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 Toxel.com).
--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!


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