Lo Mein with Steak and Veggies

Since I was 5 years old my parents had the tradition of eating out EVERY Thursday!  No matter what was happening during the week or the weekend, the three of us knew Thursday meant going to a restaurant (most of the time to a new one or one we have not gone in a while), it could be Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Panamanian, Seafood, or it could be a fancy restaurant or a diner, Thursday was a day in which the three of us will sit down and act like a family who enjoyed eating dinner out.

As I grew older, and my friends started getting together on Thursdays nights, I did not break the rule. I would go out with my parents and THEN meet my friends to study for a test, or to go to a party, or just to hang out. On Thursday’s family came first.  Even today, after 20 years of not living in Panama, I still call my parents on Thursday’s night to ask them where are they eating? Yes, they still go EVERY Thursday.

So usually, as a rule, on Wednesdays I take it easy for dinner. I would usually make one of my Buddha Bowls with whatever veggies or meat I have available, but Thursdays… I try hard to make it special.  We cannot go out to eat, truly the logistics between one kid’s soccer practice and the hectic school schedule of the other one would make it impossible. So I cook on Thursday and make it special by taking my time to make something delicious.

Today, Thursday’s menu was Lo Mein with Steak and Veggies: And this is how it was done: 

First cook the noodles. I have been using this brand ________ and I am in love with it. I will put a link at the bottom of the post.

After the noodles are cooked, we move on to the veggies, for this particular one I am adding carrots, cabbage, snow peas, garlic and shallots

The steak is next and I cooked in high heat for 3 minutes on each side and then I cut them in small pieces

Then I make the sauce by adding: 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp of rice vinegar, 1 tbsp hoisin sauce, 2 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp Sriracha, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes.

Putting all together

Enjoy your at home (but could be a Restaurat) Lo Mein. From my kitchen to yours.

Below is the noodles I use, they are organic and come in many varieties, for this recipe I used the ramen, but the udon is delicious too.

Family Rules Got to love my children Kitchen Confidential Loving Life

Memories from an "all girls" Catholic school

My son, following the public education of where we live, will go through four schools before graduating from high school. He is truly unfazed by the system and is already looking forward to going to his third school, I,  on the other hand, cannot help but feel anxious that he is not creating roots and love for the “alma mater” the way I did. You see, I went to the same Catholic School for 13 years, 13 years in the same building, with the same teaches, with the majority of my classmates year after year, simply growing up together like sisters.  It was an “only girls” school, and it was awesome!.

My school logo

After spending 13 years in the same school, an immense love develops for the building that saw us grow, for the teachers who witnessed year after year our development. We learned to admire the Patron Saint of my school: Santa Rafael Maria, who we knew her entire biography from beginning to end, and to which we prayed and sang during our religion classes. We grew up in an environment of love, servitude, and peace, and above all, of friendship.  It was as if each of my classmates had something special and specific to offer, we all together, all 72 of us, were a unit. A unit of solidarity, of understanding, of acceptance, of complicity, of fun.

me in the circle!

We still in contact, through Facebook, and and we are currently 66 in our Whatsapp group. We congratulate each other when one marries or becomes a mother, and we support each other when illness and pain knock on the door. The school joined us for 13 years and 25 years later we still have the ability to remember our adventures and pranks with love and with the tenderness that great memories of the past can make us feel.

The picture below is in our 20 year anniversary. We were almost the entire group including the ones that live outside of Panama, like me. We did our effort to show up and catch up after 20 years, it was an amazing night!

My hope is that my son will develop the same loyalty to his high school, that his schoolmates will become an intrinsic part of his upbringing and he will have is own wonderful, long-lasting, and honest group of friends with whom he will learn that no matter what life throws your way, you have shoulders to lean on and a strong core of values that the school has also planted in his heart.

Family Rules Got to love my children Loving Life Personal Journal

Last minute winner…Teriyaki Stir Fry

Monday afternoon rolls in and dinner needs to be served.  I get you, we are tired, we are hungry, we are overworked and our minds keep thinking we “deserve” to take off our shoes and put the feet up on the sofa… but that will not happen… your family needs to eat, so we roll up our sleeves and get going with dinner.

I have a fast solution… Teriyaki Stir Fry!

The best thing about this recipe is that the only constant is the Teriyaki sauce, every other ingredient is already in your fridge.

For the Terikai Sauce, we put the following in a saucepan and let it simmer until it thickens

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp of garlic
  • 1 tsp of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp of sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
  • 3 stp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp of red pepper flakes

Once the sauce is done, you can move to do the stir fry.

You can use noodles or rice. In this recipe, I used quinoa and rice (the leftovers of the previous weekend).  I cooked the onion first until translucent. Then remove them from the pan and cook shrimp and baby scallops (again leftovers from the weekend).  Once cooked, I removed them and add a bit of oil to the pan and added the napa cabbage and bok choy and cooked until soft. Add the quinoa and rice and combine it with a bit of salt and black pepper. Bring back all the ingredients to the pan (the shrimp, scallops, onions, bok choy, and napa cabbage and stir in the sauce until all is coated and fragrant.

Enjoy!!!

Family Rules Kitchen Confidential Wholesomeness is healthy

Quick and Easy Cucumber Pickle

Ingredients:

½ cup white vinegar

2 teaspoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of coriander seeds

½ teaspoon of caraway seeds

¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1 garlic smashed

1 English cucumber (or any cucumber) thinly sliced

Step 1:

Mix all the ingredients except for the cucumber, in a small saucepan at medium heat.  Cook until the sugar is dissolved.

Step 2:

Let it cool for about 15 minutes (if you are in a hurry) or until it reaches room temperature

Step 3:

Mix the liquid with the thinly sliced cucumber.  Let it marinate for at least 20 minutes. Enjoy!!!

Step 4:

Refrigerate any leftover… if you have any left…

Family Rules Kitchen Confidential

One of all time favorite quotes “Not all those who wander are lost” by J.R.R. Tolkien and how I interpret it

I constantly think of phrases or quotes that have impacts in my life, when doing my life manifesto or weekly journals, I am always looking for inspiration on these timeless phrases that can so well summarize our thoughts and feelings at any given time.

Over time, this phrase has remained constant in my thoughts, every time I read it, every time I write it, every time I think about it, I feel as if the phrase is calling me, touching my soul, making me reflect on my life, on my journey.

If I think about my life, I can believe that in its natural state, I am lost. Always and simply lost. Maybe because I was born in another country and not having my family or friends close has always made me feel that I walk with my eyes closed. It may be that sincerely reflecting, I can admit that ever so often I wonder how I can be a better wife. It may be that sometimes I am afraid to think that as a mother I can do more, listen more, learn more, give more. Or as an engineer, my career has continued but there are many moments of doubt on how to set goals, and how to pursue them, without putting my family in second place.

As you can see, Not all those who wander are lost ”gives me comfort. Comfort that although I feel that I am walking in the dark while I try to do my best in every facet of my life, feeling that I am lost is part of the journey. Having doubt is part of the solution. Knowing that I am scared, makes me grateful.

Not all those who wander are lost gives me hope that in those moments when I don’t know where I came from, nor where I am going, much less where I am going, I can focus on enjoying my now, what I have today, what I am today. Holding my husband’s hand, hugging my children, talking with my family, being kind to myself I am sure I will continue to feel lost through the wonders of my path, through the wonders of my life.

Loving Life Personal Journal Writer's drawer

The Long Haul Flight Essential Checklist

We are three weeks away from our Mediterranean Cruise and Barcelona Trip and we have pretty much all tied down (as much as possible).  We are starting to look into packing our clothes, finishing our excursions selections, and getting to know more about Barcelona. So as I start packing our bags and getting ourselves ready, I wanted to share our packing list for both the airplane flight and our small backpack we will be using when we walk around Barcelona and during the excursions at the port.

Airplane Back Pack: We will travel with three backpacks (one for my husband and two to be shared between me and my two sons). I will focus on the one that I will be sharing with my sons since the flight will be a long one (Houston to Frankfurt and then a two-hour flight to  Barcelona). I like to make sure that we will be able to be comfortable in the airplane and therefore I will be packing:

  • Passport and Flight Tickets Holder
  • Tablets (yes we each get one)
  • 3 headphones
  • Chargers
  • Portable Chargers (just in case)
  • Hand Sanitizer 
  • Wipes
  • Small hand cream
  • 3 small books (one for each of us)
  • 2 neck pillows (I am skipping on this one)
  • My notebook (journal)
  • 2 pens (yes, I always travel with two)
  • Passport holder 
  • Wallet
  • Very small make-up bag: stick foundation, lip balm, lipstick, blush stick, sample size perfume)
  • Gum
  • (3 underwears and 3 lightweight shirts)
  • Headache and allergies medicines

We will be wearing comfortable light sweatpants (for me it will be leggins) and comfortable cotton shirts with light jackets, socks, and tennis shoes.

For our days in Barcelona and our excursion days we will be carrying:

  • Small backpack – We are getting one for the four of us.  Big enough to carry at least 2 bottles of water, but small enough that my 9-year old can easily carry it too.  
  • Portable Battery Charger
  • Passport Copies – We do not walk around with our passports, but a copy of the passports and we leave the originals in the hotel’s safety box.
  • Anti-bacterial Gel 
  • Pre-paid tickets receipt (hop off hop on the bus, or museums)
  • Camera (yes we still travel with one)
  • Phones
  • Small wipes
  • Wallets
  • 2 bottles of waters (at all time)

If it is going to be a rainy day we will be wearing our rain jackets.

Hopefully, these two lists help you when doing your own checklist and help you make sure that you and your family are comfortable during the flight and when doing tourism in an unknown location.  It is important to keep it short as we will be doing the same packing every day we get out of the hotel or cruise ship so it should be easy to put all together in a matter of minutes. Please take note that when doing the excursions on the Cruise we will NOT be going to beaches, but cities where we will mostly walk around or be in bus tours.

Just wondering… what am I missing???

Family Rules Got to love my children Happy Go Travel Loving Life

Photos from the past… time to remember

The other day my cousin sent me a photo unexpectedly. I kept looking at the picture for a while, trying hard to recognize the place. I was so surprised when I finally recognized it! It was the beach house we use to go when we were younger when we were kids, it was our vacation spot, it was our Adventureland. What I could have remembered as a beautiful place, with very comfortable beach chalets, and a gigantic pool was nothing more than small cabins with a grill and plastic chairs in the front porch, and a small pool that certainly had to be overcrowded when we would swim and play in it. 

In those little cabins, I had created memories that are surrounded by happiness and pure joy,  encapsulating that moment in time when fun was the main driving force of my days. I could clearly remember the happiness of my parents. The happiness of my cousins ​​and friends. The happiness of freedom. The happiness of not knowing that life hits hard and takes away your loved ones. The happiness that only the innocence of youth can make us feel.

Now, seeing that picture, trying to piece together the puzzle  of my broken memory I realize that it is impossible. That beautiful beach, with its very comfortable chalets and its gigantic swimming pool, will be forever engraved on me, and cannot be reconciled with the photos of reality. 

Speaking with my cousin of those times, almost 27 years ago, we felt nostalgic for the innocence we lost over the years, we felt sad when we remember the people we lost since then.  It was painful to realize that so much time has passed. That we grew old.

I have always believed that the purpose of remembering is to relive again. And when talking to my cousin about those years, we felt the urgency to recognize that our children now have the opportunity to experience the happiness of innocence. That it is not the beauty of the place, nor the spectacular hotel, nor the giant pool what will remain in their memories … but our company, our laughter, the moments with their friends, the talks in the sand next to a campfire … those will be their memories and no picture will match it and the time will not corrupt it either.

Family Rules Got to love my children Loving Life Personal Journal Writer's drawer