Monthly Archives: February 2020

The Quest for the Perfect Cupcake

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#sol20- February 25, 2020

There are a few dishes  I am famous for and I must confess that those recipes are never my own creation, but rather come from friends. One thing I have been known for is my carrot cake- whether it be in a cupcake, layer, or sheet cake form it is slathered with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. Carrot cake lovers come in various forms- I consider myself a purist- no pineapple, walnuts, or raisins, please! At my last school a TA even offered to pay me to make her some cake.

A year and a half ago I moved from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh and somehow it seems that recipe did not make the move along with me. It was always on a shelf in a cupboard that held my cookbooks and favorite recipes, but it was just on a card and could have easily been left behind or shoved in some random box by the movers. Of course, I did not notice it right away, because at first, I did not have an oven, except a toaster oven, so baking was really out of the question.

Last year for my birthday I ordered gingerbread cookies to share with my class and while they were a good substitute, it just did not feel like my birthday without homemade carrot cupcakes. Last spring I finally bought a countertop oven, so this year there was no excuses. I looked for the recipe again, but no luck. I looked through some online recipes and finally settled on the one from Smitten Kitchen- I know it is not THE recipe, but it looked good and had good reviews. Today, the day before my birthday, I am sweating it out in the kitchen, as my oven can only fit 6 cupcakes at a time. The last batch is in the oven, the frosting is made and my fingers are crossed that I will love them.

In the meantime, if you have a carrot cake recipe that you think I must try, I am open to taste testing!

At Least It’s Fresh?

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#sol20- February 18, 2020

At least it’s fresh, I tell myself when I see scenes like this on my way to school.

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Yep, those are pigs. 

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Sorry this is so blurry, I was afraid I’d miss the chicken picture. Lots of chickens, many clucking, hanging upside down. 

Most days I see sights like this on my way to work. I do appreciate less processed, “real” food, but this might be a little too real for me. It really reminds me where my food comes from and no wonder I am eating less meat than ever before. I am happy to have lots of organic food choices here, so there’s that. At least it’s all fresh.

Music to My Ears! A New Routine

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#sol20- February 11, 2020

I’m pretty sure it started with Z, who was new to English last year, wanting to read aloud to the class after finding a book at the library (of course I said yes).

Then recently it started in earnest when two boys found a book during our weekly library visit that they wanted to share with the class. They dragged me into it and we did a read aloud of Cheetah Can’t Lose.   Several students now call that their favorite read aloud of the year. Another duo picked a book the following week, but unfortunately one of the students missed a chunk of school due to her parents’ concern about the Corona Virus so their turn was put on hold. So, today they were on for The Recess Queen.

Several others vied for the chance to read today, so we had to set up a system. Sign-ups are now on our book talk calendar and the anticipation of next Tuesday is already building. Tuesday has now become our “kids get to read aloud to the class day” because I love read aloud too much to not be the reader more often than that. I LOVE being with a group of kids who get excited to read and be read to. Today’s discussion about the read aloud led to all kinds of messages, from bullying, to standing up for yourself, to anxiety about being new and not knowing norms, and more. This community is built one book at a time and it is glorious! It seems we have a new Tuesday bonus read aloud to look forward to each week (because you know I will still read aloud on Tuesdays too)! #booklove

My Morning Commute

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#sol20- February 4, 2020

My morning commute is only about eight minutes long, and I always enjoy it. It starts as Mr. Bo and I greet each other every weekday morning at 6AM and I climb into my seat (not my actual tuk-tuk, but it looks like this). Then we are off. On a recent morning I had my phone out to notice all that I passed, my trip included:

  • The cheerful crow of roosters- I love that there are chickens in the city (roaming free)
  • Watering the sidewalks (as businesses open the dust from the day before either gets swept away or more frequently, gets washed away by the worker wielding the hose
  • The older couple exercising to some video on their iPad- I can see them every day through the gate on their shophouse- today they even had a neighbor chatting with them through the grate as they worked out
  • Hammock sleepers- security guards who work through the night often have a hammock slung between two poles or trees. Sometimes there are hammock sleepers in the back of a truck or almost any other available space
  • Funny cargo- in Phnom Penh you see everything- from butchered pigs on the back of motorcycles to precarious piles of random who knows what
  • Barbecues fired up- meat is ready for passersby
  • Street sweepers, literally- often older women, seeping the street by hand.
  • Factory trucks- these open top trucks have people packed in to drive them to their work at nearby factories, often garment factories if they are female or brick factories if they are male
  • Construction workers gathering at dark sites-some to start their shift, others ending theirs
  • Lots of chrysanthemums (from Chinese New Year)
  • A few stray dogs, remarkably well behaved and staying out of the traffic
  • Waves of smells (some good, some not so good)

I love my daily commute and the reminder that I am lucky to live here and experience all these new things.  It is never routine!