So I’m kind of earning my stay by using up my host’s supply of baking materials, a duty I’m quite enjoying.

I made my second attempt at bread pudding this week and damn. I’m amazed.  It kicks ass.  That might be by virtue of the fact it’s pretty hard to make sugar and butter taste bad, but I’m quite proud nonetheless.  This time around I actually managed to use enough bread to fill up the pan too so it cooked properly, which probably helped the taste.  Anything special about it?  I used a lot of filling, dried jujubes, dried goji berries, and chocolate chips, which I think go real well together, and had to sub brown sugar as it’s all that was available, but I think the molasses pairs well with the jujubes actually.  Anyway, I’m really proud of it.

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On less successful news, the cornbread came out well, but the brownies didn’t hold together.  I think I didn’t let them cool enough, but I did need the pan for the cornbread.

Less well, I made two attempts at custard to use up the mini pie crusts, but neither was willing to solidify enough to be edible.  still tasted good, but I’m not really sure what I did or didn’t do.

In other news, still working on my Fulbright article which is at about 11,000 characters now. I have some grammar points to clear up and then I’ll be ready to ask a Chinese person’s opinion on the piece as a whole.  Also connected with a Fulbright alumna from 2009 who happens to be in town which was fun, and did wonders for my self esteem as she said she pretty much sat on her butt for 6 months during her grant, so I’m actually doing a fair amount of stuff here.

Another Fulbright friend from the Harbin program and I were talking about that last month actually. I said something along the lines, “wow, I’m reading your blog and I feel like you’re doing all these amazing Fulbright things, that’s awesome!” And she said, “really? Cus I’ve been feeling like I’m doing jack shit, I thought you were the one doing so many things when I was reading *your* blog!” We’ve decided to dub this Fulbright impostor syndrome, where you feel like you’re wasting your time while everyone’s being productive, when in reality pretty much every Fulbrighter feels this way.  We suggested they add it to the orientation next year.  Realistically just a reminder to the new Fulbrighters that they will certainly feel this way, that it’s normal, and that checking in often with your colleagues will do a lot to mitigate it.

Other than that, not much to report, been reading, playing too many video games, have cat pictures. Sorry for a bit of a meh post. I’ll close with a passage from one of the books I’m reading for research, Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler.  It follows a mute woman through the American northwest in the 1870’s and is told from the perspectives of the people who encounter her.  It’s quite compelling so far, and wonderfully written.  I want to share with you an excerpt from a lumber town in Washington, when Sarah is being exhibited as the “Alaskan Wild Woman” and her “manager”‘s introductory monologue is woven in with the speech of a suffragette simultaneously speaking on the other side of town.

“Women are enigmas to you. She…
“…was raised by a she-wolf in a damp, flea-infested…
“…bed where one partner is taking pleasure at the expense of the other, shameless as…
“…a child who has suckled at the teat of the beast…
“…and yet, of course I need to explain the effect of uncosumated intercourse to no woman who is…
“…old enough to eat the raw meat for which she still retains…
“…an unnatural appetite, you men would have her believe, knowing nothing about her, and denying her a common humanity with…
“…the hunters who came upon her hunched over the body of her ‘mother,’ absolutely and innocently unclothed…
“…but she feels what you feel and needs what you need…
“…and now you may come forward and examine her for yourselves.”

I think it’s a brilliant piece of writing, and the fact that it’s Fowler’s first novel is astounding, setting the bar pretty high for my own endeavors, but maybe reading all this good literature will rub off on my somehow.  Enough talk, cats!

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