31 August 2010

By the way...

By the way, I will not be updating until... the 7th. Perhaps.
I have placement tests and orientation...
Sorry :(

Tea Mooncakes.

Since I'm leaving to college, my grandpa is returning back home, and my dad is going on a business trip by the time the Moon Festival comes around this year, we decided to celebrate it early. We had this huge family conversation thing, which actually sounded very laudatory and respectful, and, I suppose, was truthfully a "family" moment. We sat there talking for 40 minutes. Well, actually, my grandpa did most of the talking, and for someone from a completely different generation, he actually has similar values and beliefs as I do, concerning health, family, and being social. He literally said that there are friends, and then there are fake friends, which I find to be one of the most important pieces of advice ever. My sister didn't listen though... as soon as my grandpa started speaking, she ran away from the table, turned up moments later with neon green earplugs in her ears, and then ran off to mope about how we weren't paying her any attention.
So, my mum had bought these tea mooncakes at a hitched up price just for this, but they were really awesome since they were TEA flavoured! There were 6 different flavours, and they all ranged from sweet to bitter-sweet. They were extremely flavourful, and some were even textured with lotus seed pieces. My sister cut them all up into quarters :) The pastry was normal mooncake pastry, except that the flavours were stamped on top instead of a proverb or a company name. Unfortunately, my Chinese reading skills are quite terrible.
Oh, this is embarrassing. I forgot the name of this one... li[4] zhi[1]? It was mainly sweet, with a nice crunch from the lotus seeds [I think?] It actually tasted quite authentic.
Oolong tea; this one had a nice bitter note to it, and was, in my opinion, the most "tea"-like mooncake in the box.
Jujube berry. I'm not really sure if there is a jujube berry tea, but this one basically tasted like mashed jujube berries with lotus paste. It was very textured, and reminded me of the cherry Larabar, although this had no nuts and had no aftertaste. It was also very rich.
Jasmine tea; mild flavour, easily mixed up with the green tea. Actually, it tasted very similar to the green tea one, but that may just be confirmation bias since they are both green.
Pomelo flavoured; again, I'm not sure if this was supposed to be pomelo "tea" flavoured. This one had a nice texture due to the fact that there were chopped up lotus seeds inside. I couldn't really taste any pomelo though; it was basically a regular mooncake, in my opinion.
Green tea. I was a bit disappointed with this one since I love green tea, but this was way too sweet to be legitimate green tea. Actually, maybe the green tea flavour just didn't pull through, due to the sugar in the lotus paste...

30 August 2010


UPDATE: Here is another picture. It is still rather mixed up and the layers are a bit hard to see. There were three layers...
I am exhausted from packing and studying chem and blah. I don't even know how I had the brain capacity to drag myself into the kitchen this morning and make lasagne.
Vegetable lasagne with cucumber, carrot, onion [lots!], and red bell pepper. We unfortunately didn't have any spinach...
I added some couscous for texture variation, and breadcrumbs on top, even though they turned out too soggy because I put way too much sauce on top, instead of just leaving it cheesy...

We didn't have shredded cheese... so I used the handy pre-sliced cheese! There were swiss, cheddar and monterey jack slices.
Apparently the lasagne sheets could make two pans of lasagne... which was a lot more than I had expected. All I wanted to do was use up the box of sheets since no one else knows or wants to cook lasagne in this house, so I had to get it done before I go to college. Actually, I've been wanting to make lasagne for ages but I never remembered. Or felt like it.
MORE CHEESE! This was before I started dumping bread crumbs on top. In retrospect, the lasagne lacked enough cheese. Next time, I will literally smother the top with cheese, so that it looks more like a cuboidal cheese wheel than a lasagne.
Lasagne after baking, before the lasagne noodles had a chance to soak in all the sauce.
Same pan of lasagne; I never got around to taking a picture of the other pan... I got busy with studying... so tomorrow I'll upload some more pictures.
Also, I learned that DRY PLAIN LASAGNE NOODLES DO COOK IN THE OVEN. Honestly, precooking them is definitely unnecessary [Good thing I didn't precook them.] A simple 40 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees F solves everything. Especially if you feel like leaving the lasagne in the oven for another 10 minutes.
After taking the lasagne out, it is definitely necessary to wait for approximately 20 minutes for the lasagne noodles to sponge up the watery sauce that was emitted by the tomato sauce and vegetables. I didn't wait... and ended up with lasagne soup for the first serving. Above and below are the images of the non-soaked-lasagne noodles. I never got around to taking a picture of the lasagne after "actually" done, though. Tomorrow... I shall post them. However, later on I was looking at the lasagne and the sauce/cheese/noodle ratio wasn't defined clearly :( However... this isn't terrible since this is the second time I've made lasagne in my life. I should definitely make it more often.

29 August 2010

Melon Tapioca!

My mum has wanted to try this ever since we made tapioca that first time. She read that blending tapioca with melon makes a delicious drink.
She is correct.
It's like bubble tea; however, not only is there a lack of "tea" in the bubble tea, but there are also TWO TAPIOCAS!
Yes - mini tapioca beads PLUS big tapioca balls. YAY!
Plus, there is no added sugar, and the melon adds even more texture to it. Unfortunately, it's not very photogenic.

28 August 2010

More Fries...

This is partly why I don't like to travel with my family. We went to the Jersey Gardens Mall for the first time today. It was okay. Same old, same old.
And at dinnertime, they all got fries. Seriously. Without knowing that they had all bought fries.
They also didn't finish the fries, even though I ate some. Three different types of fries! This was like fry-tasting! The top ones are from Burger King. They were crispy and bland. The second ones were more diner-like, with the potato skins still intact. The ones from the "fish and chip" store, Nathan's, was really potatoey. They weren't crunchy enough in my opinion... but they were shaped cool, which means that they were definitely made in a factory. There also was some weird corn-flour-bready-thingy that neither my brother nor I could identify. It was like some mystery meat meatball, except that it was some savoury carb thing instead. The coleslaw was icky. I mean, in my mind, coleslaw is always at least six vegetables with a bit of dressing. Not 90% dressing with pieces of old carrot and cabbage...
The tartar sauce, however, was amazingly zingy and I have never had such tangy tartar sauce before. I do not know what made it so savourrryyyyy.
Well. That was fatty. :(

27 August 2010

Bubble Milk!

Known as bubble tea, pearl milk tea, or chewy-tapioca-balls-with-tea, this drink is ubiquitous in any Chinatown in the U.S. However, they usually cost from $2.50 to $5 [or more], and one rarely obtains enough tapioca in the tea to fulfill one's sticky tapioca craving.

Well, at least, for me, I always end up consuming all the tapioca balls before half the tea is done. Usually, there is also a ton of ice which acts as a filler. Although I love the fact that there are so many exotic flavours [taro, coconut, various flowers, etc.] at bubble tea specialty stores, it's also pretty awesome making my own, sans too much sugar to give me a headache.

At Kamman, we bought some tapioca balls [labelled as "starch balls"] for $1.69. My mum stuck them on the stove today for an hour or so, with a ton of water, and now we have plenty of tapioca balls for me to put into milk, decaf coffee, tea, grape juice... etc.
I just made some bubble milk, and half the volume of my mug was filled with tapioca. I'm happy.

26 August 2010

Why Follow?

Why follow the instructions on the package?
Do you ever follow the recipe on the can of sweetened condensed milk? No! The one on the plastic wrapper that envelopes chocolate chips? No! The one on the back of cake mix?
W-WAIT! Of course you follow the one on the back of cake mix, or cookie mix, or pudding mix... there just is NO other way to use up that powdery stuff! You MUST add three medium sized [yes, medium] eggs, one stick of butter, and half a cup of water. Otherwise, the cake will cease to ever exist! It will blow up the oven, or stick to the spoon, or end human intelligence [not that THAT would be a huge deal, since it happens if you DO follow the recipe down to the millimole]!

However, since this household lacks butter, I decided to make this gluten-free cake mix that my mum bought [I don't know why, since she knows that I rarely use mix, let alone gluten-free cake mix] using my brainpower.
Also, I didn't want to use the oven because it would waste a lot of energy.
All I did was add two eggs and some water. In other words, this cake is pretty much "fat-free". Then I microwaved a bowl of it, for about 148 seconds.

And... it tasted like plain store-bought-cake-mix chocolate sponge cake. Without the burnt parts, and the wasted oven heat.
You don't see cakes in bowls much.
This is technically the 27th, but I microwaved my first cake on the 26th.

25 August 2010

Quinoa Porridge [Sort Of]!

I think I'm going crazy. I am obsessed with grainy porridges. E.g. rice pudding, oat bran porridge, oatmeal, etc. The list goes on. Anything with carbs, really.
Today I decided to make quinoa porridge, which is quite a deviation from the norm since quinoa isn't really used in making sweet dishes [I think?]; it's usually used for salads or stir fries or soups or something savoury. Now I know why quinoa isn't used for porridge. It doesn't soften or get mushy or gluey, so it doesn't make a very gooey porridge.
I also added way too much honey [two teaspoons for about 3 cups of quinoa seemed pretty reasonable, but I guess I was wrong]. Actually, I think that the extra raisins also made the porridge super sweet. I doubt there will be a "next time", but if there were, I would definitely just cut out adding honey, since the raisins suffice in rendering the porridge to taste like some sort of textured candy.

24 August 2010

Eight Treasures Rice

I love rice pudding. With raisins, with cinnamon, with milk, or just plain... I love the gooey yet chewy texture. My mum today made some ba[1] bao[3] fan[4], which translates literally to "eight treasures rice". It's basically glutinous rice, another type of rice, kidney beans, mung beans, peanuts, lotus seeds, jujube berries, black beans, and there may be a few other ingredients [but it's okay, because I've already named 8 of them!]
Although I'm not really going to miss eating Chinese food every single day, I AM going to miss my mum's cooking.

With milk! Sans sugar.

23 August 2010

Soy Butter

When we were in Weymouth, MA, I bought some soy nut butter because it was on sale. It was $1.43 for 425g, and this was only because its sell-by date was in two months. I, however, consume nut butters at a rate greater than 212.5 grams/month. Actually, I long to consume a jar of peanut butter within 24 hours, but I think that might kill me, or I might end up regretting it after going through seven rounds of liposuction. Anyway.
If I had to choose, I would always choose peanut butter over any other nut butter [okay, soybeans are legumes... not nuts...so it's technically out of the count. So, let's just say, out of all butters, I'd pick peanut butter]. However, the past few days, I have been utterly obsessed with this crunchy soy butter. Jar appearances aside, this stuff. Is. Creamy. With a nice random crunch, once in a while. Unlike crunchy peanut butter [which I haven't had in at least five years], the crunchy soy parts do not get stuck in my teeth, and nor do they make the butter hard to spread. It's a win-win situation! It's quite neutral tasting, so even people who don't like toasted soy beans will probably enjoy this, although it does not in any way taste like peanut butter. The jar is actually kinda cheesy in both appearance and company name/logo [haha... I.M. Healthy...]. It is not completely healthy though, in my perspective, since there are 15 grams of fat per serving. "Good" fat, yes, but "bad" in the sense that it's, well, fat. As a vegetarian, 90% or more of my fat comes from the monounsaturated or polyunsaturated variety, yet I am not skinny. So, it really depends on how MUCH one consumes. In which case I lose. Every day. So, they should instead name themselves SoyJoy, if that name hadn't already been taken by a granola bar company. This is literally Soy Joy.
The last time I tried soy butter was the creamy one from Trader Joe's... two years ago. It didn't leave that much of an impression on me, and I preferred almond butter to it [Have you noticed how THICK and CREAMY almond butter is? It is literally the densest [read: oiliest] butter out there.

So, this is a completely biased and laudatory post, but I do blog about what I consume, and I basically have been chugging through the jar the past week or so.

22 August 2010

Coffee Ice [or...Granita?]

I'm technically not supposed to have much caffeinated stuff anymore due to the fact that it apparently interferes with methimazole efficacy, but this was made with decaf coffee [so, it has 2% of the caffeine it otherwise would have] which means that it probably has the same caffeine power [if not less] as some chocolate. I started off with coffee, fat free milk, some honey, and some saccharin. I froze it for an hour, and it looked like the image above.
An hour later, a layer of ice had formed on the inside sides of the plastic container, but the centre was still liquidy [or, slushy, after I mixed it]. The whole point of making this is to chop up the ice crystals every hour or so. I actually should've used a shallow container, since it was more difficult to reach the bottom parts which were frozen.
In total, six hours later, this is what I ended up with. Granules of frozen coffee and milk! The volume had [evidently, due to not only the lattice structure of ice, but also to the air between each crystal] increased to... about 157% its original liquidy volume.
I'm not sure whether this is "Italian Ice", "ice" or "granita". When I was younger, my brother and I used to make watermelon granita, which I recall included 150g of caster sugar dissolved in water, a lot of watermelon juice, and lemon juice. It was made in the same way as this, and did NOT taste like artificial watermelon flavour. It used to be such a big deal! Today, I felt like making this since it's too humid to drink hot coffee [even though it was pouring with rain all afternoon] and I felt like this would be yummy. Before freezing, the slurry tasted like normal sweet coffee with way too much milk [I tend to like coffee without milk]. After freezing, I feel as though it tastes even more watery than originally... which means that next time, I have to brew super-strong coffee. This is saying something, since I generally make really strong coffee. However, it isn't super sweet, which is great. I'm just worried that it's going to freeze into one huge mass by tomorrow morning, since I probably didn't add enough sweeteners to keep the ice not-that-frozen, since adding sweeteners means that the freezing point of the solution increases, which means that, in theory, the granita would freeze at a higher temperature [because the sweetener molecules prevent the water molecules from bonding to each other as efficiently].

21 August 2010

A Mangoes Into A Bar...

As I was chauffeuring the food from the car into the kitchen, I realised that "mangoes" is actually "man goes".
Even though I've never found the "a *insert something* goes into the bar and..." jokes hilarious [or even remotely amusing], I figured "A mangoes into a bar..." to be pretty chill since a "bar" can mean a granola bar. Or an ice cream bar.
This actually reminds me of this granola bar wrapper that KT had one day during Study. It was an apple cereal bar and it said "An apple walks into a bar..." in the literal sense.
However, my version is cooler since "mangoes" has a double meaning :D
And my blog welcomes puns. :) I'm actually submitting this to www.somuchpun.com and hopefully it gets displayed.

I made those mango granola bars in May 2009, before I had this blog. They were the first and only time I had made granola bars, and they actually turned out better than the Nature Valley trail mix bars. Just saying :P

20 August 2010

Samurai Sushi

I lacked a camera.
My mum took both my camera and phone to NYC today, so I couldn't take pictures of the food that I consumed. I can, however, describe the sushi with such utter detail that your keyboard will break down due to drool.

Or not, since it wasn't that big of a deal. The only reason we went to Samurai Sushi for dinner is that my sister wanted to eat sushi rice. Oh, and I suppose, also that my dad thinks that cooking is for females.

So, my sister consumed maybe 50ml of Sprite, two pieces of raw salmon, half a piece of another fish, too much soy sauce, and half a bowl of rice. My dad got this plate of sashimi, which came with some miso soup and some salad with ginger dressing. I distinctly remember there being one cherry tomato in the salad, last time. And the time before that. And the time before that. I suppose the staff decided that tomatoes aren't important to their restaurant menu, since the only thing WITH cherry tomatoes was the salad. I suppose this is a wise choice, even though I now have an empty space in my expandable stomach, shaped just like a cherry tomato.

Since I don't consume fish, I got this vegetable sushi. It was a lot of pieces of pickled radish [which I don't really like], pickled carrot [eh, okay], raw sprouts [not enough], raw cucumber [awesome!] and one piece of avocado, wrapped in rice and a piece of nori. I was pretty devastated [okay, overstatement] by the fact that there was only one piece of avocado in each piece of sushi [there were 5 pieces of sushi]. I LOVE AVOCADO! Why give me two pieces of pickled radish per piece of sushi, yet only leave me one meagre chunk of avocado?

The raw sprouts were cool, though, since my mum has never let me eat sprouts raw before. Actually, she never used to let me eat peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, or spinach raw, until I read recipe books and realised that these plants aren't toxic fresh out of the earth.
In conclusion, I lacked a lot of protein in this meal. I think that I should invent gluten/soy salmon sashimi substitute, although I personally don't miss the taste of fish anymore... [but this may be a different story in HK].

19 August 2010

Penn Frosh Dinner!"

Today at 6:30pm, the UPenn alumni club made a Class of 2014 picnic thing. During the picnic, we all introduced ourselves and said "one interesting thing" about ourselves. I totally could've said that I'm a runner... I like pie... I'm a vegetarian... I like stale cornflakes?
Instead, I said that I blog about food, which is why I was waving my phone around, taking pictures of my food [I honestly felt awkward doing it this time]... although the quality is compromised, my phone camera is the most useful function on my phone [oh the irony.] and it deserves a ton of credit.
I wasn't too fond of the pasta, which was very oily, although I liked the olives and sun-dried tomatoes, and the fact that there was no salami pieces or anything inside. In fact, I was surprised at the lack of animal pieces in this picnic/dinner. There were platters of wraps, including tuna, cow, and pig pieces wraps... and there was also plain vegetable wraps! In fact, they were really good wraps; the eggplant in it was nicely grilled, with some balsamic marinade which didn't taste too strong [I don't really like strong balsamic flavoured stuff] and the green flatbread was quite textured [and also toasted]. It lacked the empty-carby-taste that comes with so many white breads and it was definitely not stale.The salad was basically lettuce with some sharp cheese and croutons, which were nicely toasted although quite oily.
We also had these mini waxy chocolate candies that were basically dots of waxy [read: not chocolate, but chocolate FLAVOURED] candy coated in some crunchy candy shell. For some reason, I could taste a peanutty flavour, but that could totally be my imagination. Note the colour choices in this whole picnic/dinner.
A chocolate chip cookie.
And... that's a wrap for today :P