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You know that exotic taste of Chinese Five Spice? Mmmm, makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

How about the firm, salty, roasted-sesame taste of the nori seaweed around your sushi roll bites? Imagine the odd, yet perfect bite of a golden, spicy, crunchy granola infused with salty cashews, flaky nori bits and sweet honey. Simply a “to die for” delicious-ness!

When I first started making my own granola, I infused a lot of different tastes and spices into my ‘conconctions’.

My daughter, Whitney, kept telling me how much she loved the granola that she made. ‘It’s so easy Mom, and much better for you than the high sugar, fat and salt granola that you buy. OH, and it’s very afforadable to make!’

So, make it I did! Granola baking is as much a part of my life now as grocery shopping is–but more fun.

My favorite thus far has been a fired up cayenne-granola with dark chocolate bits – super addicting. Not a breakfast granola by any means, but a by-the-handful, can’t get enough granola snack for sure…where can I hide this in the pantry so that no one else will find it kind of good!!

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I saw a recipe in Food and Wine magazine at the end of 2015 for a Nori Granola. It sounded intersting and delicious. I decided to try my hand at something similar.

The Food and Wine recipe is: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/nori-granola

Mine is similar I guess, but I have not made the Japanese style recipe that inspired me to make mine. This recipe in Food and Wine belongs to Heidi Swanson. It looks delicious though!

raise your chopsticks into the air and proclaim a new snack!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of crispy rice cereal
  • 1 cups coarsely chopped raw cashews (6 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds (half white/half black)
  • 4 full sheets of sesame roasted seaweed (Nori) torn to small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1  teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice seasoning
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup of crunchy peanut butter
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Fire up the oven!

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°
  2. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the oats  and crispy rice cereal, with the cashews, sesame seeds, Chinese 5 spice, black pepper and nori. 
  4. 
In a small saucepan, combine the honey, agave, peanut butter and olive oil. Warm over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the peanut butter ‘melts’ and the mixture starts to bubble a bit. Remove from the heat; pour over the granola mixture in the bowl. Toss with a large spoon to coat dry ingredients well.
  5. Spread the granola mixture on the sheet in an even layer, getting as close to the edges as possible. Bake for about 35 – 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the granola is golden brown. Watch closely to prevent burning of edges.
  6. Allow to 
cool completely before serving; the granola will crisp as it cools.

I really like this a lot!  It’s been a great little snack to lay out with cheeses and wine before dinner gatherings with friends. I keep mine in a tightly covered glass jar, for several weeks at a time.

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Enjoy!

We sure did!!

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As you have probably already gathered, I love cornbread. What’s not to love? Right?

Lemon Blueberry Cornbread

Don’t get me wrong, yeast rolls and fat buttery biscuits are great too. Italian and French loaves make my heart sing…but nothing in the name of bread does it for me like crunchy and rustic cornbread.

Cornbread to me, is like manna from heaven, just as I imagined it to be in my Great Grandmother’s Sunday School Bible stories as a child. Cornbread is my comfort food. It is my warmth on a cold winter’s day.  It is my delight with freshly cooked pinto beans and fried chicken. It is my dessert when I add butter and blackberry jam! It’s my favorite Cracker Barrel item too!

I also love the taste of Lemon and Blueberry together- married in summer splendor, oh my, these two make a lovely couple! Combine that taste unison with my thrill for kitchen experimenting and what you get is a wonderment of dishes sprinkled with the sweet and tart flavors of Lemon-Blueberry surprise. Lemon-Blueberry cornbread is a slightly sweet treat that will make your mouth and tummy sing for more!

Some of my other favorite Lemon-Blueberry prizes are: Lemon Blueberry Pancakes, Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake and Lemon Blueberry Scones/Biscuits.

There’s really nothing hard about making your normal cornbread or pancakes or what-have-you into a gourmet delight, or at least what seems like a gourmet delight. Becausee I like the exploration and the outcome of dabbling and experimenting in the kitchen and because I’m willing to try anything once; I find everyday in the kitchen to be a new adventure. I say, if you can imagine it, you can cook it. I’ve had no complaints from my family either, and they are they true testers. I’m not saying that I haven’t had some fails…to be sure, I have! But in the end the wins way out-weigh the fails.

When I make this Lemon-Blueberry cornbread- I do actually add a little sugar- usually turbinado or ‘sugar in the raw’.  I am by no means a sweet cornbread kind of girl! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…) But the lemon and blueberry do conjure thoughts of sweetness and that’s how I make mine. Add more or less as your taste demands.

If you are making a pan of cornbread already, (see my recipe below), you can half your mixture and make regular and lemon blueberry at the same time. When I do this, I usually use my Mother’s hand-me-down ‘wedge’ cast iron skillet. It makes individual pieces of cornbread; each is crispy and crunchy!

By making it this way, I can pour half of the skillet in plain and half in lemon blueberry. Ingenius design!  You could simply use two small cast iron skillets, muffin tins or a corn pone skillet as well.

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My southern-style rustic and heavenly cornbread recipe is just below.

I simply add a tablespoon of lemon extract and a half cup of fresh or frozen blueberries and a 1/4 cup of sugar to the batter to make the Lemon Blueberry Cornbread. For good measure, you can also sprinkle some pretty sugar crystals on top of the corbread before you pop it into the oven.

That’s it!

Ingredients for Southern-style Rustic skillet cornbread:

    • 1/4 cup of oil, shortening or bacon fat (coconut oil is great for the sweeter recipes too!)
    • 1-3/4 cups of cornmeal mix – your choice- I like Aunt Jemima’s Buttermilk Mix
    • 2 cups of milk, more or less
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Yes, I use a mix for my cornbread because it is simply easier- everything is already added in and it makes my life less complicated when I am in a hurry to eat cornbread.

If you want it all from scratch…here are the dry measurements/ingredients to use in the place of the cornmeal mix:

    • 1-1/2 cups of all purpose white or yellow cornmeal
    • 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon of salt

If you choose the ‘by scratch’ method, just note that everything else remains the same. : )

Pre-heat oven to 450 F.

Add the fat to a well seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet or corn pone pan. Now,before you mix the batter, you will put the skillet into the pre-heated oven to melt the fat and allow the skillet to heat to a searing crust crisping heat!
Break the egg into the milk in a measuring cup or bowl – whisk together gently- breaking the egg up minimally.
In a medium sized bowl or a very large (4-8 cup size) measuring cup, gently mix together the cornmeal, and the milk and egg mixture. Do not overmix.  The batter will be thick, but easily pourable.
With sturdy pot-holders, remove the skillet from the oven. Make sure the entire skillet bottom in coated in the hot grease.
Pour the cornbread batter into the hot skillet- hear the sizzle!?- and immediatley return the skillet to the hot oven.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  Let the the cornbread sit/rest for about 5 minutes. Turn the cornbread out onto a cooking cooling rack or a plate. This is an imortant step if you want to keep your bottom crust super crispy!
If your skillet is well seasoned, your cornbread will not stick to the bottom of the skillet. If it does stick, do not panick. you can usually work it loose with a flat metal egg spatula.
Enjoy!
  Lemon Blueberry Cornbread
P to the S….
Leftover cornbread can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or so…reheated at 350 F for about 20 minutes.
It can be stored for a few months in airtight bags. I usually double bag mine. This is particularly useful if you enjoy southern-style cornbread dressing. Once you have an accumulation of cornbread ready- you can make the dressing in a wink!
Be blessed!
Dawn

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My first Scallion Pancakes…or as my in-laws would say in their native tongue: Cong You Bing. (sounds like Tsong Yoh Beeng. It’s a ridiculously simple recipe – with a taste that is mouthwateringly magical!

My husband bought some of these scallion pancakes from an Asian supermarket here in the Atlanta area a few weeks ago. He explained their place in the Chinese culture of simple yet amazing foods. For some reason, I thought it was an egg based pancake and browned eggs disgust my palate for some reason. So, honestly, I did not get excited in the least. I was pretty stoked for the black sesame balls and the steamed pork buns he had found though!

Cornbread and old Chopstix.
Cornbread and old Chopstix. I like to call my little Chinese Mudman “Chopsticks” and my daughter’s childhood toy Djali from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney version- he’s about 22 years old now) ‘Cornbread’. You will probally see them in most picturess taken at home. They’re always keeping careful watch.

On the night that we decided to stir fry all of the bok choy (Báicài) and Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) – Vince steamed the pork buns and skillet ‘fried’ the cong you bing. The meal was outstanding! It was my first taste of the steamed pork buns, which Vince said were just ‘ok’, and my first scallion pancakes. To my surprise, they were not made from eggs at all! Flour, scallions and toasted sesame oil and a smidge of salt Vince explained to me. I can tell you that if you have ever fallen in love with a flaky pastry of any sort, this one will rival it to no end. I was smitten as a kitten!

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Those flaky layers of yum!

I asked him why he had never made them for me!? Does Mother Wang make them? Yes, he said. But it’s a pain. A mess. Just so much easier to buy frozen. THIS ANSWER WAS NOT SATISFYING TO ME! Sounded more like a challenge in fact! Vince had just spoiled me a new Ninja Mega Kitchen System and a new Candy Apple Red Professional Kitchen-Aid 6 QT, 10 speed stand mixer…So, ‘these are easier to buy frozen’ just won’t cut it in my kitchen! I aim to spoil him as much as he does me, by golly!

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Look closely at the flour… : )

I set out to unravel the lore and mystical tales of the flaky pancake of Chinese nirvana. After much studying, questioning and 3 fails, I finally got it right! I  also know how to pronounce it properly, even with my southern accent, and now I will share it with you!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of flour for dusting
  • 3/4 – 1 cup of boiling hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 5 green onion stalks; washed, excess water shaken out, and thinnly sliced -use green and white parts
  • Sea salt for seasoning (I used pink Himalayan flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons of toassted sesame oil to brush on during rolling
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4  cup of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon teaspoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
  • sliced green scallions
  • *adjust to taste of use a soyaki type sauce for dipping

My husband doesn’t use a dipping sauce at all, he prefers the perfectly delicious taste as it is!

 

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Supplies that are helpful:

  • Parchment Paper, cut into 4 or 5 sheet for layering the pancakes
  • large nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast iron skillet
  • tongs for turning

Preparing your dough:

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Let it be known that I cheat and use my Ninja food processor to bring the dough together.

  1. Add flour and salt to food processor
  2. close top and turn on processor as you start to pour in the boiling hot water. Use about 3/4 of a cup of water and only a little more if needed to bring the dough together to form a slightly sticky ball
  3. only mix it enough for it to “come together”…
  4. removed from processor and dump onto a lightly floured surface (I use a silpin and mat for easy cleanup)
  5. keep the extra ‘dusting’ flour nearby for easy access
  6. knead the ball on the floured surface for about 8 minutes- it will begin to look smooth and not sticky
  7. cover the ball of dough with a damp cloth or damp papertowel and then a tea towel or cloth — allow to rest for 30 minutes
  8. separate the rested dough into 4 equal parts
  9. while working on the first piece of dough keep the other 3 pieces under the dam cloth and tea towel
    1. roll the first piece out to about a 10-12 inch circle; dust with flour as needed to keep dough from being to tacky/sticky
    2. brush with sesame oil, sprinkle lightly with sea salt and springle with about a 3 tablespoons of the scallions
    3. with your fingers, from one side to the other, roll the circle into a long tube, as you would a jelly roll
    4. curl the tube into a cinnamon roll type coil, tucking the end piece snugly underneath.
  10. set the ‘coiled’ dough back under the damp cloth to rest for another 10 minutes or so
  11. repeat the process with the other 3 pieces of dough; allowing each to rest for about 10 minutes
  12. take the first piece of dough you rolled and press it down with your hands on the floured surface
  13. roll the dough out to about an 8 inch circle, keeping it evenly flat
  14. set aside on a cut sheet of parchement paper

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Cooking:

  • Preheat a skillet with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil until it’s shimmering
  • Cook the first pancake over medium heat; shake the skillet back and forth to keep the pancake moving- when the pancake starts to turn golden; flip and repeat on the other side
  • Flip back to the first side and lightly brown up the ‘bubbled’ parts of the pancake, being careful not to overcook it- repeat on the other side
  • Remove and set on wire racks to drain – keep in a warm place if possible while the other pancakes are cooked

Serve:

  • Cut pancakes into wedges and serve while warm with a dipping sauce

 

 

大家吃喝 但只有少數欣賞食物的味道

Dàjiā chīhē; dàn zhǐyǒu shǎoshù xīnshǎng shíwù de wèidào

Everyone eats and drinks; but only a few appreciate the taste of food.

– Confucious

Our Alaskan Cruise started in Vancouver, British Columbia. We took full advantage of  an opporunity to see a new place! We arrived on the 4th of July before embarking on the 6th of July.

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Before the big game!

Just so happened that the FIFA Women’s World Cup was being played there on the 5th of July too !

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I love sea planes, and took quite a few shots of these!
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Emily with the Royal Mounted Police…Bears?

 

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Notice the light jacket and long-sleeved t-shirt? Dress warmly we were told…it was hotter than hades!
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The famous Capilano Suspension Bridge. It was a sight to see!
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I loved the lushness of this park. It was so beautiful to me!
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They were not kidding, nature at it’s best!
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Takes about 50 years for a fallen tree to be totally consumed and broken down completely in this area.
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Banana Slugs is what they have in this area…they must be fast, we never even saw one!

 

CRUISE EASTERN CARIBBEAN 2014 JULY BEFORE HOSPITAL
Vince and I on a Caribbean Cruise July 2014.

Hello!!

We are a multicultural family. Half Asian – half Southern; whole happiness! Full of fun and silliness, we enjoy food, the outdoors, music, laughter, fitness, travel, friends and family! We LOVE life! We will take you on a fun-filled ride  of delicious food, travel destinations, outdoor excursions of biking, paddle boarding, hiking and photography. We will show you our home DIY projects; our crafting, art and holiday decorating. We will open your eyes to great books that we have read and great products that have used. We will share our family’s favorite recipes, new food creations, cultural fusions, and kitchen tips & tricks.

Please join us on our journey of life, love and laughter!

I’m Dawn. I am a southern girl; a country girl. I was a beans and cornbread kind of kid. I lived on fried potatoes, fresh tomatoes, and okra anyway it could be cooked, and almost always served with hot fresh skillet baked, crispy, yet steamy cornbread. Thank you Mom! I dug potatoes, picked peas, shelled those peas and shucked corn with my Grandpa on his little garden patch in southwestern Arkansas. When I wasn’t popping corn for an after school snack every day, I was asking Grandma for their leftover cornbread. Cornbread and popcorn were and still are two of my favorite foods. (Not that I don’t love almost any kind of food you put in front of me.)

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Family vacation cruise to Alaska…this was Glacier Bay. Vince’s sister Mae is another expert photo-bomber! Happy is as happy does!

My Vincent is a Chinese-American. He was born and raised in New York. His parents met at the University of Illinois; both having emigrated to the U.S. from China. Vince is as American as I am- but with a rich and mystical Chinese culture deeply embedded in all that he is. He grew up going to Saturday Chinese school with his little sister- as his parents hoped that they could maintain, enrich and instill that ancient culture to an even deeper degree than what the children experienced at home. Vince was, however, every bit as American as any other little boy I knew. He had a love for back yard hunting with his B.B. gun and love for playing football at Saturday Chinese school…more so than learning Chinese enrichment! In fact, football is what he seems to recall the most.  As an adult, he has lived in Texas, North Carolina and a little over 20 years in the Atlanta, Georgia area. If you ask him, he will says he is as redneck and hillbilly as me…or my brothers. But don’t be fooled. He is as hillbilly as I am Chinese!

While we both have a lust for fine dining, it’s that melange of flavors from down to earth foods that have been tastefully prepared with just the perfect amount of seasonings and love that really make us happy!

When we first started cooking together, we discovered how much we loved each others’ family favorites and childhood comfort foods. We had some crossovers and some twists in our meals. I began learning some new words! So did he, ha-ha.  Soon I was learning some new recipes and even more unique and exotic flavors and dishes. Man, I could not have been happier. I felt like I had been invited to a new land, a new secret life, a delectable culture of mouthwatering nirvana. The taste and flavors were nothing like the ‘Chinese’ restaurants in the towns that I had lived in throughout my adult life- and I THOUGHT that food was good! I almost felt cheated…then I realized I was blessed!  I began to embrace the simple but amazing foods with an intensity that would suggest that I had too much to learn with too little time to learn it. This nosh was overwhelmingly wonderful.

I remember my first trip to my in-law’s home- it was unbelievable! It was for the Christmas holidays. That meant that I got to taste extra special dishes that are usually only served at the holiday season. My sister-in-law, Mae, asked me after a few days if I was sick of Chinese cooking and food yet. I could not make her believe that I was in food heaven. She kept asking if I wanted Mexican food or Italian or anything else.

Nope, I’m good. Really good!

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A Mother’s Day surprise! My son Robert, front and center, always the clown- drove from Texas to Georgia to see his Momma. His wife Nicole could not make the trip. My daughter and her fiance came too. Whitney Dawn is in the Master’s of Fine Arts program at East Tennessee State University. Her boyfriend, Evan, had just returned that morning from a semester abroad in Chile. Poor Vince is just trying to see over the clown boy. Robert is a master at photo-bombing. Long before photo-bombing was a hipster trend. : )
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Vince and Emily….with Robert sneaking in to bomb the photo!

FIRST VALENTINE'S DAY DALLAS 2013Chinese Love