Late this afternoon, Bob, Bob(the neighbor) and I ventured to China, foodwise. I have to thank Tao for the majority of the recipes...I raided his recipe box! We got some bad news. Our friend, John Cutshall passed away
last night. So I dedicate this blog to his memory. John was only 63 years and was a disabled iron worker and one helluva guy! I raise my glass of Honey Milk Tea-Hong Kong Style to him!
The weather the last few weeks has been dreary and rainy and I am thoroughly sick of it. I got one little break in the clouds this morning and now we have blue sky. It's a good thing!
On the menu this evening was Cha Ye Dan-Herbal Tea Hard Boiled Eggs
Hot & Sour Soup (Suan La Tang) Northern China Style
Sichuan (Szechuan) Salt & Pepper Squid-Jiao Yan Xian You---I used shrimp instead of squid
Honey Milk Tea-Hong Kong Style
These are thanks to Tao! And the last two recipes were my own fried rice and Chinese style broccoli. What a feast, John would have loved it...he really
liked it when I would take him down dinner because his caregiver can't cook!
am getting a plethora of birds at my feeder daily...it's amazing to me the variety that comes to eat!
China is the oldest continuous civilization in the world. In 1100 AD, China had the most advanced economy in the world. The climate of China varies greatly. The northern zone (Beijing) has summer daytime temperatures of more than 85 degrees and winters of Arctic
severity. The central zone (Shanghai) has a temperate climate with very hot summers and cold winters. The southern zone (Guangzhou) has a subtropical climate with very hot summers and mild winters.
Due to poor agricultural practices, dust storms have become the norm in springtime. Water, erosion and pollution control have become important issues in China's relations with other countries.
China is the most populous country in the world with over 1.3 billion people.
A major issue is melting glaciers in the Himalayas which could lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people.
This is a Grossbeak...at least that's what my neighbor told me...I don't know for sure, but I do know they sure do eat A LOT!
The highest point in China is the eastern half of Mt. Everest, which is well over 29,000 feet.
China's climate is mainly dominated by dry seasons and wet monsoons, which leads to temperate differences in the winter and summer. In winter, northern winds coming from high latitude areas are cold and dry; in summer, southern winds from sea areas at lower
latitudes are warm and moist. The climate in China differs from region to region because of the country's extensive and complex topography. Shanghai is the largest city.
The history of Chinese cuisine can be traced back to Peking Man and his use of fire and the invention of "cuisine" soem 400,000 years ago. Over the centuries, as new food sources and techniques were invented, Chinese cuisine, as we know it, gradually evolved.
Chopsticks, which are made from all sorts of materials and which are one of the trademarks of Chinese cuisine, have been used as eating utensils as far back as the Zhou Dynasty. Stir-fried dishes became popular during the Tang Dynasty. The stir-fry method
of cooking was invented out of necessity in order to conserve expensive and scarce fuel. Northerners generally eat wheat-based food and southerners generally eat rice-based foods. A popular analysis is: South is sweet, North is salty, East is spicy and West
I got a fixer-up park bench that Bob is going to sand down and re-stain for me...it's starting to look like an actual yard around here! The towel on the camping chair is for our new cat...Smokey Lonesome. The neighbors pulled out of here a couple of days ago
and left him. I saw it coming, so it wasn't a big suprise. Between us and Neighbor Bob, he'll be taken care of. We both feed him and Neighbor Bob is going to get him fixed. We'll have joint custody of Smokey Lonesome.
Eating is a dominant aspect of Chinese culture. Eating out is one of the most acceptable ways to treat guests. Similar to our way of drinking in a bar with friends, eating together in China is a way to socialize and deepen friendships. There are many traditions
that govern table manners in China, such as the correct treatment of guests and how to use chopsticks correctly. Although each household has it's own set of table manners and rules, the foundational traditions used to welcome guests are the same. There are
common rules for inviting guests over. When the guest of honor enters into a room, the hosts stand until the guest of honor is seated. The host then orders the dishes brought, and the guestof honor should be silent. When the dishes arrive, the meal begins
with a toast from the host and the guests then make a toast, in turn, in honor of the host. The guest of honor should be the first one to start the meal. The best food in a dish should be left for the guest of honor. To show appreciation, guests are supposed
to pay elaborate compliments to the food and tap the index and middle finger on the table three times. When the hostess says her food is not good enough, the guest must disagree with her and proclaim it to be the best food he has ever tasted. Chinese cooks
only insult the dishes they take special pride in. At the end of the meal, the guest of honor should make a speech about the host. Guests never "split the bill" with the host-to do so is ungracious and embarassing to the host.
These are the tapioca pearls that are found in Bubble Tea. I made Tao's Honey Milk Tea and added these in and it was delicious and refreshing!
I couldn't find the dried wood ear fungus for the hot and sour soup, but I had bought these dried mushrooms, along with the tapioca pearls at a Chinese market in Portland when I went down there with my ex-boss last fall. I also got the dried herbs to make a
hot pot, if I can ever get the burner to do it...one of these days!
Chinese table etiquette is very important to Chinese people. Using correct table manners is believed to bring luck to the family, while incorrect manners brings shame. Similarly, table etiquette indicates children's educational status: holding chopsticks
incorrectly leaves a bad impression on guests and shames the parents, who are responsible for teaching them.
Tao's Honey Milk Tea, Hong Kong Style with Bubbles...this is so good, well worth the effort to make! I made a huge pot of tea and drank this all day long while preparing the other dishes!
Since chopsticks are so often used in many dishes, the correct usage is essential! The most common "rules" of chopstick usage are as follows:
*Always grab chopsticks in the middle, make sure the ends are even.
*Chopsticks are held in the right hand only, even for left-handed people.
*Chopsticks are not used to move bowls or plates.
*Chopsticks are not used to toy with one's food or dishes in common.
*When not in use, chopsticks must always be placed neatly on the table, both chopsticks lying
tidily next to each other at both ends. Failure to do so is evocative of the way the dead would
be placed in a coffin before a funeral.
*Treat chopsticks as an extension of your fingers and do not point at other people or wave them
*Do not suck the ends of chopsticks.
*Do not use chopsticks to move dishes.
*Do not pierce food with chopsticks; they are not forks.
*Do not point chopsticks at another person-this is considered an insult.
*Do not bang chopsticks like you're beating on a drum, this implies that you're a beggar.
*Do not stick chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice, this implies that this is food for the dead.
This is the Cha Ye Dan or Herbal Tea Hard Boiled Egg. This is an interesting take on a hard-boiled egg and I liked it very much, not to mention that they are pretty to look at!
This is my Chinese Broccoli. It's super simple. I learned it from the Chinese restaurant that I used to work at: 1 pound fresh broccoli, trimmed into florets, 2 cloves minced garlic and sesame oil. That's it! Blanche the broccoli for about 3 minutes, run it
under cold water to stop the cooking process and so it retains that great green color. Drain it really well. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet or a wok. Stir fry the broccoli and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes, drizzle with a teaspoon of sesame
oil and serve...super good!
This is Tao's recipe for Salt & Pepper Squid, but I used shrimp instead. I just didn't like how the squid looked...it was pitiful, so I went for these large prawns instead. They came 16-20 per pound. I love this spice blend. I think I asked Tao if he would
write a blog on how to do this recipe. We used to serve Salt & Pepper chicken wings as an appetizer in the lounge at restaurant, so I really wanted to learn how to do the spice mixture as my ex-boss wouldn't part with it. I used really coarse salt...you know...the
stuff you fill a salt grinder with? That stuff...and then I smashed it as best as I could with that handy-dandy wine bottle rolling pin of mine. It's not as fine as it could be, but I really liked the chunky texture of the spice blend. I used 1 red bell pepper
and a quarter of a hurkin' big onion instead of the other kinds of peppers, too...I did this so Bob could at least attempt to eat it. I dipped the shrimp into cornstarch and fried them. The consensus between all 3 of us that ate this meal is that this was
the favorite dish and I have orders from headquarters that I need to make this again!
Here is my Fried Rice: 1 cup of cold, leftover rice. 1/4 quarter of a hurkin' big onion, chopped, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 cup of frozen peas & carrots, 3 eggs, scrambled and soy sauce. How I do it is: I scramble the egg and fry in 1 teaspoon of vegetable
oil. While they are cooking, I continually chop them up with the side of my spatula until the pieces are no bigger than a thumbnail and the eggs look rather "dry". I remove them from the skillet and set aside. Next, I heat 1 tablespoon of veg oil and fry the
onion and garlic together for about 3 minutes over medium-high heat. Then add the rice. Fry for another minute or so and add peas & carrots. Fry until they are thawed and add soy sauce until the rice is as brown as you would like it. Keep tasting it because
it can get too salty really quick. Add in eggs, sprinkle the top with thinkly sliced green onions and chow down! You can add whatever veggies or meats you like into this...this is just a basic recipe. If you want to taste something REALLY good, try tamari
sauce...it's an aged soy sauce and is heavenly!
Tao's Hot & Sour Soup (Suan La Tang), Northern Style...this should just be it's own food group! And that's all I have to say about that!
Dinner is served!
And here is my complete Chinese dinner dedicated to the memory of John Cutshall, R.I.P. my friend!
I went over budget on dinner tonight by $3.19. I could have sworn that I had sesame oil, but when I went to grab it out of the cupboard, it was gone! So I had to run into town for more, and that's when I picked up the broccoli and decided to add that dish.
But that's ok, it was for a good cause. This week we had Lady Sparkle pick Nepal and MEANDTHEBEARS pick Mali. 30 people voted and 19-11 you want to see Nepal next week. So be it! Nepal it is!!
If you want to read some good books on Chinese culture, I recommend reading anything by Amy Tan...you know, she wrote The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter's Daughter and many others...great author!
This week the charity I want to bring to attention to would be The DAV (Disabled American Veterans). This organization is all volunteered based and they do so much for our veterans. Without them, I don't know what we would have done about getting Bob down
to his radiation appointments. They don't charge veterans or their families a penny for the transportation costs, they are strictly run on donations. So, in honor of Memorial Day, if you can spare even a dollar, please donate to them. They work with all veteran
organizations. It would be really appreciated!
So until we meet up in Nepal next week, take a moment and remember our men and women who have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that we hold so near and dear here in our great country and tell a service member, either past or present, THANK YOU!
I told Bob that today. I am grateful that he served and came home alive from Vietnam. I am equally sad that he lost so many friends there, as well. Peace to you all!