Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: baking

September 2020

September has historically been my favourite month of the year as it marks the beginning of autumn as well as my birthday ๐Ÿ˜› This year, September was extra-anticipated because I took my five-day annual leave at the end of the month, giving me two weeks off work when combined with the eight-day National Week holiday at the beginning of October. Still, let’s see what Annie had been up to this past month.

I’m constantly discovering new places in Wuhan and this time it was a walking path near the Huanglongshan (literally “Yellow Dragon Hill”) area. Who would have thought that there’d be this “I โค U" sign in the middle of nowhere! So Jian and I had some fun with it, heh ๐Ÿ˜›

And at the same time, there is a “I LOVE HUST” sign in front of the HUST (Jian’s university) library. Can’t say I myself love HUST that much but J is a loyal faculty member indeed ๐Ÿ˜€

Weekly fellowship combined with a birthday party this time, at my place.

Birthday girl making a wish upon a star…or upon a cake?!

Sleep vs. grumpy cat, with that “what are YOU lookin’ at O_O” look. It’s OK, I still like you.

Cat #2 here, looking photogenic as passersby stop to admire the gorgeous beauty.

Dramatic sky one afternoon, with the clouds trying to mask the radiating sun. But Mr. Sun’s like, “Nah bro you ain’t taking the highlight away from me” as it attempts to burst out of the sombre clouds…

The baking experiments continue, this time with…classic banana bread! First bite was like OMG this is delicious but it ended up being too sweetโ€ฆAGAIN, even with reduced sugar content. I guess I didnโ€™t take into account how sweet ripe banana themselves already areโ€ฆneed to work on my sugar control!!!

Tidbits of street food in Chaozhou in Guangdong province, a small trip taken at the end of September before going to my hometown Guangzhou. Top left: beef and tripe soup noodles; top right: glutinous rice stuffed in pig intestines; bottom left: a variety of street snacks in Chaozhou; bottom right: matcha shaved ice milk. Food heaven! โค

There are two and a half months left in the peculiar year of 2020 but we’ll see if it could get any more bizarre…see you in November with the next monthly update!

The art and science of cooking, part 5

I haven’t had time to organize my photos from my trip to Italy with my dad, so here’s something while that’s on hold – the 5th part of the “The art and science of cooking” series. After all, everyone likes some good food during the holiday season, no? ๐Ÿ˜‰

As usual, if you want to check out the previous editions, go ahead and read PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, and PART 4.

Ever since I saw my friend Stephane’s post about the most perfect rack of lamb he made, I’d been itching to try it on my own. Then Florence showed me a mouthwatering photo of a rack of lamb that she made. That was it. I was going to make it. With a huge kitchen and a lovely oven at my disposal in Louvain-la-Neuve in October, there was almost no reason NOT to give it a try. And it worked magically. Stephane’s suggestion was so simple yet so perfect – 40 minutes at 400 degrees F, no prior marinating required. I had doubts when I was cooking but when I bit into the juicy, tender meat, I felt like my life has been completed. Thanks Stephane and Florence for the inspiration!

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The art and science of cooking, part 3

Food is the ultimate epitome of enjoyment in life. As I’ve mentioned before, I will never be skinny because I love food too much. Two weeks ago I was discussing food with a colleague, and when she said she loves food, I replied, “Who doesn’t?” She said, “Some people eat because they have to, but they don’t LOVE food!”

And that is true. The art of food can be so much fun to play with. Sometimes when I am tired at night, I just throw together something simple and eat it to fill up my stomach, but when I have the time and opportunity, I play around with food in terms of taste, texture, presentation…everything! The meticulous combination of all of the above and everything else that makes food more than just something you eat…that is ART. I may not be very skilled, but I certainly enjoy the process of experimenting with food, much like doing science.

Following part 1 and part 2 of the food series, here’s the latest edition with the some new stuff I tried in the past couple of months. Enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Spicy salty crispy shrimp – yes, the name is long and a mouthful, but I can’t find a better way to translate it from its original Chinese name. I was quite proud of this dish. For the longest time I’ve been wanting to try the “spicy salty crispy” way of Chinese cooking, which involves deep frying the main ingredient (could be shrimp, squid, pork ribs, etc.) and as soon as I got back to Bordeaux and had access to my kitchen again, I KNEW I had to do it. The outer shell was a bit loose because of the starch coating, but my goodness, the combination of garlic, chilli peppers, ginger, and green peppers with the shrimp…heavenly! Let me just say…SUCCESS!

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The art and science of cooking, part 2

As promised earlier, here is part 2 to the food series, being posted slightly later than I had intended, but better late than never! I’ll skip the introduction since it has already been presented in part 1, so without further ado, let’s get to the goodies.

Did someone say sushi? Yes indeed! I made sushi for my friend Cindy’s birthday party last month and mmmmmm, it was worth every bit of effort. Certainly, sushi is one of those things that takes a lot of preparatory work but is also a lot of fun to make in the process. I had five main ingredients as the fillings: raw salmon, shrimp (with mayonnaise), cucumber, avocado, and crab sticks. For each maki roll (I tried to make nigiri sushi but failed miserably) I mixed and matched random ingredients and out came our delicious Japanese favourite!

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The art and science of cooking, part 1

Cooking is one of my passions. Well, it started out with baking. Ever since the first time I baked a cake five years ago, I’ve been addicted to the art of baking and subsequently, cooking. Yes, I consider it an art. It is also a science, as it is the exact same thing as doing experiments in a lab. You mix things together, whisper a spell, and wait for something to happen. You usually follow a recipe or a protocol, but when those don’t exist, you just throw in whatever you have available and hope for the best. Isn’t that how it works for both cooking and lab work?

As I only developed this passion late into university, I started to expand my kitchenware collection in fourth year, a bit too late as I only had one year left to take advantage of my relatively well-equipped kitchens in Waterloo and in Toronto. By the end of the school year I had accumulated a set of baking utensils that would in no way be able to accompany me to France. Oh boo.

After coming to France, I didn’t bake as much, mainly due to the lack of a large oven, but instead I picked up cooking. As long as I had a wok (which was thankfully given to me by a friend), a pot, some basic Chinese sauces, and rice, I was ready to experiment, even with a small kitchen. (Of course, that is not to say that’s all I have, but that’s the bare minimum, anywhere.) Unlike baking, I rarely follow a recipe when I cook; instead of precise measurements and proportions, I go with past experiences – sometimes I rely on instinct – and whatever inspires me at the moment, which makes things a lot more interesting…and fun!

Many friends ask me, “Annie, what do you eat in France?” I think some people expect me to say things like cheese and baguette and things with fancy French names, like foie gras and escargots, but sorry to disappoint you. Although I do occasionally eat out and enjoy authentic French cuisine, my daily life revolves mostly around Chinese cooking. I’ve lived all my life with the Chinese way of dining and although I would probably survive without it, it wouldn’t make me very happy ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

In this post I share with you some of the culinary experiments undertaken within the past year and a half. Unless otherwise stated, I made the dish myself. Of course, not everything is cooked the Chinese way, but most are. There will be a second entry after this one with more goodies. I don’t want you to get TOO hungry… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Let’s start off with some good ol’ pancakes served with butter and the Canadian favourite, maple syrup! Yes they are typically eaten at breakfast, but who says you can’t eat breakfast food at any other time of the day? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Pancakes are so simple to make as well, just mix the seven magical ingredients at the right proportions – flour, egg, milk, butter, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Then pour some batter on a frying pan, flip until both sides are golden brown, and tada! Fast, easy, and delicious. I actually had some last week but without the maple syrup, and while plain pancakes already taste pretty awesome with butter alone, I just felt that there was something missing without my sweet Canadian goodness. Time to restock.

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