Sunday, January 29, 2012

Adventures in Food

We have been adventurous in the last month with trying new foods. This is a natural progression. When we arrived, we panicked. Where is all the food? I grabbed anything and everything (50kilo bag of rice, anyone?), and some of it was pretty nasty. There are these "peas" that are the size of split-open grapes and taste like cardboard mixed with week-old chickpea mush, and then of course the cans of mixed veggies that include those instead of lima beans.  Yeah, we finally threw them out, despite some manly attempts to justify my early excesses. Then we had the food storage phase: we found a minimally acceptable diet, let's make sure we have enough to live. Slowly, we have been finding and rediscovering new foods to add to our diet, moving to a more diversified diet.

For some reason, food has been extremely important to both of us lately. I am responding to food as if I were perpetually starving and Joy says she is often thinking about food. But we are quite well fed, as this post will demonstrate. "It's the lack of so many comfort foods, I think," Joy guesses.

Our latest triumphs, all since the end of last semester:
Joy made pizza. "Winning the title of Date Night Food."

A "garden egg" - a.k.a African eggplant. Still trying to
figure out how to use it right. Theoretically, I should
be able to add it to the African soup... Very cheap.
I made African soup. If you google "African soup recipes," this is the soup that comes up. Sautee the peppers, onions, tomato in garlic, add water and cook the rice in it, add some meat if you're rich, and then the easy American way is to add a cup of peanut butter before you serve it. Presumably if you're using real groundnuts (=peanuts) you cook them a great deal sooner and longer. Next time around, we're adding more peppers.

"I started baking chocolate cupcakes again for Prince for his afternoon snack."

We rediscovered chicken soup and beef stew. I usually make the first soups, then show Joy how I did it and she makes the rest. I have discovered that for some reason I seem drawn to beef stew the way I am to pizza. This week, Joy made a beef stew. When I walked in the door, I smelled pizza. Even sitting with the bowl of soup in front of me, I thought it was a pizza. I tasted it and was enthralled. SO good! Mmmmm.

Joy made tortillas this week, handrolled and everything. "They were good."

I successfully recreated the Colonel's cole slaw. That, the African soup, an the beef stew have all been made a second time, we loved them so much.

Joy dried bananas. "Thank you, Petersons." Again, I was in heaven eating even one slice and filling my mouth with luscious banana flavor.

I'm adding a few shots I took from Luka's grocery-for-expats
just to prove there is such a thing here.
And I finally got the last of our pork cooked right. Mixed with Joy's tortillas, some lettuce we found for the first time, tomatoes and cheese and we have ourselves some pork tacos! Good stuff and good memories. "They couldn't have tasted better." I did miss the Ranch dressing we used to put on it. "Ooh, that's right." Ranch dressing powder is on our list of things to import when we next visit the States. Maybe next time, we'll also break open the salsa we brought with us.

Joy adds that we just bought a meat grinder, and that though we've been leaning heavily on chicken, we're hoping to add some more ground meats to our diet.

Princess meanwhile is proving she likes food.
This week, she ate canned pear, boiled cabbage, carrot - both raw and cooked - raw apple, potato, green beans, in addition to her staples of oatmeal and banana. She is crazy for potatoes. Biggest smiles I've ever gotten. She ate something like half of Mommy's plate of potatoes tonight at the AUN party. "Yeah, I didn't take very many. 2-3 pieces." The potatoes here are so good anyway. We're thinking about watermelon, cooked apple, and cooked rice in the near future.

Prince has improved his own dexterity, spreading his own cream cheese on bread "and scooping out his own peanut butter from the jar." Cream cheese is clearly one of his four staples, and for the first time in a long time he has four staples: cheese, peanut butter, cream cheese on bread, and canned pears. The last two weeks have not been good for getting him to eat our food, but the month before that we had some pretty good success. He sometimes wants oatmeal, watermelon, green beans, and corn. He's always happy to eat bananas, but never asks for them if they aren't already on the table, and he often enjoys raw apples and pears also.

The whole family (well, okay, minus Princess) has discovered the glory of Hob Nobs [left of the Pringles and Animal Crackers, right of Prince's sugar free not-an-Oreo]. They are British, hence in the former colony. They are like granola bars, only crispy-flaky and in a cookie shape. "Yeah, I don't usually like things crispy, but I really like them. They have a little bit of a chewy aspect, but not how you would think of chewy in the US. They don't just crunch and fall apart. They crunch and chew." Princess would love to try them, but we're not ready for that just yet. I've tried adding things to Hob Nobs, like peanut butter or nutella, but nothing seems to improve on the wonderfulness or complement it properly. "I tried cream cheese on it the other day, but I probably won't try it again. I kinda like it with Nutella on it."

Last week I also spent a few days on SparkPeople again. It's a place to record what I eat and how much and exercise and blah blah blah to help me feel in control of ... the part of my life I feel least in control of. "That's pretty honest." As I added a number of foods to my list of 'favorites' that I regularly eat now, I couldn't help but notice the long list of 'favorites' I haven't had in the last six months or that I can't get here, mostly in alphabetical order:
Most days, Joy has tuna fish for lunch, mixed with
mayo, corn, tomatoes, and maybe green beans

root beer
cheesy rice cakes
wheat bread - white, yes
Brussel's sprouts
granola (but now we have Hob Nobs)
ground anything
pork almost-anything
Ranch dressing
peanut M&Ms (imported on my last trip)
fresh milk
Wheat Thins
frozen vegetables
spaghetti squash

And, no, we are not compensated for mentioned any of these foods or products or websites.