Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tamale prep

I have two friends here in Beijing who are at least half Hispanic and have husbands who are Hispanic too. They are beautiful fun women who love their roots. I enjoy them for numerous reasons, but today I love them because they are boldly stepping into a big project with me. 
 In my family we aren't very Mexican unless it comes to food, and then we are proud and opinionated. I have talked with my friend, N, about it because her family was similar- not very Hispanic in her half and half family unless it can to certain elements. Her husband is also half and half, but his family seems to have the most Hispanic pride of all of us! :) 
Well this holiday season we will show our roots by making tamales! The ultimate Hispanic celebratory food! I have made tamales with my family a handful of times and eaten them several more times with my dad's side of the family. I want to have the experience of making them from start to finish and I have two great friends to help me, so tomorrow we make tamales. We won't be here during Christmas time, when it is most traditional to eat them, so tomorrow it is. La dia de Los muertos! Hopefully by the end of the day we are muerte of satisfaction!
Cooking my pork

Beans ready to make into refritos
Soaking my corn husks

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween Night!

Outer space, Death Star, Darth Vader, R2D2, Storm trooper

Ezra would not let me dress him up until he saw how the process worked. Wear a costume. Knock on doors. Say the words. Get candy. Say thanks. We did a trial run for each boy since it was the first time for both boys (Liam got to do a trunk or treat the year before last, and last year he had the flu! So this was the first door treating).

Our housing compound is known for being the Halloween place! We hid in a dark room behind the curtains and watched our neighbors give our candy to the masses so no one would think we were home to give out candy. They were out of candy in 30 minutes! We just went to five houses on our street and the boys had a blast and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The AQI was not cooperating so aside from keeping candy down, we wanted to get out of the smog asap.

 Happy Halloween to friends and family who have yet to celebrate back in America!

Friday, October 24, 2014

The misunderstanding

the remaining loaf

the slice
I made pumpkin bread earlier this week. I love that flavor in this season. I wanted to get some blog posts up this morning so I sat the boys down to eat some pumpkin bread while I worked. Liam asked for another slice and I told him he could have the slice on the cutting board. He took that to mean the rest of the loaf on the cutting board.....

At least he shared with his brother. 

Summer living

I have missed my iPhone so bad! I have no point and shoot camera now! I am really looking forward to getting another one to be able to take more pictures. That iPad camera stinks! So, I have asked my dear friend and neighbor to please take that picture and that one! She is such a good sport! She shared them with me and now you get to see a bit of our life last week.
Ezra eating bowl after bowl of fruit loops at friend's house while I ran to the embassy and took care of errands. My friend said to me- they don't eat sugar cereal often do they? haha!

We walked around the corner and down the street to the local Burger King with a bunch of friends and had a lovely lunch outside on a great AQI day.

after lunch we played at the park the rest of the afternoon! The moms sat back in camping chairs and talked and watched kids have fun. It was magical.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween is upon us...

 The leaves are changing and it is definitely getting chillier here! In our housing compound Halloween is a big deal. More people decorate their houses here than I see in a condensed space back in the states. It is awesome. This is my favorite holiday for the treats we make and the costumes to be worn! I love costumes.

I had my opinions about what our family theme should be this year, but I am already losing my say in the matter. Liam is learning more about life and holidays and he heard a friend was going to be a storm trooper and he wanted to be the same. Really. Really bad. I didn't know how I was going to make it happen because I was planning on Harry Potter and Hedwig this year (so sad I don't get that!!). But a friend came through and gave us the costume they no longer wanted!! So I made up a little R2D2 costume for Ezra and a Death Star costume for me and baby belly. I'm planning on Benjamin being Darth Vader, but he is on the fence about his costume.

If you can't have a Harry Potter costume theme, Star Wars family costumes are a great alternative.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bagel day!

I have a wonderful friend and neighbor who likes baking like I do! I have been wanting to tackle learning to make bagels and she was just the the companion to make them with! We took turns taking pictures and working on different parts of the recipe and had a great afternoon of bagel making and eating!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Margherita pizza

I like this pizza, but I'm never like- oh man yes please! Until tonight.

 I've been working on my pizza skills for five years now, I normally do pizza once a week, so I'm getting better with all my practice and I'm learning a lot. Recently I have been trying high temperatures ( like as high as my oven will go-450) to bake the bread and then toppings and have had great results. I'm also trying cheese blends like mozzarella, Parmesan and Gouda. Gouda was on sale (two for one!) at the store (we have a fabulous grocery store around the corner) and so I have been loving throwing that yummy stuff on sandwiches, white pasta sauces, pizza and soup.

Well tonight I made my pizza dough and preheated it and then I topped it with Classico pasta sauce, Gouda and mozzarella. I put olive oil and crushed garlic in a glass bowl and heated it in the microwave for about a minute so it was fragrant and then I kept the garlic chunks in the bowl and drizzled the oil on the pizza. Once the cheese was melted I took the pizza out of the oven and put on fresh tomato and fresh basil. It may not be revolutionary to someone else, but with all those powers combined I loved it!

I don't think I've shared my pizza dough recipe on my blog. I searched for it but didn't find it, so here it is....

5 tsp yeast
2 cups water
Mix lightly

2 large tsp salt
Nearly 1/4 cup oil
Two small handfuls sugar- about 1/4 cup, maybe less
5 cups flour with humidity be prepared to use more

This will be a loose dough, possibly a bit sticky. As long as it holds a sort of shape you are ok. I do not knead the dough. It will make it tough. Just blend with a spoon and then lightly with your hands until all is incorporated. Let sit for 30-45 minutes.

Use extra flour to roll out. This makes 4 pizzas or 2 thicker or one really thick. I prebake for 2 minutes at  450 degrees before putting on toppings. Then I cook the thin crusts for about 8 minutes with toppings at 450, or until cheese is melted and there are a few golden spots on the crust. I prefer using a bake stone, it makes a nice crust.


Little boys love super heroes, actually we all love them! I have always liked batman. I have fond memories of watching the old 70's version with grey spandex and blue undies costume on tv and the 90's movies with my brothers. We liked the Val Kilmer and Nicole Kidman one best. Come to think of it, I think my older brother may have liked it best for Nicole Kidman....

Anyway, my boys discovered batman on the Lego movie. He is too cool for cool in that movie. This last week we got our winter clothes shipment in the mail and I made sure to include batman paraphernalia. Ezra has been known for his growling, scowling "ba-man!" Now he has the gear to go with it!

These boys wouldn't pose, so we get album cover style shots
These are fantastic hand me downs from Liam!
Please note the coordinated batman socks :)

I, I mean, Ezra can't wait for this birthday present from Nana in eight weeks!

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Ezra loves his chopsticks. He is determined to use them and asks for his "monkey" or "sticks" several times a day. The cool thing is he is really good at them now. Check it out! He has a good portion of a cinnamon roll in those sticks!
By the way, can you imagine a greater surprise than your wonderful friend bringing a whole pan of warm cinnamon rolls to your door? For me, it doesn't get much better! These are the best cinnamon rolls I've ever had!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Gift giving

Ezra likes to give me toys. It isn't just a "here, hold this" but a genuine " I want you to have this". I notice he gives toys and rocks to my friends he likes best too. What a funny guy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rice Terraces

We hopped into a van for a three hour drive up north to the famous Rice Terraces. We all took naps and the kids even watched a movie on the iPad. The area grows a lot of citrus and it was pomelo season so the street stalls were lined with them. And only them. I don't know how that made any sales man sense, but that is what they did side by side with the exact same product in the same area.

 Since it was rice harvesting time we got to see the farmers beat the rice off the plants, burn excess and see the terraces in yellow!

Passion fruit was grown in this area and they had them for sale in stalls along the hike up this mountain side. They were yummy!

passionfruit seller

It was a beautiful day! I only wish it were less hazy so we could see even more!