Home Style Cooking

Leftover Blessings
Don't you just love being able to turn one meal into two?
Don't you just love something that's mostly easy when you come home after a long day?
Don't you love figuring out how to improvise to get the desired product when your plan A flies out the window?
We trudged in near 5pm having been out since 9:30 that morning. It had been a long but good day. In the rush to get out that morning with two little ones I hadn't thought to take meat out to thaw or decided on a meal for dinner. When leaving we thought we are going to run a couple of errands and be back by nap time.
Have you ever tried to do a few simple things in a third world country? Hah!
No matter how much we plan, connive or organize we just cannot rush out and whip through some simple errands and arrive home anywhere near the planned time.
So as I found myself in the stock room of the post office with two babies, my husband & three employees I realized my day was not going as planned. I found myself pouncing like a gazelle over heaps of unorganized packages heaped from floor to ceiling with return labels from every imaginable country. After waiting in the lobby for over a half hour I decided maybe this would go faster with some assistance. So we dug and shuffled, piled and shoved packages to find the one labeled 7069. With spatterings of advice being thrown from the workers. "Not there sister!", "Look well sister, I'm too old for this!". My husband with his trusty flashlight app by my side, my 3 year old climbing boxes like a conquering conquistador, and the postal worker entertaining my baby boy and the interesting postal worker in his strange blue lab coat was the dream team today. After an hour of scouring the back room finally incomprehensibly so we found our package at the very bottom of a stack in the back of three 5ft stacks of boxes. But hey there was birthday presents and imported snacks in this box! We were going to find it! We had waited two weeks to find gasoline for our vehicle so we could make it to the post office we would NOT leave empty handed!

Sooooo after our adventure we drove home to a cold stove and no meal plan. We pounced on our new packages and played and snacked. Then came the challenge. What on earth would we eat? And, can I stay awake to do it? One or both of the children had been awake since 5am due to very loud thunderstorms and the electricity had just switched off. Our battery system isn't set up yet so we only have the one really dull lightbulb in each room the apartment generator runs. When it switches off at night you immediately feel nigh on to a coma.
After a brief inventory of the contents of our fridge. I found about 3/4 cup of leftover philly steak meat, cheese, frozen pizza dough and a bag of frozen sliced mushrooms. Hmmmm....I think this can work.
1. Retrieve the frozen pizza dough from the freezer. Fill a bowl with hottest water possible. Place a smaller bowl in the water with the frozen dough inside.
2. As the dough has defrosted refill the small bowl with hot water and place it in the oven(not on). Place the larger bowl on top of the steaming water with the dough inside. Close and allow a few minutes to re-rise.
3. Look for pizza sauce. Find none...... Search Pinterest. New plan. Make a white garlic pizza sauce.
Melt 1 T butter
Press 3 cloves of garlic in the butter
Add 1/4 t red pepper, 1/2 t basil, dash of black pepper.
Add flour slowly until you have a thick roux.
Add milk slowly until a nice pizza sauce consistency.
Add 1/3c cream- oh yah I had some cream and milk in the fridge too:)
Add more milk if necessary.
4. Turn on oven for pizza........nope electricity off! Turn on stovetop......nope out of cooking gas due to gas shortages from political fights. Next plan, turn on our one burner cook stove. Place griddle pan on the burner with rolled dough.
5. Cook one side till firm. Flip. Add sauce. Philly steak meat, mushrooms, tomatoes and a mixture of Gouda and yak cheese. Put a lid on top to melt cheese.
6. Eat!!
Plan A rarely works in crazy third world life but plan B can include wonderful days filled with family fun and memories and the yummiest pizza you have had in a while!

Real Butter
We've all seen the tubs of "I can't believe it's not butter!" Well I am pretty certain once you have baked with butter, smeared it over biscuits and sautéed all your goodies in it you will never make this quote.
There is nothing just like butter! Only the real McCoy. I had never experienced cooking with real butter until we moved overseas. In the states it is pricey in comparison but overseas it's the only option and Boy am I thankful! Everything is more rich and decadent when using pure butter! 
There is one problem when working, especially baking with butter. It is extremely hard! When it comes to mixing and blending or spreading its quite a challenge. It can leave you with ripped and torn bread and desserts that are a fail! But no fear it can be remedied. 
Yes, your first thought maybe leave it on the counter for soft butter. I didn't know before moving overseas you could safely do this. I still don't know the science of it but my butter is always out with no problem. We do go through it farely fast also. 
For half of the year this plan works for me but for the other 6 months my house is SO cold that my butter is as firm in the fridge as out! Believe it! So winter season posed a new problem. I actually gage the beginning of winter by how firm my butter on the counter is:) After a few years I finally figured how to soften butter for effective baking. If you have any experience with baking with real butter you know that too hard butter makes recipes wayyy to thick and completely melted butter makes for runny flat recipes. So how do we accomplish that beautiful middle ground? You have two options,
1. Chop up your butter as in the above picture and put straight in a small pan or pot. Heat just until there is a small pool of melted butter on the bottom and then pull it off.
2. Put it in a double boiler or a glass now, above a pot of simmering water for a slower more controlled heat until you receive the same affect.
Then remove from the stove and place it in a separate bowl from your recipe
Mash it until you only have small lumps and it's all soft. Now you have butter perfect for baking. If you happen to over melt your butter, no worries it will ALWAYS go back if you are patient.
I even have an example for you due to me taking blog pics:) Give it 5 minutes or so and it will begin hardening again and you can mix it up and you are back to the desired results.
If you think the consistency of your butter doesn't matter. I challenge you to make it this way and see the drastic difference you will see! Hope this helps some confused bakers such as I. 
Happy Baking in Butter Land with melted ooey gooey goodness.

Pyro Aloo
Roll that "R" baby and you'll have it just about right. Pyro means spicy and Aloo means potatoe. It is my first Nepali dish to make for our Church Fellowhsip. I admit it was under the supervision of a Nepali friend but its success in my eyes:)
I brought this to a ladies house in our church for a Fellowhsip. We all ate, laughed and prayed. It was a good night! The next day at church I found my Tupperware waiting for me in the nursery filled with uncooked rice. She told me with a big smile, "I filled your bowl with some rice from our village". How sweet! 
It may not make a lot of sense to people in other counties but sometimes it just feels like you can just feel the love oozing out of small gifts like this in this culture. It makes you feel so wonderful and appreciated. Giving is better than Recieivng but sometimes it's not the excitement of the gift that makes receiving better but the feeling of love that accompanies it!

We took home our village rice and popped it in the pressure cooker.
It came out sticky and yummy. And here comes the yummy part, We were able to top it with my moms Sweet N Sour Pork Crockpot Recipe.

Power of Comfort Food
As many could attest when far away from your cultural roots there is nothing quite like some traditional "homey" food to lift the spirits. Food is such a powerful tool; whether from a stressful experience or bazillion of them, homesick days, special occasions and many times just to make a good day even better! I mean what day can't stand some chicken wings, hamburger, biscuits & gravy, Salisbury steak, chicken and dumplings, BBQ pork or on this occasion fish and chips. I'm sure you can tell by the list I've spent a large part of my life in the south y'all. As I write this I'm thinking to myself there should be something healthy on this list buuuuuut you know as much as I love a good smoothie, salad, or cucumber wedge it just doesn't have the same affect. You know? 
So a couple days ago my husband brought home some fish fillets from an imported meat shop. Admittedly, the amount of times I've cooked fish I can count on one hand. I didn't grow up eating a lot of fish and it isn't on the top of my list generally but we've always enjoyed a good plate of Fish N Chips. So yesterday I thawed my fillets of Basa fish and thought my best chance of success with these fish fillets would be Fish N Chips.
I found a yummy recipe and me and my lil helper got to work.
Though she is pretty much entranced with the flour. She spent most of the time rubbing it on her skin like lotion and spreading as far as possible. But very enjoyable company.

After coating the fish in oooey gooey goodness we fried up the chip portion and popped them in the oven to stay warm.
Followed by some crispy beautiful pieces of fluffy pillows of fish. As these puppies fried up we mixed up some faux tartar sauce (had no relish) my husband popped on some Irish tunes. We did a few square dance type jigs while we waited for our dinner. This was a hoe down Irish style:) Thats what happens when you mix a husband with Irish roots and a girl who got deep fried as a teenager.
Placed on the plate with a vinegary cucumber tomatoes salad to give a break in the fried goodness.
It was all we were looking forward to! We were all in good spirits as we shoveled down some Fish N Chips. I know these dishes sound like boring normal dishes people eat every day in the States but here they are so much more! For one they are much more labor intensive and many times ingredients that you don't get all the time but most of all its memories on a plate that fill you with a warm contentment. Thank you Lord for good food and the small pleasures it brings with it.

My love affair with my crockpot!
I don't know about anyone else but I am a SUPER DUPER fan of my crockpot. You know how we all have a few things we are just so glad we packed up and brought overseas? This is on the list. I can't help but love being able to take 20 minutes and throw some raw ingredients in the pot and when I return home dog tired with whiny sleep babies....oh wait that's me...there is usually a pot full of steamy goodness. We step off the elevator and the whole hallway outside our door is filled with the smell of deliciousness. There are those days when the electricity wasn't on long enough and we come home to a disappointing pile of hard potatoes but those are very few.We rush in throw a vegetable or necessary side on the stove for a few minutes and by the time we have our comfy clothes on and drinks made things are ready to dish up. 
Today was a new experiment and baby did it work! I was slightly skeptical but thought I was willing to give it a go. 
Roast chicken
All you do is rub it down with butter and spices and put 4 balls of aluminum foil underneath it and switched it on. I used:
A dab of parsley
A pinch of basil
A handful of seasoning salt
A dabble of red pepper flakes
A generous shake of paprika
A sprinkle of thyme
A slight shower of onion flakes
We came home to find a slightly sifter version of rotisserie chicken waiting to fall off the bone onto our plates. If you want an easy peasy recipe to try, this is the one! Whether you already are a faithful user or you've never once tried it this is a home run in every way. 
Right now I'm drooling over a new crockpot:
I'm my dreams I'm sautéing and simmering in this bad boy! On that note I'll sign off until my love affair continues with something else tasty. Happy cooking!

Pankets all around!

In our house our 3 yr olds chant at breakfast is,"pankets, pankets!". My daughter is not in love with many foods but this is one. I'll admit on pancake day she has even eaten them for more than one meal...shhhhh. 
I've always enjoyed pancakes but for most of my life I've always used the trusty box mix. Even after we moved overseas, believe it or not they sell boxed pancake mix here. The first two years we lived here I attempted homemade pancakes a few times but we couldn't find a recipe that we liked better than the easy peasy one. However, after our first child I decided I was tired of spending the bulk of my budget at the grocery store so I set out to save wherever I could. Soon after I found an IHOP copycat recipe. I was hooked. It took me a while in the beginning but after you learn the recipe you can whip them out pretty fast. I've also tweaked the recipe for my healthier days.
Today I tried something new. A few months back I discovered they made powdered buttermilk. Who knew?? My mother-in-law that's who. I generally just add vinegar to my milk but she offered to get me some to try. Absolutely! So today is my first try. It's definitely easy to use and for sure increased the thickness to my normal recipe. I'll be breaking this out again soon! Pretty cool product. Who uses buttermilk enough to buy a whole container for one recipe and watch the rest go to waste and overseas you may be a miracle worker if you find any! So two thumbs up for this product.
So are pancakes are all mixed up and ready to cook. Mommy is trying to finish up breakfast when at lightning speeds I'm the causality of a hit and run! Have any you ever been accosted by these deadly baby walkers while you were cooking? It crashs with fast speeds right into your ankles! Ahhhh......hold in the scream.....OK! No more walkers in the kitchen!
Peace has resumed and their are pancakes sizzling on the griddle. Mmmmmm. BTW, love this new pan for breakfast dishes!
My lil man who is new to finger-foods is quite the fan of pankets too! In fact he probably ate more than big sis (not hard to do).
I don't know what it's like at your house but breakfast isn't complete well....any meal really without a steaming cup of Joe.
All you need is your handy tea pot, grounds and a coffee press and coffee is a possibility anytime. Electricity not needed! In this world that is magic words! I'de love for everything in my house to be operated on something besides electricity. Any out there feel me? 
If I had to have electricity to have coffee in the house we'd probably be in marriage counseling. So...my advice for the day, "Save your marriage, Get a coffee press!".

Third World Favs
Knock knock....every night at approximately 7pm the tap at the door is heard. They have kindly abided by my request to not ring our obnoxiously loud doorbell at the tiny tots bedtime. One of hustles to the door to receive our bag of milk straight from the cow.
Why does this excite me? I don't even know! It's just one of the perks of living in a third world country. I never have to worry about opening the fridge to see I'm out of milk. I never have to worry about the kids not having anything to drink. I don't have to rush to the store when it's out. I don't have to pay an exorbant amount to keep two kids and a kitchen stocked with milk. I pay approx $20 a month for 1L a day delivered to my house.
First we take a few minutes to pasteurize by boiling for a few minutes then off to the fridge for cooling. After a few hours it will be chilled and ready to strain off the cream. And for impatient children straight into the cup with some ice cubes! As you can see the white clumps stuck to the outside of the jar, you can never get all the cream out completely. Some may be thinking,"uck! I don't do milk!" Admittedly I never did much either before we began getting fresh milk. I still don't down a glass of milk but I probably wouldn't mind it with this stuff. It has this twinge of sweetness to it. So much better than boxed milk!
Today it means gravy and full sippy cups. Tomorrow it may be cream of mushroom soup, milk or pudding. No matter what the recipe milk is always on hand.  Ide like to say we had a lovely meal of biscuits and gravy BUT....it was not to be. In a ziplock bag on my counter sat "biscuit-muffins". They were supposed to be the yummy English muffin recipe I have when I made them 3 days ago but a rush visit to the docs office rushed my muffins into fallen biscuits! Then this morning when reaching for the bag of "biscuit-muffins" for gravy I found monsoon had made them into "mold- muffins"! UGH! Yes I should have put them in the fridge but the deed is done now. So plan C gravy and toast. Nothing spectacular but tummies were filled at no fault to the milk:)

Pig, Apples & Bread
I'm so excited to finally get to the food posts! My dad once said that "Some people live to eat and some people eat to live". I must admit I am very happy to be in the first group! The #1 thing I wanted to blog about was food but as moms of little tykes will attest many times meal prep time can be the most stressful time of the day! So, though I was eager to write scrumptious posts most meals were thrown together amidst crying children and a tired mom:) But today I was finally able to accomplish my goal; Food pics!
On the menu tonight is Pork cubes (because that's what they sell here), applesauce and homemade stuffing.
My apples were pre-boiled unlike the recipe will instruct because I began by prepping baby food and decided to do it all at once. You can't beat doing two things at once. I'm including pics of the baby food and my all time favorite Baby Bullet. If you live overseas and don't have baby food at your disposal or you are feeling frugal and are wanting to make your own there is one item you MUST have; Baby Bullet blender. It is awesome. It not only will grind your rice, oats,etc. it also blends your food to a beautiful creamy smooth texture. For some strange reason I get a thrill out of seeing my beautifully smooth baby food sitting in baby bullet cups ready to go. The blender also includes 6 storage cups, a freezer 6 cup tray, a cookbook, spatula and a large food cup all for $59. I am on my second Baby Bullet. Not because they are a faulty product but because I have to use it on a transformer and they ware down products a lot faster. So I used it to death! It lasted till my daughter was 2. Below you will see boiled apples and frozen bananas that I blended and the little warrior prince waiting for them.

And time-out for munchies. Is there any ladies out there that get a whole meal made without leaving the kitchen or having the whole family in the kitchen with you:). If so please leave me your secret in the comment section. No, I don't really mind if my stress level isn't too high ( which that never happens of course!). So this is break #1.
And break #2 for the prepared Apple banana baby food.
It was mmmmmm yum. Especially the stuffing! I admit it tasted better then the quality of the pic:( Sorry!

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Thanks so much for enjoying the third world journey with me. I always enjoy kind and uplifting comments!