First training

Guess where I went today?
It has something to do with children.
Definitely related to what I was doing.
But then again, I have gone through this before.

Nope. It’s not a tour in the Boston Children’s Museum though the place I went was close by.

It’s Boston Partners in Education and I was there for my training as a volunteer to the elementary schools. It was a 2.5 hours training on literacy and Math and of course, those were stuff that I was and still am familiar with. It’s good to have a review and to hear those familiar terms again – zone of proximity, constuctivist model, wait time blah blah. I was excited to go back to school again but yet at the same time fearful because of the difference in cultures. Let’s just see how it goes.

When it came to Math, I sensed that the instructor wasn’t too happy about the new change to Investigative Math (whatever it is). He was just passing the remark that a lot of …ahem… educators out there were just waiting for this ‘new’ thing to pass. Sounds familiar? No? I thought it does =p

I’m real keen to see how’s the school scene is like out there in the public schools. Oh! They have chartered schools, innovation schools, pilot schools…so many types of schools. Interesting!

Gyoza

The Harumi way.

 

Normally, when we order Gyoza or Chinese dumplings, they are wrapped with the contents inside the wonton (pastry) skin. Harumi showed another method, one that is simpler – no wrapping! I’m happy!

I don’t intend to follow her recipe religiously simply because Ken has a slight allergy to prawns and thus I had to lessen the amount. I’m also not so sure if he likes Chinese chives since getting him to eat his greens is really good enough, let alone those non common ones.

Basically, the ingredients that you need are uncooked shrimps (half minced and half cut into 1/2-inch pieces), ground pork, salt, pinch of sugar and pepper, freshly chopped ginger, liquid chicken stock, cornstarch, chinese chives (finely chopped), wonton skins, oil and the sauce for dipping (namely, rice vinegar and soy sauce).

Remember, serve immediately with the dipping sauce! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cookies

Whenever we decide to whip up a dish, I find more often than not, it is because we want others to have a share of it too. And today, I bake Peanut Butter Cookies because I was reminded by a dear friend of mine who bought my first cupcake for me to taste. I remember that she loves peanut butter (and not raisins!) and when I came across this recipe, I told myself, I must bake for her. Not that she will be here to savour the cookies but well, I hope my baking will cheer her up a wee bit. I hope.

This recipe is from Alice Medrich’s book, Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies but also found in Saveur. For most baking attempt, I would try to half the proportion. This is mine which yields about 22 cookies, and measurement in scales.

Ingredients
85g all-purpose flour
1/4 tso baking soda
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
90g granulated sugar
30g packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
155g creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift the flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside. Put the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy but not fluffy, about 1 minute ( I took longer). Add the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla, and beat until just smooth, about 30 seconds. Stir in the reserved flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 12 ( I refrigerate overnight).

2. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, then preheat oven to 325°. Pinch off heaping tablespoon-size pieces of dough and roll into balls. Arrange balls 2 1/2” apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Use tines of a fork to flatten balls to a thickness of about 1/2” and to make a grid pattern on top. I found dipping the fork in hot water before using it to flatten the balls help as it does not stick too much to them. Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

My first class. Oh, what joy!

I went for my first Women’s Bible Studies & Fellowship at Park Street Church and I sooooo LOVE it! The reason? The women were so warm towards one another (and this, not pretentious) and there were 2 more other Singaporeans in the group!

Since this was the intro lesson, we basically…introduced ourselves (duh!). I learnt so much about Boston or US for the matter through the short session of introduction.

Of the 20-women group, a few of them were from California and mostly relocated because of their husbands. They shared that when they first came, it was hell for them. Some phrases popped out – mean Bostonians, reckless drivers, etc. Oh my! I wouldn’t expect fellow Americans to give comments such as those. One of them shared that she basically had to suck it up for the first 2 years in Boston but of course, after that, she found Boston lovely! =)

Mean Bostonians? Ken and I have not encountered such people except for the fact that we got shouted at by the driver of the T (train). Oh, actually they were not shouting at us; they were informing all passengers about the T. But everytime they shouted, we couldn’t catch a thing. Sometimes, I wonder why they have to waste their breath when none could really understand what they were yelling about. Just say slowly and properly!

Reckless drivers? Drivers who do not follow the rules? Oh baby! You have not been to the other side of the world. Come to Asia – Vietnam, India, Cambodia and China for example and you will get a RUDE shock! Many years ago, China was worse. I was totally annoyed at the endless horning of the vehicles when I was there in 1997. But look how much that has changed since then. Oh anyway, a Californian was just telling me that there is basically no point in having a car in Boston since the public transport is so good. Of course, unless you want to go out to the outskirts, you definitely wouldn’t need a car. AGREE.

And on the cold harsh weather? Wear a good, waterproof boots. The ones that we are wearing now are not going to help. And for the clothing? Just keep on buying until you find one that fits (meaning – able to shield you from the cold).

And then, of course, I had the pure joy of chatting with our 2 tropical girls. Woot! Oh my! I tell you, I was DYING to talk and we just went on and on until they realised they had to ‘collect’ their kiddos from the childcare. But it seems that there is quite a big community of Singaporeans here and many from Harvard and MIT, so they said. Well, I’m waiting to get connected with them!

So, there goes my first session. I can’t wait for next week!