To kick off 2013 (Happy New Year BTW), we headed just outside of Haikou proper to another Haikou zoo yesterday (map). As I’ve said before, I’m always apprehensive about going to Chinese zoos, as they are virtually without exception terribly organized and maintained. The Haikou zoo downtown is a spot-on example of this — if …
I’m still getting my feet wet with home-made bread making, but am quickly falling in love. After experimenting with a couple ways of preparation, I think I’ve gotten down the method I like the most. Due to my affinity to a lot of Jamie Oliver’s cooking methods/recipes, it may be no surprise that it’s from him that I pull the following recipe (with a few minor changes for my preference).
This is a basic/plain recipe that can (and should!) be used as a starting point — it takes a couple hours all said, but actual time in the kitchen “making” the bread is only 20 minutes or so. It makes a decent plain white bread loaf by itself, but can be taken in an infinite number of directions. As you can see from my picture, the loaf on the left is a plain white bread, while the one on the right is a cinnamon and raisin loaf — both made from the same base whack of dough.
Watched Upside Down last night. I can’t go so far as to say it’s a terrible movie, but it’s a nearly terrible movie. I’m disappointed, as it has so much that I thought I would like. Sturgess, Dunst, and the always enjoyable (but terribly under-utilized) Timothy Spall; sadly none could save this film. It’s shot …
Despite it essentially being an over-confident toaster, the oven has allowed me to expand what I can make here at home considerably. Home-cooking and baking has always been a bit of a novelty to me; but living in China, with its limited access to things we take for granted back in Canada, it opens up a world of food that is otherwise cut off by the cultural and geographical divide.
One such item that has not found its way into Chinese bakeries is the bagel. Oh, what I would give to be able to go down to the supermarket and grab a 6-pack of everything bagels and a pack of cream cheese to smother them with. A breakfast bagel is always my first morning meal when I go home for a visit, and has been a constant point of disappointment for me here upon ordering ring-shaped bread in hopes that it actually is “a bagel” as the Chinese label professes.
But no more — yesterday I decided to try my hand at these dense doughy delights and they turned out quite well. What always surprises me is just how easy it is to make these types of things at home. Sure, it’s not as easy as laying down $3 at a supermarket, but the supermarket doesn’t leave you with an incredible sense of accomplishment, nor a home filled with the smell of fresh-baked bread. And so…
The other night I came into the living room, and the wife was watching the evening news. The segment ended, and what proceeded was proof that the whole Gangnam Style meme had most definitely jumped the shark.
In an attempt to cash in on what is quickly becoming this decade’s “Macarena”, the broadcaster somehow managed to convince (it is China, land of a million KTVs, so maybe not “convinced” so much as just “asked”) their staff to partake in what surely someone at some point explained was a “viral ad campaign” — Haikou news style.
Like a Haikou autumn, it was a hot wet mess.
The following three videos are a series put together by Farmrun, a creative studio that is working to capture the “burgeoning agrarian renaissance by producing beautiful media for agricultural enterprises and organizations.” Teamed up with Farmstead Meatsmith, a traditional animal processor, they’ve produced On the Anatomy of Thrift.
If you are squeamish about an animal being butchered for food, you may not want to watch. If you eat meat and are not able to watch (let alone do) this, it may be worth considering the more philosophical side of the modern disconnect between our food and the place it comes from. Not judging, just saying. The videos are fun, informative and done well.
On The Anatomy Of Thrift: Side Butchery
(more vids after the jump)
I’m embarrassed to say that after living in Haikou for a year and a half, it was only this past weekend that we finally got out of the city and explored a bit more of Hainan. I could blame a lot of things for the lax attitude about travelling around the island, but as this weekend proved, I simply need to try harder — the rewards are great.
It was all on a bit of a whim that Friday afternoon Maggie and I decided we should go somewhere before the rush of Mainland tourists descend on Hainan for the joint Mid-Autumn Festival/National Holiday kicking off later this week. We opted to test the waters, so to speak, by sticking somewhat close to home, and head to the next city down the high-speed rail line: Wenchang.
Wenchang is famous for two things — a good source of brides for early 20th Century Chinese power elites, and fatty, under-cooked chicken. So, admittedly, on paper — not the most attractive travel destination.
But it’s only an hour by bus (half-hour by high-speed train) from Haikou, and if you’re willing to get out of Wenchang a bit, it has its rewards.
Two and a half months since updating my blog, it’s fair to say I’m in a bit of a blogging drought. It’s not that lots hasn’t happened since mid-April (there was a trip home to Canada, Casey’s 2nd birthday, and a few other things), I’ve just been in a bit of a funk to sit down and blog about it. To be perfectly honest, between Facebook, Twitter, Google+, my other sites Hao Hao Report and Lost Laowai, Flickr, and most recently Pinterest, I’m a bit shared out by the time I get to my personal blog.
However, I’ve been meaning to jot down some notes about my semi-recent foray into the wonderful world of home-made sausage making. As many of this blog no-doubt know, living in China affords one few choices when it comes to sausage. Unless you are in a big enough city that has access to a decent import foods store, you’re going to be limited to the pre-cooked/packaged monsters that are 90% starch filler. Anything that optionally comes in “corn” flavour isn’t a sausage in my books.
So, back at the end of March I got it in my head that I wanted to try my hand at making sausage. A few searches on Google and Youtube netted me the confidence I needed, and a trip to Taobao found me an inexpensive meat grinder ($30) and some hog casings (intestines, about $2). Even after all these years of buying stuff off Taobao, I was a bit surprised to find casings on there. They came from a company in Haerbin, up in China’s far north eastern Heilongjiang province (well-known for its sausage making). They are preserved in salt, and simply need to be soaked for a few hours before use.
My first two batches of sausages (one pork and one chicken) turned out alright, but not fantastic. Both were a bit dry, which for the chicken was a bit expected (as I didn’t add any additional fat), and for the pork was a lesson learned — more on that in a minute.
Chinese supermarkets are no stranger to pickles. In fact, it was only after moving to China that I really examined the term “pickle” and realized it doesn’t always mean “pickled cucumber”, as I had erroneously grown up thinking. However, getting your standard jar of crunchy dills can be a bit of a challenge. Supermarkets usually only carry one or two kinds of pickles and they tend to be both expensive and not to my tastes.
So, when a friend in Dalian mentioned he was making some Bread & Butter pickles, it got me curious about making my own. One problem — no cucumbers. What I did have, however, was a zuchinni hanging out in the fridge that was eager to be put to use. I had briefly read somewhere that zucchini can be pickled similar to cucumbers, and so decided to give it a shot.
To be honest, my expectations were quite low that things would turn out very good. As such, I was a bit half-assed with the recipe, eye-balling most things. The results were pleasantly surprising though, so as best I remember, here’s what I did:
With the countless number of days (and nights) I spent callousing my thumbs in the company of various NES RPGs, this is hands-down my favourite Google April Fools yet.