In My Kitchen, September 2014.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn My Kitchen this month I am listening to the music of  Jiang Yang Zhuo Ma.  I can’t start the day without her deep voiced Tibetan ballads stirring my spirit. With a cup of tea in hand, the first of many, I drift away and travel back through Szechuan Province in China. Then the kitchen business day begins.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn keeping with the Chinese theme, we have some very good Chinese tea, gifts from our dear friends in Chengdu. It tastes of Spring and flowers. The tea shops in China are surprisingly beautiful. Some teas cost a fortune.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn our road trip through the north of Szechuan Province, we visited a Szechuan pepper oil factory.  Back in Melbourne, I immediately sourced a bottle ( sadly not from the same factory). Used like sesame oil, it provides a deep, peppery finish to MaPo Dofu or drizzled over stir fried wongbok cabbage, for example.

Sechuan Pepper oil
Szechuan Pepper oil

I have a slight obsession with these vintage floral tin plates from China. Produced during the period of the Cultural revolution ( 1970s), they have become quite rare. I use them as prep plates, or as trays to cart things outside, or to collect, then wash, greens from the garden.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I also have a big pile of these Chinese fish patterned bowls as I am sure many others do. They are economical and handy for one bowl meals.

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I found this Chinese thermos in Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia in the hardware store for $6.00. I had to buy it, even though it meant lugging it back to Sanur, Bali, before heading home to Australia. I fill it up in the morning and drink tea the Chinese way, topping up the same leaves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMr Tranquillo likes a beer after work and this is his current drop of choice, Tsingtao of course.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI always keep a kitchen Buddha nearby to help with the day.  My Chinese kitchen sits very comfortably within my Australian kitchen, alongside the Italian cuisine, when I’m not cooking Turkish. Thanks to Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting the ‘In My Kitchen’ monthly, thus allowing me to expose my love of China. Visit Celia’s site and open the many links to worldwide kitchens.

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62 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, September 2014.”

  1. Wow, that pepper oil sounds like something we would enjoy. Your small plates are lovely. TsingTao is a favourite of ours too. My kitchen doesn’t look as international as yours sounds, but I can definitely relate to the flavours you describe. Nicely themed post!

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  2. Your kitchen is more Chinese than mine – too funny. I’m collecting the enamel plates and trays too – the large ones are great for nibbles and beers on the balcony. I’m also collecting the large washing bowls too although I fear I’m just collecting more clutter…..

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    1. I think I once saw some of your enamelware Nancy. I have another lot in my camping kitchen, but I must say, I would die for an floral enamel wash bowl. They don’t turn up here anymore. Do not think clutter- think investment.

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        1. Thank you Nancy- such a kind thought. Yes, that would be lovely, I can wait forever and a day.
          BTW, I am sure you would know enough about Chengdu but am happy to send you any info you need re day trips, restaurants and so on, and for the province too. We had local friends who took us all over the place for two weeks.

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  3. Love the chinese crockery and that thermos is really beautiful. Drinking tea is partly about ritual and enjoying using nice cups and pots (not that often drink tea out of a pot these days but I do love the ritual of it and I think having a pretty thermos is a nice alternative)

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  4. Isn’t it a wonderful world of multi-cultural influences and passions all working together. I’ll now keep an eye out for the Chinese plates etc but yes, I too have fish bowls… I always marvel at how inexpensive and lovely they are. Your Chinese thermos is gorgeous. And I’ll ask for pepper oil next time I’m at an Asian supermarket.

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    1. Yes, ask them for the oil as it is impossible to find otherwise. I think the fish plates are essential in a kitchen, along with other little fish sauce bowls. Cheap, summery, tough. I also have a fish patterned enamelware serving platter in my campervan kitchen which is about to get a run from tomorrrow off to the Flinders Ranges. Hooray.

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  5. Somehow you had dropped off my reader….anyway, all fixed! Love the Chinese theme Francesca. Fish bowls might be cheap and everywhere, including my cupboards, but I love their open shape and whimsical decoration. I’m on the lookout for szechan pepper oil too, I use the peppercorns lots.

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    1. I found the pepper oil in a little Chinese shop near the Preston Market. Well not really. didn’t find it. I described the product to the shopkeeper and she found it. Then she wanted to know how I intended using it and why I was buying it. Same thing when I bought some dried beancurd skin. Next time, I am going to get her to tell me how to use other odd things in the shop. It makes anything taste exotic.

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    1. I am not sure that they are disposable plates- I should have described them more correctly as enamelware. The Chinese and Vietnamese produced wonderful designs on these platters from the 50s to the 70s. It is a dream of mine to open a mid 20th century Chinese decorated cafe. But with no customers.

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  6. Thanks for sharing you wonderful kitchen this month… I can almost smell the tea as you reflect on life every morning! Those plate are beautiful and the pepper oil sounds like something I would like! Liz x

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  7. Hi Francesca, your kitchen is full of such lovely items this month! I love those beautiful plates, bowls, and tea thermos. The tea itself looks quite inviting; I love to brew a cup of tea and sit with a good book, or just sit and listen to some good music. I am intrigued by this artist and will look her up!

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  8. It’s hard to beat a nice tea and your vintage floral plates are adorable. Filling your kitchen with memories of travels is also very comforting. I used to have a plate with the same blue fish on it (which I loved) many years ago but unfortunately it got broken. Thank you for the peek into your kitchen 🙂

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  9. How amazing is China? I just loved China & can’t wait to get back there one day as I never had the chance to visit the Szechuan Provence, I’m a bit jealous! Your floral serving plates and thermos are absolutely gorgeous! I am definitely going to be hunting every Asian grocer for some of that Szechuan pepper oil – this will be the perfect addition to my homemade dumplings I make 🙂 It’s lovely meeting you and thank you for sharing IMK

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  10. Francesca, I read your post with Jiang Yang Zhuo Ma’s beautiful and haunting music playing – absolutely perfect!! The tin plates are so pretty, I don’t think I have ever seen them before and the thermos too, is very pretty – what an ideal way to keep hydrated – something I am terrible at! The szechan pepper oil sounds fantastic – I feel a trip to Chinatown coming up…I love how international your kitchen is – a true melting pot of influences!

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