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Archive for April, 2011

Pizza

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Thursday today, on my part of the planet anyway.  So in order to make space in my tiny fridge, for the upcoming grocery shopping tomorrow, I am making pizza for dinner tonight. 

Basically, I am using this recipe  for my pizza dough and adding whatever the little containers sitting in the cold place in this white box called ‘fridge’ can offer me.

Spaghetti sauce from last night, that should do wonders for the red sauce. 

Capers on top, ok. 

Chopped onions in butter, even better. 

Bacon bits would be a nice addition also.

Black and green olives.

Goat cheese, a bit here and there.

But first and foremost : after the first rise of the dough, punch it down and instead of forming it into little balls, take a pizza pan and spray some dough in it, enough to cover the entire surface of the pan.

Take some olive oil, brush it all over the dough and the edge.  Drop some dry basil leaves on top of the oil.

Next, add the sauce and others ingredients you might have on hand.  If you have cheese, add it as well.

When your pizza looks eatable, let it rise another 20 to 30 minutes, cover very lightly with a dry dish towel.  Turn the oven on at 200 Celsius. 

Bake the pizza, for about 20 minutes or just until the edges are turning a nice golden color.  Take it out of the oven and eat hot!

I have left over of the dough so most of the time, I will use it by forming little balls of 41 gr of bread or roll it to a big ball to make just one bread, and bake it as well, after I have brushed them with a yellow yolk.  No waste here.

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Oh, talking about substitute here, I could not, for the life of me, find molasses here, in Shenyang but La Belle Aurore got into fast gear and used, by the ‘seat of her pants…’, a plan ‘B’ to get it done.

Marvellous cookies, not too sweet, a ‘man’ cookie!

Ingredients :

4 cups of white flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

2 teaspoons of dried ground ginger

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups of Very dark brown sugar (this is my substitute : use very dark brown sugar mixed with 1/3 cup of very hot water.  The sugar will get into the stage of molasses, even will smell and taste like molasses)

1/2 cup of butter

1/3 cup of hot water

Strawberry jam

Mix flour, baking soda, spices, salt in a bowl.  Set aside

Mix the brown sugar, water and butter together, let it sit for 5 minutes.  Add to the dry mix and mix by hand until the dough forms into a ball.

Put the mixture in the fridge, for a good 2 hours.

Roll out the dough, use a cookie cutter or like me, a glass to cut the cookies.  In this particular recipe, I cuted plain cookies and cookies with a small hole in it.  Lay out on a greased cookie pan, the plain cookie, drop about a dollop of strawberry jam in the middle and cover the plain cookie with another one made with a small hole in the middle.  Press firmly the edges of each cookie, so the jam will not escape during the baking.

Bake at 375F, for 17 minutes.  Once the cookies are baked, add another teaspoon of jam right in the middle of the opening while the cookies are burning hot.  Let it sit for a while and then, pass them around to your good friends.

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Cucumbers coming up

Bunny Rabbit helping out in the strawberry patch

Muddy shoes resting

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Joyeuse Paques, Happy Easter

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Misty2, borned Dec 12, 2006, Santa-Rosa, Mexico

Misty2 is my miniature french poodle, female that has been part of my life for the last 4 years.

She was borned in Santa-Rosa, Mexico in December 2006.  I still remember the day we, Analu and I, went to pick her up.

She was part of a 6 puppies litter, mostly males, few of them black.  I really wanted to have a female and the beauty of her eyes were what got my attention right from the start.

She was all dirty, with a big belly but still, very happy and healthy.

I pointed this little 4 weeks old to my friend and told her : ‘This is the one…, let me grab her…’, but the attendee present there, refused and told in me in local spanish, to wait a bit while she took the very small puppy from the cage, got her inside the shop to wash her, and came back with her, all cleaned and fluffy hair…  I felt in love!

We took her to my friend home for 2 weeks where she was fed with a baby bottle filled with warm milk because she was too young to be fed with anything else.

Over the last 4 years, Misty2 has travelled a great deal with us, owning her own international passport and her own cage for the plane.  I trained her to be my full-time companion and to play a lot with me, whenever she was.  She has a box full of toys and people stopping by would guess by the mess she leave behind with her toys all over the house, that I have small children but no… I just have a french poodle that loves to pay and to please people…!

Right now, Misty2 is on a 2 years vacation camp, back in Mexico with my very good friend (Hi Analu!).  I could not bring her with me here in China, did not want to take the chance to fly her for such a long trip and beside, the building where we live, doesn’t allow pets.  So thinking only the best for the animal, it was better to leave her with a friend and to make sure that she was in good hand.

We miss her and cannot wait to pick Misty2 up once our time here is done.

*Update November 07, 2012, in less than one month, we will pick her up to come home, finally…

We will be flying from China to USA, then to Mexico for the pick up and visiting with friends.  Then, flying Misty back with us, from Mexico to USA for Christmas.  She is in very good health, happy and very well taking care of.  She will be missed greatly by her adopting family and pets friends that she made during those 2 years (almost 2 years).  Time goes so fast!

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Tea pot

Books
Homemade meals
Pantry
Colorful plastic containers
Bake something
Green apples scented candles
Orchid, welcome to China
Orange spring flowers
Kitchen towels
New bed cover
Colorful Spices
Colorful pillows
10 tips to feel at home away from home

 Here my 10 tips on how to feel at ‘home’ away from home. 

A bit about me, I have been living away from home for most part of my life and that been said and lived, here is my survival kit that I apply wherever I am.

1.Colorful dish towels : surround yourself with colorful dish towels. 

 This might sound a bit tacky but it does work. 

Every time I open a kitchen drawer and use those littles colorful rags, sort of speech, they bring warm to my heart. 

I don’t know, but there is just something about a kitchen drawer full of color, don’t you think?

2. New bed cover and colorful pillows around the place could change the whole boring gray place into a warmly one.  I live in an apartment hotel and it is, well, very nice but so gray and white basically.  White sheets in both bedrooms, almost no color in the living space. 

So by adding bits and pieces of colors here and there, bring up the feeling of belonging to the place, instead of just being a guest. 

It doesn’t have to be ‘super’ expensive those littles added pieces but just colorful! 

3. Flowers : what is it about flowers in a place?  Well, colors.  Simple and fancy mixed together.  They project caring and passion in the place.  They bring attention for a fraction of second and it does the work : warming up the place.  Here I have a live plant : the orchid and plastic one : spring blossoms (oranges one).  Simple.

4. Candles have two purposes.  They add light and by the same, add a very soft smell to the surrounding.  The ones I have chosen here carry the smell of green apples and sweet berries all around.

5. Bake something : specially on gray days, bake something, anything.  It could be cookies, apple crisp or just a plain roast beef.  Fill your home with homemade cooking, specially something you are used to be making back home.  For me, it is always baking… My soft side for sweet…

6. Oh I just love plastic containers with colorful lids.  I got those at two locals supermarkets here.  An orange sets, a green one and a dark cherry ones.   Each set has different sizes and to help me to keep them handy, they are stored away with their respective covers snaps on each one of them.  Easier to store them and to find them when needed.  Beside, having plastic containers give me the sense of owning the place by using them in my fridge and it shows me that I did some cooking and needed to store ‘my’ stuff in my ‘fridge’.

7. Pantry : use it, fill it up and keep it clean and organized.  Track down containers of food that you recognize from home.  Thanks to many brands names, I am able, away from home, to see Skippy peanut butter, every time I open the pantry door.  It is written in mandarin but still, I know it is peanut butter just by looking at the label and indirectly, I feel home.

8. Homemade meals warms up the heart, and fill the place with cooking smell.  Meals of meats are simple to make, get yourself a crock pot and just drop whatever you have around, set it to slow cooking and just let it go.  They are specially very handy during the weekend because then, you are at home and have more time in planning a meal, make a huge batch, drop it by porting in your plastic containers for the week.

9.  Books, any, will do.  They attract peace, time off and just plain softness to a place.  A book projects the image of privately owning the place because they can be so personal items, depending the subject of each one of them.  Each person has its own personal taste in reading and it takes just a few of them to act as being ‘home’ away from home!

 10. Tea pot, colorful dishes will put you at ease every time you will use these items.  Colorful dishes bring us a time of sitting down and taking the time to rest and eat at a table.  It is as simple as that.  Most apartment hotels come with their own set of dishes, all whites… It makes a big difference in adding a colorful dish plate over the white one, try it.  You will see!

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Cream Puff

Cream Puff with capuchino cream filling

Cream Puff, one of the first recipe I learned to make.  The expression ‘Bête comme un choux’ (as bad-tempered as a cream puff) is related to the easiness of this recipe. 

It looks complicated but no, it is not.  Cream puff are intimidating to make, because of the length of the procedure I would say, but overall, it is so simple.

Basically a cream puff is made of eggs, water, salt, sugar and flour and done by hand, with a wooden spoon, so air can enter the mix and make the puff get bigger while baking.  Also, about 5 minutes before the baking time is over, I cut a small opening on the top of each puff, with a pair of kitchen scissor so the air gets inside and help the puff bakes all the way to the bottom.  Once the time of baking is done, I turn the oven off, leave the puffs in the oven for an additional 10 minutes while the oven door is slightly open.  It makes the puffs crisper.

Ingredients :

Cream puff

80 g butter

125 g white flour

1/4 liter water

3 eggs

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 200C (I know, I am back with Celsius temperature in this country…).  On top of the stove, heat together the butter, water, salt and sugar, until all dissolved.  Add the flour, mix well until the dough doesn’t stick to the spoon anymore.  Turn off the stove, put the pan with the mix in, aside and add one egg at a time, mixing well and fast with the wooden spoon.

Grease a cookie sheet, drop by spoonful the dough on the cookie sheet, making about 12 big mountain of puffs.  Bake for about 20 minutes.

For the cream :

1/2 liter of milk (I used cappuccino milk flavor for this recipe.  Plain milk will do)

100 g sugar

2 eggs yolk + 1 egg

50 g of white flour

1 pinch of salt

Heat the milk, salt sugar together in a pan.  While the mix is heating up, in separate bowl, mix together the sugar and eggs until the mix gets white.  Add the flour and little by little the warm milk.  Mix well.  Drop the entire mix back in the pan and heat it up until thickness of the mix.  Transfer into a bowl and let it cool down (could be put in the fridge at this point). 

Final step : cut the puffs in half, fill them up with the cream and dust the top with a bit of white sugar, if wanted.

Keep in the fridge until serving time.

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