Cooking has been an interesting adventure while living in Kyrgyzstan. Before coming here I didn’t do much cooking. My husband did most of it and after moving to Bishkek we found ourselves faced with a challenge: cooking from scratch. That’s not to say that all our meals were meals from a box, but here it is like extreme cooking from scratch. There are no cans of cream of mushroom soup, no easy corn bread mix, no minute rice, no tomato sauce. There are tomatoes and tomato paste, but no tomato sauce. Most people would think, “Just look for a recipe online,” but our first three years we had no internet in our apartment. But even after we did get internet we found so many recipes that asked for pre-prepared ingredients, or worse both tomato sauce and paste. Sometimes we would give up on the fight and just eat out. Honestly, we gave up a lot. Since then, however, we have learned the great art of “whipping something up”, and I also became great friends with allrecipes.com. I just throw out all the recipes that ask for things we just can’t get. Random rant: While looking for a recipe for pancake mix, I found one that asked for Bisquick pancake mix!
All that to say that now that we know where we stand with fresh food, we love cooking from scratch, especially in the summer when all the produce is fresh and tasty. I’ve even come to the point that if I can’t get it then it isn’t all that necessary…with the exception being A-1 sauce. Now that spring is here we are excited for all the freshness that this entails: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach. We are hoping that eggplant and zucchini will start to appear soon. We have discovered that one of our favorite times as a family is in the kitchen making dinner together. Ryan likes to mix and stir while Derrick and I chop and wash the ingredients. Our hope is that we can bring this reignited love for cooking back to America when we are there. Hopefully we will not fall back into the rut of quick fixes and easy meals, because everything just tastes a little bit better when time and good produce gets put into it. I guess that’s what they mean when they say the secret ingredient is love.