Beijing Eating

I have to say, I am a little worried about eating in Beijing. Eating gluten-free was part of the reason why I wanted to keep a trip in China rather short. Soy sauce is a staple in Chinese food and between the various ways wheat creeps up in food and the total language barrier we will face, I am nervous.

Also, having done a fair amount of research, I have not found my usual gluten-free guides to certain restaurants. It seems that there are a couple grocery stores we could go to, but eating in restaurants mainly requires relying on allergy food cards. I found the following text from this blog to bring along with me:





Definitely makes me nervous because with the language barrier, you never know what you are really getting. Apparently lots of celiacs get sick in China pretty easily. 🙁

I will definitely be bringing some cereal bars and emergency supply food with me!

Beijing Layover Trip

Usually I am the one in charge of flight searching because I have the patience to try out a million routes and find the best deals. Last year, I found flights with Oman Air to Thailand that made a stop in Oman, so I decided to make a layover trip since we had to break up our flights anyway. Now I’m all about searching for layover trips when we need to change flights!

When I was looking for our tickets to Australia, I kept noticing that the cheapest two-leg routes went through China, either in Shanghai or Beijing with a minimum layover of 24 hours. I’ve always wanted to see the Great Wall but Kay had already visited Beijing and the wall on a work trip, so he doesn’t really want to plan a  whole trip to China. It’s not his favorite country. Whomp whomp.

Buuut, since we basically have to have a layover, I found flights with a 60 hour layover in Beijing so we will arrive at 5:15am on a Sunday, stay two nights and then leave on Tuesday evening before continuing on to Sydney, Australia. Originally I thought we were only staying one night, but I’m excited that we will have two nights and almost three days to see all the sights!

Since 2013, China has been offering a 72 hour transfer visa program for participating countries. It means that we don’t have to apply for a tourist visa at the consulate in Switzerland. Since we are flying on to Sydney, we are allowed to get a visa directly at the airport and visit the city for 72 hours. Woohoo!

Because we are staying for such a short time, especially when I was under the impression that it would only be for two days, I started looking into private guided tours to see the Great Wall. I told Kay that above all, the wall was what I wanted to see the most. I was trying to decide between these three private tour guides:

  1. Great Wall Hiking: 99% TripAdvisor rating
  2. Beijing Impression: 95% TripAdvisor rating
  3. Catherine Lu Tours: 99% TripAdvisor rating

I would love to hike the great wall, but we are going in winter, so I became a little worried that hiking in those conditions on a sometimes unstable wall might not be that fun. For that reason, I focused more on option #2 and #3 with just visiting a section of the wall. Both had lots of ideas for itineraries and helped me decide what I would like to see most. As Kay has already been, he’s been telling me “Whatever you want.” What girl doesn’t love to hear that?? 😀

Here’s what I would probably like to see:

Great Wall:

 (Photo by Robin Zebrowski on Flickr)

I’m interested in visiting the Mutianyu section and have been warned against visiting the Badaling part. Kay doesn’t remember which part he visited!

Tiananmen Square:

(Photo by See-ming Lee on Flickr)

 Forbidden City:

(Photo by Dermot Roantree on Flickr)

 Temple of Heaven:

(Photo by on Flickr)

 Lama Temple:

(Photo by Jody McIntyre on Flickr)

 Summer Palace:

(Photo by Jim G on Flickr)

Acrobatic Show at Chaoyang Theater:

(Photo by J Aaron Farr on Flickr)

We ended up booking a one day tour with Catherine Lu Tours to visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall in the morning, the summer palace in the afternoon and an acrobatic show at the Chaoyang theater. We rarely see shows when we are on trips, but I read about the acrobatic shows on multiple sites, so I thought, “Why not?”

On the other days we will visit the other places on my list. Now I just need to do a bit of preparation regarding gluten-free eating and we’ll be all set for the Beijing portion of our trip. We do still have some planning to do for Australia too…

*Photos sourced on Flickr using the Creative Commons license*

Gluten-free Dutch Babies

With nine children, my mother never had time to make us breakfast in the morning. Most days it was cereal, toaster waffles or toaster strudel (OMG !) and in the winter she would heat up water for oatmeal. Special breakfasts like pancakes, crepes, Belgian waffles and my beloved dutch babies were only made for dinner from time to time.

Dutch babies were and probably are still one of my favorite foods in the world. Covered in syrup, they are not the healthiest meal. When my sister and I inherited the recipe from my mother, we learned that they are actually supposed to be sliced and eaten as a dessert and not served whole to a single person. Oops!I tried to pass on my love of dutch babies to Kay, but like popovers, he thought they tasted to eggy and he didn’t really care for them. Shame!

Since I know he doesn’t like them, I always made dutch babies whenever Kay was gone for breakfast. He traveled a lot for work, so I definitely got my fill of dutch babies over the years. But it’s never enough!

Sometimes it’s these “secret single behavior” things that makes me the saddest about missing out on gluten. I attempted my first dutch baby a month or two into the gluten-free diet and it did not turn out well. It was still edible, but that’s not saying much.

I tried a few more times and my results were even worse. They were thick, didn’t puff up and cooked strangely. I thought about giving up on dutch babies, because making these gluten-free versions while Kay was away was actually depressing me more than cheering me up, but I decided to look at some recipes for gluten-free versions online.

I followed one recipe (can’t remember which one) and the results turned out pretty well. One of the tricks mentioned was to make sure the eggs were room temperature by warming them in a bowl of water. I had always used eggs straight out of the fridge with no problems, but I guess something changed when I switched to gluten-free flour.

I decided to make my mother’s recipe with the egg trick and what do you know, the dutch babies are turning out more and more normal each time! I think I am getting the hang of this. 🙂

Gluten Free Dutch Babies

3 eggs, warmed to room temperature in a bowl of hot water
1/2 cup GF flour like the Aha mix from Migros
1/2 cup milk, preferably dairy-free these days
pinch of salt
2 TBS Butter (28.4g), eyeballed. No exact measuring butter here folks!

  1. Warm your eggs for a bit in a bowl of hot water to bring them up to room temperature. Not enough to cook them, but enough so that your yolks are nice and runny when you crack the eggs.
  2. Start preheating your oven to 400ºF/205ºC.
  3. Beat eggs and then add flour, milk and a pinch of salt. Beat all until combined, but don’t over beat the batter.
  4. When the oven is almost hot, cut the butter and put it in your pie pan in the oven to melt it while it reaches the correct temperature. (Don’t stick it in too early and let your butter burn!)
  5. Take the pan with melted butter out and pour in your dutch baby mix.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until puffed up.
  7. Drench in maple syrup and enjoy!

They are also wonderful with strawberries or other fresh fruit, jams like raspberry and whipped cream if you are being extra indulgent. Don’t judge me for all the syrup on this one!!

Mmmmmm. Are you a fan of puffed oven pancakes?