Take a Cue from Farmer Boy


Hi everyone! I LOVE being home! I had a great time exploring Beijing and Hong Kong over the past six weeks, but there’s nothing like Western-style toilets and home-cooked food (yes, I mentioned them both in the same sentence).

Oh, yes. And Peter.

(Screenshot from one of our countless inter-continental Skype sessions.)

I had a fantastic time in Hong Kong! I’m planning on devoting a few posts to my time in HK, but not yet. For now, I want to relish in the feeling of being home 🙂 I’m so excited that I’m able to access all of your blogs again! No banning here in the U.S.!

In the meantime, remember this picture I took before I left for China, and how I was going to fit everything into that leetle teeny roller bag on the way back?

Yeah, well …

Not so much. Hey, I was bringing back lots of gifts, okay??

My checked roller bag didn’t make it the last leg of my three-part return flight extravaganza, so the airline delivered it to our apartment the next day. This is what I found outside our apartment when we returned from a grocery shopping trip.

Good thing the bag was cheap.

Speak of grocery shopping, I was eager to get myself into the kitchen again. After recovering from a mild bug and partially recovering from jet lag (I’m writing this entry around 4:30 am), I decided to throw together an old favorite for yesterday’s dinner. I can’t take credit for this delicious dish – all the credit goes to Almanzo Wilder‘s mother in the Laura Ingalls Wilder novel Farmer Boy.


Almanzo’s Apples ‘n’ Onions

4 large onions
4 large apples, any kind (although firmer apples are best, like Gala or Granny Smith. I used Golden Delicious here.)
1 Tbsp veggie oil
Sausage (optional)

Chop your apples into rough bite-sized cubes. Cut onions in half, then slice. No need to make them pretty!

If you are including sausage (because you crave it from being in China for 5.5 weeks … or whatever), saute in large frying pan over medium-low heat until cooked through. You can also cook chicken or tofu or some other protein.  Once your protein is cooked, push it off to the side, add veggie oil and saute apples and onions until soft but still with a “bite“. If you like your apples and onions mushy (I won’t judge you), then cook for a looooong time.

Oh, induction burner, how I have missed thee.

Finish with salt and fresh-ground black pepper and serve immediately. You can drizzle a little honey on top if you like your dishes sweeter, but I find the slightly-caramelized onions to be just the right amount of sweetness for me.

Due to the wicked hot weather we are experiencing in the Northeast US right now, I was craving something cool, with a kick. I decided to try replicating this exquisite mojito my classmates and I ordered every time we went to Cafe Sambal, a great Malaysian restaurant in one of Beijing’s hutongs.

Drinking one of those mojitos on a hot day in Beijing was like drinking a class of pure ice water (of course, that could be due to the fact that it was pretty much all ice water and lime juice). To replicate the experience, I decided to try this recipe, leaving out the club soda. We have two types of rum in our plastic bin of liquor (yes, you read that right): a coconut rum and a light rum. I decided to try them both … what? What’s wrong with that? 😀

First step was squeezing my limes *pause for effect* I’ve found the best way to help limes release the juice is to roll them on the counter for a minute. Microwaving them for 10-15 seconds also helps.

This coconut rum is so good, you could sample it straight up. In THEORY, folks. Geez.

All together in the cocktail shaker:

Coconut rum:

Light rum (with raspberries for a little color):

Don’t worry, I didn’t drink them both. I sampled each and decided the coconut rum version possessed a tropical flair that the light rum couldn’t match. The coconut rum was mine and the rest went to the dogs.

Just kidding! I would never do that to little Maddles. I was just looking for an excuse to insert an adorable puppa picture.

It sure is nice to be home again 🙂

Q: What’s the first thing you do when you return home after a long time away?


  1. I always clean 😀

    Mojitos sound great for this weather. Now I almost want one but it’s 7:15am!

  2. Welcome home!! 🙂 Glad you had an amazing time, but also glad you’re back safely (sorry we can’t say the same about your suitcase)

    Love the picture of Maddie passed out. She’s so cute — I missed seeing that face. 😉

    And those mojitos look amazing! It’s been so incredibly hot here…that definitely would have been the perfect drink. I’ve never made my own before — you made it look so easy.

    The first thing I do when I get home is sink into my bed. I know it sounds weird but I love my bed and usually find it so much more comfortable than wherever else I’ve been sleeping.

  3. The first thing I do is UNPACK!! I’m a freak about packing and unpacking. I unpack right when I get into hotels, and right when I return home from travel. haha, that picture of your trying to zip up your bag is great! I would be surprised if you didn’t a have a lot more on the way back 🙂

    Glad you had a great time! And you’re already back in the kitchen?? I love that!

  4. I’m so glad you’re back! And that you had a fantastic time! I can’t wait to hear all about it.

    I love mojitos. And I love coconut rum. Why have I not ever combined the two? Probably because the result would be addictive. Oh well. C’est la vie.

    Okay. You go rest up and get un jet-lagged. 😛 TTYS!

  5. Welcome home Jessie! So good to have you back…can’t wait for the trip recap.

    I loved Little House on the Prairie! I read every single book and watched just about every single episode!

  6. Hey Jessie,

    It just hit me that you were actually gone for 5.5 weeks! Wow, where did all that time go? Not that I didn’t miss you but it almost felt like you never left cause of all my stalking on your bloggie 😉 I luved following you through China and can’t wait to see what you did in HK. HK is probably my most favorite place to travel to but that’s only cause I don’t have many other places to compare it to.

    Oooh, I luv mojitos. But I remember ordering one in HK and it was really nasty. Nothing like the ones here. Thanks for that lime in the microwave tip, I’ll try that next time. I usually just do the rolling thing. Nice touch with the raspberries! Totally brought that mojito to life. You’re so good to have just drank one glass. I think I prob would’ve had them both, you know, since it’s just sitting there all lonely and all 😉

    Glad you’re home safe and sound. I totally miss clean toilets when I’m away too. Haha. My first time in HK, I made Gary take me to a 5 star hotel just to go to the washroom. Then after that I realised how princessy I was being so I sucked it up the rest of the whole trip. I know HK is not as bad as China but compared to Canada, it was for the first time. Oh how I’ve grown. Lol. Ok this is turning into an essay. First thing I do when I get home is take a nice shower in my nice clean washroom and then probably grab a meal I’ve been craving for. Food never escapes my mind :-D. Hope you’re having a great week and that you’re feeling all better from your bug now.

  7. YAY!! SO glad your home safely!! I know Peter must be so happy to have his wife back at home.

    The first thing I usually do when I get home from a long trip is unpack and do laundry! I can’t stand having all those dirty clothes laying around. And then I usually go do some grocery shopping to restock our supplies.

  8. Welcome back! No more running for the toilet, huh?! 🙂
    First thing I do is usually…nothing or golf depending on the season.

  9. Welcome back! Traveling is amazing and wonderful and great, but there really is nothing quite like coming home (especially when there’s a lovely husband waiting for you!!) 🙂 The first thing I do is drink my favourite herbal tea, eat some soup, and get some much needed rest 🙂 Just enjoying the comforts of home is a great pleasure 🙂 And I miss Little House on the Prairie! And Road to Avonlea – sort of like the Canadian version of LHOTP 🙂

  10. Looks like a nice return home, well not the travel part with a broken suitcase. I brought back an entire second suitcase with gifts when I was there. Can’t wait to hear about Hong Kong.

  11. Usually the first thing I do when I get back home from a trip is sleep sleep sleeeeeeep! But the last time I went home for Christmas I just stayed up and chatted with my mum for several hours *blush* (Yes I still consider that my home, even though living in London is amazing)

    The apples and onions thing sounds very interesting, though I don’t understand what flavour the result is. Is it sweet from the caramelized onions? tart from the apples (golden delicious are my favourites btw)? both?

    Again welcome back Jess!! 🙂

  12. haha love how ur sprawled over ur bags. i would feel so weird coming back all the way from china. but it would definitely be good to be home on solid turf! i would probably make sure i get lots of cuddles from family.. then be like “everyone leave me alone, i need some rest and alone time” .. i always feel so off balance coming home actually.. kind of confused or hung over feeling

    yea i dont know why the heat isnt bothering me as much as it probably should. yesterday when i was tanning i was mostly just sweating.. it was gross lol.

    xoxo <3

  13. Great that you are home. I very much enjoyed reading about your trip. Love the dish and the mojito. Good use of coconut rum.

    Be well

  14. Glad you’re back!
    Love coconut rum. yum!
    I am weird that when I first get back from a trip I like to immediately unpack everything and get organized. A hot shower is also a must!

  15. WELLLLCOME HOME, JESSIE!!!!!!!!!!! <33333

    One of the best things about coming home after a long way away is that wave of gratitude that you all of a sudden develop towards familiar things you'd previously taken for granted. Know what I mean? It's good to be grateful. And on top of toilets and good saratoga nut butter, I'm sure you're super glad to be home with your subconscience and the puppa. 🙂 And I'm sure they're super super glad that super-Jessie is back in da house. 😉

    P.S. I love that you used a recipe from a novel!! Only cute people do that, Jessie! YOU'RE SO CUTE. I LOVE YOU AND AMEN!

  16. Hi Jessie 🙂


    I loved watching Little House when I was growing up, so thanks for the nostalgia kick 🙂 I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy, and no, got nothing to do with the two shots of vodka I just knocked back – KIDDING!!

    I can’t believe more than 5 weeks have passed since you left us *sniff* and thanks for taking time to visit my blog though I’m guessing you’re still pretty worn out from the trip.

    Btw – I think you should have a little “talk” with your subconscious….. she’s been doing stuff, and saying things in your absence, I’m not sure you’ll be happy about 😉

    Great to have you back!

  17. Thanks for the birthday wishes! I enjoyed hearing about your Asian adventures!! Such a blast!! That mojito looks AMAZING!

  18. So glad you had a good time Jessie! We missed you around here…
    It is extremely hot here in Toronto…and a lot of crazy things are happening…including a recent earthquake and blackout!
    I used to love mojitos…back in the day. I don’t drink at all anymore, but you have me craving some mojito. They look so good. Coconut rum sounds perfect!
    The first thing I do after getting back from a long trip is collapse on my bed..seriously. I find travelling to be so exhausting and I actually despise it. I love the trips themselves, but being on plains (claustrophobic, much?) and the whole airport security and blah blah blah just exhausts me.
    Anyway, glad that you are home safe and are happy to be with your family again.

  19. I love mojitos! I had a few in Germany too… 😛

    Usually the first thing is to unpack and cook something in my own kitchen – I love cooking!

  20. As soon as I come home, I take a shower, and just hug my parents. That’s the only thing I wanna do.

    Welcome back, Jessie!!! I was so thrilled to see you back…I’ve missed you! Damn China for keeping you away from me!

  21. Welcome home! I’m glad you’re back safely from your adventure. Can’t wait to hear more about it.

    LOVE mojitos

  22. I was in Taiwan in March & I have to agree with you about the western style toilets. The first time I came across one of the female urinals, as I have taken to referring to them, I was slightly tipsy & I thought I was in hell 🙂 I kid.

    Anyways, I LOVE mojitos, they are refreshing, but not too sweet, if made correctly. One of the local restaurants where I live makes them with fresh fruit purees like mango & raspberry – yum!

    I’m with you on the heat in New England lately – killing me!

  23. Wow Jessie those look terrific! I’ve had mojitos, but only from a frozen mix. Yours from scratch look absolutely beautiful and refreshing!

    And I still think you did a great job w/ the packing! I’m at my parents’ for 6 wks this summer and my suitcase is like 2x as big!

  24. Your apple & onion dish looks great, as does the mojito – yum! I always want to unpack and have a hot shower when I come home from a long trip, it’s so refreshing.

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