Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Embracing my inner (Julia) Child

Like many other girls with a penchant for baking and blogging, I was inspired by the movie Julie and Julia to get back into the kitchen (not in the metaphorical sense, though) and re-tie those apron strings (again, I mean that literally).

I've always loved cooking, entertaining, and experimenting with ingredients in the kitchen.  I haven't always loved teaching, but I did have a goal this semester to teach at least one cooking class to my students.  I fully expected to channel Julia Child in my cooking-- not the spy in China aspect (though I do feel like one, sometimes), nor the strange tenor-falsetto she rambunctiously encouraged her viewers with to seize a freshly buttered raw chicken with vigor.  I meant more of those moments where she flopped things out of pans live on the air and simply wiped her hands on her apron and said, "Well, it's no problem because we have a perfect one in the oven!"

I held my first cooking class in April.  We made my favorite recipe for banana muffins/bread and chocolate chip cookies.  The banana muffins were a huge hit, and a few of my students went out and bought ovens, muffin cups, and most of them are now proud owners of rubber spatulas after I convinced them it's the single most useful tool you'll have in your kitchen. 

Most Chinese students have never seen measuring cups or chocolate chips before.  Seeing all these baking goods was like going into the Museum of American Cuisine in the "Why We're All Fat" wing.

Like a good, responsible teacher who overdoes it and makes fun things completely un-fun, I created a Baking handout filled with useful vocabulary, tips, and even a few idioms.

Aren't they cute?  They look so happy making cookies here, especially compared to this picture...
...where they are basically sleeping with their eyes open.  I think I'm introducing measuring spoons here and they are responding with the ever-dreaded student glaze.  I guess I should stick to my day job and let Julia do the real entertaining.

A few of them came back with stories of their first baking successes and eagerly asked when the second class would be.  Call me a pushover... but I couldn't say no to their puppy dog eyes.  Class two was on baking apple pie all completely from scratch.  They learned how to make the crust, apple sauce, and put it all together to make it look perfect.  Like this:

Ooooh, SNAP!  Look at them apples!  The sauce, bubbling from underneath a blanket of perfectly layered apple slices, all topped with a golden brown crust!  Not bad for first-timers, hm?
 The lattice could use some work, but for a bunch of Chinese students who didn't even know what apple sauce was, I had to give them props for their first-time glory.

Well, since I was on a baking kick and I wanted to get the most out of my tart tin (as pictured above) and had a bunch of whipping cream, I decided to experiment and make a peach-custard tart. 

The picture didn't come out so well, but it was quite tasty and super easy, too!

Today, my students asked again about when our next cooking class would be.  I love cooking, but I'm quickly running out of ideas.  Any suggestions from my faithful (and few) readers would be gladly welcomed!

Next up: lemon meringue, chocolate cream, and about 500 dates with Jillian Michaels and Billy Blanks.


  1. Grace,
    I am so proud of you! You truly are a teacher with a heart. I wish I had a teach like you who makes the learning fun and not dreadful. Keep doing what you are doing - loving and cooking! :)


  2. Oh my god, this is great! That apple pie looks soooo delicious!!! You should work this on a community scale and teach some open English cooking classes! How about a red velvet cake with persimmon puddings and a s'mores demo next to the chuar dude down the street :)

    Hope you're well, lots of love!