In My Kitchen, December 2013

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in in my kitchen | 26 comments

I’m running a day late with my post because yesterday I was literally running around Shanghai doing a half marathon. The view at 6.30am made the early start worthwhile.

IMK December 2013 jamjnr.com

The sore knees today are making it less so but I finished at 2h17m just 2 mins after my target time so I’m pretty happy with it and already planning the next one…..I never learn….

But back in the kitchen this is what has been going on lately.

In my kitchen….

..are pomelos. It never occurred to me the Chinese were big fruit eaters until we moved here. In my ignorance the only fruit I associate with Chinese food is toffee bananas but every few weeks there is a new seasonal fruit on the trucks and carts and this month the big seller are pomelos.

IMK December 2013 jamjnr.com

I had never bought a pomelo before and the first time I cut into one I was surprised at how thick the pith is. It wasn’t until I watched a shop assistant at Carrefour open one up with surgical precision that I worked out how to peel them. Now I feel like I’m in an episode of CSI every time I cut around the circumference of the fruit and peel back the skin in one piece.

IMK December 2013 jamjnr.com

We can eat a whole one in one sitting – they are so refreshing and I really love the texture. According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) pomelos eaten in large quantities will help you lose weight. Maybe they are low on calories? Who knows.

In my kitchen…

…is my rice cooker. Or as I prefer to call it ‘a higher form of intelligence’.  It doesn’t matter if I use brown or white rice, 1 cup or 5. All I do is press the orange start button and it produces perfect rice nearly every time. I always doubt myself and always check on it after 10 minutes and then again at 15 and occasionally I need to add a tiny bit of water but 9 times out of 10 it works. No idea how – I’m just thankful it does.

IMK December 2013 jamjnr.com

In my kitchen….

…is more bacon. I’m a bit annoyed with myself though because my neighbour Scott had arranged with a local American restaurant for us to use their smoker with our home made bacon. But after drying it out last week I totally forgot and sliced it all up.

On the upside, Scott is American and doesn’t understand bacon rind so I always get a text saying ‘do you want the pig skin’ when he’s curing  his bacon. I’ve tried to convince him he’s missing out on but he refuses to listen and his loss is my gain. This time I cured the rib under the belly as well as an experiment. I left it in the cure too long and it was too salty – next time I’ll do it for 3 days only. Bacon ribs will be coming up in 2014 along with smoked bacon.

IMK December 2013 jamjnr.com

In my kitchen…..

….are my new fake Le Creuset pots. They actually have a Paul Bocuse on the lid  so I’m not quite sure whose fakes they are. In any case, I bought them from taobao and they are really good quality no matter what truck they fell off. The large red one is 6.2L and was 385RMb/ $70 and the small blue one is 2.5L/ $50 including delivery and delivered with 36 hours.

IMK December 2013 jamjnr.com

In my kitchen…

….are vegetables from the wet market. No idea what the top one is, but I peel it and chop it and stir fry it. It’s got a bright green stem and is crunchy. In the middle are garlic chives which go into everything and on the bottom are wild rice shoots which I peel and chop up too. These vegetables seem to have been around all year on the market so they are obviously staples. I probably should find out more about them – I’ll report back!!

IMK December 2013 jamjnr.com

I use them in stir fried rice to add colour and texture. Not very authentic I know but it is delicious. I finally got around to seasoning the wok following Poh’s instructions and haven’t look back. The wok has become a permanent fixture in the kitchen – which is exactly the way it should be.

IMK December 2013 jamjnr.com In my kitchen….

…I have a new enamel tray which I absolutely love. Mrs B came over from Tokyo for a shopping spree a couple of weeks back and bought me this at the ‘antique’ market on Dongtai Lu. It will be perfect for carrying drinks and nibbles out onto the balcony in spring.

IMK December 2013 jamjnr.com

There won’t be much going on in the Shanghai kitchen for the rest of the month as I head off to Melbourne next week – I may have mentioned that already??? It’s not before time either as the pollution has been ghastly the last couple of days – yes I did run in it. I’ll leave you with a view from the kitchen window. I’d advise you not to take a deep breath…..

IMK December 2013

There’s a school in the bottom right of the photo – the kids weren’t out doing their exercises and band practise this morning. Probably due to this:

IMK December 2013

That’s the reality of living in China. Doesn’t detract for a minute though from the fact that however much I am looking forward to Melbourne, I’m going to miss this place like crazy until I get back in January.

If you’d like to see what else is going on in kitchens around the world head over to Celia at Fig, Lime and Cordial where last month there were 50 cooks sharing their kitchens. A perfect way to spend an hour for a snoop like me!


  1. I love this post – such a treat to get an insight into a cook’s kitchen. The enamel server is lovely, as are the cast iron pots. I love how you’re not quite sure about that one leafy vegetable, but go guns blazing and use it anyway. Brilliant.
    Yasmeen | Wandering Spice recently posted…Grilled Dill, Chive and Lemon ChickenMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Yasmeen :) You’ve reminded me I need to find out what that vegetable is called!!

  2. Gorgeous collection Nancy! I found the most amazing things at Dongtai Lu markets!

    • I bet they were all real antiques too:) Every single time I go I feel ripped off about 30 seconds after I’ve agreed a price!!!

  3. How wonderful to have such a variety of fruit – though not so wonderful to have the pollution. How many different sorts of markets are there? And what is a wet market?
    Anne Wheaton recently posted…in my kitchen December 2013My Profile

    • Hi Anne, thanks for stopping by. A wet market is a local market where you can buy fruit, veg, fish, chicken etc. The animals are often live and there can be a lot of guts and gore so I believe it’s called a wet market because everything is washed down every day. You’re never far from a market here and mine is less than 5 minutes walk away – everything is fresh and clean and the stall holders are very patient with me.

  4. I can’t believe you ran in that smog, or that your iPhone is telling you that the air is hazardous. Incredible! I loooooooove Pomelo. The texture is fabulous and if you get one that’s juicy, they are so satisfying! Fake or no, a good cast iron pot is a staple in any serious kitchen :)
    Jas@AbsolutelyJas recently posted…In My Kitchen – DecemberMy Profile

    • It started off OK-ish but by the end the pollution had rolled in and by the evening it was just sky high – and it’s stuck around all week. Not great. Pomelos are delicious – there’s always one peeled in the fridge for snacking on.

  5. How fantastic you are able to come home for Christmas. Unfortunately my sister will have to stay in Beijing for Christmas which is sad for everyone. I love your Le Crueset pots – I would love to have a few more in my collection xx
    Hotly Spiced recently posted…Bells at KillcareMy Profile

    • Oh that’s a shame especially with your other sister visiting with the baby. I get to spend time with my little nephew which I’m madly excited about. And his parents of course!

  6. I love that you eat fruit of the month! I’m not always sure what I was eating when I shopped in Chinatown in NYC but I loved trying it all. Your pots are lovely- if they are heavy enough to feel like the real thing then I couldn’t use them- too heavy for my arthritic wrists. My husband lifts mine into and out of the oven for me.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • I think the pots would be too heavy for you Heidi :( I hope that means they will last though. I’m away for a month in Melbourne so I’ll be curious to see what the fruit carts are carrying in January.

  7. Nancy, a half marathon! Wow! That pomelo is a big ‘un. I’m guessing you’re not on medication, being an athlete… did you know grapefruit can interfere with some medications? I heard it on the ABC. Not that I’m taking anything either. Love the faux enamelled cast iron. Most likely they come out of the same factory. Happy cooking and get some eye drops for that pollution!
    Lizzy (Good Things) recently posted…In My Kitchen – December 2013My Profile

    • I know that about grapefruit because my Dad takes warfarin. But I’m no athlete!

  8. Nancy, you crack me up! When I read you were running a half marathon (congratulations by the way, huge achievement), I was worried about the air pollution, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt your performance at all! And your fake cast iron – I saw the photo and thought, “that’s how Nancy has to store them to save on space..” :)

    Chinese are huge fruit eaters (I’m not, much to the disappointment of my parents), but I don’t recall my folks ever eating pomelos! And fascinating to read about your bacon experiments, I didn’t realise there was such an art to it! x

    • Celia there is so much fruit here it’s amazing – and wonderful. Last month it was persimmon and pomegranates, this month pomelos and grapes. I don’t normally eat fruit either but I do here it’s packed full of flavour – not sure I want to know how they make that happen though!

  9. Nancy, congrats on your half-marathon accomplishment! Can’t imagine running in smog (let alone running, lol — I’m a “walker”) but I admire folks who do. Your view is incredible, clear or not! I liked your garlic chives and “mystery vegetable” — now I’m hungry for stir-fry. ;) Thanks for your links to wok how-to’s, too!
    Kim | a little lunch recently posted…In My Kitchen, December 2013My Profile

    • I only run because I can’t diet and like eating too much!! I need to find out what that vegetable is don’t I!!

  10. I have no idea what veggie that is either! Looks interesting though! I’m going to go and buy myself a whole bag of pomelos and eat them in one seating (and hope I lose weight!!) ;)
    Lisa the Gourmet Wog recently posted…Garden Share Collective – December 2013My Profile

    • I’ve eaten half a truckload already Lisa and it hasn’t worked!!!!

  11. Hi Nancy, How cool are those pots? It is amazing how good quality fakes can be!

    • It’s hard to know what is fake and what came off the back of a lorry but these pots work really well and they feel heavy enough to be the real thing….who knows!

  12. Well done on the half marathon! I’m so glad you like the tray. I’m sure it’s a genuine antique…that’s what the lady with few teeth said anyway. Mrs B xx

    • Legs are still sore….too sore for a massage even :(
      That horrible man we got it from was still manhandling people and shouting at them last week. It was quite funny to watch.

  13. I love that you have no clue what the vegetable is but you ‘chop it up and put it in stir fries’ anyway. You are so cool!

    Never could I live with that level of pollution. I struggle around just one smoker if one happens to be close by.

    Have a wonderful time in Melbourne and have a glorious holiday season.
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef recently posted…How to Make Roasted Herbed PotatoesMy Profile

    • Yeah it’s not great looking out of the window and seeing that I have to admit. It only seems to happen during the winter months I guess when the furnaces get cranked up.
      I’m hoping someone will be able to tell me what I’m eating and how to prepare it properly!!!

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