Thursday, January 31, 2013

City Envy

I am totally jealous of everyone who lives in Shanghai!  TOTALLY!!!!!!!!!  Yes, I think Monday was one of the more perfect days out there.  And yes, it was quite miserable when we went there over Christmas (rain and cold no fun), but Monday was gorgeous clear blue skies and everything.  But that's not the only reason that I'm jealous.  I stayed with a friend in Shanghai and she had this view:

They have grocery stores that sell things like Vanilla.  When we were trying to decide what to do for dinner, she listed the cuisines; Sushi, Schrwama, Indian, Thai, Brazilian barbecue, Russian.... I'm sure I'm missing something, but I can't think of what it is--compare this to "do you want Hubei or Sichuan?" that you get in Wuhan.  THEN on the way home we dropped by the organic bakery to pick up a loaf of bread made with spelt, and some cheese!  And if you still don't see why I'm jealous, here's a picture of a fresh squeezed juice machine!  That's right, a vending machine that sell fresh squeezed juice!!
Luckily, it's only 5 hours away by train, so we really can escape if we have to.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Walking...but not in Wuhan

Monday I had to go into Shanghai to see a dentist (BOO).  Luckily, things were not as dire as they seemed, so I basically had a free day (YAY) to wander around Shanghai. It was a beautiful day, blue skies, mild weather, lots of quiet streets....
well manicured green spots

Phone booths with WIFI!

The Shanghai Metro map... so convenient

I know it's new, but look how clean!

Quiet tree lined streets

Neighborhood pedestrian areas

skin care boutiques at the mall

people's park

the big pedestrian street

for your protection

the fancy new Shanghai train station

This guy has on roller skates and fans!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Walking in Wuhan

I finally got around to taking some pictures in the grocery store:

Aside from the meat-part bins it looks like a regular grocery store doesn't it?  I bet you were disappointed.  

Monday, January 21, 2013


Sorry to say the air is still looking thick.

 So other than my usual treks to the grocery store, gym, and bus stop to pick up the kid, I have not been outside.
But I did get myself together this week to make meatballs for the freezer (I'm starting to stock up for Chinese New Year when everything will be closed, and the streets deserted).  I can't believe I have not shared the freezer meatballs before this.  If you've got about an hour (every time I make them the time gets shorter and shorter) or an extra pair of hands, these are great to have in the freezer for last minute meals.
I have spared you the shots of the pre-balled meat, it just looks gross.  I usually mix the ingredients together in a huge bowl and then make meatballs using a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon (or a tablespoon) I make them tiny because they cook faster but you can make them as large as you want.  Then lay them on a cookie sheet, you can pack them pretty close in, so long as they are not touching. (btw- you will want to make sure that your cookie sheet fits into your freezer).

Then put the meatballs in your freezer for about an hour.  After they are frozen through, you can pop them off the cookie sheet and put them in plastic bags (to give your freezer more space).  I have also baked them before freezing so that you have pre-cooked meatballs frozen and ready to eat, use the same method for freezing.

When you are ready to use them, you can just count out as many as you want and throw them into your sauce.  I have heard you can bake them too, but I have never done that from a frozen meatball.
I also use this same method to freeze cookie dough.  Then you can have fresh baked cookies whenever you want and you don't have to eat 2 dozen.

If you get a chance please say a little prayer for our Honeydog today, she is leaving the safety of my parents' house to travel to China (by herself!!!) to be with us.  This is her first time traveling under the new United rules as cargo without anyone going with her.

Friday, January 18, 2013


No I'm not thinking extra deep thoughts.  I've been mulling beverages.... wassail and wine baby!

 I LOVE mulled beverages!  LOVE!  When I was growing up my mom used to make us Wassail every winter and I thought it was the most amazing beverage on earth.

However recently, inspired by all the mulled wine they drink in a Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin), I mulled some wine for a dinner party as an aperitif. Of course, before I served it I had to try it (to, you know, make sure I wasn't poisoning anyone) and well it's been love ever since.

First of all it's comforting, if Wassail warms you like a hug on a cold winter's day, then Mulled wine is like being wrapped in your favorite warm snuggly blanket.  Secondly, it's an awesome way to use up that horrid my least favorite Chinese wine.  Also, both Wassail and Mulled wine seem to cut through the pollution induced congestion, I think it's the citrus.

Most important of all, it's yummy!  I meant to have a picture of the finished product in a cup, but well... what had happened was....

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Not Walking in Wuhan

I have not been out walking.  The pollution has been horrible since Thursday.  I downloaded the China air quality app, and confirmed that the air is unhealthy.  But looking out the window told me that just as easily:

While the view out this window was not so bad:

 The view from here was horrible (hint you are supposed to be able to see trees):

I suppose if we needed further proof, the scratchy throats and headaches would have been another indication that something was up.  But then, that's why this is considered a hardship.
I bought a mask in case I have to go out walking.  I look like an evil villain don't I?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Writer's block and Tofu shreds?

Sorry about the radio silence, I kept opening up the screen to blog, but nothing would happen.  For the past week I've been trying to get something out, but I had to give it up as lost.  Maybe this week will be better.
A little while ago DH got these from one of his co-workers

I think they are tofu shreds, (shredded tofu?) but I can't find a tutorial on how to cook them ANYWHERE!  I've tried boiling them, and they were too crunchy... too crunchy... too crunchy... soggy soppy mess, so this time I tried soaking them in water for 3 hours.

The result was slightly better this time, after I soaked them they were still slightly crunchy, so I braised them in a little sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar and added some chopped vegetables that I had lightly sauteed.  It wasn't too bad, I still think they felt a little soggy and limp.  I really don't know what to do with them to make them more edible so I think I'm going to give the rest away.  *sigh* sometimes you just have to admit defeat.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Happy New Year!

As usual I'm running late with the New Year's wishes!  I didn't think I would be busy this holiday season, but somehow the days just flew by.  As the old year wrapped up and we started the new year I have been trying to reorganize things in our house--You know the first flurry of unpacking was just to get things on the shelves and out of the boxes, now I'm trying to make sure we have things where we can find them.  I have been reveling in the unusual pleasure of spending my entire day with Babes.  We took a quick trip to Shanghai (I thought to make an entire post out of the trip, but really it was too cold and wet to do any fun site seeing, so we just relaxed, ate Western food, and enjoyed being out of Wuhan, doesn't really make for interesting reading).  And we started planning on the best way to get Honeydog to China with us.
BUT!  We did take time to see off the old year with a mini-Russian feast

and ring in the New Year with an update on the traditional Southern New Year's feast.  My parent's always made greens, black eyed peas, and Ham (for those of you who don't know, the black eyed peas are to bring luck, the greens bring money, and the ham symbolizes moving forward into the new year), but since I can't stand black eyed peas I made Barely hoppin' John, baby bok choi, and baked pork chops and apples (because I don't know where to buy ham in Wuhan).

I didn't make any New Year's resolutions, but I think I'd like to try to learn how to do something New this year, I just don't know what it is yet.