About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Comes To Tainan

The cold weather officially came some time last week. After weeks of perfect weather, seriously perfect, mild, not hot or cold, slightly cool in the evening-- I was still wearing short sleeves and shorts on my scooter. Then like someone turned on a switch, the cold came on. I had to close most of my windows, layer up, get out the thick blankets, wash some sweaters. I was kind of disappointed with the cold, typically I am excited about wearing sweaters, scarves, tights, feeling cozy. I wonder if this is some sign of getting older.

Take into consideration that cold is relative here. After several years of humid, sub tropic summers, 20 C  (68 F) is cold. (Today's weather is here.)

That first night of cold weather, I decided to cook something for dinner that would produce heat. Traditional Chinese cooking is basically medicinal. The cook takes factors like the weather, season, constitution of the those eating all into consideration. Like a scientist a Chinese cook knows which foods produce heat or cool the body. I gave Z a choice Ginseng chicken or Four spirits soup 四物湯.

She picked the Ginseng Chicken soup. In Taiwan chicken sold with its bones is more expensive than boneless breasts  because the bones improve the flavor. (Chomping on cartilage brings memories of a kid for some reason). I stewed the chicken with some broth and of course the Ginseng. The Ginseng is sold in muslin with other Chinese medicinal foods--goji berries, Jujube dates, angelica.To bring out the heating properties I add ginger, of course garlic, rice wine and dark sesame (extremely heating). Instead of steamed brown rice I opted for steamed millet. I also threw in some Job's Tears   (Coix Seeds) into the stew.

Ginseng Chicken served over a bed of steamed millet
 Healthy food can be yummy and adventurous. Cooking here is certainly getting me more in touch with the culture, local foods, the weather and my own body's needs at that particular moment.

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