The Craziest Robot

I am losing my mind.

For the past three days construction has woken me up at stupid o’clock in the morning. I usually try to be awake by 8, but I love my sleep, and have a hard time waking up, and want every last moment of peaceful dreams. But banging and drilling and terrible sounds of construction from next door at 7 in the morning has been making that impossible. It continues all day, and I can’t hear myself think. They are constantly hammering away or sawing or grinding tiles. And whatever it is they are doing, they are DOING IT WRONG. I might not be cut out for the construction business, being a tiny little robot, but my dad’s a contractor and I worked for him over my summers, and some of my earliest memories are playing at his job sites and in his workshop. I know my way around a power tool or two, and they are simply ABUSING them. If anything is going to make me snap, this cacophony might precipitate a cleaver wielding massacre. So far, I’ve only just been even more prone to silly babbling and rambling while waiting for buses and sometimes in my classes. my student was not amused. Also, all the noise is hampering me from getting the rest I need to get over a stupid and dreary cold.

Allie and Dina have found their apartment and moved out, leaving me all alone with the boys and it’s very empty feeling with just three. On a happier note, our bonsai tree has revived itself from death, mostly due to botanist-Ginny’s tender ministrations, and is putting forth many new leaves!

I’ve decided to work my way through things in the pantry: we inherited several bags of dried beans, and I’d like to try and use them up. We never used dried beans at home, and I rarely eat them, so this will be a new and hopefully healthy and affordable exploit. I had half a pumpkin left, and some other veggies kicking around that needed to be used up. My first experiment was pinto bean and pumpkin soup. Next I’m going to try my hand at some sorghum grain.

Steamy Bowl of Pinto Bean and Pumpkin Soup.


I soaked the pinto beans overnight. Sauteed half a diced onion, two celery stalks and garlic in some olive oil, and threw in a few cubes of pork belly for flavor (I don’t have any bacon). I haven’t got around to making homemade stock, so I just used bouillon and water, tossed in cubed pumpkin, the beans, and a can of diced tomato. Let it simmer until soft, then season with salt, pepper, herbs. I took out most of the tomato since I don’t like the texture of cooked tomato, and about a third of the chunks of other vegetables, and blended it up, then mixed it back into the pot. This really thickened it up and gave it a creamy texture, whereas before the broth tasted more like minestrone. I served it with a little grated Parmesan on top, and would kill for some good hearty French or Tuscan bread to go with it, and maybe some smoked sausage like chorizo could really elevate it and counter the sweetness from the pumpkin. The beans were a little dry, but I’m not sure if it’s just because that’s what pintos taste like or if I need to simmer them for longer next time.

I taught some classes this morning and warmed up some soup for lunch. I seared another handful of pork belly cubes and seasoned them heavily with curry powder, chili powder, and threw in some red chili flakes, and added that all into the soup while I warmed it. Marked improvement.

Warmer weather has come to Beijing, it seems, and I am enjoying biking around in the sunshine. With the sun has come armies of little old nai-nais and yeh-yehs, all uniformed in bright orange road crew gear, armed with sticks and shovels, and scarves wrapped around their heads. It’s adorable, if you forget that these are waves of tired old 70 and 80 year old peasants coming in from the countryside desperate for work.

For dinner I had thawed out the remaining half of the dumpling filling, and made new wrapper dough. I went out and bought the high-gluten, dumpling and noodle specific, and this time the skins came out much better. I also had taken careful note observing Chef and Chairman on Saturday, and copied Chairman’s rolling method, which really helped. I pan fried them instead of steaming them, and although I may have burnt them a little bit, they were tasty. I also threw together some homemade hot chili oil by pouring boiling oil over minced garlic, scallion, garlic, and red chili flakes.

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