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Kitchen By the Garden

Cooking Class

semi-overcast 43 °F

When I was planning my trip to Vietnam, I noticed that there were a lot of cooking classes you could take. A friend and former colleague told me that she'd taken one of her visiting friends to a cooking class here in Shanghai a couple of years ago, so I decided that's what I'd do for my February touristy thing. I got to work checking a local online magazine and found a cooking school called "Kitchen by the Garden." It looked nice and I liked the look of their website, so I e-mailed them and set up a class for a Monday late in February.

Since it was Monday morning, I was the only student and had the undivided attention of my instructor, a young Chinese woman named Lin. She spoke GREAT English (much better than most of my students, by the way) and I had no difficulty understanding her. I had corresponded with her earlier about what we'd cook. I didn't request any dishes in particular, but I told her that I didn't like tofu. Fortunately, we didn't prepare that - instead, she chose dishes that were so easy to prepare and make, it made cooking seem positively easy!. And according to her, I was one of her favorite students because I was so organized (I was cleaning up as I prepared, that sort of thing) and she thought I cut well with the huge cleaver I was given. I think I did a pretty good job too, but I'm sure she was also hoping for a bit of repeat business. Maybe one day.

We made three dishes: sauteed broccoli with garlic dressing (蒜蓉西兰花,)sweet and sour sliced pork (茄汁肉片) and Chinese-style asparagus lettuce with homemade sauce (家常凉拌莴笋).

Before we started cooking, she asked me about my skills and the things I liked to make. I told her that I'm not a cook - have never really enjoyed it, in fact - but that I make some pretty great mashed potatoes (I have my old teammate and good friend, Sarah, to thank for that. She was appalled when she met me and found out that I could only make mashed potatoes from a box of Idaho Spuds). Well, according to Lin, that means I'm a good cook. She pointed out that in China, cooks/chefs are considered great when they made really good "simple" dishes. In the West, we tend to attribute that "great" title to people who can succeed in making complicated dishes. Who knew - I'm great! Thank you Sarah!

Anyway, here are some pictures from my day:

IMG_2294.jpg The teaching kitchen

IMG_2300.jpg Lin's demonstration area

IMG_2303.jpg Me at work with the cleaver - no instructors or students were harmed in the making of this picture

IMG_2307.jpg Chinese "salad," with my broccoli dish in the background

IMG_2316.jpg Me cooking the pork dish

IMG_2325.jpg Sweet & Sour Pork - voila!

IMG_2326.jpg My trusty cleaver and my creations - take my word for it, they were all DELICIOUS!!! I need to make them again on my own just to make sure I remember how and can do it by myself. They would be nice to make for when I have friends over

By the way, I need to apologize for the lateness of February's blog. It's already March 9th (Happy Birthday Mel!) and I'm just now finishing this up for you. And that's only because I've been sick the last couple of days, but trust me - you really don't want to know any details.

I've been busy with work (always) and also with the planning of my next vacation. Come the end of April, I'm planning a short, one-week trip to Cambodia. I told my mom about my plans a few weeks ago and just two days after telling her, I got a short e-mail from my dad. His first two sentences were actually questions. And I quote: "Cambodia??? Are you crazy????"

No, I'm not crazy. Well, maybe I am, but not because I want to visit Cambodia. To be honest, I'd been planning on going to either Thailand or Malaysia, but just couldn't get excited about them. They're both great beach locations, but I didn't want to go on my own and see a lot of lovey-dovey couples frolicking together in the sand and surf, so I've decided they would be better locations to visit with friends or that special someone (if he even exists). And I've had several friends and colleagues visit Cambodia in the last few years and they all spoke very highly of it. So that clinched it - I'm going to Cambodia!

Well, if I don't decide on a stopping point for this blog, I'll probably never finish. So this is the stopping point for now. I don't know yet what my March touristy thing is, so stay tuned...

Posted by feiheli 01:34 Archived in China

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Holli you must be a better photographer than even I thought because the pork dish looks so great. (LOL) I am proud you are learning to prepare some new dishes.
What are the numbers on the wall above the knives?

by Patsy Flynt

Now I'm hungry!

I think it's great you're learning and doing new things. Carpe diem!

by Anna Echols

HOLLI! Can't believe I get a shout out in your blog. I am now officially famous! Totally God's providence because I rarely have time to be on the internet and haven't read all of your posts (2 month old Samuel has COLIC).

Any chance you can send the recipes to me?? I have been craving some Chinese food and can't find anything decent in Montgomery. It is wonderful to hear about all of your adventures.

by Sarah Freeman

i echo the desire for recipes! Especially the pork one..

by Brad Bennett

Hey Holli, the Chef!!! Now I've more excuse to come over for dinner or lunch and you'll have more opportunities to practice.

BTW,I like the way you hold that cleaver. Looks very professional!!!

by Jane Wong

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