I’ve always loved good food, but I come from a family where Thanksgivings meant burnt bread and sherry jello. After college, I moved to Beijing, where I found that I loved to live in traditional houses, but that the kitchens didn’t fulfill my western culinary needs. Namely, the kitchens were 9 square feet, had no work space, and certainly didn’t have an oven.

So that’s when the rennovations started. In two Beijing homes, we rennovated two kitchens, each time knocking down walls, building counter tops, and installing Italian ovens. It was time consuming and draining, especially considering we didn’t own these houses.

We had sworn off rennovating other people’s homes when we arrived in Shanghai two months ago. We found out we needed to move at the beginning of October and moved on the first of November, but I had never been to Shanghai before. I considered us very lucky to find a funky old lane house in Shanghai which already had an oven in its kitchen! There is very little counterspace but I could work around that.

Welcome to my kitchen!

After a long ordeal with my landlord, we have discovered that our oven is broken, and no he is not going to replace it. So we’ve agreed to reduce the rent, but where does that leave me? I still love to bake, so I’m experimenting. I’ve found that if I leave my oven at 150 degrees C and play with cooking times, I can get most things right.

And so I invite you to pull up a bar stool, pour yourself a glass of wine, and join me as I try to pull together ingredients available in Shanghai to make food that will keep us from getting too homesick.