Okay. Let’s play catch up. Finished the assembly, taught two classes. Lunch break! Went to pick up Christopher, another ETA, so he could help me make Christmas Eve Dinner for all the ETA’s in Taichung+ our coordinator.
But I suppose I should back up.
About a week before Thanksgiving I realized I couldn’t just pretend the holidays weren’t happening- so I decided to fully embrace them and try to make them extra special here! Thanksgiving I made reservations for everyone at a wonderful little Indian restaurant and we had an Indian style Thanksgiving.
Thinking about Christmas..I basically didn’t want to be alone, and I wanted to make it fun! I was talking to my principal and realized we had a proper oven at school (most places don’t) and I wanted to make a meal for HKSG, the Taichung ETAs. I decided on meatloaf, some veggies, maybe a dinner roll, peanut butter pie, salad and my mother’s out-of-this-world wasil recipe. I set up an event on Facebook, made sure everyone could come, made sure the oven was available some that afternoon and started to scheme.
I got the recipe’s from my mother to start planning and I was like, oh dear.
Dry mustard? Worstershire sauce? Frozen lemonade? Graham crackers? Where in the WORLD would I find that in Taiwan?!?
Let’s just say I probably bit off more than I could chew.
However Jedrik, the ETA who has a membership at Costco, was a saint and picked up the beef for me. Then the Sunday before Christmas I spent the day shopping with Julianna to start gathering ingredients, and figure out what would be REALLY difficult to find. We started at Top City Supermarket to get things like cinnamon sticks and worstershire sauce. Then we went to Carrefour, a french super market here, and got a whole bunch of the more standard things: onions, whipped cream, ice cream, etc.
That was a good start, but I realized I still lacked a good amount of things. So Monday, I went back to Top City to get cloves, and things for a salad. Then I had another trip to Carrefour to pick up plastic forks, plates, and cups. Lastly, Chris went to Carrefour 2 times to pick up mass amounts of vegetables for our feast.
So on Christmas Eve-Eve I started prepping. I realized it would be impossible to make the pie and freeze it at school/transport it with everything else so I made it on the 23rd. I never ended up finding graham crackers so experimented with digestive crackers for the crust. Didn’t turn out too bad! But, with no blender, making the pie took unbelievable amounts of physical labor. I had to pound the digestive crackers into crumbs, then mix partially-thawed ice cream with peanut butter and whip cream. Overall the process took me about 3 hours and I now have arms that look like a body builders’.
Then I woke up and it was SHOW TIME! I had my assembly, then went to pick up Chris and the vegetables. We stopped at my favorite little shop for lunch then got up to Da Keng to start cooking. It was about 2.
When we finally started it looked like we would only have 1 oven instead of 2 which put a major cramp in our timing. But, honestly, Chris is an incredible cook and he is SO FLEXIBLE. So he was able to make three vegetable dishes as I prepped the salad, wasil, two meatloafs, and got the room ready.
Iris, then Julianna arrived, and by then it looked like we would actually have all the food together by the time most of the people arrived!
There were only two real hiccups in the cooking marathon. When I started making the salad I realized I wasn’t quite sure if I had actually bought lettuce, or something else??? So, the salad was a LITTLE funny, but with a generous amount of Caesar dressing, it was redeemable. Secondly, when my roomie arrived it turned out she had forgotten to grab the pie! I was pretty upset that I forgot to text and remind her…. and because I put so much time into it. Could have handled that with more grace! But we worked it out that we would have chocolate for dessert that evening, and have the pie the following evening, on Christmas. It all worked out and after 4.5 hours of prep eventually everyone did make it (although a little late, it is quite a haul to Da Keng..) and we served up the noms!
I think almost everyone enjoyed the noms and then our White Elephant Exchange started! Lots of hilarity ensued. I was number 8 and the first person to steal something.
I was so grateful after when people helped to clean up the plethora of dishes that Chris and I had marked up. After the kitchen was cleaned I scooted home and promtly PTFO.
….then there was Christmas…