Chinese Cooking

Today I was invited over to my friend’s house to learn to make Hainan Chicken, from her friend who is Chinese/Vietnamese. The key to having the best tasting chicken, according to my friend, is to buy a free-roaming one. I soon found out that this lady ordered from a free-roaming chicken farm, and that the birds were delivered to her house this morning ALIVE. She then killed and feathered them, to use for our meal today! Here I am with the chicken. I was amazed at the large feet.

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After cleaning it thoroughly, the friend, cut off the feet, and tucked them inside the body (to give it a good flavor), she bent back the wings and placed the whole chicken inside the pot to boil. After the chicken had cooked and became tender, we removed it from the pot and let cool. Use chicken broth with equal parts rice and cook rice in an asian rice cooker. For example 4 cups rice to 4 cups chicken broth, and 1-2 tsp. salt.

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Chinese use every part of the bird! The gizzards and heart were chopped and stir-fried with the green vegetable side dish. A group photo, the lady next to me is the cook. We are grating fresh ginger for the dipping sauce.

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Recipe for the Sauce:

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce to serve with Chicken or eat over the rice
2 TBL freshly grated ginger with juice
2-3 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 small fresh red chili pepper, thinly sliced
2 tsp. sugar
2-3 TBL lemon
2-3 TBL Vietnamese fish sauce

Below our finished product, with some fresh cucumbers, fruit and chicken broth soup. Notice the plates of chicken, Asians simply cut the whole chicken, bones and all and place on a serving dish. Then they proceed to eat the chicken, sucking and spitting out the bones. (My contribution to the meal — in the top left hand corner — a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

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China Tourism Expo

TIS was invited to sponsor a booth at an Expo, this weekend. Sean, Megan and I ventured over on Saturday to support our school. However, what we had originally thought was an Expatriate Expo, turned out to be a huge event encouraging tourism in China. Large exhibit halls were filled with complex constructed, 2-story booths advertising famous Provinces throughout China. And to our BIG surprise, there was one exhibition hall filled with outdoor recreational “toys”, everything from campers, to RVs to tents, white water rafts, boats, four-wheelers, pick-up trucks, and even a small 1-seater airplane! We found our school booth located in the very back of the last exhibit hall.

Pictured below, Susan with her friends from the Admissions Office (colleague in the middle is our new Admissions Director, originally from New Zealand, she has a daughter in Jessie’s grade)

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Sean and Megan with two high school TAs (teaching assistants)

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Megan, ready for camping (however, where would one go in China since there are no campgrounds with plumbing, electricity, and water hook-ups?)

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Megan at a booth advertising one of China’s minority groups, notice the lady’s decorative headpiece in the background.

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I helped to set up our school booth the day before the Expo. Here is an exhibit in the making from the YunnanProvince, at about 4pm the day before opening day.

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And Megan standing in front of the final product, all set up and ready by 8am the following morning. One thing China can do very well is mass setup and teardown.

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High School Fall Concert

This friday I had my first High School Band Concert. Although band has been tough to keep up with this year as a freshman, I have really enjoyed the challenges that have followed. The concert turned out really well and I’m proud of all that I have accomplished so far this year! I can’t wait till our next concert comes in December!

As you can see in the 2nd picture, Megan entertained herself by playing her imaginary flute ūüôā

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Special Friends and Birthdays

Tonight we celebrated with our Malaysian friends’ family for her birthday. Being away from extended family can be tough when living abroad. Rachel and I were so happy to help make Sharon’s day more special by baking a 4-layer chocolate cake with buttercream filling and white chocolate espresso drizzle. (Rachel is practicing for her new cake business).  

Here is Megan’s special friend.   

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Susan with our Malaysian friends

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Rachel’s delicious cake. Wondering about the interesting centerpiece? It’s a Chinese birthday candle that opens up as a flower and shoots sparkles out of the top, singing the Happy Birthday tune (like a singing card you might buy at Hallmark).  

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Office Project 05

This will be the last update on office construction for a while as the curtains were the last “major” installment. I picked this fabric out myself at a fabric market in downtown Tianjin. Maddie, my Dad and I spent nearly 7 hours picking through fabrics for curtains and chair coverings. Dad says that fabric is the type of thing in which the individual choosing the pattern loves it, while everyone else is left wondering “why in the world that color?!” (very similar to wallpaper…). I hope, in this case, Dad is wrong because these teal and gold curtains give the office such a refreshing glow.¬†

Tumblr Finds

Let’s face it, would you rather read a Tumblr photo blog or a Biology text book? It’s pretty much a no brainer…¬†If you’re ever looking for some way to relax (or¬†procrastinate) this is the way to do it! Although I sometimes spend hours (oops did I just admit that) on these photo journals, I always close my computer lid with a smile. The endless pictures, quotes, and gifs are a “spoonful of sugar” for gray day. Next time you need some inspiration just refer to Tumblr, the never ending slideshow of heartening photos.

Sources: inspiration, ¬†¬†As for Me I’ll Always have Hope

As of Late

As of late, we have all been caught up in the whirl-wind activity of a new school year! Personally, I feel like I have jumped on a boat that I am trying in vain to steer through churning waters, (Anyone else?).¬† So what’s been so crazy about the beginning of this school year? – the real question is what hasn’t been crazy about the beginning of this school year?

For starters, my dad, Maddie, and I had our annual Fall Camp, a high school retreat, last week!¬† Maddie is discovering the “joys”of a high school homework load, and I am discovering the “joys” of three AP classes.

Over in Hong Kong, Michael just returned from a church retreat which was very encouraging for him as he begins his sophomore year at Hong Kong University!

Rachel has been busy as a bee at home. She’s our “sweet little fairy,” baking delicious desserts, working in the blog room on her goals, and supporting us in school. Rachel too has been unusually busy this week; it seems that the news of her baking skills are getting around.¬† This week she has baked 2 layer cakes, pavlovas (tonight to satisfy me and Maddie’s meringue craving :), and biscotti. Sadly, the only above dessert we get to try is the white fluffy cookies in the oven now. The birthday cakes were made for a friend and a client!

On top of ALL of that, add the usual homework load, dentist appointments, student council work, and time spent with friends then you’ve about nailed down our lives as of late!

Me and my Fall Camp team during the stew competition! ~Smokey~

Maddie posing with her team after the Fall Camp Skits!

The 3-layer Lego cake that Rachel baked for a boy in our community turning ten. It is a vanilla cake with multi-colored layers (red, blue and green), meringue buttercream filling, and marshmallow icing on top!

Michael’s Church retreat – seems like he had fun!

High School Fall Camp

Since 9th grade has started life has for sure been a whirlwind.  The high school fall camp was about 2 weeks ago and although my team only got 6th place out of 10 teams, we had a blast. It started with the whole high school leaving on a 6 hour bus ride to the camp site, yes the bus ride was so long and boring, but I was thankful to spend some catch-up time with Jessie. 

By the time we got to the site it was dinner time so we didn’t do many activities except for a night game. The next day we played a lot of team games and performed our team skit in the evening. Personally, I had the most fun on this day because the games were fun and the skit went great. Finally, the third day we packed up and bussed all the way back to TIS (our school). Although fall camp seemed to go by way too fast the time we did have together as a high school was great.   Here’s a photo of me with my team (I played an old lady in the skit, thus the greyish hair color).
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As of Late

As of late, we have all been caught up in the whirl-wind activity of a new school year! Personally, I feel like I have jumped on a boat that I am trying in vain to steer through churning waters, (Anyone else?).  So what’s been so crazy about the beginning of this school year? – the real question is what hasn’t been crazy about the beginning of this school year?

For starters, dad, Maddie, and I had our annual Fall Camp, a high school retreat, last week!  Maddie is discovering the “joys”of a high school homework load, and I am discovering the “joys” of three AP classes.

Over in Hong Kong, Michael just returned from a church retreat which was very encouraging for him as he begins his sophomore year at Hong Kong University!

Rachel has been busy as a bee at home. She’s our “sweet little fairy,” baking delicious desserts, working in the blog room on her goals, and supporting us in school. Rachel too has been unusually busy this week; it seems that the news of her baking skills are getting around.  This week she has baked 2 layer cakes, pavlovas (tonight to satisfy me and Maddie’s meringue craving :), and biscotti. Sadly, the only above dessert we get to try is the white fluffy cookies in the oven now. The birthday cakes were made for a friend and a client!

On top of ALL of that, add the usual homework load, dentist appointments, student council work, and time spent with friends then you’ve about nailed down our lives as of late!

Me and my Fall Camp team during the campfire stew competition! ~Smokey~

The 3-layer Lego cake that Rachel baked for a boy in our community turning ten. It is a vanilla cake with multi-colored layers (red, blue and green), meringue buttercream filling, and marshmallow icing on top!

Michael’s Church retreat – seems like he had fun!

Cake Challenge: June

This is the first pound cake I’ve ever made and my first¬†“successful”¬†attempt at the bundt cake-shape. The dense texture of this cake was a much needed change from my usual 3-layer butter cakes. I think the best part of this baking experience was taking photos… finally, a cake that is both delicious and effortlessly beautiful. Bundt cakes are so pretty on their own without much fuss about icing colors, decoration ideas, or touch ups. I totally recommend this recipe if you’re looking for something quick and relatively simple.

<Cake Challenge Series: is a collection of posts which document the cakes I bake each month. More specifically, I have a goal this year to bake at least one (hopefully spectacular) layer cake each month, and photograph/post them here. I hope you enjoy this collection as much as I enjoy baking these delicious desserts!>

Other Cake Challenge Posts:
January 
February
March 
April
May