Lesson: 1.2 How to make chicken soup & Hainanese Chicken Rice

This is the second dish that the hubs has requested recently and I’ve decided to overcome all the inconveniences and attempted this! I found a wonderful site, steamy kitchen and followed the step-by-step instructions. I shall give the credits to the blogger but highlight the important points here.

Coincidentally, this dish tied in nicely with lesson 1.2 and through the making of this dish, I learnt some precious lessons. I’ll use the pics to highlight the salient points.

OK, I cheated. I should be using the whole chicken instead of the breasts only. However, there are only 2 of us eating and so… Before that, I scrubbed the parts with kosher salt to give it a smooth touch, washed and applied salt again and then stuffed ginger and spring onion in them. I poured in cold water until 1 inch above the chicken.

Yes, I have my own dutch oven. But since this is only 3 qt, I couldn’t put in the whole chicken right?

Skimming! An important step and is critical to the soup’s success, since the impurities from the chicken would cause the broth to become cloudy.

Giving the chicken a cold bath will stop the cooking process, keeping the meat soft and tender and giving the skin a soft and firm texture.

Fry the ginger and garlic, together with the rice and cook with the chicken broth!

I totally enjoyed making this dish. The aroma of the chicken just filled your kitchen. Totally worth every hard work!

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti

I have planned to run a  half-marathon this weekend and since I am hungry every now and then, I decided to bake…again just so that I could have some bites before and after the run. I thought a biscotti would be nice?

This was my first time baking a biscotti and the sense of trepidation was here again! I followed the recipe in the book ‘Essentials of baking’ but did a half portion since Ken and I could not finish the portion prescribed in the recipe. And since I could not find almond extract from the supermarket, I did without it.

Ingredients (makes 24 cookies)

2 cups (315g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (185g) sugar
1/2 cup (125g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract (essence)
1 tsp almond extract (essence)
1 cup (125g) coarsely chopped pistachio nuts ( I didn’t toast them)
1/2 cup (60g) dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180C). Line a rimless baking sheet with baking paper.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted butterm orange zest and vanilla and almond extracts on low speed until blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the pistachio nuts and cranberries. The dough will be soft and sticky.
4. Scoop out half of the dough onto one half of the prepared baking sheet and form it into a log 25cm long. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the logs 7.5cm apart. Press the logs gently to make them 7.5cm wide. With damp fingertips, gently smooth the surface of the logs.


* At this point, I could not form the log as indicated as my dough flows. So instead of the baking sheet, I place my dough in the loaf pan.

5. Bake the logs until they are crisp and golden on the outside, 20-25 minutes. The centres will be soft. (I bake for 30 minutes). Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F (150C). Let the logs cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.
6. With a wide spatula, transfer the logs to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife ( I used chef’s knife since I don’t have one), cut each log crosswise on the diagonal into slices 2cm thick. Arrange the slices, cut side down on the baking sheet and return to the oven to bake for 17-25 minutes until the cookies are crisp and brown. In between, I flipped the cookies for even baking. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. The interiors of the cookies become crisp as they cool ( really!).


in my own world...

Reflections after ED 617

I’ve attended two classes so far. ED617 is on Leadership at the School Level by Irwin Blumer, and just came home after ED819 on Educational Change by Andy Hargreaves. I’ll talk a little more about the classes later perhaps but for now I just wanted to share some thoughts I had while reflecting on yesterday’s ED617 class…
Comments welcome.

First of all, I was struck by how values-based the roles and responsibilities of a principal were. I had read about it before and brushed it off as a natural conclusion, but now it struck me as something not just relevant, but absolutely integral to the role of a school leader. I believe Dr Blumer’s comment about how his role was to draw out our personal values and beliefs on education that left an impact on me, as well as Sergiovanni’s declaration that Principalship (and indeed all of education) has a moral purpose by virtue of the unequal relationship between principal and teacher and teacher and student.
With this thought, several more followed.
As much as all of us may sometimes see the ugly side of education and end up feeling rather cynical about the whole system, we cannot afford to allow that cynicism to extend to our own values and beliefs, especially if we are school leaders.
There is a need for all educators to understand that the system, while flawed as it may be, generally means well, and that sometimes, systems don’t work as well as they should because of the lack of understanding of the people running them. A simple example in the Singapore context is that of the Enhanced Performance Management System (EPMS).
The EPMS was designed to be a developmental tool. It makes this very clear. However, over the course of time, some teachers and even some of their supervisors perceive the tool to be one for teacher assessment. In such cases, the system means well, but has been let down by the people working within the system. Yes, the system could be better designed to move away from such dangerous misconceptions, but it is important to stem our own cynicism of the system by noting that it meant well.
It is also important for us to recognize that the people who misunderstand and subsequently misuse the system do not do so maliciously. They may do it out of a genuine misunderstanding of the purpose of the system. They may do it because they feel that this is a special case where the end justifies the means. But they rarely, if ever do so as a consistent means of abusing their position. Supervisors may genuinely feel that the EPMS is a tool for teacher assessment, either because they were not explicitly told otherwise, or even because their experience of the EPMS from their own superiors have suggested as much. Or they may feel that in a particular instance, the EPMS was needed to justify certain actions that the school wanted to take on a teacher. He may have been under undue stress and may have convinced himself that this would be the only time this would happen and that it is only happening because it was the only way for something important to be done. He may struggle with this as he thinks it part of his role even though he himself might be a very moral person. (Which is one important reason to recognize that our role in education IS indeed moral.)
In other words, by and large, people are good, but we also have to recognize that people do and will fail every now and then. The Christians reading this should be very familiar with this concept. If we do not fail, we would not need Christ. However, even non-Christians should recognize that none of us are perfect, so it makes sense to be kind and think kindly of those who fail because that could very well have been, and probably at some time will be, us.
What does this mean in the practical context? Firstly, as individuals, we should always examine ourselves and our own values as these are what will provide greater consistency in our actions and decisions. Secondly, we should all try to think kindly of others and approach our work and others in a positive way. We try to avoid cynicism not because everything is always rosy, but also because there is a greater potential for good to be done when we are not cynical rather than when we are. Finally, it is our responsibility to spread both of these attitudes to whoever we can, through our actions and decisions or through dialogue and discussion. This will inherently improve the whole system that we are working in and hopefully produce in practice the system that we hope for in theory. Those of us in leadership positions have an even greater responsibility to do so.
In summary, three things are important for all educators.
1) Be true to yourself
2) Be kind to others
3) Be an example to all