Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chinese Kitchen: The Essentials

My first actual cooking class at the Hutong was The Essential Chinese Kitchen. We first learned about typical pantry ingredients. Tasting small dabs of different soya sauce on the back of our hand we experienced the difference in taste between light, regular, and dark varieties. We also got a lesson in the Chinese beliefs about the balance of foods based on seasons and colors as well as some of the foods affects on the body. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Liang Ge Superstars

Question: What makes Chinese people laugh?
Answer: Sponge Bob Square Pants, foreigners trying to pronounce Chinese words, and this.  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Maggie Cam: Summer Palace

This week our Bellingham friend, Kelsey came to Beijing to meet up with her sister, Sara, who is teaching English in Nanjing. We joined them for a day of sightseeing at the Summer Palace. Here is Maggie's documentation. (If you are reading at Rushcapades, be sure to click "Read more" below to see all of her pictures.) Look for more pictures from the rest of us on our flickr page soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Words of the Week: Shrockwet, Racamoni, Medium

Shrockwet (noun): a preparation of the seeds of cacao, roasted, husked and ground, often sweetened and flavored, (especially good with added sea salt)
"Mama, what's in your mouth? Shrockwet? Ahwant some!" Kaleia, age 2

Racamoni (noun): small, tubular pasta made from wheat flour
"Ganks for the racamoni, Mama.  rrYummy!" Kaleia, age 2 

Medium (noun): 1) a middle state or condition
                            2) an assembly or conference of persons for a specific purpose

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Maggie Gets a Bicycle

True to Magnolia form, she thoroughly inspects her new possession, apprehending it intellectually, prior to first use:

The less kinesthetic of our daughters, she surprised us by quickly mastering this new skill.

Zoom, zoom.

The Hutong

On the long flight to Beijing, Brian learned from our first China friend, Park, about a cool Beijing community education center and cooking school, called The Hutong. Knowing that it is one of my goals to learn to cook Chinese cuisine, Brian surprised me with my first class shortly after we moved into our apartment. 

It was a Market Tour, and while not a cooking class, it was the perfect introduction. Our teacher guided us through a local Chinese market, explaining the different sections, quizzing us on various familiar and unfamiliar produce, and suggesting common uses for foods and spices. Then she helped each of us make purchases -- a bag full of fresh produce for only a few dollars. 

Afterward, Brian and I ended up talking to one of the Hutong chefs after our tour and he invited us to a charity event later that evening. We had good food, great margaritas, and got to know some new friends. I'm looking forward to more Hutong learning, starting tomorrow with The Chinese Kitchen: The Essentials!  

The Hutong sitting room

The Hutong kitchen preparing for the charity event

Entrance to the art room and stairs to the balcony

Courtyard from above

Hutong rooftops

The Hutong upstairs patio

Fresh produce!

Familiar and unfamiliar

Peppercorns and chilies - so many great spices