“AI-YA!! You old, confused man. How can you think of such a thing for them to do??” My mother woke up from her afternoon nap, looked out to the backyard and observed my two children engaged in the most unnatural employment.

“This is good fun.” my dad replied easily.

Over Spring Break last week, I had driven 6 hours with my kids to Southern California to visit my parents. The kids were spending a lot of time on their iPad and iPhone while at my parent’s house. One afternoon, my dad called the kids out to work on a project.

In the past, a project typically involves a complicated puzzle, colorful pencils or markers, or a glittering arts and craft kit. They were not prepared for my dad’s wicked project.

An ancient cooking method

Yes, he got out this odd and ancient looking oven thing, and had my 13-year-old build a fire in it. A real fire!

Along with a miserable looking fan, and a once fashionable ripped jeans from Abercrombie & Fitch, my children were cast with perfection into the roles of some poor homeless orphans in China.

Did you see the fan my 13-year-old is holding?? Apparently my dad had inherited the fan that had once belonged to Ji Gong, the legendary drunken monk.

After a nice fire got going, my dad put a wok on it with some food for my kids to cook.

Cooking like the old days

The kids had banished all thoughts of their iPad and iPhone, and spent the afternoon back in old China, likely on a farm, and cooked themselves a simple meal.

The kids carefully nursed their fire, adding more wood, fanning the flame, and waited for their food to cook.

Nursing their stove with care

“What are you guys cooking?” I asked.

“Earth melon.” 10-year-old.

Ahh…earth melon, of course.

Yams are ready

I had a good laugh. What a splendid idea to cook the yam in this manner! It was one of my favorite childhood foods.

The kids loved their yams. Their previous experience with the yam was limited to the mashed type served as a side dish with Thanksgiving dinners, and the mashed type covered under a blanket of marshmallows at Boston Market.

“Mom, when we go home, you need to make us yams like this. This is so good.” 13-year-old.

“You should ask Wai-Gong to let us take that oven home!” 10-year-old.

The ancient oven

Previous related posts: A forsaken old farmhouse
The Coolest Retirement Hobby
Father’s Day and a Project

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