Wednesday, December 17, 2008 ;
Our hosts had friends from Singapore, Kentucky (USA), Dalian and Mudanjiang over at this time too.
They found out that we talk about food most of the time. The American was always telling our host how good his baking skills are too, while a Sporean lady kept saying her curry is the best. So or host decided to hold a cookout.
We didn't want to be involved in a cooking contest in the midst of our business trip, but we got sucked into it. Hence, after the science museum trip, we went to Carrefour to buy veggies (carrot, corn, peas, red and yellow peppers), fresh mushrooms (brown and white kinds) and so on for my dish of mixed veggies with mushrooms.
While there were almost 6 people squeezed into the kitchen that afternoon and evening, Dh and ds were playing battleship on paper. ds2 played for a while but lost interest and doodled instead.
That's our host at his special stove. Not sure if you can see the sunken pits with the suction at the rim. The lady in the turquoise jacket is their ayi from Henan. Very young but a fantastic cook. Notice how everyone has to wear jackets in the house? It is very cold. No heating.
Our host prepared a number of dishes. This is his dish of grilled peppers stuffed with minced pork, mushroom etc. Very yummy. I love the stuffing.
Host's wife made fried bee hoon (see the huge pot) and those 2 dishes are my mushrooms and mixed veg.
Mudanjiang's representative made jiaozi, from scratch. She even minced the pork by hand, using 2 cleavers. Very interesting to learn from. She said it tastes much better if you mince the pork fresh rather than buy minced meat.
Host's ayi fried Singapore fish balls! We were so excited to see the packaging even. They sell packs and packs of Singapore fish cakes, Singapore fish balls etc in Shanghai. Why not in Tianjin??!?
Dh immediately stopped the battleship game with ds to come and taste all the food. He was very serious in the scoring too. He's so objective that he didn't give me highest marks. Pull his ear.
I don't expect highest marks of course, cos my dish really wasn't that great. It's very normal/ average. But I thought Dh would be loyal and supportive. Hmph!
Host added another dish of green veg with chinese mushrooms at the end of the meal when he noticed veggies were still lacking. He has very good presentation skills, a true blue HKer.
Sporean lady who came from Dalian to Shanghai this time. Her curry had very good flavor, and has an interesting twist because she used purple sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. Most of us gave her a perfect 10 score too.
American's cheesy mash potatoes that earned him many stars and 10s on the scoreboard, thanks to ds1. My cam's flash accidentally came on, so you can't see the details, sorry!
The lady from Mudanjiang is on the left in the pic. She wants to go to a Bible college in NZ to study full-time. Hence from the start, we thought she was very young. She does look like in her early twenties, isn't it? Later on, after I got closer to her and after a few heart-to-heart talks, I found out she's the same age as me and we got married the same year too! I told her she looks so much younger than me, I really can't tell!
I enjoyed this apple pie variation too. The American made it, and the effort is very commendable because he couldn't find many many ingredients he wanted, like Crisco shortening, Graham crackers for the crust, Nilla Wafers...
And he thought the host would have a pie pan but he didn't, so he had to make do with the tray. It's absolutely yummy though, and rare for such an old missionary guy to bake so well. He made the crust from scratch and I've seen so many in USA who just buy ready-made pie shells.
Anyway, from the way he doesn't need to measure his ingredients, and that he doesn't need to peer at a recipe, we can tell he is very very experienced.
For us, like the things I do everyday, I don't need a recipe, nor do I ever measure the quantities. The cakes I often bake, I don't need recipes either. But for an apple pie, I still need a recipe. So I take my hat off to him. I gave him a 10 too.
It was such a fun and fulfilling evening. I stuffed myself to the brim with all the good food, and had the chance to learn from so many chefs. The dishes also transcended so many cultures. Even the jiaozi, we learnt the tricks to making a good filling, and how to boil them perfectly.
After that, there was a Bible study again. This time I had to make the boys sleep, because they didn't take a nap like the day before. So I didn't join in.
The previous night, the boys had a good nap and really put on their best behaviour during the Bible study. ds1 had so many compliments from the rest on his singing and the lady from Mudanjiang kept asking me how come he can read the Bible on his own. ds2 also sang those hymns that he knew well, and he has a much louder voice than ds1 too, so he too received a lot of praise.
So this night, both of them whined that they wanted to join in the lesson! I didn't let them though, cos they were seriously sleep-deprived and I know the real reason why they wanted to join was not cos they really wanted to learn more about the Bible, but cos they wanted to show off their singing (and get more praise)!
They conked out on the bed after I cleaned them up, so I could still go out and join the rest just as the lesson ended.
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow