New Blog!

Long time no post!

I’ve been thinking about Kitchen Whimsies, namely the future of Kitchen Whimsies, for a while.

I started this back in college as a way to motivate me to learn how to cook. I think it did its job well. But I feel like I’ve outgrown this blog – my design aesthetic and my taste in food have changed (hopefully for the better!). I’ve spent a bit of time messing with a new blog: https://junipertreekitchen.wordpress.com/. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Thanks to everyone who has followed me along the way :)

-Stefanie

Advertisements

In the Shadow of the Great Wall

IMG_2829I once spent a long weekend hiking the Great Wall. Rather than traveling the most touristy part, we followed a “tour guide” who helped us to, shall we say, circumvent the Chinese authorities guarding the less maintained parts of the Wall. After a full day of scrambling up crumbling staircases and stepping gingerly on narrow pathways, we descended wearily from the Wall into a village.

This village was made up of fields upon fields of corn with one-story houses scattered on the surrounding hillsides. The roads were all dirt and loose gravel, and at night, it was so dark and quiet that if you stared at the sky long enough, you could almost see the stars move and feel the earth turn. We drank warm beers because the weekly shipment of water hadn’t made it to the village yet and when the power went out after a sudden thunderstorm, we played Murderer in the Dark until finally, everyone fell asleep.

IMG_2498

A misty morning at the foot of the Great Wall

I awoke to the quintessential crowing of roosters and stepped out into a grey, cool morning. Our hosts were awake and already busy preparing the day’s meals, but everyone else was still asleep. I wandered down the road, passing a graveyard of discarded couches, several loud and territorial chickens, and some angry (but thankfully chained) dogs. As I walked on alongside the fields of gently swaying corn, I came upon a young girl and an old man walking silently side by side.

IMG_2546This sight isn’t so uncommon, especially in the Chinese countryside. Rural villages have depopulated over the decades as young people leave for modernity and opportunities in the cities. After passing through the minority communities of Tibet (西藏) and Inner Mongolia (内蒙古) and talking with the people there, I learned the fear of these people that their culture and even language will be lost as the old die and the young leave forever.

As the mist cleared, I walked back through the corn, past the still-ruffled chickens, and back to the house where everyone had since woken up. Our hosts placed a large pot of noodle soup on the table, made with fresh-picked tomatoes, hand-drawn noodles, and probably freshly killed meat.

As it gets colder, I have found myself thinking back to that soup they made for us after a cold night (cold for summer at least) spent without electricity or running water. I remember their small dogs, their dented tables emblazoned with the “Coca Cola” logo. I remember how warm, how delicious, that meal was after a long walk on a damp morning. But I cannot remember the faces of our hosts.

I always thought that it was the language barrier that prevented me from learning more about Chinese culture, but even after spending months in China learning how to speak the language, I learned very little about the people themselves. Now I wonder about the story behind that pile of couches, about our hosts’ small garden carved painstakingly into the hillside. 

We barely spoke to them except to say our thanks. We packed our bags. We hiked back up to the Wall. And so we became just another bunch of foreigners (老外) who had passed through their village, our tourist money merely prolonging the end.

Continue reading

It is 1AM and I am…

…creating a food blog.

There’s been, as one of my friends put it, a few “paradigm shifts” in just the last 20 days.

First of all, I’m living in apartment style housing and most of my friends are living off-campus. That means we all finally finally have kitchens. It’s glorious.

Secondly, I’ve recently been replaying Awolnation – “It’s Not Your Fault” and rediscovering an old favorite, Shiny Toy Guns – “Chemistry of a Car Crash.” My favorite song from the new Killers album currently is “The Way It Was.” Infer what you will.

And finally, the piano is re-entering my life. I took a two-year hiatus after almost applying to music conservatory, but I’m back now and ready to take on Brahms and Liszt and Chopin and wait, how do you play a scale again..?

It’s going to be a different year. And trust me when I say, it’s going to be a fantastic one.