Category Archives: vegetarian

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.

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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

Huevos Rancheros

When I lived in New Mexico, this was one of my favorite things to order. They made it with a sauce of green chilies on top instead of a tomato salsa, but it’s pretty much the same otherwise. This is a really fast meal if you use pre-made salsa and tortillas, but it’s a special meal for us because we make both of those from scratch. I think the next time I make huevos rancheros I’ll double the salsa recipe so that I have leftover salsa to use on other things. Continue reading

English Muffins

Making English muffins reminded me of one reason I love baking so much – it seems magical. Isn’t it amazing how the many things can be made with flour, yeast, water, milk, salt, sugar, and butter? I have been wanting to, but putting off trying to bake English muffins for at least 6 months. For some reason I thought it would be difficult. It wasn’t really. It’s a lot like making a loaf of bread, but the main difference is that English muffins are cooked on the stove. Actually, this recipe is very similar to an Indian naan recipe I use. 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).

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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.

Apple Pie With Fresh Ginger

I made this apple pie for Thanksgiving, but it would be good for Christmas too. I just took a standard apple pie recipe and substituted fresh ginger for the dry ground ginger. When you substitute fresh ginger for dry, you need to use more because fresh ginger isn’t as concentrated. This recipe at Allrecipes.com calls for 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger, but I used 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger. Actually, I think I should have only used 1/2 a tablespoon. Continue reading