Category Archives: snacks

Horchata – Mexican Rice and Almond Drink

Mexico has a great tradition of sweet refreshing drinks. My favorites are horchata, tamarindo, and jamaica “ha-mike-ah”. This was my first time making horchata and it turned out well. I’ll probably do it again, but I might cut back on the almonds because they’re hard to get and this recipe takes a lot of them. I also really didn’t enjoy blanching and peeling almonds by hand. Definitely buy blanched almonds if you have the option.

There’s a wide variety of horchata recipes, but you can find the one I used at the Homesick Texan blog. I liked this recipe because it doesn’t use powdered cinnamon or milk. Powdered cinnamon tends to float on top of liquids and adding milk to horchata just doesn’t seem authentic.

Advertisements

How I Make Yogurt

There are many ways to make yogurt. Some people use yogurt machines, some people don’t. I’ve heard that some Vietnamese people make yogurt out of sweetened condensed milk. The yogurt at my favorite Indian place tastes like they steep onions in it. You can buy a powdered yogurt starter, or you can use plain yogurt as a starter. Greek yogurt is made from high fat milk and then strained.

I prefer to make yogurt with the help of a yogurt maker. The most important thing about making yogurt is getting the temperatures right. You need the milk to be the right temperature when you combine it with the yogurt starter and you need to maintain the right temperature for the 7 hours that the yogurt cultures are growing in the milk. This second part was very difficult for me before I got a yogurt maker. Our house is not insulated, has drafty windows and doesn’t have heating or air conditioning. So the inside of our house can be anywhere from 50F in the winter to 90F in the summer. That’s why I really like having a machine that keeps the yogurt at the right temperature for as many hours as I want. Continue reading

Peppernuts, Pfeffernusse, Pepernoten

Peppernuts are my husband’s favorite Christmas cookie, but I did not grow up with them since I’m neither Dutch, German, or Mennonite. This recipes is different from most peppernut recipes in that it has more of some of the spices and it includes fresh ginger. The fresh ginger comes from living in places where it’s easier to find fresh ginger than dry.

The good thing about peppernuts is that they’re very flavorful and good for munching. They are sort of a strange cookie though. They’re supposed to be hard and crunchy like nuts (hence the name). They have lots of black pepper in them.

James’ family recipe for them isn’t specific about the amount of flour to use, so you have to know when the dough “looks right”. That’s the part that I’m bad at. I expect recipes to have actually quantities of ingredients and I didn’t know what peppernut dough was supposed to look like. So I would just dump all the flour in and end up with a dough that was impossible to roll into snakes (like the original recipes says to do).

Continue reading

Gingerbread Men

This is probably my favorite Christmas cookie, although I also like molasses cookies. It’s not a coincidence that both of them involve a lot of molasses. I got the recipe for this cookie from Real Simple. I like this recipe because it makes a lot of cookies. Molasses is hard to find here, but you can get it in Vientiane. I also recently heard that there’s a liquid version of nam oi (solid raw cane sugar) sold at the market in town, but I haven’t looked for it yet. If you want to substitute fresh ginger for ground, you can, but be sure to use more of it since it’s not as concentrated.

I decorated the cookies with royal icing which is good for gingerbread cookies because it dries hard. The recipe says not to eat royal icing because of the raw egg whites, but I don’t think egg whites are a problem.

Cranberry Salsa Cheese Spread

This is a special appetizer that my dad makes for Thanksgiving every year. He first learned it from his brother, my Uncle John, and then reinvented the recipe at home. So, this is a very Thanksgiving dish for us, but you could make it for Christmas too.

I do think the fresh cranberries taste better than using cranberry sauce, but it’s still pretty good the way I make it here. Isn’t it funny that the North American version has pineapple and the Asian version doesn’t? That’s because we don’t have canned pineapple and pineapple season is in the summer.

Hello to my family celebrating Thanksgiving in Kansas City! I hope you ate some of this cranberry cheese spread too. Miss you guys.

Continue reading

Spiced Sweet Potato Oven Fries

I enjoy sweet potatoes in almost any form and here’s another great way to cook them! I love the flavor and texture of these fries. You can get the recipe at the Simple Recipes blog. It’s a flexible recipe where you can choose which spices and what kind of oil you want to use.

I seasoned my oven fries with:

  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 2 T paprika
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T sugar

Yummy! I think I’ll try spicing them with garam masala next time.