Ross School - Senior Projects 2010
Mentor: Mami Takeda
Title: The Essence of China: Food for the Mind, Body, and Stomach
For my Senior Project I created a Chinese cookbook, as it contains two of my favorite things, Chinese and cooking. The book is filled with recipes that are both American and Chinese, presented in both the English and Chinese language. The book also contains a guide to the Chinese herbs that were used throughout the cookbook. This guide informs the reader as to what medicinal properties they possess, and describes their spiritual properties as well; such as whether the herb is Yin, or Yang, and what temperature the herb is according to its properties.
At first had no clue what to do for my senior project. I knew I wanted to do something with food, but wasn't sure what to do with it. Then it hit me that I wanted to integrate Chinese, which is a passion of mine, into it. So I, at first, decided to do a dessert book, which I later found out would have been really difficult. Over the summer I began researching Chinese desserts, and discovered that Chinese desserts are very limited. A lot of them are soup, and a lot of them didnÕt sound very good in my opinion. I then realized that I needed to come up with a different project, which I still wanted to incorporate Chinese and cooking into. Near the end of the summer it hit me that an herbal cookbook would be interesting to do.
The goals of this book were to create healthy herbal food, expand my own knowledge of Chinese, and mostly to teach other people about how beneficial Chinese, and the common herbs we eat everyday can be for your health. I began researching herbs the beginning of the fall trimester, but didnÕt know what to really focus on, as there are over six hundred Chinese medicinal herbs. Because of that I decided to turn my research to what properties the Chinese give their herbs, and what things like Yin and Yang, and temperature all really meant. I then went to China Town, and wandered around with a list of shops that I wanted to visit to purchase herbs. The problem was that I didnÕt know exactly what herbs I wanted to buy. So whenever I got to one of the shops, they would want me to tell them a specific herb that I wanted. So I ended up going to a grocery store to just look around, and stumbled upon little herb kits filled with herbs that can be used for simple cooking! I bought two kits. And from then on focused my research on those herbs. There were thirteen different herbs throughout the two boxes, and when I researched some of them I really couldnÕt find out much about them. So I ended up having to only use the herbs I had plenty of information on which was eight.
The next phase was creating the recipes using the herbs. I had some idea of the types of recipes I wanted to implement inside of my cookbook, using ingredients that I like. I then started to experiment cooking using these ingredients. Then I tried adding the herbs to these recipes, and discovered that in the correct dosage, the herbs ruined the meals. And while they added health benefits, I felt that they took away from the meal itself. So I decided to only add bits of the herbs to the recipes. Once the recipes were all finished, and I had down all of my herb information, it was time for translation. Translation was a pretty tricky part of the process, as I hadn't really learned cooking terms in Chinese class before, so it was pretty troublesome to translate. What really helped me out was that a lot of the words were the same for different recipes, so that took off some of the pressure. After multiple translation revisions, I was done.
I decided that having a bunch of herbs, and then some recipes you can use with them, would be a great. I made 4 categories based on all of my herbs healing properties. These categories were blood, cell damage/detoxification, immune system, and pain. The final product ended up being an herbal book, with recipes that helped the reader use the herbs in great ways. I would have to say that my first challenge was time management, which is definitely the main factor that led to my not getting approval. The way I got over my time management was through mostly devastation. I really do not want anything like this to happen ever again, so IÕm trying really hard so it doesnÕt. The second challenge that I had to face was communication. I tend to not take help from people when they are willing to give it to me.
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