Food, particularly cooking, has been one of the larger adjustments in Thailand. We’re not simply eating rice, but we do want to be eating rice enough that we are welcoming it as the culture that surrounds us. Western food is also generally available in town, but at a price, and often one I’m not willing to pay when there is next-t0-nothing rice offered alongside it.
Either way, it’s been an experiment. I’m learning to make things from scratch, including
bread: Delicious and relatively easy. And the extra dough gets made into cinnamon rolls, so you can’t go wrong…
falafel: Amazing, and when you make it yourself you can stuff it full of veggies, including carrots, cabbage, green onions, onions, and corn. and Stephen loves it, too 🙂
hummus: A little taste of home, but it requires tortillas or naan to go with it, and chickpeas soaked overnight and cooked for about an hour. quite an effort.
tortillas: So easy! even if I didn’t have to, I’d probably make these from scratch. I know what’s in them (and that it’s not preservatives), and they taste wonderful.
salsa: Not as good as Gena’s, but I stole a few techniques. I used fresh tomatoes, onions, and cilantro from the market, and aside from chopping everything up, it’s easy…
brownies: Easy to make, but hard to cook evenly in a toaster oven. It’s a good thing Stephen likes the raw batter.
cookies: Easy, but didn’t taste too good. Something between the Thai-tasting chocolate chips, using a oil-butter combo because butter is so expensive, and using the Thai version of brown sugar–it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. The peanut butter cookies were better, but peanut butter is too expensive to enjoy them too often!
naan: A handful. After you make the dough and let it rise, then roll out about ten pieces and cook them individually, it’s a pretty warm kitchen. But it does taste wonderful with hummus and falafel.
cinnamon rolls: When you make a pan out of left-over bread dough, it’s perfect.
babaganoush: Didn’t quite taste like home. Quite a lot of effort to cook up the eggplant and mash it up with all the seeds and everything. And you have to have…
…tahini: Impossible without Stephen. The effort of crushing sesame seeds with a mortar & pestle was too much for me, but Stephen did well!
taco seasoning: The handy-dandy pre-mixed packets run about $3 each, so I make it myself. Unfortunately we don’t have all the right spices, and the chili powder (a key ingredient) is very much Thai chilies. It’s a little different, but it works, and when served with fresh tortillas and salsa, it works.
peanut sauce: This is one of Stephen’s favorite additions to rice & curry, but I have to mix it up myself. It’s pretty easy and tastes wonderful.
[After an hour or two of sweating in the kitchen with flour everywhere, I sometimes feel like I stepped out of Little House on the Prairie.]
On future menus: chocolate pudding, chili (I’ve been craving it, even in hot season), cornbread, root beer (?!…we’ve tossed around this idea because it’s so awful here, but I don’t think we’ll be able to pull off all the ingredients!).
I’m realizing how much meals have to be planned in advance, from soaking the chickpeas or black beans overnight, chopping up the pumpkin, letting the dough rise, etc.
[A side note: After I soaked the chickpeas overnight the first time, I had to pick out a few bugs and sticks that floated to the surface. This didn’t worry me too much since I’d bought them at the market. I did the same on Monday when I soaked my third batch of chickpeas…but that’s when I realized I didn’t do this the second time. So were there no bugs, or did we just eat them all?!]
I’m also finding that the simplest meal of rice and curry takes at least an hour to get all the vegetables chopped and into a curry consistency. And that’s only thanks to our rice cooker, because without that I’d have to take more time to make rice on our one burner.
And the most complicated meals, well, can take all day. Stephen discovered this last Saturday when he helped me make tahini at 9am and then spent half the day over the mortar & pestle mashing sesame seeds, chickpeas, eggplant, garlic, and more chickpeas.
Some simple, easy things we’re discovering:
cabbage. Cooked or raw, plain or mixed into…well, anything. Stephen even likes it in curries or boiled as a side dish.
papaya. Yummm. So good, so easy. And we have a papaya tree growing in our yard! We’re faithfully watering it in hopes to have our own fruit next year. It could save us…well, like four dollars or something not-so-significant, but it would fun to have!