I’m so proud to announce the beautiful illustrated version of my latest cookbook, Roz Weitzman’s World of Chinese Comfort Food. Every recipe photo has been wonderfully hand-drawn and illustrated by my talented Illustrator, Nancy Szostak.
All the same book of 70 Chinese Comfort Food recipes but with illustrations instead of photos.
Please take a moment to have a look at the ebook at the Lulu website and even write a brief review.
If you try any of these recipes, I would love to have your feedback in my Comment Box:
- Copper pot rice April 19, 2013
- Yunnan-style Hongshaorou March 19, 2013
- Mint and green onions February 27, 2013
- Yunnan-style red beans and shiitakes January 29, 2013
- Yunnan-style tomato salad December 24, 2012
- Shredded chicken with chili sauce November 29, 2012
- Spicy taro and greens November 11, 2012
- Yunnan-style pork and egg custard October 2, 2012
- Yunnan-style lotus root and pork September 16, 2012
- Yunnan-style edamame beans and garlic September 1, 2012
Since I live in China, you might wonder what I eat everyday. My meals have changed a lot over the 8 years I’ve been here. Since I learned how to cook Chinese, my meals have gotten more healthy and more consistently Chinese.
Well my breakfast resists the change. I can’t tolerate noodles cooked in spicy sauce, or garlicy food in the morning. I guess that’s a habit I’m not likely to break any time in the near future. It consists of a mug or two of decaffeinated coffee, sometimes it’s instant and sometimes it’s perked, along with a toasted home made roll or quarter of GuanDu BaBa cut in half through the centre, and spread with New Zealand butter. Often I eat it plain; periodically I top the toast with jam, most often Carrefour-brand blueberry or raspberry jam. Sometimes it’s topped with mozarella or cheddar cheese and melted in my ‘easy-bake’ oven.
I call it my easy-bake because ovens are not usually built in here…most often if you want an oven you buy a small, tabletop oven which is a little larger than a toaster oven with a higher baking temperature too.
In addition to wanting a healthier diet, I live in a third-tier city, not very foreign-food friendly. So after buying pasta in a variety of shapes, there’s not much else. Fortunately dairy products have become a bigger part of the Chinese diet, so butter, and cheeses are available in small quantities, even in this city.
Lunches and dinners are almost always Chinese food. Noodles, soups, and vegetables of all kinds, and served cooked and fresh are a daily part of my diet. Some dish with a small portion of meat for lunch, and vegetables, usually fresh for dinner.
Tonight I switched things around and had a cucumber salad for lunch and cooked this stir-fry for dinner. I love this combination in noodles and ofter change the main veggie for something different….broccoli, Chinese cabbage, usually a green one. And I change the noodles too…Udon, rice, wheat, sweet potato or vermicelli noodles; sometimes fresh, sometimes dried.
The secret to a good stir-fry is in cutting all ingredients very thin so that they cook quickly, and using a hot wok, keeping it all moving fast so as not to burn the dish! A gas stove helps to control the heat very finely and that can also aid in cooking without burning or making the ingredients soggy.
So here you have it, my dinner tonight…Noodle Stir-Fry with Snow Peas and Meat. This dish gets it’s awesome flavours from the traditional mix of ginger, garlic, green onion, Chinese Rice Cooking Wine, and soy sauce. Try it for dinner and I hope you will enjoy!
Noodle Stir-Fry with Snow Peas and Meat
1 chicken breast or ¼ pound pork tenderloin, very finely sliced
2 teaspoon Chinese rice cooking wine
4 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
4 teaspoons minced ginger, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
6 tablespoons oil, divided
2 beaten eggs
4 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger
4 green onions, cut in 1-inch pieces
½ cucumber, finely sliced (optional)
1 cup snowpeas
1 teaspoon Chinese chicken bouillon granules*
2 servings fresh noodles (Udon, rice or wheat) allowed to soak in hot water for 15 minutes and then drained
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Mix the finely shredded meat with rice wine, half of the garlic and ginger, and the cornstarch and allow the mixture to marinate for 15 minutes.
Heat the wok, add 2 tablespoons oil, and wait for it to heat. Stir-fry the eggs and break into small bits. Set them aside.
Heat the wok, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and wait for it to heat. Stir-fry the chicken or pork with the sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Remove and set aside together with the eggs.
Clean and dry the wok. Then heat the wok, add 2 tablespoons oil, and wait for it to heat. Stir-fry the green onion and the remaining ginger and garlic to release their fragrance. Add the snow peas and cucumber with bouillon granules, and 2 tablespoons soy sauce until brightly coloured and still crunchy.
Stir in noodles and heat for another 1-2 minutes on low heat. Add more soy sauce to taste and the fresh chopped cilantro. Mix the ingredients together thoroughly while keeping the heat on low for another minute. Transfer to a platter and serve hot.
Lots of good and healthy ingredients in these bars and not bad chemicals or unhealthy additives. I may have posted this recipe before but since then I have made improvements to the taste to the original recipe which I found online (forgot where I got it from so sorry to the original poster). In addition, I have found the way to cut them so beautifully. I have yet got a way to cut them all equally but there must be some gadget out there for making them all the same size! And I must write that blog post/article about the many uses for my new best friend, parchment paper!
Playground Granola Bars
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds (preferably unsalted)
1/2 cup flax seed
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I use 2 teaspoons)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 – 3/4 cup raisins
1/2 – 3/4 cup semi sweet little chocolate bits
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. Better still, line the pan with parchment paper, it’s my new best friend!
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon, flour, walnuts, raisins, chocolate bits and salt.
Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla.
Mix well. Pat the mixture evenly and press down well with a spatula into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Do not over bake.
Cool for 5 minutes and remove from the pan with the paper and all. Let cool completely then cut into bars with your best cleaver.
Store in a sealed container. Moist and yummy the next day.
My usual topics are about food or China but today I want to share some good information with you. You will find it helpful if you have planned to make a Family Photo Book. This is my second photo book with iPhoto 11 since I just upgraded from iPhoto 9. If you find this useful or not, please take a little time to give me your feedback!
Making a family album of your old photos can be a daunting task because if you’re like me, the sheer volume of photos and most without dates or names can be scary to attempt. There are many good tutorials on how to use iPhoto so I won’t bore you with those details. But I do have a way to simplify the process.
My project started with a selection of over 500 family photos ranging in dates from the early 1900’s all the way through to the early 1980’s. I had each decade of photos in individually labelled Ziploc baggies. Paying to have them scanned was a huge time-saver. Having them scanned and named by decade helped to keep them in a sort of chronological order. I also made a separate pile for photos that needed to be scanned on the back for those that have handwritten inscriptions, or ‘love notes’, as I found with my parents’ photos, sent to one another while my Dad was in the UK during WW2.
From there, the work of making the photo book became my task; and with iPhoto it just couldn’t be easier. I know this from past experience. Over the years, I’ve made many photo books, choosing a variety of photo book companies from a vast array available online. I’ve used Blurb.com, treasure-books.com, shutterfly.com, iPhoto (Apple.com) and PhotobookChina.com. With the exception of the last, they have all made a beautiful finished product.
My other iPhoto 11 photo book was a compilation of my granddaughter’s art from the past 8 years and I have a screen shot of it at the end of this post. I used the same method but didn’t put the photos of the art in chronological order. Next time!
But satisfaction difference has been in the ease of use of the software. Having the photo software on your computer means not having to rely on a slow Internet connection or losing your work as one terrifying factor. The other would be the way the software is user friendly and predictable, and the interface at the ordering process is so uncomplicated.
So my recently completed Silverman/Weitzman Family Album on the way to be processed and I have compiled this list of how I got the project finished. Read on…!
1. IN iPhoto, MAKE A NEW ALBUM
- Gather your photos into one event; only selecting the best of a series of several of the same poses to reduce the amount of photos.
- When you use Auto-Flow, having the names of the photos in sequential order will be very helpful, especially when you switch from one family group within the bigger family.
2. START A NEW PHOTO BOOK PROJECT
- Start a new photo book and select the style, design features you prefer
- Including the style of cover and size of the book/pages
3. ADD THE DETAILS FOR THE FRONT AND BACK COVERS AND INSIDE JACKET COVER
- Select the photos for the front and back covers and inside jacket covers and backs.
- Choosing photos of the matriarch and patriarch of the family by cropping their faces out of an old photo is great way to highlight their contribution to the family. Add the text as required, or leave that to later when you add captions and inspiration comes naturally.
4. UNIFY YOR BOOK WITH BACKGROUND CHOICES
- The most interesting photo books focus on the photos and not the extras, so it’s best to have all backgrounds the same colour/style to unify the book.
- With iPhoto there are many choices for faming each photo that can be changed later.
5. USE AUTOFLOW TO INSERT YOUR PHOTOS
- Use autoflow to insert all photos into the book, it’s the most efficient way to begin your photo placement.
- It gives you a good place to start and a feeling of some accomplishment!
6. REGROUP AND REARRANGE YOUR PHOTOS
- Starting at the first page go back and replace and regroup photos as necessary, since sometimes photos are not in the exact order that you chose to begin with.
- Autoflow tends to put more pages with less photos on each page. I like to group same-event photos onto layouts of 3 to 6 photos.
- Select layouts without captions at the bottom or side of the page when possible.
- There are so many custom layouts to choose from if you scroll down in the layout drop down list.
- Use the photo border that has the caption at the bottom of each photo. This gives you a larger photo size and less unused blank space.
- Including a last page with the dates of birth/death of each old family member helps future generations with all this leg work that is sometimes a futile effort because those folks are no longer alive.
7. PHOTO EDIT THE PICTURES
- Go back and change all the photo colours: For black and white photos that are very old, the ‘antique’ colouring shows the photos off to their best.
- At the same time, make the photos larger within the frames and centre them to look their best.
8. PUT IN CAPTIONS
- Go back to the beginning again and put in all captions, using the same fonts and colour.
- In the text function, select the font, colour and style for all captions by clicking the check-off box. Some captions are longer than others, requiring a smaller font.
- Verify the dates of the photos by looking at the originals on the front and back.
- Once dates are verified, you may want to move some photos around one last time.
9. SAVE YOUR BOOK AS A PDF
- Save your book as a PDF and print it out in PDF format on regular paper and in black and white to make sure there are no typos, name or date mistakes.
- Make the changes to the original document in iPhoto.
- Save as a pdf again for other family members to view in advance of the final printing.
10. PLACE OUR ORDER USING YOUR ITUNES ACCOUNT AND WAIT PATIENTLY FOR THE MAIL!
- Order your photobook using your Apple iTunes account.
- Patiently wait for the courier/mail to arrive!
Please take a moment to give me your feedback in the comments section. Thanks and happy photo booking!
In the FuXian Lake district near Kunming, there are many resorts popping up all on this deep, freshwater lake. It’s a summer resort destination for many tourists from the province as well as around China. The restaurants around the lake serve visitors delicious traditional delicacies native to the area. The most popular dishes are Copper Pot Fish and Copper Pot Rice. The popularity of their food arises from the use of simple, local ingredients (the fish come from the lake and Xuan Wei Ham is locally produced in Yunnan by salting and drying pork legs).
Xuan Wei Ham is used in this recipe and is reputed as one of the most famous hams in China; it’s a rich and tender pork, with a lovely aroma, a beautiful appearance and a delicious taste. Although produced in Yunnan since the mid-1700’s, the history of its popularity goes back 1909 when an entrepreneur in Xuan Wei City in the north-east of Yunnan Province to production into the ham-processing business to make this salt-cured and air or smoke-dried ham. Xuan Wei Ham has been a sought after food product and delicacy ever since it made it’s debut at the Panama-California Exposition from 1915 to 1917. This exposition was held in Balboa Park, San Diego, USA to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.
This dish gets its wonderful flavour from the Xuan Wei Ham. You can find deceivingly small copper pot at a Kitchen Market at Da Shang Hui for around 220rmb. Mine is the smallest size and a cute little pot that would be triple or quadruple the price were it bought in North America. Using the proportions here, the finished dish just barely covered the bottom of the pot but nonetheless produced a scrumptious combination, reminiscent of my holiday at FuXian Lake and worth every penny – er…rmb!
2/3 cup oil, divided
1 cup uncooked rice
3 – 4 cups of water, divided
1 cup Yunnan Xuan Wei ham cut into 1 cm cubes, using the fatty pieces as well as the meat
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in small 2 cm pieces
Coat the copper pot inner wall with 1 tablespoon of oil.
Soak the rice in 2 cups of water for two hours. Drain the water and place the rice in the copper pot.
Heat a wok. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat over medium high temperature. Fry the Xuan Wei Ham cubes in the oil until they are crispy and browned around the edges and have a pale-coloured, cooked appearance. Remove the ham with a slotted spoon and put the cubes into the copper pot, leaving the oil in the wok.
Add the remaining oil to the wok and heat to very hot. Dry the potato chunks with paper towel and then carefully add them to the oil to prevent oil splatter, frying and turning frequently until the potato chunks are cooked on the inside and golden brown and crispy on the outside, which will take about 10 minutes. You may need to add more oil.
Put the potatoes in the pot together with the rice and ham and stir, adding 2 cups of water.
Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil on a high fire. Once the water is boiling, give the ingredients one stir and turn the heat to low. Then cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Check the rice at 10-minute intervals and add more water if necessary.
Remove from the heat, place the pot on a trivet on the table and your delicious copper pot rice is ready to serve straight from the copper pot. Enjoy!
STORY NUMBER ONE
Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago . Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.
Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time..
To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.
Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.
Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object..
And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.
Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example.
One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.
He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.
Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street … But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.
The poem read:
“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”
STORY NUMBER TWO
World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare.
He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top up his fuel tank.
He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.
His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.
As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet.
The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.
Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.
Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.
Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction
Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.
Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft
This took place on February 20, 1942 , and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.
A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.
So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.
SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?
Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son.
(Pretty cool, eh)
Makes 6 breakfast muffins
½ cup diced Canadian bacon or smoked ham
2 green onions diced finely
4 eggs, beaten (for individual silicone muffin cups, and use 3 eggs for metal muffin tins with two paper liners in each)
1 teaspoon or your favourite spice blend (I used Italian spice)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese or any other kind you like
Get your baking containers ready. Spray with silicone cups with nonstick spray. If you are using regular muffin pan, then spray the paper liners with nonstick spray.
Place diced meat and green onions in the bottoms of the cups.
Add spice mix to the beaten eggs. Pour egg into each muffin cup until they are 3/4 full. Add the cheese on top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 F until muffins rise, are slightly browned and the eggs are set. Run the knife around the muffins if using silicone cups for easy removal.
You can store muffins in the refrigerator for a week or freeze but thaw before reheating.
Today’s the fourth day of Chinese New Year and almost every shop along my street has been closed since before the holiday. Luckily I had stocked up. But today I went out looking for cilantro to make some winter melon soup for dinner and fruit and nuts for snacks for some friends who may come and visit me in the next few days. So here’s what I got for the equivalent of $26.00: 3 cucumbers and cilantro, a small bottle of sesame oil, 1/2 pound corn flour and 2 pounds sugar. Fruit: 1-1/2 pounds lichee fruit, 6 mandarin oranges, 4 pounds strawberries (to freeze for breakfast smoothies), 3 pears, and nuts – 1/2 pound almonds, 3/4 pound pistachios and 1/2 pound macadamias. Actually the price of everything is inflated by about 15% because it’s a holiday.
Cost in Toronto?