Tuesday, May 21, 2013

China Post 2

So since my Chinese is lame and since I couldn't remember or pronounce with the correct tone any of the real chinese words pertaining to "girl" or "peacock" I named her "mai ping" which I had translated to meaning "interesting". The translation came after choosing the syllables that I could reproduce that sounded nice.
Mai ping was my companion throughout my trip in Asia. She saw many things.

See how many you can recognize.
In no particular order.... she saw the Great Wall of China.
...The Sacred Way and Tian'an Men Square...
She rode a gondola and biked around the ancient city wall of Xi'an....
She checked out a gas mask provided in her Beijing Hotel room....
She floated near Hong Kong Island and visited the fishing village of Aberdeen...

She spent alot of time in airports and visited the Pandas in Beijing...

She saw the "bird's nest" in Beijing where the 2008 Olympics were held.....

She was a fun mascot. She missed the forbidden city, the summer palace and the terra cotta warriors because there were just too many people and she was scared. Given the choice I would have hid in the bag with her. Mai ping will have many more opportunities to travel, stay tuned to see where she ends up next. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What I ate in China a.k.a. I ate "WHAT" in China?

After my daughter regaled me with her episodes of eating scorpion in China I felt it was prudent to take along a fair supply of nuts, granola bars and packets of hot cereal. Even though I am somewhat adventuresome in the food department I get a little squeemish when I see eats looking back at me. After spending time in Peru I am well aware that different cultures find protein from different sources. Guinea pig and goat in South America and dog and donkey in Asia. And during my visit there was some concern over bird flu so chicken was rarely on the menu.
 My first meal abroad in Hong Kong laid to rest many of my fears.
I really got a little ahead of myself here because see that beautiful blue can in the center of the table? It was cold and it is my favorite vice above all others. It was the last one I would see for 2 weeks. For 2 weeks even though you could find drinks in "refridgeraters", they were still room temperature because the fridge wasn't turned on. Asians do not take their beverages cold. This is authentic breakfast. The bowl is full of top ramen type noodles with slices of beef and green onions. This came with a side of eggs, some kind of sausage in barbecue sauce and a roll. I can neither confirm or deny that that was actually beef and I left the sausage on the plate.

This is what we were served in a regular restaurant in downtown Kowloon. Dumplings and greens with a side of fried pork chop served family style.

At this dinner we saw a dance show depicting the Tang Dynasty and we were served 18 different kinds of dumplings after our appetizers. Notice the dumplings look like fish. Bet you can't guess what was inside.

We had three different "hot pot" dinners. This was the best by far. Some of the Chinese dentists and assistants sat at our table and helped us get it right. The hot broth on the left was mild and flat flavored while the brown broth on the right could cauterize flesh. Into either side you dipped your fresh, uncooked selections and then if you were brave enough you ate what you cooked.

Rice at these dinners is not served to the end of the meal. The picture just above this post is of asian pears ( a favorite of mine) and un cooked beef stomach, I'm so not going there.

Here Dr. Todd is demonstrating eating beef stomach. He also ate "fungus" (that's what the chinese interpret mushrooms to.) so I'm not following his food choices.
Instead of throwing pizza dough in the air they twirl noodles. These are potato noodles being thrown. Maybe they touched the floor or someone's head but after all the "hotpots" are boiling, you know.
And when the meal comes to an end, the fruit is served. As a culture, there is very little sweet or sugar used. And don't look forward to birthday "cake" because all you are going to get is birthday noodle soup. Try eating that with chopsticks.

This is "Jason" our Beijing tour guide. Bet you can't guess what he is putting in his mouth? It's called "thousand year old egg". To prepare it, first you boil an egg and then you marinate it for two weeks in some kind of vinegar. After it is peeled, you are looking at the peeled version, it is a dark opaque black with barely visible snow flakes, and you can see the color of the yolk. Far worse than it's appearance is it's smell. Find an old nearly dead cow with runny diarrhea. Store it's output for three days, bury it under a leaking sewage dump for 2 weeks and then let it clear all of your sinuses at once. The ammonia odor is nearly seizure inducing. And yes, I watched him put it in his mouth. He said it's better with sauce. Even ranch dressing is not getting me to try that egg. How about you?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Name that cake...

So as I'm trying to gather points for mother of the year, I was away in China while my son turned 13. It's part of a reoccurring theme. I was in Peru when he turned 11. He got even with me last year when he turned 12, though. I lay the blame for this year's current fiasco squarely on my oldest daughter, Amber's, shoulders. You see when my daughters were little either myself or my sister-in-law, Cindy would create a "wilton" cake for them. The kind you bake in shaped pans and then create frosting that you pipe on through an assortment of tips to create hair, grass, roses, you name it. We took some kind of sadistic pride in making the most detailed cakes imagineable, with never a repeat. So when Amber was about 15 she had decided she had grown out of "wilton" cakes and just wanted a "mom" cake.
Thus started the tradition that turned junior mints into spots on lady bugs and oreo crumbs into dirt to be moved by mini backhoes, or gummy worms recreating lava flow down a volcano. Last year, my son didn't care what was on his cake or how it looked as long as I made it. You many remember the angry bird cake of yester-year.
So let me introduce you to this year's birthday cake.

 So sometimes I get distracted with certain "themes". After spending more than 2 weeks in China and learning that my son was born under the sign of the dragon, I thought I could create one for his birthday cake. I know you thought it was a bear, but then maybe you hadn't noticed the bright green scales down the back, the blue and green wings and of course the fire breathing out of the nose. And of course the crossed eyes, because everyone knows all dragons are cross-eyed. It's how come they have all been defeated. That is my story and I'm sticking to it.
As you may recall, I'm not engineer and that's why the angry birds are really crushing the pig, because the pig couldn't support their weight. I had similar malfunctions creating my dragon.
First off, a 13 x 9 pan was not a big enough base. So the dragons tail is more inferred than present.
Then the body halves didn't want to stay together. My skewers are missing in the remodel so I used 2 drinking straws without much success.
This profile proved to look more like a dinosaur, so it was scrapped.
Using the available crevices I created a home for ears and spikes running down the back. In order to bridge the gap each spike rested on a toothpick to hold it in place. The shape of "ding dongs" would have presented better feet and snout, but hostess is no more, so little debbie to the rescue.
Fruit roll-ups were cut to create wings and fire. I frosted the cake with a chocolate home-made butter cream, but it was purposely made a little runny. Anytime you are working with cake edges you suffer the wrath of the crumb. Most bakers would use a "crumb coat" but that would take forethought so I just settled on a thinner frosting that would be assisted by gravity to smooth out the rough edges. And there you have it. A master-piece not quite presentable for pinterest but Jared will enjoy eating it anyway. And just wait til I place thirteen candles in the snout, it will really breathe fire then.