Saturday, December 25, 2010

rutabaga slaw

Each year my Mum and I are asked to provide one or two side dishes for the Christmas meal. My Grammie makes the turkey and the stuffing, and each of my Dad's siblings (or spouses) prepares a side dish or two to round out the feast. Last year my Mother and I made gingered sweet potatoes. The year before that I cooked green beans. This year we have been assigned turnips and parsnips.

We'll cook the parsnips quite traditionally: sliced and fried in butter. But there is always a little leeway for an interesting side dish, too, so I decided plain mashed turnip was out. Turnip is a vegetable I have not really liked in the past, especially on Christmas day when there are so many other tasty veggies from which to choose. But it turns out that the veg I thought I disliked are not even turnips at all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

eating healthy at Christmas

Healthy eating... is so difficult at Christmas. I want to eat healthily to respect my body, but I also want to enjoy the feasting at this time of year. There are so many tasty things on offer! Here are some of my thoughts about healthy eating in December.

To begin with, I think "all things in moderation" also applies to feasting and fasting. There are some times when it's good to feast and other times when it's good to fast. I won't deny myself the chance to indulge occasionally, as long as it is only occasional. Christmas dinner, for example, is one of three times in the year when I don't think about calories, fat, ingredients, or nutrition. (The other two are Thanksgiving and Easter dinners.) Feasting is a way of marking a special day and Christmas is a day worth celebrating. Jesus' birth means a lot to me, so I think it's a great time to feast!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

poached egg for lunch

December's Daring Cooks challenge is a perfect one for me. Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. My favourite lunch is some sort of veggies accompanied by some sort of egg. And poaching the perfect egg is a skill I have relished learning. Together with some green bean and leek veggie pancakes, I had a perfect lunch.

Friday, December 10, 2010

applesauce muffins

My main reasons for eating? It tastes good! And it's healthy! That is to say, it can be healthy when I make good choices. Taste is most important for me, though. And you?

But I'm interested in whole grain baking because it is good for me and so I've been learning a lot about it lately. You can expect to read more about baking with whole wheat flour and other healthy stuff over the next few months.

But is whole grain baking tasty? If not, why bother? May I present Exhibit A, these applesauce muffins.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

weekend links #10

food links:
--Beating sugar addiction (from Gwenyth Paltrow).
--"Man fights off robber with squash" (from AOL News). Veggie to the rescue!
--Why vegan cooking is actually not very scary. Actually a lot of things you already cook are vegan (from Cheap Healthy Good).
--The only food article I've read recently that mentions the Bible: about eating still live food (from The Guardian).
--Photographing ugly food (from the New York Times).
--Ideas for holiday desserts for diabetics (from The Kitchn).
--The best 25 cookbooks of 2010 to give as gifts this Christmas (from the Observer Food Monthly).

recipe links:
--Scrambled egg muffins (from Eat. Drink. Smile.). Make a batch on the weekend and keep them in the fridge for weekday breakfasts. Clever idea.
--Nova Scotian carrot bread is on my to-bake list (from Suzie the Foodie).

off-topic links:
--A website that makes sticky notes for your blog. Snazzy (if a bit kitsch)!
--I found a Hong Kong organic vegetable box program, from local farms! Wow, now I just need to do the comparison shopping.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

homemade yogurt

This post is dedicated to Deeba at Passionate about Baking. She is an amazing cook, photographer, and blogger, who has inspired me a lot. She has great ideas for fruity, creamy, or chocolately desserts. And she makes her own cheeses and yogurts, and she's answered lots of questions from me about how to do these things. Thank you, Deeba!

At each stage of the cooking journey I have found that I am surprised at how easy a recipe or meal often is, especially those which seemed particularly tough previously. When I started to cook for myself as an adult I realised that many of the meals I had eaten at home were within my skills as a beginning cook. I had two cookbooks and a cooking notebook with some of my Mother's recipes, and I noticed that successful meals were as easy as following directions. And since starting this food blog, I have learned that making homemade risotto is quite simple, from-scratch Caesar salad is basic, and even making my own mayonnaise is not that hard.

Given all this, I was still blown away by how easy it is to make yogurt in my own kitchen. I have done it five times in the last five weeks--each time is has taken less than ten minutes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

kiflice, Serbian mini cheese rolls

November's Fresh from the Oven challenge was these inventive cheese rolls called kiflice, from Serbia. Chosen by Maja from Cooks and Bakes, they are a yeasted mini bun that encloses a cottage cheese filling. For my version, I made a whole wheat dough and used onion and chive cottage cheese for the filling. The buns are glazed with milk and egg yolk, and, just for more shiny goodness, the baking pan is covered in dots of margerine. All this makes for a rich, cheesy snack.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

citrus mascarpone crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Crostata is an Italian tart made with a sweet short crust pasty and it can be filled with pastry cream or fruit. It's as easy to make as pie, and the pastry is delicious. (If I had any leftover pastry I would have made it into cookies.) I made my version with a mascarpone filling.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

a salad plate for lunch

When Anthony and I lived in London, we regularly travelled up to visit his family in Liverpool. His Nan would make us cold dinner plate so that we could have it whenever we arrived from the train. It included a little dollop of potato salad, coleslaw, some sliced tomatoes and cucumber, and a few slivers of sandwich meat, all on top of a couple of iceberg lettuce leaves. The more Ant's Nan got to know me, the salad plates evolved. Soon they also included organic walnuts and sliced avocado. And I managed to royally insult her lettuce leaves--by accident, I swear!--one day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Persian chicken with saffron rice pilaf

I accidentally bought chicken thighs recently when I was expecting chicken breasts. But no matter, lots of chicken recipes can be made with either kind. Lots of recipes are actually better with thighs, since they are juicier. This Persian chicken recipe was a tasty dinner, and we ate it with peas with yogurt and crunchy bits.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Easy (and Quick) Chicken Dhansak

Ever noticed how a lot of stew or curry recipes finish with the instruction "simmer for 30/60/90 minutes"? On a busy weeknight, I just don't seem to have time for a long cooking stew recipe. But I've discovered there are two easy ways to speed up a recipe such as this chicken dhansak, a tasty Persian curry.

There are two reasons to simmer at the end of the recipe. One is to thoroughly cook the meat or other ingredients, so that it finishes meltingly tender. This is the case for a lamb stew or beef bourguignon. The second reason is to meld the flavours together as, for example, with chilli con carne. With chicken dhansak, both of these reasons come into play. Although the chicken cooks quickly, the lentils and winter squash need a long simmer to be cooked. And the flavours need to mix and deepen over time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

formula one pasta with lemon and parsley

The final race of the Formula One season was on Sunday. I love the thrill of the overtaking, the strategy of the teams, the engineering genius, and the team work that is required to race well. One day I hope I get to see a Grand Prix in person, perhaps next year in Shanghai or Singapore. Then I will be a true "muffler bunny." :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

watercress and chive souffle

Do you feel as though you learn something new every day? I often look for something new and try to pick up a new word, or try a new thing at work, or a new idea through my cooking. Joining a few blogging events groups has helped me learn new things in the kitchen. Thinking back, I was really pleased to learn how to make different nut butters, sweet potato falafel, and tiramisu through the Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers. And souffle is surely a challenging new thing, so I was thrilled when Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose souffl├ęs as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

light chicken laksa

Sometimes it really is better to be late than never. For example, the first time I was going to meet my new boss I got stuck in a rain storm (it was Amber Rain, in my defense) and I arrived 45 minutes late. Mortified, and dripping from head to toe, I went in to meet him--and was greeted with a massive smile and a firm handshake. I'm glad I persevered through the downpour.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

herbed spelt popovers

These little gems turn a slightly skimpy lunch or dinner into a satisfying meal. They are very similar to whole wheat gems in that they are easy to make, healthy, and a great addition to a slightly undersized meal. What makes these popovers enjoyable for me is that they use spelt flour. Spelt flour is high in protein and low GI, so after eating these you feel fuller longer. Spelt has a mild, nutty taste and spelt flour is usually available at large grocery stores. (Information for Hong Kong residents: I bought mine at CitySuper.)

So, get yourself some spelt flour and try out these popovers; they're a good introduction to the grain. Or use whole wheat flour instead. Either way, lunch is better with popovers on the side.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Moroccan style peas with yogurt and crunchy bits

A side dish that makes the meal.... I served this little peas and crunchy stuff combination with Persian chicken and saffron rice. It's a Jamie Oliver recipe, adapted, of course. Jamie's original recipe uses fava (lima) beans. But peas are more readily available to me--and to you, I imagine. The peas are paired with mint, lemon, crunchy fried breadcrumbs, and onion, and then served with creamy yogurt as well. Any recipe that turns plain old peas into a delectable dish is worth saving. Try it tonight with your dinner and let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

weekend links #9

food links:
--McDonald's in Hong Kong is set to offer wedding packages starting in 2011 (from The Independent). Couples will kiss over a portion of French fries. Really.
--How to eat to avoid energy slumps (from Lifehacker). Useful advice.
--How to increase students' purchase of healthy food in the school cafeteria (from the New York Times).
--A book called The Geometry of Pasta--very distinctive graphic design. Love it.

recipe links:
--Lentil and Lemon soup; sounds delcious (from Orangette via The Kitchn).
--Lebanese pumpkin kibbeh (from Strawberry Pepper). This is a baked main dish with layers of bulgur, spinach, pumpkin and chickpeas. It sounds delicious and different.
--Absolutely delicious looking beetroot and ginger brownies (from Girl Interrupted Eating). Yum, yum.

off-topic links:
--Vending machines that grow vegetables for restaurants (from Re-Nest).
--Is it more green to use paper cups or reusable at church coffee time? Interesting comments on the ethics of energy (from Hey, Mr Green).

Friday, November 5, 2010

broccoli and almond soup

Anthony has started to make fun of me when we eat out. Whatever the restaurant, I always choose soup and salad. Italian, Chinese, Mediterranean, or fusion menus, it's always the same for me. I choose a bowl of warm veggies complemented by a side of veggies! I can't help it if I know what I like.

Even if you are not veggie mad, as I am, soup is a great way to enjoy vegetables. Innovative pairings such as broccoli and almonds make it fun to try new soups.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper--and "fish-fragrant" aubergines

I have a confession to make. I have lived in Hong Kong for seven months, and I have not yet come to love Cantonese food. I do enjoy Hong Kong as a place to live, and I am starting to feel comfortable here as we make friends, start to fit in at work, and become more settled. But the cuisine has been a more difficult matter.

The simple Cantonese dishes I really like: such as steamed prawns with garlic, or green vegetables lightly dressed with soy sauce. But quite a lot of the main dishes are too slimy for me. I have tried chicken feet, for example, for bragging rights, of course. After popping the foot into my mouth and eating off the sauce and cartilage, I spit out the bones like any Hong Konger. I ate a serving, but did I like them? No, much too strange to be eating those slimy and gristly bits by choice. Will this feeling of aversion ever change?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chelsea buns

Chelsea buns are a new idea for me--and a tasty one! Similar to cinnamon rolls, they enclose a buttery, sweet filling. Instead of cinnamon they are studded with dried fruit--I used raisins and dried figs. Chelsea buns were this month's Fresh From the Oven challenge, set by Wendy of Notes from the Quirky Kitchen. They sound scrumptious, don't they? My Chelsea buns, though, were a disaster.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

doughnuts--baked, not fried

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. I'm never one to voluntarily eat anything deep fried, though, so I tried out this baked doughnut recipe as my contribution to the challenge. And then served the delectable doughnuts as my birthday dessert.

Monday, October 25, 2010

please help! what is this Chinese condiment?

This random jar has been sitting in my fridge for several months now. I cautiously dip in and out of it occasionally. What is it? All that Chinese that I can't read! Can you please help me?

It's a slightly odd story of how I got this jar of mystery stuff. I didn't buy it at my local store as a try-me ingredient. Oh, no. It was destined for greater things than my refrigerator, this jar, but never made it there. The story goes like this.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

weekend links #8

food links:
--A new food blog to follow: Adventures in Local Food, by the Food Action Committee in Halifax, my home town. It's really just two lovely food lovers sharing ideas... check it out! Learn more about canning or read the recipe for Chocolate Sauerkraut Cupcakes--really!

recipe links:
--Now that is a clever ideas! Homemade "hot pockets" like we used to eat as teenagers (from The Vegetarian Family Table).
--I must try frozen banana yogurt. I keep seeing it everywhere. (This time it's on Sarah Wilson.)
--Pumpkin granola (from Two Peas and Their Pod). There are times when you find yourself with way too much cooked butternut squash. This is for that time.

off-topic links:
--Making your own facial scrubs from kitchen ingredients (from The Kitchn).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

bacon-fried greens

I have two main dinner strategies when time is tight and inspiration is waning:
1. The "all in one" strategy: Make a hearty salad-ish dish, warm or cold, with lots of veggies and maybe a bit of meat (for example, the peach and pumpkin salad or aubergine with black eyed beans).

2. The "side as main" strategy: Make a big amount of my current favourite side dish and make it into a meal by adding a piece of meat or fish on the side (for example, veggie pancakes or a warm black cabbage salad).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

peach oatmeal bread

Summer is winding down--actually I hear that in other parts of the world it is now autumn. ;-) Well, it is still warm and pleasant here, and the last peaches are in the shops. I made this peach and oatmeal loaf to celebrate the end of summer and took it with us when we went on a yacht trip with friends.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Paper Chef #57

Foodies in the US and Japan and many other parts of the world will be familiar with the "Iron Chef" cooking show. Great chefs are put up against one of the iron chefs in a rather over-the-top and dramatic cooking competition to see who can make the most spectacular food from a host of regular ingredients and one special ingredient - say octopus. There is a somewhat similar TV show in Britain called "Ready, Steady, Cook!" Paper Chef is based on a somewhat similar idea... and you're invited to take part!

Friday, October 1, 2010

eggs with potatoes and greens (oeufs vert-pre)

I like to learn new things--hence this blog, and also copious link lists of things to read, printouts of journal articles in my work bag, CDs with new languages on it, and stacks of books next to the couch. I guess it's good practice to learn something new each week. What will it be this week? Poaching eggs. The proper way.

Monday, September 27, 2010

cornmeal and pine nut bread

1. How can you transform any normally distributed random variable into the Standard Normal Distribution?
2. How has the pace been this week?
3. What is your foremost question or concern?

About once a week I ask my upper school students for some feedback using an activity called The Two Minute Drill, which I learned from an inspirational teacher several years ago. I give out small pieces of paper and ask three questions to gain feedback anonymously. The first question is always one that helps me assess whether students have understood what I've been teaching. The second asks them for some feedback on my teaching. And the third question is always the same: any concerns?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

curried potatoes

Sometimes it's time for comfort food. For Anthony, my husband, potatoes are the best comfort food. He grew up in a "meat and two veg" household where potatoes were a daily enjoyment. I saw this recipe on Simply Recipes and knew that it would be a happy night when I made it for dinner for him.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

morning glory muffins

How can I help a group of twelve-year-olds learn to use algebraic symbols to describe a matchstick pattern? What activity would help a group of fifteen-year-olds who have already been labelled as "bad at maths" experience some success (and enjoyment!)? Can I develop an interactive way of teaching the standard normal distribution?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

caponata--a Sicilian aubergine relish

In case I ever run out of new things to try--ha!--I have joined a blogging group called The Velveteers. There were four of them to begin with, and they started by re-inventing red velvet cake. Now, several months later, Alessio, Aparna, Asha, and Pam have opened their ranks to new members, and I rushed in! Each month they try something new--an ingredient, or a theme--and each person is supposed to interpret it slightly differently.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

weekend links #7

food links:
--A look into the military rations of the soldiers serving in Afghanistan (from The New York Times). It's fascinating to see what each country provides. For example, one country gives each soldier three mini toothbrushes with each day's ration package.
--WWOOF, an organisation that connects organic farms with people who want to visit them and work there.

recipe links:
--Kale chips (from Sugarlaws). I guess I am part of the "bulgur and quinoa set" that Katy describes.
--A lovely looking Indial lentil recipe: dal nirvana (from Steamy Kitchen).
--Two beautiful salads: succotash (from Kitchenist) and quail egg and gorgonzola salad (from Lucullian Delights).
--Pickled, spiced grapes (from The Kitchn). What a clever idea that sounds delicious. Make it before a party.

off-topic links:
--A really neat plate arrangement on the kitchen wall (from The Kitchn). I wish I wasn't renting at the moment because then I would be able to do this.
--A graph to use in teaching (from Indexed).
--A genius idea for organising kids' clothes so they can dress themselves in the morning (from I'm an Organizing Junkie). This also would make packing for trips dead easy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

citrus, mushrooms, greens, and beans, with a ginger dressing

These enoki mushrooms are from Japan or Korea, they are mild in flavour and crunchy in texture: they made great salad toppers. Ant and I went to our first care group meeting with our new church friends and we had a lovely pot luck meal together. Our host asked for salads to be brought--I was very happy to oblige!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

winter squash bread pudding

"I've become a tad obsessive about collecting winter squash recipes, believing secretly that our family could live on them indefinitely if the world as we know it should end. My favourite so far is white beans with thyme served in a baked hubbard-squash half.... With stuff like this around, who needs iceberg lettuce?"
--Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

How true it is. Winter squashes are hardy, tasty, versatile vegetables. (Iceberg lettuce, on the other hand, is a miserable excuse for a vegetable. I have never posted a single recipe for it.) Winter squash makes wonderful smooth, blended soup, risotto, or even scones. Or this delicious bread pudding.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

apple bars with peanut butter glaze

When at the Hong Kong library this weekend, I discovered the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook. What a find! I can already foresee myself trying out many new recipes, such as Sunny Citrus Squares, Lemon Barley Scones, and Pumpkin Quick Bread. I immediately added spelt flour and orange juice to my shopping list. (Using orange juice in baked goods, I have learned, neutralises the slight tannic flavour that some people taste in whole wheat.) And I have great plans to share all my new ideas with you.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

pumpkin and peach salad with lemon grass dressing

This is salad that definitely got me out of a rut! The Paperchef challenge this month made me put together ingredients I would not have thought of combining before. But the results were brilliant. The challenge required that I use pumpkin, peach, capers, and lemon grass. Capers, mostly from France or Italy, and lemon grass, from Asia, do not seem like obvious friends. But they taste great together, and made a delicious main dish salad.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

weekend links #6

food links:
--You've got your backyard garden. Is farming your own fish the next logical step? (from The Financial Times)
--Six tips for increasing your tolerance to spicy foods (from Serious Eats).

recipe links:
--Roasted garlic and garlic-infused olive oil: a good use for some spare oven space when it's turned on to bake something else (from Suzie the Foodie).
--How to make a tastier veggie burger (from The Kitchn).
--Whole wheat cookies for snacks. Little do they know it, but my colleagues may be helping me try these out soon (from Lite Bite).
--A make-ahead dahl recipe for easier dinners in a pinch. Avoiding takeaway (from The Kitchn).

off-topic links:
--I'm easing myself into the idea of doing some running--jogging, actually. Posts like this from Carrots'N'Cake have been making me think more seriously about it (from

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

When this book was suggested for August's Kitchen Reader, I was not too happy. As I've mentioned before, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a book about a family that eats local food for a year. I was upset because I knew I would agree with the sentiments of the book and not be able to do anything about it. Kingsolver (usually a novelist) and her family of husband and two daughters take on an old farm, start growing their own vegetables, raising turkeys, producing eggs from their own hens, and shopping at farmers' markets. They spend a year researching and reading and writing about local food, and this book is the result. It only slightly helped me that the writing was by turns gigglingly funny and very astute. I find local food a hard concept here in Hong Kong.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

brioche (for Fresh from the Oven)--and a Croque Monsieur sandwich

This month's new bread to try was brioche, the Fresh from the Oven challenge. Brioche is so egg- and butter-rich that you can smell the deep yellow goodness as soon as they come out of the oven. Chele from Chocolate Teapot chose this delicious bread as our monthly challenge.

Friday, August 27, 2010

ice cream petit fours

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vietnamese summer rolls

Rice papers are available at my local grocery store, and at your local Asian shop. They are opaque and rigid when dry and flexible and almost translucent when moist. To use them, fill a bowl with hot water. Then dip each rice paper into the water for about 10 seconds. Place it on a clean tea towel while you dip two or three more. Then place the fillings on each one and fold over one side. Tuck the top and bottom in and roll closed. Place the roll on a plate with the seam side down while you make the rest of the rolls. In the same way glutinous rice is sticky, the rice paper is tacky to touch and rolls up perfectly into tight packets. A collection of Vietnamese rolls make a refreshing summer dinner, served with rice or salad. Or a very impressive appetiser.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

weekend links #5

food links:
--The 50 best cookbooks (part 1, 50-11, part 2, the top ten), as chosen by the Observer Food Magazine. (How many do you own?)
--How to turn business cards into dinner party accessories and how to fold napkins for dinner parties (from Serious Eats).
--Photos of food souvenirs from around the world (from the NY Times). When I visit the UK I wish I could bring back bacon home with me. And Tim Tams from Australia. And maple syrup from Canada.

recipe links:
--I'm amazed by how easy it is to make ginger ale at home (from The Kitchn). Just a pinch of yeast makes the fizz. This has go me thinking about what else I could make!
--Making little pizza cups in a muffin tin (from My Kitchen Snippets).
--What an intriguing idea: watermelon (or peach) and pancetta risotto (from the NY Times). I actually think this might be lovely.

off-topic links:
--Avoiding toxic cosmetics and personal products (from Sarah Wilson).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

curried aubergine and black-eyed beans

After a long day, I think, Oh, no! I forgot to plan my meals this week and I have no idea what to eat for dinner. With a nervously sad face, I look at which veggies are in my fridge. One evening I was faced with aubergine (eggplant) and an onion.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

carrot and daikon salad

The daikon is a well-built radish with a peppery bite. Grate it up and it makes a perfect partner for the smooth and sweet carrot. Mix them up with a delicious sesame dressing, and sizzle some hot oil on the scallions at the end, and you have the perfect crunchy side dish.

Monday, August 16, 2010

amaranth, chive, and goat's cheese frittata

This beautiful vegetable is amaranth, also called Chinese spinach. It's common and widely used in Africa and Asia; also, it's super healthy, like regular spinach. (Note: all veggies are super healthy!) I buy it in these massive bunches from my local "wet market" and use it any time spinach would be used, for example, in this colourful and tasty frittata.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

weekend links #4

food links:
--Chinese food is lambasted for its fat content... but the study was for a weightloss aid (from the Guardian). "The Chinese have traditionally cared more about a balanced diet than perhaps any other ethnic group."
--The Ten Ingredient Project, a new food blog to watch. Super healthy stuff here.
--Some really clever tips about organising your freezer (from I'm an Organizing Junkie).
--An article that links to several others discussing hormones in food, sustainable farming, and early onset of puberty (from Re-Nest).

recipe links:
--A huge chocolate chip cookie baked in a cast iron skillet (from The Kitchn).
--I'm always on the look-out for healthier dessert ideas. Here's one: carrot maple oat bars. Add the glaze for a treat, leave as is when it's not a special occasion (from Strawberry Pepper).
--Also, a banana-based iced treat that has no added sugar. I've seen this on a few blogs now and it looks delicious! (from Use Real Butter)

off-topic links:
--Is is more environmentally friendly to read real books or get an e-reader? (from Hey Mr. Green)
--Smelly odours after cooking? I've heard that the Air Sponge will fix it. What is IN there? (from Suzie the Foodie)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi (also called vareniki) from scratch.

I was excited about this challenge for two reasons. First, my Mum is from a Mennonite background, and this is a classic Mennonite dish. I was keen to try it out after reading about it in a couple of Mennonite novels. Secondly, just the day after reading the challenge I was walking in Mong Kok and saw this little stall with a woman demonstrating how to make dumplings using a plastic form.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

cranberry and date jammy biscuits (for Paperchef)

I seem to have an incurable sweet tooth. I have stopped trying to be rid of it and now I just try to manage my sweet intake. I enjoy three squares of dark chocolate each evening and looking forward to them keeps me from bingeing on sugar most of the time. And as for desserts, I have decided recently that it would be sensible to only eat dessert on social occasions. Then I really enjoy the company and the sweet stuff, and on "ordinary" days I avoid eating a whole batch of cookies myself.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

weekend links #3

food and blogging links:
--Foods arranged by colour (from
--A food blogger's diary, which tracks blog events.
--Saladclub, a new blog to follow. Yummy ideas.
--Coke's bizarre defense of vitaminwater, after being sued over unwarranted health claims: ""no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage" (from The Huffington Post).

recipe links:
--Summer fruit dessert: simple verrines that look so, so tasty (from Passionate about Baking).
--Using grated kohlrabi in place of noodles in a soup: a really clever eat-more-veg strategy (from Girl Interrupted Eating).

off-topic links:
--How to reduce your email checking to once (or maybe twice) a day (from Far Beyond the Stars).
--At home workout videos from a blog called Bodyrock TV. Wow-ee!

Friday, August 6, 2010

summer squash and carrot pancakes

I'm reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Our Year of Seasonal Eating by Barbara Kingsolver for the Kitchen Reader book club later this month. I won't spoil the whole book, but, in one sentence, the book is about a family that decided to eat only locally grown and produced food for a year. It's fascinating, and at the end of the month you can expect a full review.

Locally grown food is a difficult idea for me at the moment since Hong Kong is a city that doesn't produce (much?) of its own food. Everything is from elsewhere. My milk frustration is one example of trying to find a local solution that works for me. (*Milk update below.) With vegetables I have been turning the local challenge into more of a fun game. There are plenty of local vegetables, though they are not all vegetables with which I am familiar. When I shop at the "wet market" that is a short bus ride away, there are rows of stall holders all selling mounds of green things, not all of which I recognise. I have taken to buying several veggies I recognise and then picking a few I don't. This has been a very successful strategy; with the help of The Visual Food Lover's Guide and The Vegetable Bible I usually manage to identify them in English.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

tomato chilli jam

I try to make two things every time I turn the oven on. Not least because my kitchen is a "sweltering sweat-box," as my husband so eloquently puts it. Also, though, because heating up the oven takes a lot of energy and keeping bills and global warming down seem like two mutually worthwhile goals.

Making this tomato chilli jam is a simple use of the oven when it's already on. It doesn't take long to prepare and then you can just let the mixture roast quietly in the background. The result: a tangy, spicy (as you like it) spread for the freshly baked loaves you baked at the same time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vietnamese-inspired salad with cabbage and chicken

This is not a bread-baking blog. Or a desserts blog. Or even a food reading blog (though you may be forgiven for thinking so at times). Lately I have been thinking about the mission behind this blog and what I really want to share with you. My main desire to to make healthy, plant-based eating more tasty and desirable.

I realised that over the last few months I have been writing a lot about bread--it's been quite a kitchen experiment for me recently, since Ant and I decided that if we wanted to eat healthy bread in a shape we were used to, we would have to make it ourselves. In the sidebar, where the post labels are listed, I noticed that bread posts were now equal in number to salad posts--something I never thought would happen. Salad is the best meal on earth!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan--and nutty dressing for broccoli salad

"What should we eat?" is a question that we ask more and more. We have a huge range of choice: food and products from every country and for every budget. This month's Kitchen Reader book was In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan, which seeks to answer this question.

First, Pollan investigates the idea behind nutritionism. Science, over the last few decades, has been trying to identify the nutrients in food, and now a food is described in terms of the nutrients it contains. But this is a dangerous way to describe food for several reasons. "When the emphasis is on quantifying the nutrients contained in food (or, to be precise, the recognized nutrients in foods), any qualitative distinction between whole foods and processed foods is apt to disappear," Pollan argues. With our focus on nutrients rather than foods, some processed foods (which Pollan calls "edible foodlike substances") can look even more healthy than natural foods. "It's a whole lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a raw potato or a carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over in Cereal the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming their newfound 'whole-grain goodness' to the rafters."


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