Today I taught my friends Sandy and Xinxin how to bake! Sandy Ren is my Chinese teacher, a friend who owns her own English school. She teaches me Chinese one hour a week (if we’re both free), and in exchange I tutor her daughter on reading and keeping up the English she learned when the family lived in Canada for a little while. Sandy and I get together outside of class when we can, but we’re both busy, and her hours teaching English to children after school and on weekends does make it difficult. Xinxin is the family assistant, so-to-speak. She takes care of the children and cooks and cleans. In return, she’s paid, and someday Sandy will put her through school. Right now, Xinxin thinks she’d like to be a chef in a bakery or restaurant, and so it was mainly for her benefit that we had the lessons with Sandy’s new toaster oven. Here’s what we made:
First, banana bread, with various toppings to experiment – raw peanuts, walnut pieces, and honey figs. Sandy absolutely loves “banana cake” (and I suppose that’s really a more accurate name than “bread”), so they were both quite thrilled to learn how to make it on their own.
While that baked, we made French toast. Here you can see Jessie standing and sampling a piece with Xinxin. Jessie is Sandy’s neice and helps with her school.
Next in the oven were plain drop biscuits, made with an oil recipe rather than the standard cut-butter-in recipe.
I explained that the biscuit is an American man tou. Man tou are steamed rolls sold in bags of 4 or 6 a the gate of apartment complexes or in grocery stores. They are utterly tasteless, made to be eaten with savory meats and vegetables in place of rice. I’ve made a few sandwiches with them, but it’s almost a waste of the filling, as it’s a bit hard to eat surrounded by basically flour, water, and yeast! But biscuits are similar – they’re made to be eaten with jam, or with stew, or with something else in a yummy sauce, not really on their own.
And then popovers, which popped at an angle and were still a bit undercooked in the middle. I think they were the only thing adversely effected by the top heating elements, which can’t be turned off in Sandy’s oven, but they were still edible. We ate one each with mango ice cream, and the rest, along with the rest of everything else, was left for the husband and children’s supper.
By then it was noon, but we’d sampled so much that we really didn’t have room for lunch!
It was so fun to teach something I love to someone else who loved to learn it!
This little girl is posed above a map of Sandy’s apartment complex. I love it!