grocery shopping

Shopping by the Planeload

I wrote last week about our local shopping choices, or more specifically, our lack of them. Feeding ourselves here can be challenging at times, but there is a bright side to this scenario. Three, actually. The first is that since meals here don’t come from a box or a drive-thru window, I’ve finally had to learn how to cook. The second is that since cooking here means “from scratch” and relies a lot on locally grown fresh veg, our diets have improved a bit. And the third is that since our local options are so limited, the company occasionally lets us bum a ride on their Beechcraft just to restock our pantries in the big city, which is hugely fun.

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Learning to Cook

I may have misled everyone earlier with my posts about fancy recipes like Oaxacan Mole, Steamed Mussels in Thai Red Curry Sauce, and an impromptu Thanksgiving feast I presumably performed with my right hand tied behind my back. Because the truth is, I don’t have much experience in the kitchen. Nearly everything I know about cooking, I learned here. The ladies who welcomed me four and a half years ago doubted I was up for the task; it wasn’t long before they began sighing and rolling their eyes whenever I asked them questions about recipes and specific quantities. “Eyeball it!” is an answer that only makes sense to someone who has a vague notion of what they’re doing already.

Ask my brother about the time I tried to make enchiladas from an Old El Paso kit when I was a teenager, and dropped the whole baking dish trying to get it into the oven. Twice. I never took home economics in high school; somehow my dad had convinced me to take wood shop instead. (A step forward for feminism; a step backwards in the enchilada prep at home.) By college I had somehow learned to make a decent batch of chili, but otherwise I recall eating a lot of cheap pizza or ramen noodles. Years later I had collected a few favorite dishes and on occasion would try to follow an ambitious recipe out of Bon Appétit, but for the most part, my repertoire consisted of throwing frozen chicken kiev and creamed spinach from Omaha Steaks into the oven. Otherwise, I went out to eat. I loved going out to eat. Any claim I can lay to being a “foodie” may come from extremely adventuresome eating, but always in someone else’s kitchen.

So it was kind of a shock to move to a place where there were no restaurants, no fast food joints, no Omaha Steaks, not even a real supermarket. And, suddenly, my #1 job in life—my only job, really—is to somehow feed myself and my new husband. Every day. Ideally something interesting, nutritious, and that won’t accidentally kill us.

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