Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas to all...

As odd as it was to wake up on Christmas morning to the sound of construction workers hard at work, and warm breezes wafting through an open window, the day itself turned out to be a festive, joyful time. I hope you'll all enjoy a very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Adventures in Janice's "Vanishing Veggie" Chicken Stew...

I made this sort of by accident a few weeks ago, when I needed to get some more veggies into me, but didn't want to know I was eating 'em. I managed to trick myself, and have made this recipe twice since then.

1. Forget to take any meat out of the freezer.
2. Come home hungry.
3. In a large pot, sautee some crushed garlic (about a tablespoon full) and a chopped onion (or wilting onion remnant, as the case may be) in as little oil as possible.
4. Once the onions and garlic are fragrant, and not burnt, pour 2-4 cups of water into the big pot, chuck in some chicken or mushroom buillion. (I can't get chicken buillion here, so I use one precious OXO packet from home, and one mushroom packet from here.)
5. Take 1-2 ziploc baggies of frozen chicken out of the freezer. Pry the baggie off and dump the chicken into the pot.
6. As the chicken is thawing/boiling, wash yesterday's dishes.
7. Grab 2-3 ziploc baggies of frozen veggies out of the freezer. (I use the mix from Costco, with the huge pieces of broccoli, cauliflower, and some orange things that aren't carrots.) At this point, your options are plentiful. (a) You can toss the veggies in with the chicken, but you have to fish them out with a seive later. (b) You can put the veggies in a colander, and set it over the boiling chicken, to steam 'em. (c) You can boil them in a separate pot, and dump the veggie water into the chicken pot later. However you choose to do it, you need to cook the veggies.
8. Toss some potato chunks into the chicken pot.
9. When the chicken is 1/2 cooked, grab your tongs and kitchen scissors, and cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
10. Put the cooked veggies in the blender, and whizzzz 'em up. Pour the pureed veggies into the chicken stew.
11. Add copious amounts of red and/or black pepper, along with some salt. LOTS of pepper.
12. Make some dumplings (some flour, some baking powder, some salt, some butter and some water or milk).
13. Drop the dumplings into the stew. Put the lid on.
14. Wash the dumpling dishes.
15. Voila. The stew should be ready to eat. It's even nice with a little bit of sour cream on it.

It makes a nice chicken stew, with a thick broth, and you can't even see the broccoli. You can make it without the dumplings, but why would you want to?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Adventures in owning an idiotic, highstrung pet...

Today was hectic. I'm sure all of you up to your eyeballs in Christmas preparations can understand. After working from 10-5, I came home, took some more cold medication, sneezed, coughed, coughed some more, and blew my nose. After that routine was over, I washed my hands carefully, and proceeded to whip up a batch of shortbread cookies. As usual, about 1/3 of the batch ended up in my stomach, (and yes, I got a stomachache) and 2/3 of the batch were carefully shaped, baked and decorated. 1/2 of the cookies were for tonight's Christmas Angel party, and the other 1/2 were going to be taken to other gatherings later in the week. Everything went smoothy until after the party was over. My idiotic cat freaked out when I was bringing my Christmas tree back into the house (it had been used to decorate the party room). Just because she doesn't see shiny, glimmering, decorated trees prancing through the livingroom on a regular basis was no reason for her to hurl herself, in a panic, onto the kitchen table, right smack onto the 2nd plate of cookies. Next thing I know, I've got a kitchen floor full of broken, cat-hairy cookies, christmas tree ornaments, and a now-calm purring kitty. Stupid cat.
Adventures in 1sts and 2nds...

This past weekend had some memorable firsts (and seconds).

1. Saturday afternoon. I caught my 2nd cold of the season.

2. Saturday evening. I ate cow brains for the 1st time.
We were at a nice restaurant, and one of the side dishes consisted of some kim (dried, salted seaweed), some crushed garlic, some sesame oil, and a mild, pinkish, squishy substance. After taking several bites, I said "This is good - Mike, try some!". Mike, being more cautious that I am, actually asked our friends what it was.

3. Sunday Morning. The 1st snowfall of the year! Hooray! It had all melted by noon, but it was nice to wake up to.

4. Sunday afternoon. I attended my 2nd traditional Korean wedding. John and HeeJin got married in the beautiful (but cold!) traditional village in forget the name of the place. GimHei? I don't remember, but it was lovely.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Adventures in Bucolic Children...

In response the the exam question "It is better for children to grow up in the countryside than in a big city. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to develop your essay.", one of my students repeatedly used the term 'bucolic children'. "Bucolic?", I thought, a puzzled look furrowing my rather unruly brow. Judging by the context, he didn't mean 'Beubonic', nor 'colic', nor 'broccoli'. I made a mental note to look it up, and promptly filed the mental note between "Pecans, while tasty and festive, do not a proper dinner make." and "Do something with my unruly eyebrows."

Later that evening, I tucked myself into bed with my daily crossword puzzle and a handful of pecans. As I worked on the crossword puzzle, I was stopped mid-pencil stroke by number 12 down. Bucolic. 5 letters long, and starting with an "R". Normally, it's strictly against policy to look up crossword clues in my dictionary. However, I retreived the mental note, and decided to look up the word not for the sake of my crossword, but for the sake of my student. Very noble. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my dictionary, and looked up 'bucolic'. I then jumped back into bed, grabbed my pencil and filled in #12 Down: R-U-R-A-L.

Just out of curiosity, how many of you, my dear readers, knew what 'bucolic' meant before you got to the last line of my story?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Adventures in Everything Else But...

I realize I've been post-less for a while. I could blame it on being busy, which would be partly true, since the semester is wrapping up and many things need to be done in the next 2 weeks. However, that excuse wouldn't be entirely true. A sad, sad, sad amount of my on-line time this week has been spent in (a) making on-line snowflakes, thanks to a link on the Mealey's blog, and (b) following the on-line drama of Noah's hair. Friends from Moncton (who now live in the US) are debating whether or not to cut their youngest son's hair. Mom says 'yay', Dad says 'nay', and their blog readers have been weighing in to cast the final vote. It's like the American Idol of hair. Riveting. Both activities have been keeping me amused (and preoccupied) for days.

Today though, I'm back into the real world. My goal for the day is to mark 2 classes worth of exams, decorate for a friend's bridal shower, enjoy said bridal shower, and plan a 3 hour lesson for a highschool class tomorrow. Oh, and also print up a small map of Asia. During speaking exams, when the questions "Which is bigger, Korea or Singapore?" Half my students know the grammar to answer the sentence, but don't know the right answer. Also, on the exams I've marked, the question "What is the longest river in the world?" has elicited the responses: "Canada is the longest river in the world.", "The Han River is the longest river in the world.", and
"I'm the longest river in the world." This semester I've also learned that "England is bigger than Canada.", "Mexico is hotter than Canada.", "Korea is the smallest country in the world." and "Tokyo is bigger than Korea." Sadly, these haven't been the result of confusing the two items being compared, they've been the result of a general lack of geography. Shocking.