(Trying) to raise a reader

Some of my favorite summer memories consist of trips to the library, filling out library reading logs, and completing the library summer challenges. As a result, public libraries have a very special place in my heart.

My parents are first generation Vietnamese immigrants. Growing up they did everything they could to help me with school work. Despite their hardest efforts their little English put limits on how much they could help me. Instead, my resourceful parents took me to our neighborhood library to get homework help, to check out books, and to spend time exploring whatever interested me.

The library became the place you would often find me. I would be there after school completing homework with volunteers, reading the latest Nancy Drew books, or later in my jr. high years just meeting up with friends. On the weekends, my mom would pack my backpack with snacks and I along with my four (later five) younger siblings would spend our mornings at the library.

Now, as a mom I am excited to come back to the children’s section of the library. As I walked my son around the children’s section I found myself transported back to my childhood. I smiled as I remembered checking out books on tape as a way to ‘read’ books that were too hard for me. I happily sighed as I recalled reading the backs of books to decide which ones would make my weekly checkout list.

I hope my son will enjoy reading and find the library as familiar and safe a place as I always have. Last week, he became the youngest reader at our local library to participate in Rahm’s Reader: Full STEAM Ahead Chicago Public Library summer reading program. To participate in the program I have committed my little guy to 300 minutes of summer reading (about 20 minutes a day), at least one creative, one learning, and one discovery activity. We will log our reading and other experiences in the Full Steam Ahead booklet the library provided us. It’s already been a week since we have signed up and I am happy to report we are right on track.

My little guy and the library volunteer that helped sign us up.

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My little guy reading his first book at the library. At first he thought the book was a book about how to party but then quickly realized it was actually about how to potty. He liked it anyway and had me read it to him twice.

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Happy Anniversary

Happy three year anniversary to my cutie pie hubs.  It’s been an amazing three years and I’m excited for what’s to come.  Here are some throwback photos from our wedding published in Ceremony Magazine.  It was a beautiful day full of bright colors, family and friends, and best of all, clown noses.

The title of this blog was inspired by the colors of our wedding yellow and grey.

Pineapple Fried Rice for International Food Day

Tomorrow my little guy’s daycare is celebrating their own International Food Day. Parents were asked to contribute something for the kids to try. Although pineapple fried rice isn’t Vietnamese, it is Southeast Asian so I figured it was good enough. More importantly, most of the babies and toddlers love pineapple so I figured it had a better chance of being eaten by the little ones.

To make this dish I did a quick google search for ‘pineapple fried recipe’ and used a combination of recipes and what I had on hand. Not a good idea. It turned out just okay.

This is a dish I will be working on in the future and once I get a recipe together worth sharing I will definitely post. For now, I am enjoying the whimsical presentation.

What is your ethnic and cultural background? Do you have a special dish you usually make to celebrate your heritage?

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Vietnamese Comfort Food: Sinh to Bo / Avocado Shake Recipe

My hubby makes the best avocado shakes!  Yup, an AVOCADO shake!  Avocados aren’t just for guacamole or face masks, they make delicious shakes too.   You can find the recipe to it here at Viet World Kitchen.

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Vietnamese Comfort Food: Honey Ginger Glazed Chicken

Now that my little guy is able to eat most things, I am making a conscious effort to provide him access to one of my favorite experiences growing up Vietnamese American; the food. In the United States, when we hear the term “comfort food” it is usually referring to something like grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, mac and cheese, or chicken soup. Well, for me comfort food invokes images of canh (Vietnamese soup), chao ga( Vietnamese rice porridge with chicken), or thit ga xao ot (chicken sautéed with ginger and some chili peppers. That is my comfort food and I hope to make that a similar childhood memory for my little guy.

I finally had a chance to try out the Honey Ginger Glazed Chicken recipe I found on food.com. It was delicious! If you click the link above, it will take you to the original recipe. I had to adjust the recipe a bit to make it palatable for my little guy.

Here’s the recipe I used. The changes I made are italicized and explanations as to why I made the changes next to it.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 large onion, cut into slices-I made this change so the onion doesn’t overpower the glaze. He’s not a big fan of onions.
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon of minced garlic-I used preminced garlic to save time but also lessened the amount of garlic in fear it might turn off the little guy.
1 tablespoon minced ginger-In the interest of time and to make it easier for the little guy to eat I used a hand blender to mince the ginger.
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro-I wanted a little taste of cilantro included in every few bites.

Directions:

1 Heat oil in the wok.
2 Add onion and stir-fry until golden.
3 Add chicken and stir-fry until browned.
4 Add the garlic, ginger, honey, fish sauce, soy sauce, and five-spice powder.
5 Toss to combine.
6 Cook and stir chicken and glazeon medium to high heat for about five minutes then bring heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until chicken is nicely glazed and heated through.-I had the chicken and glaze on low heat simmering to make the chicken softer and easier to eat for the little one.
7. Place on serving platter and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Here is the result:

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I served the chicken with sautéed green beans and brown rice. For the brown rice I added an extra 1/4 water and purposely made the rice a bit “mushier” for my little guy. As you can see, my mister and I have adapted our food to fit what our little guy can currently eat. It is much easier as a working mom to adjust our eating habits than to cook two different meals, one for us and one for him (or in our case, because I am mostly a vegetarian and my mister and little guy are not, I do not want to cook three meals each evening).

While cooking, the smell immediately brought me back to my childhood. Me in the kitchen helping prep food while my mom managed to whip together delicious meals each night. I hope this post is just the beginning of the many Vietnamese dishes I will cook in the future. In the meantime, check out my Vietnamese recipes Pinterest board to see what might be next on the menu.

What’s your comfort food?