China Jubilee

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Chai Milk Cake January 15, 2016

Filed under: Cooking,Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 12:13 pm

This is what happens when I melded my grandmother’s “hot milk cake” with my love of spiced, sweetened milk tea!

I made this first for a friend’s birthday party two or three years ago and thought I’d blogged the recipe then, but when I made a video about how to bake it this past week, I couldn’t find the recipe here! Well, that problem can’t stand, so here it is.

Notes: “Double for birthdays” says the original, so if you want a 9″x13″ cake, do. Otherwise it fits nicely in a 9″ or 8″ square, or perhaps a dozen cupcakes (haven’t tried that but bet it would work).
Grease your pan, and preheat the oven to 350F (180C).

Sift or whisk together:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 sleeves of milk tea powder, if available
  • 1 tsp chai tea spices

Heat:

 

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • about two servings of tea and spices (or double this if you’re not putting milk tea powder in with the flour)

 

Strain/remove the solid bits from the milk once it’s brewed nicely, then mix in:

 

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

 

Separate:

 

  • 2 eggs

 

Beat the whites till soft peaks form, then beat the yolks separately for about half as long, then beat them both together. Add:

 

  • 1 cup sugar

 

Beat the eggs and sugar till thick and smooth, about 5 minutes by hand or perhaps a couple minutes with an electric mixer.

Add the other two mixes in turns: 1/3 of the flour mix, 1/2 of the milk mix, 1/3 flour, 1/2 milk, 1/3 flour. Once everything is combined, pour it into the cake pan and bake for 25-35 min (depending how deep the batter is in the pan). Test with a toothpick poked in the middle to see if it comes out clean.

To me, this cake is perfectly sweet and spicy, but if you have more American tastes, you may want to whip up some cream with a bit more spice and sugar in it to put on top!

 

Recent photos September 8, 2013

Filed under: Cooking,Craft,Life — missjubilee @ 7:53 pm

Life is staying full here, though I’ve had some down time this weekend. Here are a few little things.

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Supper in under five minutes. Leftover leftovers and fresh fruit. Leftover celery, cooked rice, and a little leftover eggplant were combined with some onion, garlic, salt, curry powder, along with a can of kidney beans and an egg, the last item only because I am apparently incapable of frying up anything with leftover rice without putting in an egg. Anyway it made two dinners for that week plus one more in the freezer that I ate tonight. I’ve never had anything quite like it, and this time at least I can say that with a happy rather than “blech” face!

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Here’s the blech – mold on two books I took from home when I finished high school. So sad. I will replace Hind’s Feet but the other would probably be difficult to find since Mom bought it in college so I’ll try wiping it down with vinegar.

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Last night I babysat an actual baby for the first time in a while. Isn’t she cute?

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Today while I was picking up some shirts from the tailor I also picked up more blue & white fabric half-meters. I’m not sure yet if the quilt it becomes will have the yellow mixed in or just more whites. Or even if it WILL become a quilt, since I’m pretty busy now and I don’t plan to ship fabric to the land of JoAnn’s and such when I leave! At least not quilting fabric. Maybe a bit of the batik blue & white prints that I’m basing this selection around (in the foreground).

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Such pretty beans growing in the cul-de-sac by my building.

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Stella watching the sunrise. It was the physical connection to a message I’d heard last weekend from John Piper about the glory of the Lord being revealed.

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Psalm 121. My heart has been tender as I’ve been stretched. It’s not easy learning to rely on the Lord for strength. Right now for instance it’s Sunday evening and I’ve felt a lot less urgent and hungry in my prayer and reading times the last 48 hours because it’s not crunch time – it’s school that is pushing me beyond my strength. But oh how this psalm ministered to me one day this week.

Posting these photos reminds me, I’ve posted most of them before, some on FB and some on WeChat. It’s been great to connect with friends on the latter app, especially people I knew in ZZ. Have you tried it? It’s the English version of an app that’s actually Chinese (I think), and it’s similar to Voxer but with more features. Plus easier to find people – so far I have about 30 connections on the one and about three on the other! The main feature they share is the ability to send short audio clips back and forth, like a time-delay walkie talkie. Not very delayed, unless your Internet speed is slow. If you haven’t tried either app, pick one and give it a go!

 

Lamb & Eggplant March 31, 2013

Filed under: Cooking,Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 9:14 pm

Since lamb seems somewhat traditional with Easter, I bought half a pound of ground lamb when I was at the store on Friday. (The lamb chops were pricey and small.)  I didn’t really know what to do with it, but I figured if I didn’t get any inspiration, I could always crumble it with some sort of sauce and eat it with rice or pasta.  At the local shops today I bought some eggplant, figuring both lamb and eggplant are middle-eastern.  Then at dinner time I fired up the AllRecipes app on my phone, did a little Googling on the laptop, and came up with this:

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Starting with olive oil and minced garlic, I browned the lamb, then added the spices from AllRecipes’ Grilled Spicy Lamb Burgers (minus most of the cumin and red pepper flakes) and a chopped up eggplant.  A couple minutes later I dumped in a guesstimate of the liquids from the burger recipe, a can of chopped tomatoes, and the vestiges of a long onion for color.  I let it all simmer covered for a while and then uncovered to thicken.  Meanwhile one Metro pita from the freezer got thawed out in the toaster oven while I dealt with a partially-peeled pineapple for dessert.  Hurrah, a yummy dinner, and I have enough of the main dish left to fill the other two pitas in the freezer tomorrow or the next day 🙂

 

Make the Bread February 19, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — missjubilee @ 2:12 pm

It’s another bread-making day today.  Why?  Because I wanted to try a new lasagna recipe.

Train of thought yesterday evening: Oh, I will need ricotta for lasagna.  I guess.  It was the main reason I didn’t like lasagna as a child, the texture grossed me out, but… yeah, I’ve made my peace with ricotta now after having it on fresh bread and toast so often.  OK, ricotta it is.

That means I will have the perfect amount of warm whey for some bread or bagels!  But I REALLY don’t have time to make bagels tomorrow.  Ooh, good thing I finished up the bread for breakfast this morning then!  I’ll make some fresh bread.

So, this morning I made ricotta & let it drain, then made bread dough with the whey and set it under the radiator to rise, then used half of the ricotta for a half-recipe of zucchini lasagna (I’m not fully convinced I’ll like it better there than spread on the bread, so I couldn’t bear to use it all in one go).  The lasagna is now covered with foil and waiting till 5-ish to go in the oven, the dough is still rising, and I’m taking a break!

A break means time to type up recipes!  The bread didn’t rise enough the first time I made it (just one loaf’s worth thankfully).  I think the problem was that it called for room-temp water and my kitchen is way too cold.  Since that first loaf I’ve wised up and used warm liquid like I do any other time I make bread, specifically the whey from ricotta, topped off with a little water if needed.  It got rave reviews when I made it last weekend, and I’m going to be sharing some of today’s batch as well – the whole reason bread recipes make 2 loaves is because you eat 1 loaf the first day when it’s still warm/fresh and then eat the other loaf slowly over the next week, isn’t it?

Ricotta

from Smitten Kitchen, though I looked at the below book this time too because I ran out of lemon juice last time I made this and haven’t been able to find a bottle since then

Pour a 1 liter box of milk into a heavy saucepan.  Sprinkle in about 1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt (or table salt?)  Glop in somewhere between 1/2 and 1 cup of heavy cream (if you have it. If not, it’s OK.)

Heat the milk, stirring constantly (or at least almost constantly) until it’s almost boiling.  This time I was looking really closely during short stirring breaks to try and get it just right, and I noticed the surface moving a bit though bubbles weren’t breaking the surface, so I figured that was a good place to stop.

Take the pot off the heat and pour in ONE of these acids:

6 Tablespoons white vinegar OR 3 Tablespoons lemon juice.

Give it a couple gentle stirs, and leave it to sit for 5 minutes.

Line a colander with some cheesecloth (I use a triple-layered cheesecloth, ie a longer piece that I fold twice) and put it in a bowl to catch the whey.  Check that the milk mixture looks curdled, and pour it into the cheesecloth-colander-bowl stack to drain.  (If it isn’t curdled, as happened to me once, I’m not sure what to do – maybe add more acid and see if it helps, or maybe shrug, pour it in anyway, and use what manages not to flow through as sour cream or something.)

After a short time you can pour out the whey to use for bread – by the time it’s cool enough not to kill the yeast, it will be almost finished draining.  Leave the ricotta longer to drain more if you like it really thick, but you can go ahead and use the bulk of the whey while it sits.

EverydayBread

adapted from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

In a large bowl, sprinkle 1 Tablespoon yeast over 3 1/2 cups warm whey or warm water.  Let sit for 5 min or so.  While it sits, grease 2 loaf pans.

Add the dry ingredients:

1/4 cup ground flaxseed (optional, but why wouldn’t you use it?)
7 1/4 cups of flours*
4 teaspoons kosher salt (or about 2 tsp table salt)

(* My flour mix is different each time; this time it was: 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 cup graham (whole wheat) flour, 1 3/4 cups bread flour, 4 cups all-purpose flour.)

Mix well.  That’s right, mix, but no kneading needed! Of course, you can knead it if you want to. I tend to stir it for an extra 60 seconds and call it good.  Put half into each loaf pan and spread it more or less evenly.  Cover them with a damp kitchen towel and place somewhere warm to rise until level with the top of the pans (2-5 hours or possibly longer, depending on where you leave it).

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Sprinkle loaves with a little kosher salt and put into the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Then remove the loaves from the pans, return to the oven, and bake about 15 min longer, until the crust is a nice crusty color and the loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Place on a rack to cool.

Let cool as long as you can stand it, then cut into one and enjoy it spread with nice fresh ricotta and any fruit spread you have on-hand, or melt some butter on it if you didn’t make ricotta!

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Rising bread dough – below the radiator, with an old towel draped over it to trap in heat.  My mini loaf pans fit perfectly on top of the radiator and rise like nobody’s business! but the full-sized ones go under it and rise more slowly.

 

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter January 19, 2013

Filed under: Cooking,Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 9:50 pm
Tags: , , ,

I got some awesome books for Christmas!  So far I haven’t started the biography that I was so excited to receive (Goforth of China), but I’ve read three others cover to cover and in this order:

The knitting book (A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting – tragically I don’t have any needles long enough to start a mobius loop project right away!)

The cookbook (see below)

The comic book adaptation of Exodus-Samuel (Manga: Melech, covering post-Red-Sea through David’s death and following on the heels of Manga: Mutiny, my copy of which is missing right when I’m teaching my students about Genesis!)

Yeah, this is me, the woman who not only READS cookbooks and such, but reads them FIRST.

Today I made two recipes from Jenifer Reese’s book, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What you should (and shouldn’t) cook from scratch to save time and money.  We don’t share a personality but she’s a woman after my own heart in the kitchen at least – it seemed like often her verdict was “it’s actually not simple but it’s totally worth making this from scratch.”  And often I would agree with her!  Not that I have time to make most of the things she lists from scratch, but today I threw together a no-knead bread dough she listed as everyday sandwich bread and a batch of her hot chocolate mix.

The oven is right now pre-heating for the bread to go in.  She says it “will rise at its own pace” over 2 to 5 hours; it’s been six and I’m out of patience as it has MAYBE risen a quarter inch.  This loaf’s not going to reach the top as promised!  The mystery is the cause.  Did the freezing temps in my kitchen kill the yeast?  Or was it the almond milk I decided to sub in for 1/3 of the liquid?  Those are my only guesses.  I’ll try it again next time I have whey on-had for the liquid, but I’ll be more traditional and let the yeast proof in warm-ish liquid first rather than dumping everything together cold as the recipe says. (Well, it says “room temperature,” but room temperature in a Chinese kitchen in winter is pretty cold.  But yes I had it in the house to rise, right below the radiator, so it had its chance.)

The cocoa mix performed better. It’s not nearly as good as the gourmet cocoa mix my students’ mothers gave me for my birthday last year and which I saw at the import grocery store for around $15US (the can holds about a dozen servings), but it does taste JUST like Swiss Miss.  So if you’re in love with Swiss Miss, it’s perfect.  If I were in love with Swiss Miss, I would probably try putting my next scraped-out vanilla bean pod to sit in brown rather than white sugar so that this recipe could be made without the need to add vanilla extract when you’re mixing a cup.

One other note I’d make on the recipe is that it’s not quite as easy as she lets on – who on earth would think to mix moist brown sugar into a dry mix and then put it through a sifter?  MY sifter’s holes are too small for sugar or salt to go through, so I mixed the sugar and cocoa powder in the sifter with my fingers to get them well worked together and then dumped them into the bowl and whisked in the salt at the end.  The texture did seem to be OK; time will tell if it dries in clumps or stays powdery.

Oh, and I’m thinking of opening a new bag of marshmallows and chopping them to bits then leaving them on the counter to dry for a week or two – when I got some out of the opened package in the cabinet to put into my drink and bit into one first, I almost broke a tooth!  Perfect Swiss Miss dry-and-flaky marshmallow texture.

Cocoa
from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

Make it or buy it? Make it.
Hassle: None at all (hah! says I)
Cost comparison: Swiss Miss charges about $0.38 per 1-ounce packet of cocoa (and more here in China, I might add).  One ounce of homemade cocoa costs about $0.18 (though probably also more here in China – all 4 ingredients are actually special purchases in my kitchen, though table salt and a wetter, more clumpy brown sugar are available cheaply as local purchases. The marshmallows, not officially part of the recipe, were the only thing really local in my cup!)

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt

1. Sift the ingredients into a bowl.  (Or work it together with your fingers till smooth.)  If any salt or sugar gets left in the sifter, just pour it into the cocoa mix and whisk to blend.  Keeps indefinitely in a lidded jar.
2. To make hot chocolate, use 2 tablespoons per cup of hot milk.  Stir in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Makes 2 1/2 cups mix, enough for about 20 cups of cocoa.

 

Shopping & Weekend Plans September 8, 2012

Filed under: Apartment,Cooking,Life,Shopping — missjubilee @ 10:59 am

What does one do on the weekend in a city like this? Well really the only answer I can give you is what I do. Here’s the list for today:

I need to buy yarn & needles for my students’ knitting lessons which start this week. Yay! Last time I found good starter yarn at a small shop in Tai Dong but those shops tend to move, open, and close without warning. Still, the two shops I know that have reliably NOT moved are in the farther-off Ji Mo Lu area and don’t stock the kind of yarn I’d prefer for new knitters. So I’m trying Tai Dong first and if the shops are closed/gone I will continue on to Ji Mo Lu later in my shopping trip.

Also in TD, I plan to buy fabric & stuffing to make a little pillow to go inside of the cabled pillow cover I knit this past summer.

After TD I’d like to get a wireless keyboard and mouse set down at the technology market. If I have to go to Ji Mo I’ll stop on the way since it’s between the two. My old wireless keyboard’s batteries corroded and ruined it, so I need a new set. Now that I’ve gotten a desk chair, the height of my laptop keyboard on the desk is the only thing keeping me from siting there instead of slouching on my couch for my hours of class work and other computer tasks.

Then I’ll stop at a large store. Probably I’ll ride the bus half of the way home and stop at Carrefour, but if I find yarn at TD and am too tired of shopping to get the keyboard, I’ll just shop at Walmart there. My water tower started leaking (ack!) so it’s getting replaced and I need more classroom supplies like pencils and erasers. My watch strap needs replacing, and I need groceries! So that’ll be my last, big stop and then I’ll find a cab home. Actually that’s a good reason to shop at Carrefour instead of Walmart – not only is the cab ride cheaper because, it’s also a lot easier to find a cab there!

Once home the rest of my weekend will be in that part of town. I have to wait around for an oven repairman to come fix the thermostat on my oven either this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon. I need a nap. I’d like to try my new food mill, and that’s something I can do in the kitchen for fun without getting the oven hot – I’ve got a pumpkin I can steam and then mill, to make purée for future baking! It’ll be the inaugural attempt 🙂 And I’m emailing around to see if anyone wants to get together and play a game tonight.

If the repairman comes today (I hope!) then tomorrow I can go to English Corner after fellowship & lunch. I used to go to one but it stopped and now it’s been a year or more. I’m excited to visit a new one! Then some work on lesson plans and more rest.

The bus ride to TD is half over. My 125 bus is just stopping at Carrefour. Before I got on the bus and started this post, I walked on the beach with some friends for a similar event to Greenbrier’s yearly beach visits, and had a couple spare stairwell-entrance keys made at the bus stop for my upstairs neighbor Beth (she was never given any and had to use the code to unlock the door). That about wraps up my weekend!

 

Bread, Memorization, and Other Thoughts September 1, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Life — missjubilee @ 11:18 am

I LOVE Smitten Kitchen’s pumpernickel bread. The first time, I only made it because someone gave me an imported bag of Bob’s Red Mill pumpernickel flour and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I’d never had a dark/rye bread that I liked. But I loved this bread SO much that I made it twice in a row and then decided its cute shape would be perfect for bread bowls! Back when the Southies visited from Henan over Chun Jie break a year and a half ago, I made a 2.5 batch and split it into 5 large soup bowls to rise. Home from an excursion on the town we made potato soup (from Amy Keller’s recipe) while they baked and it was PERFECTION on a frigid February day.

I’m making the meal again today, despite the heat, for friends whose preemie baby is still in the NICU – out of danger, but they’ve hardly seen or held her in the week since she was born 😦 Hopefully she can come home soon! Meanwhile I’m starting on my second bag of pumpernickel flour, and hoping a homecooked meal gives them a little spot of sunshine as they wait.

Change of gears.  I started trying to memorize Ephesians in mid-July.  I didn’t get far until my week in Mongolia had me learning almost a verse a day.  Then I got back to China and dropped it, so I still only know the first 8 verses and even then I need hints to get through them.  Meh.  But I am still determined and am trying to find a plan that will work for me.  I have a few ideas, such as: Writing the first letter of each word on the mirror in the bathroom with a dry-erase or overhead marker.  Writing those same letters for the verse of the day on my hand.  Carrying around a card with the full verse in case I forget it.  Listening to it on my audio-Bible app GoBible.  And possibly taping it, colorfully marker-written, to the ceiling above my bed.  My students set goals these last couple weeks for our 5 categories of Expected School-wide Learning Results (ESLRs) and I did too.  One of my goals is to memorize this entire book and meditate on it each day!

One of the things that makes it hard, aside from the discipline and time to DO it, is the number of repeated words and similar phrases!  Here’s a chart for those first 8 verses:

WORDS
Christ Jesus – 2x in the first verse
Jesus Christ – 1x
Lord Jesus Christ – 2x
Christ – 1x
God, God our Father, God and Father – 1x each in the first 3 verses
grace, glorious grace, riches of God’s grace – 1x each

PHRASES
“in accordance with his pleasure and will… to the praise of his glorious grace… in accordance with the riches of God’s grace… with all wisdom and understanding…” 1x each and boy is it hard to remember which to use! And the next verse I haven’t learned yet has “the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure…” Oy! If English has such a broad vocabulary how come we keep using the same words in different groupings? (perhaps because there’s a theme here, or because we’re trying not to use more obscure words in a book we want every reader to understand? I’m sure there’s a great reason.)

And one other difficulty is that I once memorized James 1, and so I start off “Paul, and apostle of God and of Christ Jesus… wait, no, that’s not right!” (it’s a mash-up of the two books’ openings), and after the opening I still, every. single. time., have to stop and think about what comes next because I know it’s not what I naturally want to say – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds…” (that’s pure James. or at least almost – I just checked and it should be “whenever” not “when”)

Anyway, memorization difficulties aside, I am SO blessed by this book.  The repetition of “grace” is SUCH an important theme.  I want to soak in the knowledge of God’s infinite grace until my heart starts to really GET it and then KEEPS it!  Growing up with the stories they are just “old hat” to me.  They didn’t inspire awe the first time I heard them, back when things were flannel-graphed and my little heart and mind were just learning what is and isn’t normal in this world, and so I didn’t realize how far from normal and how earth-shakingly shocking this grace was, and now it’s hard to see them afresh.  I long to memorize and meditate on these scriptures so that I can know more how overwhelmingly amazing his Truth is.

And one other challenge that is a constant struggle for me and leads to a waning of that longing for large chunks of the day is a lie that feels logical – that I’ll have eternity with God, but only a few decades on earth, so I need to cram in as many earthly experiences and as much earthly fun as I can while I have the chance, after all I can spend time with Him after I die (sounds like that coffee mug quip, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” – “I’ll get to know and love Jesus when I’m dead.”)  It makes a kind of sense while missing the point of life entirely.  It’s like a bride-to-be rushing around trying to travel the world, hang out with her girlfriends, do all the things she thinks will change after marriage, instead of spending time with her fiance or preparing at all for the wedding.  Or if she’s like the child in Lewis’ Miracles, spends all day eating chocolate while she can. (Lewis was responding to how we can’t imagine heaven being so great if there’s no marriage (nor sex) there – it’s like a child who hears of sex for the first time compares it to the best thing he knows, chocolate, and on hearing there’s no chocolate in sex, says “well it can’t be very good then can it?” instead of realizing no one even thinks of chocolate because they’re having too wonderful a time.)  Or like a servant, left in charge of his master’s affairs, who beats the other servants and gets drunk instead of minding his responsibilities and keeping watch.

How do I clear up this mistaken belief? Dwelling on Ephesians is a good idea!  Constantly putting before my mind truths from scripture, and books that rest on scripture such as a devotional I’m slowly working my way through by John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.  He quotes tons of verses in each short chapter (of which there are 31), and it’s SO encouraging and kind of like taking the bent, drooping plant of my beliefs after a long day and giving it water to fill the vacuoles (which is what makes a plant non-droopy), and moving it over to lean against the support post that it had been pushed away from, setting it back straight and true and facing the sun.  My words aren’t coming as clearly as I’d like in that last illustration, but hopefully you can see what I mean.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at today.  Back to baking at the end here, I also made bagel dough last night – it’s one of the most uneven processes, SO fast to make the dough yet SO much ma fan to make the bagels the next morning – so I need to go liberate it from the fridge and get that long process started!!