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NancyC's Profile

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Anybody have anything for Burma?

Not food-related, but I've been traveling in Myanmar since 2008 and been living on the Thai-Myanmar border since 2010. The locals for sure do not use the old nomenclature, and many of them ridicule it. On the Thai side of the border, I find the migrants/refugees use it mainly to humor all the ex-pats who are unnecessarily hung up on something that doesn't affect them. (Sidenote: it makes me a bit uncomfortable that the foreigners who most strongly cling to the old names are usually British or from Commonwealth countries.) Remember, these are English names anyway (like Kampuchea vs. Cambodia), not Burmese...when they are speaking in Burmese there is no way in hell they suddenly drop "Rangoon" into their flow.

Apr 19, 2013
NancyC in China & Southeast Asia

Cake/dessert recipes with regular coffee as ingredient?

I haven't really tried to explain the whole thing through these posts because I don't see why it should affect the answers.... but basically my living situation now is the reason I ask all these questions. I'm actually a very good baker. But until your situation involves your refrigerator and prep area being in one place and your oven in another place, and the storage place--yes, a third different place--being refrigerator-free, and 15 minutes of bicycling in 90-degree humid weather to get from one to another, and being REQUIRED to bake anyway because it's part of your job to find other people to do so but sometimes they fall through, and having only the limited ingredients that small-town Thailand can provide...you don't really know what's "apparent" and what isn't.

Even though I tried to clarify, you STILL think that I am trying to substitute a cup of coffee in a recipe calling for a sprinkling of granules. I tried to break it down for you, and explain that I'm looking for the difference between 1/4 cup (or 2 tablespoons) of instant MIXED, WET espresso vs. the same amount of ACTUAL coffee made from beans that I have available to me, while instant is something I would have to spend money on.

Sorry I obviously wasted so much of your time.

Oct 04, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Cake/dessert recipes with regular coffee as ingredient?

I would've thought so too, but I frequently see comments on recipe blogs of that particular substitution.

Oct 04, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Cake/dessert recipes with regular coffee as ingredient?

Hi, perhaps I was being unclear. I don't mean I am looking at a recipe that calls for 1 tablespoon of instant espresso granules and randomly wondering if I can substitute a cup of brewed coffee for that. What I mean is, some recipes specify the instant espresso, then require to you mix it with a 1/4 cup (or whatever) of hot water, and then mix the resulting "espresso" in. And I'm wondering if there's really some big impact on flavor if I just used 1/4 of strong French press coffee instead. Or you know, actual espresso...? Recipes never say "instant or real." Is it because the amount they're mixing is higher concentration that what you'd actually drink? I rarely drink real coffee, and NEVER drink instant, so I genuinely don't know.

I guess the reason I asked about just mixing coffee grounds with water rather than using my machine is because that indicates how confused I am about the need for using instant.

Oct 03, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Cake/dessert recipes with regular coffee as ingredient?

Related to substituting coffee for water: can this be done with milk? Have seen a few mocha cake or muffin recipes that have some milk in them. I don't know the chemical effect of the milk in baked goods. Can I increase the coffee flavor by using that instead (I realize it's more watery, but I imagine some people substitute watery skim milk for whole with reasonably good results, no?)

Oct 03, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Cake/dessert recipes with regular coffee as ingredient?

Thanks to everyone for the replies. On this particular thread about honey cake, I've looked at the recipes and wonder why "warm" coffee is specified? As opposed to "boiling hot" I could understand so it doesn't cook the other ingredients while mixing, but "cold" should be ok too, right? The reason I'm asking is related to another thread I posted detailing the hoops I have to jump through to bake in my current living situation.

Although I'm not much of a coffee drinker so I honestly don't know...if I brew some coffee then put it in the fridge overnight to use in baking the next day (or mix with other wet ingredients and refrigerate all of it), is there a big impact on flavor?

Oct 03, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Great Indonesian in Amsterdam/Utretch?

It is WAY too much food but we didn't realize they would allow us to get fewer rijstaffels than number of people...we assumed it had to match for some reason.

Sep 27, 2012
NancyC in Europe

Cake/dessert recipes with regular coffee as ingredient?

But I'm only starting with coffee grounds, not brewed coffee. Wouldn't the strength depend on how I brew it? I have access to an espresso machine or a french press.

Sep 08, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Cake/dessert recipes with regular coffee as ingredient?

Should've specified...not ice cream, not pudding/mousse...something baked that could be made with liquid regular coffee rather than instant as an ingredient. Ideas?

Sep 08, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Cake/dessert recipes with regular coffee as ingredient?

Wondering if there are any recipes like this? Everything I'm seeing is with instant coffee or instant espresso. I have lots of real coffee, which is both good, cheap, and has a nice story behind it (so it's easy to sell), but would have to actually buy instant coffee just to do a recipe.

Is it possible to mix boiling water with the coffee grounds (instead of putting it through the machine) to get a higher concentration, filter it and use that?

Searching Google doesn't give great results because coffee and cake comes up with mostly non-coffee-flavored coffee cake.

Sep 07, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Refrigerating muffin batter (short-term)

This is only an initial observation, as I was only able to test-taste the first (frozen) batch...to try the ones that had wet and dry ingredients previously mixed separately and then combined on the spot would've resulted in too few left to sell. The frozen batch was actually fantastic, great texture and super moist, and the cinnamon sugar topping from that recipe above worked WAY better sprinkled on a frozen top (where it spread perfectly) vs. half-soaking into the wet mixture (where it stayed in one place and solidified on some muffins).

The kitchen I mixed it in has a normal size, mostly empty freezer, but by the time I get to the kitchen with the oven (15-minute bike ride, 90F heat), I have to put them in immediately. So the subsequent batches can't be frozen in the same way, as there's no where to store them (even in the fridge) while the others are baking.

For some reason, it seemed like the just-mixed muffins took just as long to bake as frozen (but perhaps I wasn't keeping track of time properly), and they really weren't as pretty overall. A couple more overflowing tops per batch compared to frozen.

Also, while it seems every forum where this topic comes up has people saying muffins need to be baked pretty much immediately upon mixing, I happened to glance at a recipe where the author said she likes to let the batter rest 30 minutes before baking. I'll have to look for it again, but is this a common thing people do? Does "baked immediately" simply mean "don't mix in advance," but includes some rest time?

Sep 07, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Freezing cream cheese vs. cream cheese frosting

Intriguing. Unfortunately I'm a bit short on time before leaving on a trip (long story, but the refrigerator holding the cheese is not actually at my house) so I will probably have to wrap the rest of the block well and refrigerate for the next 2 1/2 weeks until I can return and make frosting & filling to freeze. Hope it works out!

Sep 06, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Freezing cream cheese vs. cream cheese frosting

I'm being cautious because I do need a lot of time...where I'm living I am only baking very occasionally, and the next soonest time is probably beginning of October (just opened the package yesterday) and I won't finish the huge block that time either...probably need to bake 4 times total at minimum to use up that much!

Maybe I should cut enough for next time, wrap it up and keep it in the fridge, then freeze the rest (or make frosting or cheesecake filling with some of it to test how they freeze).

Sep 05, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Freezing cream cheese vs. cream cheese frosting

OK, from searching various sites, it seems it's strongly recommended to NOT freeze cream cheese but that cream cheese FROSTING freezes perfectly. Does the butter make THAT much difference? Especially when everyone's different preferences probably means there are many different ratios of butter-to-cream cheese out there?

If I really can't freeze the straight cream cheese, how long can an opened block last in the fridge? I was able to get a 3lb block for less than the price of three 4oz blocks so I went for it, but now it's been opened and I'm wondering if the plastic wrap I put around it is enough to make it last.

Or another option, if I already know I only want to use it for frosting and cheesecake mixture for topping/swirl, should I just mix that up and freeze THAT? The butter (in the frosting) and the egg (in the cheesecake), or possibly the sugar in both is enough to help the cheese freeze well?

Sep 05, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Refrigerating muffin batter (short-term)

Adding to the difficulties...the baked goods, whatever they may be each week, need to be on-site at 8:30AM. Unless I sleep over at my friend's house, morning baking can't happen :).

Thanks for the advice. I guess it seemed to me that even though I've refrigerated mixed cookie dough (and eaten it raw), that a refrigerated bag of just pumpkin puree, sugar, oil and eggs might be sketchy.

We just have limited ways of offering the baked goods...we're not actually a restaurant/bakery, but an art studio that sells baked goods at a community morning each week. When we had a steady baking volunteer she occasionally made cakes and it was always quite messy, more crumbly than brownies, and plates are needed (we have some, but then there's washing...). Also since I don't have my own oven and prefer for other people to take most of the baking days, I don't want to buy a lot of pans. Stand alone paper baking cups are relatively inexpensive (although if I knew for sure I'd be doing this a lot, a pan with regular liners would be cheaper in the long run).

Now thinking since I need to make three batches, that I'll try one completely frozen, mixing the batches individually instead of all at once like I originally planned. Then the other two with the wet and dry separate and refrigerated. Testing!

Sep 04, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Refrigerating muffin batter (short-term)

Hi, it's for a weekly event that I usually convince other people to bake for but this week I'm stuck, and as the manager I've gotta do it. We've had cookies and brownies very recently, and sliced servings gets a little messy (and it's not like everyone who comes to these events are all buddies, so I think more separated portions feels better).

Right after I wrote that I could mix all the wet ingredients apart from the eggs and refrigerate, I started wondering...can I just include the eggs? In other pages online where I've seen people mentioning storing the wet and dry ingredients separately until ready to bake, they aren't really specifying if that included eggs...is this reasonably safe to do?

Sep 04, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Refrigerating muffin batter (short-term)

Another option: if I were to mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, there are other pumpkin muffin recipes that seem extremely similar in ingredients to the one I linked above, except the baking soda and baking powder and spices are mixed with the flour, and the only dry ingredient that immediately goes with the wet is sugar. Is there any reason for doing it differently? Meaning, the recipe I linked above seems to only put the flour and baking powder together, while all the other ingredients are combined first. Would there really be a reason for doing this? Or could I mix pumpkin, oil, sugar together and refrigerate a couple days, add the eggs when ready to bake, and then all the other dry ingredients?

I don't even have a refrigerator, it's a complicated living situation. I have a fridge/freezer I can use one night and an oven I can use two nights later, and I cannot mix/refrigerate the night before the oven usage because of scheduling.

Sep 04, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Refrigerating muffin batter (short-term)

Part of the longer story of why I have to freeze them is that I don't have my own oven, have to bake it at someone else's house, and would really rather not do all the mixing + baking on the same night after work. I've read numerous other pages that say freezing unbaked muffin batter is totally normal, it was only the refrigerating part that I thought I had to worry about?

Sep 04, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Refrigerating muffin batter (short-term)

I am making some muffin batter in advance and freezing the portions before baking. However, I cannot freeze them all at once because I don't have enough pans/baking cups, and it's too long to explain why I can't buy more.

Anyway, will there be any negative effect if, for example, I make a triple batch of a recipe, but only fill some cups to freeze, then put the rest of the batter in the refrigerator until I can freeze the rest? The unfrozen batter would probably only be in the fridge for 3 hours max before I can freeze that as well.

If the answer depends on the exact ingredients, I want to make this, adding some cream cheese inside:

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/1...

By the way, I haven't made muffins before so I have no idea how much batter this recipe entails. Is a triple batch at once way too much batter to deal with? Should I just mix each batch separately (which would reduce time needed in the refrigerator)?

Thanks for your help!

Sep 04, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Cheap Places to eat in Amsterdam

Wish I had thought to search this site before going to Amsterdam in June. Currently living in small-town Thailand and would have KILLED for a really great okonomiyaki!

Aug 19, 2012
NancyC in Europe

Great Indonesian in Amsterdam/Utretch?

I ate at Sama Sebo in June and thought it was quite good. It's very expensive but the portions are enormous...had the rijstaffel with 4 other people and we had so much leftover. I've spent 5 weeks in Indo but not in the areas that a lot of those dishes are from (I assume mostly Java and Sumatra, I was only in Kalimantan and Sulawesi) and still thought it was pretty tasty. The service was super-friendly, not sure if we had the owner serving us or just an older career waiter.

Aug 19, 2012
NancyC in Europe

You CAN freeze unbaked muffin batter!

This is probably sort of a silly question but...if I wanted to bake WITHOUT the tin, does the frozen batter hold together long enough in the liners to keep the muffin shape while baking? Basically I want to make a lot of muffins at once and don't want to be limited to a single 12-pc muffin tin (all I can buy right now where I live), but don't mind using just the 12-pc tin for initially freezing the batter.

Aug 16, 2012
NancyC in Home Cooking

Unrefrigerated Cheeses Left Out for a Week or so?

I need an answer to this as well, and am extremely nervous of the answer.

I bought some amazing Dutch cheeses about 20 days ago. A 1-year-old cow cheese, 2-year-old cow cheese, a 10-month-old goat cheese. They were vacuum-packed and I was told they would last at room temperature at least three months.

However, I'm currently living in Thailand and room temp is about 90 degrees F. I was saving the cheeses for a visit home so my friends can enjoy with me. I did intend to refrigerate due to the heat, but I don't have my own refrigerator and kept forgetting to take it to a friend's place.

Today for the first time since returning home, I looked at the paper bag containing the vacuum-packed cheese and noticed oil has completely soaked through. I cannot sense any strange smells through the plastic. The vacuum-packing on the goat cheese feels a bit looser than before, and I suspect that's the one that's been leaking (unless it was all three!)

I'm feeling incredibly stupid about this...it doesn't really feel like 90F inside (especially when comparing to outside), but since my newly-acquired chocolates were also constantly soft, I really should've taken that as a flashing warning sign!

PLEASE tell me these are not ruined! I will put it in the refrigerator tomorrow, I'm just so nervous because it's truly delicious (Reypenaer) and wasn't cheap.

Jul 17, 2012
NancyC in Cheese

URGENT - Hong Kong Airport: 2-Hour Morning Layover

I live in small-town Thailand, already an 8-hour bus ride from the crappy food available at BKK airport. Usually when I pass through HKG after that, the first thing that catches my eye is Popeye's. (We do have tasty fried chicken here, but like most street food here it's not served hot, nor does it come with fries and a biscuit!). But there's actually even less Chinese food in my town than there is mediocre Western food, so I'm always thinking I should take another look.

So no worthwhile dim sum, but what about other Chinese? Would the Taiwan Beef Noodle place still seem decent to someone who's eaten a lot of beef noodle in Taiwan? Or even good non-fast food Western for under 15USD, like quality pizza? Of course, everything sounds great on the airport website, hard to tell...maybe that's why I always end up at the standardized Popeye's.

Feb 29, 2012
NancyC in China & Southeast Asia

URGENT - Hong Kong Airport: 2-Hour Morning Layover

Are any of the places with dim sum within the restricted area any good? I've frequently had nearly 4 hours' transit time in HKG but it still seems like a hassle to go through immigration just to eat.

Feb 27, 2012
NancyC in China & Southeast Asia

Indonesia - Dinner at "White Man's Village" in Nusa Dua, Bali

Was under the impression it just meant "white" for certain things. People told me they would say a cow was bule or a dog was bule but not rice or tree bark. I dunno, am also Asian so I was never called that, nor Nyonya.

Nov 28, 2011
NancyC in China & Southeast Asia

Guilty Pleasure

Previously:

- Mac & cheese made with a big block of Velveeta and sliced hotdogs. Sometimes I make the sauce with a little milk, most times with pasta water, but every once in a while it's nothing but melted Velveeta. The hotdogs aren't always hotdogs though...sometimes they're reasonably-healthy chicken sausages. But to make it even worse: French's fried onions sprinkled on top, sometimes.

- Pizza Rolls--don't buy them much because they go too fast, and if I had to choose I get a bit more satisfaction from the Velveeta.

- Stove Top--same deal. If I have it in the house it will go too quick. I don't go into withdrawal if I simply don't buy, though.

- Crab rangoon/wontons. Have to make them myself to really love them though, and of course the problem is once you get the oil fired up, you might as well make a lot for one sitting. Knowing I NEVER feel great afterwards, I try to convince myself that buying the skins and canned crab take too much effort.

Since moving to small-town Thailand the guilty pleasures are:

- Chicken fingers. I buy from a vendor who fries every last part of the chicken and sells it with sticky rice, but all I want is the breast-meat chicken fingers. Really thick and always fairly crisp even when room-temp (most of the time). I will also stuff a couple in a hamburger roll and rejoice in that sandwich.

- Kit-Kat Chunky. Regionally-produced chocolate--at least what's available in a small town--is abhorrent. Better imports like Ritter cost the same as they do in the States, and I can't afford that too often now. But Kit-Kat Chunky both tastes exactly as it should and comes in at a low-enough price (about $1) to keep a few in stock for emergencies.

- Peanut butter/chocolate Oreos. I don't know if they sell this variety in the States, and I've never been a craver of Oreos there. Here, again I have to try not to buy, as a roll will magically disappear in two days.

- There used to be a vendor here who sold deep-fried Shan tofu (chickpea-based, not soy-based). I went enough that I was ashamed to admit to anyone I knew...I mean they're basically fried cubes and I was eating them for my whole meal, at minimum once a week, and most of the other Westerners here are fairly healthy eaters. Was also slightly embarrassed that she always gave a knowing look when I rode up on my bike. I guess it's good that she decided to quit the biz, but I miss her.

Nov 28, 2011
NancyC in General Topics

Can lumpy yogurt be fixed after it's finished?

Definitely not overfermented, no grit. It looks great sitting in a big batch, and tastes fine, but once you scoop it out it seems like too much liquid in parts and, well...lumps...in parts. We just got delivery yesterday for the first time, and the other person who first introduced me to this guy's yogurt seems to like it lumpy because she makes no attempt to stir it out when serving it. But today I will see if it can be smoothed out.

Nov 18, 2011
NancyC in Home Cooking

Can lumpy yogurt be fixed after it's finished?

I know other Westerners in town have bought yogurt from him and like it as is, but I'm certain plenty of others will expect something a bit smoother. i would really be afraid of offending him (and basically being his only customer that had a problem with his product) if the lumps are supposed to be easily stirred out on our end. We don't have a whisk because there's nothing to whisk...it's a Burmese restaurant. I'm going to try stirring longer today with the fork, yesterday it didn't seem to be changing anything but we probably just didn't do it enough.

Nov 18, 2011
NancyC in Home Cooking

Can lumpy yogurt be fixed after it's finished?

The tiny restaurant I work in (in small-town Thailand) has started purchasing homemade yogurt from a guy who delivers to several other shops.The flavor is good but it's quite lumpy. Maybe not a big deal to eat at home, but we are going to serve it to customers. (And no, it's a REALLY small restaurant, so we don't have the capacity to make our own rather than buying from him).

I have seen some info online that suggests lumps can be avoided by whisking more thoroughly earlier in the process, and that perhaps a higher heat might meld the lumps and whey together a bit more. But since he's been doing this a while, delivers to other places without issue, and I wouldn't want to offend him, I am not sure I can make these suggestions.

So what can be done once the yogurt is completed? I've read that putting it in a blender could make it more liquidy. We whisked it a bit with a fork (we don't actually have a whisk but if it makes a difference I guess we could get one) but perhaps we needed to make a longer, more concerted effort.

Or is there nothing that can be done after the yogurt is finished? Are the lumps are permanently in?

Nov 18, 2011
NancyC in Home Cooking