After Tim’s post on importing western favorites (necessities) such as good beer, cheddar cheese, and peanut butter/chocolate combinations, I feel the need to expand. This is for that I’m-out-of-peanut-butter-what-do-I-do-now moment. I promise, there is no need for panic or despair. There are answers.
Back home, I was already an obsessive label reader, and was quite hesitant about buying things with more than about 5 ingredients, so I got really used to making my own food from scratch. Moving to Taiwan brought my do-it-yourself style cooking to a new level. At home, foods such as peanut butter and tortillas were not only the inexpensive staples that got me through college, but they also became pure comfort foods, and quick easy snacks.
Well, it seems that desire for those comforts of home beats out quick and easy when tortillas are nowhere to be seen, and a 10-oz jar of peanut-only peanut butter costs somewhere around $US 10. This is the point when you are forced to live without, or take matters into your own hands. I’ve chosen the latter option.
Tortillas are the easiest. All you need is flour (1 ½ jam jars full), a pinch of salt, a little water (enough to get the dough to stick together), and oil (one giant glug). Mix it all together, roll it out, and fry the tortillas in a pan. Soooo easy!
Then, the peanut butter problem: When Tim’s parents came to visit for Christmas, they gave me the wonderful, amazing gift of a blender (thank you!). This has helped me to recreate many of my favorite soups from home, which I would never find canned or otherwise, anywhere in Taiwan. Ever. It is also the key to peanut butter. Just throw some peanuts, some salt, and maybe a touch of oil, and blend, and blend, and blend some more until you have yourself some homemade peanut butter (beware of burning engine smell – that’s when you know it’s time to take a break). It’s not quite as creamy as what I’m used to at home, but it definitely serves its purpose.
Other DIY creations that have made their way out of this sadly oven-free Taiwanese kitchen include falafel, peanut butter cups (though I normally just take the low road and spread some peanut butter on a piece of chocolate), and raw “brownies” (dried fruit, nuts, honey, and cocoa powder blended together), and despite the lack of oven, I have also managed to roast a ton of veggies thanks to our magnificent $12 toaster oven. I’m not stopping there, either. Did you know that it’s possible to make ricotta cheese with just whole milk and lemon juice? I’ll let you know how that one turns out.
Even though I am going to have to keep on waiting for a real chocolate chip cookie, and seeing a taco truck in Yilan would definitely mean I was losing it, there is still a trick or two for getting around a steady diet of fried rice, beef noodles, and more fried rice.