This Monday, it’s time for proper, home-cooked food. I’m not talking about my own cooking, but about Bobbi’s cooking in her own, Bam’s kitchen. She creates yummy dishes that cater to many tastes and requirements – not just to her teenage boys but also people that might be gluten or lactose intolerant, or just want to eat healthier.
Some of her dishes are very international – there’s a series of great Tex Mex cuisine on her blog (I’m keen to try the ahi and the cheesy rice tamales), adapted and newly-invented Japanese recipes (from her time of living in Japan, she recreated her own beautiful sakura cookies) and of course, Chinese dishes (with classics such as beef in pepper sauce).
What I love about her blog is that she not just shares an interesting recipe with the reader, but also the story of how she came across it or why she adapted it. Bobbi will always add a few sentences about her daily life, for instance of finding the right ingredients in Hong Kong or making sure her boys don’t discover dessert before the main course, which makes her blog posts very interesting to read. You also get a glimpse of her life in Hong Kong, for instance this Parsley and Pesto calzone celebrates Chung Yeung Festival in Bam’s way!
For today, let me interview Bobbi about her recipes and her blog Bam’s kitchen.
What made you start a blog?
Bam’s Kitchen was started almost 3 years ago to fulfill the need of my family always asking the age old question, “What’s for dinner, mom?” Now my boys can find out for themselves.
My teenagers were always asking me how I made a dish and if I could make it for them again. I thought it would be a good idea to start saving my recipes somewhere where my boys could read mom’s cookbook and thus Bam’s Kitchen was born.
At first, I was delighted just to be able to document my recipes and that my teenagers were happy. Then, many followers and readers started to get interested in the recipes too and now my website has transformed into something a little more.
Many readers became interested in my recipes that cater specifically to dietary issues. I have many diabetic friendly, gluten free, egg free, vegan and lactose free recipes on my site. In addition, I offer many cooking solutions to make small changes in a recipe so that all of your dietary needs can be met and will even satisfy a picky teenager.
What has been your highlight so far?
I have a passion for cooking and creating new recipes in Bam’s Test Kitchen and I love a good challenge. I really enjoy creating recipes for friends or clients with specific dietary needs that the whole family will love. I know how difficult it can be cooking meals for a newly diagnosed family member with diabetes, heart disease, food intolerances or even celiac disease so I am glad I can be a resource for them. I have over 25 years experience as a registered nurse, so helping patients comes naturally to me.
Another highlight has been teaching cooking classes and sharing my passion for cooking with others. I love to see the smiles on my client’s faces when they learn to have fun in the kitchen while making a delicious dish.
I also enjoy interacting with my readers and answering their questions or supporting them any way I can. I think it is pretty awesome when a reader makes your recipe and then sends a comment or an e-mail to tell you that they loved the recipe. That totally makes my day!
Which is your favourite recipe? Did you create it yourself or is it from another cook?
One of personal favorite recipes is my prosciutto wrapped chicken with spinach and feta and roasted peppers. In Bam’s Kitchen, I created my proscuitto wrapped chicken with spinach, feta and roasted peppers as a celebration of the mosaic colors on the streets of Hong Kong. Most recently one of my youngest fans, 16 year old Jason Lin from Island School in Hong Kong, won the gourmet chef cook off using my recipe. Jason is a great little chef and I wish him the best of luck with the next competition.
Do you find food shopping in Hong Kong easy? Are there are few items that are more difficult to find? Do you supplement them with other ingredients?
I find food shopping a little bit tedious in Hong Kong, but it is that way all over Asia. There are not big supermarkets like you have in the States. You might find yourself having to go to 3-4 stores just to get some of the basics. We do not have a car, so I need to haul home all of the fresh items. You know when you have to carry things you start to do a weight analysis of everything you put in the cart. Let me see lettuce or carrots? We eat a lot of light lettuce.
I love the wet markets in Hong Kong and get a lot of inspiration by what is in season and fresh. I think visiting the wet markets and going to my usual vendors is the way to stay connected and to be part of the community. I usually go to the Aberdeen wet market as they always have the freshest seafood. When I have visitors, I usually take them to the wet market to buy the items to make dinner and then have them help prepare a traditional Cantonese meal. This is a great cultural experience for visitors and people that have lived in Hong Kong for a while too.
Hong Kong has most everything that you could ever want. However, brown sugar, I mean “proper brown sugar” for baking is hard to come by here. Red Hot Sauce brand is another difficult thing to come by. I sometimes can find these things in A and M located now in Central. Gateway in Sheung Wan also sometimes has these items as well. If all else fails, that is when you get your visitors to do a special haul with their next visit.
How do you get picky teenagers and kids to try new international foods?
We have a saying in our house, “There is always rice”. This saying came about as we first lived in Yokohama, Japan and one our first experiences with the local food was at Bondori celebration and there was octopus balls sold on a stick, grilled squid on a stick, and many other things sold with tentacles. My boys were cowering in fear and I always told them but there is always rice. I expect my kids to try everything. They do not have to finish it, but to at least try it.
Peer pressure also works wonders. My youngest boy was attending a very Japanese private school in Yokohama and all of the kids were bringing in their beautiful bento lunches that their mom’s probably spent hours on it preparing but my son had only a sack lunch. Let me tell you after about one week of me fumbling terribly trying to make onigiri and sushi rolls for my son, I enlisted my Japanese friends. They gave me a boot camp session on how to make a proper bento box lunch. My eldest son would have never touched half of the things he does today but due to his Chinese girlfriends he eats everything in Hong Kong and loves it.
Just introduce one new food item every once in awhile. Do not go overboard but just add that one new thing into something they already eat and enjoy. Maybe they love fried rice or soup but they will not try a new vegetable or seafood. Just dice up really small and most generally they will never know. Once they are eating it without giving you the business, it might hold the chance to stand alone in a dish with a little camouflage. Almost every kid I have met in Hong kong will try and like my recipe for Pepper Lunch Steak and Rice Sizzle.
What other blogs do you read – food or Hong Kong related?
I could list at least 200 foodie blogs at the top of my head that I love to read. Narrowing my list down to just a few is a very difficult task as each of them is special for different reasons such as their writing style, beautiful photography or the simple layout of the recipes. Here are my top 3…
http://justonecookbook.com/- easy and simple step by step Japanese recipes
http://www.kitchenriffs.com/- great writing and very informative
http://www.gourmantineblog.com/- beautiful photography
[All pictures in this post belong to Bobbi at Bam’s kitchen]
PS: Missed a previous interview with a Hong Kong blogger or expert? Check out my series here.