Monday--I had this half written on my little iPad word processor when it decided to delete itself. So I will try again.
In the morning Jackie and I went out for coffee at a little place she has discovered that sells European bread. It is in an upscale shopping/office development nearby. It is so typical of places here. It's fairly new, but already the sidewalks are in desperate need of sweeping and hosing down. A very well-dressed lady was holding her toddler over the landscaping to relieve himself. And the center was built with all the air conditioning units stacked together in the front part of some of the stores. You scratch your head and wonder--Who planned this?!
Jackie is an amazing lady--and I rarely use that word due to its overuse these days. She was widowed two years ago at age 65 and decided to come teach English here to make good use of her life. She has been a consistent light and has great wisdom. And, during her last break, she bicycled in Myanmar, and next week is traveling to Tibet. And before she returns to Ireland in a month, she is visiting Japan to hike up Mt. Fuji. Wow.
We left and took a shortcut up some steps to a faster way home, and were immediately faced with the ubiquitous pile of garbage, this one just bigger and smellier than most. Right next to this nice development. Hard to understand how it all works.
Andrew invited three people for supper--two of his friends who return to the States late this week, and a Chinese brother. We had the spaghetti fixings we got last week at the Metro (import store) and I tried to make a dessert. Here is where it got interesting.
Andrew got an oven last week (toaster oven size) from a teacher who left then. But--hard to get chocolate chips. Or any kind of mix. Marshmallow creme (for fudge) is non-existent in China, I was told. Some of the ladies have baking supplies but I didn't want to get stuff that would just sit here on Andrew's shelves. So I finally settled on a pineapple casserole. I had seen canned pineapple at Metro, and had some Ritz cracker knock-offs from the JDL store. When Andrew went back to Metro to get some bread, he also picked up some pineapple--not a couple of small cans, but the institutional size. I'll
be making pineapple casseroles for the rest of my time here. He also had to get some sugar. Interesting package, size, and consistency. It did not pour but was more like brown sugar.
I borrowed a Pyrex dish from the girl upstairs, googled Paula Deen's recipe, and we were in business. But how many tablespoons are in 250 grams of butter? And the new can opener didn't work right on the large can of pineapple. Oh, and Andrew has no measuring spoons. But all those years of baking experience helped me gauge the right consistency.
After putting it in the oven, I could tell quickly that something wasn't right. The crackers on top were burning after only five minutes, yet the scale only went up to 250. Oh, wait! The scale is Celsius, not Fahrenheit! Now all those years of teaching earth science kicked in, as did the calculator on my iPhone. C=5/9 (F-32). So I kicked the thermostat down to 176Â° and we were in business. And if I do say so myself, it turned out pretty good.
We had a nice supper, then they all left, and Joanna from upstairs stopped in. We had a nice time talking about many things. And I washed dishes, using hot water carried from the wet bath shower, at 10:00 - but had to remember not to put too much water down the drain at once, as it will overflow onto the floor.
So today was mostly about conquering daily life in China more so than meeting new people. It's all part of it. There is so much to navigate, and it takes a lot more time and effort than at home. My admiration for this group continues.
Set oven at 176 degrees!
How many tablespoons in 250 grams?
Interesting way to get the can open!
(Rhoda's edit: Notice it is not just good sugar--it's excellent sugar!)