Tag Archives: cinnamon

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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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.

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

Apple Butter

I made an apple pie for Thanksgiving and had some leftover apples, so I made apple butter. It’s so yummy on toast or pancakes. I based my recipe on this one from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. The main differences are the size of the batch, the way the puree is made, and also I didn’t can my apple butter. You definitely could though. Since I made such a small batch, it wasn’t worth it to me. If you do want to can your apple butter, just follow the instructions on the webpage I linked to above. I didn’t have apple cider or apple cider vinegar, but I imagine using them could only make your apple butter more full of apple flavor!

Apple butter should be thick like this when it's finished cooking.

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Molasses Cookies

This is one of my favorite cookie recipes because it’s easy, soft and chewy, and because I love molasses. If molasses was easier to get in Laos, I would make these cookies a lot more often. You can sometimes find it at Phimphone in Vientiane. If you don’t have ground ginger you can use raw ginger instead. Just make sure it’s very finely grated or pounded in a mortar and pestle.

You can find the recipe at Allrecipes.com. I don’t need to edit this one – it’s good already.