Cabbage, Potato and ehm….. more cabbage..?

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Perhaps Im spoiled. Having lived in Dubai for 8 years Im used to seeing a huge variety of foods in the supermarkets. I remember shopping in Dubai after I had just arrived, seeing so many different fruits and vegetables, some I had never seen before. Spiky pink things, funny shaped oval yellow things etc etc. It was an adventure learning to cook with some and trying all the ones I was brave enough to try! Dubai supermarkets will have an abundance of things from America, Australia, Europe, Uk, Asia. Yes sure, we complain when things go out of stock, but bottom line, we are spoiled for choice in Dubai. Meat is flown in, great quality lamb, beef, fish, chicken, turkey and even pork in selected shops! The cereal aisle has so many brands you couldnt count them! Even in the smaller shops!

And now, here I am, in Poland. The first few supermarkets I went to I couldnt quiet put my finger on what it was, everything seems the same as anywhere else. Then after a few shops I realised what it was! Even though the shops might be big and the sections are big, its all a repeat of the same stuff over and over. In my local supermarket in Dubai there would be no less then 8 different brands of apples, all from different parts of the world, in my local supermarket here, the apple section may be almost the same size, but its all just one or two kinds of apple. Same thing in the veggie section. Where I used to have a great choice of onions, red, white, brown, organic brown, indian red, American red, shallots etc. Here. There is just one kind. Go to any section, and its similar. Rice section, a handful of brands, cereal section, again, a handful. The fruits and veg are very seasonal. Cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, leek, potato. Apples, Bananas, clementines. The more high end places have more. You might even find avocado in some. 

Actually….. I started this post with ‘perhaps Im spoiled’, I realise now that I am. You get used to going to the supermarket and picking whatever you like based on what you like, not based on what they have. Meat here is chicken, chicken, more chicken, turkey, pork, pork, more pork, and then sausages and pates in every shape imaginable, most not ok for us as few are gluten free. Beef and lamb is around of course (although so far I have not seen any lamb), but I dont understand the labels and I dont recognise the cuts, obviously this is my problem, not the supermarkets fault.

I find myself not really knowing what to eat. Its strange, because of course there is plenty of food in the shops, but its just not at all what Im used to. I guess I need to try to cook more with whats there instead of walking around looking for what Im used to. Even gluten free is hard to come by, even though this is Europe.  Actually, I shouldn’t say hard, it was hard, for the first few weeks, now that I know the shops and I know where to go, its not so bad, but it wasn’t as readily available as I had expected. 

My week used to be so easy, meal plan wise lamb 1-2 times, seafood 1 time, beef once, pasta once, 1 leftover day and a veggie day. It was rare we had chicken. Now its all chicken. I need to be more prepared I guess. Buy the good stuff in advance and freeze, find myself a local butcher perhaps.

I hope this post doesn’t come across as whiny and depressing, I don’t mean for it to sound that way at all. Im more surprised then anything. Im embracing it, slowly, today we boiled cabbage in chicken stock as a side for dinner, kids loved it! And food here, is cheap! I mean, really really cheap. Tomatoes that we pay over 20dhs per kilo for in Dubai are sold here (same brand, from same country) for 1.80dhs per kilo. Im guessing my carbon footprint is also happy (ecstatic probably). I mean hello, it rained enough in the last week to turn the desert green 4 times over! 

Now, if you’ll all forgive me, I must go and google ‘leftover cabbage recipes’, perhaps you have one to share? Who knew 1dhs worth of cabbage would go that far??

-Linda

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Our life revolves around food.

It really does. Not always in a bad way, and don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t stop or hinder us in any way, its just how we THINK thats different. Take this move for instance. Most families I know would just eat takeout for the last couple of days, get a pizza on arrival in the new house and have breakfast out or get something ready made until plates etc were all unpacked. For us, its all about the food every step of the way. Making sure I have enough things unpacked to still bake bread, that I have all the saucepans I need for cooking. Then that the airline we fly has ok gluten free meals, that we bring enough food in our hand luggage, that we know where the nearest shop is on arrival so we can buy cleaning products and food and start the process of de – glutening the kitchen. Our life revolves around food, and the kitchen, but the planning and thinking becomes second nature, so its no different then say a cold person making sure they wear thick socks. This is just how it is!

On another note I have seen some awesome pink and blue pots I like, but Im wondering if pink saucepans will be just a bit to much…? Im normally a stainless steel kindof girl, but these look awesome! What do you think?

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-Linda

Spices! Who needs them?

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Spices Smiches, bah. May contain, may have traces, produced on a line that handles, produced in a factory that, etc etc etc. Did you know that many spices coming out of Asia are milled in a mill that also produces flour? Did you know some have flour added to them to make them a better consistency? Did you know that many of these countries have no laws whatsoever about telling you they added gluten?

We live in a melting pot of cultures, foods here come from all corners of the world, and unless a spice is certified gluten free, I just dont even go there. At first, it was hard, now it is super easy.

Think about it, what is a spice, really? Its flavour! So add flavours, not spices! Fresh herbs, chilli, onion, garlic, shallots, fresh ginger, tabasco. All you need is salt and pepper, then the rest, you just use your imagination!

Big bunches of herbs are often very cheap (or why not grow your own!), I freeze my leftovers in small pots so I always have fresh herbs available. Ginger root is also always in a small pot in my freezer, I use a grater and grate it straight in to the dish that needs it. Chillies dry beautifully on a plate in the kitchen, no need to buy fresh until you run out.

If any of my food is going to have traces of gluten, it certainly wont be from my spices, or rather… flavours 🙂

Happy Cooking!

-Linda

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