A Specially Wrapped Surprise: Taiwanese Rice Dumpling

For my final Passion Blog on Taiwanese foods, I decided to choose a food that is very difficult to make; Taiwanese Rice Dumplings or “Bah-Tzang” in Taiwanese.  There is nothing quite like the exquisite taste, sweet pungent scent, and pyramid-shaped structure of the Taiwanese Rice Dumpling.  It is made from sticky rice wrapped with Taiwanese bamboo and can contain a variety of fillings such as pork, mushrooms, shrimp, and other ingredients.  The unique thing about Bah-Tzang is that they can even be filled with sweet red-bean paste that surely pleases everyone’s taste buds.  What is the best part, you might ask?  The entire dumpling is infused with the aroma and delightful taste of bamboo leaves, which I love.

There really is not substitute for this delicious treat that is perfect for any occasion.  When my mom first introduced me to this dish when I was a child, I became an instant fan.  The soft and moist texture of the dumpling’s inside tasted like nothing I had before.  The Bah-Tzang is tied to a true story of a famous poet in China who committed suicide by tying a heavy stone and jumping into a river after his nation’s capital had been overtaken by opposing forces.  In order to try and protect his body from fish, the villagers threw Bah-Tzang into the river to get the fish to eat the dumplings instead of the poet’s body.  To this day I still love eating Bah-Tzang with my family and talking life.  A good dinner starts with the people you love most in life at the table and the delectable meals that complement the experience.


– 5 cups of glutinous rice

– 1/2 pound of dried mung beans

– 20 dried chestnuts

– 1 tablespoon of salt

– 1/8 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

– 10 dried black mushrooms , soaked with stems removed and caps sliced

– 20 bamboo leaves

– 1/2 pound pork belly, sliced


#1) Add glutinous rice, mung beans, and chestnuts to separate bowls
#2) Add enough water to cover the mixture in the bowls and let the bowls soak overnight
#3) Drain the rice, mung beans, and chestnuts before combining them in a large bowl (Do this after the ingredients soak overnight)
#4) Add the salt and five-spice powder and stir to a thick coat
#5) Soften mushrooms by pouring warm water over them.  Let the mushrooms soak in the water for 20 minutes.  Drain the water.
#6) Cut off the mushroom stems and vertically slice the mushroom caps
#7) Put the bamboo leaves in a large pot
#8) Pour enough water into the pot to cover the bamboo leaves and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes.  Drain the water and let the leaves cool.
#9) Pat the bamboo leaves dry before wrapping.
#10) Place two of the bamboo leaves, slightly overlapping, on a clean table
#11) Add about 1/3 of the rice mixture into the center of the leaves
#12) Top each mound of rice with a slice of pork and a few slices of mushroom
#13) Cover the filling with about 2 tablespoons of rice and the mung bean mixture
#14) Fold the leaves over completely and secure the inside filling
#15) Use string or kitchen twine to lace the dumpling on all sides.
#16) Place the dumplings in a large pot and bring water to a boil
#17) After 4 to 5 hours lower the heat, or when the dumplings are soft and moist.  Cook for an additional 4 to 5 hours and add water when necessary.
#18) Drain the water from the dumplings and serve hot. Enjoy!






General Education Post

As a second-semester freshman at Penn State, I have taken two General Education courses that I believe are beneficial to all students regardless of which major they ultimately pursue: English 015 and Economics 102. Not all General Education courses seem as relevant as these two courses to students and to their prospective futures. This is the reason why General Education reform is a must, but it must be done with meticulous care and attention.

The proposed 30-credit template appears to be a great alternative to the other options of Exploration, Integration, and Skills. There is much more freedom for students to decide what interests them. By requiring students to choose 9 credits each from both Themes and Exploration, this leaves 12 credits (about 4 courses) for them to decide if they want to continue with a theme or try different courses.

My only concern is that not all students will fully understand the changes made to the entire structure of the General Education program here at Penn State. The amendments must be sensible and clear to all students before they can be implemented. This discussion of General Education’s revolutionary reform and adoption of a committee called “General Education Task Force” sound quite restricting and imposing for the average student. It is contradictory what General Education should be about; General Education should prepare students with the necessary skills and knowledge required to succeed in an ever-changing global society.

Stance for General Education Recommendation Report

The current General Education program at Penn State should have a main focus on Exploration and a secondary focus on Skills.  The Themes option offers a list that is not comprehensive for the enormous diversity of students of different races, ethnicity, religion, and countries of the world.  For upcoming high school seniors that are transitioning to college, Exploration allows the most flexibility in terms of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary courses available for students.  Even for those students who have completed their first year, Exploration encompasses a broad spectrum of courses that can lead students towards a specific major, minor, or even double-major in particular areas of study.  A secondary focus on Skills can teach students the basic tools sought by employers such as proficiency in EXCEL, coding, and computer programming.  The General Education outline should be represented by about 75% Exploration and 25% Skills.

We, as a collective student-body, must be open to new ideas and opinions that can further our university’s standing in the nation as well as the world.  This means that we should not limit our students’ academic paths with a Theme-based General Education curriculum that is represented by the ideas of an elite minority “General Education Task Force”.  General Education cannot and should not turn into a restrictive academic plan for students that complicates and confuses the students.  The last thing that University officials want to do is create opposition to a newly established General Education plan.  Ultimately, students must feel comfortable and at ease with the final revisions agreed upon by all parties.


Taiwanese Scallion Pancakes

“Cong You Bing” or Taiwanese Scallion Pancakes consist of scallions, oil, and flatbread dough.  The dish is a savory treat that can be paired with any Chinese or Taiwanese main entrees.  Scallion pancakes are comparable to pita breads, but the consistency of scallion pancakes is much crispier and has a perfect combination of salty and greasy goodness.  There are some variations of Cong You Bing where chopped fennel greens and sesame seeds are included along with the scallions in the dough before the pancake is fried.  An additional method of cooking the scallion pancake is combining beaten eggs on one side of the pancake before frying in a pan.  The succulent flavors of the egg and scallion pancake make for a delicious snack during any time of the day.

There is a legend behind the scallion pancake in which Marco Polo borrowed the dough he found in China and that pizza evolved from the scallion pancake in this way.  Italians altered the method of making pizza indefinitely, but there are many different stories of possible legends of how pizza originated.  Some believe that Marco Polo missed Cong You Bing so much that he made chefs in Italy to make their own variation to the scallion pancake.

Cong You Bing’s origin dates back so long ago that many Chinese historians cannot fully agree on where it was created.  Many believe Cong You Bing originated in Shanghai, where many Indians had once lived.  This makes sense due to the scallion pancake’s similarity to Indian naan bread.

There is one specific variation of the Taiwanese Scallion Pancake that is from Korea, seafood pancake or Haemul Pajeon.  It is made from batter, scallions, shrimp, and a little dipping sauce that goes along with the dish.  This is a very popular food in Korean culture and can be found ready-to-eat at Korean grocery stores such as H-Mart. Many times seafood pancakes are eaten with Kim Chi and Miso Soup for added flavor.  Based off of my own personal opinion (I have tried both pancakes before), I believe that Scallion Pancakes have a better taste and is more suitable for the likings of all people.  Not every person that I know enjoys seafood and the battered egg combination is much different from other dishes in various cultures.


#1) Create a thick dough by mixing water and flour

#2) Mix the dough manually or with a mixer until you reach an even consistency

#3) Add minced scallions

#4) Mix again thoroughly

#5) Roll out the pancakes with a rolling pin and fry

#6) Serve and enjoy with soy sauce.

Option 3: Deliberation Recording

Aditya: Does not think it will work too well, but the only beneficial aspect of it would be programming.  EXCEL would be crucial for students, especially in business.  In depth programming is not needed, but a basic understanding of coding and programming is necessary.

Erik: Skills are important but not as critical compared to exploration of majors and minors.

Kareem: Basic courses for EXCEL and other programs in Microsoft Office would be helpful for students.  These programs are used constantly in classes and students are expected to have a general background of these programs.

Jerry: iMovie and Moviemaker are great programs to be used for alterative media forms.

Erik: A general skills program for students would be much better than a specific skills program.  By making the program general, the program would align itself closer to an exploration program.

Jerry: Integration of CAS 100 and ENG 015 would be much better for the same 3 credits.  Students would be able to take different course related to their major.

Recording: General Education Option 1

Option 1:

Aditya: Thinks Option 1 is a good idea, but students should be able to take courses outside of their major to explore potential minors (just like in DUS).

Kareem: Agrees that Gen Eds should be a part of the curriculum, but should not be too demanding in terms of workload.

Javier: Too much exploration in different areas would be meaningless, too much general knowledge.

Erik: It’s good to have a different perspective from Gen Eds to bring into your specific major.

Aditya: General Education courses are generally not too difficult.

Javier: If General Education courses are too easy then students applying for jobs will not be as prepared and would look better on paper.

Aditya: The purpose of General Education courses is lost since students take the easiest possible Gen Eds instead of exploring potential interests.

Javier: It would be better if we had fewer General Education courses that are not relevant to your major.  The credits cost money!  What would happen when the total number of Gen Ed credits gets decreased? Would there be more credits required for your major?

Aditya: Computer General Education courses would be most beneficial.  Learning about computer programs such as EXCEL and programming would be very helpful.

Sam: The recommended academic plan outlines everything thing that is needed for a particular major.  Exploration pathways would not be really helpful.




Paper 3 Draft: Rebuttal

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has remained active for over two-hundred years.  Prior to the late 19th Century, a predominately Muslim population, along with a smaller Christian population, and an even smaller Jewish population co-existed peacefully.  The current situation between Israel and Palestine has intensified as Israel persistently tries to reclaim territory by force.  On March 14th, 2013, a Penn State student claimed in an article titled, “‘Apartheid’ is an appropriate word to describe Israel” that the treatment of Palestinians and other minority groups in Israel can be described as apartheid.  The student goes on to cite Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to describe the human rights violations that Israel’s government committed during the course of Israel’s reign.  Although the student’s sources validate aspects of his claim of mistreatment, the definition and usage of the term “apartheid” is utilized wrongly and the term cannot stand in his argument.  In order to rectify the student’s claim, the student must re-label the situation in Israel as increasingly hostile towards Palestinians with actual examples of mistreatment and offer an alternative solution to peace between the two sides rather than to just criticize Israel’s inaction on the situation.

To begin with, before applying a word to a specific event or group of people, a writer must fully understand the definition of the word.  In this scenario, the student incorrectly labels Israel’s human rights violations under the term, “apartheid”.  This word is directly associated with the racial segregation of Africans in South Africa from the white minority.  The term literally means the state of being apart or “apart-hood”, which is not nearly the case in Israel.  Black South Africans were gruesomely beat, harassed, and oppressed by their puppet government controlled by the white elitists.  Palestinians in the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are represented by their elected leaders of the Palestinian Authority as well as the Hamas, which was not the case for black South Africans.  An example of the mistreatment and a response against it is shown in an article that states an ex-Israeli soldier, Andre Pshenichnikov, now vows to apply for Palestinian citizenship after he had enough of the human rights violations against Palestinians (New Internationalist).  The extent to which Israel has tormented and humiliated Israeli-Arabs has caused global outrage on the international stage.  Even the U.S. has been warned of the Israeli attacks on Palestinians living in their territories as declared in a 1989 report, “The annual human rights report, released yesterday by the State Department, accuses Israel of a ‘substantial increase in human rights violations’, mainly in relation to the 14-month old Palestinian uprising on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, producing ‘many avoidable deaths and injuries,’” (Financial Times).  The number of examples of mistreatment and abuse against Palestinians are endless due to the Israeli government’s abilities to cover up events or to ignore the human rights violations committed altogether.

Furthermore, a way and means to create peace and stability in the Palestinian-controlled territories of the Gaza Strip and West Bank must be agreed upon.  Presenting reports of human rights violations will not provoke action in the Israeli government; deliberation amongst the powers of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the United States will stir up efforts towards achieving peace as well as non-aggression.  This is highlighted in an excerpt of a commentary that reinforces, “On April 24, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the House Appropriations Committee that U.S. and Arab support for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is contingent on the Netanyahu government’s willingness to accept the two-state solution and make the rapid establishment of a Palestinian state a principal goal,” (Glick 1).  Without talks between all respective parties, there is no opportunity for advancements on the Israeli or Palestinian side.  The Obama Administration has voiced its support for a Palestinian state and Israeli officials have agreed that it is ultimately the only plan that Palestinians would agree upon.  The territory of the Golan Heights would be given back to Syria as a part of this plan.  Regardless of what plan is finally agreed chosen, one must be agreed upon by all parties involved in the talks.

In a final analysis, the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine cannot be described as “apartheid” contrary to popular belief.  The word’s definition and use in context is not proper to describe the wrongful conditions that Palestinians are put under.  Previous co-existence of Muslims, Christians, and Jews proves that present-day peace is attainable. In order to rectify the student’s claim, the student must re-label the situation in Israel as increasingly hostile towards Palestinians with actual examples of mistreatment and offer an alternative solution to peace between the two sides rather than to just criticize Israel’s inaction on the situation.


Works Cited

“Ex-Israeli soldier seeks Palestinian citizenship.” New Internationalist July 2012: 9. Gale Power Search. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.

Glick, Caroline B. “The stabilization plan.” Commentary 127.6 (2009): 34+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 24 Mar. 2014

Riddell, Peter. “US Attacks Israel on Human Rights.” Financial Times, 8 Feb. 1989. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.

Personal Stake on General Education

General Education courses have been an integral part of college-level education.  These courses offer students a broad array of knowledge in the arts, humanities, and sciences.  As a college Freshman at Penn State, I have taken a General Education course that I believe is essential to every student, regardless of one’s major: Econ 102.  Through this course, I have realized the importance of the basic principles of supply and demand, price elasticity, and the influence that consumers have on markets.  All students should have a general knowledge of economics that can be used to make informed decisions later on in life.

Penn State’s General Education reform should focus primarily on exploration.  The thing that most incoming freshman have trouble with is the transition from high school to college-style education.  This phase can be troubling for students whom are undecided or unsure about their major.  In conjunction with intensive work loads in courses and having trouble meeting new friends, students should feel at ease with General Education at Penn State.  Exploring subjects and ideas in various areas can assist in a student’s eventual decision on what major is most fitting.  Exploration is the first step towards success in a person’s life.




A mooncake is a Chinese baked good that is traditionally eaten during the Moon Festival (also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival).  Just like many other Chinese foods, this one comes with a folk tale.  It goes something like this: at one point the world had 10 suns, and the Chinese Emperor requests China’s best archer, Hou Yi, to shoot down 9 of the 10 suns.  It is said that the 10 suns caused a massive drought and deadly heat for the people of China.  Hou Yi successfully shoots down the 9 suns and his wife is given a pill of immortality that makes her float toward the moon.  She resides there as a reminder of what Hou Yi accomplished.  During the Moon Festival (late September or early October depending on the lunar calendar), people enjoy mooncakes to continue the tradition of the mooncake.

The mooncake has several different shapes, sizes, and tastes.  The Hong Kong-style mooncake, pictured above right, contains 4 egg yolks that represent each of the four phases of the moon.  The texture is paste-like and made of lotus seed.  A box of four mooncakes in the U.S. are generally sold for a minimum of $40.  The pastry is quite an expensive treat and are a major hit despite its high cost.  The dessert is a favorite of young children whom celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in conjunction with floating sky lanterns.

The Taiwanese mooncake pictured above left, is most commonly filled with red bean paste, sometimes with mochi filled in the center.  Novelty mooncakes are growing increasingly in popularity among the young generation with fillings of green tea, chocolate, ice cream, and even tiramisu.  The roundness of the mooncake symbolizes completeness and unity for China and its people. In modern times, during the night of the Mid-Autumn festival families work together to make mooncakes that shows harmony, peace, and togetherness of the members of the family.  The Moon Festival is celebrated by Chinese, Taiwanese, Philipinos, and the Vietnamese.  In the Vietnamese culture, the mooncake is eaten as well as viewing lion dances and making five-pointed star shaped lanterns.  In the Philipines, a game of chance, known as the mooncake dice game, or simply mooncake game, is also played by both Chinese-Filipinos and Filipinos alike.  The mooncake has lost some of its original meaning in modern times, but the roots of its creation still remain very much alive.

The variety of foods in Taiwan covers anything that you could think of.  The main entrees, supporting appetizers, and mouth-watering desserts encompass all of my eating needs.  Why else w0uld I suffer through an 18-hour flight to Taiwan?  For the food of course…  🙂


Paper 3: Rebuttal Outline

Article: “Apartheid is an appropriate term to describe Israel”


Introduction:  With my introductory paragraph, I plan to broadly describe the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict.  I will be objective and present the facts for both sides of the disputed territory.  I will then reject the claim that the word “apartheid” is an appropriate term to describe Israel using facts and additional support.

Body: In the body, I will address how the word “apartheid” was used incorrectly in describing Israel, describe how the Israel-Palestine conflict is much more complicated than it appears at the surface superficially, and how the writer’s use of words and support are slanted in favor of the Palestinian-cause (I will remain objective in my approach as an outsider).

Conclusion: For the conclusion, I will restate my thesis and show how the argument is invalid.  I will try to convince my audience of my approach and show how the terminology is incorrect.