Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Learning about a whole new kitchen…

From the kitchens of Minnesota to the tent life of the Pacific Northwest, my diet has surely changed. No more milk & cereal for breakfast but instead yogurt & granola (from Trader Joe’s preferably) or oatmeal. The option of running to McDonalds, Burger King or KFC for a quick lunch is no longer an option. I now indulge in leftovers, chicken sausage (which I had never heard of before moving here) or some other simple meal option. Snacks now consist of avocado on toasted whole grain bread, locally made tortilla chips, or Cheerios & Dr. Pepper. I found that I couldn’t give up on my lifelong combination of Cheerios & Dr. Pepper. This will probably always be my favorite snack.

When meals are cooked at camp, items no longer come pre-manufactured or from a can (with the exception of beans). Instead, fresh veggies are chopped and sautĂ©ed in extra virgin olive oil & typically served over white or brown rice. I also took part in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where we get a batch of fruits, veggies & greens delivered every week. This is extremely interesting for me as I haven’t heard of most of the veggies & greens before. At times it feels like a weed in Minnesota is a cherished source of nutrition out here. Recently we had “lambs ear” which is a green that I swear up & down that my mother used to always pick as weeds.

I really had to laugh when we made our first salad. We didn’t have any dressing so, the Midwestern in me, thinks about going to the store to pick some up. Oh no… we make our own here! It really caught me off guard that after adding the extra virgin olive oil, fresh ginger, organic honey & fresh garlic that we were still missing an ingredient. Brian & Nicki made the dressing and, after tasting it, came to the conclusion it was missing rice vinegar. Rice Vinegar? Never before had I heard of rice vinegar! This is just ONE of the many examples of how life in the kitchen has changed. Fresh ginger & garlic are now common “household” items.

One of the funniest moments was when I volunteered to cook family dinner. Every Saturday night someone from Wet Planet offers to cook supper for everyone & Wet Planet buys the groceries. I thought sauerkraut & dumplings or tater-tot hotdish would be perfect for my night of cooking. Ryan called & volunteered to help… perfect! The only catch was instead of making my tater-tot hotdish (which, by the way, no one out here had heard of) we were going to use up some Japanese noodles instead. After searching in Todd & Jaco’s cupboards for 20 minutes looking for these noodles, Nicki came to my rescue & found them in less than 2 minutes. What was going to be a Midwest meal now turned into a huge learning experience for me, Asian cooking. It was off the grocery store with Ryan & Jaco where I would continue my education in foreign cooking. After lots of team work, chopping of fresh veggies & adding a little “zest” (graded parts of lemon, lime & orange peels) another successful family dinner came together.

This little story doesn’t do justice to how many things I’ve learned in the kitchen. I practically learn something new every day and it’s awesome. Before I left Minnesota Jodi, Drew, Emily & I were having a gourmet co
oking competition. (Drew & I always have to make things a competition) I’m getting more confident that I will be able to return this winter & make a meal that they won’t forget. The best part is I probably won’t even need a recipe because out here I’m learning about a whole new kitchen...


  1. What?! Who hasn't heard of tater-tot hotdish?? It's one of my favorites, with fake meat, of course.

    Your "new kitchen" sounds amazing and very healthy! Good for you for trying new things. Us Minnesotans could probably use a little of that healthy cooking! :)

    Love you! Miss you!

  2. I'll cook for you next time I see you. Yes, I am learning to eat healthier whether I like it or not. Last night we had some veggies stir-fry & it was AMAZING!!

    Love you too!!