Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Lao Kitchen: Gingerbread Men

No dessert feels more Christmasy to me than cookies. I don't know what it is, maybe its that they both start with a C but Christmas and cookies go together like peanut butter and jelly. Fortunately cookies are easy to make here in Laos and all the ingredients are readily available. (Side note: chocolate chip cookies are my absolute favorite and I CAN NOT resist the temptation to devour them. Second side note: chocolate chip cookie dough is even more tempting.)

Now back on task, while out shopping one day I spotted some gingerbread men cookie cutters and knew they would be perfect for baking cookies with students. And as you might have seen in my previous post the gingerbread men were a hit with my students. I hope that you enjoy them too!



Gingerbread Men recipe:
Mix together:
1/2 cup of butter
1 egg
2 tbs of honey (molasses was the one ingredient I couldn't find which is why I used honey)
1 cup of brown sugar

Separately combine together:
3 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking soda
2 tsp of cinnamon
2 tsp of ginger (I used fresh grated ginger from the market one of the perks of living in Laos)
1 tsp of allspice
1/2 tsp of salt

Then add both mixtures together. Once ingredients are well combined roll out the dough onto a flat surface until it is thin and smooth. Then use cookie cutters to cut out dough into gingerbread men. Lay out cookies on a baking sheet and stick in the fridge for a few hours or over night. Once the dough is cold, heat the oven to 350F (or 180C). Bake for 10-15 minutes.

The recipe makes about 40 small-medium sized gingerbread men.
Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas with Students

Last week I invited my year four students to come over and celebrate the holiday with me. I told them that Americans like to celebrate all month long with parties, cookies, gift exchanges, etc. I reminded them everyday in class about my Christmas party on Friday night. Several said they were going to come, but let's be real you can't always trust a Lao person. Warning: They will always tell you yes even when they can't. So when Friday rolled around and it was half an hour past when I invited them to come, I started to worry. But just as I was getting ready to drown my sorrows in a batch of ginger bread cookies I saw three little shadows walking towards my door. "Students!" I shouted! (really I did) and ran to the door. Three students are better than none. As we ate cookies, made cards, and watched Arthur Christmas (in Thai I might add) slowly but surely more students began to trickle in. By the end of the night our bellies were full on gingerbread men and I was left with a stack of Christmas cards wishing me happiness.





Also one more note before I end this post gingerbread cookies are a big hit with Lao people. As one students put it, "Not as good as pancakes, but I like." So be on the lookout for the recipe sometime later this week!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Tree Brownies: My Lao Kitchen

Only 19 more days until Christmas, but who's counting? This week thanks to a few lights, paper, markers, and a whole lot of scotch tape it is starting to look a lot like Christmas. I've put out a little Christmas tree which even has a present under it (That I bought myself for myself. Don't judge me.) My roommate and I taught our neighbors how to make paper snowflakes, watched Elf with some friends, made a Christmas countdown chain, and baked delicious Christmas tree brownies.





Christmas Tree Brownies:

After baking all the pumpkin recipes we could find my roommate and I still had lots of puree leftover so I decided it was time to whip up some of my favorite pumpkin brownies. Now normally I like to bake everything from scratch but this recipe is just to good and easy to pass up. All you need is a box of brownie mix and some pumpkin. Mix the two ingredients together, stick it in the oven according to the directions on the box, and your done! See easy peasy!

But because it is Christmas season I didn't want to make just any ordinary old brownies. I spotted this idea on Pinterest (of course) and decided to give it a go. Once the brownies were cooled I cut them out into triangles. Now this was a little difficult because I didn't have a triangle cookie cutter and instead had to use a knife. Most of the triangles came out decent looking, the tricky part was trying to cut them all the same size. With all the "trees" cut out I topped them with cream cheese frosting (my favorite) colored with green for the trees and red for the ornaments. My brownies by no means turned out perfect looking, but they were fun to make and really delicious (and that's what's really important, right?!)

Christmas Tree Brownie Recipe:

Brownies
Ingredients
1 box brownie mix
1 can of 15oz pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree

Directions: Preheat oven according to the directions on the box. Mix together brownie mix and pumpkin puree. Bake.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients
4 oz of butter
8 oz of cream cheese
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Green food coloring
Red food coloring

Directions: Beat together butter and cream cheese. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, still mixing as you go. Next stir in the vanilla extract. Separate the frosting into two bowls one for red and one for green. (Tip: You will use more green frosting than red.) Mix in the food coloring a little at a time until you reach desired shade.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The ABCs of Travel

A couple weeks ago I posted The ABCs of Me with promise that I would soon post my ABCs of Travel. I absolutely love making lists so its no surprise that I had a lot of fun making this one. Hope you enjoy!

Age I first traveled- I think I was about 11 or 12. I went to the Bahamas and soon after I went to Mexico.

Biggest Traveling Fear- Finally making it wherever I’m going but that my luggage won’t.

Cuisine- Spanish, Italian, or Mexican. Any of those will do.

Destination- Currently in Laos

Event Abroad- I was in London as the start of the 2012 Olympics.


Favorite Mode of Transportation- I love flying, but I can never stay awake. I have a talent for sleeping on anything that is in motion. Whether it’s a car, plane, train, boat, or bus I will pass out if it’s longer than 20 minutes (and I’m not the one driving). I’ve even been able to fall asleep while riding in a tuk-tuk.

Greatest feeling while traveling- The excitement of it all. I always feel like a kid on Christmas morning when I travel.

Hottest place I’ve ever travelled to- Phenom Penh, Cambodia. As soon as I walked out of the airport I was drenched in sweat.


Incredible Service- Heaven forbid that you carry your own suitcase in any hotel in Southeast Asia. If you’re a guy it might be a different story, but as a girl the hotel staff insisted that they carry it all for me.

Journey that took the longest- Denver-LAX-Hong Kong-Phenom Penh

Keepsake- My Spanish soccer jersey. It’s lucky I tell you. I swear to you that it is the reason Spain won the Euro cup in 2012 (that and there amazing soccer skills; just ignore this past year’s World Cup. I knew I should never have washed it.)

Letdown site and why- Pisa, Italy. You hear so much about the gravity defying leaning tower, then you see it, and that it all it is. A tower that is leaning, big deal.

Moment you fell in love with travel- My first trip to Europe. I was thirteen. How could a thirteen year old not love roaming around Europe without the supervision of her parents at every turn? For the record I was very much supervised. It was an academic trip and there were teachers supervising me at every turn, but nevertheless I loved Europe.

Nicest hotel- Le Sirenuse in Positano, Italy. I mean look at that view!


Obsession- what I photograph while traveling- I am such a people watcher and I love snapping candid photos of unsuspecting locals or other tourist.

Passport Stamps- I really don’t have that many despite having traveled quite a bit. But once you are in the EU they don’t give you stamps when traveling between countries. I do, however, have two stamps for England, one for Portugal, one for Guatemala, and one for Italy.

Quirkiest attraction- I haven’t really been to too many “quirky” attractions. I will say I thought the Tate Modern in London was a little quirky though.

Really frightening travel experience- This actually happened quite recently. My friends and I were riding to Kuang SI waterfall and our tuk-tuk driver was going so fast. We were speeding around curves and I was just waiting for the moment we drove off the edge of the mountain.

Splurge- While studying abroad in Spain, a friend and I spontaneously booked a trip to Paris.


Touristy things I’ve done- Some friends and I posed (well attempted to pose) like the Beatles while walking across Abbey Road.


Unforgettable moment- When Spain won the Euro 2012. Being in Spain to celebrate with the locals is something I will never forget.

Visas- A few from Laos, one for Cambodia, and one for Thailand.

Where to next- My current top five are Greece, New Zealand, Argentina, India, and The Netherlands.

eXellent view- The walk along Holy Rood in Edinburgh, Scotland


Years Spent Traveling- After this year in Laos, if you add all my time abroad up together it will equal about a year and a half total.

Zealous sports fan- Without a doubt the Spanish. !Yo soy Espanol!


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