Rhonda’s Cooking

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Archive for November, 2007

I Love Phoenix Farmer’s Market!

Posted by rhondascooking on November 25, 2007

I get so excited about food!  This morning was my first day back at the Phoenix Farmer’s Market (www.phoenixpublicmarket.com) in downtown Phoenix off Central Ave. and Filmore since my China trip.  I was so excited on Friday night in anticipation of what I would see on Saturday.  I knew that since it was November, that it was time for all of the winter fruits and vegetables to produce.  What makes the farmer’s markets exciting?  The people (both vendors & consumers), the organic produce, the price, and the weather especially in arizona from November through May! Furthermore, by shopping at your local farmer’s market, you are contributing to the state’s economy, which helps everyone.  Many times people complain that purchasing organic food is too expensive.  However, what I have learned through my bargain shopping is that by shopping at the local farmer’s market, you can save a lot of money and get better produce in comparison to both the conventional and natural grocery stores.  So, if you haven’t found a farmer’s market in your city, then get on the web and google it!

This time, a new friend who I met a church, wanted to join me at the market.  So, once I arrived, I didn’t see her so I started my shopping.  My first stop at the market was (as always) One Windmill Farm (www.onewindmillfarm.com).  This farm has the largest display of produce at the market.  When I arrived I got so excited because the first thing I saw was collard greens!!  Yeah, I have been waiting all summer for some beautiful and not buggy collard greens.  I am not sure if you have noticed this, but in most grocery stores, even my favorite natural grocery stores, the bunches of greens are very small and full of little bugs.  So, by the time you get the greens home, after washing and picking off the leaves with the bugs, you are only left with a small “mess” of greens–a mess of greens is southern country vernacular for one family serving size of greens (~4 cups of cooked greens.)  After finding the best looking greens,I then added, romaine lettuce, arugula, English cucumbers, green onions, cilantro, leeks, butternut squash, rosemary, and dill to my shopping bag.  We made our round to all of my other favorite vendor, Crooked Sky Farm (www.crookedskyfarm.com), they have the best okra and mustard greens!!  I like Maya’s Farm also, but this week she wasn’t there; I typically purchase her baby arugula, which is awesome, as well as Tonopah Rob’s Farm, he has varieties of sqash, beautiful green beans (when in season), beets and juicy dates!

So after all of the shopping was done and the food was packed in my cooler with ice, we headed to catch the new movie, “This Christmas”, which was great!  After my eventful morning, it was time to head home to start cooking!

Dinner was great!  I cooked collard greens and my awesome gluten free dressing.  Since I didn’t feel like cooking on Thanksgiving, I had a taste for it today and it was awesome! Only a few people have eaten this dressing and I have gotten great reviews.  I can’t wait for you to try it when my cookbook hits the bookstores!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by rhondascooking on November 22, 2007

I am so thankful that the Lord has allowed me to see one more wonderful year.  Though many times we often complain and take our beautiful and wonderful country for granted, I must say that I am proud to live in the United States of America!  After traveling to China, I realize that there is no other place that I would rather live. 

Since I have stopped eating poultry, this was my first Thanksgiving dinner without turkey or hen!  Though I didn’t miss eating the turkey I did miss the experience of cooking the whole meal.  Since I am still tramatized from all of the cooking for my cookbook, I didn’t cook much.  Even though I didn’t experience the traditional thanksgiving dinner–dressing, turkey, greens, green beans, pecan pie and pound cake–I had an awesome dinner.  I had pan-fried blackened halibut topped with grilled onions, black-eyed peas & rice, and cinnamon spiced butternut squash.  It was very good.  I took a picture of it, but because I am not a photographer, the picture didn’t come out right, so you will have to just imagine the taste. 🙂  

Now, I can’t wait til Christmas so I can cook my gluten-free dressing, mustard greens, and candid butternut squash (all recipes will be in the cookbook of course)! 

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My Cookbook Update

Posted by rhondascooking on November 20, 2007

Okay, it’s 11:15pm and I have to get up at 4am to exercise, but I can’t sleep!  I am sipping on my sweet tea–it’s all natural with no sweetners; I got it from China of course–anyway, I am sipping on my tea with a big huge smile on my face. Why? Well, I just heard from one of the photographers for my new cookbook and he told me that a publishing company may be interested in publishing my new cookbook!!!!  I should be receiving the information in an email regarding the next steps.  I am so excited.

Just for background, I am writing a healthy cookbook that will have recipes for everyone!  I have recipes that range from Soul food to Greek foods to Mexican foods.  You will find recipes for foods like gumbo, collard greens, oven-fried chicken, red beans & rice, hummus and taco salad.  There are also breakfast and dessert recipes too!  To top all of this, some of the recipes are gluten-free, as well as dairy-, soy- and egg-free.  So, as you see, there’s a little bit for everyone to enjoy!

You may say this isn’t for you, and you may be right.  However, I guarantee that there is someone in your life like family, friends and/or coworkers who could possible use this book.  If you are interested in purchasing the book,  email me at rhonda@rhondascooking.com.  You can also go to my website and sign up for the weekly newsletter (www.rhondascooking.com).  

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Beijing Pictures

Posted by rhondascooking on November 18, 2007

Okay, I know that I am little slow, but I finally uploaded the few pictures that I took in China.  I have to get the other pictures developed.  If you read my previous entries, you will know why I only have a few pictures–my ac adaptor blew when I plugged it into the converter!  So, I only had pictures of the first day and the last day.  This link will take you to the first day. 

http://picasaweb.google.com/rlpeters2005/China2008

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Back in the USA

Posted by rhondascooking on November 14, 2007

I made it back to the USA!  Praise the Lord that I am back in one piece and I did not get sick during my travels in China.  I made it back to the states on Tuesday, November 13th.  Though we were all sad to leave, it was time to return to get back to work and finish 2007 with a bang!  For some reason, the trip back seemed shorter.  Due to the fact that our flight was delayed leaving Toyko (we had a layover), we were a few minutes late arriving at the Detroit Airport.  Also, once we got our bags, there was a very long line to get through the US Customs, and boy what experience that was.  I permitted to go through, but the officer questioned me on how could i have spent ~$400 on tea.  He wanted to know what made that tea good.  So, I explained and then he let me exit.  Others had similar questions.  Please note that if you decide to travel internationally, make sure you are mindful that you have to pay a customs fee when you bring in goods back into the USA that are valued over $800 and that you CANNOT bring in counterfeit clothing and accessories like purses–those are illegal.

Because of the time difference, I decided to stay in Detroit until the next morning.  I roomed with one of the Wealthy Women travelers.  That night seemed like a very long night for some reason.  I was just ready to be at home in my own bed and eating food that worked for me.

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It’s Tea Time!

Posted by rhondascooking on November 12, 2007

Today was a free day for us to do whatever we wanted.  Some people headed with our leaders to go to a place to have Egyptian cotton shirts made and others wanted to shop for souvenoirs.   I knew without a doubt that I did not want to leave China without tea and a tea set.  So, the tour guide took about 20 of us to have tea in the old Quarter.  Some people didn’t drink tea nor were they interested, but they came anyway.  Once there were there and we went through the process, everyone loved it!  We had a great time learning about the varieties of tea and the medicinal properties.  It was awesome.  I spent about $400 on tea and the tea set.  After everyone finished buying, we think that we spent a total of about $4000 at a minimum at that place!   Then after that, we headed to find a few more souvenoirs. 

Afterwards, some people wanted to take a nap and others including myself wanted to see more sights.  So, a couple of us went to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall.  This exhibit was designed to show visitors the future of Shanghai–expansion of the airport, new subways, environmentally safe businesses, etc.  While we were there, we observed the celebration of a new business venture between Spain and Shanghai.  They had a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate.  As we walked through the hall, we noticed that Shanghai is on the up and up.  We better watch out because they are doing it big.

Later, all of us met for our farewell dinner.  Prior to the dinner, I ate my last can of sardines and crackers just in case I couldn’t eat.  Well, thank goodness I did because I wasn’t able to eat a thing.  I did drink lots of tea!

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Shanghai Sights

Posted by rhondascooking on November 11, 2007

This morning I woke up early and decided to curl my hair.  I headed downstairs for some “me” time.  When I went downstairs I noticed the huge spread of food.  I was drawn to it because it was gorgeous.  I browsed the line to see if I could eat.  I got so excited because they had butter leaf, romaine and green leaf lettuce, as well as olives, capers and olive oil!!  So, I ate a salad and fried rice for breakfast and had Long Jing tea (green tea)!  I was sooooooo excited; this was the first day that I didn’t eat my rice cakes!

After breakfast, we headed out to sightsee.  First we visited the silk factory in Shanghai  and it was amazing.  We learned the process to make silk from the start of the worm to unwinding the silk from the cocoon to make a silk comforter.   After seeing this process, I now know why silk costs so much!  I am now going to use my silk comforter more often,  especially now that I know that it works in the winter season too.  Later we visited the Yu Gardens, the old Quarter and had a Dim Sum lunch.  Because everything had pork, I was unable to partake in the meal.  I have had it before with my buddy, Anthony, in Arizona.  It was very tasty. 

After lunch, we headed to the Shanghai Museum, which was awesome.  Because we were a little off schedule, we were unable to see everything in its entirety.  There were 4 floors of lots of things–furniture from Ming Dynasty, masks, calligraphy, etc.  We headed home to rest a second before our last event of the night.

We ended the evening with an acrobatic show.  It was spectacular!!  It was as good as  or better than Cirque du Soleil. 

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Shanghai Surprise

Posted by rhondascooking on November 10, 2007

Wow, Shanghai was a huge surprise for me!  I was so shocked to see the huge tall buildings and all of the advertisements on the buildings in bright lights.  It reminded many people of New York and to me it was a baby Vegas.  I was amazed to see how relatively new and vibrant that this city is.  Our new tour guide, Yo-Yo, was great and she loves her city.  She was very nice just like Renee, a.k.a. Nae-Nae, in Beijing.  According to Yo-Yo, Shanghai has approximately 22 million people living there and after watching the people cross the streets, I believe it.  There are so many people in a small area.

When we arrived at the hotel, LeRoyal Meridien, we were tired but also in  awe when we drove up to the place.  This hotel was gorgeous on the inside from the front door, to the rooms.  It is only 1 1/2 years old with a French, contemporary look.  It was amazing.   As soon as we dropped off our luggage, we immediately headed to a conference room for a business meeting with Winston Lee, VP of Logic Solutions.  Winston spoke with us about how to do business in China, as well as about what Logic Solutions can do for us.   After about his 40 minute presentation, when we had Q&A for about 20 minutes.  Despite the fact that this company doesn’t focus on food related products and other non-IT businesses, Lee indicated that there is a possibility that they could still help connect us with the right people. The meeting was very informative and gave me some things to definitely think about!

After the meeting, we all took a drive to the Bund to see the lights, take pictures and learn about the area.  Despite the fact that we were hungry and cold, it was a beautiful site.  Click here to learn more about The Bund and to view pictures http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/shanghai/huangpu.htm.

After returning to the hotel, everyone was heading to eat American foods such as Pizza Hut and KFC, whereas me and another fellow traveler wanted to eat Chinese food.  So we were referred to eat at Xian Qiang Fang because it is good and affordable.  So, after surviving walking down the street without getting run over by a bus or moped, we made it to the restaurant.  When we arrived, we noticed that there appeared to be a wedding.  So, they waiter want to give us a private place to eat, but that room was too smokey.  By the way, I had no idea how much they smoked in China.  Because I live in Arizona, I am not used to smoke anymore; many of our restaurants are smoke free.  Anyway, we were later seated in the main dining room.  We were able to see the wedding and the guest.  It was great to see a traditional Chinese wedding, which is much different from American weddings.  First of all, most of our weddings are not held in restaurants, but rather hotels or churchs.  Second of all, we traditionally wear white or cream, but Chinese women wear red, which represents good and lucky.  Yo-yo later informed us that all of their weddings are held in restaurants and not in the temple due to buddhists religous beliefs (80% of China’s population are buddhists.)

I browsed the huge menu and noticed that it wasn’t much for me to eat, so I decided on fried rice.  However when the waiter came, he asked me if I wanted more and if I wanted to add fish.  So, I said okay, without asking about portion size or cost! 

After getting a recommendation from the bilingual waiter, I decided to go with the grouper fish.  I asked for it to be grilled or pan fried, but at this restaurant, there was no grill, so it had to be deep fried, which I thought was going to be pan-fried; I guess that was what he meant.  Once I got my dinner, it was beautifully fried and of course, it had the head on the plate!  I don’t know why the chefs think that we want to have a fried fish head on our plates—was I supposed to eat that thing?!  Of course you know that I didn’t.  When I took my first bite, I was pleasantly surprised that this fish was flavorful and perfectly cooked!  I ate all of it, except the head. The waiter thought that I didn’t like it initially because I was eating slowly, so I told him I did like it, but I was waiting on my vegetables.  He said that the Chinese style is to bring out separately.  I forgot that my Chinese native colleague told me that.  So, after I was done with the fish, then the waiter brought me my vegetables, which were green bean leaves.  I didn’t know what to expect because in my hometown, we never at the leaves from the green beans plant on the beans.  When I first tasted the leaves, I noticed that it had lots of flavor, but the leaves were strong, slightly bitter taste, but still edible.  I really enjoyed it.  We asked for the bill and noticed that it was 1040 RMB.  After getting the breakdown and doing the dollar conversion, my fish was $121 USD! I almost fell out of my chair; I was definitely not expecting that!  So the fish was charged by the pound ($660/pound) and it weighed ~1.3 pounds.  Shoot, I bet the darn head weighed a pound!  Well, I really couldn’t be mad because I didn’t ask him what the price was prior to ordering.  Despite the price, I must say that it has been my best meal since arriving in China on 11/6, so it was worth it! 

I am so glad that I ate ALL of that fish! 

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The Silk Factory

Posted by rhondascooking on November 9, 2007

Today we had a few agenda changes.  Half of us went to the mall and the other half went to see how silk rugs are made and then we headed back to do more bargain shopping. 

We were able to observe how silk rugs are made and many of us purchased silk pictures.  It was amazing to see.  Afterwards, we headed back to start our “negotiating, bargain shopping.”

Later that evening we had our farewell banquet featuring a traditional Chinese Peking Duck dinner.  Though I don’t eat poultry, it was a nice experience.  I have had it before in San Francisco.  That night was beautiful; Minister Eagan honored the November birthdays. 

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to pack up  for our flight to Shanghai the next morning.

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The Great Wall

Posted by rhondascooking on November 8, 2007

This morning started the same as yesterday–vitamins & supplements, vitamin water and brown rice cakes.  Today we were heading to visit one of the 7 great wonders of the world–The Great Wall!  However, because the drive was 2 hours away, Minister Eagan decided that we would stop at the Jade Factory to do a little shopping.  The Jade FActory was awesome!  They taught us the importance of jade and the quality of real jade.  Jade is to Chinese women as diamonds are to American women.  According to China history, jade represents merit, morality, dignity and grace.  Typically in Chinese culture, mothers give jade bracelets to their first daughters for them to wear and later pass down to their daughters–family heirloom.  We also learned about jadeite.  Jadeite was believed to be a precious and hard jade with healing qualities for the human stomach and kidneys.  Because it is very difficult to put on the jade bracelet since it has to be tight, I decided to purchase a ring instead.

After shopping, we headed to the Great Wall.  This monument was magnificent!  The pictures in the book do not capture this wall.  Because it is a huge, long effort to walk to the top of the wall, we took the cable cars up.  People took pictures.  I was unable to take pictures because my power adapter blew out when I tried to recharge my battery!!!  I was so upset.  Anyway, back the story.  The Great WAll is a must see for everyone who travels to China.  Before heading back, Minister Eagan filmed a segment for one of her future show; we were the audience!  It was great.  We headed to lunch not too far from The Wall.  The place was very clean and the food was good–a little too salty for me, but still good.  I could only eat a few vegetables and a few pieces of the grilled fish.

Later we headed to the Ming Tombs and Chang Ling Exhibition Hall.  We were able to see the items that were excuvated from the tombs–lots of gold and jade.  After touring the tombs, we strolled along the Sacred Way, guarded by stone statues of warriors and myshical beasts.  According to the story, the kneeling statues represented the people who died and the standing represented those who are still living.  Because we were tired, we walked really fast.

Later we headed to the silk market to do some shopping.   I was just browsing! 🙂

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