Friday, July 29, 2011


Summer is here and our weekly vegetable delivery has gotten a lot more exciting!  There has been green beans, beets, cucumbers, some tiny tiny tomatoes, corn and a lot of eggplant.  This week I was on a mission to find something to do with the corn, which despite the freshness was rock hard.  I've been told that only American sweet corn is soft, sweet and delicious, corn every where else is hard and chewy.  That being the case, corn on the cob was out.  I made corn fritters last week, Babes and DH liked them, but I was underwhelmed, the amount of work, and the frying involved didn't seem worth it.  This week I tried out Corn pudding.  I got the recipe out of the all-new ultimate southern living cookbook. I have found that I really like this cookbook.  I have it because of their chocolate cake recipe, which is awesome, 3 layers with a whipped cream like filling, covered with a dark fudgey chocolate frosting, so good!  But I have made a bunch of stuff from it and it has all been very good.
I even liked the corn pudding, I was surprised to find it a little like corn bread.  In my head, I thought it would be more of a savory pudding with a vanilla pudding like texture, but it was not at all.  It was dense and chewy, not as grainy as cornbread, but not creamy like vanilla pudding.  Anyway, I used my yellow and purple corn in it and the kernels almost softened to my liking.... I wonder if I soaked the corn overnight....
Anyway, I also have TONS of eggplant, so I made some feta eggplant rolls to go on the side.  I don't think the meal really went together, but it was a sort of use up the delivery before the next vegetable delivery came.
Here are some pics... I really should figure out how to take food pics, these don't really look all that appetizing. 
From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I went to a kids dance class and a fight broke out!

 A friend of mine recommended a dance class for Babes.  The class is pretty cute, there are 10 or so little girls, all dressed up in their tutus, following the teacher.  It's not an intense ballet class or anything, there's 45 minutes of pretty intense stretching, then a break and thirty or so minutes of dancing.  All of the girls look to be somewhere between 3 and 5.  Oh they are so cute!  Anyway, yesterday there was some sort of extra class to make up for a class that they missed so we parents brought our kids up to the studio in the day instead of at night.  I missed what started the fight, but all of a sudden there were two middle aged Chinese ladies screaming at each other at the top of their lungs.  After maybe a minute or two there were five more Chinese ladies, and another minute later and all the moms (and grandmoms) waiting for their little girls were screaming at the tops of their respective lungs!  People were coming from down the hall, around the corner, all of a sudden there were grown men in on the screaming.  I don't know if they switched to Sichuan dialect or if they were screaming obscenities at each other but I didn't understand a single word of it.  I only know that there was a little pushing, a lot of finger waving, and I expected the slapping to start at any minute (it didn't). 
But this brings me back to the whole China is a powder keg....  Any little thing, and I mean little, can start people off on the yelling and screaming (often fighting too).  I'm out a little more than I used to be, but I used to see fights on the streets all the time.  Over train seats, over prices, I'm fairly sure the dance class fight was over a bump (someone bumped into a chair) or some other such nonsense.  Even here in laid back Sichuan people are ready to fight. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Two poems and a speech

Why God Made Little Girls

Author Unknown
God made the world with towering trees,
Majestic mountains and restless seas.
Then paused and said , "It needs one more thing...
Someone to laugh and dance and sing.
To walk in the wood and gather flowers...
To commune with nature in quiet hours."

So God made little girls
With laughing eyes and bouncing curls,
With joyful hearts and infectious smiles,
Enchanting ways and feminine wiles.
And when He'd completed the task He'd begun.
He was pleased and proud of the job He'd done.
For the world, when seen through little girl's eyes
Greatly resembled Paradise.

When I was a kid I had this poem on my wall.  It somehow survived my childhood, and I brought it with me when Babes was born, framed it and put it on her wall.  It has survived the time better than the what are little girls made of nursery rhyme (sugar and spice and everything nice?  Really?).  I still like it and think it is really sweet.  

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
Maya Angelou
I have been looking for this poem in poster form for Babes too.  I think I'm just going to have it printed somewhere and frame it too.  I love this poem, it's so powerful.  
And finally a word from Sojourner Truth about equality, I will not be printing this out for Babes, but I do I'll read it to her when she's older.  Something for us all to remember (since I'm on a girl power kick at the moment)
Sojourner Truth : Ain't I A Woman?
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Audis and inside jokes

I don't know why, but some of the worst offenders of traffic laws and the laws of physics are drivers of Black Audis.  Actually, that's not true, I do know why.  People (in China and in other places in the world too) who drive black Audis are generally either government officials, or have way too much money.  Both conditions give the driver a license to be a jerk.  If a car is driving the wrong way down a one way street it is more often than not a black Audi (or a cab driver, but that's a whole nother story).  A black Audi will not stop, it will run you down and keep on going.  A couple of days ago, I saw an Audi parked across a whole lane of traffic.  At first I thought he was trying to park, you know angle himself against traffic, to back into a sidewalk parking space, but as I got closer I realized that there was no one in the car.  I doubt it was an accident because I didn't see any other cars (or drivers) no shattered glass on the pavement.. No this car was just parked across a lane of traffic because he could.  *sigh* I used to think Audis were cool cars too, now just looking at them makes me mad.

But, lest you think that I am all road rage.... Babes and I have an inside joke.  We've had them before, but I think this is the first time that she really realizes that it's an inside joke.  I'm going to let you guys in, but you can't tell her...  It's from Megamind (one of my favorite movies now) nothing special, just the way he says hello, he says "ollo"  Now whenever Babes thinks I'm not smiling enough she pops her little head up and says "ollo".  And I have to say, it always works.  And the opposite works too, if she's being mopey for no reason and I pull a long face and say "ollo" she breaks out into the biggest smile.
It's like I told my brother, one of the best things about having kids is having someone to back you up in your craziness.  I think the best example of this (last random story I swear) happened when Babes was
not even 3.  We were in my sister's car and she took an off ramp a little too fast.  I grabbed the oh s**t handle of the car with both hands and screamed "ooh noooo!"  and from the back seat my little girl chimed in "we're all gonna die!"  I've never been so proud. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bread and Sandwiches

I finally got myself together to make sourdough bread using the starter that a friend of mine gave me.  Apparently this starter is from New Mexico around the time of the civil war.  I have been interested in trying sourdough for about a year now, but have never had the nerve to try it.  BUT  with someone else's starter I was ready to give it a go.
I didn't just start with a plain old sourdough though, I am always trying to add more grains to our diet so I started out with Bernard Clayton's Oatmeal Sourdough bread.  It's pretty good.  It made a really pretty loaf, and the inside was pretty soft.  The recipe made one big loaf and four mini loaves.

From Blogger Pictures
From Blogger Pictures

Using this bread I made feta and tomato sandwiches which are awesome!  I spread feta onto the bread, then added sliced tomatoes, basil, and olives.  Then pan fried them like a grilled cheese sandwich.  Superb!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Museum and Crickets

This past weekend we went into downtown Chengdu (is it still downtown, if you travel uptown to get to it?) to visit the Science and Technology Museum with Babes.  The Museum itself is not bad.  There are 4 or 5 floors (we got there late so we kinda ran through it) and lots of hands on activities for the young ones (and us adults) to try out.  Despite the fact that it was a Sunday afternoon it was not too crowded.  Some of the more popular activities were crowded, with little kids zooming in and out constantly, but we were able to do a fair amount, and did not get pushed around too much.  There is also a 4D theater, which is supposed to be pretty neat.  What's 4D you might ask, well I asked the same thing.  Apparently it's a 3D movie with touch added to the experience as well.  For instance, if an elephant sprays water, you will get shot with water, or if there's a breeze blowing, they will pipe wind through the theater.  Sounds cool, and I think when Babes is off for her 2 week break we are going to head back for a more in depth exploration of the museum.
On our way out of the museum we found ourselves in the midst of some sort of anime convention.  At first we saw a girl in a Japanese school girl outfit, and I thought strange, but you know how kids are...  Then we started seeing more and more people in school girl uniforms, or with pink wigs, or other costumes on.  I don't follow anime so I can't say which one it was, but I think it was a particular series as most people were dressed in similar costumes.
Along with the costumed kids, I saw this

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

You can't really see it, but it's a bicycle full of crickets.  The noise was unbelievable!  And when you got up really close you could see giant cricket legs (ok they weren't that big) sticking out of the holes.  So creepy.  I thought I should buy one so that I could take a picture of the bug inside, but I couldn't bring myself to get any closer than picture distance.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The relative freedom of 4 tv channels

We only have four TV channels.  Not four channels that I like to watch, or even four English channels, we have four channels.  We have a sports channel, a news channel (that is half fox news and half CNN)  voice of America (which is often in some language that I don’t even recognize) and a Chinese channel.  The news channel and the sports channel will sometimes become something else.  The sports channel will sometimes play US sitcoms and dramas, and the news channel will sometimes have morning shows, but in general, when I flip on the TV there is nothing to watch, or completely inappropriate things to watch, like Dexter will be on in the middle of the day, and the morning shows are on at night (this is what happens with a 12 hour time difference).  When we moved in we asked about getting local cable, but the wiring in the building is too old so we can’t get that.  Then we asked about Satellite, but it is pirated and the Consulate will not condone that either.  So we’re stuck with four channels.  At first I was mad about it.  I was stuck in the house with a 3 year old with nothing to distract her (you’d be surprised how much ½ an hour or an hour of TV for a kid will restore mom’s spirits, particularly if it’s been a bad day).  But I’ve come to appreciate it.  
When we’re in the US, I will often flip on the TV without any plans to watch anything and I will waste a good ½ hour just flipping looking for something to watch.   I would sometimes do it more than once a day and before you know it, you’ve just killed 2 or 3 hours doing nothing.  Now I have to plan to watch something.  I have to think about it ahead of time, order the DVDs or find it on Netflix, and then when I’ve got some time to kill I can sit down and watch it.  I think I spend about the same amount of time on TV, but it’s usually something that I want to see.  There are even days when we don’t turn on the TV at all (at least not until after Babes goes to bed).  Grant it, it’s still not edifying my mind or enlightening me somehow, but it’s better than the frustration of mindless flipping.