Sunday, July 31, 2011

Art Fair Photos

I reassure y'all out there- yes, I am alive. It's been one hell of a hectic week, with intense dance sessions and some interior work going on in my house. Haven't had much time to cook- or eat, really, as I've been pretty much living off of coffee, ice cream, and fruit the whole week. We've got a new microwave put in and all the cabinets refinished.
Headed to an art fair downtown yesterday, and saw some of the most interesting pieces of art, as well as several food-inspired creations.

Rings, hairpins, and various other accesories with little culinary creations (made out of some kind of clay) as decoration! And get this- they're scented according to whatever shape they're in. The pancakes smell like maple syrup, and the donuts smell like a bakery, and the pumpkin pie smells like cinnamon heaven.


Gorgeous truffle ring with a bite taken out of it! Yum...

Could not resist snapping a close-up with my ipod touch. Sorry the picture's kind of grainy; digitals tend to do that

Free idea board- some of these notes made me laugh so hard in the middle of the street that people passing me were wondering about the state of my mental health

Grainy shot of a minature cheese tasting board. As the logo goes- 0% Gluten, 0% Fat, 100% Cute!
Okay, cheesey, I know (excuse the lame pun) but that is the actual slogan of the artists's brand.

After that, we had one of our rare family nights out and went to a very delish and authentic Thai restaurunt, Sawatdee. We ordered three dishes for the four of us (as restaurant proportions are often quite large) and all of them were great, with that simple taste and clean, clear notes that is the trademark of lovingly prepared Thai food.

"Fisherman's delight"- a scramble of crab meat, broccoli, cauliflower, and other seafood. Very homey asian cooking and had a distinct note of lime and lemon juice.

Laab Esan- a traditional dish of minced meat (in my case chicken), cilantro, fresh mint, lime juice, and other ingredients common in Thai cooking, and on a bed of raw lettuce leaves. There are countless variations of this dish, but the most well-known is the North Eastern version.

Chicken Curry; the more authentic and common version is Green Curry, but my mother prefers and makes red curry at home and thus that is what we ordered. It wasn't as spicy as I would've liked, but on the other hand the lack of spiciness really brought out the special flavor of the curry and made it not too overwhelming.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Double Cherry

Happened to find a set of conjoined cherris while I was pitting a few to make cherry crumble. Had a total moment of immaturity and mentioned to my brother that it looked like a butt. When I broke it apart, it had two seperate smaller seeds. Fascinatingly gross yet cool.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Photo of the day #3: Mr. Noodle

The best thing about noodles? You can slurp 'em! (Especially in Japan, where slurping noodles is a sign of appreciation for the chef.) Here's my friend Joe working his 'stache. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Banana Muffins

Still sticking to my all-natural resolution, though the not-eating-meat part has given me some difficulty. If God didn't want us to eat meat, why'd he make it taste so damn good? It's a dark and gloomy day, and a thunderstorm is raging outside right now, so I thought the wonderful aromas of baking might cheer me up a bit. I baked super-easy banana-walnut muffins today using using a recipe from , which is a great site for simple and easy to make but delicious dishes and desserts. I'm sure many of you have heard of her famous banana muffins, but it can't hurt to read about it again!

(I apologize for the poor lighting; my brother's colossal head was in the way and there's a thunderstorm boing on)
 RECIPE: Makes 12 muffins
*3 or 4 Large bananas, mashed (the more bananas the moister, so I use 4)
*1/2 cup white sugar (original recipe calls for 1 cup, but I don’t like them too sweet)
*1 slightly beaten egg
*1/3 cup melted margarine or butter
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1 teaspoon baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1 1/2 cups flour

1.) Mix the mashed banana, sugar, egg and margarine together. Set aside.
2.) In a separate bowl, mix together baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour.
3.) Mix wet and dry ingredients all together!
4.) Pour into greased muffin tins, and bake in 350 degrees F oven for approximately 20 minutes.

*These are much more flavourful the next day, and they freeze very nicely too!
You can add a handful of walnuts (or any kind of nuts, really) or chocolate chips if you like. I added some walnuts and almonds, because we ran out of chocolate chips. Yum!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Going Vegan- Carrot fries

In order to drop a few pounds of water weight, and mostly to purify my body, I'm going on an all-natural, vegan diet for the next few days. (Goodbye, leftover birthday cake.) However, this doesn't mean I have to nibble on all-natural wheat germ and lettuce all day. I've been perusing various vegan food blogs and cookbooks for insipring and delicious recipes that are both good, and good for me.
These carrot fries are a recipe from Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick Goudreau. I don't have that many mouths to feed, so I only made half the portion described, about 2 servings.

RECIPE: Serves 4
*16 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
*1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
*1 teaspoon salt
*Freshly ground pepper, to taste
*1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
2.) Place the carrot stics in a bowl and pour the olive oil over them
3.) Using your hands, toss the carrot in the oil to thoroughly coat
4.) Spread the carrot sticks in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
5.) Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin
6.) Bake the carrots until they begin to crisp, about 45 minutes, checking every 15 minutes or so to toss or turn the pan to ensure even cooking

Monday, July 11, 2011

Photo of the day #2 Lamb Kebabs

Lamb Kebabs are another family favorite and traditional Xinjiang food. Grilled to perfection and sprinkled with spices like cumin and dried chile pepper, to me it bring memories of street vendors and bustling marketplaces.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Uyghur lamb-and-rice

Coming from the Northwestern part of China where there are many different indigenous populations and minorities, my family's cooking is highly influenced by the culture of that region. The Uyghurs, the largest minority in the Xinjiang province, have many unique styles of cooking that most Han Chinese families (like mine) have adapted to. Lamb and rice is a classic Uyghur dish and a family favorite that I grew up eating.
I managed to wrest the recipe from my mother yesterday, and it turned out great. As is extremely common in Asian cooking, however, the recipe isn't very exact. I tried my best to write out the measurements, but f you find it too salty or not to your taste, adjust it to your own preferences. The secret to this recipe is when you stir fry in the rice, cooking it and letting it sit in the juices of the lamb- that's what makes it so good.

Remember this pic? It was on my first post ever! My mom had made this dish that day and I just had to take a picture as well as a bite, it was so good.

*2 cups jasmin rice (you can use other kinds of rice too, but this kind works best. Buy your rice from an Asian Food store to garauntee authenticity, and don't use brown rice)
*4-5 carrots
*1 1/2 lbs lamb (goat works fine too. Chop into seperate ribs or pieces if desired)
*Varying amount of salt
*1 large white onion
*1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1.) Soak the rice until completely submerged for about an hour
2.) Set stove to simmer and boil lamb for about 1 hour with about 1 teaspoon salt (adjust as needed) and save the juices (the water you boiled the meat in) 
3.)Grate carrots, preferably using a cucumber peeler to make strip rather than shavings

4.) Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt in the grated carrots and mix
5.) Chop onion into small, thin pieces, but make sure the pieces aren't smaller than the first knuckle of your thumb. You might want to wait until the meat and the rice are almost ready to prepare the onion, because you'll be cooking the carots and rice in with the onions later
6.) Stir fry onions until soft with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then add grated carrots
7.) Cook until carrots are soft
8.) Pour in the rice, and stir evenly
9.) Pour in the water you simmered lamb in, so the juice get cooked in. Pour enough lamb broth to cover the bottom of the pan and until it reaches the level of the rice, but don't let it rise above the rice
10.) Put the lid on (KEEPING the lid on; no peeking!) and let it simmer for about 5 minutes or until all the broth is gone, then stir evenly
11.) Stir the lamb meat into the rice
12.) Set stove on medium and put lid back on, letting it simmer with the meat well stirred in for around half and hour
Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spice-sauce salad

Originally I had planned to make carrot cake with the fresh carrots I purchased from the farmer's market yesterday, but ran out of baking soda so instead I experimented a little with various salad sauces, and came up with my own asian-inspired sweet-and-spicey spice salad dressing. The salad primarily consists of fresh radishes sliced and salted, carrot shavings, and fresh shredded cilantro. Add chopped almonds or sunflower seeds if you feel it needs some more crunch.

I know, I know- another radish post. What can I say; they're my favorite salad vegetable.

Salad recipe:
*1/2 cup to 1 cup shredded cilantro
*1 cup carrot shavings
*About 7-9 radishes
*1/2 teaspoon salt

Salad preperation:
1.) Quarter and slice radishes thinly, then salt with 1/2 teaspoon salt for 20-30 minutes
2.) Mix all vegetables up in a bowl with the dressing

Sweet-and-spicey dressing:
*1/2 cup water
*1 teaspoon dried pepper powder
*1/2 teaspoon sugar
*1/4 teaspoon salt

Sweet-and-spicey dressing preperation:
1.) Heat up water in a small saucepan
2.) Stir in dried pepper powder, sugar, and salt
3.) Remove from heat and let cool

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Farmer's Market

Paid a trip to the local farmer's market, where I bought some fresh cilantro, radishes, green onion, and strawberries. Everything's all-natural and organically-grown, of course. Definitely will be dreaming up creative ways to prepare the veggies tomorrow. Salad is the obvious choice, but who knows?

I also picked up some handmade jam at a jam stall for my brother, who isn't very enamored with any culinary arts more refined than McDonalds. (I haven't had the time nor the inclination to stand over a boiling, steaming pot and stir, especially in this weather)

As a treat to myself, I stopped by a home baking stand and had a cookie and a fresh butter home-made croissant for lunch!

Photo of the Day #1

Played in the lake yesterday and caught many crayfish to steam and then stir-fry! So yummy with plenty of garlic and spiced up with hoisin sauce.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Up North

Chocolate in the shape of a Mer-Lion, the official mascot of Singapore!

My brother got hungry, so we made a platter of on-the-go turkey sandwiches to take to the dinner the others had already cooked

Yummy asian-style veggies

Chicken! It had been bought at a rotisserie along the way, so we didn't do much with it besides shred it up and quickly stir-fry it with some vegetables and a portion served plain

Celery and chicken on the condo hot-plate

A bit of everything on my plate- from some bites of chicken, celery, pork, a slice of sticky rice cake, egg-battered onion, and fennel.

For the Fourth of July weekend this year, my family decided to head up North to a golf & ski resort seemingly situated in the middle of nowhere. My dad just got home from the airport after a week-long business trip in Singapore (which I was excited about because he brought my chocolate in the shape of a merlion!) only about an hour before we left, so he was a hint crabby. We met up with several other families and they cooked up a veritable feast of chinese food in the condo kitchen- eggs fried with unions, pre-steamed pork sticky rice cakes, chicken and celery, chicken broth, shredded spicy pork...
Definitely a great meal to arrive to after a four hour road trip. Even though it's sweltering in he city, up here the weather is actually rather mild and almost cold at night, due to the near distance of the lake.

Friday, July 1, 2011

We all Scream For Ice Cream

The weather skyrocketed to the 90's this week, and with humidity levels so high, every time I step outside I feel like a lobster in pot. (Preferably prepared with lemon juice, seaweed, rosemary, oysters,and my special sauce.) It's the perfect weather for ice cream, and one of my favorite indulgences is homemade ice cream.
However, in lacking an ice cream maker, I have to go through the long and tedious process of freezing the prepared ice cream custard and stirring it every thirty minutes or so for hours on end. Yet the result is often worth the toiling and taxing of my patience.

My basic vanilla ice cream recipe:

*1/2 pint heavy cream
*1 1/2 cup white sugar
*4 teaspoons vanilla extract
*1 pinch salt
*2 quarts half-and-half cream


Combine all ingredients and put in freezer section of ice cream maker, and freeze according to directions.
Quick and easy- you lucky bitch!

Combine all ingredients and put in freezer, stirring it every 30 minutes.
NOTE: this takes 2-3 hours