Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 1 & Cooking Update

Day 1 of teaching is done!  It went wonderfully.  Thank you to everyone who yarped for me.  They were heard and felt and appreciated!  Here's the breakdown of my short teaching day:

I left at 7:35 this morning and about 1 minute into my walk I glanced over my shoulder and saw a man walking behind me - an American man.  He said hi and walked up next to me and we talked for just a short time.  He asked where I was from and I returned the question.  He has traveled the world, lived all throughout the US as well and when I asked him where 'home' was he said China.  He's been here for 7 years.  I asked if he was teaching and he said no.  He's a student.  Just moved to this area too.  He's probably about mid-late 50's.  Lives on the 2 floors above me.  After about 2 minutes of talking he realized he was going the wrong way and turned around and said 'see ya around'.  Perfect start to my morning.  A little english conversation from a fellow American is always nice especially when I'm a bit nervous.

I got to class after a 10 minute walk.  Found my class with hardly any problems (took one wrong turn). As soon as I walked in to my new classroom I heard a gasp.  One (of the 2) guys in the class gasped.  Everyone was looking at me and then at each other so I decided to speak up.  "Hey, I guess I'm your teacher."  Got a couple chuckles of confusion and shock I think.  Started class at 8.  Had them pair up and introduce themselves and took notes the whole time.  Told them about myself.  Gave out a writing assignment.  Talked a bit about American culture.  Let them out early.

They seem like a very outgoing group.  23 senior students who are all english majors.  Nobody seemed too shy.  Some seem extremely outgoing.  I cannot wait to get to know them.  They are all around my age (20-22) so I think I might develop some great friendships this year!

Then my day just got even better because of this new hobby of mine: cooking.

Pinterest is a major help.  I stay up at night just pinning recipes that seem realistic for my situation.  I don't know if I've broken it down yet but this is how shopping here goes.  I have a 10 minute walk to my grocery store (or a shorter bike ride) so I'm limited to what I can carry back.  I can get produce there but only if I go early enough.  It's all fresh so it goes pretty quickly in the morning.  I usually just get potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, onions, apples, bananas.  I got a zucchini one day only to find out it was a cucumber.  Zucchini here is like 2 feet long and really thin.  Bitter melon looks like zucchini, but whoah... do not get those confused!  Onions are much smaller and usually not too great.  You have to do lots of digging to find a good one.  But I'm getting the hang of it.  The ladies who weigh all of my produce are realizing that I don't speak much Chinese so they speak a bit slower and smile a lot.  I like them!

I can't get bread there.  I have to go to the bakery for that and hope I get lucky and they have some at that time.  Butter isn't available.  I have been told I can get some at the bakery around the corner so I need to go check that out.  Salad dressings don't really exist.  Make sure you ask for bread flour otherwise you get flour used for making jiaozi which is not the same.  I found good ketchup! That was exciting.  I haven't found baking soda or baking powder yet.  I'm thinking they don't exist in this area.  Luckily I have some baking powder.  Spices are hard to find.  Mayonnaise, mustard, ranch, BBQ sauce, cake mix, avocado, normal chips, cream cheese, cheese, sour cream, balsamic vinegar, cocoa powder, peanut butter, good pasta, spaghetti sauce.  That's just a short list of what I already know doesn't exist in this area.  BUT I'm doing great w/out those things (I have a stash of peanut butter and thankfully oreos exist here)!
Random shopping trip.  Now most of my trips are filled with produce and maybe a few other items.
This is my beautiful cabinet filled with the essentials.  That nutella has to last me a while though.  I'm getting good at self control.
So once I tackle the shopping thing, I get to cook.

I tried a few recipes the first week I was living here and they went great but then I got bored.  I get bored easily w/ food.  I got meat the other day so now I have a drawer in my freezer that's filled w/ ground beef, ground pork and a few chicken breasts.  It's like a drawer full of heaven.  So now the possibilities are much greater.  I have plenty of things that I want to try and, with the luck I've been having, I'm anxious to try everything.  Today I even tried to make gnocchi.  I have only had it once and that was just a few weeks ago but it looked easy enough.  It turned out pretty great I think!  I plan on just making a bunch of it and freezing it.  Freezing food is my new addiction I think.
Getting fresh basil leaves from the farm made me one happy girl!
I even got a toaster oven the other day so baking will happen soon hopefully.  I need butter.  That's for sure.  Once I figure that out though... I'm in trouble.  Thank goodness I have to walk a lot here and I've gotten back into my workout routine.

I'm not going to starve.  Yay me.  I really am enjoying cooking.  I'm thinking that if I can become pretty skilled while I'm here then cooking in America will be a breeze.

Teaching day 1 is done, cooking is great, and everything else is just dandy.  Listening to the Father's call was terrifying but so far it has been the greatest decision I have ever made.


  1. Glad Day 1 went well. Hope the week is filled with good experiences and fewer gasps :) We're all enjoying your pictures and perspectives. Mike Doyle

  2. Thanks for the update. My bracelet remains secure. Bill

  3. This looks deeeeelicious. Also, nice camera (??).