Getting older…

It’s been all too long since I last posted something here, so here we go 😀
My birthday is coming up and I figured I’d make a cake, more precisely a Prinsesstårta.
Now, it didn’t end up looking like that, as I didn’t have any food coloring for one and I can’t make the roses…
None the less, with several restrictions as you have when you live in Asia when it comes to what products are available, you have to go back to basics here, in other words, make it yourself.

Certain things are quite easy to get, like flour, sugar, cream, eggs etc, but marzipan isn’t one of them and vanilla sugar can be hard as well.
I got some raspberry jam in Costco along with whipping cream (as it’s cheaper there), but I wasn’t willing to pay the prices they wanted for marzipan in CitySuper, so I decided to make some myself. It’s actually not very hard here in Taiwan, as almond powder is available in almost every supermarket, as they mix it with hot water and drink it here.
Although the stuff they drink is generally mixed with some other stuff and pre-sweetened, but that works quite well anyhow.

So, first you start by making the basic almond paste, mix almond powder, powder sugar (unless the almond powder is already sweetened) and an egg white. Blend with a hand blender until you get a solid mass, you might have to add more almond powder or powder sugar to get the right texture and flavor. To turn the almond paste in to marzipan you need some more powder sugar and some liquid glucose or fructose, as the marzipan is much more pliable than the almond paste and it’s also generally sweeter. You want to try to keep it quite dry, so don’t add to much glucose/fructose into the mixture. That’s it, you’re done. If you happen to have food colouring, you can add that now.

I didn’t, so the cake ended up yellow, but I can live with that. I’ve found that there’s some very cheap Japanese synthetic vanilla powder you can buy here, it’s unsweetened and tastes really nasty on its own, but it works for home made custard/vanilla sauce/pudding etc. Just one thing though, add it to the cold mixture just as you would with vanilla sugar and make sure you double up on the sugar amount, as otherwise the end result won’t be sweet enough. You can always add some powder sugar to the cold sauce if it’s not sweet enough. Vanilla essence works as well, or bourbon vanilla, just keep in mind that the latter adds a brownish colour to whatever it is you’re doing.

It’s starting to get warm here again after a couple of very cold months with temperatures at night going down to 7-8 degrees C, which isn’t normal even in the northern parts of Taiwan for such a long period of time. We’ve gotten a new kitten, which Brenda found under a car when we were out driving, she has this special super hearing when it comes to cat’s miauing, beats me how she could hear that kitten in the middle of all the traffic and noise that was going on. Anyhow, she was a dirty little thing full of fleas and with an eye infection when we found here and she was just over 100g. Now, 4 weeks later, she’s a healthy 700g and is getting bigger by the day.

I’ve also planted some potatoes on the balcony and they’re growing super fast, the biggest plant is already starting to sprout flower buds, after only three weeks which must be a record. Yes, it’s indeed possible to grown your own spuds here, just get a big flower pot or a bucket with some holes in the bottom, sprout some potatoes (which isn’t hard here due to the humid climate), get some plant soil and plant them. I’ve been watering them every two days and they’re growing like crazy. Time will tell what the end result will be…

Well, that’s it for now, I just need to try and take some time away from what I do and update this site a bit more regularly. Until then…

Gott Nytt År

Happy New Year….
Yeah, I know, it’s a couple of days late, but hey…
We had a pretty quiet new year, we went down and looked at the local fireworks which were pretty good none the less, especially as Brenda didn’t expect there to be anything here.
We’ve had some “issues” with our neighbour though, we just can’t figure out why.
We got back one night after having had some dinner and she was standing outside our door shouting at it. She was accusing us of having moved the walls in her apartment and we had broken her TV and we were too noisy.

After that it just got worse, she even called me Bin Laden number two and we shouldn’t think that we would get special treatment just because we were foreginers…
Aparently she’s not quite right in the head and she’s quite old, but it’s frustrating to have your neighbour knock your wall with what sounds like a sledgehammer when you’re trying to watch TV or have her scream at the top of her lungs outside your door…
Oh well, never mind.

Turns out my little brother went on a five week trip the US, travling from New York all the way down to Key West by himself, not bad going and not something I’d expect of him, so good going.
We’re looking at going somewhere for the Chinese new year or there abouts, we’ll see what we can find, maybe Thailand or Malaysia, not sure as yet.

All the best to everyone reading this until next time

God Jul

Or Merry Christmas.
It’s that time of the year again, but in this part of the world it’s not a holiday even though Xmas seems to be a comercial event here with people giving crappy gifts to eachother in the office.
At least the Swedish Trade Council had Lucia celebrations here, albeit on the 14th instead of the 13th, but it was pretty good none the less. Supposedly this is the 7th year running and this year they’d even got some girls from a choir in Sweden adding to the school kids that normaly sing at the event.
Lussebullarna weren’t exactly great, a bit dry and flavourless, but the ham sandwhiches were good and I think Brenda must’ve had at least half a dozen…
They also served Glögg, but again it wasn’t all that. Some things just aren’t the same as back home. Oh and there was meatballs as well, but I gave those a miss.
I tried to make some Vörtbröd in the bread machine I got about a month or so ago, but without half of the ingredients available here, it’s still a working project.
However, I found that you can use Korean orange tea, which is sort of like a bitter marmelade instead of Pomerans, but I think I added too much both times as the bread got a bit too strong flavour from it. I’m going to try and get some Vört next time a friend of mine here makes beer and boil it down and see how that goes, this time I used some dark beer which worked ok but doesn’t give it as much flavour. I added a whole bunch of spices instead of Julmust, but you just don’t get quite the same flavour, but it’s close. Mix in some cloves, ginger, cinnamon, ground up caraway seeds and some cardemom and you’re at least half way there.
I had some rye flour I got in HK and I mixed 1/4 rye with 3/4 bread flour to make up the fact that I don’t have rågsikt and that worked really well as the texture was very close to the real deal.
So if you’re stuck in a part of the world were you can’t get some of the bits you need for making Vörbröd, maybe you’ve got some tips here of what you can try using instead.
Apart from that it didn’t turn out to be a lot of christmas food being made, although I made a nice roast that we shared with some friends on Sunday, as I have no idea were you could get an uncooked ham from here, as the cuts of meat here are quite different from anywhere else I’ve been.
Anyhow, all the best to each and everyone that reads this blog 😀

The Kingdom

I’ve just watched this movie and I just had to write a few thoughts about it. I didn’t expect too much from this movie, as American movies are usually very pro-US, but something that really struck me was the end of the movie. I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t seen it, but there’s one sentence that’s being said by both “sides” which is “We’re going to kill them all”.
It just struck me, are we really this stupid? Is this how low mankind have sunk? Or have we always been like this?
Why is it that because someone has a different skin colour, a different faith, a different back ground or just anything that is strange or unusual to us, that we need to look down on them and judge them?
I’m usually not very philosophical, but I don’t understand why we need to hate eachother just because we’re different and sometimes it’s not even that.
Why is it that what we believe to be right has to be pushed into other people forcefully and why is it that people can’t respect eachother no matter where we’re from, what our background is and whatever the colour of skin is?
Why is there this eternal struggle for power, one way or another?
I’ve meet people from many different places in the world and I’ve traveled to and lived in different countries, so maybe I’m different because of this, but I try to respect peoples believes and customs, although I am by no means perfect and have never suggested I am, but at least I appologise when I make a misstake.
If people could be a bit more forgiving to one and another this world would most likely be a much better place, but instead we’re just getting worse and worse.
I have been to places where I’ve been the only white person in town, but I’ve never been worried because of it. Maybe I’m just foolish, but I respect people for who they are, not because of their title or “rank” in life.
There are people I like more than others, but I’m rarely outright nasty to someone, as even people I don’t really like, I try to be polite towards. Nor do I go around hating people, as it just brings you down in the end and they end up winning. Life’s too short for that, but it doesn’t meant that I won’t get mad at someone when they cross the line. I have made friends with people across all religions and “races”, although that’s a word I don’t like to use, as after all, we’re all human beings, it’s not like we’re comparing cats and dogs and when someone like me doesn’t have a problem, why should anyone else?
Yes, I judge some people based on their looks, even though I know it’s wrong to do so, but it’s almost like it’s programmed in, but then I mentally kick myself for doing it.
Why can’t we just all get along instead of trying our best to kill one and another?
I’m by no means living a bad life, I got more than I need and I don’t really do much to help people in need, but I wouldn’t give money to half of the charities out there, as not even half of what you give end up where it’s needed.
Coincidentally I saw a report on CNN today about US troops helping to build schools in Afghanistan and since they’d started helping people and working with the locals, the attacks on US troops had almost stoped all together.
Isn’t it strange how much better people think of you when you help them instead of shoot at them?
People aren’t perfect and I doubt the human race will ever be, but we could at least try to improve, as the only way we can sink lower than we have at the moment is all out war.
I rarely watch the news, as I feel too sorry for all the people that are suffering in the world and I always wonder what is needed to make this stop.
The funny thing is, I know that I can’t do anything about it, no matter what, so really, what’s the point of me writing this?

Ok, I'm lazy…

Well, I really should’ve uploaded all ’em old post and I should’ve written something new here, but I’ve just been too lazy…
I should use this space for something sensible, but I can’t be asked, so I’ll most likely carry on posting my general ramblings about my life in Taiwan for now.
Might end up going to Korea over the (non-)holiday’s next month if I can manage to sort it all out, would be cool to go and meet up with a guy I got in touch with there a few years ago and who works for LG now.
It’s cheap to fly there and although it will be cold and snow, it might not be so bad to spend a few days away and do something quite different, as all the places I’ve been to here so far has been quite warm if not outright hot.
Bought a bread machine a couple of weeks ago, first few attempts didn’t come out too great and the third load was more like rock hard cake than bread. However, today I managed to make some pretty nice rye bread in it which was like real bread. I guess it just takes a bit of figuring out to make it do the job for me.
It’s not that I can’t do it in my puny over, but this takes away all the hassle and makes a nice big loaf, something my oven isn’t really equipped for, although I might just spend some cash next month as Costco has a special on what is meant to be quite a large oven in comparison, although nothing like the stuff I’m used to from Europe.
Otherwise life is fairly quiet and normal at the moment, no big new to report this time.
Until next time…