Monday, April 27, 2015

A SUNDAY STROLL in SHANGHAI

One thing about living in Shanghai is that it never gets boring. Even after three years I haven't become complacent about living in this city. The buildings still amaze me, the lights on the buildings at night excite me, and almost daily I see something which astounds or sometimes shocks, but it certainly never bores.

Now the warmer weather has arrived, and it's still not too hot or humid, we love to walk along the river. The river is a five minute walk from the apartment. Sunday we did just this and in today's blog I want to show you a few of the sights we encountered on our walk.

          The first sight we came across I have to say shocked. I'm sure you will agree with me.


Turtle is a delicacy here. One I have never tried, and have no plans to anytime soon. It is very strange that people sell them at the side of the road. Where did it come from, and do people actually purchase them from people like this? I have no idea I only know I didn't see any takers when I saw them.


On we went to the river and the sight as you come through the trees is beautiful. One I could never tire of. The buildings on The Bund on the opposite bank and in front of us a busy working river. As we walk along the river we see a very normal sight here in Shanghai and that is people asleep wherever they find somewhere to lie down. There were so many people enjoying a nap in the sun. Not a bad place to nap really.


Then in front of me is one of the most iconic buildings in Shanghai. The one everyone recognises as being Shanghai. It appears in movies, in ads and in fact whenever Shanghai is featured this is the backdrop that is used. It used to be the highest building at one time but now it is dwarfed by all the new tall buildings springing up.


Now one of the most often  spotted western icons here in Shanghai.


It was the perfect place to stop for a coffee as it faces the river. A very pleasant place to sit and watch Shanghai people taking a stroll on a Sunday morning. With the sun shining I felt, as I often do here, as if I am holiday. We sat for some time taking it all in.

We eventually arrived at the Mall and I still find it hard to believe that the whole front of the building is restaurants. It is not unusual here in Shanghai to go for nice dinner in a Mall. Some of the really good eating places are located here. Even Mortons has a restaurant in a Mall. It's something you would never think of doing at home as they tend to be fast food outlets in these locations, but not here. I still find it strange to head to a Mall for night out in a restaurant. Don't think I'll ever really get used to it.


This is half way on our walk so we leave the river and head to another mall where I plan to buy something tasty for lunch. Perhaps what I saw on the shelves here was the most unexpected encounter of the day. And in case you're wondering I had to buy even although they were ridiculously  expensive. I couldn't not have. Right?


Soon we were home and making our way through the gardens of the complex where our apartment is located. This time of year they are beautiful. Everything is bursting into colour, the trees are brightest of greens and the grass lovely and lush.



                                                 

 As we wander past the pool I look forward to summer when the pool is open and I can enjoy it once again. Cannot believe just how lucky I am to be able to enjoy all of this on my doorstep.


Back home to enjoy a very European type lunch, eaten in Shanghai and prepared by a Scot.


 It's all here to be enjoyed, and I really don't think I have too much to complain about. Also I can't see myself every tiring of this amazing city which for a few more years I will be calling home.








Sunday, April 19, 2015

MY SHANGHAI MONDAY

Today was wet and miserable, but I was not complaining. It was the perfect excuse to stay at home and recover from a very busy weekend. A weekend of overindulging in food and drink and staying up way too late.

A quiet Friday night with friends enjoying a rare treat of good old British Fish and Chips, cooked by myself, ended up with a 3-00am finish, too many empty bottles, but it was so much fun.



Now this wouldn't have been so bad if we were having  a quiet Saturday night at home. However we had to be ready to have dinner at a friend's house on the Saturday night. Some great food and wine and very relaxed, but again a late night although only 2-00am this time!!!
If that wasn't enough we were taking a colleague of my husband's for brunch on Sunday morning. Getting out of bed was a bit of a struggle, but we both pulled through and managed to fulfil our commitment. It was an Indian brunch and although I didn't think I wanted it I did enjoy it once I was there. What's not to love about Indian food. But the afternoon was spent on the sofa catching up on second series of Broadchurch.
Lesson being I'm not as young as I used to be.

So a wet Monday gave me the excuse to stay home and cook some healthier options than we had been indulging in all weekend.

Soup of course top of the list.
 Leeks, carrots, green beans, broccoli, soya beans, peas and courgette all cooked together for a very healthy soup. Feel healthier just making it.


Now a roasted vegetable creation. Red and yellow peppers, courgette, red onion, aubergine and lots of garlic cloves all roasted in the oven with some rosemary.


I always finish the vegetables off with a splash of balsamic as soon as I take them from the oven. Tonight we will eat them with roast chicken pieces. There will be enough for my husband to take for lunch packed into a pitta bread. I also love them on a toasted ciabatta with the edition of some pesto and goats cheese. 

I have to admit to loving bread and I know I should cut back but we do need some treats with all this healthy food going on. So I make my soda bread oats and wholemeal flour, I add some wheatgerm today to make it as healthy as I can. No artificial ingredients just fresh simple ingredients.



Now I'm on a healthy roll. I have a large piece of water melon which I decide to juice. I love this and as watermelon season is starting here in Shanghai I will be enjoying it for many months.


This year I have the privilege of being President of Brits Abroad Shanghai and tomorrow I am hosting a committee meeting in my home. So to finish I made some banana bread, a healthy version, and some small cranberry and orange muffins to serve. 



Not sure why but my banana bread seems to have exploded on one side. Not to worry it will taste just as good I'm sure.

So feeling very pleased with myself I feel and hour on my sofa with the newspaper and maybe a nice bowl of soup with a slice of my bread (small slice) is in order. I'm sure I can balance out the effects of a hectic overindulgent weekend within a couple of days. 



Thursday, April 9, 2015

DELICIOUS CURRY SAUCE

Curry is a big favourite in this house. Homemade, takeout or indeed when eating out, it is always a consideration. As a result of our love of curry I am always looking for new recipes to try. My curry cookbook library has grown considerably recently. I love reading about the food, it's origins and how every region in India has it's own specialities.



Last week I found a scrap ripped from a magazine, I don't know when, but from the look of it some time ago. It was just headed Curry Sauce. It went on to say it could be used with fish, chicken or vegetables. I read further and found what was a simple, but looked like a great sauce recipe. Time to try it out and see if it had been worth keeping this bit of scrap for so long. The truth would be in the cooking.
Fortunately I had all the ingredients needed in the fridge or cupboard and I took some fish from the freezer. Dinner was sorted,  or so I hoped.

I set about cooking the sauce and I was delighted with the result. I did it early in the day thinking the flavours would be better if they were left for a while. Fish, when defrosted was sadly a bit wet and limp. No problem I'd salt it and put it into the fridge for a hour to firm it up. A useful tip I heard on TV once.

Time to put it all together. Rinsed the salt from the fish, slipped it into the sauce to cook. Put on the rice and turned oven on to heat up naan bread, also from the freezer.

The result was a very appetising looking dish, the reality was the sauce had indeed come up to expectation but I hadn't rinsed the fish properly and it was inedible. Just way too salty. I hate when this happens as I hate to waste food. So fish was removed from the sauce, more rice was added to the plate chopped bananas were put as a side, retro early curry days, and we mopped up the sauce with the rice and bread. I guess you can't always get it right.

However I do stand by the sauce, and I will make it again. The recipe has made it into my food recipe journal and the scrap of paper is now in the bin.


RECIPE

50g shallots,
3-4 garlic cloves
3cm piece of fresh ginger
1 med hot red chilli
Roughly chop then whizz in a blender with 2 tomatoes until smooth.

1tsp chilli powder,
 1/2 tsp of S&P,
1tsp turmeric powder.
 Add these to the above paste and blend again.

2tsp oil or ghee, 1 tsp black mustard seeds, tin of coconut milk, 200mls stock.

Heat oil add seed and wait until they start to pop. Add the paste mixture and fry until you can smell the spices. 2-3 minutes. Add coconut milk and stock heat through. To finish add chopped coriander to the mixture.
You can now add your fish,veg or chicken and let it cook through.

I hope you enjoy the sauce but have more luck with the fish!