We had our first visitors last week. My parents made the brave trek down to Houston.
I say brave because just before they arrived, we were hovering around 2-5 C in the morning in Houston. It was cold. I had to break out my pants.
Thank goodness Houston redeemed its hot, humid self, so my parents could relish instead in highs of 28C, feels like 38C weather! Rob and I have become accustomed to Houston’s weather, positively smitten by the nice weather. Instead, my parents melted under their jeans. I understand. I was there. Except in July, it was 38C, feels like 48C!
We had a hard time recommending tourist things in Houston, so instead, we treated them to a typical week in the life of Houston-bound Rob-and-Janet.
On the weekend, we started it off by buying cheap produce at our favourite fruit and vegetable wholesaler. I usually beeline it to the stands with the cheaper produce, but I think my Dad had fun haggling his way to a $7 case of 24 Ataulfo mangoes (they couldn’t go any lower right now, they explained, since it isn’t high season).
Next up, was the Mexican bakery across the street where we picked up the highly coveted tres leches cakes*, fresh tortillas, and other Mexican baked goods. My friend has been on a quest to find the best tres leches cake in Houston and this is his pick. My parents never knew Mexican sweets were so awesome.
*Note: While this tres leches cake is definitely not vegan, we have found a nice vegan tres leches cake, too.
Our subsequent stop was at my favourite Trader Joe’s, where we sampled all 3 cookie butters before deciding which one to bring home. My Dad picked the smooth version. Who knew grocery shopping could be so much fun. An employee snuck in a souvenir Houston-themed Trader Joe’s bag into my Mom’s arms, congratulating her on visiting the store with us.
And lastly, since we had too much fun shopping and became hungry, we decided to have an early lunch for some quick dosas.
Sunday was our standard biking morning, when my Dad joined us cycling for cronuts while my Mom relaxed at home. We went out for a Mexican fusion vegan brunch but Rob treated us to his specialty later: chilla, Indian chickpea pancakes.
During our kimchi phase, Rob quickly figured out that kimchi worked really well in chilla. Basically it is pre-seasoned cabbage which makes it easier to add to the batter. Rob also likes to add other random vegetables, like tomatoes and spinach, but this version was just with kimchi. Easy, peasy. A dollop of mayonnaise and more kimchi as a nod to our favourite sweet potato and kimchi poutine but I ate it without it and it was still delicious.
Weather prevented us from hiking Brazos Bend together on the weekend, but my parents made their own trip there together while Rob and I worked during the week. They also toured Galveston and the Johnson Space Center (NASA), the most touristy thing they experienced.
And just like that, my parents are back in Canada. We had a few more ideas up our sleeves, but time was too short. A quick visit but we showed them exactly why we like Houston so much. Here’s to seeing them again in the summer as they want to return before we leave. Any favourite spots we still need to check out and share with them? :)
This is my submission to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch.
Kim-Chi-lla (Kimchi Chickpea Flour Pancake)
Adapted from Besan Chilla
3/4 cup chickpea flour
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 tsp ginger, grated
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black salt
1/2 cup chopped kimchi, plus additional kimchi for topping (also good to add: tomatoes, spinach, etc)
1/2 cup water, or just enough to create a pancake-like batter consistency
1 green onion, chopped
(vegan) mayonnaise, to garnish, if desired
1. Mix chickpea flour, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and black salt together. Add in enough water to create a pancake-like batter consistency. Mix well. Stir in kimchi.
2. Heat a non-stick skillet and spray lightly with oil. Pour about half a cup of the batter in the centre with a ladle and spread slightly with the bottom of the ladle to get an even-looking round, about five inches in diameter.
3. Cook on medium heat until the sides dry up and the bottom turns richly golden-brown.
4. Flip over and cook until the other side turns golden-brown.
5. Serve, topped with mayonnaise (if desired), additional chopped kimchi and green onions.