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Take a look at my earlier post to get up to speed on my journey to discover the recipe for New Orleans style Mandarin Chicken.

http://wotpast.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/mandarin-chicken-a-louisiana-mystery-2nd-update/

So after many failed attempts I called a restaurant and found out that at least one of them uses a spice called Anise. Let me warn you, a little goes a long way. It is very overpowering in the flavor.

So basically you create a generic flour and water sauce and add anise. I tried some soy to cut down on the anise flavor. I’ll post again when I get a good recipe with definitive measurements. Also, I’m going to scout out some other places to see if everyone uses anise. So far I just know of the one place.

 

*Update on the Beef and Broccoli sauce, I left the red pepper off my earlier posts.

Beef and Broccoli/Vegetable Brown Gravy Recipe

(I found this recipe first, thinking it was the elusive Mandarin Chicken Sauce and finding a perfectly good sauce for my other Chinese food vegetable dishes.)

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 1/4 c. water

1/3 c. soy sauce

1/4 c. Karo syrup (light or dark)

1/4 tsp. red pepper

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081017211620AAxDb4p

*   *   *   *   *   *

–A.D. McLain

http://www.wotpast.com

www.facebook.com/wotpast

http://pinterest.com/wotpast/

 

So, as many of you know, I help my mom with her publishing needs, too. Last week, she asked me to help her publish an illustrated children’s book. I have actually been sitting on it for a couple of years not really sure how to start, but I finally decided to face the task head on and get it done. Fifty to Sixty hours of work later, I am mostly there.

I’ve talked to many people who had no trouble creating illustrated ebooks before. For some reason, that luck was not with me on this project. A little background: I generally self publish through Createspace.com (for my paperbacks) and Smashwords.com (for my ebooks). I also recently learned how to use the Kindle Direct Publishing services to upload a kindle version to Amazon. I’ve made several books that were mostly text with just a few pictures, a logo near the title, my author pic at the back. No problem. I followed all the formatting guidelines on Smashwords and Createspace and never had any trouble getting my word files to upload and view correctly.

So for this book I knew it would be different. First I created an InDesign file to do the layout for the paperback. I normally start with the ebook and then format for paperback, but since I was more confident in doing an illustrated paperback, I started there this time. I created my page layout and then exported my Indesign file to a PDF. I uploaded to Createspace and all was good. The online proof looked great. I just had to tweak the pictures to make them a higher resolution. They recommend 300 dpi, but no less than 200 dpi to keep the images from looking blurry. Basically I just went back into photoshop with each of my images, changed the resolution from what it was to 200 and then saved, went back into inDesign, updated links and re-exported to pdf. Uploaded new file to Createspace and problem was solved. The only other thing I had to play around with was the bleed on the pages. If you want your color paperback to have the pictures go all the way to the edge of the paper, you have to create the file with the images extending at least and 1/8 inch past the border and then change the bleed options in the export to pdf (print) options box. I changed the outside and top bottom to 0.25. The inside I left at 0.00.

Okay, so now I had my paperback. I just had to wait for the automated review process to finish and then go through the proofing stage.

On to the ebook. I tried using my same inDesign file and exporting to epub. The file was horrible. Pictures were floating around everwhere. Borders were on pages all their own. Nothing looked right. I tried exporting to PDF and uploading the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Uploaded but the preview was the same problem. Nothing appeared right. Following the advice of others I saved my inDesign file as jpegs and placed my jpegs in a word document. Tried uploading that to KDP and Smashwords. It looked okay in the kindle viewer (if a little small) but it didn’t view right on my kindle for pc app and it didn’t work at all through Smashwords for my nook. (Smashwords makes ebooks available in all formats – for those unfamiliar with the service) Only half of each picture was showing up. The bottom of each picture was cut off, like it was zoomed in too far and couldn’t zoom out. So I tried recreating all the pages in photoshop from scratch, saving the new jpegs and then placing in word document (also tried combining them in a pdf). Same problems.

About to give up, I saw a Kindle Comic Book Creator program you can download on the KDP website. I tried it. Uploaded my page jpegs I created in Photoshop. Saved as a Mobi file and uploaded to Kindle. It looks great on my Kindle for PC app. I then took that file and tried to convert the Mobi file to ePub to upload to Smashwords. The program I used, calibre, couldn’t even do the conversion. It gave an error message. I tried two or three other online converters and got a ePub file, but it had the same problems as my earlier attempts.

I emailed Smashwords and they told me they only accept documents that have the text seperate from the images. In other words, I can’t create an all illustrated book. Their instructions were to create a letter sized word document and insert all images with a paragraph return after each of them. So I went back into each of my original page pictures again, put their resolution at 100 and width at 5 in. (constrained proportions). I saved them to a new file, so they wouldn’t save over my old images. I opened a blank word doucment in landscape and started working. On each page I put the image on the left and formatted it so the text would wrap to the right of the picture. I lowered the page margins to 0.25″ so that there wouldn’t be so much white space around my pages. I left some margin so the text wouldn’t run into the edge of the page. Then I uploaded to Smashwords. Lo an behold, it uploaded without a problem. Viewing it as a pdf, the images stayed to the left of my text as I intended. On my nook, though the didn’t view in landscape. So I redid the word document AGAIN and put it all in portrait. My new file was too big to upload to Smashwords (file can’t be over 10 MB) so I had to compress my photos. Right click on one photo and click on compress. You can select to do it to all photos or just one. Compress for web and it will dramatically reduce your file size.

I did a lot of research this week online, and what I found was lot of other people frustrated, trying to create illustrated ebooks and running into similar and different problems. Most of the tutorials and instruction videos I found showed how to create a text heavy book with a few images in them. The other sites I found that may have had useful info were heavy in technical speak and html code (which I am not strong in). So at the end of the week, I wanted to post my journey and my findings for those who may encounter similar programs. As with all technology, my solutions won’t work for everyone, but hopefully they will help someone.

How I created and illustrated children’s book

Step 1. Write the book

Step 2. Create/Gather any pictures or illustrations needed. Need to be at least 200 to 300 dpi for use in print. You can also start work on cover for book. You will need a full cover for paperback and front cover for ebook. Size of full cover will vary depending on what size you decide to make the book. a 6×9 book usually needs around a 9 x 13 cover, give or take depending on size of spine/thickness of book.

Step 3. Decide how to do layout.

You can either do paperback in a program like inDesign and ebook in Photoshop and Word or do it all in Photoshop and Word, but you will need three seperate files either way. They require different canvas/page size and resolutions.

For paperback you select what size the paperback will appear in. Most of mine are 6 x 9, but there are others to choose from. See createspace for options. Image resolution higher than ebooks.

Ebooks are usually 1024 x 600 pixels and resolution needs to be around 72 dpi (I just set mine for around 100 resolution in photoshop)

Step 4. Create paperback PDF. The easiest way I found for doing the illustrated paperback was to create my layout in inDesign and export to PDF (print) with bleed set at 0.25 outside, top and bottom. 0.00 inside bleed. Upload file to Createspace with full cover jpeg and continue through that process, checking proof, correcting any errors, etc.

Step 5. Create ebook

Some people have absolutely no problem just putting their jpegs in a word document and uploading it to KDP or Smashwords. I was not one of them. My alternative:

Download Kindle Comic Book Creator

Recreate your page layout in Photoshop with 100 resolution and canvas size 1024 x 600 pixels

Upload your jpegs to the Comic Book Creator.

Save/Create your Mobi File

Upload to Kindle

Check preview or view file on your kindle if you have one.

Step6. Convert to epub for Smashwords or create new Smashwords file.

There are a lot of online converter programs. For most conversions, you can download calibre. I’ve also tried Zamzar, an online converter. It didn’t work for me on this file but helped when I was working between two different computers and versions of software and couldn’t get my tiff file to save as a jpeg I uploaed the tiff to Zamzar, selected jpeg as the output and they converted it and emailed me the link to download the new file. It’s a good site to bookmark for things like that.

If that doesn’t work . . .

Create a new word document. Type in all your text, including your copywrite page Format text according to Smashwords guidelines, available on their website

*(remember to always put a different copywrite on all these version. One for Createspace, one for Kindle and one for Smashwords. * always remember to double check you have the right copywrite page on a file before you publish to any of these sites)

Save all your jpegs you will need for the book in a smaller format.

I used 100 resolution with 5″ width so they would be roughly half the size of my pages. You don’t want to have an oversized image and resize in word. It will not convert right and the picture will be too big. You want the image to be the same size when you place it as you want it to view. If it is too big, go back and save a smaller image (different file name, of course)

Insert Picture in the word document, remembering to include paragraph return after each picture. Save and upload to smashwords.

I know this is complicated, but hopefully one day they will update their process to allow fully illustrated children’s books and comics. One benefit is that at least I can add hyperlinks to the text. Until things change, at least I got the book the way I wanted it to be viewed on Kindle.

If any of you know of a different way or other free program that works for any of this, please leave it in the comments section. Thanks.

For anyone who is interested you can read more about my mom’s children’s book “The Adventures of Snooky Snail” on her website, www.BettyJeanMcLain.webs.com

*   *   *   *   *   *

–A.D. McLain

http://www.wotpast.com

www.facebook.com/wotpast

http://pinterest.com/wotpast/

*update 5/15/13*

Okay, so a couple of weeks ago I tried Warr-Shu-Gai. Not my Mandarin Sauce.

This week I tried a combination of all the recipes. I used way too much cornstarch (8Tbs) but I finally got the consistency right. Alas, it still tasted too much like chicken and didn’t have that missing ingredient to make it pop. I ended up kind of flat and a big disappointment. In the next few weeks I will head on back to the Chinese food restauraant and see if I can’t charm some info out of the waitress. :) Couldn’t hurt. At the very least, tasting it again may help me discover what I am missing. I have a feeling I am getting a lot of the elements right. But is is seriously missing something important. Oh, well, another week, another attempt. We shall see what the next attempt brings.

*****************************************************

*original post*

When you think of food in New Orleans or South Louisiana, most people think of things like the seafood, beignets, King Cake, Zatarain’s, Tony Chachere’s, gumbo or snoballs. I once saw someone on television make a modified beignet with granulated sugar and felt my hackles rise. They are made with powdered sugar. It’s not a true New Orleans beignet unless you need skill to eat it without being covered in white powder. That is how you know the natives from the tourists. But alas, some things you have to live here to know.

But the one thing people from Louisiana love and don’t even know is uniquely ours is our Chinese food, specifically, Mandarin Chicken. If you aren’t from here, you don’t know what I’m talking about. If you are from here, you are screaming, “Yes!” You see, if you do a search online for Mandarin Chicken you will find a chicken dish made with oranges. That is not what we have here. Mandarin Chicken in New Orleans is made with a creamy brown sauce, different in every restaurant, but almost always delicious. Sometimes it is garnished with almonds or peanuts. Sometimes it is a little thicker or thinner, red tint or darker brown. But wherever you go, and whichever place serves your favorite, it is a staple in every local Chinese restaurant.

I was introduced to this fantastic dish in college. It was my first time eating Chinese food, so I was nervous and someone recommended I try Mandarin Chicken. I am a picky eater, but I loved it right away. I remember going to the grocery store and looking for the sauce, with no success. I looked it up online and couldn’t find it. Years passed and I forgot my search. Then this year I began teaching myself to cook and thought to look it up again. Surely, there must be some information somewhere online on how to make this sauce. What I found was a lot of former Louisiana residents, now living in far away states, all looking for the same thing. Turns out if you go to a Chinese restaurant anywhere else in the world and ask for this dish, they look at you like you are crazy. I found a recipe on yahoo answers that seemed close, but came out more like the thinner gravy used on vegetable dishes and Beef and Broccoli. I tried modifying it with no luck. Then I found the answer I had long been searching for. The reason no one could find this dish is because it goes by other names. We aren’t crazy. It does exist.

Another incarnation is an American Cantonese inspired dish in Michigan called Warr-Shu-Gai, or Almond Boneless Chicken. From what I have found, people in that area are met with the same problem when they venture out, unable to find this dish elsewhere. I found an interesting article, “The Mystery of Almond Boneless Chicken” by Tina Caputo, on the history of this Detroit favorite. (See link at bottom of page.)

In searching through other Chinese food sites I found a couple other chicken dishes that appear to be similar in structure to the ones above. General Tso’s Chicken and Cashew Chicken look like they could be prepared or modified to taste similar or  achieve similar effects. Like Warr-Shu-Gai, General Tso’s chicken is based on a sauce made of soy, ginger, and chicken broth, among other things. It also has sugar, which I found in a Panda Express Mandarin Sauce copycat recipe. I saw an article on Cashew Chicken that says it was fried in at least one incarnation. The use of the cashews, similar to the use of peanuts or almonds in other Mandarin Chicken dishes leads me to believe these two could be related in some forms. Of course not ever restaurant is the same, so if you order cashew chicken thinking to get Mandarin Chicken, you could be very disappointed.

What has been your experience with this dish?

Do you know of any other names it goes by?

Which of the recipes below do you think most capturs the taste of New Orleans Mandarin Chicken sauce?

Do you know of any other recipes/modifications that work?

My discoveries.

I still have to try all these sauces to decide which one I like best, but that is a matter of personal preference, so in the mean time, I put this out there for the world so all of you may learn and experiment with your own Chinese food at home. Have fun.

Warr-Shu-Gai/Almond Boneless Chicken

Panda Express Copycat Recipe

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

or – another recipe I found

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce[3]
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice[4]
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch[5]

General Tso’s Chicken Sauce Recipe

Cashew Chicken Sauce Recipe

Beef and Broccoli/Vegetable Brown Gravy Recipe

(I found this recipe first, thinking it was the elusive Mandarin Chicken Sauce and finding a perfectly good sauce for my other Chinese food vegetable dishes.)

2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 c. water
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. Karo syrup (light or dark)

*   *   *  *   *   *
Links:

http://www.food.com/recipe/warr-shu-gai-almond-boneless-chicken-2526?layout=desktop

http://deep-fried.food.com/recipe/general-tsos-chicken-164706

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Tso%27s_chicken

http://www.copycatrecipeguide.com/How_to_Make_Panda_Express_Mandarin_Sauce

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080515133027AAneLcP

http://zesterdaily.com/cuisine-video/the-delicious-mystery-of-almond-boneless-chicken/

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081017211620AAxDb4p

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew_chicken

http://deep-fried.food.com/recipe/cashew-chicken-44078

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Chinese_cuisine

*   *   *   *   *   *

–A.D. McLain

http://www.wotpast.com

www.facebook.com/wotpast

http://pinterest.com/wotpast/

What are our Rights as Parents?

Last week, a couple had their 5 month old baby in the hospital. He had suffered from heart murmurs and was developing flu like symptoms. After seeing a nurse give their baby a medicine she could not identify, later finding out it was antibiotics, even though the doctor told them the baby should not get antibiotics, and other incidents that raised their concerns as to the reliability of the hospital and staff where they were, the doctor told them the baby needed heart surgery. The left against the doctor’s advice and sought a second opinion. The second doctor said the baby was fine to go home. There were no concerns for the parents. The next day their baby was taken from them by Child Protective Services. After a week with their sick 5 month old baby in custody, where they were only allowed a single 1 hr visit under observation. They finally had their hearing yesterday and were told

“The court also ruled that the parents must follow all future medical advice, including not removing their child from Stanford Medical Center without proper discharge.”

Since when do we not have any choice but to follow all medical advice? I though we always had a right to decline treatment if we did not want it. Or is that right no longer ours? They did not trust their first doctor because he kept making mistakes, so they went straight over to another doctor who said the baby was okay to go home. They were responsible, caring parents, not some drugged out idiots leaving their baby sick at home while they went out partying or drinking. And for being good parents their baby was taken from them for almost a week, and they weren’t even allowed to see him except for one 1 hr visit. This makes me sick.   How long until they start taking our babies for feeding them solid foods or peanut butter before they doctor says it is okay? They could easily look at our Facebook posts about such topics and report us as bad parents if we admit to doing these things.

Doctors can now ask you at routine checkups if you have a gun in the house and then record it as a risk factor on your file. Just recently a German immigrant family is facing deportation after coming here seeking political asylum so they could homeschool their children. The Department of Homeland Security ruled that homeschooling is not a right and so they cannot stay here. If they go back to Germany they will have their children taken away because they chose to homeschool instead of sending them to a state run school. In Germany, even if you send them to a regular school during the day, you can have your children taken from you if you try to teach them anything at home. It was a policy instituted under Hitler that was never repealed. They were on their final warning and were about to lose their children when they left Germany and moved here in 2008. Now our government is ready to send them back to Germany to have their children taken from them because homeschooling isn’t a right, so they do not qualify for political asylum. Our government has made this decision.

If they can take our children away for seeking a second opinion from a doctor and then tell us we have no right to deny medical treatment for our children, what is to stop them from saying we are abusing our children by not puting them in Head Start programs at regular schools? They have already set precident that homeschooling isn’t a right. If we don’t have the right to decide when someone is going to perform a surgery on our baby, what makes us think we can argue we have the right to decide how to teach them the alphabet?

If we let incidents like this go by un challeneged, we will not wake up until it is our child they take for no reason, and we are left begging to have our baby given back to us.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/04/29/im-going-to-grab-your-baby-and-dont-resist-cops-barge-into-cali-parents-home-take-their-baby-after-they-seek-2nd-medical-opinion-and-its-on-video/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/04/30/court-rules-in-favor-of-calif-couple-who-had-5-month-old-baby-seized-by-police/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=story&utm_campaign=Share+Buttons

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/04/18/german-homeschooling-family-facing-deportation-speaks-out-on-theblaze-tv-this-is-home-for-me-now/

Okay, so I tried the first of my new recipes and was still unable to replicate the Mandarin Chicken sauce I am trying to achieve. I tried this recipe for Warr-Shu-Gai.

Warr-Shu-Gai/Almond Boneless Chicken

It was a perfectly good sauce, although I still have trouble getting the cornstarch to really integrate into the water without clumping. But it has a strong chicken flavor and is very thin compared to the sauce on Mandarin Chicken. So far, the first sauce I tried is still a little closer, in my opinion.

Beef and Broccoli/Vegetable Brown Gravy Recipe

(I found this recipe first, thinking it was the elusive Mandarin Chicken Sauce and finding a perfectly good sauce for my other Chinese food vegetable dishes.)

2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 c. water
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. Karo syrup (light or dark)

*   *   *   *   *   *

So I am thinking maybe next time I will combine the two recipes. Maybe instead of the 1 1/4 c. water I will use the same quantity chicken broth and add the bouillon cubes. Not sure if I should continue with the cornstarch method or switch to the flour thickening method, though. My husband wants me to try four next time. Since the Warr-Shu-Gai recipe uses butter, adding flour wouldn’t be much of a stretch. I will have to see. Of course, after all these failed attempts to get the sauce right, I am really craving actual Mandarin chicken from a restaurant. :) I may indulge that impulse just to see if I can get a better idea what I am doing wrong and which I am doing right.

If you have tried any of these recipes, what have your findings been?

What ingredients do you think is in Mandarin Chicken (if you are from New Orleans)?

*   *   *  *   *   *
Links:

http://www.food.com/recipe/warr-shu-gai-almond-boneless-chicken-2526?layout=desktop

http://deep-fried.food.com/recipe/general-tsos-chicken-164706

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Tso%27s_chicken

http://www.copycatrecipeguide.com/How_to_Make_Panda_Express_Mandarin_Sauce

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080515133027AAneLcP

http://zesterdaily.com/cuisine-video/the-delicious-mystery-of-almond-boneless-chicken/

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081017211620AAxDb4p

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew_chicken

http://deep-fried.food.com/recipe/cashew-chicken-44078

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Chinese_cuisine

*   *   *   *   *   *

–A.D. McLain

http://www.wotpast.com

www.facebook.com/wotpast

http://pinterest.com/wotpast/

When you think of food in New Orleans or South Louisiana, most people think of things like the seafood, beignets, King Cake, Zatarain’s, Tony Chachere’s, gumbo or snoballs. I once saw someone on television make a modified beignet with granulated sugar and felt my hackles rise. They are made with powdered sugar. It’s not a true New Orleans beignet unless you need skill to eat it without being covered in white powder. That is how you know the natives from the tourists. But alas, some things you have to live here to know.

But the one thing people from Louisiana love and don’t even know is uniquely ours is our Chinese food, specifically, Mandarin Chicken. If you aren’t from here, you don’t know what I’m talking about. If you are from here, you are screaming, “Yes!” You see, if you do a search online for Mandarin Chicken you will find a chicken dish made with oranges. That is not what we have here. Mandarin Chicken in New Orleans is made with a creamy brown sauce, different in every restaurant, but almost always delicious. Sometimes it is garnished with almonds or peanuts. Sometimes it is a little thicker or thinner, red tint or darker brown. But wherever you go, and whichever place serves your favorite, it is a staple in every local Chinese restaurant.

I was introduced to this fantastic dish in college. It was my first time eating Chinese food, so I was nervous and someone recommended I try Mandarin Chicken. I am a picky eater, but I loved it right away. I remember going to the grocery store and looking for the sauce, with no success. I looked it up online and couldn’t find it. Years passed and I forgot my search. Then this year I began teaching myself to cook and thought to look it up again. Surely, there must be some information somewhere online on how to make this sauce. What I found was a lot of former Louisiana residents, now living in far away states, all looking for the same thing. Turns out if you go to a Chinese restaurant anywhere else in the world and ask for this dish, they look at you like you are crazy. I found a recipe on yahoo answers that seemed close, but came out more like the thinner gravy used on vegetable dishes and Beef and Broccoli. I tried modifying it with no luck. Then I found the answer I had long been searching for. The reason no one could find this dish is because it goes by other names. We aren’t crazy. It does exist.

Another incarnation is an American Cantonese inspired dish in Michigan called Warr-Shu-Gai, or Almond Boneless Chicken. From what I have found, people in that area are met with the same problem when they venture out, unable to find this dish elsewhere. I found an interesting article, “The Mystery of Almond Boneless Chicken” by Tina Caputo, on the history of this Detroit favorite. (See link at bottom of page.)

In searching through other Chinese food sites I found a couple other chicken dishes that appear to be similar in structure to the ones above. General Tso’s Chicken and Cashew Chicken look like they could be prepared or modified to taste similar or  achieve similar effects. Like Warr-Shu-Gai, General Tso’s chicken is based on a sauce made of soy, ginger, and chicken broth, among other things. It also has sugar, which I found in a Panda Express Mandarin Sauce copycat recipe. I saw an article on Cashew Chicken that says it was fried in at least one incarnation. The use of the cashews, similar to the use of peanuts or almonds in other Mandarin Chicken dishes leads me to believe these two could be related in some forms. Of course not ever restaurant is the same, so if you order cashew chicken thinking to get Mandarin Chicken, you could be very disappointed.

What has been your experience with this dish?

Do you know of any other names it goes by?

Which of the recipes below do you think most capturs the taste of New Orleans Mandarin Chicken sauce?

Do you know of any other recipes/modifications that work?

My discoveries.

I still have to try all these sauces to decide which one I like best, but that is a matter of personal preference, so in the mean time, I put this out there for the world so all of you may learn and experiment with your own Chinese food at home. Have fun.

Warr-Shu-Gai/Almond Boneless Chicken

Panda Express Copycat Recipe

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

or – another recipe I found

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce[3]
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice[4]
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch[5]

General Tso’s Chicken Sauce Recipe

Cashew Chicken Sauce Recipe

Beef and Broccoli/Vegetable Brown Gravy Recipe

(I found this recipe first, thinking it was the elusive Mandarin Chicken Sauce and finding a perfectly good sauce for my other Chinese food vegetable dishes.)

2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 c. water
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. Karo syrup (light or dark)

*   *   *  *   *   *
Links:

http://www.food.com/recipe/warr-shu-gai-almond-boneless-chicken-2526?layout=desktop

http://deep-fried.food.com/recipe/general-tsos-chicken-164706

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Tso%27s_chicken

http://www.copycatrecipeguide.com/How_to_Make_Panda_Express_Mandarin_Sauce

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080515133027AAneLcP

http://zesterdaily.com/cuisine-video/the-delicious-mystery-of-almond-boneless-chicken/

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081017211620AAxDb4p

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew_chicken

http://deep-fried.food.com/recipe/cashew-chicken-44078

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Chinese_cuisine

*   *   *   *   *   *

–A.D. McLain

http://www.wotpast.com

www.facebook.com/wotpast

http://pinterest.com/wotpast/

 

Baking Adventure

I finally have a hobby.

I know. I know. I’m a writer. For many people, that would be their hobby, since I don’t really get paid enough to call it my career, (yet). But writing is my passion.  I read, and I enjoy it when I have the time, but that feels a lot like writing to me. Gaming has a lot of creative thought and storytelling, so that also fell into the writing category for me.

I’m a full time employee, writer and mother of two children under five. “Free time” is a foreign word to me. So, I’ve never really understood the term “hobby.”

But now I do. I finally found the joys of baking. I tried to bake a few times in the past. I’ve made my share of box brownies and cakes. And I tried baking bread for over two years only to have it always come out doughy. Then I learned my mistake. Too much flour. I was dumbly, blindly following my recipes without knowing what the dough was supposed to look and feel like. So I over did it on the flour (by a lot).

Learning that small thing has opened up a whole new world of cooking for me. I’ve baked cookies from scratch, made my own pasta and alfredo sauce. I make my own pizza crust now, and I like it better than most of the ones I can buy, with the possible exception of Pizza Hut. I just love their crunchy, buttery crust. I still have more recipes I want to try, like lasagna, ravioli, cake, brownies and pecan pie. I have some more sauces I am trying to learn, and I am trying to duplicate the brown sauce Chinese restaurants in South Louisiana use for their Mandarin chicken. It is delicious and apparently not made anywhere else on the country. My first attempt duplicated the thinner gravy they use on beef and broccoli. So, I am trying it again with some modifications to see if I can make the sauce I so desire.

Anyway, I have found, after years of microwave obedience, I have broken into full on baking and cooking, and I love it. With a new recipe each week, I am excited to plan out our meals for once.

I am documenting recipes I want to try and have already mastered on my Pinterest page.

So come join me on my journey into my new hobby.

*update*

Tried Mandarin Chicken again, but mine keeps coming out like the gravy from beef and broccoli.

I was using recipe here. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081017211620AAxDb4p

2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 c. water
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. Karo syrup (light or dark)
1/4 tsp. red pepper

Found site that says our mandarin chicken is actually based off a Cantonese dish. warr-shu-gai. http://www.sodh.net/2008-01-22/we-miss-you-mandarin-chicken/

Have to try this next time.

http://www.food.com/recipe/warr-shu-gai-almond-boneless-chicken-2526?layout=desktop

Sauce

http://pinterest.com/wotpast/

A.D. McLain

http://www.wotpast.com

Twitter: wotpast

MSNBC is doing promos saying that our kids don’t belong to us. They belong to the collective. Scary stuff. So the same people who say we have the right to kill our own child are now saying that same child doesn’t belong to us. What is with these idiots? My children are mine. I had the morning sickness that lasted into the 3rd trimester both times, sciatic pain that started at week 6 of each pregnancy and stayed around 5 years later, stitches, bed rest and horrible heartburn that lasted for months. I struggled through two and half years of pumping and breastfeeding, no sleep, endless doctor appointments, and many, many illnesses running around the house. I am the one there when my kids have a nightmare or learn to walk. I suffer through all the crap because children are precious gifts from God, and it is worth all the pain and hardship to care for those little miracles. So MSNBC can go walk off a cliff and follow their crappy ratings into the void. Leave my children alone. You don’t deserve them, and you can’t have them.

Watch the crazy video here: http://www.mrctv.org/videos/shorter-melissa-harris-perry-all-your-kids-are-belong-us

-A.D. McLain

www.wotpast.com

www.facebook.com/wotpast

The feminist movement promised women freedom of choice. All it did was take away our choice of being a mom. Today, stay at home moms are criticized and looked down on as lazy. Career women often don’t understand the feelings of co-workers who are tormennted by the need to by home with their children, taking care of their house and being domestic. “Domestic” is the new insult. I know, because I used to feel the same way. These moms are told, “You’ll get used to it,” or “They’ll be fine.” But what if you don’t want to get used to it? What if you are plagued every moment of every single day by the belief that this is wrong? You are not where you should be.

It is very difficult these days to survive on one income. Short of cutting out all phones, movies, internet and moving out to a cheap plot of land in the country, many can’t do it. Those who can are often only one paycheck or emergency away from trouble. Medical bills, unemployment, reduction in hours and natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding take their toil and push many families over the edge.

We are told to deal with it. “No one wants to work. You just do what you have to do. Stop being so selfish. Besides, what if your husband dies or leaves you? You need work experience so you can take care of yourself. You can’t depend on any man to take care of you.”

We used to plan our futures based around family, love and hope. We now plan based on everything falling apart. We used to dream of big families full of laughing children. Now every child is just another daycare bill and mouth to feed, who we only see for a few hours a night between dinner, baths, homework and whatever other chores need to be done. No one is at home to help keep up the house, so everything piles up. Nothing gets doen. Couples fight, because even with both of them working, there still isn’t enough money to keep up, Marriages fall apart, children are raised by daycares and schools. And we wonder why there is so much violence and dispair.

I am not saying every mom should stay home. I am saying there should be a choice. Whether you work because you have no choice or stay at home because you have no choice, the result is bitterness and anger. But what do you do about it? Do you give up or fight for what you know in your soul is right? And how do you reverse a problem that has been 50 years in the making?

Why does it matter?

So, say you don’t have kids, don’t want kids, or you have kids and want to work. Why should you care about women who want to stay at home? Well there is the old saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” The argument is that happy moms will lead to happier families and children, which will lead to a happier society.

But let’s look at some less emotional arguments:

1. Pregnant workers and breastfeeding mothers are a burden to businesses.

2. Working moms who want to stay at home are unhappy workers.

3. Because of financial burdens, they will push themselves to work, often at the expense of their health or the health of the baby.

4. This leads to increased healthcare costs for everyone.

5. If women who don’t want to work are able to stay home, it frees up those jobs for the many unemployed workers who need and want the jobs.

 

During pregnancy, many women work until the birth of the child and return promptly after maternity leave, purely for financial reasons. They need their paycheck and employer based health insurance. This puts a tremendous strain on businesses who must make countless accommodations. Pregnant employees have doctor visits and physical restrictions. This can be an annoyance, a hinderance, unfair to co-workers who must pick up the slack and it puts a lot of stress on the health of the mother, which can lead to complications, premature births, increased health costs, and sick babies.

(See my earlier blog post on Inequality in the workplace)

Breastfeeding moms are still a burden on their companies and often stop sooner than they would have if they were at home. This can also contribute to health problems in children and increased healthcare costs.

Unhappy moms working just for the paycheck, wanting to be home, are more likely to be less productive workers. If they are allowed to leave the workforce, they can clear those positions for the many on unemployement who are looking for and want a job. Businesses get workers who want to be there and moms get to be home with their children. Everyone wins.

What do we do?

Step 1: Access to financial planning. There is a lot of bad advice out there. It can be easy to get lost trying to do the right thing. The right financial advice early on can help get a family on track and stop many problems before they begin.

Step 2: Work at home. Sometimes cutting costs and clipping coupons isn’t enough. You need more income. We need a network of businesses who have legitamate work at home or telecommuting options, both part time and full time, to get together and offer these jobs to moms. By hiring these contract workers, companies save on benefits and health insurance they would have to pay to full time, regular workers. They also save on things like utility costs, misc. office supplies, paper, toner, coffee, water, etc. by having work done by people at home. They aren’t using company computers, producing garbage, using the phones. Meanwhile, the moms have the flexibilty they need to take their children to doctor appointments, playdates, for breastfeeding and time spend on bedrest.

This plan would have applications beyond pregnant women and mothers. It could be adapted to allow fathers to take paternity leave or time off when children are sick or in the hospital. While federal guidelines do allow people to take off for things like this, financial burdens often prohibit the use of these policies. It is time we come together as communities to take care of our own and help our friends, neighbors and family to produce happier families and provide more productive workers for our businesses. It can be done, but we have to work together.

I am gathering information to help local moms at www.BeAMom.webs.com.

This is just the start, but together I believe we can begin to change things.

Many of the news stories this past few weeks center around employees being forced to come in to work on Thanksgiving. Opponents say it is an attack on a family holiday and unfair to the employees. There are strikes and petitions and everyone is mad at those evil, greedy companies who only care about profit.
But what of the customers who go to these sales? Do they share no blame? Are we so weak-willed that if they open we must shop? In these difficult economic times companies are grasping at every sale they can get, desperate to survive until things can get better. Is it right to open on Thanksgiving? Probably not. I am one of the many who roll my eyes at the forgotten holidays trampelled over on the way to Christmas. I actually saw Christmas decorations up at stores before Halloween this year. Even the Halloween decorations were sparse this year, but when was the last time stores even bothered promoting Thanksgiving? (other than a few generic fall decorations of brown and orange leaves and maybe a sale on turkeys).
But whose fault is that? Is it the evil, greedy corporations, or are they just reacting to us? Maybe we hate them, because they reflect who we have become, and we don’t like what we see. It is easy to blame the stores, but that is just addressing the symptoms without attacking the illness.. We could end this trend right now. All we have to do is not shop on Thanksgiving. That’s it. If no one comes in th to the stores to shop on Thanksgiving night, the stores won’t open. we pay lip service to family, but we aren’t spending quality time with our family while standing in line, running and pushing and shoving to get to the deals before anyone else?
So the next time we want to jump on the “Blame the Companies” bandwagon, take a look in the mirror and look at the checkout person at the store. Ask yourself if that deal is worth making that employee work on Thanksgiving, and instead of shopping, go home and give your kids a hug. We get so few days to spend with our families, let’s not waste it  with arguments, lawsuits, petitions and shopping. If you think the stores should be closed., don’t shop on Thanksgiving. It really is that simple.
Amanda McLain-Young
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