Monday, December 1, 2008

dinner with our chinese friends

This is a hodge podge post.  First, I want to show you my very first Christmas tree.  That is, in my apartment with my ornaments (ok, Michael's apartment too, but he doesn't have any ornaments on there).  26 years old and I've never put up a tree before!  
pretty pretty

Couple of interesting facts about this particular tree:  Number one is that Michael and I would not even have it at all if it wasn't for his Chinese friends at work.  They decided to retire their old tree and get a new one this year and asked if he wanted it.  We both decided yes.  I put it together (and decorated it) all by myself on Saturday while Michael was at work as a little surprise.  This is probably why I bought all the wrong lights (for the second year in a row - last year I came home with a box of those lights you put on bushes instead of a string).  I realized once I had the thing together (not an easy feat, mind you) that I only had a single string of 20 lights, so off I went to the pharmacy for more.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize until I got home that I had bought 3 more strands of lights that all had a plug on one end only, instead of both ends so that they can all be linked together.  Still, with some perseverence and smarts (ha), I got the lights to all light up.  Thanks to an extension cord hidden in the back that goes 3/4 of the way up the tree.  Ah well.  Anyway, I am super proud of my tree effort.  As you might have noticed.

Sunday, two of our Chinese friends (Billy and Kevin - their American names, obviously) wanted to go to the mall to do some shopping, so I gave them a ride.  I had thought that they promised to make us dinner afterwards for the ride giving.  Apparently, Michael and I both were mistaken...or they just changed their minds at the last minute.  The last minute after we had gone grocery shopping and had gotten ingredients for only Chinese food.  So Michael was in the hot seat, because I was way too worn out from being in a crowded mall to cook.  He got a little nervous because, well, cooking Chinese food for Chinese dudes is a little intimidating.  Especially since, like, those dudes cook for a living.  I would say he did an admirably wonderful job, though, because this is what we ended up with for dinner:
lots of veggies and fried tofu over soba noodles

Doused in sriracha and soy sauce because they weren't cooked with and spiciness or salt, really, because one of our buddies has an ulcer.  (*ahem* I prepped the green beans and entertained our guests while he was cooking, I wasn't being a total lump, I swear.)

Here's the individual components.  Everything was cooked separately, and then combined on our plates.  Excuse the flash, our kitchen is small and was filled with rambunctious boys, so I had very little time to stand very still and not use flash until after my plate was filled.
soba in front, baby bok choy cooked with green onions and sesame seeds in the back

bottom: carrots and oyster mushrooms w/ginger, middle: fried tofu, top: green beans w/black bean sauce

It all tasted terribly fresh and delicious.  I think Billy and Kevin liked it all, but it's hard to tell because they were speaking to eachother in Chinese the whole time they were eating and neither one speaks a whole lot of English.  Still, all in all it was a really fun time and I've honestly never had more gracious guests in my house.  They were great!

The last main point of this post is to give out a biscuit recipe.  I gave this recipe to Becks of I am not a Rabbit fame (scroll down a ways and you'll see my biscuits featured in that post) because she's British and didn't know what American biscuits were all about.  Consensus?  They rule.  Someone else out there wanted the recipe from her, and I told her to please go ahead and let them have it and that I would post it on my blog for good measure.  In case any other non-Americans wanna know what they're like and would like to try a great (I promise) recipe for them or if you already know and love biscuits, you can try out my version.  Actually, it's my mom's version.  I think she veganized it from a cookbook, but I can't remember which one!  Anywho, here's some biscuits for your face.

Whole Wheat Biscuits....  oh wait, sorry they're actually called:

Biscuits Supreme
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, or 1 cup ww 1 cup white
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
Mix well.  Cut in 1/2 cup shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center.  Pour in 2/3 cup SOYmilk all at once, and mix just till moistened.
Turn dough out on to floured surface and knead lightly.  Pat out to 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut into rounds.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 min.
Makes about 10.

Meh, copied and pasted this from an email from my mom and now everything is in this font and I can't change it back.  Blogger's interface is SO not user-friendly.  Anyway, enjoy your biscuit making and the first week of December.  If that's even possible.  Blegh, cold weather!  I'm making SOUP tonight, yes yes yes.


vegan addict said...

That is indeed, a pretty, pretty tree! You deserve a gold star for assembling and decorating it all by yourself! Clap clap clap!!!

The food looks yummy, as always!

Jes said...

Beautiful first tree!

shelby said...

Beautiful Tree!!! I can't wait until Christmas =)

T said...

Your tree is gorgeous! And so is the bok choy... yum!

miss v said...

nice looking tree - your first one!!! awesome!

and yea, that meal looks delish.

speaking of your biscuits, i did make vegan cornbread recently based on your scumptious chili post. ;)

Gina said...

Congrats on your first tree! It looks beautiful :)

Tara said...

What a beautiful tree! Thanks for the biscuit recipe! said...

what a gorgeous tree!
and the biscuits...when they're in threes, do they start belting out songs? or do you need to be drunk for it to happen?
(yes, my jokes are absolutely lame and make no sense to those who might not remember the 60s...)

Georgia said...

nice tree. Funny story about the Chinese guys - something similar happened with Nat's Japanese classmate last year.

I have never had your american type biscuits - a quick question, I was wondering if the biscuit is the only thing that you serve the stew/casserole with?? Or do you serve it with other stuff as well. Sorry if its a stupid question.

Becks - Not a Rabbit. said...

Congrats on your first tree!
And yay for releasing the biscuit recipe into the wild! You will make a lot of hungry people very happy >:o)

Susan said...

Yay for your first Christmas tree! I love Christmas trees.

Sal said...

your tree is so pretty - i am excited about my tree this year as it's the first year when I've lived alone and can have my own tree! yay!

the chinese food looks gorgeous.

I used to wonder what biscuits were too, I've never made them but from the recipe, they look like what we call dumplings.

Virginia said...

our tree is up, too! we should all post our trees!!!

i feel so uncomfortable around people that don't speak English well. i guess it's my anxiety kicking in making me feel like they are all talking about me and stuff in a language i can't understand. heh.

dinner looks like it turned out awesome, though!

i LOVE biscuits so i will definitely try your (your mom's) recipe and report back!!

peteformation said...

Vegetable and Soba noodles, good delicious meal. Nicely presented too!

shellyfish said...

Beeeauuutiful! I have always decorated for the holidays since living on my own, but we only have a foot-high tree...maybe this year we'll get one?

Alice (in Veganland) said...

Well I think if the Chinese didn't complain... it's because it was a super yummy meal!

jessy said...

what a pretty christmas tree! who knew christmas lights were so darm confusing! sheesh! that's why i don't bother with 'em! ahahaaa!

hooray for a trip to the mall & a scumptious dinner with asian friends! :) that's crazy that they decided not to cook dinner for you guys so last minute. i would have been sooo nervous - but it looks like you & michael did an excellent job on the dinner! i wish i was there to enjoy your asian meal of yummy awesomeness! mmmmmmmmm!

omg - BISCUITS!!!!!!!! see, i thought i was missing something - cream of tartar! BRILLIANT! totally trying out your biscuit recipe next time, Jessica! THANK YOU! i got all sad about my biscuits for thanksgiving - we made a bunch and they went over well with my family, but no one in dan's family touched them! argh! well, except for his "vegetarian" brother (the jerk "cheated", as he called it, and ate turkey! WTF?!?!?!) - he took one bite of our biscuits and practically spit it out. i could have cried. i think whole wheat biscuits rock like hell, i guess fussy family members from dan's side do not. jerks! i figure - more for me, right?! but anyways, rant over! thanks for letting me vent - and i'm totally trying your biscuit recipe out next time! wahooooooooooo!

we're making soup tonight, too! i can't wait to see what awesome soup you create! hooray! stay warm, chica! :D

Marni said...

Congrats on having your first XMas tree! Aren't they pretty?

K, so Symon won Iron Chef on Sunday. Cora put up a good fight (as you know) but they scored his food just a bit higher in every category.

Becca said...

I'm so glad that you were able to put up your first tree! Such fun! It's very pretty, you did a great job!

aTxVegn said...

Your first Christmas tree is beautiful - you did a great job putting it up! But now I feel bad because I hate putting up my tree.

I hate cold weather, but I do like soup. I know you'll make something delicious as usual. Oh, and that biscuit recipe - thank you! I need a reliable one.

michelle said...

That's a pretty awesome tree! I am amazed at all your ornaments for never having a tree! I have a tiny 2ft tall one. It's like charlie brown's, except maybe a little sadder, since it's made of plastic.

Hannah said...

Nice tree! Mine is up too, although it's only 1 foot tall and can hold a maximum of about a dozen (small) ornaments. It's the thought that counts, right?

Vegan_Noodle said...

Your tree looks great!! I think I've finally decided to put up a tree this year, and I'm 29! said...

I need to put up a tree... mine will not look as nicely as yours I'm sure.

tofufreak said...

HAHAHA!!! i love your story :)

i'll say that your asian meal passed! alls i need to know is how to get myself invited next time! ;)

love the tree! great thinking, what with all of the light problems.

Jeni Treehugger said...

Ooooh shiny sparkly tree.........

*is distracted*


XUE said...

greetings from a Chinese living in Tokyo! I can imagine you running all over & trying to get this tree together! :) What a lot of work for one person with one tree. Today, we will put up our tree, with the help of my 2 kids (who are German & Chinese). They go to the German school here & speak a couple of languages too.

Veg-a-Nut said...

Everyone you have to make these biscuits, they are amazing! Thank you Mum!!!!

lin said...