Archive for April 18th, 2011

prices we won:glass tea set, stuffed panda,chinese candies, 2 fountains pen

First and foremost, let me point this little secret : I hate bingo night… never liked it and never will because… well… I just don’t like it.  It might be coming from my great intimidation with numbers in general. 

You see, numbers intimidate me.  When ever they are entering my life, in any form possible, my entire brain freezes and becomes useless.  Numbers have the ability to project me with ‘complicated processes coming up’ messages.  Not a great love here.

So last Saturday night, being a good sport that I am (yep, right), we sign up for the first ever group activity this building was organizing.  It was advertised under the name of  ‘lotto night’ and being open to new experience while here in China, we went.

Then, as we approach the entrance to the big room, I could see from very far away, sitting there, on the table of registration, those colorful cards full of the ‘numbers’ in 9 rows, each one more beautifully decorated than the others. 

No mistake here, I turned around but it was too late, the line was getting longer behind me and my self esteem told me to keep smiling. 

Somebody in the fog at the entrance somewhere asked me to pick up 3 cards and a paper cup filled with red circles.  I did diligently and enter the big room. 

You see, I am blond and here in China, I do attract eyes because of this, so I did not want to attract more by refusing to pick up cards right?

All in all, the evening was a blast, we ate good food, we made good friends and most importantly we won.  My DH loves playing bingo and he kept a very sharp eye on the 3 cards, following the numbers been called out in the three languages : french, english and mandarin. 

More than just China people were presents.  In the room, there were people from Japan, France, Canada, USA, Ireland and Germany. 

Such diverse group of expatriates gave me the image of the Olympic!

All together, competing and speaking their mother tongue and learning how to say just one word : ‘BINGO’!! 

Next time, it might be just funny to call it : ‘Olympic Lotto Night’!

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Becacine alive in China

Becacine in China

I am happily reporting that Becacine is back and is very much alive, after incubating for 3 days now.

For those who don’t know yet Becacine, she is my sourdough starter, created April 30, 2010, last year, back when I was living in Mexico.

I worked and created few baking goodies with this starter that I blogged about it and then, be afraid to lose her, I froze part of it, in case of future move. 

Becacine was then transported in a small plastic bag, tucked at the back of my make-up kit, and travelled between Mexico, USA, Canada and now is located in China, for the next two years. Here is where you can read all about her birth up to her very first step into the wonderful world of ‘sourdough starter’ for making baking goods.

So in a nut shelf, about 3 days ago, having settled nicely in my new home here, I got myself some white flour and just plain water to bring her back to life.  My DH was questioning the process, but as of this morning, she is happily bubbling to life, ready to be used when she acquires enough sour smell to give a very nice aroma to my sourdough bread.

This time, I am using my instinct and not so much a technical guide to make it happen. 

To bring her back into action mood, I took the dry up flakes from the fridge (was in a zip lock bag), drop them in a glass jar (I love those jars) and put about 1/4 of a cup of lukewarm water from a distilled water.  The same amount of white flour was added, mixed all together but not overly mixed, and the jar was left on the countertop, with the lid ajar just a bit to let the air to get inside.

The day after, I could see some moving inside, like the formation of the gray liquid (called hooch) starting to form on top of the white mix, telling me that Becacine wanted to be fed. 

becacine in china 2011

This morning, after 3 days of feeding, bubbles are on top of the mix, moving nicely, meaning that the sourdough starter ‘Becacine’ has survived and is ready to embark on a new adventure of making great baking goodies for me, here in China.  I will wait a few more days before using.  I want to get that nice smell before.

This time, my nose more than all the notes taken last year, will be my guide.  I understand the whole concept now and can move along with it.

Here are recipes I made while experiencing with Becacine, last year.

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Amazing China SoFoBoMo 2011

For the third year in a row, I will be participating this year again, in the SoFoBoMo  (Solo Foto Book Month) challenge.

The title of the book will be : ‘Amazing China’ and will document part of this country using photos taken by me, between the date of July 1st to August 31, 2011.

Because of the restriction of China, and depending of any given day those restrictions take place, I still cannot confirm exactly which part will be covered but it will be here, in China.

Even if I cannot understand yet ‘mandarin’, China is communicating to me through photos…, I am looking forward to this amazing challenge, specially that to start with, I don’t have direct access to the site of SoFoBoMo to download my book but determination is guiding me and giving me an even more challenging experience.

Wishing myself good luck here.

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Peanut butter cookies

Peanut butter cookies

An old standard this Peanut butter cookies.  That is if I would have been living in a country that I would know where to find the ingredients to make those.

So on this rainy day here in China, it is the perfect time to fill the place with the smell of home made baked goods, specially Peanut butter cookies!

Ok, let’s get our umbrellas, and up we go hunting for baking ingredients, holding to my list and my pen and my recycle bag and my DH (dear husband)’ arms so I won’t make a foul of myself by falling on my nose, in the middle of the streets, filled with people with colorful umbrellas of all shape and size.  Picture this for a moment, China is already over populated, chinese people are small in size, compared to us so walking on an ordinary day, they are everywhere, taking any free space of living, to move, to bump each other and to walk everywhere to their destination.  Fine with me, I am used to this kind of pushing and living but today was specially interesting because I kept on been hit by strangers umbrellas, in my hair, in my eyes and in my back.  An umbrella takes place over our head and to have a zillion of them around takes spaces even more than.  But I survived my trip to the food market and came back with less hairs but happy.

As for finding the ingredients, that is another story.  I got most of them, except the vanilla essence.  The almond essence will have to do for now.  The next step was to download from internet the user’manual for the oven, because the one I have is written in mandarin and I am not there yet to understand it.

Having done so now, and converting Fahrenheit into celsius, I am ready to make the first cookie recipe on the land of China.

Now, lets mix the wet ingredients together by hand.  And next, mix the dry ingredients together and add them to the wet ones.  Over the years, I have learned by mistake and by making huge batch of cookies that at this stage, I need to taste each dry ingredient by itself to be sure that what I am using is really ‘sugar’ or ‘baking powder’ or else.  Well, to my surprise, the sugar (3/4 cup of this), was not sugar at all but some kind of … I still don’t know what it is except that it is sweet and sour at the same time… so now, I don’t have any sugar to make the recipe and it is raining even more outside…

So my ever trustable instinct in time like this one took over and I decided to put 3/4 of apple sauce and about 2 tbsp of jam in the recipe, tasting for sweetness after each addition.  It will do.

Now for the vanilla extract, I could not find any so I used the only one I could recognize and it is almond extract, it will do also.

The end product : a cookie very nice in color and texture, less sweet than the true recipe but very good.

What I did also was to test my oven and I placed just one drop of cookie dough on a greased baking sheet and baked it.  I was then, able to adjust the heat and the level of the oven rack inside before baking the entire batch of 24 cookies.

So here is the recipe with my chinese modifications, I need a break now… :

2 cups of white flour

1 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of baking powder

1/4 tsp of salt

3/4 cup of butter

3/4 cup of peanut butter

3/4 cup of sugar (apple sauce used, mixed with 2 tbsp of jam)

2 eggs

1 tsp of almond extract

Mix wet ingredients together.  Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and incorporate both together while mixing.

Let it sit in the fridge for a good 2 hours.  Bake on a greased baking sheet, at 375F for 12 minutes, until golden in color.  Enjoy!

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