Sunday, December 4, 2016


Ah, the holidays are upon us. Unfortunately, it’s not one of my favorite times of the year. If it were less about presents and more about just getting together to eat, drink, play cards, and watch movies, I’d be much happier. The commercialism gets me down, especially since it’s been hard on us for much of the past decade. And anyone who lives paycheck to paycheck knows this all too well. We’re a little better off this year, but it’s still stressful. As long as there’s (spiked) eggnog and (spiked) mint hot chocolate, I’ll get through this.

This might have been good if it were more done. Otherwise, it was pretty good. I might try to make this as a bread.
But today, we’re escaping all of that. We’re heading someplace warm and eating their food: we’re making Burmese food. I started off my day with Sanwin Makin, or Burmese Semolina Cake. Now, I typically have never roasted sesame seeds, even when a recipe calls for it, but in this case, I did. I put about 1 Tbsp of sesame seeds in my small skillet and once they started to smoke just a little, I put them in a ramekin to cool and set them off to the side. (I forgot all I had was black sesame seeds—hope that’s ok.) In a medium bowl, I measured out about 400 mL of coconut cream and mixed in an equal amount of water. Instead of using semolina (because I couldn’t find it), I went with a substitute of spelt flour, which is an ancient form of wheat. I measured out 1 c of spelt flour and put it in a large saucepan and then slowly added in my diluted coconut cream to it along with 1 c of sugar. I brought this mixture to a boil, slowly stirring in 4 oz of butter until it thickened. Adding in a pinch of salt and a ½ tsp of ground cardamom, I stirred this until everything was mixed well before taking it off the heat. At this point, I separated 3 eggs into two bowls: the yolks in one bowl, the whites in the other. I beat in the egg yolks into my mixture. Then I tried to beat my egg whites until they were stiff but gave up after about 8 or 9 minutes when I realized nothing was really happening. So I folded them into the mixture as they were. Unfortunately, I ruined the one sheetcake pan I had doing something that was completely not-cake-related with it. (It was a cheap pan anyway.) So instead of a square 9” pan, I used a round springform one instead. I sprinkled my toasted sesame seeds on top of the smoothed out batter. I baked this in a 325ºF oven for about an hour and fifteen or twenty minutes, and it still needed more time (the recipe said 45-60 min). I even allowed it to cool thoroughly before cutting it, but the inside was still mushy. Now to be fair, I had to put a silicone baking pan around my springform pan since I didn’t trust it wouldn’t leak. And I know that probably had a lot to do with it. But the flavor was good, especially the part with the toasted sesame seeds on it. 

Warm and cuddly. Perfect for winter.
To go with this, I made one of my favorite drinks: Lahpatyei Gyo, or Burmese Milky Tea. I had this in a Burmese restaurant and thought it was absolutely wonderful. I heated up 3 c of water until it was boiling, then cut off the heat and threw in 3 black tea bags and let it steep. While that was steeping, I heated up 4 oz of evaporated milk with 2 oz of water in a large mug. In the mugs I was serving this in, I poured a tsp of sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of the mug. Then I filled the mug halfway with tea, then added in some of the evaporated milk mixture, then adding in more tea and more milk. I stirred it up before serving. This was clearly the best part of the meal. It was exactly what I was wanting. And now that I know how to make this myself, I’m going to make it ALL. THE. TIME. 

This was really pretty good. I look forward to eating this for lunch tomorrow.
The main dish today was Fried Pork with Garlic Curry. I cut my pork loin into small, diced pieces and set it off to the side in a large skillet (or you can use a wok if you have one—I don’t have one yet). Then I blended my garlic, onions, and ginger together until it was a paste consistency (I used my blender for this). I tried to squeeze out as much of the liquid as I could into the skillet with my pork. To this, I also added in a little vinegar (I used rice vinegar), chili powder, salt, and some vegetable oil (I couldn’t find peanut oil in anything smaller than a gallon). I cooked it on high heat for a few minutes. Then I lowered my heat and let it simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally so it didn’t stick and the pork got tender. In another smaller skillet, I heated up the rest of the sesame oil and stirred in my ginger-garlic-onion paste with some turmeric and let it cook down for about 10 minutes. I added it to the pork mixture and stirred. This part was good. I enjoyed the subtle flavors, and the garlic curry wasn’t overpowering at all. Partly because I didn’t actually make it with 3 onions and 20 cloves of garlic. (That’ll do it.)

It was almost good. I'll have to watch it or amend it a bit.
I served the curry dish on top of coconut rice. This was pretty easy to make. I made this like I do when I made regular steamed rice. I mixed 1 c of rice with 2 c of coconut milk and 1 tsp of salt. I brought this all to a boil, then turned my heat down and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft. However, I must’ve bumped the knob and turned the heat up more because the bottom started to burn. But when I tasted it, there were pieces of rice that tasted like it was still uncooked. The flavor was great, but the texture of not being done was a turn off. The parts that were done went really well with the pork and garlic curry. 

Who doesn't love ending a meal with some tea and cake?
Heading into the winter season, this past week has been rough with sick kids. Last week, my son had some kind of allergic skin reaction, and now my daughter’s seasonal allergies are flaring up. So, this was probably one of the few meals that I ate by myself because neither kid felt quite up to eating curry. My husband came in and sampled everything, and pretty much agreed with me, except he thinks the tea needs way more sugar (which it doesn’t). But that’s how things go sometimes.

Up next: Namibia

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