Licorice Spice Tea

Stash licorice spice herbal tea

This is my favorite herbal tea. I don’t get it often in Laos, so I was so happy when my friend Tiffany shared some bulk licorice root with me.  I looked on the back of this tea bag for the ingredients and used some of the same ingredients to create the following tea recipe. It tastes very close to the Stash version. The great thing about licorice root is that it adds a sweet taste without adding sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 T dried licorice root
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 inches of cinnamon stick

Add 4 cups of water and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Drink some, add more water, and continue simmering for the whole evening. It will make your house smell great.

Monthly Rice Field Photo #3 – January

photo taken January 12, 2011

So, the field looks about the same as it did last month except that there’s a burned patch in the back right. That burning was intentional, don’t worry. The cows are still grazing in the harvested rice fields. I’m surprised there’s anything left to eat!

Ramen Noodles in Beef Broth

This is my first beef related recipe since we had a cow butchered! You can read more about that experience here.

Don’t skip past this post just because you think people who care about good food and health don’t eat ramen. They do! Before moving to Laos, I thought ramen noodles were sort of a lazy junk food for college students. Actually that’s not true, my mom used to serve them without the liquid as a side dish and I always loved them.

Anyway, ramen can be more than junk food. The best ramen I’ve ever eaten was from a ramen restaurant in a Japanese neighborhood of Bangkok. The noodles were handmade and served in a beef broth with leafy greens and tempura shrimp. It isn’t fancy Japanese food, but it’s real food and a good ramen shop should be appreciated.

In Laos, noodles are very popular, but the noodle shops usually specialize in straight rice noodles rather than wavy ramen noodles made of wheat. But, you can buy dry ramen packets at almost any convenience store and people do. Many Lao people usually eat ramen in a healthier way than Americans do. They cook it the same way, but at the end they pile on green vegetables – cilantro, green onions, celery leaves, Thai basil . . . They might also include tomato and a cooked egg or some meat.   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

Poinsettias

I love that poinsettias are in bloom at Christmas here. No one intended for them to be Christmas decorations, but they are.

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.