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The Elusive Green Onion Pancake

February 27, 2012

Have you ever built the memory of something up in your mind so much that the reality of it has no hope of ever coming close to it again, ever?  I think I’ve done that with Green Onion Pancakes. 

Years ago I had some green onion pancakes at my aunt’s house.  Her father-in-law’s recipe.  They were awesome.  The pancakes, that is.  Although my aunt and her father-in-law are pretty awesome too.  :)

Fast forward to present day and you’ll find me scouring the internet for the perfect Green Onion Pancake recipe.  The better ones are all fairly similar, with slight variations here and there.  They all use boiling water, key to getting that “chewy” texture that makes the pancakes so delectable.  They all let the dough sit for an hour, apparently key to developing the gluten in the dough.  They all use the same roll/coil/flatten method, key to creating the many layers that contribute to the “flakiness” of the pancake.

Yet, none of these quite match up to the memory of THOSE Green Onion Pancakes.  I think I’ve doomed all would-be-contender recipes.

Right about now, you’re probably wondering why I don’t just ask my aunt for her father-in-law’s recipe.  Well, he, not unlike my own grandma, mother, aunt, and practically every cook in my family before me, follow the “a pinch here, a pinch there” old-world school of cooking.  No exact measurements.  No written recipes.  Not exactly ideal for someone like me, whose memory is like a sieve.  One with really large holes, no less.

Luckily, my kids don’t remember THOSE pancakes, so they’re happy with the ones I make, even if I’m not.  They request them time and again, so here for posterity, is my adapted version of Chinese Green Onion Pancakes . . . feel free to add a pinch here and there to tweak to suit your own memories.

 

The key players, note the rolling pin

 

 

Push the rolling pin back and forth with one hand while rotating the disk of dough with the other hand.

 

Brush dough with oil, sprinkle with salt, then green onions

 

Roll dough into cigar shape, as tightly as possible

 

Coil the cigar-shaped dough, pinching and tucking the end underneath

 

Roll the dough out, just like before (this picture is not centered because Caitlyn was trying to include the dog . . . not a crucial part of rolling out the dough)

 

Roll out to desired thickness, somewhere around 1/4 inch

 

Fry in skillet until lightly browned on both sides and dough is cooked through

 

Cut into sections and serve . . . enjoy!

 

Chinese Green Onion Pancakes

2 ½  cups all-purpose flour

1 cup boiling water

1 ½ t. salt

1 T. sesame oil

¼ cup canola oil

4-5 bunches green onions, chopped

 Combine flour, salt, and boiling water in large bowl.  Stir together with spoon until all water is absorbed.  Wait a few minutes, then when dough is cool enough to handle, knead mixture in the bowl with your hand until it comes together in a smooth ball.  Place dough ball in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about an hour.  Combine sesame oil and canola oil in a small bowl and set aside.

Remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured surface.  Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.  Working with one piece at a time (place remaining pieces back in bowl and cover to keep from drying out) use a rolling pin to flatten dough ball into a very thin circle, as thin as you can.  Re-flour your work surface and the rolling pin as necessary to keep the dough from sticking (be careful not to work in TOO much extra flour or the pancake will be tough). 

Brush dough lightly with oil mixture, sprinkle with a little salt if desired (not too much), then sprinkle with as many green onions as you want.

Starting at an edge, roll the dough into a cigar shape.  Pinching one end, coil the other end around it, pinching and tucking that end underneath the entire coil.  Flatten the coil with the palm of your hand.  Using the rolling pin, continue to roll the dough flat until about ¼ inch thick.  Repeat with remaining dough pieces.

Heat skillet on medium high heat.  You can grease the skillet if you like, but if you want a lighter version, don’t grease and don’t worry, the pancakes won’t stick.  Cook the pancakes on both sides until lightly browned and crispy.  Remove from skillet, cut into sections, and serve. 

 

Officially a Teenager

February 18, 2012

Dear Kurtis,

I have been remiss in  updating my blog in a timely manner.  I failed to post this entry on your actual birthday as I had inteded to.  I could say it’s because you mockingly ridicule me everytime my blog is brought up, but I won’t; I know you secretly love my blog and love being mentioned in it  :)

Happy birthday to my little man, now officially a teenager, able to “legally” sit in the front passenger seat, as you pointed out to me when I picked you up from school on your birthday.

We’ve had “big” birthday party years and “small” birthday party years . . . this year was probably the last of the “big” birthday parties.  Jump Sky High . . . hope you had a good time, buddy.

Sooo, I started that (and did not get around to publishing it) about a year ago . . . March 31, 2011 to be precise.  For Kurtis’ 13th birthday.

Today is his 14th birthday.

Bad, bad, bad.  Let me take another stab at it.

Dear Kurtis,

Happy 14th birthday!  I can’t believe how quickly time is flying by.  You are now physically bigger than me in every way.  You’re taller, heavier, your hands and feet are bigger than mine, and you’re definitely much stronger than I could ever hope to be.  Yet, despite the physical transcendence, you are and shall always be, my baby.  Yes, much to your chagrin, I’ve said it, and publicly no less.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your 14th birthday, the festivities of which happen to span an entire weekend this year:  a session at iFly with Matthew and Gericho yesterday, a family lunch featuring your request of meatloaf and tiramisu today, and a steak and lobster dinner tomorrow (honestly, you have the most expensive taste of any 14 year old I’ve ever known). 

The days of bouncing in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese or pinning the tail on the donkey are, much to my regret, long gone.  Thankfully, the anticipation and enthusiasm surrounding birthdays still lingers.  So, on this commemoration of your 14th year in existence, my birthday wish for you is that you will continue to feel that same excitement and sense of “special-ness” on your special day, even, or maybe especially, as you grow into adulthood.

Love always,

mom :D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disneyland 2011 – Christmas Edition

December 23, 2011

‘Twas the week before Christmas, school had let out,

our household was a’ bustling, anxious for Disneyland, no doubt.

We locked up the house, turned off the tree lights,

and left Abba with Grandma and Grandpa, for a few nights.

 

Four days we spent, with Mickey and crew,

and thousands of others, it was quite like a zoo.

Fast passes, fast passes, fast passes a must!

Waiting 75 minutes for Small World, what are you, nuts?

 

“The happiest place on earth,” though some might disagree,

as parents were heard crying, “You listen to me!”

But, the wonder and charm created by Walt,

somehow casts a spell over all who are distraught.

Precious time spent with family, new memories to delight,

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Tradition

December 16, 2011

{Apparently neglected to take my camera, years 2004-2005 . . . didn’t even take a “before-leaving-the-house” shot. . . }

An annual trip with good friends into the city for dinner and the San Francisco Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker.   A wonderfully festive mother/daughter holiday tradition that fell victim to busy schedules and competing interests in a growing girl’s life.

Time to revive this tradition for one more outing next year, before a certain little girl graduates from high school? 

I think maybe, yes . . .

A Birthday, A Good Deed, and Another Internet Phenomenon

December 1, 2011

The Birthday.

Today is Kyle’s 19th birthday.  Happy birthday, Kyle!!!

Kyle, 19 years ago:

This is the picture Terry took with him when he went out to sea with the USS Vallejo. He had to leave when Kyle was only 10 days old.  He put this picture in his bunk and says he looked at it every night before he went to bed.  He also took a pair of little newborn socks (white with a little embroidered Baby Big Bird, sealed in a ziploc baggy) so he could take that “baby smell” with him.  Heretofore little known facts about Terry.

My facebook status today:

I’m guessing this will be the wave of the future.  No more planning birthday parties, baking him cakes, or decorating the house with our traditional “Happy Birthday” sign and twirly, shiny birthday decoration thing-a-ma-bobs.  *Sigh*

A couple of pictures from Kyle’s 6th birthday:

That top picture?  Pin-the-Flame-on-Charizard.  I drew Charizard by hand and drew and cut out all the little flames to be pinned.  The picture below?  See the Pikachu pinata?  Handmade, by me.  And can you see the bingo cards splayed out to the left of Pikachu?  No, I didn’t hand draw them all, but I did create it on the computer.  I look at those now and think, “crazy lady!”  Where did all that energy come from and more importantly, where did it all go?  Just looking at them makes me tired now.  And there were others.  One year was a Batman theme complete with Pin-the-Bat-Sign-on-Batman’s-Chest and a Penguin pinata.  Those came out pretty good, if I do say so myself, but I can’t find the darn pictures!  Pre-affordable digital cameras.

No pin-the-something-on-anything or any homemade pinatas this year, just a birthday card in the mail, artwork courtesy of his sister:

 Hope it put a smile on his face today.

The Good Deed.

I donated blood today for the first time in my life.  Honestly, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long.  Considering volunteer donors are the only source of blood for transfusion and if you think about all the surgeries being done in all the hospitals around the world, it would seem a no-brainer that everyone who is healthy and able, should donate.  Terry and his side of the family have been donating for as long as I’ve known them.  Early on, I was not eligible to donate, but when that reason went away, I just never really gave it much thought, even though Terry was still going regularly.

So, what made me go today?  A determined, strong, and inspirational young lady named Zoe.  The same young lady I mentioned in a previous post who is battling cancer.  Zoe and her family are amazing people.  Inspirational people.  The kind you admire, the kind that brings out the best in others. 

There was a blood drive held in her honor a couple Saturdays ago.  I hear it was a HUGE success, bringing in tons of donors and some much needed blood.  Some walk-ins had to be turned away, it was that successful.  I had wanted to go and show my support then, but it was the same weekend we were in Santa Barbara with Caitlyn’s band.  So I swore to myself, no more excuses, when I got home I’d go in on my own and donate in support of Zoe.

Today was that day and the Red Cross in Newark was the place.  It was meant to be, because look, they needed ME!

Next time, I’m supposed to bring a friend.  Who wants to come with me???  :)

The Internet Phenomenon.

Did you happen to see that other Facebook post, just below mine, in the picture up there?  Jessica, my dear friend who got me blogging, turned me on to Pinterest.  You “pin” things you find on the internet onto virtual “pinboards.”  There are literally thousands of pins from other pinners that you can look at.  It’s like surfing the web, but super-efficient, condensed version.  She started her “Pinterest Test Kitchen” a couple months ago . . . to get people to do more than just “pin.”  Because I adore her so much, I wanted to support her efforts by making/baking one of my pins today, but the day got away from me.  But, though I didn’t bake today, I HAVE actually tried some of my pins, so I will post a few here and hope that she accepts this as my entry into her Pinterest Kitchen.  :)

 Pumpkin Chiffon Cake  I made this for Thanksgiving dessert this year.  My family’s response:   “There’s no pie?”

cupcakes baked in condiment cups. very very awesome. very mini.  Baked mini cupcakes in condiment cups.  It works really well and you can fit like 50 of them on a baking sheet!  Super efficient and of course, anything tiny is uber-cute! 

 Pinned Image  Best homemade salsa ever!  Really and truly.  Super easy too.

Pinned Image   Furikake Chex Mix.  This stuff is like crack for me, if I knew what crack was like.  Sometimes I’ll beg Caitlyn to make a batch for me, then I’ll curse her later as I’m sick to my stomach from eating the whole stinkin’ batch myself.  She has since taken to refusing to make me anymore.  Stinker.

My Christmas party penguins!  I made these for a party last New Year’s Eve.  Super cute, huh?

One more time before the day is over . . . Happy Birthday Kyle!!!  Hope you had a great day!

And for Kyle, Caitlyn, and Kurtis . . . take after your Dad and start donating blood early and regularly.  It’s a good deed, that will hopefully turn into a good habit, with benefits for so many, including yourself.

“Burning Music”

November 23, 2011

Teachable moments.

Life is full of them.  And more often than not, they tend to be bittersweet.  The good, borne out of the bad . . . not always easy to spot, even for adults.

This past weekend, a festive and less political occupy Santa Barbara City College (aka Western Band Association Championships) was in full swing.  Sixty-seven bands from all over California converged upon the city to vie for the title of Grand Champion.  Encampments were set up in every available parking lot.  Charter buses, Penske trucks, and rigs brightly painted with school colors and logos could be seen around every corner.  Set against the beautiful Santa Barbara coastline, it was a beautiful sight to behold.

In a nutshell, competition is split over two nights of performances:  Prelims on Saturday and Finals on Sunday.  At the end of  a gorgeous Saturday in Santa Barbara, Logan earned a score of 94.55.  Ayala High School earned a 94.60.  Five-hundredths of a point separated our kids from the top spot. 

The weather was our friend on Saturday.  Not so much on Sunday.  This is what we awoke to:

Ducks practically swimming on the sidewalks of our hotel.  That pretty much summed up the weather for the day.

But, energized and determined to regain the lead, our kids rehearsed and practiced through the rain on Sunday in preparation for that night’s performance.  Watching them line up on the field, swaying in place to the setup music, battling through technical difficulties with the sound equipment because of the rain, we were all so proud as our kids burst into an energetic and charged performance of their show, “Burning Music.”  (video never quite captures the thrill of a live performance, but this gives you a pretty good idea . . .)  Call us crazy (or biased) but everyone Logan-related felt Sunday night’s performance was leaps and bounds above the previous night . . . our colorguard captains confidently caught their solo rifle/saber tosses, the music was triumphantly trumpeted across the fields to the stands, and the beautiful silk flags of our guard were proudly waved across the SBCC field.  Hope was alive as we all exited the stadium and marched back up the hill to our camp. 

Alas, despite their best efforts (and best efforts they were, no regrets), the coveted title of Grand Champion eluded them this year. 

James Logan High School – 95.80.

Ayala High School – 96.70.

A difference of less than 1 point.  A testament to the high caliber and quality of the programs at both high schools.  All the high schools, really.  Every school put on a great show; showcasing the talents and dedication of every student who put in long hours of practice over the past several months.

A silver medal is definitely nothing to sneeze at.  But, for Logan, the Grand Champions for something like the last 13 years, taking second place was a sobering and slightly heart-breaking experience.

There were tears and a lot of heart-felt hugging that night.  But, in the hours and days since, the general consensus, and somewhat astonishing realization amongst the kids, is that this was the most memorable championships for many of them.  Despite the 2nd place finish, or maybe because of it, memories of practicing yoga, barefeet, in the beautiful sands of Santa Barbara, shopping for towels at the local mall after a rain-drenched rehearsal, and coming together as a group over cup-0′-noodles in the parking lot will warm their hearts and bring smiles to their faces for years to come.

And like the true champions they are, they were gracious in their defeat, applauding warmly for Ayala as they accepted their 1st place trophy.  A teachable moment for our kids that didn’t need to be taught; one that was self-recognized . . .  the pinnacle in teachable moments.

Another great marching season over . . . only one more left to go for Caitlyn.  Talk about bittersweet.  She’ll be a senior next year . . . can you believe it?  I can’t.  Time flies . . .

Another “Best”

November 5, 2011

Baked some more cookies today.  Snickerdoodles.  For our Uniform Crew co-leader, Katie.  Snickerdoodles are her absolute favorite. 

I found this out when I made some pumpkin snickerdoodles to share with the crew, a few shows back.

I wish I hadn’t.  They were horrible.  Okay, maybe not horrible, but not very good.  When your mother, who is normally your biggest fan and loves everything you bake, tells you apologetically that maybe these weren’t quite your best . . . you know it’s not good. 

Lesson learned:  Never promise to bring something to an event without doing a test run on the new recipe first.  Jennifer knows this and never strays from it.  I’ve always been more of a wing-it, go-with-the-flow, if-it-doesn’t-turn-out, oh-well, kind of gal.  No more.

But Katie was very sweet, she said she really liked them.  Poor, sweet Katie.

So, to make it up to her, I tried out a new recipe that got an average 4.5 out of 5 stars from 3,071 reviews.  Mrs. Sigg’s Snickerdoodles has been saved by 66,573 people.  A good sign.

What about the test-run-before-taking thing?  Well, I figured if they didn’t turn out, no harm, no foul, because I didn’t tell Katie I was making them.   If they turned out to be a FAIL, I’d just make my usual guinea pigs family suffer through them.

So, I waited with baited breath as Terry took the first bite. 

“What do you think?”

Terry, chewing with mouth full of cookie, “Mmphmmph, really good.  Best snickerdoodle I’ve ever had.”

Really?  Music to a baker’s ear!!!

 So, these were supposed to go with me tonight, for Katie and the Crew.  But, the show was cancelled due to rain.  :(     Stinkin’ weather.

I had given some of these cookies out to some other guinea pigs  friends today and after receiving some favorable reviews, I have decided to commit this recipe to internet perpetuity as well.  Because a good snickerdoodle recipe is another kitchen staple.

I will have to make Katie another batch, another time.  With the cancellation of the show, we have some    band kids over at the house and I don’t think this batch will make it through the night.

 

 

 

Mrs. Sigg’s Snickerdoodles

(adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening               (okay to use all butter if no shortening available)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar  (or you can substitute 2 t. vinegar OR lemon juice)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).   Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. BY HAND, cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt.  Do not overmix.  Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
  3. Mix the 3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon, place in small Ziploc baggie.   Place balls of dough in Ziploc baggie, a couple at a time, and shake to coat thoroughly. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake 8 minutes exactly (cracks should form, the wells in between the cracks may look wet, but take the cookies out anyway otherwise they’ll get too hard later).  Remove immediately from baking sheet, by sliding parchment sheet off baking sheet.
  5. Yield is somewhere around 3 dozen, depending on the size of your  balls of dough.
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