Helping Out At Home + Teaching 8th Graders

Service During Lockdown

In my first few weeks of DP2 I realized that it may take some time for school to resume service activities considering the uncertainty regarding whether we’ll be returning to school in person or not, so in the meantime, I decided that I would continue to give back to others in some way in the ways in which I could from the safety of my home during the pandemic. While usually I either attend multiple service groups during and after school ours with Hope For Kids and other school communities or carry out football lessons with primary school children. Unfortunately, neither of those things have been a possibility recently with the looming consequences of, you guessed it, another nationwide lockdown. So instead I decided that the best way to do my part in service would be through helping out at home and by tutoring a few of my brother’s friends online.

Just today, for example I was on a call with 2 of the girls from the 8th grade and they mentioned that they were struggling with a few of their assignments and certain concepts so today I sat with them on google meets for two hours and helped them overcome the hurdles of understanding the physics of waves and helped one of the review and reflect on their “perfect paragraphs” for English. Now naturally, I am not teacher by any means, but I had done these units previously in the MYP and I still had some of my notes and projects that I used to help them understand the concepts. For example to explain the concept of waves I pulled up one of my old E-Maze presentations which I made in the 10th grade demonstrating what waves are so that they could have a clearer idea of the definitions and prepare for their upcoming test. Likewise, for English homework help, I simply gave them certain pointers on where they could potentially have made improvements and without giving them the answers gently guided them into thinking about self improvement in the subject. This isn’t at the moment a regular occurrence but if they find my help useful in any way I told them that I would be happy to help :))

That aside, at home I’ve been helping out a lot more with things like chores. Recently our helper went back home so currently its just my mom, my brother and I at home and since most of the time we’re on our laptops doing school while mom is working around the house I felt that it was nice to take some of the burden off of her shoulders by offering to cook every now and then and by taking care of things like bathing the dog. These may seem like simple gestures but they make a world of difference for her since she has to run a lot of work to do and I aim to be a bit more involved when the holidays roll around.

^ A freshly showered and dried Bella đŸ’™

Baking + Sunday Dinners

Baking and Making Sunday Dinners for My Family

During the course of my CAS journey one of my favorite endeavors that I decided to take up was cooking. It initially started as a one off thing but has soon become a regular occurrence in my household as of late and one that has not only been beneficial to me but my family as well. At home we like to switch things up whenever possible, order in different cuisines, try out new recipes etc. and lately as college has been drawing nearer and nearer my parents have reminded me how useful a skill knowing how to make your own food can be as you grow up. In addition to this I find cooking extremely therapeutic, it allows me to concentrate on whichever action I am doing and I momentarily let go of all of the stressful things in life. Another advantage of making meals on the occasion is that I get to give my mom a well deserved rest where she doesn’t have to cook and clean for the night while I simultaneously get to learn a lot about the cultures which my recipes come from.

^ Strawberry cheesecake & Chocolate chip cookies!

Over the past term I have backed everything from chocolate chip cookies to cheesecake while I’ve made dishes from all around the world. The key component of making everything is a lot of care, patience and practice as sometimes, doing things as simple as frying chicken can be extremely painstaking and time consuming but the end result is almost always more worth it if you put the effort in. The next mantra for the kitchen I would use is that not everything is going to work out, some recipes might do amazing but others maybe not so much. For example, this weekend I made chocolate chip cookies, now these were somewhat of a cheat meal because it was a pre-mixed pack and when I tasted the batter it didn’t taste too out of the ordinary but the moment you bit into it after it was baked it felt sweet enough to give you diabetes, which upon reflection wasn’t all too nice especially since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Another thing I’ve learned to deal with is that ingredients aren’t always readily available, especially during this pandemic since most of what we order is done online so I need to substitute quite a few ingredients whenever possible. Here are a few of my absolute favorite meals that I made over the past 3 weeks.

KBQ, also known as Korean Barbecue Chicken is a Korean dish which consists of crispy buttermilk battered chicken doused in spicy gochujang sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. KBQ is something that my brother and I always wanted to order in but since the store closed during lockdown we decided that we’d make it ourselves. The cook time was actually quite long because you had to wait for the chicken to marinate and then fry them till they’re cooked but the end result was very worth the wait.

Chili Con Carne on the other hand, is a Mexican dish which loosely translates to chili with meat, the dish consists of a delicious seasoned stew which is usually accompanied on a bed of rice with cheese on top, this dish was fairly easy to make and honestly delectable even though this was the first time I had tried it. The second part of this dish is the Hot Butter Cuttlefish which is one of my all time favorite side dishes which to my surprise is actually a part of Sri Lankan Chinese fusion cuisine! Unfortunately this time around there wasn’t any flour at home to make the crispy batter with, but it was just as delicious without.

The third dish that I found was a great success was my mom’s take on a Cajun/ Creole dish called Jambalaya which is basically a rice dish with vegetables and meat combined with rice. My mom’s recipe of the dish doesn’t necessarily follow the original ingredient list but uses an amazing combination of ham and rice with minimal vegetables instead! Jambalaya also contains influences from regions like Spain, Africa and France and so it can be said that many regions have their own take on the dish with different meat and vegetable variations but that’s what makes this dish so diverse in the first place.

I would highly recommend trying these out at home!!

 

Making Desserts

I might just be competent enough to cook…

A few months ago around Christmas time, I took on a few challenges to learn how to make certain dishes, i.e. make cookies, bake some bread people, and even make some homemade ice cream. At the time however, I could by no means be left unsupervised in the kitchen out of fear for everything getting burned to a crisp or having the risk of having recipe going terribly wrong, but here I am 3 months later having grown significantly in my cooking abilities after many hours of practice and last but not least, episodes of My Kitchen Rules  Oh… and I can be left to make things on my own now… đŸ˜­

Over the past few months I’ve tried to do my best to be helpful around the kitchen, whether that was for making dinner with my mom or making desserts for birthdays of family members and friends. Over these few weeks I have successfully mastered the art of cake making, churro making and tiramisu and chocolate biscuit pudding making. (I am pleased to confirm that the tiramisu and churros with chocolate sauce have become high in demand).

So how did I go from incapable of being unsupervised in the kitchen to Nigella Lawson the next day ?(that was a quite and awful comparison, my bad, Nigella is the queen of the culinary world and I could never possibly measure up to her). Well, in reality I really owe it to my mom who has a tireless way of looking up random recipes that catch her eye and then pulling out all stops with it with her own unique additions. The first few times around I just observed how she did things in the kitchen being allowed to occasionally stir and mix things, but soon it became a scenario while I did most the work with her giving me some life changing advice in the midst.

And so it became that I learned make my own recipes which caught my eye, helped make Grandpa’s birthday cake and even made 2 dishes of pineapple gateau  and 2 chocolate biscuit pudding dishes for a family function . The highlight for me, personally was also being able to make churros and dip all by myself, and I was elated seeing how quickly the plate finished.

Now naturally, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, for instance, this one time I dropped a piping bag into hot oil containing churro batter (oops), but I learned to adopt new techniques and improvise. No matter how slow or fast the progress, I am happy knowing for a fact that this is going to be useful to me in college when I am expected to cook for myself, so I’m really glad I’m getting the practice now. As for the future, I would really like to learn how to make more savory dishes because that would probably come even more in handy, it’s always the effort that counts!

Here are a few of the desserts I made with minimal assistance:

^ chocolate cake for my grandma’s birthday

^ pineapple gateau!

 

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