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Rice Cooker Corn Bread

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Rice cooker corn bread…..duh. Why did I not think of this before? It brings me back to some of my favorite memories as a child–eating red beans and rice and corn bread. Proud to say I pulled this off in rural China. I got this recipe from Cabin 77’s site. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup soybean oil
  • 3 eggs

    The goods
    The goods

Let’s do it:
1. Mix the dry ingredients.
2. Add milk, soybean oil, and eggs. Stir, Stir!
3. Coat the rice cooker with oil so it won’t stick.
4. Pour in the mixture.
5. Put it on the cake setting for 25-35 minutes.

excited much?
excited much?

 

Cauliflower Cilantro Porridge

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If you would have asked me my attitude on rice porridge a year ago, I would have rolled my eyes. In China, rice porridge 米粥 is often spoken of as a holy dish that can cure absolutely everything. No matter what my illness is, the recommendation from the locals in my village or from my co-fellows has always been to eat porridge. Even when I come up with alternatives, I am always met with resistance. Additionally, I have been eating oat porridge every morning for about 8 years now, so I was a bit threatened by this alternative “porridge”, as I always viewed oats as the “superior” grain. I WAS WRONG.

Last week was a particularly ugly health week for me in rural China. Starting on Sunday, I had an allergic reaction to Taro. Alert: If you do not cook  Taro thoroughly, you might be allergic to this chemical that is on the outside.Booo…. Then, on Tuesday morning, I woke up unable to open or close my mouth. My TMJ was acting up. I had no idea what to do, but I knew I had to eat soft foods. I was determined not to eat oats two times in a day. I was stuck with porridge, and I am so thankful that I was!

I ate porridge for 2 days, and let me tell you, it was so 好吃 (delicious) and healthy. Additionally, it is the closest thing I have come to feeling like I was eating a comforting bowl of chicken noodle soup (minus the chicken and noodles thing?). Simply put, it made me feel at home.  I played with two different recipes, and today you will get one of them. Stay Tuned for more. I plan on making a Top 10 Porridge List as soon as I cook 10 different porridges.

Cauliflower Cilantro Rice Porridge

The Goods:

  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 small red peppers diced
  • 2 handfuls of cilantro roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 inch of minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 3-4 cups of water
  • salt and pepper to taste
The goods: onions, red peppers, cilantro, cauliflower, ginger, garlic
The goods: onions, red peppers, cilantro, cauliflower, ginger, garlic
So easy. Throw it in the rice cooker.
So easy. Throw it in the rice cooker.
Final product :)
Final product 🙂

Let’s Do It:

1. Cut the Cauliflower into bite-sized pieces (smaller than you would for a stir-fry)
2. Dice the onions and green peppers.
3. Roughly chop the cilantro.
4. Clean 1/2 cup of rice
5. Put rice in the rice cooker with 3 cups of water (As you play with porridge more, you will probably identify the water/rice ratio that works best for you). If it looks like there is too much water in the rice cooker, you probably put enough. The starches will start sticking together to form
6. Add cauliflower, onions, red peppers
7. Put the rice cooker on porridge setting and let cook for 40 minutes.
8. Add the ginger, garlic, salt, pepper. When you add these depends on how strong you want these flavors to be. Let cook another 20 minutes.
9. The porridge should be a creamy consistency with the rice completely broken down.
9. Stir in the cilantro right before you eat. (You can add this earlier if you want the cilantro flavor to be less pronounced)
9. Eat up! I like to eat it with some 酸菜 (pickled vegetables) on top.

10 Foods that I have only seen in China

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Here are pictures of 10 foods/dishes/food customs that I have never seen in the US and probably will never see again. There is no English translation for these bad boys, so I have included the direct translations. Enjoy!

1. Name: 拐枣 “To kidnap Dates (the fruit)”
Flavor: Sweet, nutty fruit that is dried out. I would eat it all the time if I could. I ate these at a local teacher’s home along with rice wine the had been soaking in bees.

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2. Name: 香椿 “Chinese Toon/Fragrant Toon”–I have no idea what a “toon” is
Flavor: Mustard meets wasabi meets mustard green. This is a local specialty in Liu He. They have been adding it to a lot of chilled cucumber dishes, and it is the bomb.
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3. Name: “蛋黄鱿鱼”Yellow Egg (aka Yolk) Squid
Description: WOWSAAA! The orange bits are actually leftover rice from the bottom of the rice cooker, cooked with dried red peppers, squid, and peanuts. I will probably never see squid and peanuts together again.
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4. Name: 鸡爪 “Chicken Claw”
Description: BBQ a chicken foot until it is that black. Then, dip it into a glass of rice wine. Make sure that thing sizzles. Drink up! Result: long life and healthy joints.
dunker

5. Name: “纳西烤鱼”–Naxi Baked Fish
Description: Salty, spicy awesomeness from Lijiang. Yes, those are fermented beans on top. It is a Naxi Minority speciality.

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6. Name: ”绿茶饼” “Green Tea Cake”
Description:  I ate this in Hangzhou with my c0-fellows. It is made with rice, green tea, and sesame seeds. Thank God we each only got one, because I would have eaten the whole plate of these things. Nutty, sweet, and wholesome. IMG_7160

7. Name: 菌子-“Fungus”
Description: A lot of people in Liu He go foraging for these specific type of mushrooms. They usually stir fry them with pork, or if we are lucky, they will kill a chicken and cook it in a stew as pictured below. IMG_7521

8. Name: “生皮” “Raw Hide”
Description: This dish that appears to be vegan is actually mixed with pig face. Pig face, cilantro, white carrot, and vinegar, and lots and lots of salt. It appears at nearly every pig killing. It is actually amazing. IMG_4077

9. Name: “血蛤 ” “Bloody Clams”
Description: I ate this in RuiAn, a place that is known for it’s seafood. They are raw, and you just drink the blood straight out of them. Cold and refreshing—if you can get past the whole blood thing.

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10. Name :“魔芋” “Devil Taro”
Description:  A mix of different root vegetables. It has a jelly-like consistency. They often put it in soup or stir-fry.

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Oyster Sauce Sauteed Broccoli

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At the start of S4, my final semester in Liu He, I have made a commitment to make eating at the cafeteria a last resort. The cafeteria has its good days, but most of the time I leave there feeling hungry and underwhelmed. This is due to my distaste for filling up on pig fat, rice, and oil. Unfortunately, this is a result of the cafeteria not having enough money to make healthier, diverse meals.

I am privileged enough to buy and cook my own food though, so I do my best to do so as much as I can. No surprise: Cooking in rural China is time consuming. Market day is on every day of the month with a 1, 4, and 7 (i.e. the 1st, 4th, 7th, 11th, 14th, 17, 21st, 24th, 27th, and 31st. ) So, I have 10 days in each month to buy the fruits and veggies I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is life:

1. Walk 20 minute to market day to get to the village center.
2. Buy about 3/4 days worth of vegetables and fruits. Put them in the wonderful basket that Johan graciously carries.
3. Walk 20 minutes uphill to get back to school.
4. Walk across campus to wash vegetables (while squatting) and fill up water bucket.
5. Prepare all food in outdoor kitchen with only one hot plate.
6. Walk across school to wash dishes (while squatting) and refill water bucket…again.

Doing this 2/3 times a day is exhausting, but I have come to appreciate this exhausting/relaxing routine. This is the routine of life for most people in my village.

Also, market day has been kickin’ lately. For example, today I capitalized on the rare opportunity I to buy broccoli and onion!

Tonight’s dinner: a Broccoli Oyster Sauce dish. If you do not know about Oyster Sauce, you really got to get in on it. It is a rich sauce made from boiled oysters, seasoning, and brown sugar. It sounds funky, but I assure you that is taste nothing like oysters. I cannot find it in my village, so I buy it in Dali.

The dish was a success! Perfectly sweet and savory. 

What’s in it?

  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms (It depends on what market day has , right?)
  • 3 small red peppers
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes (I used a type with the Chinese flower pepper in it  麻辣…love it)

Let’s do it:

Prep time:

1. Cut up your broccoli into bite sized pieces (Bite sized test: Is it light enough and small enough for you to pick up with a chop stick? If it’s too 麻烦 to do this, then chop some more).
2. Dice your peppers and thinly slice your mushrooms
3. Mince your ginger and garlic
4. Put the oyster sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and pepper flakes into a separate bowl and mix away

Cook time:

1. While you are prepping, you can steam the broccoli. I steamed it in my rice cooker while the rice was cooking today.
2. Saute mushrooms and peppers on low-medium heat (remember this is on a hot plate, not a US stove) for 3 minutes. Move to separate bowl.
3. Heat oil in pan on low-medium heat, add ginger and half of garlic to flavor the oil.
4. Add back the mushrooms and peppers. Then, add the steamed broccoli.
5. Add the oyster sauce mixture. Taste a piece. Add desired salt.
5. Stir for a minute. Then, add the last bit of garlic.
6. Put a lid on it for another 3 minutes.
7. 吃饭了。Let’s eat.

In a nut shell:

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The necessary goods (left to right): honey, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, vinegar, oyster sauce
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The veggies!
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chop, chop, chop it up
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方便:Steam the broccoli while cooking the rice
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Don’t forget: stir-fry the mushrooms and peppers separately
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Ta-da!

 

 

Brandon’s Birthday

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A few weeks ago, my principal invited me to his nearby village to celebrate his son’s (also my student) birthday. Brandon his been a top student since day one, consistently scoring 90+ on exams. He is also an inquisitive student. Unlike most other students, he is fascinated by the often boring grammar rules in the English language. His father had clearly had a a significant impact on his outlook on learning.

Because he is always so studious in class, it was no nice to see him acting like a kid at his birthday party.

What do kids do at their birthday parties in rural China? They see who can find the ugliest piece of corn. This game lasted for about an hour. Johan won.

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I got to know the water buffalo some more. Sometimes, when I pass them in my village, I feel like they are peering into my soul. Weird, I know. So, I decided to break down the walls.

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Johan and I took a Christmas photo that we will hopefully be sending out to everyone.

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Dinner was delicious–chilled cucumbers, cauliflowers, kidney beans, lotus root, shrimp, and more.

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And what a better ending to a birthday than the birthday boy getting cake all over his face? I helped.

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It was when we were just casually drinking beers with the family, not saying much at all, when I realized that I truly felt like a part of the community. The silence was what did it. Just like between me and my friends in the US, I know I am close to someone when there is no need to talk when we are together. There was no pressure from either side to ask forced, sometimes awkward questions. We were all just enjoying a beautiful, sunny day. Nothing about the scene seemed bizarre to me anymore.

I am used to the peanuts always being on the table, the routines for drinking rice wine, the head of the table always putting more pig fat in my bowl, the sunflower seeds being spit on the ground,etc.  I even get giddy when I see Chinese bacon on the table now.

During my time here, when I am not in class, this is a typical day for me. This is how I have fun. While I miss the US,  I love my family and my life here. I love my students. I love the challenges and successes of being a teacher.

The other night my principal told us if we stayed here for 4 years, we could become a sort of “vice-principal”. I laughed and told him I would love to. Many days, a goal like this seems like a great one.

Cutie Patootie

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The frameless glasses from Summer Institute are making a comeback with this cootie patootie down the hall from me.

She is the daughter of a local teacher. She always seems to wander into my room at the busiest time of the day—with her play gun of course. If I do not pay attention to her, she will go so far as to put the gun in my face. After I pretend she has killed me, she walks away satisfied. She brightens up my day.

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When she is not pretending to kill us, she walks around asking, “这是什么?” (What’s this?) about everything she sees.

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Dabbling with PBL

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I have started to do project based learning with my students, and it has been a huge success.

Last year, I was so intimated by doing projects with my students. My decision to do these projects has required the following:

1. I have to believe in my ability to manage the execution of the project. 
2. I have to believe in my students’ ability to complete the project. 

I struggled with both of these beliefs last year. The thought of managing a project made my head spin, as I did not believe my students could do it. I imagined an endless flow of questions coming from my students accompanied with a drop in class morale when they realized they could not do it. This is exactly what happened when I tried to do projects with my students last year.

This was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I entered this year with a new attitude. I thought to myself, “I am a good teacher. I know how to plan.  I know how to execute. I know how to make adjustments based on my students’ needs.” From this attitude flowed a multitude of changes. One, I stopped feeling guilty for holding high expectations. Two, my students now have pride in their work. They know it is not an option to say “I can’t” do it. “I can’t” is not allowed in my classroom. I told them to replace this with “Will you help me Miss Hannah?”.

Last year, when I assigned these projects, only about 10/40 students would turn them in (Talk about depressing for a teacher). For a regular homework assignment, I would have 40/40 students turn in their homework. THIS YEAR, I AM GETTING 100% COMPLETION FROM 100% OF STUDENTS FOR PROJECTS. This is a big shift.

This is a project from 5th Grade Unit 2: My Days of the Week. 

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I scaffolded the project throughout the unit. This was something I did not do last year! I would assign the whole project in one class period. This year, I understand that students prefer to do one part at a time. This also gets them in the mindset that they are working towards something greater.

1. First, translate your class schedule.

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2. Next, tell me what classes you have on three different days.

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3. Then, tell me what you do on your weekends. (Watch TV, do homework, do housework, etc).
I don’t have a picture for this one.

4. Finally, present to the class!!!!

This was obviously my students’ favorite part. From day one of the project, they knew they would be presenting their books. This increased investment significantly. What made me prouder than anything though was how proud the students were when their classmates did well. After every team went, everyone in the class cheered.

I just finished my 3rd project, and I feel like both me and my students are getting better and better at completing them. We might just be ready to tackle something bigger for the second half of the semester.