Raspberry Vanilla Coffee Cake

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My mother’s memory is getting a little foggy.  The doctor prescribed playing piano, socializing, reading and writing a memoir as her treatment.  I encouraged her to write and told her that I would love to read what her life was like before I knew her. 

Today, she emailed me the story of how she and her mother traveled from Shanghai to Chong Qing to reunite with her father in 1942, in the midst of the Japanese invasion.  What is today a two and half hour flight took them more than a month of walking on dirt roads and riding on ox-powered carts.  They zigzagged away from the major routes to avoid the Japanese occupied areas.  Sometimes, her mother would carry her for hours on her back when she was too exhausted to walk. 

It was an arduous and dangerous journey, but my mother was too young to fully realize the risk involved.  She was happy to be with her mother, who had spent 5 years in England and America with her husband, leaving my mother and my aunt to the care of the relatives in Shanghai.

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My mother and her younger sister, a year or so before their parents left them in 1937.

My mother’s mother — my grandmother — was not what one would consider a good traditional Chinese woman, who would have stayed behind to take care of the old and the young while her husband went abroad.  Then again, most traditional Chinese women back then had arranged marriages.  They did not necessarily love their husbands.  From what I found out, my grandmother loved my grandfather.  A couple of years ago, I found a poem dedicated to my grandmother by a renowned poet of that era by the name of Liu Ya-zi in one of his poem collections.  It described my grandmother being in love with my grandfather. (See Note.)

The war had just broken out when my grandmother left with my grandfather to England where he received his doctorate degree in Neuropharmacology.  When they left, my mother was not yet four and her younger sister was only two years old. 

I think in my mother’s eyes, it was during the long and grueling trip from Shanghai to Chong Qing that my grandmother redeemed herself for abandoning her and her sister.  My mother admired my grandmother for her resourcefulness and for her ability to enjoy life. During their difficult journey, my grandmother always had two magical items with her to make life (or boiled vegetable and watery porridge) better, tastier — her bottles of saccharin and MSG.  That I, too, remember.  When she was persecuted for being a foreign spy and sent down to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, she said she would be fine as long as she had her saccharin and her MSG. 

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My grandmother holding me in front of our house

I began to live in my grandmother’s room at age six after my grandfather committed suicide.  Looking back, she was not much older than I am now when she lost her beloved husband.  In the time of great personal tragedy, she taught me by example to always insist on finding pleasure in life no matter how bad things are.  When I first saw the film Mary Poppins and heard the song A Spoonful of Sugar, I immediately thought of my grandmother – the Mary Poppins of my life – making the medicine go down with a pill of saccharin when sugar was an absolute impossibility.

Here is a spoonful of sugar for you, grandma!  (Well, it’s actually xylitol, but it looks and taste exactly like sugar, with only half the calories, not that you ever worried about high calorie intake.)

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Raspberry Vanilla Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup milk of choice

1/2 cup vanilla-flavored yogurt (I used fat-free Fage)

1 tbsp ground flax or 1 egg white

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

3 tbsp coconut or veg oil

2 cups wholewheat flour

2/3 cups xylitol or sugar (or sucanat)

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/16 tsp pure stevia, or 2 extra tbsp sugar (or 2 NuNaturals packets)

1 2/3 cups raspberries

1/3 cup more raspberries

optional: chocolate chips

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Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 F, and grease a 9 1/2-in springform pan. Combine first 5 ingredients (yes, the flax too) and whisk. Set aside. In a separate, large measuring bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except the final 1/3 cup raspberries, and stir well. Pour wet into dry and stir until evenly combined (don’t overmix). Pour into the prepared pan, then sprinkle the remaining berries on top. Bake 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out relatively clean. Cool the healthy raspberry coffee cake in pan on a wire rack, 15 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan.

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Adapted from: chocolatecoveredkatie.com

Note:  For those readers who understand Chinese, here are a few more stories about my grandmother and the original poem by Liu Ya-zi:

思念姥姥

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杂志社约我写稿,不知哪根筋搭错尽一口答应下来,但是很长时间都不知该写什么。杂志社建议的有关如何以美颜和智慧取得成功的题目,我似乎没有任何实用的忠告可分享。眼看交稿的日子就要到了,夜里在床上发愁,突然就梦见了我已故几十年的姥姥——我的榜样和守护神。

怎样才算一位成功的女性?如果我能问她,姥姥会怎么说?今天衡量成功的标准无非是金钱和权势。如果是女性,她还必须拥有一位同样成功的丈夫。按这个标准,姥姥不是一位成功的女性,多半也从没有过这种成功的企图。但是跨越半个世纪的距离远远望她,我仍然清晰地看到她的富足。姥姥所拥有的是一份高贵——贫困侮辱或悲痛都不能剥夺的精神高贵;一份自由——手铐脚链或压制都无法捆绑的心灵自由。

我从六岁开始跟姥姥同屋,一直都喜欢和羡慕她那股潇洒劲儿和享受生活的能力。我记忆中总是有很多年轻人来找姥姥补习英文、修改文章或者闲聊,有时聊得高兴了她还点上一根烟。姥姥是一个让年轻人喜欢的老人,有许多忘年交。

文革期间姥姥下放到五七干校,虽然生活是贫瘠的,但是她的信上讲的都是她找到了什么上海吃不到的东西,我记得让她特别兴奋的好像是一种叫臭芦梗东西。她在干校跟人说,毛主席是“两论起家”,我是“两精起家”(味精和糖精)。结果让人给抓了小辫子,批斗了一通。姥姥没跟我说她挨斗的事,这是她的个性,说这种倒霉事有什么好玩儿的?挨斗的事是我母亲告诉我的,为了让我懂得“祸从口出”的道理。几十年以后,也是从母亲那儿知道,我的那位热爱生活的姥姥原来在文革初期挨整时曾经自杀过。我至今都无法将那种悲哀和绝望安在我心目中的姥姥身上。

从干校回来后,姥姥还停着职,不能从事她热爱的出版事业。被剥夺了工作权利和政治待遇是一件很糟糕的事,但是姥姥却决定乘没事干带我去旅游。那个年代没有人旅游,只有人出公差。我妈觉得很诧异,我却兴奋得跳起来。当时家里钱很紧,姥姥和妈妈又都不太会过日子,到了发工资前几天,总是缺钱买菜。为了不影响家用,姥姥取出她全部的积蓄,就带我上路了。那时我大概在小学三四年级,姥姥为我请了两周假,用的什么借口我不记得了。我的语文课本里有一篇写南京长江大桥的,姥姥就把大桥作为我们的第一个景点。站在南京长江大桥上我感受到无比的骄傲 ——— 并不是因为建桥的人克服了重重困难完成了这座壮观的大桥,而是因为全班甚至全校只有我一个人亲眼见过它。

1977年我主演了谢晋导演的《青春》,78年又拍了《小花》。在那之后,经常会有一些人上门来要认识我。据姥姥说,他们都是“高干子弟”。不管我当时在家或不在家,姥姥一概不让我出面。我总是拿着一本书待在厨房或待在厕所。姥姥照常倒茶递烟,冬天点上炭炉,夏天递把扇子,天南海北地跟人聊。来的人虽然不能满足初衷,走时也不觉太失望,有个把还回来看过姥姥。

刚开始留学那阵,我隔好久才见能姥姥一回。那个年代,如果从美国回家探亲,总是要带一台电视机什么的,那些所谓的“四大件”。可是姥姥不要大件的,也许是不舍得我花钱,也许是真的对大件不感兴趣。当我坚持要带东西给她时,她让我带一块美国最“臭”的奶酪,姥姥喜欢一切发过酵的“臭”食品:臭芦梗、臭豆腐、臭冬瓜、臭奶酪。还有一回,她问我能不能买个有点儿波浪的假发套。最让我惊讶的是有一次姥姥居然让我为她买一个在前面扣扣的文胸,让我在电话里开怀大笑好一阵。在美国拍戏后,我有了足够的收入频繁地回来看她。每次回家我总能从楼下就看到姥姥已经带着头套趴在钢窗框上等着我。

我在世界各地出外景都会在电话里告诉姥姥我的近况,她总是有问不完的问题。姥姥是一个富有强烈好奇心和探险精神的人,听母亲说抗战时姥姥曾经自愿跟中国远征军到中缅边界当过英文翻译。现在回想她一定很向往能到那些异国外景地去看看。当年护照签证都是非常难拿到的,如果我邀请姥姥,她未必能去成。但是我的遗憾是我没曾邀请她。

1989年我到澳洲拍戏,到了就给姥姥打了个电话。跟以前一样,我们嘻嘻哈哈聊了好一阵。但是我渐渐发觉姥姥的反应有些异常,说再见之前我突然意识到她不知道我是谁。挂了电话我大哭了一场,好几天都缓不过来。两星期后我鼓足勇气再打给她一次,跟她解释我是她的外孙女,是阿中的女儿,是陈冲。她笑着说,我知道阿中的女儿是谁,是电影明星。其实阿中比她女儿漂亮多了,倒是女儿当了电影明星。仍然是那位健谈的姥姥,但是她挣扎在失忆深渊的边缘。

最后一次回家看姥姥时她已经得了胰头癌,我陪她一起到医院。有些检查的过程是痛苦的,而且缺乏尊严,姥姥不想做。她不停地用哀求的眼光看着我,最后跟我说,你让他们停下来。我真想跟医生们说别查了,我们要回去了。但是我没有,我轻轻跟姥姥说很快就会结束的。不幸的是检查结束后医生让姥姥马上住院。带她回家拿生活用具时,她待在房间半天不肯走,说还要再想想有什么东西忘记了。住院当晚姥姥就动员同病房的病人一起逃回家,护士们只能把她的鞋藏起来。

手术后没两个月姥姥就去世了,她没有能从医院回到她心爱的房间,我也没有在她身边。也许当年真的应该让姥姥留在自己的屋里,也许少活一个月,也许并不,但是那是她想待的地方。很长一段时间我每夜梦见姥姥,有时梦里的姥姥生动鲜活到跟真的一样,我醒来后要好几秒钟才悟到刚才那只是梦。

我每次回上海跟老朋友们聚会都有人会提到姥姥,我出国后朋友们常去陪姥姥聊天,他们每个人都有几段姥姥的故事说来分享。也是在朋友那里我慢慢知道一些她年轻时代的事。小时候姥姥念的是苏州女子师范学校,后来到南京的金陵女子文理学院学教育。现在回想,姥姥带我去南京的时候,我们的确去了金陵女子大学的旧址,也许她不想让她的历史给我带来政治包袱,所以没有提及她的过去。

关于过去,我最感兴趣的是她和公公的关系。少年时代,他们都曾经在苏州就学,青年时代又都在南京上过大学。1932年“12.8”事件爆发后,姥姥加入了上海医学院组织的第四救护队,当时外公也在上海医学院,他们到底是什么时候相识的呢?是不是家庭包办的? 外公出国深造时,姥姥把两个幼小的女儿留在战乱中的国内,跟他去了。如果不是自由恋爱,不是那么喜欢外公,姥姥应该不会这样选择的吧。

前不久我参与拍摄《客从何处来》时,从文献中发现一位当年的著名诗人柳亚子1932年为姥姥填过一首诗, “浪淘沙 文艺茶话会座上赠史伊凡女士:珠玉泻莺喉,钢里含柔,吴娃燕语最风流。一阙新词低唱罢,怎不娇羞。京兆画眉俦,是几生修,天教韵事继红楼。为恐石凉人睡去,芍药轻兜。”在这首词里,诗人还特意注释史女士爱人叫张弓——我外公的别名。这样的“风流”和“娇羞”也许是因为恋情的缘故吧。当年的“爱人”其实是恋人的意思。留学英美回国后姥姥用自己的积蓄和稿费,一个人办起了一家现代医学出版社,外公则利用国外带回的微型胶卷文献资料先后写成了《磺胺类药物》、《青霉素和链霉素》、《现代药理学》等书。这些书填补了国内医学界、尤其是解放区医学方面的空白。姥姥和外公当年从个人到事业全方位的合作给我的感觉是一对相敬相爱的最佳搭档。

1967年,在那个是非颠倒,黑白混淆的岁月,外公选择了清白,毅然与世长辞。那天我从幼儿园回家后,走进姥姥的房间。虽然是大白天,窗帘却紧关着,姥姥一个人坐在她和公公的大床上,我永远都不会忘记昏暗中她那张无泪的脸。不久后我就搬到姥姥房间跟她同住。她的房间很简洁,墙上除了一张外公的黑白相片别的什么都没有。从悲剧中走出来的姥姥仍然爱她的所爱:外公、书本、儿女、儿孙、朋友和臭奶酪。1983年姥姥为《自然杂志》写了一篇关于外公生平的文章,字里行间流露出尊严和敬意,没有半点廉价的煽情。姥姥做了一辈子编辑和出版,深知与人心相比,文字永远苍白。

现在我也年过半百了,跟当年的姥姥差不多岁数。在孤独或困惑的时候,我偶尔幻想我跟她像老朋友那样坐下来喝茶聊天,我的心便渐渐温暖和坚定起来。姥姥的人生观和价值观是我以不变应万变的准则。当我能跟姥姥那样远离庸俗的时候,我对自己是满意的。所谓的成功或者不成功都只是过眼烟云。

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

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It’s wonderful that the days are getting longer each day. When Peter came back from work at 7pm, it was still light out. We had these little treats in the backyard like other people having a cocktail before dinner.

Angela had no school today and I expected her to rise sometime in the afternoon, but she surprised me by getting up in mid morning and agreeing to take a walk with me to Safeway.  It was a mild day with the sun peeking out from the clouds.  Most people were at work or in school.  There were some young mothers with babies or toddlers and some old people on the streets.  We were walking at a leisurely pace, commenting on the fashion statement of some passersby or the store window displays.  Nowhere to rush to, not a care in the world.  It was the most casual of moments, but it suddenly seemed to go into slow motion.  I became acutely aware of myself and everything around me.  I turned to look at Angela and she gave me a smile that was especially beautiful and warm. 

Memories of vacations and holidays often run together into a blurry picture, but this impromptu Friday walk will be remembered like an unexpected gift — a little package of happiness at my door step.

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Chocolate and Peanut butter is a pretty magic combo, though second to mother and daughter.

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients:

2 tbsp peanut butter

2 tbsp coconut butter or homemade coconut butter

2 tbsp cocoa powder (10g)

1 very ripe large banana

1/16 tsp salt (more if using unsalted pb)

Optional: Feel free to add a little sweetener if your bananas aren’t ripe enough

Top with crunchy peanut butter and strawberries or chocolate chips

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Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Scoop into a container or even a little pie pan, and put in the fridge or freezer so it will firm up. (Alternatively, you can eat it soft, like frosting!)

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Adapted from: chocolatecoveredkatie

1 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug

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Peter was on call on Wednesday night and got called in at 2:30am for an emergency.  And now he is on call again for the ER this weekend.  A little treat is called for.  He has a sweet tooth, but needs to watch his sugar intake.  This little guilt-free stress reducer and energy booster topped with chocolate frosting is just what the doctor ordered.  It looks and tastes so decadent that you wouldn’t believe it’s healthy, but it is.  The best part is that it takes only one minute to make.  Well, not exactly one minute, but no more than five. 

Give it a try tomorrow.  Impress someone!

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One Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Ingredients:

1 tbsp plus 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tbsp spelt flour (or all purpose flour)

1/8 tsp salt

3 tsp sugar or xylitol

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp coconut oil or vegetable oil

3 tablespoons milk of choice (I used almond milk)

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preparation:

Combine dry ingredients and mix very, very well. Add liquid, stir, then transfer to a little dish, ramekin, or even a coffee mug. Either microwave 30-40 seconds OR cook in a 350F oven for about 14 minutes. If you don’t want to eat it straight out of the dish, be sure to spray your dish first (and then wait for it to cool before trying to remove it).

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Ingredients For Chocolate Fudge:

1/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter

4-8 tsp pure maple syrup (I used sugar free maple flavor syrup)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tsp milk of choice, or more for thinner frosting

3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

optional: handful of chocolate chips (the “pieces”)

Preparation:

Blend everything (including chips, if using) in a small food processor or Magic Bullet. If you have a bigger processor, it might be best to double the recipe so everything blends more smoothly. Best to store uneaten frosting covered in the fridge.

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Adapted from: chocolatecoveredkatie

…And a Happy New Year!

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In the beginning of 2014, which feels like just moments ago, it never occurred to me that I would be cooking and blogging about my experience in the kitchen.  This seemingly whimsical idea has unexpectedly taken root in me somehow. I’m not sure what exactly is driving me to do this. Angela and I started this experiment in an attempt to make our family eat more mindfully.  But what sustains me in the daily practice is perhaps my impulse to make things, and my desire to learn things.  I have learned and am still learning how to prepare more healthful and more delicious food.  In the process I have also discovered a deep pleasure in cooking, and in looking at all the familiar edible things with the newness of a baby.

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I have always loved food, but the past two months have taught me to eat more deliberately, and to taste the flavors instead of simply pigging out.  The past two months are also wonderful because the kitchen has become not only a sanctuary for me, but also a warm place where we find joy as a family.  The children are now more involved in cooking their own food — Audrey has turned out to be quite talented in everything breakfast — smoothies, French toast and pancakes, you name it.  As a matter of fact, she is making healthy-fied blueberry pancakes for dinner as I’m writing.  And writing.  I have also been learning to better express myself in the language of my adopted country.  Words and sentences come too slowly and are never adequate enough to capture the grinding of my brain, but the practice does calm and focus my mind.

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Today I want to share with you twelve of our family’s favorite recipes from the blog.  Most of the dishes I have cooked are relatively simple and quick to make — something accomplishable on a daily basis.  I have completely done away with butter, and in most cases with simple carbohydrates.  Almost all of the breads, muffins and cookies were made of almond flour or coconut flour or both — something I hadn’t known one could do before this blog.   

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Lemon and Olive Oil Marinated Fennel Salad with Burrata and Mint

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Sugar-free Grain-free Chocolate Cookies

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Roast Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary, Thyme, Sage & Garlic

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Healthy, Quick and Easy Mushroom Risotto

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Mongolian Beef

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Healthy Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

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Minced Turkey with Basil Lettuce Cup

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Kung Pao Chicken

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Ginger Scallion Sriracha Glazed Salmon

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Yam Casserole with Crispy Top

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Almond Flour Coconut Chocolate Cookies

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Pear Lemon Zest Burrata Crostini

Thank you for reading. Have a happy 2015!

The Most Delicious & Guiltless Ice Cream

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When I was growing up in China, we didn’t celebrate Christmas; I never even heard of Christmas.  But we did celebrate Dec. 26th — Chairman Mao’s birthday.  We would cook longevity noodles in the kitchen that we shared with our neighbors.  We would bow in front of a Mao portrait and wish him ten thousand years of life.  I realize now that my parents probably only did the celebration for the sake of the kids and the neighbors.  They would not want the neighbors to report them for not loving Chairman Mao enough to wish him a long life.  And they certainly didn’t want to destroy the illusion for their children, who were brought up to worship Mao.  They believed that worshipping Mao as the saint and savior would make their children safer and happier.  Not worshipping Mao would be dangerous to their wellbeing.

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The Mao badge collection was my most valued possession during childhood. This photo was taken in the 80s in LA by my friend, Anchee Min.

Strange how I still wake up on December 26th every year and involuntarily think, “It’s Mao’s birthday.” 

Today, the thought of Mao brought me back to those years of food scarcity and what I was willing to do for a bowl of ice cream. 

I heard from other girls that you would be rewarded with a bowl of ice cream if you were lucky enough to have your tonsils removed. It was a minor surgical procedure performed without anesthesia. I convinced my mother to let me have the operation, but when I was given a bowl of ice cream to soothe my throat, swallowing hurt so badly that I gave my reward to my brother.

Nowadays ice cream is everywhere, and I have had decades to recover from my tonsillectomy so ice cream is once again a great love of mine. However, we all know how overindulgence in ice cream isn’t exactly healthy…

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Guilt Free Ice Cream

I improved on my old guilt free ice cream recipe by using the evaporated milk and adding more dark chocolate.  The result is a much richer and more delicious ice cream. 

Ingredients for Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream:

1 12oz can 2% Evaporated Milk

2 cup non fat Greek Yogurt (I used Fage)

7 tablespoon Xylitol or other sweetener

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

3 tablespoon 100% Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

3 tablespoon 100% Unsweetened Chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients in a blender.  Add to ice cream maker.  Let it churn until ice cream congeals and hardens, about 25 to 30 minutes. 

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Audrey made the gingerbread cookies to go with the ice cream.  And she typed the following recipe form me.

Healthier Gingerbread Cookies Ingredients:

1/2 cup apple sauce

3/4 cup brown sugar or xylitol

3 tbs. coconut oil

1 egg

1/3 cup maple flavored syrup

3 cups 100% whole wheat flour

2 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

Preparation:

Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Mix wet and dry ingredients together and wrap in plastic wrap.  Leave the mixture in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.

Roll out and cut.  Preheat oven at 350F and bake about 12 minutes or until light brown.

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Slow Lazy Saturday Again

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Saturday morning.  Peter went to play golf.  He often plays 9 holes on Saturday mornings before the girls wake up.  That is if he is not on call.  I cooked oatmeal while reading whatever was around.  Since Audrey became a vegetarian, I have been racking my brains to get enough protein in her.  She doesn’t like eggs or cheese, so oatmeal cooked in milk with rice protein or whey protein powder has been an important meal for her.

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As I stirred the oatmeal, I read this week’s Time Magazine cover story The Truth About Home Cooking.  How fitting!  The best selling food writer Mark Bittman shared his views, experiences and statistics on cooking. 

Nowadays, the internet is clogged with food porn. More and more people say they are concerned about their health and the well-being of the planet, but fewer and fewer people are actually cooking dinners at home.

Bittman wrote: “There’s something peculiar about the our obsession with the business of cuisine.  There are 24/7 TV shows on Food, countless food magazines and more Instagram accounts of impossibly beautiful and exotic dishes than one could count or, frankly, stomach… Making food a performance, as entertaining as that can be from our seats in the grandstand, has had a damaging effect on our relationship to cooking.  In a land of million-dollar kitchens, Himalayan pink salt, dragon fruit, truffle butter and Wagyu skirt steak, most of us feel like outsiders — and as result, we cook less than we ever have.”  He encourages us to take charge of our food and gives us suggestions on how to start cooking again.  “Dinner can be simple: a soup, even one based on frozen vegetables; a piece of meat and a loaf of hearty bread; a chicken that roasts while you make a salad; pasta with vegetables…”

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照烧鸡面

So, in the spirit of easy and basic home cooking, I made crock pot honey teriyaki chicken based on the recipe from Rasa Malaysia.  The crock pot comes handy when you need to go in and out of the house running errands while the food is cooking.  And today was one of those days for me.

Ingredients:

2 boneless chicken breasts (I will try thigh next time. Dark meat should work better for this)鸡肉

1/8 cup dry sake 日本清酒

1/8 cup mirin 料酒

1/4 cup soy sauce 酱油

3 tablespoons honey 蜂蜜

2 cloves garlic, minced大蒜

2 tablespoons ginger, minced姜

freshly ground black pepper胡椒

1/8 cup water水

1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch (I omitted)淀粉

2 stalks green onions, chopped葱

toasted sesame seeds (I omitted this)芝麻

I added some vegetables in the pot.

Put all the ingredients other than the green onion and sesame seeds in the pot and turn it on high.  Go do whatever you want to do and come back in 4 1/2 hours.  Viola! You have your meal!  Simple and delicious.

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香煎味增豆腐

For the two vegetarians in the house, I made a crispy miso tofu on a bed of spinach and a hearty vegetable lentil soup.

I always buy washed organic baby spinach from Costco.  It is the easiest thing to use in any menu.  I use it for my sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and sauté it for a side dish for many main courses.

I use a teaspoon olive oil, a couple of crushed garlic and a little salt.  You only need to cook the spinach for about 45 seconds.

I use Hodo Soy’s organic firm tofu from Costco.  Spread a thin layer of miso paste on the sliced tofu and sear it dry with a little cooking spray.

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蔬菜汤

The key to cooking the vegetable soup is to sauté the onion, tomato and carrots with olive oil until they caramelize. Then add vegetable stock, or chicken stock or water.  I usually add whatever vegetable I have at hand. Or soak some beans.  Or, like today, I used lentil.  The soup was perfect for the cool grey autumn day.

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煎麦片椰丝核桃煮梨子

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In Mark Bittman’s article there is a simple desert recipe for Skillet Pear Crisp.  It was a something Audrey could easily make and her desert was a smashing success. She even made it healthier by omitting the butter and sugar and using coconut oil and xylitol. By involving the children we instill in them the love and habit of cooking from a young age.  While Angela is the nerd, who studies the details of nutritional value of everything, Audrey enjoys being a hands on cook.

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