Friday, May 30, 2014

An Adventure in Cooking

We have discovered that Africa is a new world in many ways and cooking and foods are by no means any less of an adventure.  The first time we went shopping we were hesitant to buy much of anything.  We found lots of food but most of it did not sound like what we were used to so we had to get help from our friends to know what to buy.   I still find the grocery store an adventure but I have decided to try something new every few trips to the store.

If you want all purpose flour you had to buy cake flour.  There is also bread flour that is a bit courser but has bran in it.  It is the closest thing I have found to whole wheat flour.

 Regular sugar is much courser that ours.  It is much like the sugar we used to buy from Mexico.  It took a while to find brown sugar that would pack like we are used to.  It looks like course Mexico sugar with molasses in it.  If you want finer sugar you have to buy caster sugar and if you want powdered sugar you have to buy icing sugar.  It made life a little confusing at first.

 It took me a few weeks, several trips to the store and then finally a very nice Afrikaans lady to find corn starch.  I had seen corn flour but I did not know it was corn starch.   Dalen recognized the soda.
 As you can see tomato products have different names as well.  Tomato puree is what we call tomato sauce.  It doesn't taste quite the same but I use it and season it a bit differently.  Tomato pass comes in a packet but it has the same name.  What we call ketchup, they call tomato sauce.  It you ask for ketchup at a restaurant they have no idea what you are asking for.
There is no such thing as crisco or any other name of shortening.  The closest thing they have is white margarine.  Butter is butter Yeah!   The Ultra meal is custard or pudding in a carton.  It sits on the shelf until you open it and then you keep it in the refrigerator.  On the top right is shelf milk.  It too sits on the shelf until you open it and then you put it in the fridge.  We really like the pudding and shelf milk.  We will really miss them when we go home.  They would be wonderful to have in Alpine.  Not so many trips to Springerville for milk.

There are lots of things we can not buy or that are too expensive to have very often but there are lots of things to replace them or that are just different but good.  The thing I missed most at first was corn tortillas, chiles and anything Mexican food, but I have gotten over it pretty much.  We can buy flour tortillas for about a dollar a piece, so I make them.  I make a lot of things from scratch out of necessity.  I am sure glad that is something I have done before.

One of my most interesting experiences with making food was when I tried to make my first pie.  I had been served pie but it was not what we called pie so I thought I would show some of our friends here what a "real" pie was like.  Well I got a big dose of "humble pie" and a major shock.  I used the recipe I always used at home with the above mentioned cake flour, white margarine, salt, egg, and vinegar.  I made it like I usually do but them had to freeze it because I did not get a chance to use it.  Some time latter I thawed out the dough, rolled it out and put it into a pie pan (Which are nearly impossible to find here), pocked lots of holes in it and put it in the oven.  Boy you can imagine my surprise when I looked into the oven and found this inside

I could not believe my beautiful pie had turned into a big, fat, flat disk of dough.  I tried again only to have a second flat disk with a slight edge around it.  I was shocked to say the least and a lot more humbled.  I figured maybe it was not so easy to make pies in South Africa.

I changed my recipe to Carol's eggless recipe that uses butter instead of shortening and added a little bread flour to give it some bulk and believe it or not it worked.

For Dalen's Birthday I made him a pecan pie.  It was one of the best pecan pies I have ever made. (Shane I used sugar instead of salt this time)  I have to thank Sister Cluster for the Karo Syrup that she gave me when she left to go home.  I treasure it like gold because I know when it is gone that will be all there is.  It is too expensive to ship it here and there is nothing like it here, at least not that any of the sister missionaries have come acrossed yet.

I made two single crust pie shells at the same time as I made the pecan pie and they did not slide down into a big, fat, flat disc.   Yeah!  I waited several days for the right occasion to make the lemon meringue pie.  We had been invited to the Hulls house for Sunday dinner.  They are the new missionary couple in charge of Self Reliance.

 I used my daughter-in-law Kelly's recipe for the pie filling and meringue.  It was the first time I had ever made a lemon meringue pie from scratch but to my great pleasure it worked.  Thanks Kelly!
 This pie went to Elder Berry for a going away present.  He was our zone leader and one of the best missionaries I have ever come in contact with.  I was really sad to see him leave because he made us feel very welcome and a part of the mission.  It is sometimes hard because we are not quite sure where we fit in.  We are "Specialists" so we kind of have two bosses.  The Mission President and the CES Department.  Elder Berry always made us feel very welcome at all the missionary activities.

This pie was eaten at the missionary couples dinner on Sunday at the Hulls house.  We had a really great time with the Hulls and the Carliles.

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