Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The challenge of cooking

Cooking can be fun, it is much more likely to be fun if you are cooking for people. If I'm cooking for myself I would most likely have toast and vegemite, or toast and a poached egg or make a pot of dahl and eat it over a week.  In China and in Thailand I happily went a year with cooking nothing more than  a cup of tea. Literally.  Every day choosing from the choices on offer in the street carts... utter bliss....
Here street carts are not a viable option - mostly because there are none around here but also because they are not healthy, not tasty and not economical.
And so I cook.
But cooking is a challenge.  It used to be that basic shopping baffled me.. I couldn't read Japanese when I came here and it was so easy to make mistakes shopping.  Mistaking salt and MSG,  (Almost as bad as in China when the drinking yoghurt was clearly labelled in English letters MILK... no wonder the students didn't like their hot chocolate....)   not being able to tell pork from beef, butter from margarine,  apple juice from apple cider... (a couple of times I drank apple cider on the train assuming I was drinking sparkling apple juice.... cringe..... )   Cooking with different appliances was also a challenge - initally there was no microwave/oven.  Having bought one though the instructions were in Japanese and I kind of worked it out by trial and error.  It's only in the last 2 months that I have realised that the oven has a button that tells you when it has heated to the required temperature....  A rice cooker is indispensible in a Japanese kitchen, but again it requires reading to get it right - hard rice, soft rice, soupy rice, medium rice, plus the time settings so you can have it cooked when you wake up in the morning.
The biggest challenge of cooking these days is cooking food that is easy to eat as left overs.  Hiro is working crazy hours again.. as always... an early night is 10.30 but can often be 12.  If he is home before 10 it means he is getting a cold.  So ideal food is food that is ok to eat today, but could also be ok to eat the next day or even the day after.

Next week I will record what I cook and report - it might stimulate me to be more imaginative as well....

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