Night Markets, Eel Rice, and Airport Adventures | Last Days in Taiwan

Hello, everyone!

I hope you are all having a wonderful week so far. It’s now Friday morning, and I’m happy to be back home with my family in BC. Next Thursday, I’ll be flying off to Australia, so I’m thrilled to have some time to unwind, unpack, and… repack.

But first, let’s look at some eats!

On one of our last days in Taiwan, we had breakfast at the buffet at our hotel, the Taipei Hero House. I ate two plates, and particularly loved the steamed bun (mantou), pickled turnips, Taiwanese braised pork rice, and sautéed cabbage.

At Yum Cha, a dim sum restaurant, we ordered:

  • siu mai with pork and shrimp
  • wok-fried beef strips and wide rice noodles
  • eggplant with spicy pork and salted fish
  • glutinous rice and chicken in a lotus leaf

Another morning, I had a lovely quiche from a coffee shop in the airport. This quiche was labelled as “chicken and vegetable”, but I didn’t detect a single piece of chicken in here. That was no problem, though, because it was stuffed with onion and mushroom – it was super flavourful.

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That night, Dad and I went to a night market called Raohe Street Night Market, which primarily caters to tourists. First up: an oyster omelet with plenty of sweet and sour sauce. I love oyster omelets, and this was a great way to kick a the night of eating.

Then, I ate:

  • deep-fried taro ball filled with cheese
  • deep-fried taro ball filled with red bean paste and salted egg yolk (unpictured)
  • taro milk
  • cheese bubble waffle
  • stinky tofu with pickled cabbage
  • Taiwanese tempura with pig blood cake (made with pork blood, sticky rice, broth, and steamed or cooked in a hot pot)
  • wheel cake filled with radish
  • wheel cake filled with cream
  • bolo bao (pineapple bun) filled with vanilla ice cream

The next day, Grandpa and I went to a botanical garden in Taipei and ate dim sum. The creamy salted egg yolk buns will always be my favourite.

We enjoyed food at a Japanese grill for lunch before watching a movie. The restaurant was packed with people, and the line extended for a block! Everyone in the restaurant ate very quickly, and I felt like I didn’t have time to enjoy my meal to the fullest.

I ordered the small steamed rice box with eel. I love eel (unagi), and my mom used to make it for me all the time when I was little. On the side, we enjoyed deep-fried oysters with Japanese-style “tartar” sauce, sautéed vegetables, grilled squid, blackened pork kebabs, and miso soup.

Then, we went to watch The Death Cure. Guys. If I’m not eating, sleeping, or studying, I’m probably somewhere obsessing over some YA novel or its movie. Anyways, The Death Cure came out early in Taiwan (as most movies do), and I watched it with my great-aunt, dad, and grandfather. Sorry Seline – we planned to see the midnight premiere together. 😥 No regrets on my end, though. Definitely need some more time to process it.

I thought the movie was absolutely electrifying. I like the Maze Runner series more than Divergent, and I felt like the movies certainly did the books justice. It is also refreshing to have a courageous, yet emotional, male lead in a dystopian YA film. The Death Cure had funny snippets of dialogue and expressions that added comedic relief – interlaced with shocking parts that I never saw coming. Did anyone else see this yet?

After the movie, my mind was muddled with bombs and explosions and moral corruptness, and we went to Starbucks for some coffee and chatting. Dad and I also had time to go to Carrefour (similar to Wal-Mart), where we picked up some slippers to bring home for guests.

After some more walking, and shopping in old Taiwan’s local market, we ate wontons. These wontons were smothered with a delicious sesame sauce, soy sauce, and plenty of scallions. They were delicious!

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At the Taoyuan International Airport, more food: delicious soup dumplings with soy sauce and ginger. I love soup dumplings, but would never believe that an airport could make such tasty ones. This was lovely, and I had a great mug of dark hot chocolate from Godiva.

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Then I established this lame, but exciting-to-me, list!

Things I got to eat in Taiwan:

  • beef noodles
  • soy milk
  • Chinese donut
  • bean curd
  • fried oysters
  • milk tea
  • beef intestine salad
  • tian bu la (tempura)
  • pig blood cake
  • shaved ice mountain (bao bing)
  • mochi
  • pineapple bun
  • glutinous oil rice
  • fried cruller in a baked flatbread (shao bing you tiao)
  • stinky tofu
  • fried stinky tofu
  • taro milk
  • braised pork rice with eggplant
  • oyster omelet
  • beef rolls

Things that I sadly did not have the opportunity to enjoy:

  • egg pancake (dan bing)
  • salt and pepper chicken
  • ba wan (Taiwanese glutinous meatballs)
  • fried buns
  • pineapple cake
  • scallion pancakes
  • gua bao
  • sun cakes

Twelve hours later, I found myself giggling with my sister back home!

At Earls, my family enjoyed lunch together. My plate included fried salmon with a dill and pepper sauce, buttery asparagus, and jasmine rice with scallions and fried onions. This meal was incredibly flavourful, and it was great to eat salmon again!

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That is it for today, mes amis. 🙂 I hope you all have a fantastic Friday.

This Post Has Been HIDDEN for 3 Years

This post has been hiding.

Bloggers – you know what I mean… it’s that post that you’ve buried deep in the Drafts folder, where you promise yourself that you’ll come back to it.

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I didn’t come back to this until now. But whoa. Three years.

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In three years time, however, omelettes haven’t gotten out of style. I still love them 🙂

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Here, I used two eggs, zucchini, roasted red pepper, sharp white cheddar cheese, and kale (fresh from our garden – yay!). Separate the egg yolks from the whites. We’ll be coming back to this later!

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Heat some oil over medium heat, and cook the kale until slightly wilted. It won’t wilt nearly as much as spinach, but you just want to tenderize it. Remove to a plate when the kale looks cooked 🙂

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Zucchini is up next! In the same skillet, cook it just until it obtains a nice, slightly brown colour.

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Chop up the kale and the pepper. These can be whisked right into the egg white.

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Awesome! Pour the egg yolks (or just one, if you’d like) back into the egg whites and give it another good beating. 😉

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Spread the zucchini out and carefully pour the egg-vegetable mixture into the zucchini. Spread it out with a rubber spatula and let it cook for a bit less than a minute.

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Looks good! Sprinkle the cheese on top and cook until the eggs have mostly set.

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Use your rubber spatula to give the eggs a big flip!

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Misfolded ones are equally tasty. At least this one didn’t turn into a scramble!

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I miss Mom’s pretty flowers on the kitchen table. Those were the days!

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The combination of fresh veggies, rich egg, and creamy cheese is so divine.

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Have a wonderful Friday!

When You Double The Butter

This post was hiding in my DRAFTS folder for four months! Does that ever happen to you guys? You write a post, keep it in Drafts to update another day, then completely forget about it until months later?

Probably just me. 🙈

Anyways… I executed the world’s greatest baking failure.

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See that butter up there? It’s twice as much as I should have used. 😮

Chocolate Nutella Cookies Recipe

Makes 72 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, room temp (NOT 1.5 cups, NOT 340 g)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (150 g)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (150 g)
  • 1 cup Nutella (280 g)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (148 g)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (31 g)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Mix into the butter mixture on low speed until fully incorporated, scraping down the bottom and sides at least once to ensure even mixing.

Add chocolate chips and hazelnuts, chill 10 min: Fold in the chocolate chips and hazelnuts and refrigerate the dough for ten minutes.

Spoon onto lined cookie sheets and bake: Spoon tablespoon-sized drops of dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheets for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

They looked pretty good going in, if anything, a little too soft. They came out an absolute disaster. Completely inedible. I learned, I learned. Baking really is a chemistry. Where there’s a whisk, there’s a way, I suppose, until you use 1.5 cups of butter.

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Lunch another day: spinach and feta omelet with cherries, plus baked treats, yogurt, and coconut cookies. These coconut thins are my favourite, and many many more were devoured.

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Back when I was on my waffle kick! These were so yummy, and there was much more yogurt devoured post-photo.

Another day, Mom made chive scrambled eggs (chives from the backyard), pearl meatballs (pork, green onions, and water chestnuts, rolled in sticky rice before steaming), and fried fish. All three dishes tasted great!

I loved these “red velvet” waffles another day. I made them in the blender: beets and a mashed banana, with lots of cocoa powder, before topping them with the creamiest nut butter and hemp hearts.

This was a German apple cake slice with yogurt, and a party meal that we enjoyed at my mom’s friend’s house.

Almond cake, created by my mom. The whipped cream topping was great!

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Blueberry Almond Layer Cake with Whipped Cream

Serves 16

Cake INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups almond meal, firmly packed
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Topping and Cream INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups whipped cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • blueberries to decorate
  • chopped nuts, if desired, to decorate

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease two round pans with coconut oil, dust with almond meal, and place a piece of parchment paper on the base.
  3. Beat egg, maple syrup or honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk well.
  5. Finally, add almond meal. Mix until just combined.
  6. Separate evenly into two round pans.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, or more if needed.
  8. Remove from oven. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then place on cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. For the whipped cream, freeze bowl and mixer for 15 minutes. Whipped cream should be cold too, fresh from the fridge. Place all ingredients into chilled bowl and whip until the peaks are firm.
  10. When the cake is cooled completely, cut into two layers and spread with whipped cream, then “ice” around the outside. Decorate with blueberries, chocolate shavings, other fruit, nuts, or more.

Once, Seline and I went to Wild Rice, a gluten-free and restaurant where I enjoyed turmeric rice topped with prawns and bok choy in a garlic-coconut reduction. The sauce was otherworldly.

Seline’s crispy chicken cubes were also tasty.

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We had that meal at the Fraser River quay in New Westminster, after silks.

The quay is so, so beautiful in the sunshine.

This is a new variation that Seline and I were working on.

Our summer garden flowers are at the peak of their blossom.

Our morning walks are always so enjoyable.

New book that I’m [mostly] in love with. I finished it a while ago, and have so much to say. Has anyone read this and would like to discuss?!

Over the weekend, my family went to the Korean market, where my mom purchased $80 worth of meat (all cuts!), in addition to kimchi, fish balls, and Korean pancakes. The red bean pancakes are my favourite.

Another day, we had a fanciful Mom Dinner with all sorts of fresh dishes.

And for dessert, aunt Mimi and uncle Charles brought a chocolate mousse cake from Whole Foods.

I had all kinds of Chinese buns for breakfast that day, and the taro was my favourite, followed by red bean and chestnut.

Have a beautiful Sunday, everyone!

i ❤ walkie-talkies

Check out all the great food that Mom’s been making back in BC! Rice casserole, steak with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and green beans, lemon poppyseed loaves, peanut butter cookies, and more. I miss Mom’s cooking! She always put so much time and thought into these meals, while I throw everything into a pot, cover it with cheese, and hope it’s good.

Saturday, Oct. 1 was the annual Reunion at my school, an event that you might know as Homecoming. I helped to coordinate the Applied Health Sciences Fun Run this year, and we had to be at school at 6:45 AM. It was rainy in the morning, but thankfully by the time runners started filing in, the rain had ceased.

I think the coolest part of the day was getting to wear walkie-talkies! I LOVE walkie-talkies. My sister and I used to play with them all the time, hiding in different closets in the house and phoning each other. Do you like walkie-talkies? Do you have any fun memories of them?

Here are some of the highlights! I was responsible for social media and got to post all of these photos onto the University of Waterloo’s Applied Health Sciences Twitter and Instagram pages. It was actually my first time using Instagram, so I was pretty terrible at it and needed a lot of help finding the “upload” button.

After the runners had food, left, and everything was cleaned up, we took lots of photos at the photo booth. I think we took 10 sets of 4 photos each! Do you like photo booths?

The reception afterwards was catered by Seven Shores Cafe. The food looked amazing and I was lucky to take a couple summer rolls home.

We had to swap our bright yellow Reunion t-shirts for formal attire for the Dean’s reception. We listened to a lot of speeches and took some photos in the new Applied Health Sciences building. This wall is designed to look like a cluster of CELLS! Isn’t that creative?! A cell wall!

In the meantime, I’ve been planning the next couple of years of my academic calendar. My goal is to attain minors in psychology and nutrition, in addition to my kinesiology degree. I’m also hoping to study abroad one semester! I’ve been working with my academic adviser to coordinate all of my courses.

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On a totally different note, I’m now addicted to looking at photos of seals and baby polar bears. Aren’t these cubs adorable? I spammed my dad with photos of them.

Speaking of Dad, he is now in Taiwan! He’s going with Grandpa to visit Grandpa’s siblings and do some financial things. This was Dad’s first meal in Taiwan, and he especially likes the red chewy sugared soybean curds “dou gan”. Have you ever tried Taiwanese food?

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Here are some of the pretty lame meals that I made. Steamed broccoli, baked cayenne salmon with baked sweet potato “chips”, and a breakfast that consisted of toast, broccoli-cheddar omelet, and yogurt with muffin and granola. What have you been eating recently?

That’s it for today, because it’s a busy week ahead with midterms, quizzes, and the ongoing job search…

… any plans for Thanksgiving? 😀

Have a FANTASTIC week, everyone!

Keep Calm and MarathON?

No, I didn’t run a marathon. Okay, it wasn’t a 10K either.

I didn’t even run.

But I ate! A lot. I like green eggs and… avocado toast?

With crumbled banana muffin and creamy yogurt with sunflower butter. This is the best bread ever, freshly-baked from Sobeys. It’s so soft and makes the perfect toasty vehicle with smashed avocadoes, nut butter + banana, or some simple butter.

For the annual Applied Health Sciences Fun Run that I am helping to coordinate, we are making these big posters for the children’s section! They will be doing a superhero-themed activity, and there will be lots of photo booth props as you can see from the top-left corner. The SUPERHERO TRAINING poster is finally now coloured and finished!

These are some of the others I drew. We have some awesome markers that make any kind of drawing look neat! The pizza one is my favourite – cartoons are always fun to design and draw. 🙂

They’ve been coloured since these photos were taken – I wish I could show you the coloured versions!

Okay, back to the food. Avocados were used again in these lovely enchiladas. I think enchiladas are little rolls of happiness. I filled mine with black beans, corn, scallions, butternut squash, and white cheddar. This medium-spicy green enchilada sauce was perfect and paired well with the salsa.

Another day I enjoyed creamy red coconut curry with zucchini, mushrooms, scallions, and a load of crushed peanuts. Quinoa bed underneath was much enjoyed as well!

Here’s a video that I made for my school’s Mission Nutrition team – it’s all about deliciousness in the form of a cheesy omelet!

Remember when I went to SLxONTARIO a couple weeks ago? Professional photographs were released the other day. I wish my camera was still in good condition. Did you notice that all my photos are now iPhone pics? And, sadly, I don’t have plans yet for buying a new camera.

The day before yesterday there were zero groceries in the house and I wanted to try Freshii, the salad bar located on King Street. Freshii is essentially “healthy fast food”. I had this mix and match bowl with tons of brown rice on the bottom and heaps of cool toppings. The verdict? It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t have it again. I liked the spicy yogurt dressing, simple tofu, and the crispy tortilla chips. Otherwise, the avocado was a little brown and had an odd, crackly texture (as if it had been frozen), the toasted almonds weren’t toasted, and I didn’t like how they used canned corn and cold mushrooms. I also wish I’d been given more spinach! The bowl, however, was insanely filling. However, it cost $15, which is more than a soup and sandwich at Princess Cafe would cost – in my opinion, $15 is too much for a fast-food bowl.

After Freshii, I went to Chatime and chugged a milk pudding tea so quickly that I felt like I was going to vomit for the next couple of hours. That’s me looking super, super sick while messaging my sister…

Just kidding! She got mad at me because I put her silly faces online.

Interviews start NEXT WEEK! I applied for 34 jobs, most of which are physiotherapy assistant positions. Yesterday, I put my interview outfit through for a little dress rehearsal and was surprised to find it quite comfortable. I normally wear a skirt to interviews, so I was pleasantly surprised by how these dress pants felt. Do you have any go-to interview dress tips?

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Dinner last night was quinoa with zucchini and mushrooms, plus some amazing spicy sweet potato chips and goat cheese donated by the roomie 🙂 This dinner was so filling, but I nibbled on sweets afterwards anyways.

Ending with some randomness that has been my life recently. Second-year life?

And off I go to nibble on some more sunflower butter!

Flourless Black Bean Chocolate Cake Recipe + Lately

Aaah, yum.

Did the title gross you out a little bit? I mean, it is a chocolate cake made without flour and refined sugar, with a whole can of black beans. The icing, completely dairy-free, is made of whipped coconut cream with a touch of maple and vanilla. There are two kinds of people in the world: ones that will eagerly give this a try and declare that the black beans are completely concealed, and those who refuse to take a bite because of the whole flourless/sugarfree fact.

I’m assuming you are the former. 😉

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Blender recipe alert! I love those. Isn’t it 10x more awesome when a recipe can be made in one container, than, say, three or four? I think the best part of the recipe is that you can decorate it any way you like – I went the simple route and used fresh berries with milk chocolate shavings. I’m thinking some banana slices, and a drizzle of peanut butter, would be incredible too. Or maybe poached pears? Really, the options are endless.

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For the coconut whipped cream, I simply refrigerated a can of coconut milk overnight and beat the CREAM ONLY for a minute or so, until creamy, then added a little maple syrup and vanilla extract. The coconut whipped cream can be refrigerated in a separate container until ready to spread.

Decorated with fresh raspberries and milk chocolate shavings, this was the perfect way to celebrate 2016. You guys are going to love this easy, delicious, and oh-so-nutritious cake. Watch slices just FLY off the table at your next family gathering and think of all the vitamins, minerals, and protein in each cakey, chocolatey bite.


Black Bean Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS
  • 15 oz unseasoned black beans
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease a cake pan or springform pan. We used a 9” pan.
  3. Drain and rinse beans. Shake off the water.
  4. Put all ingredients in the food processor or blender. Beat on high until the beans are completely mashed and the batter is very smooth.
  5. Scrape batter into pan.
  6. Tap on counter to pop the bubbles.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes. Cake is done when the top is round, cracked, and firm. Check to see if a knife comes out clean.
  8. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.
  9. Let the cake sit overnight in the fridge, or at least 8 hours for the best flavour.
  10. Serve the next day with coconut whipped cream, raspberries, and additional coconut, cocoa powder, or chocolate flakes!

Please, take a bite!
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You must be wondering how this guy tastes! I’ll try to describe it:
  • Rich and chocolatey, like the outside of a molten chocolate lava cake
  • Soft and tender, but not fall-apart soft
  • Just sweet enough
  • Great contrast between the rich chocolate and light flavor of the coconut cream
  • Slightly chewy, but melts in your mouth

Just make this ASAP 🙂 We brought this whole cake to a party with three families, and cut it into the tiniest slivers. Everyone finished their slice, and many had seconds. This is a recipe that I will be making again and again!

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What else has been up recently? On Saturday, Dad and I went to Toronto where we (okay, I) indulged on the most beautiful pastries. We also visited the Ripley Aquarium in Toronto’s downtown core. You can check out the post here, which I promise isn’t filled with iPhone photos like this one!
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I was so happy when I received a message from Mom, who recently made my almond cake recipe. Hers looks just like mine!
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And she sent me this. My mom is too cute. 🙂
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At the aforementioned family party where we enjoyed the black bean chocolate cake, there was a kitty called Mitten! Mitten is from Montreal, and he is just like a dog. 🙂
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Before Dad and I came to Ontario, and before we did all the grocery shopping/buying essentials/eating in Waterloo, we had dim sum in Richmond with Aunt Mimi and Uncle Charles. The milk and egg cream buns were my favourite. The yellow goop inside is unexplainably good – like a melted bo lo bao! Liquid gold, I swear. Do you like dim sum?
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I’m not quite sure how to describe these, other than mashed taro surrounding chopped duck meat, rolled in crispy “shreds” and deep-fried. I had a couple of these too, sans the meat inside which I found too chewy. But the crispy exterior was light and had great texture that contrasted with the tender taro. Mmmm.
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Toronto’s Pearson airport is so hard to navigate!
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I mentioned in a previous post that Dad and I had brunch together on our first day in Waterloo. Here’s what I had – a London fog latte (it was overwhelmingly sweet and definitely the creamiest I’ve had – in a not-very-good way) with the smoked salmon scramble. The toast was homemade and so good with wilted spinach, goat cheese, shallots, and egg. I liked their jam, too!
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I bought a scone to enjoy at home, but accidentally ate it all on the car ride to Costco. Oops.
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Breakfast the next day involved toast, almond and peanut butter, sliced banana, and lots of cinnamon.
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Dad and I also had a Mexican dinner – his in the form of unpictured tacos, but I had mine in a quinoa bake topped with avocado, salsa, and plain yogurt as a sub for sour cream. I used ground chicken instead of ground beef, and it was my first time cooking meat by myself! 😀
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I’m trying to remember what I put in here, but I’m pretty sure it was just a mishmash of veggies with goat cheese and cheddar.
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I made a chocolate mug cake another day, which we shared. Such an indulgent dessert that takes just a minute to make and another minute in the microwave.
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We split it 50/50 but Dad doesn’t like warm desserts. 😦 I topped mine with more chocolate (can never have enough, am I right?) and lots of creamy peanut butter. Best. Dessert. Ever.
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Omelet with asparagus, brie (oh, this was so good) and avocado toast topped with truffle salt. A super filling breakfast for a very busy day.
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Another Princess Café knockoff panini sandwich with butternut squash soup. This sammie was filled with sliced apple, brie, mustard, spinach, and some garlic and herb goat cheese.
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It doesn’t get much better than a hot, crispy sandwich filled with creamy, melty cheese.
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Tofu sautéed with veggies and peanut sauce on a bed of quinoa. This plate was inhaled! I would probably even eat uncooked pasta or rotten berries if they were smothered in this peanut sauce. It’s just so good.
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Lastly, a sweet note: yogurt with microwaved apple (chopped apple in the micro for a minute with some water and cinnamon), almond butter, and coconut cashews. Ah, the perfect end to my day.
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I know it was a super quick post today but I am off to a Power Yoga class this morning before a lab (a human CADAVER lab – I’m SO excited! We’re looking at shoulders today. More later!) and another couple of classes in the afternoon.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!