Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Souvenirs/Back from Hong Kong

When most people travel they bring home souvenirs, small tokens to remind them of their trip and the things they saw, experienced or even ate. I am usually one of those people, I love these reminders, something to look at that takes you back to the time and place you got it. On this trip I didn't bring home any trinkets though, instead I brought back something much more exciting, recipes. Even before I bought my ticket to Hong Kong, I knew that if I was going I would absolutely have to take a cooking class while I was there. A country's cuisine is so deeply entwined with its culture that for me, to go to a place without learning about its food would mean missing out on the essence of its culture. How can I, as an American, comprehend why spitting bones onto the dinner table is totally acceptable in Hong Kong, but not here? And why are there so many bones in the food in the first place? In my mind, understanding the answers to questions such as these is just as important as sightseeing and touring.

So in that vein I signed up for the Chinese Wok Cookery class at the Martha Sherpa cooking school in Hong Kong. I have taken several cooking classes in my time, but this one was definitely the most intense. Eight hours, five dishes and a personal meat cleaver definitely leads to a pretty crazy day. By the time I left I reeked of grease and garlic and although it was certainly not the most appealing aroma, something about it made me proud.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Daring Bakers/Gingerbread House

Just a quick post to prove that I am an actual Daring Baker and that I did complete this challenge despite the fact that I rushed through it and was not entirely excited to do it in the first place. I used a pretty basic stencil and did my best to make it look somewhat decent although I think that the result is that people euphemistically called 'homemade' or 'rustic.' I can't imagine repeating this challenge especially with all the gingerbread kits there are available, that being said here is my "Elf's Gingerbread House"

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Discovery/Hong Kong

I think I finally realized that I was actually flying halfway across the world when I glanced at the plane's map and we were flying across the North Pole. A 15 hour plane ride definitely gave me a lot of time to imagine what Hong Kong would be like, but the truth is all the images in my head were nothing like the reality. I could probably write the longest post ever describing every detail of my hike in the New Territories, my day in Macau and my long walks around Hong Kong. Instead, considering the whole food blog theme I have going on here, I'm just going to list the top three food experiences I have had so far (unfortunately, one of the the meals was not my own, although it's still totally worth writing about).

I know my mom would be disappointed to see any bad manners, but after one bite of Pastel de Nata in Macau (Egg Custard Puff Pastry tarts, which I don't have pictures of because I was too busy eating) all bets were off. The buttery, flakiness of the crust crumbled down my scarf and jacket, but luckily I still managed to get enough in my mouth along with the just-sweet egg custard to know that seconds would be in order.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Adventures/World Peace Cookies

It took me awhile to discover my adventurous spirit, but since I did I have been restlessly restless. All I want to do is move, explore, see new things, try new things and so on, I just can't get enough. I don't know at what point I transitioned from being a scared younger girl, all I know is that it has happened and I can't help but embrace it. On that note, today I am leaving for a two week trip to Hong Kong, it's as exciting as it is hard to believe. All the 'knowns' and unknowns only mean one thing, it is bound to be an adventure. Since I won't be home for Christmas this year, I wanted to leave a part of myself at home and in light of the season I thought cookies were the way to go.

I have seen Dorie Greenspan's world peace cookies on practically every blog I read, and even though I am not such a chocolate fan their name alone inspired me to make them. World peace, what more could we ask for for the holidays? If decadent food really were the solution to the world's problems, well I think these cookies would definitely merit their names.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Staying Warm/Red Lentil Barley Soup

Since I have all but fallen off the face of the earth, I am sure most of you were just overwhelmed with concern over my absence in the past week. Has the library consumed her? Has the bitter cold frozen her solid? Has she starved to death? Well, with regards to the starving part, that's never a concern. If you're wondering how I managed to survive an intense exam week and a snow storm and long library days, the solution is quite simple. I like to call it soup. Red lentil and barley soup to be specific.

My love for soup is a little excessive, let's just say it's verging on an obsession or addiction. I legitimately think I could eat soup every winter night.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Endurance/Chickpea Nuts

I feel like I have been running a marathon for the past three months, this coming week is the last mile, definitely the most difficult one. I am not complaining though, because when it's over it will be winter break, which is going to bring a whole slew of exciting stuff (more to come on that). One week, three exams, home free; it's that simple. I am pretty fortunate because exams and studying don't take away from the fact that I need to eat, and since I am me, I also think that I should be eating well no matter how busy I am. However, given the time I spend in the library, a lot of eating is in snack form. Before I go any further, I should tell you that eating isn't allowed in the library, there are 'food guards' that walk around admonishing people for eating, so what I have going on here is pretty risky business. To avoid any confrontation, I try to make most of my snacks as sneakable as possible, like these chickpea 'nuts' which I can surreptitiously eat without getting caught (so far).

Today, however, I decided to play it safe and make these for my non-library study group. If I have learned anything in my university life, it's that study groups don't function without snacks.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

I have never been very good at most math, algebra, statistics, pre-calc all went straight over my head. However, along the way cooking and baking have helped me improve my skills, fractions are now a cinch and division just makes sense if you don't want to make six cakes. Beyond these simple skills, there is the more complicated algebra, for example:

1 cranberry upside down cake, plus