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Vietnamese Cultural Heritage Festival

3 Aug

It has been an amazing summer weekend. No made-for-us plans, beautiful weather, and lots of activities around town. I was looking for something to do outdoors Friday evening with our niece  and settled on a local county fair with 4-H judging, carnival, and the whole lot. It was ok, not a grand county fair, but a nice evening out before checking out Guardians of the Galaxy. If you haven’t already, definitely go see it. Very entertaining.

When looking for out county sponsored activities I found a Vietnamese Cultural Heritage Festival happening Saturday and wanted to check it out. We took Anh’s sister and fiancé (yep – did I tell you they got engaged?!) out to dinner and then went over to the park to see what the festival was all about. We were all hoping for some cha gio or goi cuon, but no food in sight.

The concert was a review of local and internationally known Vietnamese singing groups – some adorable kids (tweens to teens), George Mason University Vietnamese society students, some adult troops.

Four singing groups performing at the Vietnamese Cultural Heritage festival Continue reading

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Farewell 2013, an Amazing Year in Review

31 Dec Vietnamese long dress Ao Dai and wedding dress

What a year it’s been! To recap and set the stage for 2014, I wanted to look back at some of your (and my) favorite posts from 2013.

By and far, you’ve loved the Bun Rieu Cua recipe as much as my husband does. We hosted game night last weekend and this was again the main event. One of our Vietnamese friends said it tasted “very authentic”. Aahhh warm and fuzzies. I was stoked to try out a new tool though – check out this rau muong splitter (water spinach):

The end result is always beautiful. If you haven’t already, make it a resolution to give it a try in 2014.

Bun Rieu Cua tomato crab soup with  limes and herbs

Your second and third favorites are mine. We make Ca Kho caramel catfish often, made easier with the clay pot I added to my arsenal after this post. I could eat Ca Chim fried palmburro fish every week. Goes with any soup or green side. Super fast and easy to make.

Fried palmburro fish with squash soup and rice

Pinners loved the Banh Pate So on Pinterest. It remains my favorite party snack when friends or family come over. So rich and tasty with hidden vegetables – always a plus! Are there any Vietnamese cooking or cultural boards that are you go to for inspiration?

Banh Pate So meat filled puff pastries

The biggest moment – or series of moments – for me personally was of course my engagement and marriage. The Dam Hoi engagement ceremony planning and photos of the big day are hot items on the blog, and I hope the info is still handy should my sister-in-law need details for hers next year 🙂

Of course our wedding day was just as special. I still use many of the crafts and skills I picked up for the homemade details. Those glittered vases and votives are all over the house and we’ve used the table runners a few times. I’m still using calligraphy to add a special touch to gifts, letters and other things for the special people in my life. It takes time, but personal and handmade touches to any event are really worth the effort. Your guests will notice!

Vietnamese long dress Ao Dai and wedding dress

Photo by Katarina Price Photography http://www.katarinaprice.com

Thank you for finding and reading my blog, I hope the recipes, crafts, and entertainment tips have brought joy and yumminess to your year! Let me know if you have ideas for new recipes to tackle in 2014, and I’ll be back on the language learning train as we plan our trip to Vietnam in the fall. Here’s to a safe, joyful, and heathy New Year!

Holiday Get Togethers

19 Dec

Well, December certainly has flown by. Wasn’t it just Thanksgiving? If you’re like me, your days, evenings and weekends have been filled with family and friend gatherings, work events, and holiday preparation. All which leaves little time for blogging.

My good friends – my Husband’s girlfriends who have since adopted me as their trắng friend – hosted a girls Christmas dinner last week that I need to test at home for sure.

One of the girls made Mang Cua Asparagus Crab soup to eat while we waited for other guests. I’ve had this soup before but love it with the quail eggs. Everything is better with quail eggs.

Sup Mang Cua Crab Asparagus Soup

The main event was bò nhúng dấm (boh nyung yahm) and Nem Nuong with mắm nem fermented fish dipping sauce. So so good. Such an easy party menu where guests cook their own meat and make their own rolls. Rice paper roll dishes are probably my favorite Vietnamese meal discoveries. So easy and fun. This is basically the Vietnamese version of Japanese shabu-shabu, which  you’ve likely tried.

Ingredients for hot pot rice paper rolls including shrimp, calamari, beef, grilled pork, and vegetables

I’ll work out the broth later and share with my own post, but it’s water, some onion, and vinegar. They bought mắm nem pre-made from the store and just added some crushed pineapple. The combined result is a pungent dipping sauce that’s cut by the pineapple sweetness and Thai chilis added to taste.

Mam nem dipping sauce

I have to say, the most difficult part about serving this as dinner is knowing when to stop. Not like I need more kitchen gadgets and supplies, but I am going to pick up the plastic perforated plates that make prepping the rice paper rolls super easy. We use regular plates, but you can only work one at a time and have to get up for a new paper each time, which isn’t made easy if you drip on your plate. Like I always do. You can stack these guys and set up your own assembly line. How great is that?

Rice paper roll with shrimp, grilled meat, vegetables and vermicelli noodles

I stopped counting how many rolls I put away and had to remove myself from the table. You have to leave room for che, after all!

It was a perfect holiday dinner gathering with great friends and great food. We can only all be so fortunate. And on that note, this article has been making the rounds on the internets about two Vietnamese brothers making a better tomorrow for themselves. Read the article, watch the video, and read the Tweets. We shouldn’t leave it to the holiday season, but this is a great reminder about helping others where we can, and that we truly can chart a different path for ourselves with a little work and great friends.

Merry Christmas and Chúc Mừng Giáng Sinh!

 

Successful Thanksgiving Day

1 Dec

Last night as I was flipping through Facebook and Instagram posts of friends and family, my heart swelled like it so often does around the holidays. We all have so very much to be thankful for, which shouldn’t be concentrated in just one day a year.

This morning [Friday, actually…I didn’t finish this blog in one sitting], for instance, I’m sitting at the dining room table working on this blog with my niece flipping through Christmas music stations on Pandora on the couch across from me. She also plugged in the Christmas tree that she and her sister helped us decorate yesterday after dinner. Family, peace, and Girl Scout Samoa coffee creamer are certainly on the Thankful List.

Anywho, yesterday was a success. We survived – the kitchen, our sanity, and maybe even waistlines. I learned one very important lesson in hosting Thanksgiving: Prepare 1/3 of the food that I *think* I need.

This is seriously a problem of mine, guys. There were more leftovers than what was eaten. It didn’t help that we had the extra Chinese and Viet dishes.

I mean, look at this well-stocked table!

Family gathered around the table for Thanksgiving dinner Continue reading

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