Monday, May 12, 2014

How to Kinda Live Like a Hippy in China

Leaving California was not the easiest of decisions, especially since Ben and I had grown accustomed to certain habits and a way of life there. Thankfully, we have found small ways to retain this lifestyle through things like homemade vegetarian lasagna (using tofu instead of ricotta cheese) and recycling our bottles by giving them to the people who go through the trash cans each night.
Ben and Sweet Purple Potato Soup. Yum!

However, one of the most difficult things about being in China is the food. Don't get me wrong, I love Chinese food. But the oily, spicy, meat-y dishes often leave me and my digestive tract longing for my gentler California cuisine.

This year I have an increased interest in making more foods from scratch. At first this included lots of breads and cookies because carbs is something I always crave, but now I am branching out more.

My first MYO (make-your-own) venture was one of my favorite foods: peanut butter. Having finished my jar of natural peanut butter, I was stuck with the dining hall's Skippy pb. 

One day it dawned on me how easy it would be to make my own, and I was (partially) right. Peanuts here are sold for practically peanuts [hehe], and I found after some roasting and some blending, I could make a jar of all natural peanut butter in about an hour for about 20 cents. 

Peanut butter that deceptively looks like chocolate ice cream 

I will never go back to paying $ 5 a jar for ones in the States! 

Even better than the "real" thing! 

Now that imported milk is available in our town, I have enjoying milk much more. After learning how easy it is to make my own yogurt, I knew I had to give it a try, especially since plain yogurt is non-existent here.

Mine looks kinda similar, but I didn't have a good pic 
It take minutes to make, about 12 hours to incubate, and approximately two days for us to go through a whole carton. Super delicious and nutritious. I even tried straining it and making a Greek-style batch.

Super strange looking way to strain
I definitely foresee some delicious tahzaki dips and some sour cream substitutes in our future! 

The fermenting Process
(note the Radiator / Kombucha / Yogurt brewing Machine)
Next on my list was kombucha. I was a big fan of it in the States, and I know probiotics is always a good thing for China living. However, I didn't have a starter SCOBY, so I was stuck. 

Thankfully one of the other teachers got a hold of one, and I was gifted one of her "babies." It was love at first sight. So squishy and slimy. I began making kombucha immediately, and every week we have a fresh batch to drink. A combination of green, black, and jasmine teas with some fresh strawberries thrown in near the end of the week is our favorite way to enjoy this refreshing drink!

Strawberries and fermented tea - how can you go wrong?

This last one is not about food and actually might be even weirder than strange fungus growing drinks. Recently I have been experimenting with a DIY "shampoo." 

Sulfates and other stuff that is in shampoo is apparently bad for your hair (according to very official sources like Buzzfeed) So when I found a recipe to make your own shampoo and conditioner that only required baking soda, water, and vinegar; I thought, why not? 

Shampoo ingredients

Although it is a bit strange initially, I did feel like my hair became healthier and had less split ends. Just a word of caution though, do not try this in conjunction with coconut oil deep conditioning unless you enjoy nice coconut oily hair all day long (which is something an actual hippy just might do)! 
Roasting peanuts with my hippy hair

So there you have it! How to kinda live like a hippy in the middle of China.


If you are interested in some homemade goodness below are the links to the recipes I mostly follow:

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