Saturday, June 21, 2008

going domestic, please help

On our third day in Amman, we met these two Arab girls: Rania and Tamara. From the moment we met, they have showered us with kindness. They have gifted our apartment with DVDs of the TV show Friends and big red heart shaped pillows "to make you feel more at home." At a mere twenty years old, they have captured our hearts. To celebrate the girls finishing their 2nd year of university, I offered to make a special lunch. Rania requested Fettuccine Alfredo. I looked at the cooking light recipe, but to me it read like chicken scratch. So, I invited the girls to come make Fettuccine Alfredo with me! Together, we chopped up garlic, guessed on butter, milk, flour... and soon enough it began taking on the resemblance of Fettuccine Alfredo! Rania added the parsley garnishing and Tamara set the table, and together the four of us (including Joe) sat around the table and enjoyed our home cooked meal. Okay, here's the real truth, not all my cooking stories have been as pretty as that one. I offered Tamara a taste from my third attempt at oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. She carefully examined my rounded oat creation and kindly took a nibble. With a big smile she said "perhaps you need a new recipe?" and walked herself over to the trashcan. Living overseas makes us miss places like Costco, where all our meals are a simple 10 minutes away. I have no choice but to become domestic. It's been a road of discovery for me; and I've been dealt my share of challenges. There is no oven... only a toaster oven. We have no measuring cups, spoons, etc... everything is in pinches, handfuls, and the very accurate "pure guess-timation." Don't even get me started about metric conversions. I've learned that butter is a very important element in cookies, that lasagna noodles stick together in strainers, and that yeast is very high maintenance. Here's my request: send your recipes this way! But here's the catch, please explain everything in terms like "3 small handfuls" "big pinches" and "about 2 cups." Anything that needs precision is a sure disaster. Share the recipe in a comment, for others to enjoy too. The girls loved cooking, and when I hinted at cooking together more, they were all for it. Later that evening, Rania sent me this text message: "When I pray, I don't see God, but I know he listens. As such, when I text you I don't see you but I know you think of me and smile." I was doing just that.


iReNeY said...

Oh Wanida!!!Hi Joe! You are brave! Cooking should be easy...always go by baking is a WHOLE NOTHER STORY! I'll email you a Chicken Adobo Recipe! Yummy Flip(AKA)Flilpino Food.

You know, maybe your neighbors have measuring cups and spoons you can borrow...can you buys some?

We just got back from Camping at Carlsbad State Beach. It was WARM!HOT! It felt like 90 degrees there. But it awesome down by the water! Chloe loves the ocean. She calls it "Pool Pool"! Now we are just chillin back home in our 75 degree home in the middle of Avocado Country.

Enjoy the coming week you guys!

Elena said...

A trick with lasagna noodles is to run a little cold water over them when they are done...and then a *generous-ish* splash of oil so they don't stick. :) OR you can turn the stove off and just leave them not quite done in the water until you are ready to use them and pull them out of the water directly...use a fork to get them out. Either of those tactics I imagine will make your life much easier. Also, if you grate a layer of zucchini or squash in the middle you get your veggies and no one will know the difference. (spinach is also good in the middle) :)

As for recipes...Quaker Oats makes the best oatmeal cookies (in my opinion). Here is my translation:

**In a large bowl beat 1 cup-ish of firmly packed brown sugar (maybe cup both hands together and use that to measure?), 1/2 cup of regular sugar, and two sticks of butter (melted)

**Add 2 egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla --beat really well together

**Add 1 cup of flour (don't pack the flour), 1 teaspoon baking soda (good luck finding that!), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 pinches of salt...mix well

**Add 3 cups-ish of oats (if they are sticky at the end add a little more) and add one cup raisins, one cup chocolate (of course!) and if you want nuts, go to town with those too.

**mix well

**Bake 10-12 minutes at 350

Kristen Mintz said...

I do a lot of "guesstimating" when it comes to cooking (big Rachel Ray fan- she does it too!!) and I've learned a lot along the way. I'm actually becoming a little better. But I still like to fall back on really easy things- like BLT's (mine's an avacado LT) and cereal. ha ha! Anyway, check out and look up rachel ray. Everything I've made of hers is delightful.


the VPs said...

Hi J&W - You are often on our minds, just not so much with our typing skills. You are missed and not forgotten. Wanida, had to tell you a compliment from Joel. We were listening to the radio and he changed stations when a female singer came on stating "I just don't like girl singers. I do like Wanida, though, and the Cranberries." Thought you'd like to know. As for recipes, check out Sam The Cooking Guy. Easy, yummy recipes - Joel will even cook them. When it comes to baking, it's a bit trickier because exact ingredients are needed for things to work right. It's all about the chemistry.

Ms Moneyone said...

Hope our meal went ok! Love you!

Mark Suhonen said...

home looks nice, but not as nice as the amazingly beautiful SAN DIEGO! come home soon. we'll cook for you.

Melissa said...

I love it! Wani asking for cooking tips! This is some new territory you are exploring! Are there any restrictions to the food you are able to get there? That will help me know what sort of recipes to send your way- I have lots! Enjoy learning the ways of the toaster oven:)

kristy said...

Hi my pretty little chef!
I don't think you need any help, it sounds like the trial and lots of error is making for some good laughs! We love you and hope your days in Jordan are being filled with new friends and that your Arabic skills are improving!

Krissa said...

Hi Wanida and Joe!
A really easy chicken tortilla soup recipe...if you have the ingredients. One jar of salsa, one cup of chicken broth, and shredded, cooked chicken. You can just eyeball the amounts of all the ingredients to get the consistency you like for your soup. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, chips, etc. Glad you're a closet Charlotte fan and posted a comment. Now I made my way to your blog and can follow your adventures in Jordan. Hope you're enjoying the journey!