Friends, I am back.  After days of cleaning, shopping, packing and moving, with minimal cooking and even more minimal internet access (which I have to admit was very freeing at times), we are settled and ready to create a new version of normal.

This is what we started with in the kitchen:

Yes, that is a dried fish head.  It was probably left by one of the stray cats that wander around the rooftops and occasionally try (sometimes succeeding) to enter through our open windows.  Yes, we are considering getting screens; they are on the list of “Things to buy if we are going to live here for more than a few months.”  Other things on the list: a TV, curtains, end tables, and a new front door.

Back to the kitchen: after two days of scrubbing, bleaching, scraping, bleaching, more scraping, and the eventual deposit of appliances and dishes, here is what we have now:

I realize these are not great pictures.  It is hard to get a full view of the kitchen given that it is only about 8 ft. x 8 ft.  Not joking.  Some of you may have noticed that no refrigerator appears in the photos; that’s because it is not in the kitchen, but rather in the “dining room” on the other side of the half wall.  I’m sure that this is shocking, especially for those of you who don’t know us personally, but we are choosing to live amongst a section of the population that most foreigners (as well as the wealthy of this region) will never see.  My kitchen is comparable to that found in the majority of the “average” Arab homes.  Although there are times that I get jealous of my other foreign friends, who live here with kitchens and apartments that are like little slices of America, I am happy with the path that we are on.  This is the place for us.


  1. Yay for cooking in tiny kitchens! I’m impressed with with the cleaning and the order you brought to the space… 🙂

    • It definitely brings out my obsessive side in terms of having to immediately wash any dirty dishes and put them away. It also really feeds into my love for multi-functional things; for instance, the dish drying rack is also the dish storage rack, courtesy of a removable drip tray underneath 🙂 And the oven is a major storage space, with items removed to the top of the washing machine when I need to bake. The only issue so far is my spices, but I saw a nice, small, multi-tiered spice rack today that I might have to get. Right now they’re all jumbled in tiny plastic bags on the bottom shelf of my “pantry,” and it gives Hungry Husband (who is way more OCD than me) twitches whenever he wants the pepper.

  2. P.S. I like the menu links! How did you create a recipe index? Does it update automatically?

    • I wish it would update automatically. I feel like there should be a way to do that, but haven’t looked into it…so far I just add everything manually, which isn’t really that much work, but it does create an issue when I want to set posts to publish for the future, as I either have to add those with a link that doesn’t work, or come back and add them to the menu list later.

  3. Jerry Godbehere

    Welcome to your new home. I must say your scrubbing, bleaching, chipping, and more scrubbing made a world of difference! If you’re ever around here, I may ask for some pointers. Love, Uncle Jerry

    • Hah! I can’t imagine that your house could ever get as filthy as ours was before I started! I will say, one thing that makes it quite nice is that the whole apartment is stone and concrete, so I could just throw water everywhere and let the grime soak before I attacked it with the sponge or scraper.

  4. Takes me back to my years in India. (Except we never had a fish head on the floor! I feel deprived!) May you be as happy there as I was during those years. And when you need a respite (because it DOES wear on one no matter how flexible you may be!) we’ve got a nice big kitchen (complete w/ fridge) for you to work your magic in during a break (or a debriefing!) here in Dubai.

    • Yes, everyone needs a fish head on the floor; thankfully, it was quite dried, so it didn’t leave any bad fishy smell behind. Thank you for the good hopes and the invitation as well–I really hope we can take you up on it sometime!

  5. I can relate! I think it requires a tremendous sense of humor and resilience to adapt to less than comfortable surroundings after having been used to modernity and (especially) technology. Your kitchen and home will enrich you in a way that would not be possible in a modern American style beautiful compound. I would do the same.

    • For me the benefit of being surrounded by and often embraced within the local community far outweighs the lack of American-style conveniences. And really, I have often found that the things I initially expect to be the hardest–unpredictable/limited electricity and water, “squatty potty” toilets, even months of hand washing clothing and bedsheets, are actually fairly easy to adapt to, once I figure out a system.

  6. HMMM- I just heard a story from a friend who just moved from a rural area in India where the chameleons would feast on their couch stuffing every night and the frogs had to be carted out every morning. They loved it.

    • That is wild! I’ve never had to deal with reptiles in my house (I guess desert living keeps them to a minimum), but we did once have a very hysterical early-morning encounter with a wild ferret that had taken refuge in our couch…Now that’s a story that needs its own post!

  7. I too store my dishes in my drying rack, store pans in the oven when it’s not in use and my kitchen has no room for the frige as well 🙂 Great to find a good blog.

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