Monthly Archives: January 2010

My New Favorite Restaurant–The Rice Palace

Going to a restaurant with 3 children is always an adventure. Couple that with a wide range of tastes and a limited budget and we don’t end up going out to restaurants very much. It is actually pretty hard for me to get myself siked up to go out. It has to be a restaurant with food that I can’t cook at home and portions that will fill us up and a price that doesn’t break the bank. It has to have food that I would like with my veggie tastes and that Proeun would like and that each of the kids with their individual tastes would. Well you get the picture, not very much fits the bill.

On Friday I got an assignment for Hmong Times–a new restaurant opening. It was at a time when no baby sitters were available so the children went with. The owners are a Hmong couple who have a successful restaurant in Milwaukee. They left their daughter in charge of that restaurant, also called the Rice Palace.
Their new venture in the Hillcrest shopping mall on White Bear Ave caters more to Southeast Asian tastes. It focuses on home style cooking from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is an all you can eat buffet. I was so impressed at the opening that I decided I had to bring Proeun back. So yesterday we went back for a second time and he was really impressed as well. The dishes include Pad Thai, Larb, spring rolls, Southeast Asian style egg rolls, papaya salad, grilled ribs and tilapia, tri-color dessert, rolls with sweet bean filling, pho (beef noodle soup) and kao poon (curry soup). My favorite was the pho. Not only is it my favorite of the buffet but it is my favorite Pho.

Proeun’s favorite was the crayfish.

The hardest part was that the children don’t really get the concept of a buffet, i.e. to stuff yourself. They eat until they are comfortable then loose interest and we spend the rest of the time trying to get them to stay still while we continue to sample our favorites.

But anyway we now have a restaurant that makes all the family happy.

How to get your kids to eat their veggies

In the Hmong Cookbook Cooking from the Heart authors Sami Scripter and Sheng Vang share that in Hmong culture parents mostly let children eat whatever they want assuming that when they get older their taste buds will expand. It worked that way for me, and my sister but I have also seen enough obese children to question this course. I am not sure our children can survive until their tastes change. For me it was around 12 for my sister closer for 20 and as I think about it the change came when we started cooking for ourselves.

Anyway I rotate what stores I grocery shop at. I have 4 that I shop at regularly, each have something special I need. This week it was a local Asian store, what the kids call the “Crab store” for the boxes of live crabs and other fish they enjoy looking for whenever they go. For me it is the wide selection of fresh veggies. I didn’t buy anything too unusual this trip except for pea tip for a hot pot dish later this weekend. I also bought collards and squash.

One evening this week I was at a loss what to do for dinner, then I saw the collards. So I steamed the collards in a little seasoned water, and baked the squash and warmed up some black beans. I was in heaven. Everything tasted so good and fresh. I thought back to my pregnancy days counting protein and “green leafy vegetables” and “orange” vegetables. Yes I think I am finally there, I could do this now.

But my children not so much. I guess the course of action I have taken is make good fresh food available to them at all times and hope they eat it. Another course that works sometimes is putting out the veggies first when they are really hungry then after they have eaten for awhile bring out the meat. Two is really adament about having meat at every meal it if is not there he asks for it, “where’s the meat?” Honestly from a former vegetarian it really bothers me, why can’t he ask “where’s the veggies.”

One thing to consider is that appetite while a gift is an important step in gaining self control. I am far from an aesthetic. But I know for myself self control makes parenting so much easier and so much more successful. I have to strive for it moment by moment. If I can teach it to my children when they are young they will be a step ahead. So in my opinion food is much more then simply feeding the body it is helping you grow as a person if done properly. My family still has a lot of growing to do but sometimes they surprise me like in their love for grapefruit (without sugar), brown bread and fried eggplant (the long skinny purple kind we grew last year and now buy at the Asian store). If I hadn’t had this food available for them I would have never known they like it.

As much as I bemoan the meat eating for Proeun it is important they know how to eat Cambodian food which often means meat, including chicken feet and pig’s ears. He for the most part is happy with their diet.

So I would say to get your kids to eat veggies (or whatever you want them to eat) really examine what your family’s food values are. I am pretty sure you have some whether you know this or not. Then make the food you want them to eat available to them and model eating it. Not everyone likes the same thing. For example Two likes black beans and Avril white beans (great northern), Mavis pretty much eats whatever I give her. But above all don’t stress. Just make sure you are modeling what you believe. The night after the collard greens and squash we ate Kung Fu noodles. We can’t be perfect all the time.  

My Assistants

My primary goal is to be home with my children. But to accomplish that financially I work as a writer and farmer. I have been fortunate to have writing jobs that allow me to bring at least one of my children with me consistently. Since the time Two was born he has accompanied me to “stories” varying from Hmong New Year to neighborhood meetings with our town Mayor. When Avril came along I nursed her exclusively and decided to make it easy on everyone she would literally go everywhere with me until she weaned. We are following that same procedure with Mavis.

So my children have grown up seeing me write. All of them even the youngest know how to hold a pen.

Last night we had another story to go to and no babysitter. So the 3 came with me. I knew that I would have to come up with something for them to do so they didn’t run crazy. So Avril took notes, Two pictures and Mavis was our attention getter. When we arrived and I forgot to give Two the camera he was indignant and reminded me of his job. Apparently kids like having jobs–who knew. Here are some of Two’s best work.

Mavis catching attention.

Two self portrait

And one by Avril.

Technology Makeover

I wouldn’t say we are ludites by any means, but a few years ago we went to Best Buy to try and buy a video card for our computer pictured above. When asked how old our computer was Proeun said, “10 years.” There was complete silence and the clerk looked at us completely baffled and asked, “are you serious?” We had updated software every now and then and once a brother in law had rebuilt it for us but in essence it was the same computer Proeun bought several years before we got married. It was top of the line then and cost him around $1,500.

It’s not that we don’t like technology it’s just that it is so hard to keep up with. I am still rather perplexed when I get text messages from friends and family. Proeun refuses to read them. I have lost 2 cell phones since having children. I am normally very organized but when you are transporting so many people at one time something is bound to be lost. I prefer to keep my eyes on the children. In anycase when I purchase a cell phone as I had to do several months ago when I lost my 2nd phone I tell the clerk, “I have 3 children under 6, give me the cheapest phone you have.”

So yesterday when our 10 year old computer finally crashed it was scary and exciting to even consider buying a new computer. My secret is until this morning I have never purchased a computer. But when you apply the above philosophy to computers it makes picking one out pretty simple. My mom helped me go through the adds from the Sunday paper. We selected a model that seemed to have all we needed–we are not very demanding on technology. The price was just over a 1/3 of what Proeun paid for old Bessie. It seemed a fit, and in little over an hour I had it all set up and downloaded and ready to go, most importantly internet ready. And I only missed a day. Not bad for a ludite if I do say so myself. My computer space looks a little different now.

It still has the crayons though. There are just some things technology cannot improve on.

Coconut Ice Cream

I grew up surrounded by health conscious people. I didn’t even know it wasn’t normal to breast feed babies until I was in college. Anyway most people I knew said the were vegetarian. I was to for awhile. Now I am a vegan that eats meat occasionally. it’s a long story but the short version is I discovered I had a dairy allergy and expect as much in my children and Southeast Asian husband. So now non-dairy recipes are my favorite. See I loved cheese and ice cream and dairy products of all kinds. When I stopped eating them cold turkey that was really hard on me. Now I am discovering some amazing recipes that have really made the transition easier. Here is one of my favorites.

Coconut Ice Cream

1 can coconut (or use 3 cups soy milk instead and omit the 1 cup water)
1 cup water
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup honey (2/3 cup sugar may be used in place of dates and honey)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp guar or xanthum gum (optional)
1 tray ice cubes
water as needed  to make 5 cups total mixture

1. Blend all the ingredients (except ice cubes) in a blender until very smooth (may take up to 2 minutes). There should be no grittiness when a drop of mixture is felt between your thumb and finger. 

2. Add ice cubes and blend smooth (speeds chilling time). Add more water as needed  to make 5 cups total mix. 

3. Pour into ice-cream maker and freeze according to its directions. (Or pour into a shallow pan and freeze. When ready to use, thaw slightly until just soft enough to cut into squares. Place in blender with enough soy milk or water to blend into the consistency of soft ice cream.)

4. Spoon into containers as soon as the mix is done (if the ice cream is left in an ice-cream maker some will freeze to the container and become hard). Store in freezer until ready to use.

Hint: This ice-cream recipe will harden more in the freezer than store-bought high-fat brands. To serve, thaw slightly. 

Books: Natural Healthcare For Your Child

We are a family of oddballs to say the least. As time passes we seem to get more odd, at least according to mainstream America. One of our particular oddities is trying to avoid unnecessary medication. This is in an effort to live as simply and naturally as possible. It hasn’t always been easy for us and for some families I know this is not an option but we praise the Lord for our good health and pray for the wisdom to keep it.

One book that has really helped us towards this goal is Natural Healthcare for Your Child, By Agatha Thrash. Thrash is a leading expert on natural and alternative medicine and with some 50 plus years in the medical field she has a lot to say.

In addition to background information on anatomy the book is organized by ailment. This actually is the only problem I have with the book because sometimes you don’t really know what the problem is and then it is rather hard to diagnoses but in most cases you can figure it out.

For example yesterday Avril seemed fine when she lay down for a nap. When she woke up we had plans to go to Proeun’s parents for the evening. She woke-up and we left right away. About halfway there she started complaining saying, “Mommy I don’t feel very good.” When we got to our destination I was helping her take off her coat when I discovered she was burning up. This is particularly worrisome with Avril because when she was 21 months old she had a fever induced seizure and ended up in the Emergency Room. We were told that she was probably prone to them and we should be very careful with her temperature. The doctor even recommended medicating her if her temp got over 100 degrees. Getting a 21 month old to take medicine is not easy. I normally ended up wearing it. Don’t get me started on suppositories.

When I reviewed the information in Natural Healthcare I discovered that fever induced seizures while common can be prevented and natural methods to prevent or cure high fevers. I also discovered the wonderful work a fever is working to accomplish in our bodies, that of actually fighting illness and to limit this ability in our bodies is to limit the bodies ability to heal itself.

So I knew all that stuff logically but I still wanted to panic when I discovered another fever. I quickly wet a cool cloth and applied it to the back of her neck. This is a trick my aunt passed on. Since all the blood going to your head passed through the neck, often close to the surface this is a good way to cool temps quickly.

Then I saw her pull on her ear–so the problem in addition to a fever was an earache! Even though we have our goals my first instinct was to take her to urgent care and get antibiotics. However on returning home and reviewing earaches I discovered most heal themselves in 3 days or so. Therefore keeping the patient comfortable is the main treatment. Among other things they recommended hot baths nightly followed by early bedtimes and hot compresses on the problem ear. I also learned more about the anatomy of a child’s ear and how to avoid problems in the future. She slept for 13 hours last night and woke with fever much improved and tonight her ear feels “good.”

Other things we have diagnosed and treated, athlete’s foot and eczema. I discovered I have a dairy allergy from another Thrash book, Food Allergies Made Simple. You can get both these books from Country Life Natural Foods. This is primarily a bulk food company but you can also order very helpful books. For great dairy free recipes I love The Country Life Cookbook and 7 Secrets Cookbook.

Pump It Up!

Sleep has been at a premium lately. Tempers have flared–mostly mine and it seemed like the week would never end. But yesterday we had a fine reprieve–a birthday party for neighbor and good friend Tovi. The kids had been looking forward to it all week, and honestly I was to. I was a wee bit worried when nap time rolled around on party day and it seemed to be more of the same old same old. But parties make really good incentive for naps and in the end everyone slept and was well rested when we arrived at Pump It Up! in Oakdale.

It was amazing. Pump It Up! features 2 rooms with 3 giant inflatable jumping arenas, obstacle courses and slides in each room. The kids played non-stop while I wished I had my camera. Luckily Angela, mom of birthday boy and fellow blogger (Blue Collar Daughter) came to the rescue with her camera.

Notice Two had a difficulty time staying still even at picture time. This is the only picture we were able to catch him in. The children spent 40 minutes in one room then moved to the next room for another 40 minutes. The look on Avril’s face when we went to the 2nd room in nearly indescribable.

Mavis on the other hand was content to play on regular old gym mats. Luckily there was also a toy car for the less adventurous–i.e. Mavis.

Then  at the end of the party there was pizza, cake and ice cream, and a king. Tovi even shared his crown with Mavis.

Sometimes when you are in the midst of a rough week and you think, “If I can just make it through today I will be fine,” you forget the importance of taking a moment and celebrating with friends and family life’s little blessings. Even if you can’t think of anything specific to celebrate at least burn off a little steam and have some fun. Thanks Angela for a great evening!


Need I say more. I suppose to some degree how successful you are at parenting or at least getting your children to sleep can be summed up in your emotional reaction to this word. Do you cringe or sigh in contentment. Lately it has been cringing all the way for me. With a 5, 3 and 1 year old I find getting them all to sleep at the same time is the hardest part of my day, yet if I don’t do that no one naps unless they fall asleep in exhaustion somewhere crazy. Once when Two was about a year and a half we were out in the woods digging and filling fence posts on a family members property. Two wanted to go with his dad and grandpa though we knew they would be gone a long time. He was getting more and more tired yet the job wasn’t done. Finally he laid down in the road (easement really), hardly used mind you and fell asleep. Did I mention it was a gravel road.

Anyway kids do crazy things when they are tired and while I can handle a certain amount of craziness I do try to minimize it as much as possible. Proeun thinks I am too strict with a schedule and sometimes I agree. The past couple of days I haven’t put the older ones down for nap strictly because I couldn’t handle the frustration. it was heavenly really. I take the youngest and go lie down and let the older ones do their thing knowing that at least I won’t have to fight with them at bed time either. The only problem is sometimes they fall asleep unexpectedly.

By the way this ratty chair is the first thing I want to recover or at least make a slipcover for. Try telling the kids they can’t eat ice cream in their chair.

So what made me think I could handle putting the kids down for nap today? I don’t know–a momentary lapse of insanity or maybe just the desire to feel like I am at least trying to do right by my children and make sure all their needs are met, especially sleep. So here is how the cycle goes. Mavis is ready for nap first. She starts fussing and crying. I rush around trying to get the other ones ready with a crying baby on my hip. We finally get in bed and read a story while I start nursing Mavis to sleep. Two and Avrl begin fidgeting, making noise and bumping the baby. Mavis ends up waking up. Sometimes this happens before the other 2 have fallen asleep then I know it is no nap for the day and any plans that involve car trips need to be canceled.


For obvious reasons. Other times the older 2 have fallen asleep and I know I will have to try to figure out a way to put Mavis down again later.

With my personality I find disruptions in plans particularly difficult to deal with. So I was thinking about it and maybe the solution is more planning rather than less. In the past I have shut off the TV 2 hours before bed. This gives us plenty of time for a quick snack or drink, bath, and nice long story time with cuddling. Bedtime seems to go better when I am not rushed. Maybe a similar solution could be used for nap. Or maybe the kids are ready to leave nap behind, though I definitely am not.

But I have to look for the silver lining. While the older 2 napped I was able to cuddle with Mavis and just enjoy looking at her. Other times it’s Avril who is awake and gets some one on one time, or Two. In essence I have to learn not to take my plans so seriously. it the children fall asleep at inopportune moments at least I get some cute pictures.

My job as a parent

Maybe you have been having a difficult week. It certainly has been hard at our house. For nearly a week we had sub-zero temps that kept us all indoors. When the weather finally warmed up last week we all got sick. It is so hard taking care of others when you are sick! To make matters worse I was beating myself up over my parenting–I wasn’t being patient enough, we weren’t doing enough art/creative projects, we were watching way way too much TV again. The list could go on. That is when I got the most recent issue of the MACHE (Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators) newsletter. Here is the quote that changed my perspective and gave me joy.

“It is not my job to change my children. It is my job to disciple them by example. I needed to model a Christ-like attitude, and I often failed miserably. But my children needed to see a woman who could admit her failings, humble herslef to ask forgiveness, and do her best to honor her Lord and her family in the future. I needed to stay on my knees and in the Word of God.  I prayed for my children as Jesus did for his disciples in John 17.

“When my daughters are 25, nobody will remember their SAT scores, GPAs, or degrees (if they have them). But people will know their character–whether my girls are dependable, compassionate, honest, diligent, trustworthy and cheerful. My daughters learned those things not because their parents nagged them to change, but because their parents endeavor to exemplify those Christ-like characteristics, and in their human failings, repented and tried again to live what they taught.”

This is from a longer article by Vicki Bentley entitled, “Twenty Three Years & Seventeen Kids Ago.” She also has a website at

CSA application

Thank-you so much for choosing to join us! We are looking forward to an exciting year. We are going to offer some new varieties (new to us) of heirloom and slow food USA vegetables plus melons.

We have set June 24th as our first delivery date.

To join fill out the below form





____Full Share $495

____Half Share $295 (full boxes delivered every other week).

Select a drop site

___Maplewood (2601 Southcrest Ave)

___East St. Paul (1303 Edgerton St.)

___Roseville (Harriet Alexander Nature Center)

Whenever possible please register by April 1st, 2010. This allows us to plan and grow with a minimum of waste.  Registration is on a first come first serve basis.

Please print off, fill out and enclose payment with registration Make checks payable to Amy Doeun

Amy Doeun
1303 Edgerton St.
St. Paul, MN 55130