Got a Suggestion or Submission?

Got a Suggestion or Submission?
Send me an email to Niki at HoldingOntoTheMagic dot com!

Monday, December 19, 2011

[Sassy For the Win]

Hey, everyone! Vote for Sassy for Subaru Spokesdog!

She's entrant number 14 (and, let's face it, the cutest of all...). 

Biased? Me?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

[Fantabulous Whole-Wheat Pancakes]

Note: this recipe is lactose-free, but it is NOT gluten-free or dairy-free if you use the same topping I use.

I love me some carbs, and when it comes to breakfast, I want to eat a breakfast that's going to tide me over until lunchtime--and believe it or not, that's a pretty tough job with me.  One recipe that does do the trick for me, however, is whole-wheat pancakes.

Here's what I use:

2 and 1/3 cups of whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
4 tbs carob or cocoa powder
2 cups fat-free lactose-free milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk
2 tbs lemon juice
6 tbs vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbs ground cinnamon

Optional: chocolate chips, fruit, etc.

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, followed by the liquid ingredients. Mix well. Ladle onto griddle or into pan. Makes approximately one-week's worth of breakfast for one individual. Refrigerate leftover batter for the rest of the week.

As for toppings, you can go the traditional route, but I like to use either Nutella (note: Nutella and off-brands of hazelnut-chocolate spread DO have trace amounts of milk, but their amounts are low enough that I don't have a reaction, so use your own judgment), fresh fruit, or soy yogurt.

Oh, and another recommendation: If you're like me and can't tolerate eggs (I'm not talking about an allergy like hives, but stomach reactions), you might try befriending a local farmer who raises his or her chickens without the use of hormones or antibiotics. I could never tolerate eggs growing up, myself. I'd get these ridiculous stomachaches, often throwing up the breakfast I'd just eaten right before school. Sometimes the pain would last for two days. We wondered if I had a medical condition, but it just turns out my body was rejecting non-organic eggs. So if you've been in a similar boat, help support your local farmers and buy direct. Ask them what kind of feed they give their chickens, and if they feed them organic chicken feed, sans additives, see if you don't have better luck.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

[Short Hiatus]

Good afternoon, readers! I just wanted to let you know I haven't forgotten about this blog or stopped thinking of things to write about. However, it's the final stretch of the semester, and since I teach four community college writing courses, I have a stack of portfolios to grade that are taller than I am (okay, that's not saying much, but...). After that, I'll be putting in other miscellaneous points, dealing with standard end-of-the-semester drama and panicking.

Needless to say, I probably won't be posting anything between now and next Sunday unless I need a writing distraction.

In the meantime, I'd like to hear from you. The blog now has a [small] presence on Facebook, and it's a great opportunity to have some kind of community. Head on over to "like" the page and get in on the updates. If you have suggestions, send me an email or leave a comment or post on the Facebook page wall.

Stay warm (or cool, if you live in the southern hemisphere or a tropical region), everyone! Try not to get run over while doing your holiday shopping over the next two weeks. :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

[Restaurant Spotlight: Bambu Vietnamese Restaurant]

Springfield, Missouri, is fairly well known for its distinct style of "Chinese" food--specifically of the cashew chicken and sweet-and-sour chicken variety. As such, one doesn't really expect to find much in the way of authentic Asian foods--mostly Americanized versions that, while tasty, are loaded with MSG and fried fat. However, that's changed in recent years.

For one thing, sushi has really taken off as popular local cuisine, and several restaurants dot the landscape, including Sakura, Nakato, Kyoto, and Wayo. All I've eaten so far, have been quite tasty, but like sushi in general (particularly here in the U.S.), eating it out can get expensive very quickly. While those little rolls are surprisingly filling, on my budget, I can't justify spending seven-to-fifteen dollars for one roll except on very rare occasions.

It's sad, too, because I love the Jurassic roll at Sakura's. Oh, lordy...

There are a few others popping up, covering cuisines from Thailand, India, Korea, Vietnam, and more.

But, still, no true dim sum, and I love me some dim sum. I guess that's what I get for living in the Midwest....

Home  I have found a tasty little restaurant on Battlefield Road, however: Bambu Vietnamese restaurant. A quick look at the menu reveals a largely lactose-safe menu, and their website even shares a list of menu items that are also gluten-free. Score! Ratings online reveal that, while not completely on par with Vietnamese restaurants in some of the coastal cities, most patrons consider the food to be authentic, healthy, filling, and delicious.

I have no previous experience with Vietnamese cuisine, but I can vouch for the other three factors. First off, within a three day period, I ate from the restaurant twice--once with carryout, once eating in with my mother.  Both times, mostly because I craved the meal after eating it the first time, I ate the:


Charbroiled Shrimp & BBQ Pork on Vermicelli
Charbroiled Shrimp and sliced BBQ pork on the top of vermicelli, shredded lettuce, carrots, sliced cucumber, mints, bean sprouts, and roasted peanuts. Served with fish sauce on the side

Holy moly.

Crazy-fresh vegetables, filling vermicelli, and no sign of preservatives... so no funky feeling afterward.

Without even trying, I made three full meals out of the dish. The pork is succulently sweet and moist, and the shrimp, well... it's shrimp! And I'm a lifelong shrimp connoisseur. It was charbroiled without being spicy, and if spicy is your thing, have no fear--Bambu gives you plenty of spicy condiments to choose from at your table. I nearly died laughing as my mom made the same rookie mistake I did by trying one of the chili sauces...

"Oh, now that's not too bad." She figured she'd pour some on her meal when it came.

"Hang on, Mom, it takes about thirty seconds to--"

Suddenly, her eyes bulged. "Right on cue, Mom."

Good times.

I haven't tried any of the other meals yet, since I don't get paid next month and therefore have to make every penny stretch, but the Pho noodle soups come highly recommended from Yelp patrons, and most of the items on the menu seemed to be largely dairy-free and beneficial for those of us watching our weight.

Now, it may surprise you since you know I have a bit of a spice aversion, but I'm a pretty adventurous eater. I made a vow early on in life that I would try everything at least once (with only a few exceptions, and none due to a food's exotic or weird nature), and most things, if I didn't like them, I would try them again a year or two later. So it's not a challenge for me to try out new foods, and it doesn't intimidate me much. If you are a little nervous to try Vietnamese, let me reassure you--there are a lot of similarities to some of the fresher Chinese dishes. It has its own distinct flavor, but you can easily taste the fact that both nation's cuisines come from the same area of the world.

Springfield restaurant patrons, whether visitors or residents, have you eaten there? What did you think? What menu items do you recommend for the uninitiated?

And non-Springfieldians... can you recommend similar restaurants in your area?