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Chúc Mừng Sinh Nhật

26 Jul

The cliches are true. Time flies, and somehow our little girl is already two. Our aspiring chef still loves food. At two she’s all about broccoli and popcorn. But that, as you can agree, does not make a birthday party menu.

We picked up food trays from Eden Center for our family gathering and had quite a spread.

Table full of spring rolls, Vietnamese summer rolls, cha lua, lotus salad, chicken and pork

The most work I did was transferring food to plates, and it was glorious.

One of my favorite salads is Gỏi Ngó Sen Tôm Thịt, Lotus Root Salad with Shrimp and Pork (cha lua). This restaurant put pickles in the salad. Have you ever had the salad with pickles or make a different variation? Curious to know where that twist originates. Let me know in the comments!

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Sunday Meal Prep: Tips and New Recipes

26 Mar

With a hectic work schedule and delightfully sassy 20 month old, meal prep is the name of the home-cooked-meal, (mostly) healthy-eating game. It’s tough to plan meals for the week, let alone prepare them in advance and actually eat (and enjoy) what awaits in the fridge after a long commute home.

Did you know that Americans waste nearly 40% of food? I’m sensitive to not adding to this statistic, which has such a significant impact on our environment. Not to mention wasted resources (water, time, money). Anywho, this isn’t one of *those* posts. All of this to say that I’m getting better at Sunday afternoon food prep for the week and wanted to share some tips that have worked well with our little family.  Continue reading

Thôi Nôi – Vietnamese 1st Birthday Traditions

9 Jun

Twelve months is upon us and we’re already in full party-planning swing. What they say is true, time really does pass in the blink of an eye. Our little lady has been pure joy and adventure from day one, and we’re so excited for every new milestone and experience.

Father holding infant daughter blowing out birthday cake

Celebrating her Ba’s birthday

We did her one-month name day ceremony, and will be placing out objects for her to select her future profession at the one year birthday bash. For those who haven’t been to an Asian one-year birthday party, essentially you place objects in front of the tot and whatever little Johnny or Jane picks is her future profession. I’ve been to Vietnamese and Korean versions of this and they, essentially, are the same. Of course there is some bias to the parents in what objects are offered.

The Vietnamese tradition is called Thôi Nôi (or, leaving cradle – excuse me while I grab the tissues).

In doing some reading, there are several accounts I have found for the Vietnamese tradition.

  1. Place several objects on the ground in front of them and whatever they grab is it!
  2. Place 12 objects in a tray and allow the tot to explore them. Whatever they end up with (for the most amount of time, I guess), is their future.

Twelve is an auspicious number for this ceremony, as I read, which also is a nice parallel to the number of months they have been on earth (my own interpretation).  The ceremonial altar table is similar to that from the one-month ceremony, but with twelve offerings (preferred) for some items. From one account:

We often pray to “God-mothers” – called “Bà Mụ” – who support the baby during his childhood. In our belief, there are 12 God-mothers and that’s why we have 12 pieces for each ceremonial offerings.

Plans are still coming together, but I’m most excited to see what our little gem selects for her future!

What objects did you place before your child?

Ngày Đầy Tháng – Our Daughter’s One Month Celebration

31 Aug

You may have noticed a significant absence over the past 10 months. Most notably I left you hanging on our amazing trip to Vietnam.

I was working on a very important project that pretty much kept me out of the kitchen. Yesterday we celebrated the Đầy Tháng, or First/Full Month of our daughter, born late July. We are so over the moon, and I’m getting back in the kitchen.

But first, a little bit about this beautiful first month rite, as I’ve come to understand. Celebrating a baby’s first full month stems from traditional Vietnam where infant mortality was unfortunately quite common. It was considered back luck in inviting negative spirits if you named a baby before they made it to this important milestone. So traditionally, we would not have named our daughter until this event when our extended family would have come to meet her for the first time and share blessings for her future.

We set the table with sweet offerings and prepared incense to say prayers and thank the higher being for creating such a perfect life in our daughter. Even my parents shared in this, which was very special for me.

Mom and dad holding daughter in front of table set with offerings and food

The second part involved moving a flower over her mouth and stating our wishes for her future. My mother in law explained the significance as imparting the wishes to her and giving her the ability to clearly communicate such wishes for a successful future.

Her grandmother, or Ba Ngoai, went first — which reminds me I need to ask what she said!

Mother in law holding our daughter

Then I shared my wishes for our daughter, using a new flower.

Holding flower to daughter's lips and stating wishes for her future

Followed by my mother, who enjoyed being a part of the ceremony!

Maternal grandmother holding baby for ceremony

Once the incense burns down and offerings are made, it’s time to eat!

Incense sticks in front of ceremonial offerings and food

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