Our Daily Bread

Bread has long since been referenced as a life-sustaining food and even referred to as much more than merely flour, water, and salt. It is mentioned in the Bible over 450 times. There is so much that you can do with all of these simple ingredients. Things like the shaping of the dough, adding colors, stenciling, and etching. There is something so comforting about freshly baked bread. It all begins with the kneading, then the rising and of course, the aroma while baking!

What is it about bread that is so comforting and satisfying exactly? Well, first of all, it’s been adapted to almost every culture and cuisine. Baguette, Pita, Tortillas, Naan, Rye, Lavash, Rolls, Croissants, Struesal, Pullman, Bao, Chapati, Roti, Pan de Sal, Fry Bread, and Cornbread. Just to name a few. The fact that this one simple recipe has been adapted in so many ways really says a lot about our love for it. Secondly, the ingredients for “bread” are usually readily available and cheap. The ability to feed a lot of people with few ingredients and sustain life means so much in many countries all around the world.

Let’s take a look back at some of the biblical references to bread. In John 6:35, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall not thirst.” This is an amazing example of the importance of bread in the Bible. One of my favorite references is this one: The children of Israel were miraculously fed with “bread from heaven” or Manna as the wandered in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land (Exodus 16). This food initially symbolized God’s love and care for his people, in spite of their sins. (Exodus 16:32 – 34). Jesus later revealed the full meaning of Manna when he stated it was a reference to him. Another miraculous account is when Jesus transformed 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes to feed a crowd of 5,000 followers. The ability to transform a small amount to sustain a very large crowd not only shows the miraculous abilities of the Lord but also the importance of bread to us since a very early date. Even the universal prayer includes these very powerful words, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” Spiritually, we often forget that something as simple as bread plays such a big part in who we are. Slow down, smell the bread, give thanks and pass it on.

I have always included bread in my work. In fact, it was something I made for my kids all the time when they were growing up. When I started culinary school, this was something that you must master before learning other things and even before you can learn more difficult types of bread. When I began my food truck journey, all types of baked breads and treats were a really huge part of The Locomotion Kitchen and still are today!

This collection was all made by me at The Locomotion Kitchen! These are all available for order, anytime!! So much LOVE goes into bread making! I hope that this story inspires you to try your hand in bread making or even the next time you eat bread, you look at all of its wonders in a whole new way.

All Aboard!

Cristina


Hobo Boxed Lunch {Then and Now}

My Hobo Boxed Lunches on the truck have been a huge hit. In order to get a good idea of what they are and why I started doing them, you’ll need to learn all about my inspiration behind them.

 

This story dates back to the 1970s when my family ran a catering business that specialized in catering to corporate aircrafts. In order to feed a large crowd that happens to also be busy during their workday, we started doing a variety of boxed meals. The one you might be the most familiar with is commonly called a continental breakfast. It usually includes a breakfast sandwich, fruit, a pastry and coffee/milk or juice. We created other meals that were similar to my now famous, Hobo Boxed Lunch. Lunches usually consisted of a hot or cold sandwich, salad or fresh fruit, assorted relish and a sweet treat. Not so different from the Hobo Boxed Lunches that I create today almost 30 years later. They definitely got an upgrade and a modern twist. We also had a Butler’s Tray or Dinner meals that had a main entree, salad or fresh fruit, assorted relish with stuffed celery and a deviled egg, plus dessert! I only wish that social media or food photography would have been a thing back then, but you’ll have to settle for some throwback pictures of my family during the catering days.

 

Without my history and upbringing, the inspiration behind the Hobo Boxed Lunches wouldn’t exist. The Catering service/family business taught me so much about how to run my own business all these years later. I was young when my family really introduced me into the business. Around 16 years old I was folding boxes after school and in between extracurricular activities. By the time I finished high school and began attending college, I learned how to manage the coffee shops and deliveries, as well as customer relations and payroll. I cooked and prepped and even made all the sweet treats for the coffee shops. I really enjoyed that part of the business. Little did I know back then that 30 years later I would be going to culinary school and then pursuing my passion for cooking and for people.

A little history about our Aircraft Catering Company for you:

  • We catered to the top 10 oil companies in the ’70s and ’80s.
  • We ran three coffee shops in various airframe hangers in the area.
  • Catered for meetings, maintenance crews, and multiple Aviation businesses.
  • Celebrities loved us when they would fly into town!
    • Willie Nelson, Kenny Rodgers, James Garner, Farrah Faucet, and John Travolta. Imagine how cool it was for a young girl to meet these celebrities!
  • Our most prestigious event ever was to the Royal Crew including Prince Charles and Lady Diana (Her name at the time).

 

This history with our family catering company taught me a lot about work ethic and the food/hospitality business itself. From an early age, I got a taste of what it was like to see breakfast, lunch and dinner going out the door for customers starting at 6 am. This would happen Monday-Sunday and the routes would include anywhere from 5-10 different aviation facilities daily.

Fast forward to today and my Locomotion Kitchen Business, I thought pleasantly back on this time as a young girl and decided to revive the Roaming Routes with my food truck. With a simple, but delicious menu, I manage three roaming routes regularly. Business is doing even better than I could have imagined. With these roaming routes, I have been able to make some great connections that have led to the booking of private events, corporate functions, and my very favorite thing…personal chef services. Not to mention the compliments I get when my beautiful food truck pulls up to a job site.

 

I look forward to sharing more of this journey with you! There are so many exciting things in the works for The Locomotion Kitchen.

All Aboard!

Cristina

 


Healthy Living on The Tracks

I’ve learned a lot in this journey of running my own food truck as well traveling, and recipe testing. I have also done a lot of research for my own health and the health of my family. We have all been on individual journeys, but have ended up doing a few things together. From Whole 30 to Paleo to sharing recipes for meatless Mondays and grain free/sugar-free treats, we all love diving into our health.

You may think, how does being healthy and a food truck have anything to do with one another? Well, I am here to tell you that I am committed to helping each and every one of you live and healthy and full lifestyle. By eating homemade and eating food that is made by people that care about your health, you can really take control of your own health.

I have been cooking for a long time and I know the struggles of eating and cooking for a large family. With 5 kids and a tight budget back then, I am very thankful that none of us suffered from any major health concerns. Learning what I did in culinary school and then by researching and developing menus for my business, I am pleased to say that I have transformed my view on food. I have learned to be a better chef by creating dishes that are both satisfying and craveable and remaining healthy. My family and I will always support each other on whichever health journey we are on. We all have even done Whole 30 together and motivated one another by sending each other recipes and pictures/tips for the entire month. Through this process, I was able to develop some knock out recipes such as grain free tortillas, grain free chips, vegan chocolate cake, keto cookies, date paste for sweetener, grain free bread, and more!

We love food! All food. There’s no question about it. Are pizza, burgers, and sweets off limits? NO! We just pay attention to our bodies and know our own limitations. Listening to how you feel is the most important part.

Healthy living isn’t a new concept. There is always some kind of trend going on and some type of lifestyle to follow. I do know one thing though, whatever type of diet makes you feel good, do it. Whether it is Paleo, Whole 30, KETO, or Vegan. I pride myself in incorporating these options into my menu on The Locomotion Kitchen. What you will get is scratch-made food, organic and local when possible. We always take extra care of our food by triple washing produce and never buying anything artificial. Quality is so very important to me. Be healthy with us!


My Train of Thought {2018}

What a year it was! 2018 brought many blessings and some trying times as well. With my dreams becoming a reality, I want to share with you our highlights and the bumpy stops along the track.

My journey to have my own Locomotion Food Truck was one filled with a lot of support and a lot of hard work. From writing the business plan, seeking investors, hosting fundraiser events, and working with a builder, one thing really stuck out to me. And that is the support that I have from my friends and family. I wouldn’t be where I today without the confidence and belief that they have in me. For that, I am forever grateful.

The build-out of the truck was truly eye-opening. It was of course delayed due to Hurricane Harvey and my commissary kitchen would have to be completely rebuilt. I knew this was going to be a challenge, but I have always been a fighter. I know that the love and support from my friends and family also help me to fight through the challenges.  After the dust had settled from the Hurricane and things started trucking along, there seemed to be problem after problem with the build. Whether it was the wrong equipment being delivered or something not up to spec for inspection, the end seemed to be far in the distance. But with a lot of hard work and dedication, it was time to launch and kick off my very own Locomotion Kitchen in April of 2018.

This was a particularly exciting time with some difficulties sprinkled in. My oldest daughter was moving away in May with my three grandchildren and I would be left not only with an empty nest of my own, but pieces of my heart moving almost 7 hours away from me. I knew it would mean seeing them less. It remained on my mind, but I pushed through and held my kick-off party. What a huge success!. Thanks to all of my investors and supporters that helped to make this possible for me.

Around this same time as my business officially launched, my mother’s health started to really decline. It really began happening in the latter part of 2017 but was increasingly getting worse. Her house was flooded in Harvey so she moved in with me while it was being repaired. That same year she also lost her ability to drive after a wreck and fell really badly and busted her head open. It was really hard to see her like that and it broke my heart knowing that our time with her was growing more narrow every day. We were caring for her in the months leading up to her death and looking into long-term solutions for her. But sadly, shortly after her 77th birthday, she passed away. At the same time that we all knew her time was coming to end, we just couldn’t believe that it was that short. We were shocked and saddened by her death. We weren’t ready to let her go and to be honest, I still struggle every day with not having her around. I catch myself picking up the phone and going to call her, only to snap back into reality and realize again that she is gone. She was always my biggest supporter and there for me through it all. I will continue to work on the healing and grieving process for this, but I know it is something that I will carry with me always.

 

 

Staying busy and working was really a positive thing for me during all of this. I knew that it was important to push through and remain strong. I continued to book events, try out new truck spots, and get my name out there.  Throughout my events, there were some pretty major equipment malfunctions that led to some pretty tear-filled and stressful times, as well as delays from the builder when they were asked to fixed their mistakes. In fact, my truck was in the shop for a couple of months, leaving me with some decisions to make. Luckily I was able to fulfill orders from my kitchen while I continued to push the builders.

 

 

I would like to also highlight the great joys that happened in 2018. In my family: the birth of two new grandchildren, my youngest daughter graduating from college, her engagement, and marriage. In my business: A lot of great trips and travel where I was able to bring back ideas and experiences. As well as the jobs that I worked all assured me of future partnerships and success. To top it off, The Locomotion Kitchen has reached 1,000 followers on our business page.

 

 

Even with all of the hardships and challenges, it was an amazing year. I am thankful for every job, event and order booked and remain very excited about what this year will hold in 2019.

All Aboard!

Cristina


SPAM {Rich Man or Poor Man’s Meat?}

Let’s talk about SPAM! This delicious canned meat product became wildly popular after WWII. We have all seen that blue and yellow can on the grocery store shelves, but what is it exactly? SPAM is made from both pork and ham, fully cooked and then canned. This was a convenient and shelf-stable food during war times, but it quickly became a staple in the American household in the 1940’s due to the versatility of preparation. Not only can you enjoy SPAM both hot or cold, but you can create some pretty amazing dishes with this simple and cheap meat. You have to buy the original product created by Jay Hormel of Hormel foods for the authentic experience.

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For me personally, I have been eating SPAM since I was a kid. As a daughter of a Filipino Mother and a Father that had spent a lot of time overseas in the Marines, we ate SPAM, rice, and beans at least once a week. I never realized that this was a meal that a lot of families cooked to stretch their dollar a lot further until I was older. I continued the tradition by cooking this meal for my kids once a month. In fact, all of them are grown now and HATE the fact that they actually LOVE it. It seems none of their friends growing up had this meal on dinner rotations. I told them they can blame it on their cultured heritage. At least one of them will always request it if they are away for a while and come back home to visit. It’s a big-time comfort food for us.

You see, people have strong opinions about this canned meat product. Saying things like “mystery meat, cheap eats, specially processed army meat, etc.” But don’t hate it until you’ve tried it prepared the right way. It’s actually gained a lot of traction over the past few decades and even crept its way into the culinary world. When I was attending culinary school, I was surprised to learn of a dish called SPAM Musubi. It became popular in Hawaii where SPAM is a main staple of the Hawaiin diet. Essentially, SPAM Musubi is a marinated piece of SPAM grilled up and placed on top of a block of sushi rice, all wrapped up with a piece of Nori (dried seaweed). The Musubi sauce is what makes this dish irresistible. It’s a soy sauced based sauce with rice wine vinegar and sugar. I use this sauce for my signature SPAM Musubi as well as on top of many fish dishes that I prepare. This dish has even been known to convert the most avid SPAM haters. I was most excited about having this dish available for me to purchase everywhere when we went to Hawaii. You’ll see it at gas stations all the way up to fine dining establishments. It has become so well known that you can even buy the “kit” at the store to make it yourself at home. But I will tell you a little trick that I learned at culinary school. You can form your rice block in the SPAM can itself with a little of plastic wrap. This will ensure your rice block being exactly the same size as your spam.

Spam Musubi

Although SPAM Musubi is one of my favorite ways to prepare this meat, I also love to add it into fried rice and I have even been known to make a good old fashioned SPAM sandwich by pan frying or grilling up a slice of delicious SPAM. I will say that the SPAM Musubi has become a very popular item on the Locomotion Kitchen Food Truck due to the really cute way that I present it. I LOVE SPAM! and I hope you do too.

All Aboard!

Cristina 

 


Homemade Soup {Mom’s Legacy}

There’s something so simple and comforting about soup. No matter what time of year, it just seems to warm your soul. My mom’s soup was magical. I say was, but really it lives on even now after she has passed. We find ourselves missing her so much, but able to keep her memories strong and alive through some of the dishes that she cooked.

First of all, we call it Homemade Soup. My oldest son in law joked about the fact that we call it this because isn’t all soup that you make from scratch and at-home called…Homemade Soup? Ha! Of course, but this was what we have always known as our family recipe for homemade soup. He quickly jumped on the bandwagon once he tasted it.

My mom, or as my kids and their cousins called her, Nanny made this soup almost every time we were all together. As the family started to grow, the pot she used got bigger, but the recipe remained the same. I promise I will share the ins and outs of this magical soup soon. I just wanted to lay the foundation for just how special this soup is.

This soup could really cure any ailment. The common cold, tummy ache, and even a broken heart. It has also been a soup of celebration. With our family gathering around a big pot of it at many holidays and birthdays. We cannot possibly have it without thinking of Nanny. For this very reason, after her passing in June, one of my kids texted on our family group message a request for us all to get together and make a big pot of homemade soup. This was an absolute YES. We immediately reached out to the whole family and in no time we had over 20 people piled into my house. We reminisced over all of the memories and of course, enjoyed some homemade soup.

Ready for the secret? It’s actually quite a simple soup. Starts out by making the stock. This stock is made from sweating some garlic and onions and adding in a whole chicken(chopped up), salt, pepper, and water. Our recipe for this is not an exact science, it’s just a good-old-fashioned grandma recipe. To the stock and cooked chicken, you add in a bunch of great vegetables. 2 peeled/chopped potatoes, 4 diced large carrots, and 25 fresh green beans cut in half. Add some soy sauce to give it a savory taste. We have even jazzed it up from time to time by adding regular cabbage, squash, chayote, ginger, or napa cabbage. But we always add the Bok Choy leaves at the end of the cooking process. Depending on how tender you want the vegetables, your cooking time could vary. I would say it never cooks longer than about 45 minutes for us.

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You must serve this soup with a pot of white rice to go with it. Everyone in our family has a different way of eating this soup. Some add the rice into their bowl of soup. Other have the rice with broth and eat the vegetables on the side. Most of them eat this soup with a little dish of soy sauce on the side for dipping the vegetables and meat into. It’s been like that since they were all little kids and now they are all grown adults. Most all of them now make this soup for their families and Nanny would be so proud that this tradition will live on forever.

In loving memory of “Nanny” June 1941-June 2018

All Aboard!

-Cristina


Boiled Peanuts {Love ’em or Hate ’em}

My most recent trip brought me to Mississippi to visit my youngest daughter, Adrienne, as she graduated from the great University of Mississippi State. Hail State! On the road, we stopped along the way for many treats and of course “research and development” for our menu. It got me thinking a lot about the south in general and all of the yummy food that we’ve tried and what is still out there to discover.

Here in the South, we have some pretty wacky traditions that date back to pre-civil war days. One of my favorite traditions is…Boiled Peanuts. Yep, you read that correctly. Boiled peanuts. I know you are thinking, “Why on earth would you boil a perfectly good crunchy and delicious peanut?” Well, it is quite the debate here in the South, as most people either love them or hate them.

I happen to be one of the ones that absolutely loves boiled peanuts! They have a salty and briny flavor and a meaty texture that you just can’t beat. It brings me back to memories of my mother cooking them in our kitchen when I was a little girl. I have also enjoyed them at many roadside stands on my travels. Mississippi, Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama are all notorious for selling these at gas stations to passing travelers.

They are sometimes referred to as Green Boiled Peanuts, not because they are green, but it refers to their age. They are picked before their maturity and cooked in their raw state. You must not boil peanuts that have already been cooked or roasted.

The ingredients are simple; Green Peanuts, Salt, and Water. You will need about 2 pounds of peanuts and 1 1/2 cups of salt. Cover these ingredients completely with water in a large stockpot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-3 hours. Depending on how firm you like yours. I prefer a soft and meaty texture, so two-3 hours is my go to.

Here is my recipe for Southern Boiled Peanuts:

Southern Boiled Peanuts

 

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

All Aboard,

Cristina