31 for 21: Pretending to be a Cooking Blog

I love to cook but it took me awhile cooking for a kiddo to find my mojo. It's so different than cooking for myself or Soutchai. Same time every night? Veggies every time? Few teeth to chew with? That stuff is hardcore.

We don't really have packaged food here (in the way you do in the US) and generally I think its a great thing because I don't have to deal with being tempted to buy crap. But it also means you really have to cook when you cook. I thought I'd share how that goes down at Chez Nava.

Now here's where full disclosure is necessary. I have a nanny-housekeeper. Don't hate me. It's only cause I live where I live (otherwise known as a kickass place to be a new mom). Here it's very normal for a  life saving angel from above housekeeper to do some of your shopping and your cooking for you. And we LOVE Noi, our nanny. She is The Best. However, we happened to get the one nanny in Laos who can't cook. Like REALLY can't cook. Her brother? Works as a personal chef. Noi? Asks how to stir fry.

So, my role in keeping Nava fed is making sure there is some prepared food and some very easily cooked foods available at all times for her lunch when I'm not there. Breakfast is covered my the both of us depending on when she gets to ours, how early I wake up, whether I'm cycling to work, and if I actually have to be on time. (::cough::). Most mornings, Nava gets oatmeal and green veg and sometimes an egg. Every so often, oatmeal gets switched out for rice soup made by Dad, which covers the need for greens as well. Noi started with us able to do basic Oatmeal 101. I have slowly introduced the concept of adding coconut milk, raisins, flax seeds, dried apricot, and/or cinnamon until now she makes it pretty yummy without any intervention.

At some point during breakfast I try to remember to check the fridge for obvious lunch fixings. Cooked rice ready to reheat? Veggies? Eggs? Leftovers? Occasionally this highly professional system results in me having a momentary panic attack of realizing I haven't grocery shopped for days but most of the time I'm golden.

Every work day I get home from work about 5:15ish and after quick hug and cuddle, I head into the kitchen to see what Nava's getting for dinner (served 5:45-6:15pm). Almost every dinner includes some sort of quickly stir-fried green vegetable, so that usually the first thing to address (assuming we're not out. ::cough::). Then its the main. And my favorite weeknights are when I realize (only after checking the fridge, yes, it's mom brain) the main is already done and I just have to scoop some of it out and warm it. Because that means her dinner takes me less than 10 minutes flat and get to go play with her some more. I also make things up fresh when I'm inspired and/or have no choice, but after being gone all day its nice when dinner is nearly automatic.

And thus, I have a special place in my heart for my slow cooker. I'm a bit evangelical about it even as some friends here have not neccessarily even heard of them much less experienced their awesomeness.

Case in point:

Yesterday morning I did the quick fridge check before heading out he door and was staring at a very clean, bright, and airy fridge. An empty fridge, save for supplements, a bag of greens, and a full door of sauces. Whoops. I mumbled something about "I'll make curry tonight..." before I realized actually that wouldn't provide lunch or dinner TODAY. 

Slow cooking was the solution. Out of freezer came a pack of chicken in rock solid block form. I removed the cling film and Styrofoam and threw it in (it comes USA style if you buy it at the minimart. from the local market, not so much). Note: At this point my husband helpfully pointed out it was still frozen and questioned whether I should cook it that way. He didn't run away quickly enough after offering the comment so he got a physical reminder not to screw with me before coffee. 

There were sweet potatoes on the counter so I peeled two and chuncked 'em up and threw those in next. Then onion and garlic because, I had some and they go in everything. It was still looking kind of boring so I decided to add a can of tomatoes. The I remembered we had a green pepper so chopped it and dumped it in with Italian seasoning and pepper, and my creativity was exhausted and I was running late to work so I quit "cooking".

And then I ran out the door and forgot all about it. Until I came home to see the cooker on the counter and opened it up to find this...

...and nearly squealed with delight. It smelled amazing and tasted even better. I think I ate about 4 pieces of sweet potato and few whole cloves before I could stop myself.

Nava loved it too. Everybody happy.


  1. I think though that you should also say that nanny /housekeepers are common cause there is limited quality childcare for children under 2.5 years AND there is no family support there... and can I just say- that chicken looks AMAZING!!!!!

  2. LAUGH. OUT. LOUD!! Dude, you crack me UP!! Awesome post. As always, you make me want to move. And I agree with Elissa: that chicken looks super-good!

  3. I wrinkled my nose as I read the ingredients but wow...that looks fabulous!

  4. thanks ladies-the chicken would have looked even better if i hadn't sampled it before taking pictures!


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