Tag Archives: Refrigerator

Welcome to the Kitchen!

It is appropriate but entirely coincidental that this post is happening on New Year’s Day. I am not a resolution maker, or a goal maker, although I often think I should be. Maybe it would help me to focus more and stay aware of my accomplishments. I frequently feel like I float through my days without much sense of what I have done; I feel it more acutely now that Lulu is in preschool five days a week and I have these huge blocks of “free” time that get wasted on Facebook and Pinterest and puttering around the apartment not knowing what to do with myself.

So, I made myself a weekly schedule, and Wednesdays are “Blog Day.” Meaning that each Wednesday you will be treated to a new musing on expat life, or parenting, or a recipe for some delectable but not-too-complicated-or-crazy dish. Because I am still, and will always be, a simple home cook using whatever ingredients I can find easily and cheaply in my neighborhood.

Also, this:

IMG_0197

is the kitchen in which I cook. While it provides all my basic culinary needs,

Cupboards, counter and sink

Cupboards, counter and sink

Refrigerator (and washing machine)

Refrigerator (and washing machine)

Stove

Stove

it is no one’s idea of gourmet. It is, however, up-to-date with what Pinterest tells me is a current kitchen decorating trend: cupboards without doors. And as a bonus feature, we have the option of hot water from the sink—a luxury I have never had in the Middle East.

Without a doubt, this

Coffee and tea station

Coffee and tea station

is the part of the kitchen that gets the most action. I cannot even express how much I love my hot water kettle, and the nearly constant flow of tea and coffee is an important source of warmth these cold winter days.

 

P.S. I realize this is being posted on January 2, but I did write it on the 1st. As usual, life intervened before I could get this up 🙂

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LEFTOVER LAMENTATIONS

This has not been a stellar week for eating in my house.  I’m not quite sure what exactly to blame it on…I have a few suspicions (well, one in particular), but in general I can say that it has been very difficult to get back in the swing of things.  Especially because, at this point in our lives, we are in a period of rather inactive waiting with nothing specific to do, and I have found that in times of aimlessness like this, I am prone to wasting inordinate amounts of time doing absolutely nothing.  Hopefully we have only one or two more weeks of this before some of our future life murkiness clears up…

Upon returning from our long trip, we spent several days grudgingly eating thawed chicken-and-vegetable noodle soup, the very same soup that seemed like such a lifesaver when we returned from traveling and there it was, ready to eat in just minutes!  Two days later, there were still several servings lingering in the fridge, and in my desperation to clear out that precious space for food that we actually wanted to eat, I threw the remaining soup in a casserole dish, spread a thick layer of garlicky mashed potatoes on top, and baked it to a bubbly, golden brown.  (This is one of my main tricks of reinventing leftovers…thankfully, it usually works.)  In this case, it was like a potato-y version of chicken and dumplings, and I was happy.

We managed to finish that off, and to replace it with…

Disaster.  I don’t know what happened.  I went to make one of my old stand-by dishes, a spinach-tomato-and-chickpea bake, a dish I have made so many times and which is so fundamentally easy in its composition that I don’t even have a recipe anymore.  And yet this time it turned out weird and watery and I still haven’t figured out what went wrong.  We choked it down the first night and then it sat in the fridge for two days while I wondered if there was any way to save it.  Last night I threw a bunch of curry spices in a pot with some chopped potatoes and cauliflower, and then added the spinach yuckiness, which resulted in a tolerable (although still not entirely enjoyable) curry.  I also put it in a nice serving dish, which is another trick I have for increasing edibility.  However, the addition of more vegetables increased the volume to such an amount that there are, again, leftovers sitting in the fridge.

I really, really hate throwing food away, even when I really, really don’t want to eat it.  But at the same time, I have a very low tolerance for food repetition, especially if it is a food that didn’t taste good the first time I ate it!  There is a good chance that this curry will languish another day or two until I give into the guilt and throw it away.  I doubt even the stray cats that live off my garbage will be interested in it!

 

P.S.  Do you have any favorite leftover-saving tricks?

THE CURRENT KITCHEN: OUR HILLSIDE HOME

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.

THE CURRENT KITCHEN

The guest flat we’re staying in here in Hillside has a fairly fabulous kitchen.  I’ve certainly never had a kitchen this big in my entire adult life, with a lot of natural light and pretty stone countertops and floor tiles.

I’m trying to not get too attached, though, in spite of this:

What's that say?

That’s right, a proper, well-functioning refrigerator that will never get frozen shut!  With a separate freezer and doors that seal all the way around!  Be still, my beating heart!

It also has the requisite multiple burner gas stove.  Of course, we are still in the Middle East and so there’s bound to be a few quirks…in this case, that I can’t figure out how to get the oven lit.  I can hear and smell the gas and think I know where it’s coming from, but I’ve clicked the lighter all around inside the oven and cannot get a lit flame to save my life—or to roast my vegetables, for that matter.

Probably the closest you will ever get to seeing me on this blog.

Still, there’s plenty of counter space, cupboards galore, and (for a transitional place) a workable number of accoutrements, including plates worthy of a home at The Greatest Chinese Buffet Ever.  Which, apparently, is so great that it doesn’t even need to have its own webpage.