Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Part 3: Sheep-ish Escapades at Cingjing Farm

Okay, let's recap.

Now, here comes part 3!

The Green Green Grasslands at Cingjing Farm

This wide grassy plain is the most popular site of Cingjing Farm; the herds of sheep grazing on the land, the azure skies above, and the verdant mountains in the horizon have a distinct European air. The sheep here are very friendly; visitors usually have their pictures taken with them. There is the sheep shearing show, with sheep shearers all the way from New Zealand hairdressing these furry farm animals for the audience's enjoyment. [Source]

Green Green Grasslands

Can you see the sheep?

Yes, I saw baa baa black sheep!

The boy tried to spy on some sheep!

Goat Milk Biscuits

Fresh goat milk & ice cream.

Local market with local delicacies.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Part 2: Eat & drink in Taiwan

Here's Part 1: Our 6D5N Taiwan trip itinerary, in case you missed it. :)

 Now, here comes part 2!

Taiwanese Glutinous Rice Rolls / "Fan Tuan" (飯團)

You haven't been to Taiwan if you haven't eaten "Fan Tuan" (飯團) for breakfast. Serious!

"Fan Tuan" is a Taiwanese breakfast item that resembles a sushi roll. It's made from sticky glutinous rice with assorted stuffing such as shredded dried pork, hard-boiled egg, green beans, and Chinese cullers. This satisfying roll has become one of my favorite breakfast foods on earth!

Wonderful meals prepared by local people.

I realized that the Taiwanese love to serve super duper fresh and sweet cherry tomatoes. My toddler had the time of his life eating them! He could eat 6-7 cherry tomatoes at one time. He would squish the fruit with his little fingers, suck out the sweet innards, give the empty shell a few bites, then he would either swallow it or spit it out. Hah!

Steamed broccoli was his favorite too! He would munch on a few florets happily while I tried my best to coax him to eat a few mouthful of rice-tofu-broth-egg-whatever-I-could-find-that-I-think-he-will-eat. Hehe.

Usually, he'd be pretty satisfied munching on a banana after stuffing himself silly with tomatoes and broccoli. If he didn't finish the banana, I'd coax him to eat a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt or fresh milk. Oh yeah, he refused to drink soya milk. Hrmph.

I was so glad he didn't lose weight. Serious!

Rows and rows of fresh milk!

Other food and my favorite milk tea!

Shian Yeou Steamboat Restaurant

This was where we all had our first dinner - steamboat style - after we arrived in Caotun. Look at those soup bases! Since I needed to share my pot with my toddler, I had to order the original flavor soup base. I ordered the miso flavor soup base for my hubby. Actually, I'd love to find out how would the Southeast Asia curry flavor soup base taste like. Lol.

Assorted fresh and cooked food.

One of the locals introduced me to this "man bo" fish (曼波魚) that tasted like unflavored gelatine or agar-agar after it's fully cooked in soup. Hmmm.....

Passion Fruit Jelly bought from King Garden (元首館) at Puli Township, Nantou, Taiwan.

Assorted snacks given to us by the locals - preserved dried meat and pineapple tarts. 

I used the Caotun white rice to cook this Tomato Enoki Rice Porridge for my toddler.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Maple Syrup Banana Bread

Maple Syrup Banana Bread

There's a big bunch of overripe bananas in my kitchen. I always believe that the best way to "get rid" of them is by baking them into a loaf of fragrant banana cake/bread. 

I have a bottle of pure maple syrup in my fridge, so..... let's bake banana bread with a twist - by adding maple syrup. ;)

Oh, and here's my favorite way of enjoying freshly baked banana bread. Get ready a generous slice of banana bread; cut a thin slice of cold pure butter; put the butter on the banana bread slice; wait for it to melt a little; make a cuppa of my favorite coffee. Hmmmmmm..... you get the zest? ;)

Recipe adapted from here.

(Serves 6)

1/4 cup grapeseed oil (I run out of rice bran oil and I don't want to use melted butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 medium eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium ripe bananas (I used local pisang berangan)
1 & 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (yes, cake flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Grapeseed oil.

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Line a standard glass loaf pan with non-stick baking paper. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk grapeseed oil, brown sugar, and maple syrup together. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk until fully combined. Mash the bananas and pour into the mixture, whisk to combine.

Note: I don't mash the bananas too early because I don't want them to become blackish due to oxidization. So, I only mash them when the rest of the wet ingredients are already well combined. 

3. Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt to the mixture. Gently mix with a spatula until just combined. Don't over mix.

4. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Allow to cool before turning out of pan.

Freshly baked!

Another angle.

Cooled and ready to be sliced.


This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up (March 2015 Event: Banana) organized by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids), Doreen (My Little Favourite DIY) and hosted by Faaez (BitterSweetSpicy).

Here are some of my previous banana cakes/breads:

Steamed Moist Banana Cake (rice cooker version)
Banana Muffin Loaves
Diana Henry's Best Banana Cake
Banana Bread with White Chocolate Chips

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mixed Vegetables Soup (Tessa Kiros) - cooked in thermal cooker

Mixed Vegetables Soup (Tessa Kiros)

What's cooking for dinner? A pot of piping hot mixed vegetables soup, based on Tessa Kiros' recipe.

Here's an excerpt from her book, Falling Cloudberries: "This is a soup that my mother made often. When I asked her for the recipe she said she just put all the vegetables she could get into a big pot and covered them with water. But it had to have butternut squash. Sometimes she served it with raw, chopped-up red onions, fresh parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil over the top. You can add any other vegetables you like to make a huge healthy stockpot that will feed a multitude."

Recipe adapted from here.

(Serves 4)

1 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained
5 small honey tomatoes
10 mini cherry tomatoes
1 medium Japanese cucumber, chopped
1 medium purple sweet potato, chopped
2 cups frozen spinach balls, thawed
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 celery stalks (with leaves), chopped
1/4 small pumpkin, chopped
2 bay leaves
5 cups water
Extra virgin olive oil & freshly ground black pepper, to serve

How to:

1. Put beans and vegetables in a deep saucepan. Add the bay leaves. Cover with about 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and cook, partly covered, for about 45 minutes.

2. Off the heat and taste; add salt if necessary. Serve with a good drizzle of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper. This soup is good served warm or at room temperature.

Note: I cook this soup with my 5.5L stainless steel thermal cooker. I bring the ingredients to a boil in the stainless steel inner pot over the stove, decrease the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Then, I off the heat and transfer the inner pot into the thermal cooker, close the lid, and let it stay inside for another 30 minutes. Photos below.

My 5.5L stainless steel thermal cooker.


I keep some leftover soup in the fridge so that I can use it as the soup base to cook my toddler's kelp noodles soup the next day.

Organic kelp noodles from Country Farm Organics.

Ready to be packed!

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) for this week's theme, March Potluck!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tomato Enoki Rice Porridge (cooked in Zojirushi thermal food jar) - second trial!

Tomato Enoki Rice Porridge

I have successfully cooked rice porridge in my Zojirushi Stainless Steel Food Jar SW-FBE75 (750ml)! My first trial with this food jar was sweet potato dessert soup.

(Makes 2 servings)

5 tablespoons white rice (I used Caotun short-grain rice from Taiwan), soaked overnight in room temperature
3 tablespoons pearl brown rice, soaked overnight in room temperature
6 cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup enoki mushroom, chopped into small pieces
1 stalk spring onion, cut into small pieces
2 cups boiling water, with more to preheat the jar

The white and brown rice that I used.

Caotun short-grain white rice from Taiwan.

How to:

1. Fill up the empty food jar with boiling water, close and tighten the lid set, and set aside for at least 2 minutes.

2. Discard the water. Put in all ingredients listed above. Pour in enough boiling water to cover the ingredients. Close and tighten the lid set. Shake the food jar for a while. After 5 minutes, discard the water carefully so that the ingredients don't spill out.

3. Pour in 2 cups of boiling water, close and tighten the lid set, shake, set aside and wait for minimum 2 hours.

4. Before serving, use a spoon to stir all ingredients to mix and test the temperature before serving.

Note: Be careful with the temperature. This jar is super good in retaining heat. So, even after 2 hours, the porridge is still piping HOT.


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