Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

baking teensy: edition 6 (the NZ lolly cake disaster)

April 30, 2010

Well, my streak of bad luck seems to be never-ending. I should have known from the beginning that my attempt at participating in an extracurricular activity would be thwarted. I have never really had much success with group activities.

You know how I wrote here about making some sweet NZ treats to sell today at the International Food Festival at Feng Chia University?

Well, I decided to only make lolly cake. I asked a creatively inclined friend and fellow teacher to draw a cutesy border on a piece of paper within which I was going to print the recipe to give out with each piece of cake sold.

I bought all the ingredients from Jasons. I couldn’t find Malt Biscuits so used Digestives. I also couldn’t find anything like eskimos so I used some tiny marshmallows my mum sent me from NZ and some soft jelly lollies. It’s pretty easy to make, you just put everything in a big bowl and stir it together.

With very sticky hands, I made the mixture into a log shape and rolled it in the coconut flakes. I covered it in plastic wrap and went to put it in the fridge. The fridge didn’t seem very cold, though. Then, I looked in the freezer. Everything was melted: the ice in its trays, the (no longer frozen) peas, the ice cream…

Our fridge had broken down.

So, at 11.30 pm at night, we had to throw out all of our food, of which we had a lot, and it meant that I couldn’t set the lolly cake. I admit to shedding a tear or two over the incident. I’m really not good at dealing with disappointment.

In a desperate attempt to salvage the situation I decided to place the lolly cake (not)-to-be in the freezer which was still a little cold. I left a quickly softening ice pad (the blue thing in the picture below) in there to see if that would keep it cool. It didn’t. Don’t you think the cake looks like a giant poo?

I went to bed, hoping for no nightmares of being crushed by giant lolly cake logs.

When I woke, I checked on the cake. Not set, still squishy. It’s now in the bin.

So, with my hopes dashed, I went to the food festival anyway, expecting to be cheered by the sites and smells (and purchases) of global flavours. However, the event which I thought began at 10 am actually didn’t start until 12 pm. I had to leave at 12 pm for a Skype meeting at one.

Was today a good day? No sir, it was not. I am now waiting for the electrician to arrive to fix the fridge. Our land agent promised one would be here before 4 pm. It is now 3:44 pm.

Does any one else have any group activity nightmares they want to share? If so, post a comment. It might make me feel better to bask in other people’s failed attempts at participating in extracurricular activities.

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

news: changes are afoot

January 15, 2010

Just like the scrumptious treats I post about in baking teensy, there are some creations in the Internet oven.

I am now writing for Art Radar Asia and as a result have less time to spend on my beloved jar of buttons. However, this does not mean I’m deserting this space for greener pastures.

It does mean that I will be changing some of the content on the site, namely the weekly fixture get to it. From now on I will list one event in the categories of music, art and other, events that I would choose to go to over no other. This will cut down my posting time and, I think, it will also be better for you, the reader.

I am also going to revamp the look of JoB over the next few months. A new look is always a good thing. Suggestions are, of course, always welcome. Send your thoughts through to or leave a comment.

So is there anything for you, the reader, to look forward to? Of course there is.

  • I will be posting a new edition of baking teensy this weekend – a tasty vegetarian treat designed to get you toasty during these chilled winter months.
  • I hope to visit this on Sunday morning so should have a review up just after.
  • If you do need some reading material before the weekend, you can check out the new articles on Art Radar Asia.
  • Or peruse the lovely use of internet space that is The Renegade Bean.
  • If you want to get out of the house and explore the culture settings of your current hometown, take a look at Taiwan Culture Portal‘s list of events.
  • For the more adventurous of spirit, perhaps you fancy a hike in the snow? The pics in this story are amazing!

Whatever you do, I hope you have an absolutely awesome weekend. Don’t forget to check back soon.

JoB x

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

baking teensy: edition 3

December 6, 2009

Taiwanese winter has hit. It is cold. Well, it’s cold when compared with Taiwanese summer. Which is killer hot.

I decided that, since I officially dusted off the scarves just the other day, it was cold enough for a casserole. A lovely, steaming, goodness-filled vegetable concoction designed to instil a feeling of warmth and security in its indulger.

So, here it is.


Vegetable Casserole
for two or three people

what you need:

This casserole has no need for a fancy smancy title. As you don your oven mitts and slide it out of the oven, place it on the bench and lift the lid, you will see it speaks for itself.

1 big carrot, diced

1 medium onion, diced (I used half of a really big one)

A handful of fresh green beans, chopped

2 potatoes, chopped roughly

A handful of mushrooms, halved or quartered

Fresh or dried herbs to taste, as always fresh is better (I used dried oregano, parsley, rosemary and basil)

1 cup vegetable, mushroom or chicken stock

3 tablespoons plain flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A dash or three of red wine

Olive oil

how to do it:

Prepare all the vegetables as above and put aside. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. As you know, I have a tiny Taitung toaster oven so that’s what mine cooked at. Yours might be different. Experiment.

Heat a little olive oil or butter in a big saucepan and put in all the vegetables. Stir them around over the heat for 5 minutes or so then add the flour. Cook this for around 1 minute and then take off the heat.

Tip the vegetables into a medium sized ceramic casserole dish and pour over the stock and the wine. Add the herbs and salt and pepper. Turn it all with your trusty wooden spoon to get everything all mixed together.

Put into the oven and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Or there abouts. Don’t forget to check and turn it once or twice.

teensy tid bits:

You can use any vegetables you like for this recipe. I think pumpkin and sweet potato would be really good. Oh, and celery is always nice. Chop up a couple of fresh tomatoes and add those.

Add a can of red kidney beans, broad beans or any other kind of legume to make it a little more hearty. I’ve noticed that some Welcome supermarkets sell canned kidney beans or try the Mitsukoshi supermarkets for other types of canned beans.

If you want to make a meat or seafood version just brown the meat or seafood of your choice in the same way I described for the vegetables. Remove from the saucepan and then brown the vegetables. Then put it all in the casserole dish together and pour over the liquids.

Experiment with different red and white wines. The better the quality of the wine, the better the flavour of your casserole.

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baking teensy: edition 2

November 30, 2009

We ran out of gas this week. I was going to treat my second half with scrambled eggs on toast for his birthday. I had begun to sauté the onions when the gas burner said, “Phut!” The bright blue ring of flames disappeared.

First, I threw down my spoon and looked tearfully into the pan. This is generally my first reaction in any crisis, pathetic as that is. After a few minutes I recollected myself and thought back to past breakfasts in Melbourne. What can I cook in an oven? Then, it came to me: Baked Eggs.

I don’t own any ramekins here yet (must get some), but I did have some tinfoil pie dishes left over. Improvisation was the key in this situation. So I got to buttering, cracking, adding milk, herbing and S&Ping.

Baked Eggs
for two people

what you need:

Four eggs (2 per dish)

Milk or cream (cream is yummier but milk is healthier)

Dried herbs (or fresh if you can find them – how I wish I had a garden)


Salt and pepper

how to do it:

Butter the two dishes you will use to cook the eggs. I used two tinfoil small-sized pie dishes. I got them from

Crack two eggs into each dish.

Pour about a tablespoon of milk or cream into each dish. Don’t stir it in or mix the eggs and liquid together.

Sprinkle over the herbs and salt and pepper and put in the oven. In my oven I put the dishes on the wire rack in the middle and had the temperature at 220 degrees C. My oven is tiny so if you have a “real” one then you may want to adjust the temperature to suit.

When ready, serve over some beautiful ciabatta or wholegrain rye topped with some grated parmesan. Baked tomatoes or mushrooms make a nice addition to the plate also – see the recipe below this one. I get my rye bread from Finga’s here in Taichung.

teensy tid bits:

You can add pretty much anything to these eggs. Saute some onions and red peppers and place them in the bottom of the dish with some feta cheese. Crack the eggs over the top and add the rest of the ingredients as above. Yum!

Baked Tomatoes

Easy as pie. You can use small, medium or large tomatoes. Chop each tomato in half and arrange on a baking tray, seed side facing up. Sprinkle over some dried or fresh herbs, salt and pepper (freshly cracked is best, of course) and drizzle with a good amount of olive oil. Put in the oven (mine was set to 220 degrees C) and wait until the tomato skin is peeling and the tomatoes are just the tiniest bit brown at the edges. You can do exactly the same thing with mushrooms as well. Just make sure the inside, frilly part of the mushroom is facing up. To fancy it up, you can add a square of feta, brie or blue cheese to each mushroom cup.

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

baking teensy: edition 1

October 21, 2009

Here is my teensy oven.


I bought it from Carrefour for about NT$1800. The brand is Tatung. I have been baking in it for about two months and it has proved very reliable. Cooking times tend to be a little bit longer than a standard wall oven; I really don’t know why. Overall, however, it is a great little thing.

So far I have baked pies, scones and bread rolls.

Here are some recipes. I have amended them to suit the situation in Taiwan and have included where I found all the ingredients because some stuff proved hard to track down.

P1040037Vegetable and Tuna Pie

I really, really, really miss pies. They are just so tasty and something that I crave often. So I decided to have a go at making one. The result was excellent so here is the recipe for you to try, too.

what you need:

About 7 or so sheets of the square kind of puff pastry (I found mine in Carrefour in the frozen foods section)

1 can of concentrated vegetable soup (I used Campbell’s Creamy Mushroom soup from Welcome)

1 can of tuna in spring water, drained and flaked (both the small or the medium size is OK)

A handful of cheese (you can get small blocks of Mainland Edam from Carrefour or just use the grated cheese that you can find at most supermarkets)

1 carrot, diced

1 onion, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 sweet potato or ¼ of a pumpkin, cubed and boiled

Asparagus, parboiled (boiled for a very quick time and then rinsed under cold water)

Green beans (done the same way as the asparagus)

A handful of frozen peas (thawed)

Dried herbs (such as basil, thyme, oregano, parsley)

Salt and pepper

how to do it:

Leave the pastry out of the freezer to thaw and preheat the oven to about 200 degrees Celcius.

Use oil or butter to grease your pie tin. I have made pies using one big or four small disposable tinfoil baking tins from Carrefour.

Cook the onion, garlic and carrot in a small amount of oil in a large frypan until the onion is clear.

Add the rest of the vegetables and the dried herbs. Cook for another few minutes.

Add the can of soup concentrate, about half the can of water and the can of tuna. Mix well.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Line the pie tin or tins on the sides and the bottom with one layer of pastry. Spoon in the filling mixture and top with cheese. Brush the top of the pie with a little milk so it will brown nicely.

Place the pie or pies on a tray in the middle of your oven. I cooked mine for around 1 hour but it could take anywhere from 45 minutes to just over 1 hour. Just keep an eye on the pastry and when it’s as crispy as you like it, take the pie out.

teensy tid bits:

You can add any kind of filling you like. Add some cooked chicken for a pie meat lovers will enjoy.

You can also wrap leftovers in the pastry sheets to make small parcels and bake them in the oven for 30-40 minutes. I am going to use leftover pumpkin risotto in just this way tonight.

P1040654Beer Bread Rolls

Mmmmmm, good bread. What a rarity in Taiwan! Can’t find any? Why don’t you have a go at making it yourself? Here is a recipe that is super easy to follow. And you can add in whatever you want to satisfy all of your yeasty cravings.

what you need:

3 cups flour (I used a mixed grain I found at Welcome and an organic wholemeal flour from an organic store)

3 teaspoons baking powder (I found this at Welcome in a pink packet containing very unhelpful separated sachets of powder)

1 teaspoon of salt

1 can beer (made up to 400 ml with water)

1 handful grated cheese

some pumpkin seeds or pepitas

how to do it:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl with a wooden spoon. Do so quickly.

Spoon the mixture into four small baking tins or into one big loaf of pie tin (about 20 x 10 cm). I used some tinfoil disposable pie tins I found in Carrefour. Save them as you can wash them and use them more than once.

Top your bread with some more pepitas and a little grated cheese.

Put your bread in the oven on a tray in the middle. Cooking time will vary from 35 minutes to 1 hour. My four smaller buns took about 40 minutes. Test your bread is cooked by sticking a thin knife or skewer into the middle of the loaf (or loaves). If it comes out clean of dough then the bread is done.

teensy tid bits:

Try experimenting with different kinds of beer for different flavours. Just don’t use low-alcohol beer as it won’t work.

You can add anything you want to the bread at the mixing stage. I can’t wait to try rosemary, sage, cumin, paprika, sundried tomatoes, olives, granulated sea salt, capers, blue cheese, walnuts… Remember to save a few for the top of your bread.


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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.