proper care and feeding of a Taiwanese husband

People ask me all the time what kind of food I cook for Lawrance.  They want to know if we eat Taiwanese food or American food.  My answer is not simple: To Taiwanese, we eat what looks like western food, but to Americans we eat what looks like Asian cuisine.  It is our own unique fusion of east meets west.

I’m slowly learning the art of stir-fry.  I’m learning tricks to the trade and figuring out how to make things we both love.  And, I’m always on the lookout for new recipes to try to see how we’d like them.

Last week, I made this:
YaoGua JiDing with Peppers StirFry

And it was a homerun!  Simple and delicious!  Yay for another dish to be part of our regular rotation.
I call it YaoGua JiDing with Peppers (aka Cashew Chicken with Peppers).  It’s not quite really “cashew chicken,” but it does have cashews and chicken in it.

·         5 tsp cornstarch
·         3 Tbs soy sauce
·         4 tsp apple cider vinegar
·         2 tsp rice wine vinegar
·         1.5 tsp sugar
·         1 tsp hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
·         1 pound chicken breast tenders
·         1 yellow bell pepper
·         1 red bell pepper
·         2-4 cloves garlic
·         1 tsp fresh ginger
·         1 stalk of green onions
·         1/2 cup unsalted cashews
·         2 Tbs coconut oil (I use coconut, you can use oil of your choice)

1.     Combine 2 tsp cornstarch, 2 Tbs soy sauce, and next 4 ingredients (through hot pepper sauce) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk or chopsticks.
2.     Slice the two bell peppers, mince the garlic and ginger, and cut the green onions.
3.     Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Combine 3 tsp cornstarch, 1 Tbs soy sauce, and chicken in a medium bowl; toss well to coat.
4.     Heat wok over medium heat.
5.     Add cashews to pan to lightly toast, stir frequently. Remove from pan.
6.     Add oil to pan. Add chicken; stir-fry but don’t cook all the way (about 85% done). Remove almost cooked chicken from pan; place in a bowl.
7.     Add bell pepper to pan and stir-fry about 2 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook 30 seconds.
8.     Add the almost cooked chicken and the sauce (made in #1); cook until sauce is slightly thick (about 1 minute).
9.     Sprinkle with the toasted cashews and green onions. Turn mixture over a few times then serve.

One of the keys to stir-frying is to prep EVERYTHING before you get started.  Once you start, there is no turning back because it all happens so quickly once you get started. That is why I now include the prep in my recipes (#2 & 3) above.

This took me a little less than 30 minutes from start to finish my first time making it.  It made about four servings.

happy, shinny people

Nobody is as happy as he seems on Facebook. And no one is as “spiritual” as he seems in what we deem as “spiritual” enough for Christian worship. Maybe what we need in our churches is more tears, more failure, more confession of sin, more prayers of desperation that are too deep for words.

DaisyMaybe then the lonely and the guilty and the desperate among us will see that the gospel has come not for the happy, but for the brokenhearted; not for the well, but for the sick; not for the found, but for the lost.

So don’t worry about those shiny, happy people on Facebook. They need comfort, and deliverance, as much as you do. And, more importantly, let’s stop being those shiny, happy people when we gather in worship. Let’s not be embarrassed to shout for joy, and let’s not be embarrassed to weep in sorrow. Let’s train ourselves not for spin control, but for prayer, for repentance, for joy. –Russell Moore

I SO agree with these last few paragraphs of a recent blog post on Moore to the Point about how facebook is making us sad.

I remember when I first was coming out of a long, deep depression a few years ago.  I was at a Christian gathering full of missionaries, as I introduced myself I had no qualms expressing my recent struggles and God’s great kindness towards to these near strangers because I knew they were sisters in the Lord.  My blunt honesty was met with blank stares.

It bothered me then and still does now that we are not “allowed” to show weaknesses, not permitted to be frail.  But, the reality is I am OH so thankful that my God is a God of mercy who forgives my wretched sin.  The reality is that it is ok to boast in OUR weaknesses (2 Cor11:30 and 12:5).

Father, keep my heart soft.  Help me to be transparent with others and honest about my struggles and weaknesses to You, to myself, and to my fellow brothers and sister in Christ.  And, when we gather to worship You, let us be a people able to express our emotions, both our joys and of sorrows.

infant potty training

My mother-in-law told me this past weekend  that all three of her kids shared one cloth diaper and that’s the only diaper she ever needed.  She went on to tell me that she started potty training all of her kids on day three.  Meaning that when they were three days old she started potty training them!

At first I was shocked.  Sounds impossible.  But, then I started asking questions and talking to Lawrance more about it.  Then of course I had to google it.

Here is what I found:
Throughout much of the non-Western world, infant toilet training is the norm. In India, China, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, the arctic, and parts of Africa and Latin America, parents leave baby bottoms uncovered (Boucke 2003; Sonna 2006; deVries and deVries 1977).
Diapers are considered unnecessary-—even disgusting. When babies have to pee or poop, parents hold them over a preferred target (e.g., a toilet, an outdoor latrine, or simply open ground) until business is done.
How do parents know when their babies need to go? By paying close attention. In these “bare-bottom” cultures, babies spend much of their days being carried around. Mom learns to read her baby’s cues. And-—eventually—-baby learns to hesitate until Mom gives her the “okay”-—usually signaled by a special vocalization, like “sheee-sheee” or “shuuuus” (Boucke 2003; deVries and deVries 1977).

Baby with split pantsSometimes called “elimination communication,” this method is now being adopted by some parents in the United States and other Western countries.

There is also a pdf that talks more about “Potty Training” in China, where she gives the four basic steps to get started with training an infant to go where you want them to go.

The authors also state that parents in China can potty train their child so young because “there is an elimination awareness ’window of learning’ open from birth to about 6 months of age. If parents tap into this sensitive period, they generally have good results with toilet training.”

So, perhaps it’s not as shocking as I thought it was.  But one thing for sure is that it takes LOTS of time on the part of the caregiver (ie. mommy or, in many cases in Taiwan, grandma).  It depends on the caregiver always being near the child and being very vigilant about “reading” and “learning” the child’s signals.

And, it might be labor intensive, time consuming, and at times messy for mom, but it sure has other benefits too.  Just to start, think of all the money saved on diapers!

There is also a special way to hold a baby or young one over a toilet–made easier if you are using a squatty potty.  Many in Taiwan also let their children go outside over a drain.

And, in case your wondering, the vocalizations used here in Taiwan for “elimination communication” are a gentle, breathy whistle or a “shuuu, shuuu” sound for peeing and grunting sounds like “unh, unh” for pooing.

Here’s a CNN video of American parents using this concept:

I give props to my mother-in-law for her labor-intensive, money-saving way to raise my husband.  I’m impressed!  It becomes even more impressive when I realized she had three under three and used this method with all three of them!  She’s amazing!

three calendars

My life revolves around three calendars.  Teachers have their own calendar.  Taiwanese have their own calendar.  And, then there is the American calendar too.  This means twice as many holidays, and three new years.

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s (Jan. 1) are the “American holidays.”  Then from New Year’s (Jan. 1) to the end of Lantern Festival (Feb. 17, this year) are the “Taiwanese holidays.”  This equals somewhere between 3-4 months of “the holidays.”

Quite frankly, that’s a lot of holidays!

Moreover, as a teacher at a university we have two sets of 18 weeks with breaks in between.  Which means our new year is in September, and the first semester goes to the middle of all these holidays.
Jan first comes right in the midst of the end of the semester.  So, while many may feel like they get a fresh start on Jan 1st, I feel like I’m in limbo till some unknown point in the future.

Grading Essays
So, while my soul is longing for some time to sit down and reflect, to escape and refresh my spirit, the reality is I have finals to grade and essays to assess, then a winter camp to teach, and then a week of national holidays to celebrate with family and friends.  Then, finally, I might get a chance to rest.

There are so many longings within my heart, but I keep telling them “shh, just a moment more and then I  can acknowledge you.”

So, while I wait for that moment that Lord willing I’ll get a chance to retreat, I sing this song longing to be refreshed, placing confidence in the fact that the Spirit is not bound by any man-made calendar.


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