how the baker and eventual cook in me was born

My fiancée is a great cook, always has been (well at least for the ten years we’ve been together).  I’ve never been a great cook, I never cooked. My mom cooks, I never really had to cook. Sad, I know and weird, yes.  I guess that’s why when I did cook, I didn’t know what I was doing.  I always thoroughly enjoyed cooking class in middle school, and even took it as an elective in high school. However, it never really went beyond that.

What’s ironic is that my moms an amazing baker, famous for her tarts and pies. Yet, I never baked with her.

When my dad came to visit us in Haikou, he told me about a recipe in the NY Times: no knead bread.

I went to the restaurant and hotel supplier import store, Rogers, and bought the only yeast. One package of 500g, imported from some Arabic speaking nation. It has kept very well in the freezer. Two years on and I’m nearly ready to buy another package.

It all started with that bread. The fact that there’s really no good bread here (only a too sweet Pullman loaf [which becomes a thick airy melba toast when toasted] and baguette from RT-Mart, the chain of hypermarkets), gave me the will to bake bread (I bought a Pullman a month ago, after not having had it for months, it was shocking how bad it was. Before, it never seemed that bad, in fact however, it was awful. Haven’t bought one since). With the no knead bread, I was loving every minute of it. The bread baking formulas, the research, the achievements. It was and continues to be really satisfying. I just want to bake.  All day and everyday (in reality, I have done this, been in the kitchen for 12 hours straight… I don’t recommend it).

Every time we visit Canada I bring my recipe notebook and I end up bringing a couple new cookbooks back with me (along with one suitcase dedicated to ingredients and kitchen supplies).

Over the years, the number of imported products has certainly grown, as the foreign community has. My recent discovery of Taobao, China’s online shopping Mecca, has given me access to a much wider range of products: all-purpose-flour (opening the door to cookies, cakes and loaves).  The lack of foreign goods is certainly a double edged sword. I’m proud of and feel good about the fact that we make nearly everything from scratch and everything’s fresh (even if it is really inconvenient). [want some nachos? Step 1: acquire a 10kg block of mozzarella. 2: mix dough, roll it out and bake chips. 3: chop ingredients for salsa. 4: truly enjoy some of the best nachos ever]

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