Home Cooking

Comfort food: split pea soup

It’s a windy late afternoon/evening in Chengdu. I can hear road construction through the open window of my study. My apartment is starting to look more like a home. I actually enjoyed shutting myself in my bedroom for a couple of day s last week and just reading.

I’m in an American Food phase. I had another bout of stomach and intestinal “stuff” last week that made me stay close to home for a couple of days, so I went off my Chinese diet. On Saturday I visited Sabina’s Country Store, in the “American” sector near the U.S. Consulate. I stocked up on such items as split peas (for soup), real spaghetti, some cheddar cheese (probably Australian), and some rather stale rye bread, as well as Cheez-Its and a York Peppermint Pattie. In short, I loaded up on comfort food.

I polished off the bread and cheese Saturday, and Sunday I made some superb split pea soup, and ate all of it that day. Since it was an American weekend, I watched “Lone Star” on Cinemax – I hadn’t even realized I had that channel, complete with Chinese subtitles.

In case you’re interested:

Roger’s Split Pea Soup (vegan)

One package split peas (1/2 pound or so)
2 carrots
4 green onions (white parts)
4 green onions (green parts) – add in last 15 minutes of cooking
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground black pepper

Put everything in pot (except green part of green onion), add water to cover by about ½ inch, and simmer on low heat about 1 hour to an hour 15 minutes, until peas are tender and soup just starts to get thick. Add water to keep peas covered. Add green tops of onions 15 minutes before soup is done. Yum.

Today (Monday) I had a Post Office adventure. The Chinese P.O. has to inspect your items first, then they pack them in an official box and seal it with official tape. As usual, I got lost several times because I like to jump on buses just to see where they take me. I happened upon a large tea and spice market – very fragrant – and I know that somewhere around here there’s a traditional Chinese herbal market I’d love to see.

Today I was creative again: I made meat sauce for spaghetti with ground beef and tomatoes. No spaghetti for lunch because the water was mysteriously cut off, so I sliced a French baguette and had a sandwich. I also got some delish banana bread and some real butter at the Carrefour supermarket. Tonite’s dinner will be spaghetti.

I’m working on my syllabus for my classes. I teach 3 classes this Thurs. and Fri., then have a 3-day break, then go into my 7-class schedule next week. I’ve found a lot of internet resources and I’m consulting my textbooks, but it’s hard to plan when you don’t know your students’ level or their expectations. I have no textbook, and no handouts. I can get photocopies made, but even at one sheet per student that’s 300 copies per week. That seems ridiculous. I miss my printer and scanner, plus I’m unable to read the CDR I burned with all of my teaching resources on it. I’m going to put together some sort of website – these are computer techies and management types, after all – and post my teaching resources there, with a student chat room.

I can hardly wait for my class production of Waiting for Godot, the only play I managed to bring with me. “Nothing to be done….”

Now that my apartment is more homey (and clean) you can have a tour:

Living Room

Dining Area and Kitchen



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