Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Grandma's Gift

"Have seconds," my Grandma would urge. And I always did.

Her table was set with the most delicious food. As a young child, when I would come visit during summer, her table held seasonal favorites like zucchini bread, watermelon, orange jello salad, and blackberry pie. I remember dinners outside on her back patio. The snapdragons in bloom. The corn on the cob piping hot.

But my favorite times with her were during my college years, when I would make the four hour trek from Provo to Idaho Falls, ID to spend a precious weekend with her. She spoiled me, and I loved it. Little peas and potatoes in white sauce, a Hormel ham baked until jerky dry, homemade macaroni and cheese, and if I was lucky (which I often was) chocolate icebox dessert.

I hadn't thought about chocolate icebox dessert in a long time. And I hadn't made it for years. Then a few weeks ago my Uncle Lee mentioned it on facebook, followed by a comment from my cousin Nicole.

I immediately put in an order for vanilla wafers (since there are none here at the stores in Jakarta). The vanilla wafers arrived a few days ago.

I opened my recipe book and made the dessert. And I thought of my dear Grandma who always encouraged me to have seconds (and thirds), and had an incredible way of making me feel loved.

Here's her recipe:

1 cup butter
1&1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 box vanilla wafers
1/4 cup water
4 squares of Bakers semi-sweet chocolate (or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips)
4 eggs, separated

Separate egg yolks from whites. Beat whites until stiff and set aside. In mixing bowl, cream together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Set aside. In pan, mix together egg yolks, water, semi-sweet chocolate, and granulated sugar. Bring mixture to soft boil, stirring often, and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and add creamed sugar and beaten egg whites.

Spray bottom of 8X8 glass dish. Cover bottom of dish with a single layer of vanilla wafers. Cover the wafers with 1/3 of chocolate mixture. Repeat three times so there are three layers of wafers and chocolate. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours (overnight is even better). Serve with dollop of whipped cream. Chocolate heaven!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Running with a crowd

Near the end of my Saturday run, I rounded a street corner and found myself in a crowd of about one dozen young Indonesian boys. They stopped what they were doing to let me run past.

They called out "Hello Missus!" and one started to run with me. Then one by one they all joined. Soon I was surrounded by the boys running, laughing, darting, sprinting. One boy at my elbow grinned as he ran beside me. "Anda capat," I said. (You are fast!) In response, he pumped his scrawny arms more vigorously. The boys called out to one another, and I was swimming in a sea of smiles.

Their flipflops slapped the pavement. Those that were barefoot had soles as black as the asphalt. Soon they trickled off, stooping to rest with hands on knees. Even the boy at my elbow slowed to a walk. His chest rose and fell as he tried to catch his breath.

When I turned around and encouraged, "Detang" (Come on!), he shook his head and said "Capai" (tired). But he flashed a smile as he waved me on.

It was the best few moments of my Saturday run.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Room of my Own

It was a surreal experience to set up my own classroom. Butterflies in my stomach. Christmas morning excitement. And of course a few moments of nausea-inducing dread. Even though I have taught for five years, it was all at a community college. This meant that I didn't really have my own space. I had a large "bag of tricks" and my laptop that I toted to a new classroom each semester.

But now, my own space. Oh the possibilities.

Desks to arrange...shall I put them together in table-groups? Should I make a U?

Bulletin Boards. Let's just say I have become quite adept using a stapler.

A couple plants...because I love green.

Gigantic pillows for a comfy reading corner.

The first of many quotes hung in a prominent location:
You see things; and you say, “Why?”
But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”
George Bernard Shaw

And on my door an invitation:
If you are a dreamer,
come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my  fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!

-Shel Silverstein

Each time I walk into my room, I get that thrilling tingle. A room of possibilities. A room for learning. A room for inspiring.

I can't wait for my students to arrive. Because really, it's not just my room. It's our room.