Heritage Baking

I’m back!  Sorry that it was such a long hiatus.  The holidays consumed me (in a good way!) and the first week back was filled with work and friend catch-ups.  I’m glad to report that there was quite a bit of baking, cooking, and experimenting through out the holidays.  We spent Christmas with Zach’s family and his mom, Brenda, exploded with holiday cheer and had fudge, cookies, spiced nuts, quick breads, you name it, she baked it!  There were so many yummy sweets that instead of making another when I arrived, we decorated with sweets instead – our very first gingerbread house (from a box kit, gotta start small).

Gingerbread House (from a kit)

Then we flew home to NJ to my parents’ house to ring in the new year with my family.  I LOVE being home!  I get to be complete mush while my mom feeds and cleans-up after me.  Once I step into the door all responsibilities and stresses disappear and I’m 13 again.  When I was small, I experimented A LOT in the kitchen.  There was the hard-as-a-rock monkey bread attempt (my first with yeast), 50 ingredient ambrosia (I still don’t know what ambrosia is supposed to be), soupy flan, and cookies galore.  Every class project, I picked a food element to do.  Mmm…maybe that was sign?  With every experiment, of course we had to buy ingredients that we would never use again because I was on to another challenge, like cream of tartar that is probably still in the cupboards.

Just like 17 years ago, I did some experimenting in my NJ home’s fabulous kitchen and my sis and mom (dad also chipped in by reading the Chinese recipes when the English didn’t make sense) were by my side the whole time, buying tons of ingredients, helping me recover from disasters, and being my guinea pigs.

NJ Home Kitchen

Hand Mixer, still the same one I used when I was little

No, I didn’t grow up in this kitchen, but I did use the same hand mixer that I used since elementary school (or even before that!)!

We made our favorite Chinese / Asian sweets from the book “International Baking Delights“, including pineapple cakes, pineapple bread or bo lo (with red bean paste) and taiyaki (red bean filled pancakes).  I was on the hunt for this Chinese / English baking book a few months ago when we were in Asian and came home empty-handed.  Unfortunately, I didn’t pay enough attention in Chinese school to be able to read Chinese characters, so this book would be perfect for me.  Due to a good friend of my dad’s, I got it for Christmas!  I was so excited as it’s hard to find the sweet breads, chiffon cakes, and cute shaped cakes in the Midwest without a bit of driving.

International Baking Delights cookbook

Forming mini Pineapple Cakes

Baked Mini Pineapple Cakes

Pineapple Bread doesn’t taste like pineapple (with Red Bean Paste)

Red Bean Filling

My sis gave me a mold for “Fish” Cakes (Taiyaki)

Wash it all down with Bubble Tea

Most of our experiments turned out ok, but were not 100% authentic.  I’ll have to do some more practicing, but there would be less people to taste test.  Perhaps we’ll just have to have more family gatherings in 2012.  🙂  Thanks to my family (both sides) for doing my dishes, endorsing my baking, and all the encouragement since starting this blog last year.  Here’s to another year of a hot oven, carbs, and perhaps some exercise!


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