Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Homemade Bagels!!

After buying bagels here and having them taste nothing like a real bagel, I set out to make my own. And it turns out they are very easy. If you aren't used to making bread, then you might have a different opinion, but if you are--this takes less time than bread--and tastes soooooooooo good!!

I made this recipe 3 times and all times it came out great. Today I doubled the recipe so the bagels would be bigger. So this "doubled" recipe makes 12 normal size bagels that you would buy at the store. 

Start with 2 cups of warm water--close to 110 degrees, add 2 T. of yeast. You need 1/3 cup of sugar for the recipe and from that I add just a little sugar to the yeast to proof it. 

Once the yeast starts to bubble up then you can add the rest of the ingredients.

Start with 5.5 cups of flour and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add your yeast, water, sugar mixture and mix with your hand until it starts to come together. Once you don't have a lake of water in the middle any more. Dump 1/4 cup of flour on the counter and spread out then dump your dough and all ingredients on the floured counter.

Knead for about 10 minutes. (If you use up all of the flour that's on the counter then add more. I used 6 cups total for my bagels.)

About halfway through kneading it will seem kind of like it's done--as far as getting smoother, but to me it felt gritty a little.

When it is finished it will have picked up almost all of the flour you have dumped on the counter, the dough will be slightly sticky or tacky, but won't stick to the counter or your hand any more and will be very smooth. When you push slightly on the side it will bounce back slowly.
Put this back in the bowl and cover with a towel and put in a warm place for about 35 minutes. It should about double in size. 

Next put a tiny bit of flour on the counter and then put dough on top. I just used my hands to spread it out flat. It was about 1 inch thick. I used a cup to cut out the bagels and got 12. I put them on my cutting board covered them with a towel and let them rise for about 20 minutes. They are supposed to double in size again, but mine did not.

Now get a largish pot and put some water in it--about 2 -3 inches deep and put a Tablespoon or 2 of oil in the water and bring it to a rolling boil. Then drop in the bagels. I could fit 4 at a time. I boiled on each side for about 45 seconds each. 

Then I pulled them out and laid them on a towel to dry slightly. One time I just stuck them on the pan and baked them but they stuck to the pan. So now I butter my pan and dry the bagels slightly and I haven't had problems. (Boiling them is what gives the outside the shiny appearance and the chewy texture!)

I baked them for about 15 minutes at about 375-I say about because my oven doesn't have temps on it and I just guess. It's a little hotter than I bake cookies at. When they are finished they will be slightly golden on the top and the bottom.

2 cups of warm water
2 T. yeast
1/3 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
5-6 cups of flour

Warm water to close to 110 degrees, add yeast and tiny bit of sugar to proof yeast. When yeast starts to bubble, add all the sugar, salt, and 5 1/2 cups of flour. Mix together. I added another 1/2 cup of flour to get my dough so it wasn't sticky any more. Knead for about 10 minutes.

Let rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.

Flatten to about 1 inch thick and cut out bagels. (I don't do a hole in mine, why waste something that tastes so delicious!)

Let rise for 20 more minutes--mine didn't double again in size, but the original recipe says it should.

Boil water about 2-3 inches deep with about 2 Tablespoons of oil in it. Drop bagels in and boil on each side 45 seconds.

Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

*Recipe adapted from the Wycliffe Cookbook.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Blessing from the Rinpoche's Birthday Party

This past week, there was a local celebration for the 70th birthday of the Rinpoche pictured above.  At all the entrances of our town, there were special welcome banners put up like the ones below. We are told that this particular Rinpoche is the powerful leader of one of the Tibetan Buddhist sects.

                Thousands of Tibetans attended to enjoy the music hosted by a nearby monastery!

                          Some of the musicians were actually pretty good as you will hear below.

 This poor guy wore himself out which brought some laughs to many in the crowd! You have to give him credit though, he gave it all he had!

Three people from our church went to give out hundreds of pieces of literature. As a result, three visitors came to our service! One of the visitors is named Gawa, the monk pictured below. He is a Khampa Tibetan and really enjoyed the Bible teaching. He said this is the first time he has met anyone who could explain the teachings of Christianity! He wants to come again next week too! 

Check out our website to learn about some other exciting happenings recently! It is www.knickerbockerfamily.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How many floors does this building have?

How many floors does this building have?

In America we would say 4 floors. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.

Here in Nepal they would also say 4 (I think) but they are labeled differently.

This really only presents a problem when someone is trying to tell you which floor they live on and you are trying to describe it cross-culturally. It gets confusing. There are times when I can't remember which was is American and which way is Nepali. In your mind you can easily understand it, but try getting caught off guard with the question and having just a second to think of the answer. It's not as easy as it might seem. Unless of course I see something like this. Elevator buttons.

This makes sense to me. It is like a number line. Notice the basement floors as -1 and -2. All of it makes sense, just takes some time to get used to it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's different about the bathroom?

This is our Master bathroom. This is the first time I've ever had a bathroom off of my bedroom, but I have to say I am hooked! It is great.

Here the showers are different. The shower section isn't closed off to the rest of the bathroom. There is a drain in the floor and the whole bathroom is tiled.

To dry the floor after your shower you use this. We take showers at night and surprisingly it dries quickly even if we don't use this squeegee.

This is a tankless water heater. The hose leads outside to the propane tank. When it is at least warm outside and the sun is shining we do not need to use this because of our solar panels. However, if the sun doesn't shine we don't get hot water without it.

Our shower curtain is not long enough to keep the water on one side of the room. However, my mom gave me a solution to fix that problem, I just haven't gotten around to doing it yet. In the summer time it doesn't seem to be that big of a deal, but when the weather turns cold the water on the floor makes it seem like you are walking on ice. So I will probably fix it by the time winter comes, then we will only have water on half the floor!

Thankfully we have a European style toilet. The little nob on the top has a string that goes to the bottom of the tank and you just lift it to flush the toilet.

Our other toilet has two buttons. The small button is for a short toilet, the large button is for a long toilet. In the states we refer to "toilets" as #1 or #2. Here it is either short or long. The small button lets in a little water, and the larger button lets in a lot of water. Pretty smart if you ask me. Helps save on water.
There are two official racks for toilet paper here. If you use this one your toilet paper will get soaked after the first shower.

If you use this one you will have to remember to grab some before you sit down.

That is why we keep keep the TP on the counter--easy reach.

The people here do not use TP. They use a hose to spray off. If we want to get a sprayer it would hook in right here.

When you go out and about and need to use a public restroom, a lot of times the TP rack is all the way over by the door about as far away from the toilet as you can get. I think this is to keep the TP dry and away from those who use a sprayer. I haven't figured out how to use a sprayer without getting soak and wet. It must be possible, I don't ever see anyone walking about with soak and wet clothes on.

In our second bathroom is where we keep our washing machine. There is a hose that comes out the back and goes down into a drain on the floor behind the washer.

Thank you for taking a tour of our bathrooms! If you have any ideas for another blog let me know. You can tell I'm at the bottom of idea well! Just kidding.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Strange things in our House

Our house has some things in it that are quite different from America. There is nothing wrong with the way it is done here vs. America, just different. My goal is to point out a few of those things so that you can get an idea of what our house is like a little more.

Today's post is about Kitchen Counters.

Kitchen counters in America are supposed to be 36 inches high. This is the standard. If there is a standard then you don't have to worry about buying a stove or dishwasher or sink and it not meeting up with your counter. For the most part builders will follow this standard. It makes it nice for the majority of Americans--especially the tall ones. When working in the kitchen you don't get a backache from leaning over or sore arm muscles from reaching up to do something all the time.

Granite kitchen countertops with backsplash for small kitchen

The average height of an American is about 5.5 feet tall.
The average height of the Nepali people is just under 5 feet.

That's a 6 inch difference. Which explains why the kitchen counters are 5 inches shorter than an American counter would be. This presents a problem for tall people in the kitchen here. I am 5 ft. 9in. But thankfully, was blessed with long arms. I didn't even notice the counters being low until someone else was telling me that their back ached from having to bend over to cut the vegetables or wash the dishes.

So you might know you are called to be a missionary to Nepal or Asia for that matter, if you have long arms!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Perfect homemade Tomato Soup

Our family loves Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese, but here you can't just go buy Campbell's Tomato Soup, if we could I"m sure it would be $4 or more for one can. So what do we do? Make it from Scratch. I am surprised at how easy it is.

Cut the tops off of 1.5 pounds of tomatoes and cook in the pressure cooker for 4 whistles. You can also just boil them until they are really soft. Puree them and set them aside.

Next, Saute onion in olive oil, add some minced garlic. Then add some tomato paste, flour, and chicken broth.

I was going to make my own tomato paste until I realized it took hours to make and since In only needed a few tablespoons I decided to spend the 65 cents on a small can and use that.

Add some basil (not italian spices, unless you want it to taste like spaghetti sauce) to your tomatoes.

Mix your broth pan and your pureed tomatoes together and simmer for 10 minutes or so until it boils again. If it's thin, I add some cold milk with a little flour in it and then boil it again. You can keep doing this a little at a time until you get the thickness that you like.  This fed our family of five with grilled cheese sandwiches 2.5 times. It makes quite a bit.

Here is the exact recipe

1.5 pounds of tomatoes
1 small onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
3 T. tomato paste
1/4 c. flour
1 can of chicken broth, make your own with chicken bones, or use chicken boullion cubes.
1/2 c. milk with 3 T. of flour (if needed to thicken soup)
2 T. basil???? Add basil and salt to fit your taste buds!

Friday, September 12, 2014

A quest for the Pumpkin Taste

Here in Nepal we cannot find these--
cut pumpkin half

Or this

Here in Nepal we have a lot of farsi. That is what they call everything that is part of the squash family.

I have a theory that a pumpkin is used for texture and that in pumpkin pie, bread, rolls etc., you are just tasting the spices. If that is true, then I should be able to use farsi with pumpkin pie spices and it will taste like pumpkin pie.

Test 1--This kind of resembles zucchini, but it's not exactly zucchini. I found this one first so this is our first experiment.

This is the inside.

The inside of this definitely has more squash qualities than pumpkin. The inside is soft, not stringy, and the seeds can be eaten easily with no crunch. It reminds me of a cucumber too. The outside has a soft texture you can puncture with a finger nail and can be peeled with a potato peeler. As far as texture goes, I don't think I'll try pumpkin pie here, but a pumpkin bread.

I skinned this, chopped it, cooked it in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles, and then pureed it.

I found a pumpkin bread recipe and made this bread.

The bread, although a little heavy (which I think is more the fault of the recipe, than the farsi), is very tasty and has a hint of pumpkin because of spices. But I think this "farsi" will not be used again for finding the perfect Nepal pumpkin substitute!

Here is the recipe I used. Instead of all white flour I used half white and half whole wheat and left out the chocolate chips. I didn't want to waste them in case the bread was a big flop!

Every Saturday we meet with our church people and I bring a snack for tea time, so no time wasted. I think everyone will like it--even though it's not "pumpkin bread".

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Homemade Apple Sauce

I've been wanting a healthy sweet snack and since apples are pretty cheap right now about 75 cents a pound I decided to make some apple sauce. Turns out is is very easy!!

What you need--
A large pot
1 cup of water
5lbs of apples--old apples that are about to go bad work great. For me I got those pretty cheap!
Cinnamon to taste

I peeled the apples and cored them. Since I have an apple slicer (from the dollar tree) I didn't have to do any more work but Abby really wanted to help so I let her cut up the apples with a butter knife. Since we were using older apples they were really easy for her to cut in half with the butter knife. She loved it.

We threw them all in a pot with one cup of water (you can use apple juice, cider, or water), some cinnamon and put it on the stove on low heat for 25 minutes. I covered the pot with a lid and stirred it maybe 3 times during the 25 minutes. Right at 25 minutes when I stirred it I could tell the apples were really soft and some were already starting to break just from me stirring...perfect!

I pulled them out and used my blender to mash them up.

 Our photographer might need to keep his day job! But that was it! We tried it and it tastes great, doesn't need any sugar at all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


In Nepal the traditional toilet is not like ours back home--now I know why they call ours "thrones".

This is what people are used to here...a squatty potty.

You stand over top of the opening and put your feet on the ridged foot pads so you don't slip and fall!

I still have not had to use one of these, but it's not because European toilets are more common, it's because I don't drink much when I'm out and about. If you put dehydration and using these toilets on a scale...you can see which one would win out.

Although I have found a trick. If you can drink 2 liters of water 2 hours before you leave you can use your own facilities before leaving, and not need any water for quite some time---hopefully till you return home.

The most noticeable thing about these toilets is the smell. You can literally smell them from a mile a way and you can use your nose to find them if you find yourself needing to use it.

Usually restaurants that cater to foreigners will have a normal looking toilet...but they don't always have toilet paper--actually mostly they don't.

But they do have this...

Yes, I'm still not quite sure how you would use this without looking like a wet dog after, but you do what you have to do I suppose!

So usually when you pack your bag before leaving somewhere you always BYOTP!

If a place does have it's own TP for you to use, always make sure it is near the toilet. A lot of times it's way over by the door, and that kind of defeats the purpose!

Yes, getting used to a new culture can be challenging at times, but so far nothing we can't handle with a little foresight!

Monsoon Season

So we are in the middle of monsoon season. We are told this is a drier monsoon than normal. As far as what repercussions that will have on the rest of the year, I am not totally sure. I'll make another blogpost about this later.

So in Monsoon we all have rain gear--boots, rain jackets, and umbrellas. The kids love it. Actually I love it too--the rain really cools things off. 

If it pours it usually rains for an hour or so. If it is a light rain it will rain probably all day. 
If it is not a thunderstorm we let the kids go out and play in the rain with their rain gear, which usually doesn't help much because they come inside later soak and wet. But they have fun.

I don't think it was raining in this picture of Abby and Jason. Here people use umbrellas when it is hot and sunny, and Abby likes to do that as well.

Not all roads here are paved and nice. In fact most of them aren't. These are pictures taken from a vehicle as we drove down the road. 

Yes, we just drive straight through. I've only seen vehicles get stuck occasionally, which is very surprising.

The rain causes the dirt to wash away leaving the foundation of the road --just rocks--and it makes it very bumpy. 

These next few pictures were taken as we drove out of the city with our friends and to their new church plant--Berea Baptist Church!

We are very glad they have 4-wheel drive.

I took a lot more pictures of this trip, but because the roads were so bumpy and muddy, most pictures came out too blurry!

These were taken on a trip to our local Post Office.

We had to drive on the opposite side of the road to avoid some of these, had it been a busier day we would have driven straight through!

There is one road that leads to our house that we avoid if at all possible right now because it so messed up with the rain and bumpiness--it's downright painful...lol. And just because it's messed up doesn't mean the taxi drivers drive much slower. So hurdling over these bumps is not too fun.

All in all I think Monsoon has been one of my favorite seasons because of how nice the weather is temperature wise! I just love rain!