Challenge #1: FOOD

Imagine that as you are making dinner you suddenly realize that your favorite spice has run out... your cookbook has disappeared... and when you sent your husband to the store to pick up the ingredients for chicken rice casserole, he came home with ingredients for a recipe from Bahrain that he found online.  

Would you be lost?  

When we arrived here in 2010 I had left behind all of my cookbooks and discovered that the following things were unavailable here (or too expensive for normal consumption)
  • Peanut butter
  • Basil, Sage
  • Jarred spaghetti sauce
  • Molasses
  • Brown sugar
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Oatmeal (old fashioned and instant)
  • Pudding
  • Baking soda
  • Chocolate chips
  • BBQ sauce
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Sandwich bread
  • Green tea
  • Canned ANYTHING (veggies, soups, fruits, you name it)
  • Mushrooms
  • Syrup
Wow.  So... how to proceed?  I now lived in a place where everything was made from scratch, there were more than 3800 types of potatoes to choose from (no I did not add a zero... yes I meant 3800), and where I had neither access to canned products, nor a crockpot in which to cook anything!  I DO have access to several large grocery stores that are like typical American groceries... BUT they take at least 35 minutes to get to.  I prefer to shop at the local market where I can get pretty much anything except those few specialty items we occasionally splurge for:
Photo Credit: Meg Albohn
I know I'm not alone in this either... there are tons of missionary moms around the world who have learned to adapt to the local culture and either give up, subsitute, tweak, or haul in the ingredients to their family's favorite dishes.  So what worked for me?  I'm still learning... but here are some things I've done
  1. My wonderful friend Megan led me to Sara Beth's blog Market2Meal where I've discovered amazing recipies and great tips on making things from scratch and substituting...  here are some of my favorite recipies:
  2. Learned to make my own things like syrup and peanut butter!  There are ground peanuts I can buy at the market and I simply put it in my mixer with some soy oil, salt, and a bit of sugar or honey... presto, chango, PEANUT BUTTER!!                                                  
  3. Learned to cook a few local dishes... this is a tough one.  The measurements are all in kilos and grams and sometimes simply by "taste".  No recipe cards here!  This takes patience and someone to teach me!  Fortunately, everyone here is very willing to help!  
  4. Waited for someone to BRING or SEND me things!  So far I've had peanut butter, molasses, wheat flour, Italian seasoning, basil, and instant pudding sent to me either in a suitcase with someone or through the mail.  These are just occasional treats and cannot possibly make certain items usable on a normal basis!  
  5. Learned to do without.  Frankly, this is just what we've decided to do and you know what?  It's fine!  We've learned to live without sandwiches for lunch, without canned goods, and yes, even without cheddar cheese.  Though I'll admit that was the hardest I think.  
And one last thing confession time... I have a kitchen stocked with quite a number of Pampered Chef things that I could NOT part with before leaving.  Some of my favorites include: 

  • Food Chopper
  • Large Bar Board
  • 12" Skillet (I get made fun of by my national friends SO MUCH for having this monstrosity of a thing in my kitchen!)
  • 4 Cup Batter bowl (sadly the 8 cup stayed in my in-laws house in the States... it WILL be coming back with me on our upcoming home assignment trip)
  • Instant Digital Thermometer
  • Silicon Brush
  • Prep Bowl set
So... there you go!  A look into my kitchen!!!
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