Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Monday, October 24, 2016

Scratch That! Cooking Adventures in Africa

"What do you eat over there?"  It's a question we are constantly asked in various forms by folks from home.  We often get groups of Americans or other westerners coming through Mokhotlong on mission teams.  After any amount of time here, they quickly discover the limited selection of groceries.  Our standard answer is that we eat like most Americans do, well the Americans who cook that is, with a few modifications based on our circumstances.  So I thought I'd give all of you interested blog readers a window into what goes on our dinner table on any given night.  Welcome to my new series, "Scratch That! Cooking Adventures in Africa" where I will share details about cooking for a family of five in the mountains of Lesotho.

I typically make up our meal plans on a monthly basis.  I'm not quite organized enough to just make up a few monthly plans and rotate them.  Actually I'm not sure if it's a lack of organization.  It's more the idea of something so regimented that turns me off.  Sometimes I have a hankering for a particular meal and might want to make it more regularly than every couple of months.  I incorporate many of our favorites into my monthly plan.  We almost always have a pizza night once a month and invite our neighbors or some other friends.  I try to include a few meals which will feed more than just our family so we can invite friends regularly.  It's part of our life here and we love having folks into our home.

This is how we get most of our groceries.  In short, we go to South Africa and buy everything we can't get here in Mokhotlong.  Then we cram it all in Rocky and drive up the mountain pass to get it to the fridge ASAP (usually about 4 hours drive).

Recently we had Sloppy Joes for dinner.  I make my mom's recipe because it's comfort food to me and everyone likes it.  The only modification I make is grating some zucchini into the ground beef and sautéing it up together.  Once you add the sauce, you can't even tell there are veggies in the mix.  It stretches the meat and adds something healthy!  One of the things I miss while living in Africa is fluffy buns.  Seriously, I cannot find buns as light and fluffy in South Africa as I can at Aldi.  They are advertised as "crispy buns" and they live up to their title.  So, I used to make the buns myself.  Then we discovered a little bakery right here in Mokhotlong which sells really nice buns.  They are more dense and a tad bit sweeter than traditional American hamburger buns, but they are fresh and cheap. And that's one less thing I've got to make myself. We frequent the bun shop.  Usually when we go they are sold out.  They tell us they'll bake more and Jono almost always has return later in the day to grab them for dinner.

To go with Sloppy Joes, I made cole slaw and I cooked some cob corn.  I make slaw by finely shredding cabbage with a knife.  Cabbage is ridiculously cheap here.  I bought a half of a big head for about $.35.  Although you can buy cabbage here in Mok, I always buy mine down in South Africa because it is already cleaned and I take all the help I can get.  Then I shred some carrots and today I finely chopped some red pepper.  I make a simple dressing using mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar.  Then I add some salt and pepper and my special ingredient --- mustard seeds.  I love mustard seeds and the little kick they give.  I spring for the Hellman's mayonnaise which, being imported, is significantly more expensive than the stuff they manufacture here.  Some things are worth it.  In my opinion, good mayo is one of those things.

I have learned a lot about planning ahead since being here.  Rural living has done that for me.  I'm truly grateful for all the knowledge and experience I've gained in the kitchen by being forced to think through and learn all things cooking!  If it can be scratched, I've probably scratched it.  If I haven't tried it yet, I'm planning on trying it soon.  No home ec. course in the world could touch this gig!


1 comment:

  1. We have a lot more access to various foods than you do, but we still have to scratch it. And now we're so spoiled because scratch is really so tasty! Bless you, my friend, for all you cheerfully do for His glory.