Cooking lesson in Austria with Bianca Gusenbauer at Bianca Isst

[Recipe] Traditional Austrian Beef Goulash & Spaetzli

Beef Goulash. Is it Austrian or Hungarian?!

After having been to both countries and stayed with locals, I learnt that goulash is a shared dish between the 2 nations (kinda like how Aussies and Kiwis claim to have created the Pavlova) but Austrian Goulash is thicker like a stew and uses caraway seeds whereas Hungarian Goulash is like a soup. Both incredible!

My first beef goulash was with the lovely Austrian chef, economist and writer Bianca Gusenbauer at her Austrian cooking school in Vienna, Bianca Isst. Isst meaning is eating, in German. The Austrian cooking lesson (125 Euros) was the best thing I ever did in Austria.

She taught us so much about the socio-economic demographic division in Vienna, Austrian food culture, Austrian lingo, coffee culture and of course, how to cook the 2 most popular Austrian dishes – Beef Goulash and Apple Strudel. Anyway, let’s leave this incredible experience for another blog post.

 

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Beef goulash and small spaetzli

 

 

 


Spaetzli Maker Equipment

Spaetzli is a simple egg noodle that the Austrians and Hungarians (and, Southern part of Germany, Munich/Bavaria) created. It is uncomplicated “poor-people food” simply due to the flexibility of the amounts of flour, eggs and milk used and those were ingredients the less fortunate could afford. The egg noodles will work – whether you have less flour or less eggs. It just will, I promise.

To make spaetzli, you can use:

  1. A chopping board and a knife – easy and roughly chopped. You just need to scrap fast, use that wrist power! Cheapest option as this will not require buying any new cooking equipment. You’ll probably yield bigger sized spaetzli and that’s perfectly fine. See picture below.
  2. A scraper and a metal plate with holes (looks just like a cheese grater)
  3. A proper metal spaetzli maker

Tip: If you’re going to Hungary, buy it there. Mine was ridiculously cheap. I got it for 3 Euros compared to the one I was looking at in Austrian for 30-70 Euros. I got it at the Budapest Great Market Hall (underground near Aldi).

 

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Spaetzli egg noodles roughly chopped

 


Serves: 8
Prep time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Cooking time: 2 hours

Goulash Ingredients:

  • 2 kg beef (oyster blade), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 kg brown onions, sliced thinly (crazy I know, just do it)
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 700ml water
  • Olive oil
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 tsp caraway seeds – this makes it an Austrian goulash!!
  • 5-6 tbsp sweet paprika powder
  • White vinegar, just a splash (3 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp marjoram (optional)
  • 3 tbsp chilli flakes (optional)

Spaetzli Ingredients:

  • 500 g plain flour
  • 5 eggs
  • Milk (approximately 200 ml)
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Butter
  • Cooking equipment: Spaetzli strainer or chopping board or scrapper

Goulash Method:

  1. Sauteed onions in a pot with olive oil until caramelised (be patient, the caramelising process brings out the sweetness and fragrance of the onions). When the onions are past the translucent stage, stir in the paprika powder and continue to sauteed until onions are caramelised. Add a splash of white vinegar and 200ml of water and mix together evenly.
  2. Blend the onion mixture. This is important as it will help thicken the goulash later, without having to use any flour or thickening agent. Onions are natural thickening agent!
  3. Put the beef pieces into the onion mixture in the pot. Add tomato puree, garlic, caraway seeds, marjoram, chilli flakes and 2 tsp of salt. Add the rest of the water until the meat is well-covered.
  4. Allow the meat and onion mixture to simmer gently, on a low flame, until the meat is soft. The meat should be really tender and pull apart when poked with a fork. This part will take about 2 hours.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Add more chilli flakes, if desired.
  6. Don’t worry if it’s saltier than you would normally have – you’ll be serving this with spaetzli which will be more plain and therefore, help balance the saltiness of this dish.

Spaetzli Method:

  1. In a bowl, mix plain flour and eggs. Relax, even if you have 4 eggs or 400g plain flour, this recipe will work.
  2. Gradually, add the milk and continue mixing until the spaetzli dough reflects a slightly thicker pancake batter.
  3. In a pot, boil water and add 2 tbsp of salt. Unlike normal Italian pasta, the water does not have to be boiling, just continuously hot will do.
  4. Cut the spaetzli dough or use a spaetzli strainer to put the dough into the hot water.
  5. Stir continuously to prevent the spaetzli egg noodles from sticking to each other. When they’re cooked, they will float to the surface.
  6. Scoop up the spaetzli egg noodles and add a few knobs of butter, again to prevent the spaetzli egg noodles from sticking to each other.
  7. Lightly season with salt.
  8. Serve spaetzli egg noodles hot with beef goulash.

Xx

Generation Kitchen

 

nusskranzkuchen austrian cake recipe

[Recipe] Nusskranzkuchen – Nut Ring Cake

My first healthy and guilt-free Nusskranzkuchen got a thumbs up from all my guinea pigs (aka family and some friends)!! Since I bought my Austrian recipe book in Vienna, I had been eyeing this recipe in the book called Nusskranzkuchen. I altered some ingredients to make it lower in sugar. The original recipe called for icing sugar so I replaced it with coconut sugar and a couple of dates. The dates are optional though. The dates gave a chewy texture to the cake which I really liked!

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Tip 1: For step 7, remember not to mix them in but to fold them in to prevent the air bubbles from bursting. The air bubbles keep the cake light and fluffy! 

Tip 2:  For an even prettier top, put the cake back into the oven after the cake has been turned out of the cake tin. Allow the almonds to colour and then sprinkle some icing sugar and more silvered almonds on top. The icing sugar will melt and act as a “glue” for the silvered almonds.

Tip 3: For a more chocolatey and no sugar option, use cacao nibs and dust the cake tin with cocoa powder. Before baking, the cacao nibs are hard but the baking process actually melts the cacao nibs and gives a very aromatic chocolate flavour. It’s healthy (high in antioxidants) so I highly recommend it! Make the dessert even more guilt-free.. why not?

Tip 4: Get creative with the toppings. Maybe drizzles of chocolate ganache? An apricot jam glaze and topped with roasted crushed nuts? After all, apricot jam (marille in Austrian German) is typically Austrian.

 

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Light. Fluffy. Perfect Height. Delicious

 


Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 200g butter
  • 170g coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large apples, grated or chopped (I used 4 small pears)
  • 100g hazelnuts (I used almonds and walnuts)
  • 80g chocolate (I used cacao nibs)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • 200g + 1 tbsp self raising flour (gluten free if necessary)
  • 2 dates (optional)
  • 1 tbsp silvered almonds
  • cocoa powder for dusting of cake tin

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C
  2. Separate the eggs. Beat the butter together with the sugar and vanilla. Gradually add the egg yolks
  3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
  4. Peel and grate or chop. Slightly squeeze to remove some of the liquid.
  5. Chop the nuts roughly
  6. Mix the baking powder, cinnamon and flour together
  7. Gradually fold the apples, nuts, chocolate and flour to butter/egg yolk mixture (Step 2). Alternating with the egg whites.
  8. Grease the ring tin well (I used a bundt cake tin) with butter and dusted with flour and cocoa powder.
  9. To give it a pretty top, layer the base of the tin with silvered almonds. Then pour the cake mixture into the tin.
  10. Bake for 1 hour; checking at every 20-minute intervals. Use a skewer to poke in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s cooked.
  11. Allow to the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Then, turn the cake out onto a wire rack and serve.
  12. Enjoy it hot with some custard or cream or even simply on its own!

 

Mahlzeit alles!

Xx

GK

innsbruck hut to hut walking in the tyrolean alps

Innsbruck (Tyrol): Hut-to-hut walking

After a few days in Vienna, I boarded the OEBB to Innsbruck to meet a friend. Innsbruck is the capital of Tyrol (the state bordering of Italy) and it is definitely a place I highly recommend everyone to go to even for one night. What’s not to love? The encapsulating view of the jagged mountain range of Nordkette surrounding a quaint little city is so peaceful. And, the close proximity to the mountains means you can go hiking anytime!

One of my highlights of my 4 days in Innsbruck was hut-to-hut walking aka alm-to-alm walking, in German. Alm means hut and this hut refers to the traditional Austrian gasthaus found on the mountains where hikers can stop by for a meal or drink. Some are like small hotels that offer accommodation services for long distance hikers. In Innsbruck, these gasthaus serves local Tyrolean dishes, desserts and cakes. It completed my Austrian experience!

A huge thanks to the Austrians I met at the Irish pub, The Galway Bay who managed to convince me to stay longer in Innsbruck and recommended me to do hut-to-hut walking. It is definitely a must-do activity in Innsbruck!

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View of the jagged Nordkette mountain ranges from Innsbruck city

So, my journey began from Alpenzoo through Heinrich-süß-weg. There are several ways up to the alps but this was the recommended route.

Austrian hiking culture: Austrians have this hiking culture whereby everyone is friends in the mountains, even strangers you don’t know. This was apparent in the way they change their greetings to the passerbys they meet. Austrians would greet their friends servus and strangers grüß gott. But on the mountains, Austrians would greet random passerby with griaß eich (for plural) or griaß di (for singular). How cool!

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Overview map of the various alms in the area

My first stop was Arzler Alm (1070 m). It is the most popular of Alms because it is easiest to get to by foot. Even oldies were able to do it. No need for proper hiking gear (unless you’re getting past Seegrube, where Nordkettenbahnen – the cable car station is at). All you will need are runners, waterproof jacket and a bottle of water.

Following the signs from Alpenzoo and through the forest, I made it to the quaint looking Austrian hut in the alps I’ve heard so much about – Arzler Alm. Many hikers and non-hikers were enjoying Arzler Alm’s famous Weiner Schnitzel and house salads. Sadly, it was way too early for lunch so I ordered a melange (Austrian-style coffee) and sipped it away as I did some people-watching. It was great fun observing the waiters dressed in the traditional costume called lederhosen happily serving customers who were busy chatting away.

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Hut 1: Arzler Alm

 

Then, I made my way to the west of Arzler Alm towards Höttinger Alm (1490 m) where I had my first authentic Tyrolean “dumpling” – Speck knödel. Speck is a cured, smoked meat. Speck is cured in salt and spices such as laurel and juniper, then slowly-smoked, using pine or juniper wood for several months. Being so close to Italy, speck is one of the Italian influences found in Southern Austria. Speck knödel is traditionally served in a soup and less traditionally with a salad on the side. It was freezing as it was raining then so I opted for the more traditional option!

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Tyrolean traditional dish: Speck Knödel

When it stopped raining, I made my way east of Höttinger Alm towards Bodenstein Alm (1660 m). This was the smallest and least commercial of gasthaus thus far. They only sold black instant coffee and the homemade cakes. I ordered a Topfen cake, which was a bit on the sweet side for me to be honest! Topfen is sometimes called quark, a type of dairy by product that is in between yoghurt and cheese. Creaminess of yoghurt but texture and consistency of cheese. It’s an Austrian staple – so high in protein and low in carbs!

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Austrian dessert: Topfen Cake

From Bodenstein Alm, I continued my way up to Seegrube where the Nordkette Skyline Park was. You can take the cable car from Seegrube up towards Haferlekar and see a more spectacular view of the alps and Innsbruck city from above. I didn’t make it sadly because it began to rain and it was getting late.

 

Even at Seegrube, the alps were stunning. Absolutely mind-blowing. I went at the end of May so the snow on the alps was half melted yet it was breathtaking. Imagine it full of snow! Many hikers with proper gear can take the cable car and then hike up to the many peaks of the Nordkette mountain ranges. Next time my goal is to get to Hafelekarspitze!

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Before the big hikes begin from Seegrube

Till next time Innsbruck!

Let me know if you found this useful 🙂

Xx

Generation Kitchen

 

 

Cinque Terre: Ligurian food & travel

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View of the Ligurian Sea on my hike from Monterosso al Mare to Riomaggiore.

 

 

After a few hours in Pisa, I boarded Trenitalia and made my way to the picturesque Cinque Terre (pronounced as “ching-queh te-reh”) and Portovenere. Really wasn’t sure what to expect, but as we were approaching the first village, Riomaggiore, we saw a glimpse of the sparkling blue ocean, the colourful little buildings, and terrains of vineyards and lemon trees from afar. Everyone on the train began cheering as we made our way to the last (and biggest) village, Monterosso.

 

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Riomaggiore

The minute I stepped out of the train; lugging my massive luggage to the beach front, I knew I was in it for a treat. The atmosphere of Cinque Terre was laid back, happy and definitely had that “community” feel. Cinque Terre is a great place if you enjoy being part of a small village. There are no big brands there – only small independent shops selling local fresh produce, gelato, fried seafood, focaccias, local artisanal products, and more gelato..

The lack of corporate and commercial development definitely helps maintain the charm of Cinque Terre eventhough it brings millions of tourists a year (2.5 million last year!). People can only access and leave Cinque Terre by boat, trains and walking trails. There are cars too but car services in and around Cinque Terre are ridiculously expensive – I rather walk for a day!! This also helps protect Cinque Terre, a UNESCO heritage ❤

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Terraces of vineyards, olive groves and lemon trees

Cinque Terre, meaning 5 lands is made up of 5 villages – Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Cinque Terre is located in the Province of La Spezia and lies on the Ligurian Sea. I love how the local people have built terraces on a steep landscape to maximise the land they have to grow grapes for wine, olive groves and basil herbs. Besides maximising agriculture land, it also ensures that the plantations have sufficient sunlight and irrigation. These farmers have really thought it out well and boy, they must be really fit to be climbing up and down everyday.

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Portovenere


I chose to go to Cinque Terre simply because of the beautiful buildings and the ocean, yup simply for those reasons. I wanted that Italian coastal experience. Little did I know, I was going to be exposed to the Ligurian cuisine!

Italy, being a huge supporter and living example of Slow Food, Italian cuisine is very much focused on using fresh, seasonal produce. So I wasn’t surprised that Ligurian food is made using ingredients local to the region of Liguria and in fact, it is the fresh local ingredients that make Ligurian cuisine well, Ligurian-ly tantalizing..

Being on a student budget, I kept my expenditure low and ate mostly local Ligurian street food. But I definitely did not stinge on trying Ligurian food.

My top 6 INexpensive local Ligurian food to try:

  • Trofie al pesto (5-10 Euros)

Trofie is a Ligurian pasta made with flour and water (and no eggs). It is rolled up into squizzly shapes and cooked with basil pesto. The basil pesto is especially famous because of the quality of the basil leaves grown in Cinque Terre. They say it’s the combination of the temperature, sunlight and water available there.

Make sure there is “Pesto alla Genovese” on the label to get the most authentic basil pesto!

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Fresh basil outside trofie al pesto stalls

  • Monterosso tart (3 Euros/slice)

It was and is one of the best tarts I’ve ever tasted. Monterosso tart is a pie like dessert made of short crust pastry on the outside, layered with a thin layer of sponge cake, followed by a bit of lemon or apricot jam then a thick layer of custard/creme patisserie and lastly, melted dark chocolate. It sounds sweet but the custard/creme patisserie was surprisingly not sickly sweet at all and the chocolate was bitter enough to offset the sweetness of the tart. I bought the tart only to try it for the experience but ended up having one everyday! Definitely a tart to re-create!

Monterosso tart is one of the many pastries that is baked by the local baker, Laura. Laura has been baking local pastries since 1966. No wonder many local people were worried that Laura’s bakery and her secret recipes would be destroyed after the 2011 floods. But thank god she reopened and rebuilt her little empire of local homemade, Ligurian pastries. Laura’s shop is called Pasticerria Ariagianale Laura in the historic center of Monterosso.

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  • Limoncello (free tasting)

A lemon liquor that is usually consumed as a chilled “Digestivo”; a drink after dinner to aid digestion. Limoncello has a strong lemon flavour but does not have the sourness of the juice or bitterness of the peel. I’m not a huge fan of alcoholic drinks so a free sample was enough – yup, I was being a cheapskate!

There are lemon trees growing all around Cinque Terre. Almost every 100m I walked, there would be several lemon trees. I tried grabbing some during my hike but it was too far to reach. Too bad. Lemons are very easily grown in the warm climates of Cinque Terre.

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A local shop selling artisanal products and lemon-based products on the side. Lemon vodka granita anyone??

  • Chickpea bread – Farinata (sold by weight : 2-3 Euros/slice)

Farinata – a local savoury specialty – is a chickpea flatbread baked in a wood-fired oven. It is the perfect healthy gluten-free snack when you’re craving something salty to munch on or for a light lunch. It should be crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Some say it’s an acquired taste but for me, it was love at first bite! ❤

  • Focaccias (3-6 Euros/slice)

Fluffy flat Italian bread, similar to the texture of a pizza base. The most traditional ones are foccacias drizzled with olive oil and salt. Now, there arr many with different toppings like olives, caramelised onions, tomatoes and cheese with herbs and many more 🙂

The plethora of vegetarian/vegan foods available, I think is a huge reflection of the religious beliefs of the local people who are supposed to be Catholics and therefore, have meat-free days once a week or at least regularly.

  • Mixed seafood cones – Fritto miste (5-10 Euros)

Freshly caught seafood. Lightly battered. Enough said.

 

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My motivation to hike over from Manarola to Riomaggiore for the best seafood cone.

It was definitely 5 days well spent enjoying the seaside, hiking several times between each village and indulging in local Ligurian food. When you learn and embrace another’s country or province’s cuisine, you learn a whole lot more about their culture 🙂

Buon Apetito!!

Xx

Generation Kitchen

malaysian national drink recipe - teh tarik

[Recipe] Teh Tarik: Malaysia’s National Drink

Teh Tarik is a hot frothy milk tea made of condensed milk (or evaporated for less sweet) and strong black or Ceylon tea. Delicious! (in moderation)

Teh Tarik (in Malay) literally means pulled tea because the mamak guys actually pull the milk tea to make it frothy & creamy! Nowadays, the mamak guys usually use a milkshake machine to froth the milk tea up because it’s faster. As a kid, it was always entertaining when the mamak guys put on a show of pulling guys pull the Teh Tarik from mug to mug and then seeing milk tea “moustaches” on happy customers’ faces. The mamak guys would be really cheeky too by pulling it extra long; making my heart skip a beat but not a single drop would go to waste…


Tip 1: Typically, the Malaysian BOH tea is used to steep the tea for Teh Tarik but you can use any black or Ceylon tea. Just make sure it is of high quality. The quality and amount of the tea used really determines the aroma of the Teh Tarik. I’ve tried making Teh Tarik with less aromatic teas, it looked and tasted like dirt water. Seriously, it was quite bad.. 🙈

The Malaysian BOH tea is a local tea grown and processed in Cameron Highlands (in the state of Pahang). This tea plantation all began when the English conquered Malaysia 🌿 If you go to Cameron Highlands, you can visit tea plantations and enjoy tea with scones or sandwiches just like you would in England, with slight modification for the local taste.

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Typical Malaysian breakfast: A stack of kaya butter toast, 2 soft boiled eggs and a cup of teh tarik

Teh Tarik can be found in any kopitiam shops or mamak stalls. It’s consumed anytime of the day. For me, it’s best in the morning with my breakfast (see above) or midnight at mamak stalls when you watch the football on the big screens ⚽️ It truly completes the mood of cheering for your football team with your family and friends. Best nya!! ✌🏽️ For non-Malaysians, this article (The Mamak Stall Culture) sums it up very nicely about why mamak stalls are so special.

 


Health advice:

  • Consume this tea in moderation because of the condensed milk, which is high in sugar content.
  • Those with poor digestion or have a sensitive stomach, like me, should minimise the consumption of this beverage because the high caffeine content would “erode” or increase inflammation to the stomach lining.
  • If you are going to have Teh Tarik, make sure you 1) drink a cup of warm water before & after the milk tea (advice from the Traditional Chinese Med doctor I’ve been seeing) and 2) are not drinking it on an empty stomach.

 


Makes for 4 people

Ingredients

  • 10 tbsps black or Ceylon tea leaves
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk, to taste (or evaporated for less sweet)
  • 4 cups hot water

Method

  1. Steep the tea for 1 hour
  2. Add the condensed milk and mix it well
  3. Froth the milk tea using the pulling method, a milk frothing equipment or a milkshake machine. For the pulling method: Pour the tea from one mug to another mug from a distance. Repeat the action between the two mugs for 4-5 times until the milk tea is frothy enough. Do not over-pull because the milk tea will lose its heat.
  4. Serve hot and enjoy

Xx

Generation Kitchen

6 Lessons from Sekinchan Fruit Orchard

31st January 2016

One of the highlights of my trip to Sekinchan was the free tour of his fruit orchard (Wan Chai Mango King) – My grandma, aunt and I were in 7th heaven! ❤

I’ve never met anyone so passionate about agriculture and fruits like this fruit vendor. You can really feel his energy when he’s sharing his knowledge about the Malaysian local fruits, how to grow them and how to choose the good quality ones.

After about an hour in the fruit stall, we ended up with many kilos of golden dragon mangoes (as long as my forearm!), kedongdong, kafir lime, jambu air and guava. It was so interesting, it would be a waste not to share what I know now 😀

Here are the 6 lessons:

1.Golden dragon mango tree: Cut the centre of the mango tree to allow sunlight to reach the hidden centre of the mango tree. Basically, keeps the mango tree nourished with sunlight.

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Notice the branches growing outwards? Yup, that’s because they cut the centre of the tree deliberately to create space for sunlight to get in. That’s a sign of sweet mango coming right up! 😀

2. Jambu air tree: Wrap the budding flowers with a plastic bag to keep birds and insects from eating it up. It is a crucial stage of growing a jambu air plant. If you wrap it a little too late, the jambu air plant will not grow. Even if it does, it’s definitely not market quality. Jambu air is a low calorie & healthy fruit to eat but so hard to grow 😦

3. Soursop fruit: According to the fruit farmer, he says this is the most perfect soursop he has ever grown. So perfect, he wasn’t willing to sell it to us because he wanted to eat it hahaha

  • The prickly bits of the soursop should not be too spaced out but more importantly, not too close to each other
  • It should be luscious green
  • It should not too soft (otherwise it means it’s overly ripen).

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    See how beautifully spaced out it is all around? Except the middle part where the prickly bits are close together but that’s okay.

4. Nangka plant (jackfruit): Sweet sweet jackfruit. This fruit doesn’t need to be treated like a princess, thank goodness! The main thing would be to cover the fruits with a plastic bag (with holes so it doesn’t get sweaty in the bag. Eeek!) and with newspaper.

I’m guessing the newspaper is to absorb the moisture the fruit will create some           vapour due to the warm temperature in the bag. Time to wrap this fruit up before the animals and birds get to it!

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Huge but still green so it’s not quite ready for eating!

5. Guava fruit: The best type of guava are the sweet and “crispy” ones. Literally crispy, not hard and crunchy. This are some tips from my grandma for choosing perfect guavas

  • Choose the ones with light coloured skin
  • The tip of the guava should be relatively flat (more rounded than oval), firm but not rock hard.

It’s okay if it has brown bits on the fruit. Imperfection is beautiful and in this case, tastier!

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That’s as green (skin) as I would go. Strange isn’t it that lighter ones are generally better quality! 🙂

6. Keeping flies away from the plants and humans: This was so cool. He hung these yellow sticky bags around his farm which were filled with sweet liquid to attract the flies. The flies will get stuck onto the yellow bags and hence won’t attack the plants or humans. Kinda sad for the flies but it made the experience in the farm a lot more pleasant.

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All the flies stuck to the bag!!!

Hope you enjoyed it!

Xx

GK

tips to steep Oolong tea the best way

4 Things I learnt from the Taiwanese Tea House

One of the MOST significant highlights of my trip to Taiwan was learning about Chinese teas (i.e. how to drink tea without activating the caffeine etc) 🙂

In the city of Tai Chung, we visited a tea house where we sampled several types of Oolong Teas grown in the highlands as Taiwan is particularly famous for their Oolong Teas 🙂 If only I got to visit the actual tea plantation but as it was soo cold in Taiwan, the cold weather and snow had damaged majority of the tea plantation. Maybe next time!

1. How genuine are your tea leaves? Hmm..

It makes sense to choose your loose tea leaves based on how fragrant it is, right? Well, apparently not! The fragrance is the no. 1 indication that synthetic tea fragrances have been added to the tea leaves. Follow these 3 simple methods to test for genuine tea:

  • Smell tea leaves should not smell like tea (but rather does not have a fragrance at all)
  • Eattea leaves should not taste like tea (but rather have a bitter, earthy flavour)
  • Steep tea leaves in a mineral water bottle then shake for 1 minute  only very little bubbles should be formed and the bubbles should dissolve within 1-2 minutes (if it doesn’t, then it means that preservatives have been added)

Bet the first two was a shocker 😉 Easy peasy!

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The tea gurus vacuum pack the teas to prevent the Oolong Tea from losing its fragrance. The tea leaves were what we sampled to learn how to differentiate genuine and non-genuine tea! And yes, I ate it!

 

2. Tea caffeine, no longer your worst enemy

Thankfully, unlike most people, I sleep like a baby despite how much tea I drink at night. But for many of you who are sensitive to caffeine, there’s a solution – make your own cold brewed tea 😀 This way, there is no heat to extract the caffeine from the leaves.

Method:

  • Soak the tea leaves in cold water for at least 5 hours
  • Strain out the tea leaves and the cold brewed tea can be kept up to 3 days
  • Enjoy!

P.S. Do not drink the cold brewed tea after 3 days (It will turn sour and sticky) & Do not heat up the cold brewed tea (It will lose its flavour)

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Left: The yellow tea leaves (steeped in hot water) indicate that caffeine has been released. Right: The vibrant green tea leaves (steeped in cold water) denote that caffeine is still retained inside the leaves. So for people sensitive to caffeine, you want your tea leaves to remain green 🙂

3. Highland tea is healthier

Because there are less insects due to the cool to cold weather up in the mountains, tea farmers don’t have the need to spray insecticides and hence, there are less chemicals being released in the steeping process.

How to test for real highland tea? Eat a piece of dry highland tea leaves, then drink a cup of water. If the water tastes especially sweet, it’s real highland tea! 🙂

4. Drinking tea – a mindful practice

I’ll admit. I struggle with this. I love tea so much I usually just bottoms-up it all! The art of drinking tea is actually meant to be a very calming and mindful experience.

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The long & short tea cups used in the preparation and presentation of tea drinking have their own unique roles.

In the tea house, the hot tea was poured into the tall tea cup and then turned over into the short tea cup. The tea gurus recommended to enjoy the fragrant aroma of the tea from the tea cup and roll the hot tea cup on the palms of your hands (to keep warm, I think). When drinking tea, the tea gurus advise that we hold and swirl the tea in our mouths for a few seconds. The tea actually tastes better and more fragrant – try it.

I’m really happy to have been able to learn more about Chinese tea with my papa who is just as big a Chinese tea addict as me, if not more ❤

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Papa and I with the biggest bag of tea I’ve ever seen 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the tips!

Xx

GK