Monday, November 26, 2007
Unfortunately, the cost of shipping all our decorations was going to be exorbitant so we settled on a small assortment of what was in our storage bins, and set our sights on visiting Beijing's markets to find what we did not ship over. We figured this would not be a problem since for one thing the city is festooned with stalls selling Christmas supplies during the season (they started to spring up about two weeks or so ago) and for another thing, it seems that most of the decorations that we had bought in the US was made in China.
But of course, just because something is made in China, doesn't mean it's sold in China, as we have learned when it comes to Cuisinarts and other household appliances. The vast majority of the stuff for sale in the stalls is absolute crap that no self-respecting holiday maven would be caught dead buying outside of China. The 'glass balls' are almost all plastic and colored very unattractively, and the other decorations veer on the tacky, with a heavy emphasis on dancing Santas and other things that we would never let in our house. And without fail, when we walk into a stall, the salesgirls will point out things that they say are "hen ke'ai" (very cute) that just make our skin crawl.
Nevertheless, we have been able to find a number of things that we can make use of, including nice enough ribbons, plain white lights (not as easy to find as blinking colored lights, or lights shaped like chilies), and even some decorative balls, though it has to be said that a good portion of what we bought was found at IKEA.
We noticed a sign the other day advertising a Christmas sale at the German embassy next weekend, where we hope to find a good selection of attractive glass ornaments, but even if we don't, I think we have a good enough assortment to suit our first proper Christmas party in Beijing.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
And here is the turkey as it came out of the oven (resting near the out-of-the-bird stuffing):
And here are the two pies, bittersweet-chocolate pecan on the left, and pumpkin on the right (kudos to J2 for the lovely job on the crust):
Here's the table after we swapped the kitchen and dining tables to allow us to accommodate a total of eight at the table:
And here you see the spread on the buffet/bar table, waiting for the guests to get off their butts and haul themselves over to the dining table (we had been serving baked brie, don't forget, so it took some doing to pry them away):
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Oddly, the only place where I have ever seen Jerusalem artichokes in Beijing is the neighborhood market right near our place on Gongti Nanlu; why they sell them there, and only there, and only by one stall holder, is a mystery to me (as is their Chinese name). But they have them pretty reliably at this time of year, and so we have them on the menu again this year.
One more thing that I decided to add to our menu this year is Brussels sprouts. I had seen them for sale at the Xinyuanli market, but at a relatively high price (something like $3 for a bag of about 10 sprouts). Fortunately, while visiting a new-to-me expat market last night on the way home from work I found that they also sell them but for $1.50 per pound; much more reasonable.
Fortunately for us, we once again have cranberries brought in to the country from the US by a friend (please someone plan to be in Beijing next autumn so that we can have cranberries for Thanksgiving 2008, too). They are just not available locally, fresh or frozen.
So here is the menu:
James' Justly Famous Baked Brie with Tomato Chutney
Simply Roasted Turkey with Giblet Gravy
"We're Not in Kansas Anymore" Succotash with Edamame
Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Peel
Jerusalem Artichokes with Sage Butter
Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows
Bittersweet Chocolate-Pecan Pie
"Bakeshop" Pumpkin Pie
Will report on how it went tomorrow! Happy Thanksgiving!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
It has been a long time since I posted photos of my two favorite subjects, but today I had a chance to take a few shots and I thought I'd share them with you. They seem to be handling living in the boonies outside of Beijing very well (...).
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Last Tuesday was the first day that the second stage of Olympic ticket sales was to begin, so naturally as soon as 9am rolled around I got online to try to get my hands on some tickets. No matter how hard I tried, though, I could not get through the process, since it turns out that 9 million or so other people had the exact same idea at the exact same time. Now it seems that the powers that be have decided that perhaps this was not the best way to sell the tickets and they're reverting to another lottery system to sell the remaining tickets. I will probably try one more time to get into an event, though it seems like it's highly unlikely I'll luck into anything more exciting than the synchronized swimming competition when the Mongolian and El Salvadorian teams are competing...
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Don't forget, if you're in the US, to change your clocks back an hour at 2am on Sunday morning. That means that if you decide to phone us anytime in the next couple of months we'll be 13 hours ahead of you (on the East Coast) rather than 12!
If you're interested, here is a selection of photos I have submitted for my assignments so far: