Friday, September 30, 2011

Fire Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Fire-roasted Sweet Potatoes are the Korean equivalent to Smores.  I can a fire-roasted potato even compare the rich chocolaty gooey goodness that we roast in America, but.... it does!  Once you pull these from the fire and take a bite, you will wonder how nature could make something so sweet.

The sweet potatoes that we eat in America are orange in the center and as big as your forearm.  In Korea, the sweet potatoes are white in the center and much smaller, about the size of a young child's forearm.  You can sometimes find the asian version of a sweet potato at your local market but you will have more luck if you find an asian or international market.  If you can't find the asian version, try the big American ones.  Because of their size, they will take longer, so test them before you take them off of the fire.

Fire-roasted Sweet Potatoes

4 sweet potatoes
aluminum foil
a fire pit
  1. Fire up your pit or charcoal grill and let the flames die down to glistening coals.
  2. Meanwhile, wash your sweet potatoes.
  3. Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil, leaving no exposed area.
  4. When the fire is ready, place the potatoes directly on the coals.
  5. Allow the potatoes to cooke about 30 -45 minutes until done.
  6. You may check for donesness by poking with a wooden skewer or breaking the potato in half.
  7. If the potato is cooked to softness all the way through, open, peel and eat!

Gas-grill instructions:  These may be roasted on a gas grill.  Just turn on the grill and heat well.  Place the wrapped potatoes on the grill and close the lid.  Cook until done.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Pan-fried Pork Chops

    OK, so this may not be one of the healthiest recipes we have, but sometimes you just HAVE to have a fried pork chop.....for breakfast. Yas, for breakfast! Whether you are eating breakfast in the morning or for a family treat, these little joys will hit the spot.

    This unhealthy breakfast tradition is one that I can honestly blame on my father. I think his head starts to swoon and his pulse speeds up at the thought of a fried pork chop. So....this recipe is for you, Dad!

    Pan-fried Pork Chops

    4 thin cut pork loin chops
    1/2 C rice flour
    1 T oregano
    1t garlic powder
    1/2 t onion powder
    1.2 t salt
    rice oil
    1. Fill a skillet with 1/2 inch of oil.
    2. Heat the oil on medium.
    3. Meanwhile, mix the rice flour and spices in a plastic bag.
    4. Toss the pork chops in the flour mixture.
    5. Test the oil by sprinkling a little flour mixture in the skillet.  If the flour immediately begins to rapidly bubble and float, the oil is ready.
    6. Place 2 or 3 pork chops in the skillet.
    7. Fry on one side about 4 minutes and flip gently.  Cook until both sides are brown.
    8. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel.
    9. Serve warm with rice, pasta, or just eat them as they are!
    Money-saving tip:  The whole pork loin or the thick cut loin chops are often priced cheaper per pound. Buy these cuts of meat and then cut your own thin sliced pork chops, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Freeze any extras.

    Serve these along with our Veggie Jjuk to complete the meal.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Mom2Mom: Parents of non-allergic children

    A dear friend and parent of a non-allergic child recently asked me a great question:

    "What would I want from other parents in my angel's class?"

    My response

    I don't expect much more than the same respect for her individual circumstances and needs as I would give to theirs [whether physical, mental or emotional].  But, having said that, I have had many parents go beyond that and it is always sincerely appreciated.  Here are some of the things that parents have done for us:

    • Asked what H is allergic to and helped avoid it. 
    • Told me what foods they were having for parties so that I could bring something similar for H.
    • Asked for a list of "safe foods" that they could use at celebrations.
    • Put non-food items in gift bags for holidays so that H could feel part of the event.
    • Included us in playdates "even though H can't eat the food".
    • Willingly avoided allergens in the lunches when we had field trips.
    • Helped their children understand food allergies and how they could keep H safe.
    • Washed hands after eating and when entering the classroom.
    • Notified me if their children might have touched or eaten something in question.
    • Let me know if they saw something "unsafe", i.e. someone touching H while eating, a hive or rash developing, use of an unsafe product around H
    • Always took food allergies seriously and never doubted or questioned their validity.
    • Asked questions.
    • Listened patiently [because some days I really don't know which end is up].

    My dear friend,  thank you for your awareness and support of my angel and other children with allergies.  Allergies are confusing and hard for [most of us] to understand and accept.  Food is so ingrained in who we are and what we do that when we must deviate from our comfort zones, it is not easy, especially when doing it for others. 

    On a separate note, I wanted to commend you for "standing ground" when a friend of yours complained about the "no peanut" rule in her childs school.  I thought you were kind and articulate in defense of the allergic child.  For those of us close to this issue, it is not always easy to do that.  Sometimes, we choose not to speak for fear that our emotions will prevent us from speaking kind and articulate.  Thank you, [from all of us].

    As the parent of an allergic child, I try not to place expectations on the other parents around us.  I know that others can't eat like my child; I know that there will be dangers.  I try to educate my child, and not others, on how to live safely in the allergic world around us because I want my child to live a fully.  I try to make allergies a part of our life rather than the controlling factor.   I try to open the world up to my angel's curious eyes and those who make it so special rather than shutting people out. 

    But, I know the reality and I know that those close to us will be impacted.  For some, it may mean that they must wash their hands more or they can't eat their favorite snacks when visiting us.  For family, it may mean no kissing or hugging until they've been examined by the "allergy police", aka "Mommy".   And, for those who are willing to go the extra mile, it may mean avoiding anaphalactic foods while we are together.  Food allergies are not like other special needs; they will impact those around you.  For this I am sorry and for this I thank those who go the extra mile.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Plum, Pear, Mango and Banana Porridge (Jjuk)

    I frequently make porridge, or "Jjuk" as it is called in Korea, using whatever fruits or vegetables I have on hand.  This morning it was plum, pear, mango and banana.  This unusual combination turned out to be pretty sweet and pretty delicious!

    Plum, Pear, Mango and Banana Porridge (Jjuk)

    1 plum, finely chopped
    1 pear, finely chopped
    1 mango, finely chopped
    1 banana, finely chopped
    1 C uncooked sushi rice
    6 C water
    1/2 T brown sugar
    1 t salt

    1. Rinse the rice with water and remove any stones or unwanted items.
    2. Place rice and water in a pot.
    3. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
    4. While the pot comes to a boil, chop the fruit and add to the pot.
    5. Add the seasoning and stir.
    6. Continue stirring frequently and gently while the porridge cooks.
    7. When the rice begins to break down, turn off the heat.
    8. Taste and adjust seasoning.
    9. Serve warm.

    NOTE:  You may use leftover rice or rice that has already been cooked.  Simple place all of the ingredients in the pot and add half the amount of water.  Stir continually, adding water as necessary until the porridge has finished cooking.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Printable Medical Cards

    Around the age of two or so, my angel began wearing a medical bracelet.  We decided that if there were ever an emergency or a disaster, the bracelet would alert medics of her condition when we can not.  After looking long and hard, we found and we thrilled with the product.  Our angel wore the bracelet everywhere.  Now, at four, our angel is wearing this bracelet even during sleep.  It never comes off and it has become an identifying feature much like glasses.  In fact, some of the kids at church even ching their bracelets saying that they are "part of the bracelet club"...and who wouldn't want to be part of the bracelet club!

    As I placed an order for another bracelet, I was reminded of the Free Emergency Wallet Card that they provide for download on their website.  It is a great tool to keep in your wallet or emergency bag to provide additional medical information.

    If your child has a medical condition and isn't wearing a medical bracelet, I hope that you will re-consider.  Take a few moments to browse their products and print this free card for your medical bag or wallet.  Some day, you may be glad that you did!
    Free Wallet Card

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    "What teachers really want to tell parents"

    Read, listen, reflect: "What teachers really want to tell parents". Are you one of "those" parents?

    I was a teacher for 15 years before retiring to motherhood.  Don't do the math....suffice it to say that I am not a spring chicken!  I have taught children, teachers and adults and when asked if I will ever go back, I say without hesitation, "Not to public school.  Probably not to teach children.  If I taught again, it would probably be adults."  I love children and my heart feels full when I see the world blossom before their inquisitive eyes.  But....BUT..... teaching is not all blossoms and blooms.  For every time that I am blessed to see a child realize something new, I have spent a hundred unpleasant moments managing paperwork and parents. 

    Recently, I read an article on sharing the thoughts of a reknowned principal who is leaving the profession.  In the article, the principal shares with parents 3 things that teachers "really want to tell parents."  As I read this article, I found myself cheering the principal for her boldness and courage in saying what so many teachers have thought.  Cheering as this veteran said what so many parents need to hear:  "Listen."  Listen to your children when they tell you their joys and their pains.  And, listen to the teachers when they tell you that your child is not perfect. 

    With ever-tightening budgets and larger classes, I know that our teachers are feeling more burdened each year. They are meeting with more work and less pay. They sweat out the year only to wait on pins and needles wondering if their program will make the cut. I hear parent's make complaints about teacher's mistakes as though teachers should be perfect or generically refer to "all teachers" as though they are all equally bad. But, I can honestly say that in 15 years of teaching around the globe, I have never met a teacher that didn't have your child's best interest in mind. Teachers are not in this for the pay and they are certainly not looking for confrontation. Teachers want to help you raise a productive, healthy adult who is responsible for himself or herself. Their greatest joy comes from seeing your child succeed, not fail.

    I also found myself wondering if I was "one of those parents" who created more work for my angel's already overworked, underpaid teacher.  Am I the parent who encourages the teacher or the one who adds more burden?  I don't know.  I hope that I am the encourager, the one that shows my child how to respect the teacher and his or her authority.  I want my to submit to their teacher, using questions to discover their world rather than challenge authority.  I want my cangel to gather the knowledge that each teacher has to offer, taking responsibilities for mistakes and learning through those trials.

    Throughout my angel's life, I will team with innumerable teachers and I know how deep my love for my angel runs.  But, I hope that I am never one of "those" parents.  I hope that I never make a teacher feel as though my child is their only concern.  I hope that I never make a teacher feel as though my child is blameless.  I hope that I never make a teacher feel as though he or she should do more....

    Because, I know, that teacher has already done their best.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Vegetable Pancakes

    This is a great way to use leftover savory Jjuk or porridge like our Zucchini, Mushroom and Onion Jjuk.  Simple add a little rice powder to thicken and fry in a shallow pan.  Try these as a Korean side dish or dipped in a little honey.   Yum-um-my!

    Vegetable Pancakes
    1 recipe Zucchini, Mushroom, and Onion Jjuk
    11/4C rice flour (optional)
    rice oil
    1. Make the Zucchini, Mushroom, and Onion Jjuk. Set aside.
    2. The jjuk should be thick enough to scoop onto a hot frying pan.  It should not be thin enough to ladle.  If the jjuk needs thickening, add the rice flour to desired thickness.
    3. Heat 2 T oil in a nonstick frying pan.
    4. When pan is hot, scoop batter in 1/2 C portions onto the frying pan.  Spread the batter.
    5. Cook until brown, adding oil if needed. 
    6. Flip to cook the other side.  Careful not to pat down after flipping; this ruins the latkes texture.
    7. Do not flip too soon; it is best to flip these only once. 
    8. Once this side is brown and crispy, remove from heat.
    9. Serve hot.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Happy 1st Anniversary, My Angel!

    One year ago I started writing, not only for myself but for you and for my angel.  I wrote to help other families, other moms.  I wrote to help my angel.  And in the end, I wrote to help me.

    Throughout this year, I found my voice again.  The voice of someone who is a mother but also the voice of someone creative and thinking in her own right.  I discovered an inner self and learned more about who I am and who I want to be.  I created recipes, I shared struggles and I defined purpose this year.  I searched for God and He answered.  This was a busy year!

    As I embark upon this next year of writing, I hope to encourage those with allergies and enlighten those without.  But, most of all, I look forward to chronicling our life and sharing it with you.  I pray that some day these words would be an encouragement for my angel.  So, this year, I write so that my angel may live.

    Highlights from this year:

    "She Gets Itchy" - the first post on this blog

    "Eat Your Rainbow" - eating a balanced diet

    "Bento Full of Love" - favorite bento box

    "Kiss and Chase: Play It Safe"

    "Moosam (Pickled Daikon Radish)" - our most requested recipe

    "Superbowl Sunday: Simply Baked Party Wings"

    "Oven-baked Chicken Fingers" - kids' favorite

    "Grilled Stuffed Cabbage" - surprisingly delicious and equally popular

    "Food Allergies and Lonliness: A Harsh Reality"

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    Allergy-free Sno-Balls

    Summer is ending and school is getting started.  There is no better way to kick off this change of season that with Sno-Balls.  Sno-Balls, SnoCones, Shaved Ice, Nieves - no matter what you call them, these syrup-covered cups of ice make for a fun afternoon.  But many do not realize that most of these syrups are not only full of dyes but they also use corn syrup as their sweetener.  And, for those allergic to corn, this summer treat loses its allure! 

    My recipe for Allergy-free Sno-Balls is made with cane sugar and fruits of your choice.  With only one hour in the kitchen, you can make fruity syrups that are, not only safe, but also dye-free!


    1/2 canteloupe, seeded and peeled
    1/4 large watermelon
    2 mangoes, peel and cut from the seed
    3 C blueberries, washed
    1 recipe Sugar Syrup
    1 shaved ice machine
    ice (read your machine's instructions for the type)
    1. Make a batch of Sugar Syrup and set aside to cool.
    2. Place the canteloupe in a blender.
    3. Add 1/2 C Sugar Syrup.
    4. Blend until smooth.
    5. Pour through a strainer to remove the pulp.
    6. Place strainer juice in a squirty bottle.
    7. Add 1/2 C water.  Shake.
    8. Taste.  Add water or Sugar Syrup and adjust the flavor to your tastes. 
    9. Repeat this process until you have made a syrup with each fruit.  NOTE:  You do not need to strain the mango; but, it will need more water to become "squirtable".
    10. Once the syrups are made, shave ice into a cup and pour the desired amount of syrup on top.
    11. Serve with a spoon and a straw.

    Remember:  The syrup will be poured over ice, so it should be VERY sweet.  Because of seasonal variations in the sweetness of fruits, the amount of water or syrup needed will vary.  You will need to find your preferred balance between the fruit flavor and the sweetness of the syrup. 

    HINT:  These syrups freeze very well.  Pour them into ice cube trays and freeze.  Once the syrup is frozen, dump the cubes into a Ziploc bag and store in the freezer.  When you want sno-balls, just thaw our a few cubes and you are ready to shave your ice!

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Sugar Syrup

    This syrup is super sweet, using a 1.5 to 2 cup sugar to water ratio. Most simple syrups are a 1:1 ratio but I found that the sweeter syrup worked better in recipes like Sno-Balls and Lemonade.  If the syrup needed watering down, I just add more water or other liquid while making the final product.

    Sugar Syrup

    4 C water
    6 C sugar
    1. Place the sugar and the water in a pot and heat.
    2. Stir until all of the sugar dissolves.
    3. Remove from heat and cool at room temperature.
    Makes 5 quarts syrup.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Zucchini, Mushroom, and Onion Jjuk

    This is a more traditional Korean Porridge.  When someon is sick, moms and wives gently stir the rice and vegetables until it creates a creamy, savory porridge.  But, this soup is not just good for the ill.  It is the perfect BABY FOOD!  Cook this until all of the ingredients break down and you have a simple, healthy meal for your youngest.

    Zucchini, Mushroom, and Onion Jjuk

    4 inch piece of zucchini, finely chopped
    1/4 piece of onion, very finely chopped
    2 baby bella mushroom, finely chopped
    1 C uncooked sushi rice
    6 C water
    1 t salt, adjust to taste
    1. Rinse the rice with water and remove any stones or unwanted items.
    2. Place rice and water in a pot.
    3. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
    4. While the pot comes to a boil, chop the vegetables and add to the pot.
    5. Stir.
    6. Continue stirring frequently and gently while the porridge cooks.
    7. When the rice begins to break down, turn off the heat.
    8. Taste and adjust seasoning.
    9. Serve warm.

    NOTE:  You may use cooked rice but cut the water in half and continue stirring.  As the jjuk cooks, add water to keep the porridge moist until the rice breaks down and the vegetables are cooked.