my mater is brewing winter melon soup downstairs, in the melon! we bought a gianomous winter melon today - i didn't get to dig out the seeds :( - and she put red dates and two different kinds of almond in them. we're adding rock sugar later, because, she says, if you put it in now it'll make the soup sour. we're cooking it over a charcoal fire! it took a while to get the fire started, first because we couldn't find the starter, and then lots of violent fanning with newspaper sending up splutters of orange-red sparks. she's keeping the other half of the melon for more soup, with hunanese ham, red dates, jizi and mushrooms another day. i like my mother's soups, except for two of them which nothing can make me touch: cuttlefish and zucchini, and red beans and pork.

chinese cooking is very complicated i wonder how i'll ever learn to do things like steam a whole cheong herr with chinese gooseberries and ginger, or even just to kill a crab.

von tells me brew is the wrong word and what i want is double boil. okay then double boil. since she is having two pots. su-lin says crockpot.