Tag Archives: recipe

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.

Advertisements

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

Sweet Potato Casserole

I love sweet potatoes. I think I’ve mentioned this before (sweet potato and squash bake, sweet potato pie, bean and sweet potato soup, spiced sweet potato oven fries). We buy them whenever we visit Vientiane in the fall or winter because the sweet potatoes there are fatter and better.

I made this casserole for Thanksgiving. Isn’t it funny how such a sweet dish is considered a side dish? People even put marshmallows on it and still don’t call it a dessert! You can find the recipe here.

When it says “cooked and mashed sweet potatoes” I recommend boiling the sweet potatoes instead of baking them because they’ll be more moist. Of course, bake them when you cook the casserole, but boil the sweet potatoes before mixing everything together. Also, this recipe is very sweet – you could probably reduce the amount of sugar. If you don’t have pecans, you could probably leave them out and it would still taste great.

You may have thought I was a vegetarian . . .

. . . but a few weeks ago we bought a cow with 2 other families and had it butchered. This was an all day project, but still a fun thing to be a part of. We can buy meat by the kilo at the market, but it’s not very appetizing because the meat just sits out on tables outside all day. If you want to get fresh meat, you have to go early in the morning, which I never feel like doing. Even if I did go early, I just don’t know if I trust that meat. So we don’t eat a lot of meat, which may have caused some of you to think I’m a vegetarian. Really I’m a former vegetarian who is lazy and inexperienced with meat.

Here’s how the day went:

Early in the morning, James and a friend went to get the cow. It was raised pretty well. Most cows here graze on whatever they can find, which isn’t much this time of year. They’re organic and grass fed, but they could be fed more . . . Our cow was actually fed and it was young, so it’s meat wasn’t so tough.

We hired a butcher to come butcher the cow, which he did very well and humanely. Then James sold the parts we didn’t want (head, guts, etc . . .) to a neighbor while a friend split the beef into types of cut. Then the kitchen crew (including me) weighed, cut, ground, and packaged the meat. I was really grossed out at the beginning of this part, but I’m proud to say I managed.

That evening we ate smoked ribs at one of the other family’s homes. They even made a meat smoker contraption! I made a barbecue sauce for the ribs that turned out really well. I had never made barbecue sauce before, but I’m always up for a cooking challenge. The sauce was good, but probably not worth the effort if you’re in the U.S., where you could just order Gates sauce from Kansas City or Rudy’s sauce from Austin, Texas. I’m sure there are good bbq sauces available at grocery stores too, I just don’t know what they’re called.

The next day I made broth from the beef scraps and bones. I learned that the longer you simmer the bones in the broth, the more goodness you get out of them – good flavor, texture, and nutrients. I simmered the broth for about 15 hours with onion, carrots, and some spices.

After you make broth, you’re supposed to let it cool so that the fat solidifies on the top and can be removed. I saved this fat, melted it, strained it, and simmered it until the water was all removed in order to make tallow. I don’t know much about using tallow, but I do know that it makes a great pie crust for chicken pot pie!

So, for the next few months, I will probably be posting a lot of recipes including beef and beef broth. I hope my vegetarian readers won’t mind. Don’ worry, there will still be vegetarian recipes in the future. 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.

Continue reading

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.