Mar 08 2013

In the fall of 2010, I became fascinated with Chinese noodles called La Mian. How could I help myself with this video to watch?

Hand drawn Noodles with Chef Kin Jing Mark.

La Mian, or Lamian, is a type of handmade or hand-pulled Chinese noodle. Through a process of stretching and twisting wheat flour, Noodle Chefs can hand pull hundreds, even thousands of beautiful long thin noodles for a variety of dishes.

The Green Awning is the China Express.

The process is simple enough, but when you see a master noodle maker perform, one truly appreciates the art and beauty of cooking.

The Noodle Chef works out in front so all can enjoy.

My family was  enamored with the video as well. With hungry kids having home school science lessons to learn, it seemed like finding a local Chinese Noodle Chef would be fun and educational. Now that might be hard, depending on your location, but here in Washington, D.C., with our famous Chinatown not far away, it was relatively easy.

Ducks hang in the window near the Noodle Chef.

With the miracle of the Internet, I found Washingtonians have the China Express Restaurant with their Noodle Chef making noodles right in the front window kitchen for everyone to watch as they walk by.

Plenty of traditional atmosphere and hospitality.

What a treat it was to watch and we did for a long time, but eventually, we were hungry from being tempted and had to go in for a meal. And, what a meal it was. Fit for a Sunbonnet and a post on

Bountifully delicious foods beckon us to return.

So, you can see it’s taken two and a half years to get there, but in January, 2013, when we visited the National Gallery of Art, we took a cab and were whisked away to Chinatown and the China Express. It was a dream come true. The food was fresh and delicious. The big bowls of noodle soup were tasty with their freshly made noodles and tender cuts of beef. And, I have been waiting all my life to try Peking Duck. Well, we ate duck, too. Dumplings and almond cookies, along with endless pots of tea, made us very fat and happy. We are planning on going back soon.

I hope that when you are in a big city, especially one that has a Chinatown, you will look for a La Mian Noodle Chef.  In that way, you will finally understand what we have here in our treasured China Express.

 NaBloPoMo March 2013

March 2013
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Mar 05 2013

I hope I’m not the last one to know about this.

That silly ole’ Pinterest. Everyday I find new creative things to do. Lotsa hot tips to make my life more efficient. Trouble is, I think what I find is so innovative, I must be the first one to have discovered it. The fact that I’m finding it it in a write up on Pinterest does not interfere with my feeling of discovery.

One pound of organic bacon placed
on parchment lined Reynold’s Wrap.

And then, because I’ve made a discovery, I have to share it on my web site and BlogHer. So, spoiler alert! This post is about cooking bacon in the oven. If you have been doing that for years, don’t burst my bubble. Let me live in my own little newly ovened bacon world, safe and secure. But, for those of you who haven’t tried this, it has changed our lives. 🙂 We’re not “afraid” to eat bacon anymore.

Place a sheet of lined Reynold’s Wrap
over the top of the jelly roll pan.

No longer do we have to stand and cook bacon, getting splattered and making a greasy mess all over the stove top. Now, we cook bacon like royalty. We could wear white gloves. We could. And, not get them mussed and be ready for tea afterwards. So, what you do is, get a jelly roll pan, take a sheet of the Reynold’s Wrap non-stick Pan Lining Paper that is foil lined with parchment paper so the food does not touch the foil.  Make sure you have extra, so it will cover the sides of the pan to catch the grease.

Perfect bacon with hardly any cleanup. Yay!

Place a second sheet of the Pan Lining Paper over the top of the jelly roll pan, with the parchment paper toward the food. Cook 45 minutes at 375 degrees and check on it as your oven time and temperature may differ. The Pinterest pin was right when it stated we would never cook bacon on the top of the stove again. We haven’t yet!

Have you tried oven bacon? Am I the last person in the world?

 NaBloPoMo March 2013

March 2013
for a post every day
here and/or on

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Nov 28 2012

I love new fangled kitchen gadgets, but wouldn’t trade my old fashioned, heavy duty egg beater.

Why? A zillion reasons. For one, my grandmother used one and every time I use mine, I’m reminded of cooking with her. Then, I like using hand power knowing that if the grid goes down, I can still make whipped cream. Finally, I enjoy putting my energy into my food, feeling a connection with the eggs as they get frothy and the raw cream as it whips up. It’s just plain satisfying to feel the power of the beaters create a tasty treat.

Whoa! Look at these rich, orange Amish free-range eggs.

So, are you one who beats their eggs with a fork? Gets out the French whisk? Or plugs in the electric blender stick? Forget about it! Get a new “old egg beater,” beat up those eggs, rinse it off in a jiffy, put it in the dish drainer and have it ready to fight another day.

The beater’s handle sends a message to the eggs below.

Soon, you’ll understand why, in addition to my own fondness for them, I began to take old fashioned egg beaters more seriously. Last year, visiting my Amish friends, one of the girls used one to whip up an angel food cake.

“Are you kidding me? An ANGEL FOOD CAKE!?!?,” you say. No, I’m not kidding you. I sat there and watched her do it. A chocolate angel food cake that was absolutely divine, whipped up with an egg beater, then baked in a wood stove oven. Talk about being self sufficient. Every time I visit, I learn something new.

An egg beater was used to make my Blackstrap Gingerbread.

Traveling to the stores we’re used to, it’s hard to find new “old egg beaters.” I bought mine at an Amish dry goods store in Pennsylvania. But, you don’t have to travel that far. With the Internet, Amish hand crafted supplies are available on line.

For instance, here’s a good egg beater model. Nice and heavy and, “WHAT!?!?” How much? $69.95 Am I crazy !?!?

No, I am not, for this Country Egg Beater is a prototype of ones made in the mid 1900’s, has stainless steel blades with die cast gears and greatly outlasts competitors. You’d have to try it to see how heavy it is. This is crafted like things used to be and is American made.

Fast, efficient and full of egg beater love.

So, if you value the journey of cooking, as well as consuming the destination cuisine, consider investing in an Amish egg beater, if you don’t already have an old model of your own. It’ll make all the difference and you’ll live to thank me as you crank this luxury item around the kitchen. Look to the past for the tools of the future, I say.

At SunbonnetSmart, we’re living the Old Ways in a New Way.

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Feb 04 2012

First in a series of three.

The Maryland Food Co-op: waiting for me to drop in since 1975.

On Friday, I again found myself at College Park, Maryland, home of the University of Maryland Terrapins. At the same time, in finding the Terrapins’ home, I also returned to the home of my once and previous self. Having gone to undergraduate school in College Park in the early 1970s, it would be twenty years before I returned this  time as a wife of a USMC Marine who was attending on the GI bill. Little did I know then, that in another twenty years the kids who were running around in diapers with the “My Dad’s a Terp” t-shirts would be attending classes and I would be waiting for them in class, just like I had been twenty years before with my husband.

It seems many current students have no sense
of the stargate in the corner.

So where would I be expected to wait comfortably? Why in the Maryland Food Co-op in the Student union building with Fair Trade coffee and organic food, of course. And how would I entertain myself for two hours while I’m there? By reading a book I just received in the mail from a friend. I was looking forward to a pleasant repast, totally unaware that the Maryland Food Co-op is actually a Star-gate worm holing into an alternate dimension. I was totally unaware when I sat down with my coffee, tabouli and vegan burrito that the entrance was near where I would be sitting in the chair. It wasn’t until I heard a whisper from Kermit the Frog that I realized this visit to the Co-op would be unlike any other.

Kermit beckons from over the Free Trade coffee,
showing the way to the stargate behind me

Kermie and I go way back, but not as far back as Kermit and the University of Maryland. Jim Henson, the genius puppeteer behind Kermit and the rest of the Muppets, was a student at the University of Maryland, College Park. Henson was a Studio Arts Major when he took a puppetry course in Maryland’s Department of Home Economics, changing his life and the rest of the world as well. The same world sadly lost Henson at age 53 in 1990, and ever since, the University has remembered him with tributes large and small.

Jim Henson and his Kermit the Frog sit chatting in front
of the University of Maryland Student Union.

Tomorrow: Join me for Kermit’s stargate A Wrinkle in College Park

NaBloPoMo February 2012

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Aug 24 2010

Just when you think there can’t possibly be anything new to add to the vintage craft of canning meats and produce, along comes “Pickl-It.” Those of you who can regularly may be way ahead of me on this, but Pickl-It was new to me when I saw it in the back of the Summer 2010 issue of Wise Traditions, a regular publication of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

The Weston A. Price Foundation, found here online, promotes eating foods alive with probiotic bacteria and Pickl-It jars makes the process of lacto-fermenting your own foods pleasant and convenient.

Down through history, foods all over the world were harvested and preserved by lacto-fermentation. In fact, there are those who say the human digestive developed around, and can’t be efficient without, a steady source of probiotic, lacto-fermenting bacteria. Lacto-fermented foods are pre-digested when eaten and are therefore more easily digested by our bodies. In addition, live probiotic foods replenish the good bacteria in the gut, giving humans the help they need to effectively digest food and promote the assimilation of nutrients.

It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution using factory processing techniques that lacto-fermentation fell into disuse in America and Europe. This was because industrial processes could not provide environments conducive to lacto-fermenting bacteria and the use of acetic acid from vinegar was substituted.  Although the acid environment created by vinegar preserved foods, it did not sustain growth of probiotic bacteria and so, foods eaten after pickling with vinegar were not living cultures that aided human digestion.

Returning to tried and true natural pickling techniques, Pickl-It jars use easy-to-do, clever methods to produce a better oxygen-depleted environment to enhance lacto-fermentation. The probiotic microbes that take action on cabbage to turn it into sauerkraut, for example, need an anaerobic or oxygen poor environment to function, the less oxygen, the better. While most living creatures need oxygen and can’t live without it, anaerobic microbes thrive without it and suffer in its presence. Pickl-It lacto-fermentation systems create effective oxygen deprived environments that promote bacterial formation of lactic acid allowing consistent good food flavor, texture and color.

So, for great tasting sauerkraut without lots of mess, go to the Pickle-It web site found here and see what size Pickl-It system will work for you. For beginners, I would suggest the 1 ½ liter “work-horse” Pickl-It system for a first attempt.

Why not try your hand at a batch of sauerkraut by following the Pickl-It photo essay on the Pickl-It website.

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NaBloPoMo November 2012