Looking back at my last post, I realized it’s been more than a week since I last spoke to this little journal of mine. Phew! I’ve been swarmed by unfinished business in the past couple of weeks. As a self-proclaimed “tomato-canning feminist,” my body and mind are a union of a kitchen goddess and career woman (Orenstein, 2010). And good news: These deities in me are working hard to get along! It’s not been easy, but I’m learning a whole lot as a 22-year-old. (I know I’m too young to talk about these … Bah …)
I’ve also learned a whole lot during my 1-week sojourn down South. Continuing with my Disney epic, and in all honesty, visiting the South wasn’t the rationale behind the spring-break trip I once partook a year ago, initially. Together with four other pals, we were there for Disney World!
Disney World, the world’s largest and most visited recreational resort in central Florida, the U.S., is made up of four theme parks. Well, because I’ve got (literally) an album of pictures to share with you, let’s get the film rolling now!
Day 1 – The Magic Kingdom
What a pleasant surprise! We're greeted by these lovely people who can dance, sing (or lip-sync) and smile all the way through! Amazing! I don’t think I’ve got the stamina to put up such performance.
After a little bit of humming and jiggling to the music – in the wee hours of the morning – we made our way through the theme park …
… where all the classic Disney characters come to life!
At Cinderella Castle: Don't they look familiar?
Winnie the Pooh in action at a parade
Daisy and her little ducklings
Day 2 – The Animal Kingdom
After close to 14 hours of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pooh and so forth, I was already pretty sick. It’s time for some REAL animals! No, no – no real mice, thank goodness! (Yea, I still spotted two or three Mickeys and Minnies in the “wild.”)
On a ride across the "savanna," there was this slow-moving ostrich moving into our way.
Llama, with butt facing my camera. Argh ...!
Never seen something like this before ...
The Tree of Lives, if I ain't mistaken about what it's called ... And, I don't think it's real ...
The "Himalayas." There, you can find one of the best roller coaster rides in the world! Love it!
Day 3 – Epcot and Downtown Disney Marketplace
After trotting our way through the manmade savannas, it’s time for a break from the “wilderness.” It’s time for some globe trekking and shopping.
Spaceship Earth, at Epcot
Glass Pyramids of Imagination!, at Epcot
Unfortunately, tragedies are inevitable. The camera battery died on me! Bummer! So, I can only bring ya around to part of this very lovely theme park. In fact, Epcot is my favorite out of the quartet. I so love, love to learn about different cultures from various parts of the world. As a poor scholar, the theme park's World Showcase gave me the opportunity to “travel across the globe” in less than a day.
Five young travelers parted and went their ways. At one moment, I found myself standing before a tall pagoda at the Japanese pavilion, enjoying Japanese meal for lunch. The next moment, I was there watching and cheering with the crowd at young Chinese acrobats. I roved. I watched. I listened. My ear was mesmerized by the yodeling accordion of the Bavaria. My eye was hypnotized by the riveting street performance in Rome. My nose was engulfed in the enticingly sweet aroma of fresh baked goods before a “Parisian” pâtisserie and boulangerie. What a romantic evening I had when a young French lad said “bonsoir” to me! *Fainted*
Made up of Lego bricks entirely. Impressive, huh!?
On top of that, I kind of went on a shopping spree at Downtown Disney Marketplace. “What!?” you must be thinking I was crazy. Yea, I kept myself sane with a purchase of four bars of 85-percent cacao dark chocolate and Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets – my first investment in a cookbook. And from then on, I’m officially a cookbook addict!
Day 4 – The Hollywood Studios
Action-packed. Adrenaline-pumping. Star-studded. What more can I say about this very theme park! We had a blast – the Hollywood style!
Hidden within the tower is one of the scariest rides I've ever had ... Well, for me, it was scary at least.
Some stunt show, which I can't quite recall what it was called. But, it was sure good!
Indiana Jones in action!
How I wish this was real! I never made it to New York City whilst I was in the States!
The 4-day Disney trip was fun. But, the only complaint I’d file is there was too much walking and too much to see in such little time! We rose at 5-ish or 6 in the morning, rushed to have ourselves washed and dressed, hurried to catch the shuttle, and crawled our way to bed at midnight. In the end, we were downright exhausted! Nonetheless, here’s a shout-out to my friends who gave me the opportunity to join in the fun!
A group photo: the five of us with the characters from Peter Pan
Albeit tiredness, we still managed to trudge our way back to northern Minnesota – all the way from Florida – with reluctance. We drove past the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri and Iowa before wrapping our journey up in the Minnesotan freezer.
The flat Iowa, which is a famous agricultural state in the U.S.
As the only non-American writers for the newsletter at my university, I shared my thoughts with my fellow schoolmates by submitting a piece of writing on March 18, 2009. I’ve extracted some parts of the article that sum up the essence of the trip, from my viewfinder:
“Seeing is believing” is another cliché that has been worn out as time passes by. Yet, the essence of this good old saying still holds true. And, the essence of my spring break revolved mainly around this long-lived truth. …
“As an international student who has been living in the northern part of the country for more than two years, I have been hearing a lot about the South such as its climate, beaches, people, hospitality and food. And surprisingly for me, the Disney experience was not the most memorable part. Instead, it is the climate – of Florida specifically – and the opportunities to interact with the Southerners. …
The largest drumstick I've ever seen in my life, and it's turkey. Of course, it was shared among three girls. *LOL*
“Yes, it is true that Disney World hosts tons of different cultures at just one stop at its famous international village Epcot. You could “fly” from China and Japan to France and Morocco in just a few steps. But nothing beats authenticity – that is, when you are at the actual place to experience the real deal for yourself! And in my case, I am glad that I finally got a taste of the South – something I will surely bring back to Malaysia.”
The friendliest and funniest driver ever! I enjoyed riding on his shuttle. I miss his Hispanic accent.
To wrap things up – and to stop my long-windedness, I’d like to share with you this healthier “fried” chicken recipe, to add a little “Southern” flair here.
This “fried” chicken isn’t fried – it’s baked. Baking the chicken gives you fairly crispy, utterly satisfying “fried” chicken for the ultimate “deep-fry” cravings without compromising your health! (Attention: The statement above is ONLY applicable to gluttons – not deep-fried food purists.) I’ve made this twice, and with a little twist each time. For my maiden attempt, I followed the recipe a “T.” For my second attempt, I added this magic ingredient:
I shun product endorsement; I want an ad-free blog! Blogging is for fun, is a way for me to relieve my stress through writing, and it has to be ethical. However, there’s this one thing that I’d really like to share with you. I’ve been head over heels in love with Tony Chachere’s original Creole seasoning ever since my family friends introduced it to me in 2007. We heart the unique spicy and salty kick that you can find in KFC. I don’t know if it’s me, but I seriously think this Creole seasoning really does wonders – because it’s from Louisiana!?
My home-made Southern fried chicken, with Tony Chachere's original Creole seasoning, and these are REALLY deep-fried
I lugged it all the way from the U.S. I’ve used this Creole seasoning on my fish, chicken, zucchini and in my soup. It’s always been a hit in my family! Eventually, this canister of spices will be exhausted. Good – I’ve now found an alibi to build Creole seasoning from scratch. In fact, I believe Creole seasoning of any brand would work – not just Tony Chachere’s. So, let’s us keep experimenting in the name of cooking. In the meantime, without further ado, here’s the recipe for a healthier version of good old “fried” chicken. Enjoy!
Oven-Baked Crispy Chicken With Sweet Wasabi Sauce
Adapted From I Love Baking, by Emily Wong 摘自《香噴噴烤焗料理》。Emily Wong 著
4 chicken wings
4 chicken drumsticks
*I've tried using chicken thighs, too. But, you need to adjust the cooking time of course depending on the size of the chicken used.*
1 tsp garlic salt
Some fresh ground black pepper, to taste
**I experimented by replacing garlic salt and black pepper wholly with Tony Chachere's original Creole seasoning. Either way is just as good.**
**Please adjust the quantity of the seasonings above to suit your taste -- you need not follow the recipe to a "T!" What matters is the end product because you're going to eat it!**
1 egg, slightly beaten
60 g breadcrumbs, or adjust as necessary
***I used Japanese panko.***
Enough all-purpose/plain flour, for coating the chicken prior to baking
(C) -- optional
4 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp wasabi paste
1 tsp honey
- Wash to clean the chicken parts real well. Then, drain and pat dry. Marinate them together with (B) and set aside, covered, for at least 1 hour
- When it's about time to cook, preheat the oven to 210C. Line a fairly huge baking sheet with aluminum foil. An aluminum foil-lined baking sheet helps catch the dripping from the chicken, and also makes cleaning easier later on. Next, grease a large metal rack, which can withstand high temperature during baking, with some cooking oil. Then, place it over the lined sheet. Set aside.
- First coat the marinated chicken with flour, then followed by the beaten egg. Lastly, cover to coat the chicken evenly in breadcrumbs. As you proceed with this particular step, arrange the coated chicken on the greased metal rack
- Place the whole deal into the oven, bake chicken at 210C for 15 minutes.
Turn over the chicken and reduce the oven temperature to 190C, bake for another 15 minutes or till done -- that is, you will see juices run clear when you poke a chopstick/skewer/fork into the chicken, especially the parts with the most flesh. Remove the whole thing from the oven once the chicken is cooked through.
- While the chicken bakes, prepare the sweet wasabi sauce by combining (C) together thoroughly. This is for you to serve the chicken with, but it's optional. Dip the hot/warm chicken into the sauce and serve immediately!