03 April 2015

Still out here.

I'm still here, I swear! I just had a baby (lame excuse! Ha) and became super busy with my darling, energetic JB and his little sister.  (For the blog we'll call her lil' Belle.)   So my two darlings have been double the trouble, fun, and adorableness.   And have kept me 10 times more busy than I used to be!   Let's just say that I truly deserve my glass of cab!   

So updates from the past almost year (OMG oops).
Lil' Belle was born back in Virginia. 
We are still in China.  
We will be in China for another year. 
We survived our first vacation with two darling troublemakers.  (Xian and the teracotta solidiers, I'll post more on that later)
JB is potty trained, woohoo.  (After potty training the 2 yo we are now hoping that lil belle potty trains herself!  D and I both earned a double (read triple) pour of something strong.) 
Lil belle is 7 months and crawling, standing up, and busy trying to steal whatever JB is eating.   

I'm sure there is more.  But I'm going to go and get some coffee.   

15 June 2014


For Mother's Day D made me an amazing meal of homemade pasta and pan fried chicken with tomatoes and capers!  Yum! I'm assuming that I should be sweet and return the favor on Father's Day?!? 
So for Father's Day breakfast this year we enjoyed some yummy Texas-style Czech kolaches!  I thought he would enjoy that since we met in Texas.  Good idea right?  A little taste of one of our old stomping grounds?  Little did I know he never ate kolaches in Texas! Awhatawhat? I guess I was the only piggie that chowed down on them in Texas, and I obviously never shared with D!  
Anyways he was still getting kolaches for breakfast, when his pregnant wife gets a craving for something there's no going back from there!  
So my game plan was to make some sausage kolaches and some cherry & cream cheese kolaches.   Sweet and savory, best of both worlds!  (I hate choices, so why not make both!)  

They turned out beautiful if I do say so myself!  D and JB both devoured their kolaches.  So, I'm thinking it was a success for both of their first kolaches!  Even if they enjoyed them far, far, far away from the pastry's Texas hill country home!  
Here is my kolache recipe for half sausage and half sweet kolaches.  I know it looks like a lot of steps and ingredients, but I promise it is really easy, doesn't make a huge mess, and it is so worth it! 

Sweet and Savory Kolaches
Kolache Dough (makes about 24 kolaches)
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 cups flour
Savory Sausage Kolaches
  • 12 smokey sausage links or breakfast sausage (24 links if only making savory kolaches)  (In America you can buy these, in China, I had to make them!)  
Sweet Kolaches (enough filling for 12, double if only making sweet kolaches)
  • Fruit preserves (any, I like cherry), about 1/2 cup
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Posypka Topping for Sweet Kolaches (enough for 12)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tablespoon butter
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
For finished pastries
  • Melted butter 
For the dough: 

  1. Sprinkle the yeast over warm water in the bowl, let proof until foamy.  
  2. Combine in mixer yeast mixture, milk, melted butter, 2 eggs, sugar, and salt.  
  3. Add the flour and mix only until just combined.  Dough will form a ball a be slightly sticky.  
  4. Cover and let rest for 2 hours, until dough has doubled.
  5. Punch down and refrigerate covered overnight.
  6. The next morning divide dough into about 24 balls.  Balls will be just over an 1 1/2 inches.  
  7. Cover and let rest on lined baking sheet for 15 minutes
Savory Kolaches 
  1. Flatten 12 of the dough balls and place the sausage on top.
  2. Wrap the dough around the sausage, pinch the edges together and place seam side down on baking sheet. 
  3. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes, while preheating the oven to 375.   
Sweet Kolaches
  1. Combine cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon zest in mixer.   
  2. In a separate bowl combine all the posypka ingredients.   Mix until crumbly.  
  3. With the remaining 12 kolache dough balls, use the back of a back of a spoon make a well.   
  4. Place one teaspoon of fruit preserves in each well, top with one heaping teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with the posypka.  
  5. Let rest for 20 minutes, while preheating the oven to 375.  
  1. Bake for 20 minutes at 375, until browned.
  2. Brush with melted butter. 
  3. Cool and enjoy! 
Recipe combined from a few sources...  Main and favorite source The Homesick Texan blog.   

04 June 2014

hot pot

Hot pot, yummmmm.   It's a Sichuan speciality, so of course we have to eat it.  It's chinese fondue essentially, minus the cheese, and add some spicy broth.    You get your stock, they light up a burner under it, and you order all of your meat and veggies for you to cook in your broth.   

Here it is.   The middle light colored broth was some fish and veggie stock.  The outer ring was the spicy Sichuan classic hot pot broth.  Just whatever you do, like all food here in Chengdu, you have to ignore the glistening oil layer on top!   The food here is very tasty, but it does not fall into the heart healthy category!   

So, I have been to hot pot a few times stateside, and D and I have even made it at home before, and I always thought I was tough when it came to spicy food, but oh my stars did that outer ring of broth pack a punch.   By the end of supper I was only eating out of the fish and veggie stock section.   

Once you cook up your food you can dip it I'm your sesame oil, garlic, and cilantro mixture.   Then enjoy!  (Of course you add more oil to flavor your food here!) 

At first, JB wasn't sure about his meal, he decided to hide from his tofu and noodles.  But it didn't take JB long to decide he loves hot pot too.  Seriously.  He has now even learned how to say hot pot and gets pretty excited when we tell him that's what we are going to go eat.   

I meant to take a pretty picture of all of the uncooked food, but that didn't happen.  So here is our awesomely messy table.   I swear it was mich tastier than this picture makes it look!   

JB is really into using his chopsticks.   He will eventually get there.   Until then he kind of just uses them as a pestle.   

This was some pickled veggie.   I'm not a huge pickle fan, but it did look pretty.   

03 June 2014


Ahhh yes, Singapore.  So JB and I headed to Singapore in April (we left D in Chengdu, sorry D!) for my 20 week ultrasound and to meet up with my parents in Indonesia and enjoy some warm weather, lumpia, and piles of nasi goreng!  I had not been to Singapore since I was 14, many, many moons ago.  Things have changed a bit there!

After the Chengdu to Singapore red eye with a toddler (#thingstoNEVERdoagain) we met up with Nana and took the ferry across to Batam.  JB loved some pool time in Indo.  Thanks to spending way to much time in the pool he now insists that his bath temperature is cool (like the pool!) and tries to swim on his tummy during bath time while blowing bubbles in the tub.  I'm thinking someone loves the water!   
JB swimming, piles of satay, the Batam ferry terminal 
After the long weekend in Indo we headed back to Singapore.  Pregnant (read: always starving) me did not complain about the food situation there!  
amazing dim sum, and yakitori 
my half eaten lamb kebab.  i miss lamb.  
JB didn't complain about the food either.  He was seriously spoiled every morning at breakfast.  Check out the adorable special pacake they brought him!   Where was my good morning pancake?  (D, please make me one for tomorrow.  Thanks!)  
JB at breakfast
The one thing that JB did hate was the heat.  Every time we went outside he would say 'ot' - hot in JB speak.  And he wouldn't just let you know that he was hot by telling you, he seriously put on the most miserable, I'm going to die of heat exhaustion face that you have ever seen.  
JB hates heat and humidity. 
We took JB to the zoo.  What kid doesn't love the zoo?  No, it was too 'ot.  Of course. The only exhibit that he enjoyed was the polar bears with the ice cold igloo!  I'm thinking that with this kiddo a tropical post is not in our future!  
at the Singapore Zoo
So, our medevac trip was lovely.  And the mini vacation went by way too fast!  I guess next time I head south I should probably take my husband with me!  

02 June 2014

oh amazon

Amazon is reminding me this morning that Father's Day is around the corner.   So, I guess my favorite online retailer thought it would be helpful and give me some tailored suggestions on my homepage for D.   
Amazon, my buying habits include food, kid stuff, diapers, and more food.   What on earth made you think that I was in the market for a circular saw?   
Sorry D, no saw for you on June 15th.   Maybe next year amazon.  

05 May 2014


Way back when D and I first started dating we would go fairly often and eat dim sum in Dallas.  D had just moved back from China and I think he was missing the food!  After stuffing myself to the brim with dim sum (I always felt bad saying no to the nice ladies with the carts, so we always ended up with way too much food!) I would always get 1, 2 or 3 danta to go.  But usually these to go danta wouldn't make it much past the parking lot!  

Danta are the Chinese version of a Portuguese egg tart.  The Chinese version is a bit eggier and less creamy custard-like than their European counterpart, but still tasty!  

Walking around the downtown area here in Chengdu we saw an little street side bake shop specializing in danta!  So naturally (of course!) we had to get some to go, for old times sake!  But here, unlike in Dallas, the danta had different fruit flavor topping options. Mango, peach, orange, pineapple, plum!  We had some serious difficultly narrowing our choices down so obviously we went with a mixed 6 pack!  
pouring the custard in the danta crusts to be baked
so many danta options!

03 May 2014

fishing at the store

JB loves going to the grocery store here.  It is cleaver swinging, meat tossing, and live fish entertainment for him!   What more could a kid want from a store?    He's just not so sure about the flowery smells of the antibacterial hand gel I lather on both of us after! 

In the meat section you really get to pick your cut!  Not by sorting through prewrapped peices of meat, but by picking it up and digging through a bin of pork tenderloins to get the perfect one!   Not everyone uses hand protection in the meat digging process, I guess they really like to get up and close with their supper!  I'm going to stick with plastic bagging my hands and antibacterial hand gel though!    

top: guys chopping meat, I do not see how they do so much with just a cleaver! 
bottom: ground pork separated out by fat percentage.   this makes making sausage so easy!  D made some sage breakfast sausage the other weekend, perfection!   Next on the to do list...  Brats, love fresh brats!   

D loves whole roasted fish.   He offered to cook the other night so he went to the store with me to catch our supper.   (Yes, such a provider, works hard and then catches our meat!)
The first time we went to this store the lady next to us had her fish flop out of her net!  It flipped and flopped under our cart, JB watched all of this pretty closely!   Don't worry the fish attendant caught the fish and got it back in the lady's bag so she and her supper could be on their way!  
top:  yes, that's right, my darling husband caught two fish at once!  Check out those net skills!
bottom left:  the nice lady takes the fish, weighs them, then takes them away to meet their maker and gut them while you wait.   She killed the fish, gutted it, descaled it all with a cleaver.  Now that is talent!  
bottom right:  JB watches the fish tanks.  He was pretty excited when he saw the fish flopping in the net!