I never realized just how much I enjoy cooking! Being on the road, living out of a suitcase and eating every meal out is not all that it is cracked up to be. Especially for someone like myself who gets great enjoyment from the simple act of putting together a meal. I know that Joe thinks I’m a bit cracked wanting to work instead of just going out but I actually like my own cooking, I like knowing where it came from, how it was prepared and especially having leftovers so that I don’t need to work on days that I’m just not interested.
We moved into our apartment on Thursday, June 24th – my first visit was to Mi Comisariato which is conveniently located directly behind our apartment building. By that evening I had the refrigerator, freezer and pantry pretty nearly stocked. Julia Child would have been proud of the way I approached my task. First all the dry staples, sugar, flour -both corn and wheat, salt, assorted spices (larger quantities of oregano, pepper and cinnamon), four different types of noodles, rice, quino (pronounced keen-wa), oatmeal, dry cereal, granola, next came the baking items, vanilla, baking powder, then crackers, cookies, raisins, nuts and a fresh bread. Next I tackled the condiments, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, hot sauce, pancake syrup, soy sauce, then came butter, cream cheese, an assortment of semi soft and hard cheeses as well as shredded Parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, along with some sausage, all meat hot dogs and cold cuts Oh I almost forgot the bacon. Then there were the eggs, milk, canned creams and sweet pickles, olives and jalapeno peppers. I was coming down the home stretch with a few standards like chicken and chopped meat. Bought the basic produce of onions, green peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, celery, carrots, ginger, green beans, a few potatoes to get started, a small yuca for soup and some fresh peeled garlic. Along with fresh basil, cilantro, flat leaf parsley now my cart was filled and my wallet a bit lighter – we were ready to cook!!!
Our apartment came furnished with basic kitchen cookware and dishes – I needed to fill in with all the electric items but by Friday afternoon, we had our toaster oven, coffee maker, blender, hand mixer, veggie chopper – this along with a few Pyrex baking dishes, 2 Teflon frying pans and a beautiful roasting pan we were pretty much set to cook. My first offering was a basic chicken soup – I had picked up what looked like chicken thighs which turned out to be something entirely new to me, chicken wings that were still attached to a piece of back bone – odd because I have never seen both chicken wings still attached to the back and ever odder because I swore that they were thighs when I picked up 3 packages. Well this is what I had and that is what I made my first batch of chicken soup from. Joe actually said it tasted buttery – could have been the chicken fat but after it was chilled it did not separate much fat from the stock.
My next project was eggplant parmesan – my sister Debbie made it many years ago while I was back in Pennsylvania for a visit and I fell in love. I have modified the recipe to allow for several items that are not easily available in Panama or Ecuador but it is a real treat in our home.