When moving to Kyrgyzstan I found a treasure. Somehow I came into possession of a very old Betty Crocker Cookbook. Its pages are yellowed, torn and creased. The binding has been lovingly taped together and parts of the Index are completely missing. I first started flipping through it when I arrived 3 years ago, and immediately saw that it was a gold mine for my new lifestyle.
It so happens that moving to Kyrgyzstan not only has forced me to learn a new language, but also to learn to cook… from scratch. I love America’s ability to create shortcuts, as far back as Bisquick existed we have worked to make life easier in the kitchen. But, just like learning to drive an automatic does not prepare one to drive stick-shift, so buying pre-shredded, pre-whipped, processed and frozen did not prepare me for cooking with the basics. And yes, I concur that there are many websites that have fantastic recipes, but I find that there is an expectation that in every town of America is a specialty market, or in the international foods aisle every variety of sauce, paste, vegetable and fruit can be found.
Here is our unique challenge: we have limited, healthy, locally available foods in the village. The emphasis is on limited. And this seemed to be the case in 1950s America as well, because armed with this cookbook I have embarked on a great adventure of trying new dishes. There are very few recipes that I cannot tackle because something is unavailable, or because the recipe calls for a product like cool whip or BBQ sauce. If it calls for it, it tells you how to make BBQ sauce. And what a triumph it is when I can whip up something in my kitchen that tastes like home.
I have learned to drive stick in my kitchen!