Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cooking my own meals

Now that I am living on my own it means I have to prepare all my own food. Living in my own apartment in East Lansing defiantly taught me a lot of things about how to survive, but the lessons I learned in cooking back at home have to be somewhat tweaked for cooking here in Morocco.
Here, there is no such thing as Stouffer’s microwave lasagna or ham and cheese HotPockets. Microwaves are not very common and those people who have them just use them for warming things, not cooking. So this means there are no quick meals. Almost everything I eat must be made from scratch. Even though this is more challenging and requires a lot more patience, it is still fun and interesting at the same time. What is also a challenge is that I am presented with ingredients here in Morocco that I am not used to seeing back home. And I am cooking with a gas stove, which I never have used before.
Right now the food in my kitchen consists of: dried white beans, dry lentils, white rice, spaghetti, eggs, fresh tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, bananas, and apples. I also have some Laughing Cow cheese and jam that is nice to spread on bread for a quick snack. I just finally found some dry cereal that I have begun eating for breakfast. I also like to eat almonds and dried and salted chick peas for snacks.
If I really don’t feel like going through the process of cooking I can just make myself a quick tuna sandwich. There is a lot of canned fish around here. It is easy just to grab some bread and stuff the tuna in it like a pita . I can get tuna in tomato sauce and it tastes pretty good.
Luckily for me I do have quite a bit of free time on my hands right now. I am enjoying the opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. Now I have a space that I am free to make errors and move about as I like and no one will judge me for my mistakes. I make a lot of spaghetti as an easy way out because it doesn’t take too much time, can’t be messed up, and it’s filling. I can also fry up eggs quickly and easy as well. But a couple times during my first week on my own I have gone a little bit deeper in my cooking endeavors. One day for lunch I chopped up potatoes and boiled them with some rice. I topped it with cheese and some spices. What I learned from that is that a little rice goes a long way!
I also was really in the mood to make some kind of soup because it’s really cold in my apartment. So with limited resources and limited know-how I gave it a shot. I had some flour and wanted to make some kind of dumplings. So I mixed up dough with salt, flour and water and rolled it into small dumplings. I chopped up carrots and potatoes and put them in the pot to boil with water. I dropped in a Knoor chicken bouillon cube to give it some chicken flavor. I put a little flour in the water to thicken up the broth. In the end it actually tasted pretty good. The chicken flavor was really good and the veggies were just right. Next time I might make smaller dumplings though, seeing as they were really heavy.
All volunteers get a really good cookbook that was put together by former volunteers. It has some really good and interesting recipes. Most are American favorites, things I have always wanted to make myself. It also has really good information about how to cook healthy meals and is very informative.