Archive for » February, 2015 «

“Mom, can we invite my friends over for a playdate?” 11 year-old.

“Sure.” I said without giving a thought.

“Can we have cupcakes for the playdate?” 11 year-old.

“Sure.” me.

Again, I replied too quickly, and without thinking. I am a hopeless pleaser to my kids.

Cupcakes are easier said than done these days. My baby has Celiac disease. I would have to drive a great distance to buy the gluten free versions, and dough out a huge amount of money.

Why not make them myself? Great idea! I decided to make them from scratch.

Though I am an inexperienced baker, my first batch of gluten free cupcakes came out of the oven looking beautiful, and smelling like cupcake heaven.

Homemade gluten free cupcakes

Do you know what’s the difference between homemade cupcakes and store bought ones? Well, it is the icing on the cake!

Instead of smearing icing on top of the cupcakes with a knife, I bought this icing bag.

Icing bag

I carefully piped the icing on top of the cupcakes, and showered them with colorful sprinkles.

My cupcakes were a huge hit.

Cupcakes + icing

As I was cleaning the icing bag, a new inspiration popped into my brain. The opening part of the bag looked like a churro shape. I should make churros with this!

Churros were a favorite food of my 11 year-old, and she could no longer eat it since being diagnosed with Celiac a year ago.

How hard can it be to fry some dough, and toss it in some sugar and cinnamon…

Next day, I went about to make churros.

I got a batch of gluten free dough, I put the dense dough into my icing bag, with the biggest star shape tip.

Churro dough in icing bag

I piped a 4 inch length dough straight into the hot oil frying pot, and within a few minutes, they turned nicely golden.

frying the churros

I coated them in my sugar and cinnamon mixture.

freshly fried churros tossed in the sugar and cinnamon mixture

I proudly present my first batch of delicious (and gluten free!) churros.

My gluten free churros

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On Valentine’s day, I got a card from my 14 year-old with this nasty note written all over the envelope.

Un-Valentine message

I may have done something to deserve this wrath…

Earlier that day.

“Hey kids! You got Valentine’s day cards from Nai Nai.” I shouted out, as I drop the mail on the kitchen island.

14 year-old promptly walked over and tore open her card. A ten dollar bill fell to the floor.

“Ha! MONEY!!!” 14 year-old.

That got my 11 year-old’s attention. The baby dropped the book she was reading, and ran over excitedly.

My two children are always money hungry these days.

I eyed the baby, and said, “Just because Nai Nai give Thee ten dollars, doesn’t mean you will have ten dollars in your card too.”

The baby crossed her arms, and gave me that don’t be silly look.

14 year-old ran upstairs with her money.

11 year-old opened her card, and sure enough, she waved a ten dollar bill at me.

That’s when my head grew a pair of horns…

I took a clean twenty dollar bill out of my wallet, and swapped it with the baby’s ten dollar bill.

“Go upstairs, and wave this twenty dollar bill in one hand, and your card on the other hand at your sister.” I whispered.

A big mischievous smile appeared across the baby’s face. We were in cahoots.

Soon enough, the expected growling and gleaming voices were heard upstairs. The baby is good at acting!

I ran upstairs, pretending to investigate their little crisis.

“What’s going on?” me.

The baby showed me her twenty.

I took the bill into my hands, and gave it a good look.

“I thought you said you got a ten?” I said to my 14 year-old.

“I did get a ten!!” 14 year-old, looking slighted.

“But this is a TWENTY!” I said incredulously.

“Nai Nai gave you a ten, gave your sister a TWENTY?!!” sounding even more incredulously.

14 year-old nodding her head up and down, looking all sad.

“This can’t be right. I don’t believe this. You must have looked wrong. Nai Nai must have given you a twenty too.” me.

14 year-old ran back into her room, and came back with her ten dollar bill to show me.

“Wow, wow…” me.

The baby was conducting her happy dance all around us, waving the twenty.

“Well, Nai Nai is getting old, she must of made a mistake. I am sure she meant to gave you each a ten or each a twenty. I am sure she didn’t mean to give your sister twice more than you.” I tried not to laugh.

“I thought Nai Nai is my homie, but she is not…” 14 year-old pouted sullenly.

“Nai Nai likes me more than you.” 11 year-old was piling it on.

14 year-old looked even more crushed.

“Well, maybe because your sister has Celiac, and Nai Nai knows that her gluten free snacks cost twice as much as your snacks. So, she gets more money than you.” I offered a new theory.

14 year-old shook her head. She rejected my words of comfort.

After torturing my teen for a good 10 minutes, I had to come clean. I wouldn’t want Nai Nai to get into unearned trouble.

I took the ten dollar bill out of my pocket, and swapped it with the baby’s twenty.

“We got you!” I said, as my baby and I melted onto the floor laughing.

“THAT’S RUDE!!”, protested the teen.

Later that night, she handed me a Valentine’s card, it came with a nasty message all over the card envelope. Inside the card, under each word “LOVE”, she written “Bacon” under it. She was professing her love for bacon on my Valentine’s day card!

LOVE Bacon

That little pig.

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The crispy rings and tentacles known as calamari starts its life looking like this beast.


Ever since my baby was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a year ago, we found that the poor child is unable to eat most of her favorite foods in the restaurants. Old favorites such as French fries, onion rings, and Calamari are totally off limits. Very few restaurants offer gluten free fried food, and even if the ingredients happened to be gluten free, even fewer restaurants have dedicated gluten free fryers.

I will just make these restaurant foods at home. How hard can that be?

Gluten free onion rings

So, on most Sunday afternoons, I pair myself with a glass of my homemade Sangria, cook up a storm, and make the house take on the aroma of a restaurant.

calamari in marinate

I have never prepared calamari before. So, I found this helpful Youtube video on how to clean and prepare it.

I quickly gutted and peeled off the outer layer of thin skin like the video taught me. It wasn’t hard, though it wasn’t a pretty process.

Gutted and cleaned

Cooking Method:

1) I cut up the cleaned calamari into rings and tentacles, and treated them with salt and pepper, a dash of lime, and some cooking alcohol.

salt, pepper, and seafood seasoning

2) For the dry mixture, I used about half a cup of cornmeal, a half cup of gluten free flour (you can use your regular flour), about a teaspoon of baking powder, and a splash of pepper.

GF dry mixture

3) I threw the calamari pieces into the flour/cornmeal mixture, and gave it a good toss.

Ready for the fryer

4) I heated up cooking oil in a fryer. I used a small pot to minimize oil usage.

5) I dropped a few pieces into the hot oil one at a time.

6) Each piece is only in the fryer for 1 to 2 minutes, no longer!

7) I served it with the appeal of a restaurant dish. A couple wedges of lime, basil, and a gluten free Chipotle Mayo sauce. (Store bought!)

GF Calamari is served!

Very easy indeed.

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Move over photography, we need to make room for the arrival of my newest obsession.

Our Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker

Meet our bread maker. It arrived just last week.

Now, why would a self respecting Chinese woman need a bread maker?! Rice is not filling enough these days?

Well, this bread maker’s key beneficiary is my baby’s American stomach.

Our baby loves bread!

This bundle of cuteness loves bread!!

My 11 year-old was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about a year ago, just 3 months after she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Celiac and Type 1 diabetes are both auto immune diseases. So Celiac disease is more prevalent among Type 1 diabetics than the general population, and this double whammy fell into our lot.

There is no cure for Celiac disease, and the only treatment is to follow a very strict gluten free diet. This is not easy. Gluten is EVERYWHERE!!

Gluten is a protein from wheat, barley, and rye. If my baby ingests even a trace amount of gluten, her over active immune system will attack the heck out of it, wreaking havoc on her small intestine, damage the villi on her small intestine, and render her unable to absorb nutrients into her body. This helped to explain why she didn’t grow even an inch in about a year.

So, we have been that “trendy” gluten free band wagon family the media has complained about so much recently. Except this band wagon is no joy ride in a shiny BMW, this band wagon is one endless bumpy ride, driven by an old donkey!

Foods we have taken for granted such as bread was a major challenge. We were able to quickly identify Udi’s Gluten Free bread as our favorite. However, it is almost always kept in the freezer section of the grocery stores, and the baby only liked two types of their GF bread. The only way to eat fresh baked bread was to drive over an hour away to a dedicated GF bakery, called Mariposa’s.

I have decided to liberate the baby from her frozen and boring breads misery. I am going to make her fresh GF bread myself!

“But you don’t know how to bake!!” my husband.

This is true. So I bought a bread maker with a gluten free setting on it.

Gluten Free baking setting

I also decided to start with the simplest GF bread recipe.

The recipe

I went out and bought a list of unfamiliar ingredients, and I met a couple of them for the first time.

GF ingredients for bread making

I was determined to follow the recipe to the letter. Rather than simply measure each of the ingredients with the various cup sizes, I weighed each of the key ingredients down to the exact grams on my kitchen scale.

Carefully weighing the GF flours

My 11 year-old got all excited and joined me in the kitchen. She happily poured 3 tablespoons of honey into the batter mixture, and felt certain that this bread was destined to be delicious.

Adding honey to the mixture

I put the batter mixture into the bread maker, pushed a few buttons.

Loading the batter mixture into the bread maker

A little over two hours later….

Our bread is done!

Oh! Beautiful, further enhanced by the heavenly smell of the freshly baked bread filling the entire house.

A big 2 lb loaf

Our first loaf of gluten free bread did not play victim to any of the typical gluten free pitfalls, such as too dense or too crumbly or too off tasting.

Slice and serve

The four of us enjoyed our first loaf of gluten free bread for dinner. My baby was so grateful to finally be eating fresh, warm, fluffy, and delicious bread.

It was a huge success. I am in love with our bread maker.

I plan to bake a loaf of bread every week. My unhinged ambition and impatience will have me attemping a much more complicated bread recipe this coming Sunday. I can’t wait!

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