its origin—a rhizome, or underground stem—of the lotus plant that is often associated with modesty and purity.

Lotus Root Chips

Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
1 section lotus root, medium sized, about 1/2 pound
pinch of salt and pepper
olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring to boil a pot of water and boil the lotus root for 10 minutes. (Preboiling yields a chewy texture that compliments greatly with crisp crust but it's optional.) Slice lotus root, either peeled or unpeeled, into 1/8 inch chips. Coat the chips evenly with enough olive oil. Spread the chips evenly on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes on one side before turning; then bake for 5 minutes more or until golden brown. Enjoy! These lotus root chips will definitely spark some curiousity in little minds.



April 22, 2013

A home-cooked meal of late 1970s Hong Kong

This picture shows my dad and grandma (in the center of the picture) enjoying a scrumptious home-cooked meal with guests in a tiny apartment they rented when they first immigrated to Hong Kong from Meixian, China. I wasn't born yet. My mother was still in China. There were five dishes, which I couldn't figure out what they were, and one soup. Despite the modest and simple decor in the apartment they live in, dinnerware used was exquisitely decorated. I can imagine how important a proper dinner meant to themback then as new immigrants in an exotic land.