Cooking will be different here. At home, so much of what I cooked was based on ingredients I had on hand. Here’s some leftover beans, that spinach needs to get eaten, I’ve got onion and garlic. So that’s what I would cook: something with beans, spinach, onion, and garlic. I don’t have that here. There is no stockpiled pantry with things hiding in the back for me to find and stretch my creative cooking skills in order to use. There aren’t leftovers or other crazy things left in the fridge that need to be repurposed and eaten. Here, I decide what I want to cook, go buy the stuff needed to cook it, and that’s it.
When I was in grad school, I stopped reading all the cooking blogs I used to follow, because I didn’t have the time for it. There were always recipes I wanted to try, but the usually required the purchase of specific ingredients and cooking implements and prep time and cook time. It made me so sad and frustrated that I had to stop. I also got frustrated that many of the recipes yielded way more that I was comfortable committing to, like two large loaves of bread or something like that. I just didn’t want to commit so much ingredients and time, and then risk having so much end product that I may or may not actually want to eat, but that I would have eaten anyway because I didn’t want to waste it.
Now that I don’t have ingredient restrictions to work around, I am in need of some other food inspiration. Like food blogs! Seasonal ingredients are the opposite from home, so I have been looking for Australian food blogs too so that some of the recipes I see are more likely to match what’s in season here. AND, super exciting, I just so happened to arrive in the midst of apple season! That means pie! Hopefully, eventually.
So far, the things we’ve eaten at home: beans on toast, rice congee with Chinese peanuts, crispy sweet potatoes (a la this recipe), frozen stir-fly vegetables with tofu over rice or noodles, oatmeal, peanut butter sandwiches, mung bean over rice, and frozen vegetable potstickers. Things Pretty Boy has also eaten: char siu over noodles, fried eggs, frozen char siu bao, a frozen pizza, and oreos. The thread these things have mostly in common: minimal number of ingredients and spices (everything is flavored with some combination of vegetable oil, salt and pepper, and Chinese garlic chili sauce) and contain hearty bases (oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans, tofu).
And we’ve been eating fruit. All of the fruit we’ve bought so far has been really good. Nothing too exotic yet, but the Australian bananas, grapes, and apples have been good. And like I said before, the US oranges were good. We also tried some cheap Australian kiwis, and they were better than most I’ve had but they were still just okay. They are pretty particular about labeling where everything, especially produce, comes from, which I think is nice. The ginger was grown here. The garlic came from Argentina. I think it helps us, as consumers, to be more aware of what food we are consuming and how it got to us.
It took one whole week, but we finally did some baking yesterday. We tried out this recipe for ANZAC biscuits. I felt like it was super appropriate that it was the first thing we baked, because (1) ANZAC stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corp, (2) the ANZAC memorial is in Canberra, (3) ANZAC day is April 25th, (4) ANZAC biscuits (which are sold in grocery stores) seem to be a bit of a cultural institution here especially for and around ANZAC day, and (5) the methodology for making these biscuits is completely different from what we usually do to make drop cookies.
We substituted vegetable oil for butter, but otherwise, we followed the recipe as spot on as I could having only dinner flatware and a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup to measure ingredients with. They turned out really good! Nothing like the pictures, but actually more like the drop cookies we usually have back home and super tasty. And
the Cookies Monster Pretty Boy was overjoyed to have a plate of cookies in the kitchen.
We’ll update more about our first whole week in Canberra soon!