Monday, February 21, 2011

Grocery shopping, recipes and foods: everything has changed!

There are a lot of foods I miss from the US.  So many of them are convenience items I think I took for granted all my life.  Convenient and cheap (especially if you could find them on sale and stock up!)  I’m a little jealous of all you ladies who buy like $100 of groceries for like $10.  There is no such thing as a sale here!  And while it is a 3rd world country, food is not cheap.  For example, eggs are plentiful, but they cost the equivalent of $3 US a dozen.  Things I took for granted in the US as readily available and cheap include:  cheese, sour cream, frozen veggies, bread, milk, eggs, lunchmeat, snacks, cream cheese, and anything with whole grains.  I’m sure there is more, but this is what comes to mind. 

I have recipes that include many of the items above.  I often have to make substitutions.  For example, I rarely can find sour cream.  When I do, it costs about $6 US for a 16 ounce container.  What I can find pretty regularly that I can substitute for sour cream is plain yogurt.  When I find it, I stock up on it because in comes in waves.  Right now I am almost out and can’t seem to find it anywhere.   The other end of the spectrum is, if I can find the item, I have to ask myself if it is worth it to purchase it as a treat for our family because it is often very expensive.  Sometimes I can find cheddar cheese.  An 8 ounce block is $5 US.  I will usually purchase this because homemade mac and cheese is a special treat for our family and reminds of us home.

There are some things I purchase differently than in the states.  I am very thankful and fortunate that we have a freezer.  When I buy beef, I usually purchase about 80 pounds.  It is likely butchered that day and a guy brings it in 5 gallon buckets to our house on a motorcycle.  Carline cuts it up in meal-sized pieces.  We inherited a heavy-duty meat grinder for the missionaries here before us, so Carline usually sets aside about 1/3 to 1/2 of the meat and grinds it.  I buy flour, sugar and rice by the sack (a sack that’s the size of what you would know as a potato sack.)   You can buy bread in town, but I find it to always be hard and stale.  Carline makes all our bread and it’s delicious!  Hence the need for a sack of flour!  Perhaps you remember this picture I took of bringing home a sack of flour:

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I’ve tried my hand at making some things from scratch too!  My favorite is English Muffins.  I missed them so much from the states, they are such a nice treat to have.  Here is Drew posing with my last batch:

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I tried my hand at making homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas and they turned out so yummy!  I can’t wait to make them again.  The recipe called for buttermilk.  I have learned to look items up and see if there are any substitutions.  Apparently if you add vinegar to milk you get buttermilk!  Anyway, here are those cinnamon rolls before the icing was added:

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I’ve learned to make homemade pizza dough that rivals any in the US and homemade pizza sauce.  Yum!  I’ve figured out how to blanch and freeze broccoli so I could purchase it in large quantities while it was in season and enjoy it for months to come.

Life is different here.  I miss some foods and cringe at the cost of things that are so plentiful and cheap in the US.  But I’ve loved making my way here as well.  I’ve enjoyed finding ways to still enjoy things we love (like figure out how to make something from scratch or figure out substitutions for ingredients.)  I may just look thru some of my cookbooks and find out what I can try my hand at next!

~Becky

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