I love being a woman.

I’m a woman who has experience being a wife, a mom, a student, a teacher, and a degreed business professional. I’ve traveled throughout the U.S. and have been to Europe, too, but am greatly fond of western Michigan and its beaches, and the entire Midwest region. My journey is relative to my time, of course. I’m a straight-laced conservative when it comes to education and career, yet a child of the 60’s; a hippie you might say, when it comes to enjoying life. It’s been quite a ride!

My favorite things are my grown children, Ashlee and Krystal, my Colonel hubby, Scott (retired from the military after nearly 30 years but continues to work a civilian job), my mother, Kathy (a pioneer for women who worked in the factory at General Motors from the early 60’s until retirement 27 years later – but who is first and foremost a gentle woman with a strong soul and my forever role model), my pets (Japanese Chin dogs Jake and Lucy, and my kitties, Bliss and Salem), beaches, dragonflies, hummingbirds, and other nature. I might seem complicated at times but truly love the simple things.

My little place in the world, that’s my blog. I’ll be sharing my thoughts about my life, my family, my pets, my job, and how I view the world. I hope you enjoy my stories, my sense of humor, and my insight. This is a chance for us to share that cup of coffee or tea in the morning or afternoon, and reach across the miles that might separate us, and gather close together to catch our breath and a laugh or two. Life is busy. And so are we! So let’s dive in together. And smell the roses, too.

Thanks for dropping by.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chinese cuisine cooking class

Yesterday evening Scott and I headed south to Orleans to the lovely farmhouse where we have taken cooking classes in the past, and had a lesson in Chinese cuisine scheduled.

Orleans is about an hour and a half south of Spencer, and although the weather threatened snow and gloomy skies in the morning, by noon it had cleared to a sunny, yet chilly day. So we headed to the farmhouse for what hoped to be a pleasant experience.

We really enjoy Chinese cuisine, and have attempted to cook it at home on several occasions. My quick stir fry, using bottled sauces, canned vegetables, and cooked chicken is good in a pinch. Although a decent fast dish for a career woman to make when on the run, it's not worthy of being called cuisine, and Scott turned his note up at it when I first made it for him. And after living with him for a while and finding out what a good chef he is, I can see why. He has given me an appreciation for delicious home cooked food. And although his attempts at Chinese cooking are fair, they lack the richness of the flavor that we have enjoyed in restaurants.

One of my Asian students gave me a recipe for Mapo Tofu (the student said it was his favorite dish), and we've made it at home, but since we didn't have access to the "real" ingredients, for example, we substituted chili sauce for chili paste because it wasn't available at our local grocer, the dish turned out lackluster. There are Asian grocery stores in Bloomington, and I plan on seeking out that chili paste one of these days.

We arrived at the farmhouse early for our 4:30pm lesson. The farmhouse is scenic no matter what the season, and we brought our camera to photograph the patchwork barn (there's actually a sign on it with this name), and the lovely old oak tree with the antique bicycle leaning against it. (On one of our autumn visits, we were delighted to see two Amish children playing near the barn. We were later told that there were neighbor children paid to do some barn chores.)

The porch of the house is filled with signs with cute sayings and lots of antiques that are always fun to see. There are so many things around the farmhouse inside and out, that no matter how many times we go, we are bound to notice something new.

Once inside, we found out that our hostess, Judy, who owns the home was going to stay upstairs since she was recovering from the flu. Our class instructor, Jackie, introduced herself and her assistant, her daughter, Tara.

Once the other three people arrived (this was a very small class), Jackie got started. We all took a chair at the oak dining table, and watched as Jackie prepared chicken pepper stir fry, sesame garlic flank steak, Hong Kong fried rice cakes, and stir fried spinach with garlic.

As soon as Jackie cut into the fresh ginger root, we realized what ingredient has been missing from our own home prepared recipes; the smell was tantalizing and made our mouths water in anticipation. Jackie showed us how to cut up a variety of vegetables for the peppered chicken dish, cutting cucumbers on an angle and carrots "rolled and diagonal" cuts. I had always just grabbed a veggie and cut it. I didn't know there were so many different ways to cut vegetables. And cucumbers in stir fry? Who would imagine! And she said to get the "long English cucumbers, since there are less seeds." And I'm thinking to myself, "You mean there are different kinds of cucumbers?" So yes, there are more things to to learn at these classes besides new recipes.

And when the food was done and ready, the best part was the EATING! We enjoyed our Chinese buffet, and meeting the instructors, and the local residents, Kelly, Gina, and Lee who had showed up for the class, too. Gina and I were the novices, proclaiming that we are not worthy to be called cooks. But Kelly, Lee, and of course my husband Scott, all have done quite well with cooking.

Kelly made comments that the evening was so much fun that we should all get together again in the summer for a "pitch-in." I laughed when I realized that by "pitch-in," she meant a potluck! Oh the things you learn at a cooking class! 

We swapped emails and ate the peppered chicken, and talked about what we'd through in it at home since the basic recipe is so versatile; Lee and I mentioned baby corn and mushrooms, and Gina and Kelly thought that sounded good and mentioned peapods. Scott liked the thought of peapods. The steak was Scott's and my favorite of the night. Kelly especially enjoyed the spinach, and said what a healthy way to enjoy fresh spinach this was.

The Hong Kong fried rice cakes were disappointing though, and after finding out you start with a pre-packaged mix like Rica-Roni to make them, we knew we wouldn't be making that one at home.

We weren't expecting dessert, but Tara brought us a tray of vanilla "bisquits" which were cookies with chocolate cream in the center. Then, when we figured that was dessert, she brought us each a bowl of Mango Sherbert. I've never had this treat but will certainly enjoy it again sometime. Everyone at the table agreed it was REALLY TASTY! And Jackie mentioned it was Kroger brand; who would have figured?

After a nice afternoon of "learning" and EATING, it was time to say good night. Full and happy and with recipes in tow, Scott and I bid farewell to everyone and headed back home.

No comments:

Post a Comment