I’m Lovin’… Food Gawker

 First and foremost I’d like to repent of beging terribly MIA on Connecting4 lately.

It’s a new year and I am super excited for all the new that is coming my way. Finally I can start a fresh with all my goals, ideas, and planning… Also, *fun fact* this is about the time we first started connecting four so… happy birthday Connecting Four!


Anyways…  Food Gawker is always the place to go when you’re either bored out of your mind, or when you’re searching for “that perfect” recipe. Below are five recipes that are officially on my “upcoming-cooking-adventure” list. Of course, Rachel will be helping me in this particular field of expertise, since the kitchen and I don’t particularly see eye-to-eye.


As you can probably tell from the selection above I am a very traditional yet snacky type of person when it comes to eatables. I couldn’t help but include a funnel cake recipe, although it may be on the unhealthy side,  the thrill and excitement of its traditional environment <AMUSEMENT PARKS!> rubs off on me.  The spinach pesto sauce is my second favorite… I am reminded of late night dinners which consist of sprawling out on the couch with a huge bowl of basil covered pasta, while watching A Cinderella Story with my sisters.

I think it’s safe to say that food gawker is perfect for food lovers- whether or not the kitchen is your playground!

Sources/*recipes*:  {one, two, three, four, five}

Elementary Cooking Class

I teach an enrichment class on Wednesday afternoons to 1st through 3rd graders at our school.    So far this fall we have made fruit smoothies,  homemade granola bars, apple pumpkin muffins and Chinese mooncakes, just to name a few.   Last week I prepared one of mine and Sean’s favorite cookie recipes, Old Fashioned Teacakes.   I have fond memories of these cookies, since we ate Texas-shaped Teacakes at our Wedding Rehearsal dinner. 

I guess these Asian girls learn early to always smile and display the “peace” sign.

Old Fashioned Teacakes


1  cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
7 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
&frac12; teaspoon salt
&frac12; teaspoon baking soda
&frac14; teaspoon nutmeg
&frac14; cup milk


Using an electric mixer (or aggressively by hand) cream butter and sugars together.  The mixture should turn to a light color after a few minutes.  Stir in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg.  Add vanilla.  Stir to combine.  In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients of flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and nutmeg.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternating with small amounts of milk.  Mix well.  Form into large ball then roll on floured surface to about &frac14; inch thick.   Cut with cookie cutters.   Bake at 350 degrees for about  8 minutes, until lightly browned on edges.  Overbaking will result in more crisp cookie and not as soft and cake-like.


The kids had fun rolling, cutting and eating these cookies.


Chinese Pumpkin

To purchase canned pumpkin in Tianjin is rather expensive.  I have found that the Chinese have many varieties of fresh pumpkin that work just as well, or even better, when recipes call for pumpkin puree.

Here’s a picture of a rather large pumpkin I can buy at the local vegetable market.  It takes a little work to cut, cook, peel, and puree, but in the end I am left with many 1-cup packages of fresh pumpkin that I can use at present or freeze and use at a later time.


Last cold and rainy Sunday afternoon, I decided use my fresh pumpkin and make these easy Pumpkin Scones.    A side benefit being that, keeping the oven on helps to take the chill out of the air in our apartment, since we don’t have heat yet.   See recipe below,  Happy Baking


Whole Wheat Pumpkin Scones


2 cups whole wheat flour 
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
&frac12; teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
&frac12; teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
&frac14; teaspoon ground ginger
&frac14; teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
&frac34; cup canned pumpkin (or fresh cooked and mashed) 
2 eggs
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
&frac12; cup cold butter, cubed or grated
&frac12; cup pecan (optional)
&frac12; cup mini chocolate chips (optional) 


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease cookie sheet or cast iron scone pan (if you have one). 

In a small bowl, combine pumpkin, cream, vanilla and ONE egg.  Stir well and place in refrigerator.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, spices, and sugar.  Using a pastry blender or fork work the cold butter cubes into the dry ingredients, until mixture resembles a crumbly consistency.  Add the cold pumpkin mixture, pecans and chocolate chips using a rubber spatula.  Only stir until combined.  

On a floured surface knead dough slightly to finish combining dry ingredients.  Form into an 8-inch square about an inch thick.  Cut the square into four large squares.  Then slice each across the diagonal to form 8 triangles.  In a small bowl beat the remaining egg.  Brush each scone with egg, then sprinkle with sugar and top with more pecan pieces.  

Bake for 15–17 minutes.  Do not over bake or scones will dry out.

Spring Cooking Class

For St. Patrick’s Day I had the children make some fun green snack foods in their Cooking Class.  We made cucumber clover, open faced sandwiches with green cream cheese.


We also made a sweet treat using graham crackers (a very special treat to find here in China), green frosting, green Skittles and a Rolo chocolate candy.   The Rolo candy was supposed to represent the leprechaun hat.


Xian Xiang, one of my TA’s, brought her camera and shared pictures with me, pictured below.


I also read to the students the true story of Saint Patrick and why he is celebrated in Ireland.   Read exert below:

When he was 16, he was captured by pagan Irish raiders and sold into slavery to a chieftain named Meliuc in Ireland. He spent his teen years and time alone as a shepherd tending to his master’s sheep. During this time, his spirituality awakened and his belief in God became strong. He would pray many times in a day. After 6 years being in slavery, he had a dream that he would find a ship to take him to freedom. He escaped to follow his dream.

He managed to return to his family and home. Although Patrick was born a British, he considered himself an Irish because it was in Ireland that he discovered God. He had another vision. This vision would take him back to Ireland to preach the Gospel later.  The Bishop, St. Germain recommended Patrick to the pope. He was called to Rome and made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in 432 before he went on his mission to Ireland. It was during that occasion that the name “Patercius” or “Patritius” was given to him. The name comes from two Latin words, “pater civium” meaning “the father of his people”.

More students with my second TA (teaching assistant) helper, Dorothy Zhang.