Visiting Home

Since it was supposed to be Mike’s parent’s turn to have us for Christmas this year (and we’ll be out of the country for Christmas), we promised to spend Thanksgiving with them instead.  Since I’ll be missing both holidays with my family this year, I snuck in a pre-Thanksgiving visit to see my family in South Florida earlier this month.

Quality time with Charlotte

Since my niece Charlotte’s 2nd Birthday is just a couple weeks away, I also used this trip as an opportunity to deliver her birthday present – her first Tricycle!

At first she didn’t understand how to use the pedals, but by later that evening she was a pedaling pro.  She even made up a song to sing while riding her tricycle.

   Since I don’t get to see her very often (and she is growing up SO fast!), I tried to spend as much time with her as possible.  I think I had even more fun than she did in her imaginary ‘kitchen’ (I taught her how to make ‘vegetable soup’), playing with play-dough, and at meal-time.

My savvy sister makes her own play-dough.  Not only does this save money, Charlotte also gets to pick out exactly what color she wants made!

Homemade Play-dough

    • 1/3 c water
    • 1 T oil
    • few drops of food coloring
    • 1 c flour
    • 1/4 cup salt

Add water to oil, then add a few drops of food coloring.  Pour into mixture of flour and salt.  Add additional flour if too sticky.

Home is where the Heart Stomach Is

I also enjoy spending as much time as possible at home with my parents – and not just because they have such delicious food at their house!

My mom always has a huge batch of fresh fruit salad in the fridge (including Pink Grapefruit from their tree).  I have several heaping bowls of it every day with breakfast, for snacks, and for dessert.

Every night I also get a perfectly balanced dinner.  On this visit, my Mom made some of the best chili I’ve ever had

.  We served it over quinoa for a healthy, hearty meal.

On another night, my Mom tried out a new recipe for Eggplant Scallopini Marsala from The Moosewood Cookbook, loaded with fresh tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, and mushrooms.

And does anything say ‘love’ more than home-made Apple Pie? The addition of a cup of Sanka decaf coffee (which I used to drink at my Grandma’s house) in my childhood mug just might.

East West Cafe

While I was home, I also had a day of shopping and lunch with my Mom and Sister.  For lunch we decided to try out East West Cafe, which my Mom had seen written up in the Sun Sentinel newspaper.   The restaurant specializes in food from Vietnam as well as dishes from Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.  I thought this would be the perfect place to give my mom and sister a taste of my upcoming trip to Southeast Asia.  Additionally, the newspaper mentioned that the cafe uses organic vegetables and sauces – another great reason to visit!

 Although the restaurant looked non-descript on the outside, the interior was nice enough for a casual dinner-date or family meal.  There were plenty of plants and lanterns giving it a nice ambiance even amidst a few signs highlighting the drink & dessert specials.


My mom ordered her first ever Thai Iced Tea (above) and Pho Xao, a delicious Northern Vietnamese noodle dish of tomatoes and veggies with fresh basil.  She loved the complex sauce in the dish which had hints of star anise and other exotic spices.

My sister was battling a cold so she ordered an herbal tea by Stash Organic and I suggested a Red Curry for her – with all the powerful spices, I always feel better after a curry!  I noticed hers tasted like it had fish sauce in it.  She’s not a vegetarian so the fish sauce was fine for her, but be sure to ask your server or look for the ‘vegan’ symbol on the menu if you aren’t okay with fish sauce.

Yes, the menu actually had a symbol for Vegan dishes – just another thing I loved about this restaurant.  For my entree, I ordered the vegan Viet Curry with brown rice.

Look how steaming hot it was when it came out!  This was a very flavorful dish, loaded with beneficial turmeric.  I also loved the purpley-brown rice that accompanied it.

We were all happy and stuffed after our entrees but couldn’t resist trying their pudding made out of purplish-black ‘forbidden rice‘ and coconut milk.  We ordered a small dish to share and were so glad we did – this pudding alone was worth the visit!

The pudding was served warm and the rice had a light nutty flavor, perfectly accented by a sprinkling of peanuts.  The dessert’s color and flavor reminded me of a more comforting version of the icy red bean dessert I had recently.  I even asked our server if there were red beans in the dish – but nope, no beans – it’s simply rich, dark rice!

We really enjoyed our visit to East West Cafe and I think my parents will be visiting the cafe again soon – as a souvenir of sorts, Mike and I are treating them to go out to dinner there in parallel to our own adventure – in just two more weeks!!!

I’d love to hear from you!

What foods do you look forward to when visiting family?

Have you ever given a restaurant visit as a souvenir?