Sis's Thai Cooking Adventure

My world travelling, adventurous sister has been in Asia for a year teaching English, and recently attended an Asian cooking school.

Her posts are mostly adventures of traveling and experiences in new cultures, and often include new food experiences or discoveries. 

I thought I'd share a link to her blog post of this recent experience, which includes a Thai dessert recipe which she described as heavenly: " 
Mango Sticky Rice - is far easier than you think."

So You Wannna Cook Thai, Huh? She's included some great pics of the experience, so I've included a few.

Mango with Sticky Rice

She writes, ".......or so I happily discovered during a full day's Thai cooking class at The Thai Farm Cooking School on my breeze through Chiang Mai last month.  Not only did I learn how to make no less than six different Thai dishes (plus sample a dozen more, made by my fellow Thai chefs-for-a-day), but we all enjoyed a day out in the Thai countryside, cooking in a pleasant open-air kitchen, each of us with our own spotless cooking station.

For unlike the plethora of other Chiang Mai cooking schools, The Thai Farm school is a family affair, and they pick you up at your hotel, and transport you to their "1,000 trees" organic farm located about 20 km outside of the tourist-centric city center."

The experience included shopping for the fresh ingredients, then preparing the dishes. Be an armchair cooking traveler and check out her post.

For the dessert recipe of: 
(Mango with Sticky Rice)
Check out her post.

Basil Pesto

pestoBasil is easy to grow, inexpensive in large bunches at farmers markets in summer, and perfect for making homemade pesto.  I make batches and freeze in mini and regular size muffin tins. 
 It's then available year round for pasta dishes, appetizers, sauces, pizza and dips. 

A small jar of pesto can easily cost $4 or more at the grocery store, but homemade can make three times the amount for about the same expense.

Our local farmers market sells a huge bouquet of basil for $3 or $4, about 4 cups which is a bargain.

  • Basil Pesto
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon softened butter
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place walnuts, pine nuts, salt, pepper, garlic, butter, basil, and parsley in processor. Turn on and slowly add olive oil pulsing until smooth. Fold in cheese. 

Store in a jar in the refrigerator covered slightly with olive oil to prevent surface from turning brown, or use muffin tins or ice cube trays to portion out and freeze, then store in freezer bags.  I freeze in smaller portions and set muffin tins for a few seconds in warm water so portions of pesto slide out of tins easily to put in freezer bag. Makes about 2 to 2-1/2 cups.

Estimate cost with purchased basil $4.00 or less, with homegrown basil, less than $2.00.

Best Chocolate Cake and Frosting

Best Chocolate Cake, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppThis is my mom's recipe and first cake recipe I ever made after newly married in 1965.  I've made it countless times over the years as a cake or cupcakes for family celebrations, school functions, parties, or dessert anytime.

It makes a very fluffy, soft textured cake or cupcakes.  The frosting is rich, creamy and melts in your mouth.

When I taught middle school, at the end of every month I'd have a day to recognize everyone who had a birthday that month and make these cupcakes for the class.

I'd combined the celebration with an art project that period.  The kids not only looked forward to art but also to the cupcakes every month. This recipe is "kid tested" and approved!

Even if you use a boxed cake mix, which I do from time to time, especially when on sale, this frosting makes it extra special.

Best Chocolate Cake
1 cup cold coffee
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
5 heaping tsps. cocoa
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
Optional toppings or decorations: sprinkles, fresh berries or chopped nuts

Mix coffee, flour, powder, soda and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix eggs, sugar, cocoa, oil and vanilla.  Combine both mixtures and blend well.  Batter will be thin.  Pour into greased 8x8 baking dish or pan at 350 oven for 40-45 minutes.  If making into cupcakes, bake 30 minutes.  Double recipe for a two layer cake.  Makes about a dozen cupcakes.

Best Chocolate Frosting
6 ounces of chocolate chips
2 sticks, 1 cup of butter or margarine (butter is better!)
1 egg

Melt chips with butter. Cool and whip in egg for a long time until well blended and creamy, about two minutes.  Chill in refrigerator until stiff.  Remove and whip again.  The more you chill and whip the better it becomes, increasing in volume, so do it at least three times before using for frosting. Extra frosting can be frozen for reuse. It should frost a 2 layer cake, or 24 cupcakes.

Estimated cost of  singlecake/cupcakes $1.50 or less; frosting, $2.50 or less.

Lentil Sprouts

PhotobucketA craze for making homemade sprouts started in the late 1970s. My friends and I began sprouting mung beans, alfalfa and radish seeds for sandwiches and sprinkling on salads. 

We'd purchase seeds at a health food store, soak them in a Mason jar of water, rinse and drain, then set in a window and repeat rinsing with fresh water several days until spouting, then stored them in the refrigerator. I refer to those days as my "Mother Earth Days" as I was in to many things homemade: sewing, growing a garden, even raising chickens.

I recently discovered regular soup lentils, which I always have on hand sprout in a similar way.  They're delicious on regular sandwiches or pocket bread sandwiches and sprinkled in salads.

I bought three, wide-mouth lids made for sprouting different size beans or seeds, similar to these. They screw on jars and have a screened top for easily adding water, turning over and draining.

Lentil Sprouts
1 quart jar with lid with holes for draining water or
a screen or mesh cloth to put over the top and secure with a rubber band
1/3 to 1/2 cup dried lentils

Place lentils in jar and cover with 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of water. Set over night and lentils will swell. Drain water, then add fresh cold water, shake to rinse beans, and drain.

Set on window ledge or counter and rinse and drain twice a day until seeds sprout, about 5 days.  Keep rinsing and draining until beans sprout and fill the jar, then refrigerate for use.

Use on sandwiches or sprinkled on salads.  Can also be added to stir fry dishes.

Sprouting seeds is a great project for kids or grand kids!  Health food stores carry various sprouting seeds, and now days they be purchased online.  Makes one quart.

Cost of 1/3 cup of  dried lentil about .30 cents or less.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

PhotobucketI don't own a dog but my adult kids do, so I make this treat for the"grandpups" when they visit.  The batch is no fuss easy and fast to make.  I posted another pumpkin dog treat which I made for holiday treats and cut into shapes, but this one is just spread out to bake, then broken into bite size pieces.

The dogs like it and ingredients are healthy for them.  It's an easy enough recipe for kids to make or help make for their pets.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups Cherrios
2 cups flour
Photobucket3 beaten eggs
1/4 cup dry non-fat milk
1 Tab. molasses
1/4 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, warm peanut butter in microwave until its soft enough to mix with other ingredients.  Add all remaining ingredients to warmed peanut butter, mixing to combine.

Grease or flour your hands and spread mixture evenly on a greased cookie sheet to a thickness of about 1/4-inch, or no more thick than thickness of two Cheerios.

Bake 10 minutes, then with a spatula, turn dough over in large pieces and bake 5 more minutes.
 Remove from oven, break into bite-size pieces.  Turn off oven, and let pieces set in oven on sheet for 20-30 minutes more.

Cool and store in airtight container or freezer bags.  Makes about 1 quart of treats.
Estimated cost: $3.00 or less.