>> Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sam is a champion subway rider. He can navigate all over the city. Living in a big city, I sometimes worry that he'll get lost or we'll get separated so I often ask him to tell me the way home. I follow his directions. That way I know for sure he knows where we are and how to get home.

One time when Sam was 8, my family came to visit and wanted to go see the pandas at the zoo. I couldn't go, so I sent Sam as a guide. Sam got them on the right bus, they rode for about an hour, and then he told them the correct stop to get off. They saw the pandas and then he got them safely home.

He likes riding line 4 because it's clean and we can usually get a seat and it has a glass partition he can lean on. He hates line 2 because he says it stinks. (It is really dirty. It's the oldest one in Beijing.) He also doesn't mind line 10 but they play the same annoying commercials the whole time and he gets tired of them. But at least it's clean.

Matt and I are also becoming champion subway riders. We know which lines are busiest and when, which cars to choose where we are most likely to get a seat, which people will probably get off at the soonest stops so we can nab their seat, and, most especially, how to sleep on the subway.

It's a tradition, really, and we're just blending in. Here's Matt (below) on the ride before we got a seat.

The girl across from us.

This is a husband and wife team who made a nice sleep complement. She fell forward and he fell backward. They were to the left of the girl in the picture above.

A few stops later, the sleeping girl had gotten off and this couple got on in her same seat.

The woman sitting next to us was also asleep as was Matt. But Matt wouldn't let me put up that picture. :)

I'm not sure why everyone sleeps. My guess is that they're tired. People here work until all hours of the night. And the midday nap is a tradition here, too, as much as it is in Mexico. Of course if you're asleep you can't see anyone who would need a seat.

I'm adding a funny little public service announcement that they play on the subway. The rule is that if someone old, pregnant, or sick, or a child gets on, you should give up your seat.

I love how when the old guy walks on the bus, somehow everyone is asleep and the only people who aren't asleep are hiding behind a magazine or pretending not to see.

So China!


Air and Water

Living in Beijing provides all sorts of adventures. The very air we breathe and water we drink can be cause for excitement and/or worry. I read an article a while ago about how you should even filter your shower water in Beijing because the steam can be toxic.

That's not realistic for us. We are just grateful that our apartment has hot running water in the bathroom! Lately we've taken to boiling our water before filtering it. This is a picture of what it looks like in the bottom of the pan after we boil it. The water here has all sorts of heavy metals. I assume that's what the white stuff at the bottom of the pan is.

Yesterday I woke up to orange air. I don't know how describe it except that the air was orange and everything was covered with a layer of orange dust. This, of course, was a dust storm. I didn't get any pictures, but I wish I would have. It's not pretty.

We had a Relief Society meeting that day and I took a cab in. The cab smelled like smoke but I couldn't exactly open the window for fresh air, either. Some days Beijing is just like that.


A Few New Recipes

>> Monday, March 8, 2010

I haven't had an ayi for four weeks now and she said she won't be back until next week. ACK. I haven't had to scrub toilets for a really long time and was hoping to not have to do it for a lot longer. I guess I should just chalk it up to experience and call it "ayi appreciation month".

So, this means that I'm cooking and doing dishes, too. (I know, I know, sheesh, what is this world coming to!) There are a few good things to come out of this whole mess. I've found some great new recipes. I'll share a few of my favorites that I've tried.

Mozzarella Chicken with Onion (or mushroom)

3 tablespoons oil (canola, veggie, sunflower)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 clove garlic, minced
6 fresh mushrooms, sliced (I also like substituting onions)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place chicken in the skillet, and season with garlic powder and garlic. Cook 12 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear. Set chicken aside, and keep warm.
2. Stir mushrooms into the skillet, and cook until tender. Return chicken to skillet, layer with mushrooms, and top with cheese. Cover skillet, and continue cooking 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

I love this recipe because it is quick and so delicious. I have switched up the cheese--I like a good Gouda cheese and I think swiss cheese would work well, too. And, the onions taste great if you're not a mushroom person.

Today I made it with chicken tenders and onions and just put in a little extra salt and pepper. The family gobbled it up!

Sweet Cornbread

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter(softened)
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 cups white cornmeal(for less gritty) or yellow cornmeal(I use white)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan with shortening.
2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
3. Mix sugar, butter, eggs, milk, honey and water together in a large bowl.
4. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl: cornmeal, flour,baking powder, and salt.
5. While stirring, add dry ingredients to sugar, egg, and milk mixture and mix thoroughly.
6. Mixture will be slightly lumpy.
7. Pour into greased rectangular pan.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
9. Serve with butter.

If you're from Texas and don't like your cornbread sweet, go right on past this recipe. It's so delicious, though! We like to have this cornbread with a big pot of chili.

Garden Vegetable Soup
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2004


• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (from approximately 3 medium leeks)
• 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
• Kosher salt
• 2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (approximately 2 medium)
• 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
• 2 cups fresh green beans, broken or cut into 3/4-inch pieces
• 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
• 4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
• 2 ears corn, kernels removed
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
• 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Heat the olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn kernels, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Season, to taste, with kosher salt. Serve immediately.

My changes:

I like to make my own vegetable stock because it's expensive here and I have to travel far to get it and then cart a bunch of cans back. Plus, it's so much healthier to do my own. It's pretty easy: Put a bunch of veggies in a stock pot. Simmer them until the water is flavored. If you get fancy, you can add garlic (I always do this) and a bay leave and a little salt and a few peppercorns. Whatever you like.

I didn’t have enough vegetable stock the first time I made this recipe so I added an equivalent amount of water and then added a bay leaf, chicken bouillon, and a dash of thyme.

I didn’t have fresh parsley, either, so I used dried and added it when I added the stock.

I also did 3 small ears of corn. Note: the corn was a little crunchy. I think it would be better to add it at the beginning with the rest of the veggies or with the stock.

I forgot the lemon juice but added extra pepper and parsley and thyme.

I loved this recipe!

So, there you have it. New recipes from Carol's Kitchen that make lots of dishes go into her kitchen sink. Enjoy!


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