31 January 2009

Neapolitan Birthday Cake

Turner turns 28 years old today, so only a special birthday cake would do for such a special man. My inspiration for this cake came from the container of Betty Crocker Strawberry Mist frosting that we were given by former expats who left last spring. Like all foods chock full of preservatives, this frosting is shelf stable for about two years, but I figured now would be a good time to use it. Also, in the fruit stands around the city, the strawberries have been temptingly red and plump these days.

I wanted to do a layer cake that involved strawberries but did not want the cake to be all strawberries, so I decided on a Neapolitan cake based on the ice cream that has vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry all in one. Looking for recipes proved fairly daunting as most cake recipes make two 9-inch cakes but in only one flavor. It always takes some G
oogle ingenuity to find the right search words that result in appropriate hits. I finally found this recipe from King Arthur Flour for a Choco-Vanilla Cake that I used to make two heart-shaped cakes, one vanilla and one chocolate. I cut each cake in half so I had four layers total and alternated them using strawberry jam as the filling.
After I made the layers, it was time to get creative with the strawberries. I had about half a pound to play with. In the middle of the cake, I added sliced strawberries to the jam, which created an interesting pattern of polka dots on the chocolate background. (This would be a cute way to top a cake in the future.) Once the cake was assembled, I opened the container of frosting to find Barbie-pink, sugary frosting, not all that appropriate for a 28-year-old male, but it was part of the plan so I had to run with it. I chopped some of the strawberries that were not pretty enough for the garnish and mixed them in, hoping to temper to tooth-aching sweetness. This made the frosting fairly difficult to spread, so I think I will shy away from adding chunks to frosting in the future, but everything worked out in the end.

30 January 2009

Culinary Envy

I have to admit that I have cooking envy after reading so many food blogs. I am amazed by all the brilliant cooks and food stylists/photographers who make mouth-watering food and then photograph it to make everyone else jealous and hungry. As an amateur both in the kitchen and with the camera, I can only hope to some day have such an aesthetically pleasing blog like Tartelette or La Tartine Gourmande (see their blog links in the menu on the left).

Because I live in a medium-sized city in China, I am limited in what I can cook but more so bake. I only have a toaster oven and a few baking dishes that fit inside, and the temperature settings on the oven are merely estimates, which can spell catastrophe for baked goods. I can only drool over photos of souffles and macaroons, ogle beautiful cupcakes and tarts. I don't even have measuring cups but use a Chinese tea cup as my cup measure and guesstimate everything else. I do, thankfully, have a set of measuring spoons and a few bottles of vanilla--my luxurious western imports. I online window shop at Williams and Sonoma or Sur La Table just imagining what I could do if I had the right instruments. Sometimes I feel like a painter without brushes or a writer without a pen. I dream of my shiny red KitchenAid stand mixer packed away in my parent's basement.

My lack of cooking possibilities is probably the hardest part of being in China, next to the lack of English-language books and periodicals. I bake what I can, usually cookies, bars, or quick breads. I've managed flan and rice pudding and may someday try a mousse. Tomorrow I am tempting a two-layer birthday cake for Turner. I will post the results no matter what happens.

29 January 2009

Quiz Answer and More

Here is the answer to this week's Chinglish Food Quiz:

I'm sure you can tell what the product is from the picture. The Chinese call these la jiao, or hot pepper. We know them as chili peppers. Alyson had the closest answer as noodles are also dried and come in similar packaging, so one point for her! Stay tuned for another addition of the Chinglish Food Quiz.

Now, about last night's dinner. Here is what I started with. Can you guess what I made?

A curry with potatoes, cauliflower, and spinach, but because of the coconut milk, it tasted more like a Thai green curry than an Indian curry. I also made daal, aka lentils, with onion and tomatoes. I always used canned beans because no matter how hard Turner and I try to used dried beans, they never, ever cook properly. Maybe someone reading this has a fail-safe method for preparing dried beans. Please share if you do! I also use prepackaged curry powder, which I know is not authentic and I could very well make my own except powered turmeric is very expensive! I do use fresh ginger and grind coriander and cumin seeds to add a fresher punch than what is in the packet.

With the extra rice and coconut milk, I whipped up a quick rice pudding while Turner did the dishes. I can't share a recipe because it's one of those things that you make without measuring anything. I can say that it involves leftover rice (about 2 cups), milk (cow, soy, coconut, rice, goat...), water, cinnamon sticks, an egg, and some nutmeg, and it comes together like a pudding minus the corn starch because...duh...rice is a starch.

Mmmm... writing about last night's dinner makes me think about the leftovers that are sitting in the fridge waiting to be reheated and served with a fresh batch of rice. I was going to make naan, or Indian flat bread, but it requires rising time, and both yesterday and today I have not made it home in time to prepare the dough. I love naan. Some day I will share my recipe with you. I think I could eat freshly and authentically prepared (which means not by me) garlic naan every day for the rest of my life. I'm off on a tangent. Time to stop writing for now. 'Night!

Live Blogging from Starbucks

During our usual morning routine, one of us usually asks the other, "So, what do you want to do today?" The response entails exploring some area of the city or going grocery shopping, but today Turner said he wanted to be a bum and sit in Starbucks for the afternoon, sipping a latte and browsing on their wireless internet. Qingdao has five Starbucks, though they seem to be multiplying like rabbits. Whenever a large, high-end retail complex opens, they always have a Haagen Dazs and a Starbucks. We are currently in the newest of these complexes, owned by Hisense, that was built to please the international crowd for the Olympics and for the nouveau riche Qingdao-ren (people). Its stores include Prada, Hermes, Burberry, Tod's, and Tiffany's.

Coffee is a western luxury that few Chinese enjoy in a form other than instant 3-in-1 packets (coffee, milk, and sugar; just add hot water) that I use only in emergencies. The Starbucks' in China brew decent lattes and are hopping most of the time, probably because they also serve all sorts of milky, sugary tea and coffee blends (or fraps, as I've heard them called).

I walked through the Starbucks that we usually frequent, in the Jusco building, and was unable to find a seat anywhere because the Chinese are still enjoying the New Year holiday. The place looked mobbed! Turner had gone over to the Hisense building to meet up with a friend he made at Tiffany's (because he bought my Christmas present there) who knows a worker at the Starbucks who could get us a discount on merchandise. By the way, this is a prime example of what the Chinese call guanxi, or knowing the right people to get what you want. We got 30% off a couple of mugs I had been eyeing. The prices at Starbucks are equivalent to American prices, so things are not cheap, to say the least. We also got some coupons for "buy one latte, get one free." Talk about knowing the right people!

28 January 2009

Chinglish Quiz

I am starting a Chinglish quiz where you have to guess what food item the pictured advertising came from. I will accept answers for a few days before posting a picture of the entire product. The prize? We'll see...

Here is today's puzzler:

Hint: The food product is NOT ice cream.

Seaside Adventures

Since the morning arrived bright and clear, Turner and I decided to explore part of our beautiful city. It was also the third day of the new year so we knew the tourist sites would be full of families on holiday. Qingdao advertises a 40km-long boardwalk that connects the east and west ends of the city, covering the entire coastline. In reality, about half of this length is walkable. The rest is under construction or non-existent. We chose to explore the area known as Xiao Qingdao (Little Qingdao) and Zhan Qiao Pier.

Along the boardwalk are many small, family-run seafood restaurants with their delicacies out for display on the sidewalk in large plastic bowls with an aerator providing circulation for the "critters." This is not the seafood you would expect as a sushi restaurant or even on display in a supermarket. While you have many options at these restaurants--clams, starfish, rock fish, snails, "sea intestines" (a rough translation), small conch--most of them came from the bay across the street. I know this because people scour the rocky beaches with buckets and ice picks, yanking the critters from rocks and tide pools. You see mama-sans in their kerchiefs with buckets of snails (about 1/2 an inch big) that I just know are heading for the dinner table. I have no idea how you eat a snail so small but I have a feeling the Chinese are very skilled at it.

While we don't live in nearly the dirtiest part of China, I am not confident that the water these sea creatures live in is especially healthy. Qingdao
is known for its hai xian, seafood, but I refuse to try it. When we go out to dinner, our hosts usually offer plenty of seafood, from shrimp gracing the green beans to small mussels, and I have to be adamant about not liking it. Before you assume that I'm just being a Western food snob, I never ate seafood in the United States. Two things bother me about it, one of which may be unfounded. Number one, I hate the texture, and number two, it does not strike me as a very clean food group, least of all the things in these buckets. While I will eat fish, seafood strike me as slimy, large insects or bottom feeders whose most delicious feature is their digestive tract.

Another popular street food on the seaside is squid-on-a-stick. The vendor usually separates the squid so you can buy just the body or the legs, prices vary accordingly, but all for under a dollar. He grills them for a few minutes until they look like rubber-on-a-stick. The Chinese quite enjoy this snack, but I won't go near it except to take a picture. Maybe it's just me, but seafood sitting out all day in the sun doesn't seem appetizing.

27 January 2009

Tortillas for Two

It's the second day of the Chinese lunar year, which of course means constant fireworks. Today Chinese families visit their relatives bearing gifts. This time of year you can buy all sorts of things in festive red gift boxes--eggs, beer, oranges, dried meat, chickens--to bring to your nearest and dearest.

After overindulging in hot pot last night, I was not in the mood to cook or eat anything particularly heavy. We were out of most fresh ingredients, save eggs and fruit, so did not have a whole lot to work with. By the time evening rolled around, Turner decided to make to
rtillas. Fresh tortillas are ten times better than any of those stale, tough circles you buy in grocery stores and are very easy to make. Also, since we couldn't buy packaged tortillas even if we wanted to in China, making them from scratch has become second nature.

The recipe is simple: 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and one cup warm water. Mix the ingredients together by hand until a smooth, sticky dough forms and let it rest for about twenty minutes. This recipe makes 12-16 tortillas depending on the diameter you would like. After the dough has rested, cut it into equal balls. This is where two people come in handy. One person rolls the balls out on a lightly floured surface while the other mans the frying pan. Roll out each ball and add it to a frying pan over medium-high heat. It will cook for about a minute on each side (flip it when you start to see brown spots). If you have two people, the cooking time matches the time
it takes to roll out each dough ball, so the process is fairly quick.

I usually eat the first tortilla, because like the first pancake, it's usually the sacrificial lamb before the pan is hot enough. The warm stack of tortillas can be used for any manner of Mexican or other cuisine. We use them for tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and Mexican pizzas (one fried tortilla topped with beans, cheese, salsa, and a fried egg). But on a day like today, with little food in the house, we made bean and cheese roll-ups, which entails exactly what you would imagine from the name.

I also know a great recipe, courtesy of Mom, for leftover or almost-stale tortillas. Spread butter over the tops, sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar, and slide them under the broiler until they are golden and crispy. They're like little slices of tortilla heaven!

Huo Guo

For our New Year's Day dinner, we decided to have huo guo, or hot pot, which is originally a cuisine from Mongolia or Sichuan. Basically, there is an electric burner in the middle of the table on which is a shallow pot of boiling water, which you add flavorings like garlic, boullion, ginger, and herbs to. In Sichuan hot pot, the water is red and oily from all the la jiao, or red pepper. This version is so hot that I can't handle it so I opt for the Mongolian version which is more like a soup base.

Today, hot pot restaurants are common across China. It became a food craze a few years ago. If you can't read Chinese like me, two things indicate if a restaurant serves it: one, the sign outside shows a pastoral scene with lambs; two, the windows are coated in steam.

Part of the experience of hot pot is the process. It's pretty much cook-your-own food. Once the "broth" is boiling and flavorful, you start adding the fresh ingredients. For our meal we had spinach, napa cabbage, potatoes, mushrooms, lamb, and noodles. The lamb comes frozen, sliced thinly enough to cook in about a minute. Other ingredients that people add include tofu, other vegetables, and seafood. First, the vegetables go in the hot pot (get it?), and once they're cooked, you fish them out with your chopsticks and dunk them in your personal bowl of peanut/sesame sauce. I think this is the best part! I know it sounds strange, but all these ingredients taste ten times better slathered in this delicious sauce. I go through many bowls of it.

After you've had your fill of vegetables, then add the meat. When the broth gets back up to boiling, then the meat is ready to eat. Leave it in any longer and it gets tough. After you've devoured everything and the broth is full of flavor, then the noodles go in. Though difficult to take out with chopsticks, once they're in your bowl of peanut sauce, thoroughly coated of course, slurp them up like the Chinese do.

On a side note, my mom once made noodles and peanut sauce for dinner when I was a kid. It's one of the meals that I remember pretty clearly because you physically couldn't eat it. Each bite formed a sticky mass in your mouth and you could barely chew or swallow. I think we all had a good laugh about it! It sticks in my mind because usually my mom is a very good cook, so a culinary failure is pretty rare. This was one of them though. Love ya, mom!

26 January 2009

Chun Jie Kuai Le!

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year! Since we do not have an extended family to eat dumplings and set off fireworks with (even though all our Chinese friends ask if we are going home for the New Year holiday as they do, not realizing the home is a 15-hour plane ride away), we decided to celebrate at a Peking Roast Duck restaurant. Last year at this time, we were in Beijing (formerly known as Peking) but were not feeling well so we never sampled the city's most famous culinary delight. Luckily, a branch of one of the more famous chains opened in Qingdao.

We ordered half a roast duck (which they carve tableside), cold mashed potatoes (which were oddly sweet), asparagus and mushrooms (which was surprisingly tasty), and soup. They also brought a small plate of jiaozi, or dumplings, because it was New Year's Eve and everyone HAS to eat dumplings. The duck was kept warm on a trivet over a tea light so that the skin stayed crispy. To eat it, you smear the duck pieces in plum sauce and then wrap them together with slices of green onion in a pancake--very tasty! In addition to the duck meat from our half duck, they brought out half a head and tongue. Turner sampled the duck tongue, as you can see from the picture, and the brain but said the rest of the head tasted strange... imagine that. At the end of the meal they served us duck soup, cloudy broth with slices of cucumber floating in it. It was tasty for the first few spoonfuls and then just tasted oily.

After dinner, we decided to seek out a sweet treat, heading first to Haagen Dazs but, upon finding it closed, settling for a 30-cent cone from the 24-hour McDonald's. On our walk, we saw fireworks light up the sky throughout the city, being set off in front of hotels and banks--think the Fourth of July times twenty for about five hours.

Best wishes for a prosperous new year!

25 January 2009

Coffee Time!

It's Sunday morning here in China, and I am sipping on my magical morning brew. I started drinking coffee about five years ago on a regular basis because my aunt gave us an old espresso machine that she was not using. So I started drinking soy lattes in the morning and soon became a coffee fiend. I can handle not having coffee every now and then but my day seems to go much smoother if I have a cup in the morning. Just one cup. I'm not one to drink five cups of coffee in a day, nor do I imbibe after noon (most of the time). For Christmas a few years ago, Turner bought me a more powerful espresso machine and a burr grinder so we could have prefect lattes all the time. We also lived down the street from our local coffee roaster, Alakef in Duluth, MN.

So when our move to China became imminent, I was nervous about not being able to enjoy my brew in the land of tea. We packed a stove-top espresso maker and brought along a pound of Alakef grounds. For a while, my mom shipped coffee from Duluth to Qingdao so we could continue to enjoy coffee.

Then, one fortuitous day, we bumped into a fellow foreigner at a DVD shop and he told us about his Chinese friend Gordon who owns the only coffee roasting shop in Qingdao. We found our way to his shop, near Jusco but tucked away in a building with a small sign, and made quick friends with Gordon and his fuwuyuan (shop girl). He imports beans from all over the world and roasts them on-site, from Columbian to Yunnan to his famous Espresso blend. We usually get the Espresso blend--it's strong, full-bodied, and just damn good. On our most recent visit, Gordon looked like a child on Christmas morning. He had just received a new restaurant-quality espresso machine (see the bottom image), so he can make all sorts of espresso drinks, for free of course because we buy beans from him.

In the morning these days, I roll over and poke Turner, asking him, "What time is it?" I'm not looking for the hour but for the response, "Coffee time!" He makes me coffee most mornings in a traditional filter set-up into my extra-large Starbucks Qingdao mug.

24 January 2009

People, people everywhere!

If you thought that an American grocery store was busy during the days leading up to Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July, then you have never experienced a Chinese grocery store the day before the biggest holiday of the year, Chinese Lunar New Year. Turner and I ventured out to our local Jusco, think upscale department store with groceries that is popular not just for foreigners but for every Chinese person in Qingdao. We needed to stock up on some staples to get us through the next few days since tomorrow is New Year's Eve.

Let's just say, a linebacker would have been useful today. We had to push and shove to get through the store, had to stand in a 20-person line to have our produce weighed and priced, and had to use my white hat as a beacon among the hoards of dark heads. It was craziness! Luckily, Turner had his camera so I can share this priceless experience.

We bought lemons, potatoes, cabbage, noodles, frozen lamb, yogurt, and soda water, and then Turner stopped at the liquer store for a bottle of Gordon's gin. (We have been having cocktail hour lately and he was getting sick of cranberry fusion vodka, which I enjoy immensely.)

The New York Times & Me

"Hi. My name's Sara. I am an addict." Addicted to the New York Times, that is. It's my morning staple as much as coffee is. The end of the week is best because then I can catch up on the Dining & Wine and Style sections. I love Frank Bruni's restaurant reviews and Mark Bittman's Minimalist recipes, videos, and blog posts on Bitten (see blog link to the left). Recently, he blogged about what he ate on a book tour in the northwest. In this vein, my posting today will also record "What I Ate."

breakfast: coffee, two small slices of toast with peanut butter
lunch: "smoothie" (peach yogurt mixed with apple juice), one apple, a few slices of cheddar
snacks: two espresso shots, mini McDonald's hot fudge sundae (we visited our coffee dealer today and he always makes us free drinks), banana
dinner: cheesy pasta bake (made from yesterday's leftovers), steamed

I also ran five miles and did some yoga.

A week ago, I put half of my famous Chocolate Gingerbread cookie dough (okay, it's Martha Stewart's recipe) in the freezer to make at a later date (which turned out to be today). I may have eaten a couple of these warm out of the oven. How could you resist?

23 January 2009

January Tomatoes

Chinese tomatoes are generally not of the variety that make you want to take a big juicy bite. See item A to the left, for example. On the other hand, the only pasta sauce available comes in a can and costs over $3.00, which seems like pittance to most Americans but is about an hour of work for us in China and a day’s toil for your average factory worker. A bag of tomatoes costs half that (though in the summer they are half this price and twice the quality). So, when choosing between chemical-laden, who-knows-how-long-it’s-sat-on-the-shelf sauce and fresh tomato sauce, we usually opt for the latter. The tomatoes we bought today (in about 5 degree plus -20 degree wind-chill weather) were less than inspiring, but they were all we could find.

The Chinese use tomatoes for one of two things: first, the large tomatoes are used in a few savory dishes, usually basics like “xi hong shi chao ji dan” or “tomatoes fried with eggs;” second, the small grape or cherry tomatoes are set out fresh for dessert alongside other fruit. I use tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce or chili, methods of cooking completely foreign to the Chinese because they entail cooking something for longer than 5 minutes. Luckily, we don’t have to pay for electricity, so we can leave our burners on for hours. I know it’s not environmentally friendly, but we walked to and from the grocery store, which must make up for leeching power from China’s grid.

So, I made spaghetti sauce with ground pork for dinner tonight. It didn’t taste authentically Italian, but it was awfully fulfilling after freezing my fingers off carrying home groceries. On a side note, the only Parmesan cheese we can find in Qingdao comes in a green tube. I would not use the stuff if I had any other option.

22 January 2009

UPDATE on the Yogurt Cake

This afternoon I made the cake I wrote about a couple days ago, the Yogurt Cake from Dorie Greenspan. I followed the recipe exactly and it came out golden and perfect from my toaster oven. Moist, light, not-too-sweet, this is the kind of cake that is easy to eat a lot of. (As per the reviews on epicurious.com, I would cut the amount of oil down to 1/4 cup.) Turner and I couldn't wait to slice into so I forwent the marmalade glaze but might try that next time. The cake would also be good with a lemon glaze.

For anyone curious about how I bake in my Chinese kitchen, here is my secret weapon:

Best Laid Plans

Since Turner and I have almost two months off between semesters, we have come up with creative ways to spend all our free time. Today's modus operandi was a Tour de Qingdao McDonald's. I know what you're thinking--"McDonald's? Why on earth would you want to go to more than one?"--but sometimes you just gotta.

Qingdao has five McDs within the city proper (one is beyond the Licung River so it do
es not count). They are located in the tourist/retail areas of the city. Our plan was to visit all five in one day, more as a way to see parts of the city we've never been to rather than to enjoy the cuisine.

We left the apartment around 9:30am, hoping to snag the 10RMB breakfast deal at the location closest to us, but by the time we had walked the two miles, it was past 10am and therefore no breakfast! So we ordered two coffees and a 5-piece chicken nugget to hold us over until lunch.

From here we hopped on a bus to take us further west in the city to the Taidong shopping area for M
cD #2. It was about lunch time so we ordered a Whopper Value Meal to split, taking into account the fact that we were going to be eating at three more McDs. The food is about the same quality as an American McDs, so it offers a nice bite of Americana when we feel homesick. After eating at one of these fine establishments though, we usually feel a different kind of sick.

After our lunch, we started our walk to #3. By this time the weather that was earlier partly
cloudy and mild had turned cold and extremely windy. We had not dressed appropriately and started to feel quite chilled and miserable. The wind was blowing dirt and debris everywhere, including our faces. Trudging along, hunched over, we were not longer enjoying our outing, and so we decided to abandon our hopes of eating at five McDonalds in one day.

21 January 2009

Fabulous Fruit and Fake Food

While on our peregrinations through the city today, I thought I would share some of the food culture of China.

I have spent most of my life in the northern part of the United States, so I have rarely had the opportunity to buy and eat very fresh fruit on an everyday basis. However, in China on every corner or side street there is at least one fruit stand offering a surprisingly wide selection of produce that would make American grocery stores jealous. This one is outside the gates of our university campus and has
apples, pomegranates, kiwis, grapefruits, cherries, strawberries, mangoes, papayas, bananas, dried fruits and nuts, but what my husband and I repeatedly buy are clementine oranges, ten times better than any box of clementines from Spain, and pomelos, aka yuzu fruit, which are like large grapefruits with the flavor of Sour Patch Kids (I am holding one in the picture and that is a small one!). They are oddly addictive. I have been known to eat a whole one in a day. We are certainly not suffering from a lack of vitamins based on the amount of fruit we consume.

Further afield, in the commercial/retail area of the city where we frequent the larger grocery stores, are many, many, many restaurants. Usually, the facades offer nothing that tells me what they serve because I can't read the writing, though occasionally there will be Chinglish translations. However, this fast food restaurant had window displays of the food available on their menu. About thirty plates in all were available for your perusal. The food was like the fake, plastic food that children "cook" with when they play "house," but maybe more realistic. I especially salivated over the burger and fries (well, not exactly)...

The restaurant advertised the following: "It's not barbecue, it's BBQ! They returned for more when they found out the BBQ CHICKEN were actually good." I think it's a brilliant marketing scheme. They didn't think it would be good, but they tried it anyway and actually liked it.

Fresh French Bread in China

Bread comes in two forms in China, one attempts to copy western recipes for baguettes or sandwich loaves, the other is strictly Chinese and involves steam and no flavor. The former is generally spongy, soft, or stale in a day. And while the latter goes well with a spicy, sweet Chinese meal, it can not be toasted or made into grilled cheese. Concerned with this lack of decent bread, last year I undertook baking bread at home.

While I had made bread before, my lack of oven in China presented a daunting obstacle. I knew I could not make a traditional loaf due to lack of space in my small toaster oven--
the top would burn before the rest had cooked. I recalled reading an article in Vogue (of all places) a year or so before about "No-Knead Bread." The idea has since taken The New York Times and the rest of the world by storm and offered a perfect combination of easy preparation and necessity of a small, enclosed space for the bread to bake. Using a small ceramic pot (traditionally used for stew or something) in my toaster oven provided the bread a warm, moist space to rise and bake. For the last minutes of cooking, taking the cover off the pot created a crackling crust indicative of quality french bread. I had success with the first try!

Now I make this bread every other day, mixing the dough in the evening and letting it rise overnight, giving it a second proof for an hour in the morning, and
then putting in the toaster oven for about 40 minutes and out comes this:

20 January 2009

Pizza, pizza!

Last night we made comfort food... pizza and chicken wings. I use Mark Bittman's Minimalist recipe for fried pizza. It works great when you have a wimpy toaster oven that could never turn out a decent pizza. We topped the dough with tomato paste (makes a great sauce), garlic, onions, peppers, wilted spinach, Parmesan, and mozzarella--makes me hungry just thinking about it again.
Posted by Picasa

A Cake without Butter!

I am always thrilled when I find a recipe that I can make using common ingredients in China. Let's just say that butter is a luxury item here, costing us about 20 RMB (which is a lot when you're earning a Chinese salary). So if I can make a cake without it, then everyone is happy! I found this recipe on Epicurious and can't wait to try it: Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze

Eat, Drink, Cook, Share

This is my first posting for what I hope to be a record of my trials and triumphs of cooking, eating, and entertaining, for now all done from Qingdao, China. My husband, Turner, and I are foreign experts, teaching at a university in this "lovely" coastal city well-known for seafood and Tsingtao beer, both of which I will discuss at some point I'm sure.