Forky Friday: 5/2/14

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Forky Friday: 5/2/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

It’s finally the weekend, and I bet you’d like nothing more than to kick up your heels and order takeout. I know how you feel: I, too, want to dial up my favorite Asian joint and dispatch my manservant (a.k.a. Henry) to bring home boxes of food that we mindlessly inhale in front of the boob tube.

But then I remember: the anticipation of Asian takeout is far better than the reality. Almost without fail, the greasy dishes from our local Chinese/Thai/Japanese/Korean restaurants are coated with vegetable or seed oils and feature gloppy sauces made from all sorts of badness: soy, sugar, gluten, preservatives—you name it. And I usually feel icky afterwards.

Forky Friday: 5/2/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

So what’s a hungry cave lady to do when she’s cravin’ some Asian?

Answer: She calls up her pals and throws a Paleo-friendly cooking party! That way, everyone can cook together and have a great time. Don’t even stress about the menu ’cause I’ve compiled a bunch of easy and healthy Asian dishes that will please everyone!

(Please ignore the Coca-Cola can in the circa-1975 photo below. Please also ignore the fact that I’m apparently mesmerized by it.)

Forky Friday: 5/2/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ready for some Paleo Asian dishes from me and my pally-pals?

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Vanilla Almond Milk

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Vanilla Almond Milk by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

A while back, one of our old college pals posed an interesting question: What would the ’90s version of me think of my modern-day cave-person incarnation? Without hesitation, I blurted out, “She would’ve hated the current me.”

It’s the truth. Despite having spent my college years among the tie-dyed masses at Berkeley, ’90s-Me would ridicule my new hobbies: home-brewing kombucha, collecting bones in the freezer for broth, and soaking almonds overnight to make dairy-free milk. To top it off, the eye-rolling, Doc Martens-wearing ’90s-Me would mock any near-40-year old who still sports pigtails. Seriously: when did I become this person?

Thankfully, the 2014 version of me fully embraces my midlife crisis transformation. She would tell ’90s-Me to go barefoot, stop eating gut-irritating foods, turn off the TV, and make some almond milk already.

Vanilla Almond Milk by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Have you ever made your own almond milk? A frosty glass of this homemade stuff totally hits the spot—particularly for those of us who are dairy-abstainers or lactose-intolerant. It’s so lumpin’ delicious that I don’t care if activating my almonds makes me an easy target. Call me an aging hippie—I don’t care.

Making your own almond milk is super simple, too. As long as you remember to soak your almonds for 12 to 18 hours, you can blitz a batch of homemade almond milk in about 5 minutes. Plus, squeezing nut bags relieves a lot of stress. (Heh, heh.)

Vanilla Almond Milk by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

There are tons of recipes for homemade almond milk on the Interwebs, like this one, this one, this one, and this one. I know I’m not reinventing the wheel with this recipe, but I wanted to share my own method for whipping up a satisfyingly creamy, nutty, vanilla-y bottle of almond milk. I don’t add any sweeteners to it (mostly ’cause this old lady doesn’t need to swig cloyingly sweet drinks like I did in the ’90s). Confession: Once upon a time, I chose to drink Zima at college parties. Don’t hate.

Let’s make some almond milk together!

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Bacon Pancake Sandwiches

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Bacon Pancake Sandwiches by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I know what you’re thinking: BACON? PANCAKE? SANDWICHES? All are clichés in the Paleo food world (and let’s not kid ourselves: they’re certainly not health food), but there are reasons why they’re so popular:

Bacon and pancakes are mind-bendingly delicious, and who doesn’t like eating with their hands?

Bacon Pancake Sandwiches by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

So yes: I’m totally pandering to the masses (and my own taste buds) with this recipe.

But that’s not all: I’m also posting because I NEED YOUR HELP. Our Nom Nom Paleo iPad app is the only Paleo nominee for a prestigious Webby Award (yay!), and voting is closing soon (on April 24, at 11:59 pm PDT). We’re up against the formidable Jamie Oliver app, and we’re neck-and-neck with the celebrity chef. His PR machine has been mobilizing his legions of fans to vote, so to avoid getting creamed, I need to do the same! If you haven’t already cast a ballot, and if you dig what you see on Nom Nom Paleo, please do me a solid: go vote and share this link (http://nom.gy/NNPWebby) with your pals! Thanks in advance, Nomsters!

(Update on 4/28/14: We WON the People’s Voice Award in our category thanks to all your votes! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!)

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Now, where was I? Oh, yeah: Bacon + Pancakes + Sandwich = Paleo Kryptonite.

Bacon Pancake Sandwiches by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I don’t post recipes for treats very often, but when I do, I make sure they’re worth singing about

Get excited!

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Cantonese Egg Custard with Minced Pork

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Cantonese Egg Custard with Minced Pork http://nomnompaleo.com

For as long as I can remember, I’ve harangued my mother to share her recipes for my favorite childhood dishes. She’s rebuffed me every time—in the most passive-aggressive way possible. A typical phone conversation:

“Hi, mom—what’s in your pot sticker filling? I’d like to try to make some.”

“Pot sticker filling? Ahhh…I don’t know…my recipes aren’t written down. They’re all in my head. I just…well, you know, Michelle. I just mix things together until it’s ready. I do it purely by look and feel. And smell. It’s all about experience. I’ve been making pot stickers for many years—since before you were born. Over 40 years!”

“Yes, I know—and I love the filling. If you’re not going to share with me how you make it, can you just tell me the ingredients you use?”

“Well…no. Because it changes. Sometimes, I use shrimp. Sometimes, dried scallops. But I’m telling you—it’s no use; you won’t be able to get the same quality. If you make it, it won’t be the same. How about I just make some for you and the kids instead?”

“But I want the recipe!”

“You know, my mother never gave me her recipes…”

Sigh.

Cantonese Egg Custard with Minced Pork http://nomnompaleo.com

My mother’s culinary secrets remain safely secured in her mental vault, but through trial (and plenty of error), I’ve managed to come up with my own (Paleo!) versions of a few of her insanely delicious, super-comforting home-cooked dishes.

Case in point: this simple recipe for Cantonese-style savory egg custard with minced pork, asparagus, and mushrooms.

Cantonese Egg Custard with Minced Pork http://nomnompaleo.com

The version I grew up eating usually featured not just ground pork, but also salted, preserved duck egg yolks (鹹蛋) and fresh green scallions. It was my mom’s version of emergency protein—a quick and satisfying go-to dish to accompany the four other entrées (plus soup!) that she prepared for supper every night.

You can do the same with my recipe—or just eat it without any accompanying dishes at all. Filled with meat and vegetables, this egg custard can easily stand alone as a complete meal. It’s versatile, too; if you don’t have pork or asparagus or mushrooms on hand, just grab whatever ingredients you have on hand to prepare the filling. Just be sure to use the prescribed egg-to-water ratio to ensure a silky custard.

Ready?

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Carrot + Cardamom Soup

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Hey, look! Michael Ruhlman just posted one of my favorite soup recipes from our cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans!

Carrot + Cardamom Soup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

It took many tweaks to get it juuuuust right, but this Carrot + Cardamom Soup is now my go-to recipe to showcase this lowly root vegetable in its best light. 

Carrot + Cardamom Soup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Carrot + Cardamom Soup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Check our my Carrot + Cardamom Soup recipe here, and while you’re at it, take a gander at my recent Ruhlman guest post about my own take on Paleo, too.

Carrot + Cardamom Soup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Carrot + Cardamom Soup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

While we’re on the topic of Ruhlman: if you’re as crazy about eggs as I am, you must get your hands on Michael’s new book, Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient. It’s a must-have for anyone who aspires to be a serious cook. (Okay, fine: you get a free pass if you’re allergic to eggs.)

Happy cooking!

Giveaway Time! Score An Invite To A Private Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party!

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Giveaway Time! Score An Invite To A Private Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party! http://nomnompaleo.com

[Photos: Cookhouse]

On Tuesday morning, as I got ready to conk out after the end of another night shift at the hospital, I lazily scanned my Twitter feed one last time with eyes half shut. All of a sudden, I spied this shocker:

Zoinks! Our Nom Nom Paleo iPad app has been nominated for a Webby Award—a.k.a. “the Oscars of the Internet”!

I almost knocked the amber goggles off my face as I frantically texted the happy surprise to Henry. This was completely unexpected, as we hadn’t even submitted our app for consideration. (I’m guessing our developer did. If so, thank you, Y Media Labs!)

We’re grateful, giddy, and humbled that our iPad app has been recognized with a nomination for what the New York Times has called “the Internet’s highest official honor for excellence.” (And besides: any awards ceremony that limits acceptance speeches to only five words is a winner in my book.)

Please vote for Nom Nom Paleo (if you haven’t already) by clicking here! And thank you for continuing to support our little mom ’n pop operation—we couldn’t do this without you!

Giveaway Time! Score An Invite To A Private Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party! http://nomnompaleo.com

To celebrate our Webby nomination, Henry and I feel like partying it up. In fact, we want to feast with a small group of awesome Nomsters like you in San Francisco. Sound like fun? Then you’re going to want to enter my latest giveaway!

Giveaway Time! Score An Invite To A Private Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party! http://nomnompaleo.com

Here’s the deal: the fine folks at Disqus (you know—the company that powers the comments on this site and many others!) have offered to throw a fun soirée for 20 lucky Nom Nom Paleo readers (plus me and Henry) on the evening of Saturday, May 10th, at the drop-dead gorgeous Cookhouse kitchen loft in San Francisco!

Giveaway Time! Score An Invite To A Private Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party! http://nomnompaleo.com

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Now (Finally!) Available: Nom Nom Paleo Action Figure!

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I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand all the toys I owned as a kid: a plastic-headed, smushy-bodied baby doll with malfunctioning eyelids, a  stuffed polar bear I named Snowy (whom I secretly feared), a Barbie-knockoff named Darci (who had gargantuan feet), an R2-D2 action figure, and a Donkey Kong Game & Watch handheld game. I didn’t feel deprived, though; toys weren’t my thing. I preferred cake.

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But as an adult, I discovered a love for miniature toy food and vinyl action figures.

What’s not to like about miniaturized food and kitchen gadgets? In my twenties, I made special trips to little shops in San Francisco’s Japantown to find wee plastic replicas of bento boxes and milk cartons, bamboo steamers and rice cookers. In Tokyo, I spent an entire afternoon visiting the shops on Kappabashi-dori to procure plastic replica food (now proudly displayed in my dining room). I started watching videos like this one. Why? BECAUSE TOY FOOD IS AWESOME.

And whenever I was in cities on either coast, I felt compelled to pop into shops that display and sell designer vinyl action figures. I don’t think I’ve ever left New York City without visiting Kid Robot in SoHo, and when I was pregnant with Big-O, the very first toy I ever bought for him was from the now-shuttered Giant Robot store in San Francisco.

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Some would say that these high-quality vinyl figures aren’t kids’ playthings—after all, they’re often created by illustrators (or graffiti artists!), produced in small batches, displayed in sleek stores that resemble art galleries, and marketed to collectors—primarily adults. But come on: who can resist opening up the box and playing with them? Not me.

So last summer, when Henry and I were brainstorming ways to promote our cookbook, it wasn’t altogether surprising that we landed on designing a Nom Nom Paleo vinyl action figure—complete with miniaturized kitchen tools and food.

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A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures

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Our family’s spring break started last Saturday with a major screw-up on my part: I stood up my childhood best friend, Evelyn, having completely forgotten that we’d made breakfast plans until she texted me from the café (that I’d picked out!). I’m such an idiot. (Sorry, Ev!)

So instead of gabbing with Evelyn over eggs and coffee, I made another dish of Cantonese Savory Steamed Egg Custard for my morning meal. (It’s a recipe I’m still testing, but you’ll see it on the site soon!) Too bummed to whip out my trusty DSLR, I just snapped a shot with my iPhone and posted a pic on Instagram:

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Breakfast before our Mountain View Costco signing: Cantonese Savory Steamed Egg Custard.”

And then, when Henry and I headed off to Costco for our book signing, I kept Instagramming, and decided I’d keep it going for our entire road trip.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“We’ve sold piles of books and given away all our action figures, but will be here at Costco Mountain View to chat and sign books for another hour! Come on down!”

This was the first stop on our jaunt down the California coast with the kids, and our second stop was the Front Street Kitchen in Santa Cruz for my pal Arsy Vartanian’s release party for her fantastic new book, The Paleo Foodie Cookbook:

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Celebrating @rubiesandradishes’ fab book release! Great seeing @grassfedgirl and other Paleo pals!”

Next: down to Pacific Grove for dinner at Passionfish, where we enjoyed a beet salad, spicy ceviche, steak, and lobster. Passionfish has a special menu that identifies specific allergens in their menu items, so we were able to steer gluten-free. But as you’ll see from our photos, just because we avoided gluten doesn’t mean we stayed 100 percent Paleo on our vacation. At all.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“#RoadTripEats: Sustainable & #glutenfree surf ‘n turf at @PassionfishPG

Bright and early the next morning, we headed into scenic Carmel in search of morning grub, and found ourselves at Carmel Belle, where we eagerly tucked into plates of prosciutto and poached eggs with arugula pesto.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

#RoadTripEats: Breakfast at Carmel Belle #ByTheCoast #HoldTheToast

But our main event for the day was to take in Monterey and its incredible aquarium.

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My Most Popular Egg Recipe of All Time

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I can’t believe I forgot to include one of my most popular egg recipes of all time in last week’s EGG-STRAVAGANZA! round-up. Tong Zi Dan is a traditional Chinese egg recipe that’s flat-out amazing in its simplicity. It just so happens that today (April 1st) marks the third anniversary of that recipe post, and it continues to be one of my most shared—probably because of its health-promoting properties. If you haven’t checked out my Tong Zi Dan recipe, what are you waiting for? Click here for the recipe!

Sisterhood of the Traveling Paleos

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Hey, Austin!

I’m sorry to have missed you guys when I was in Texas a couple of months ago, but I’ll be back in ATX in a week-and-a-half for a joint Q&A and cookbook signing with Melissa JoulwanDiana Rodgers, and Arsy Vartanian. So come to the Barnes and Noble at The Arboretum at 7pm on Thursday, April 10—it’s my one Austin-area book event!

To RSVP for this free event, click here!