Nüwa the Mother Sponge has is on her fourth day now. Each day I feed her sugar water and rye, and within minutes she starts furiously bubbling and boiling. Nüwa is a sourdough starter, created from rye flour mixed with live kefir, live vinegar and live yeast. Tomorrow she will be ready to be made into a sourdough rye bread.
Archive for March, 2009
Zoe confirms her reservations at the Airport Express check-in counter as she and Trinh prepare to leave for Saigon. They’ll be back in Hong Kong on Easter morning.
Zoe’s skin has been a bit itchy lately, so we gave her a bath with an infusion of leaves from the guava tree in the front yard. Guava leaf has many medicinal uses, including curing diarrhea and abdominal pain, decreasing free radicals, easing menstrual cramps, strengthening teeth, curing hangovers, and even detecting arsenic in drinking water.
Today, I made both a brioche and a batch of Mexican chocolate cookies. The brioche disappeared in an instant. Fortunately, I can only bake six cookies at a time or they would all be long gone as well. I found two recipes for inspiration: Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies and Ibarra Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies. Here’s my final recipe: Mix 1 cup butter and ¾ cup mixed brown and raw sugar until smooth. Beat in two eggs. (I still don’t have any vanilla. If I did, I would have added about 1 tablespoon.) Mix in 4 discs Ibarra chocolate, chopped into little pieces. Then 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon allspice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of white pepper. Refrigerate a day. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350º F.
Today’s baked item is muesli cookies. I more-or-less followed my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, substituting unsweetened muesli for the oatmeal and raisins. I skipped the vanilla (only because we ran out), added a pinch of allspice and used a mixture of brown sugar and demerara sugar (a bit less than specified in the recipe). The coarse sugar crystals give the cookies an extra crunchiness, balancing the chewiness of the oat and barley flakes.
Lunch was bacon lettuce & tomato sandwiches. Home baked wholemeal bread, lettuce and tomatoes from the garden, applewood-smoked bacon and Japanese mayonnaise. I could easily make my own mayonnaise, but I have become a hopeless Kewpie-addict. The next logical step would be to make my own bacon. There are no shortage of pork-bellies in Hong Kong, but the process could be problematic since Eric, our landlord, is vegetarian and may not appreciate barrels of pig slurry in the yard nor the wafting aroma of animal-flesh smoke through his flat. Mmmm, bacon!
Granddoctor Alpo also brought us an expired Limburger cheese from Wisconsin. I had never actually eaten Limburger before and found the aroma exactly as expected. The reason the smell is so offensive is that it is fermented with Brevibacterium linens, the same bacterium responsible for body odor. (In fact, studies have shown that mosquitos are unable to differentiate between Limburger cheese and human feet.) Our breakfast was traditional sandwiches of Limburger, sliced onions and spicy mustard on fresh homemade brown bread. Like a durian, the taste was so much better than the smell, and the sandwiches were strangely addictive.
Tags: family, zoe
Zoe emerged from her room this morning with her stuffed caterpillar in one hand and The Very Hungry Caterpillar in the other. Lately, she’s been matching up objects, especially with pictures in her books. My coffee mug has a picture of a helicopter, and when Zoe saw it she grabbed a particular book and flipped through the pages until she found the helicopter.
This morning the weather was warm and humid. Then the winds came up, blowing 40-60 km/hr all day, and the temperature dropped by nearly 10º C. The winter monsoon comes from the north, so we bear the brunt of it in Pak Kok. A pleasant side effect is that the persistent haze has been blown away, leaving a beautiful clear view of the Hong Kong skyline tonight.