Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dreaming of Sweet Potatoes

As I perused my cookbooks this afternoon, menu planning for next week, it was so frustrating to come upon recipe after recipe that I can't make here. Favorite soups from when we lived in the USA... Favorite "one-pot" meals, casseroles...

I can't get chicken broth here that tastes decent enough to merit using it in a soup. I have to make my own. Which requires a lot of time that I don't have, not to mention the ingredients.

Chicken breasts on the bone with the skin still on, so I can roast them and have them still be really moist and flavorful, aren't easy to find, either. I'll find them skinless or a whole chicken, but that's not what I want! I'll make do, sure, but I wish I could just get what I'd like... I'd have more options if I were willing to buy them from more markets, but after seeing how lax those places are about health regulations and refrigeration, I'll pass, thank you. 

I can't get pearl onions, a necessary ingredient in coq au vin and my favorite pot pie. 

How I'd love some clams so I could make New England Clam Chowder...

Speaking of chowder, I spent August wishing I could get corn on the cob so I could make fresh corn chower or the Barefoot Contessa's corn salad...

I could possibly find sweet potatoes if I had the time to drive an hour to the Stockmann's store at the mega mall, but just one potato would cost around $10, so I won't be doing that... (I MISS having a Stockmann's in the center of the city!!) I'll probably splurge a little for Thanksgiving, but only then...

Ah, just the thought of really good smoked American bacon... Especially if it has maple in it... Applewood's... Oh, to even imagine it! I can find some substitutes, but they're not nearly as good and triple the price... I'd also love to get my hands on some pancetta, Italian smoked bacon...

Frozen peas can't be found. I need them for pot pie; canned ones are too mushy. Frozen blueberries are also hit or miss; might find them, might not. 

I've been wanting to make Rachael's fattoush, but I can't find pita bread anywhere near where I live. I bet if I were able to spend a few hours driving somewhere else I could, but I just don't have that kind of time for bread!

I might find fresh rosemary and thyme, but... then again... I very well might not. 

Forget pecorino or romano cheese. They might be available at the ultra-expensive gourmet grocery stores in the luxury malls, but I could never afford at least $20 for a small piece of cheese...

And believe it or not, it's hard to find turnips and parsnips where we live. Surely they're elsewhere in the city, but not in my neighborhood. Again, don't have the time to go on a wild goose chase...

Brown sugar (the kind you can pack into a measuring cup, not brown-colored granulated sugar) appears a few times a year. Why, oh why, didn't I buy a lot of it when I saw it???

You can probably tell that I've been thinking "comfort food." Chicken pot pie. Coq au vin. Chicken soup. Blueberry muffins. Fettuccine Carbonara. Chocolate chip cookies. Roasted vegetable soup. Having to go to three different places to get your groceries kind of takes away the "comfort" from comfort food recipes...

Some of these recipes I can modify, simply making them with substituted ingredients; sometimes they turn out just fine... But it's never quite as tasty as it would have been! 

Boo hoo. I'm pouting here in front of my computer. It's been one of those days... Moral of the story? Enjoy your bountiful American grocery stores! As much as prices have risen in the USA, they're still not nearly as expensive as they are here... At least you can FIND whatever you want, usually in one store with minimal lines! And you probably don't spend much time in the car to get there! Ah, the joy!

11 comments:

traveler one said...

I've always thought turnips were an eastern european thing but I don't think I've ever seen them here... what's that about??

ourboysourlives said...

can you get molasses??? You can make your own brown sugar then...

sorry to hear your woes...I wish I could ship you some of what you crave

Tina in CT said...

I've been baking sweet potatoes and acorn squash for the past month. Turnips and parsnips I can pass on.

Natalie said...

THat's terrible. We really do take what we have for grantid and don't realize it so much until we don't have it anymore. I went to Peru for 10 days once, I was so hungry for normal food by the end of the trip. We ate just bread, avocadoes, and cheese most of the time. And the milk was warm...dont want to know why! I think being raised vegetarian puts me at an advantage whenever in a strange place. I swear if I was on Survivor I would be the strongest person out there, since I'm not used to getting meat! I guess I cant relate to the chicken with the skin or the bacon, but I would be sad to spend $10 on a sweet potato! I love sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving.

Carey and Norman said...

I just grinned reading your post. I'm thinking that maybe you should host a cooking show for the Russians. Even though the items you mention sound good, I can't say that I've ever made them. I'm spoiled to buying prepared items at the grocery. Making your own stock...you can do that :o)

In Russia, I was just glad to see a McDonalds or eat a candy bar/chips/coke even though they still tasted differently to me.

Best wishes,

Carey
russianfairytale

Rachael said...

Well, now I feel kind of bad that I've got neglected sweet potatoes sitting in a bowl on the counter. Maybe we should eat those...

I have a recipe to MAKE pita bread. Would that help?

Tami said...

Too bad we can't just swap some groceries. There's some sort of chicken spicy thing that we used while we were there getting Anya and Nick. I would LOVE to get my hands on some of that.
And I could send you brown sugar to your hearts content! ;>)

Anonymous said...

this probably won't make you feel better, but i used to find great bacon, pearl onions, frozen peas and blueberries at the city center stockmann's...if you went to mega mall, you'd probably find them there - tiplo stan is probably the better one for food. but, think of what you do have that we americans don't - absolutely "to die for" italian yogurt, any yogurt for that matter, all the european brands - and that fabulous russian cheese - what is that? i found lots of cheese here that looks like the russian cheese, but doesn't taste like it at all : ( i buy lots of "exotic" here trying to find something similar.

miss you!
jeannie

Annie said...

Boy, oh, boy. I'd trade with you. Here I am nearly on top of a big market with most of the things you want and I usually just buy some pork (not only the "other white", but the "truly affordable" meat at this point in time), and macaroni so I can make Navy Macaroni, the quick version of pelmeni. Though, I will say they do love bacon on those occasions when I splurge on it.

Seraphina said...

I found sweet potatoes at the Ashan City at Universitet this past week! I think they were around 100 rubles a kilo. Not cheap but much cheaper than the one other time I bought them here. I'm ready to rush back for more after reading this post.

Carolynn and Steve said...

I totally understand the missing the comfort food thing! When I was living there in '97 I missed Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Broccoli. Sometimes it is something so simple. I think perhaps you should do a cooking show--you could be the Rachael Ray of Moscow!