Thursday, December 14, 2006

We love Oriental Food

Since I travel a lot on business, I end up eating in restaurants far too often. Not that I have anything against restaurants - it's just that, depending on where I'm traveling, my food choices tend to be somewhat limited.

I rarely go to fast food chains. Maybe to McDonalds once in a while for their pancake and sausage breakfasts (an acceptably filling meal for an inexpensive price). Otherwise, I look for family-operated restaurants, especially those which offer nightly specials, or regional home-cooking.

But when I'm home, I love to cook. And since my husband also enjoys cooking, we often plan meals together. We both really love Oriental meals - Thai, Chinese, Indian - and experiment frequently. I'm not big on eating meat, prefering seafood and fish, with just a touch of pork or chicken once in a while. He, on the other ha
nd, still loves meat and can eat it 2 or 3 times a day. (I'd rather minimize it to 2 or 3 times a month.) We've managed to adjust to each other's needs by cooking something Oriental, so that he can add meat as needed, and I can enjoy my meals with just veggies.

The other day we spent the better part of an afternoon at one of our favorite Oriental grocery markets. The local ones are very limited in their offerings, and we have to travel about about 100 miles roundtrip to do any serious Oriental food shopping. That means we go to at least 3 groceries, and we buy supplies to last us several months. It's worth the time and distance, not to mention the gas, for us to shop this way - we always come back with new ideas and interesting products to try!

This time we came home with a new game plan - I cleaned out one of our kitchen cupboards (for several years it was one of my cookbook storage areas) - and we filled it with our latest Oriental grocery purchases. We filled th
is three shelf cupboard completely - see the photo - and now I have to sort through my cookbooks to determine which are staying and which need new homes.

If you look closely at our Oriental cupboard, you'll see we bought a huge amount of dried Chinese mushrooms (they only take about an hour to re-hydrate, and they have a wonderful woodsy flavor and very meaty texture), fresh chestnuts, lots and lots of canned cream of coconut, a new-to-us curry powder, fish sauces, commercial-sized cans of oyster sauce and (my favorite) hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, and rice noodles. The groceries we visit are very moderately priced - we filled our cupboard for about $60 or so, and will have many, many meals over the next few months. We buy our fresh veggies, meats and seafoods locally, mostly dependent upon what's on sale.

There's also a bit of extravagance slipped into our shopping. I love tamarind candies, especially not the super-hot spicy ones. Can't find them near home, so I buy several boxes of them and they last for at least a couple of weeks. I also like ginger candies, not so much candied ginger, but the ones which are shaped like taffy candy and have a good strong ginger taste to them. They don't last very long either.

Anyhow, if you are into cookbook collecting, be sure to take a look at my
Ruby Lane website, Red Moon Antiques. to see which vintage cookbooks I have for sale. I'm just starting on sorting, so will be offering books from my collection over the next month or so. Take a peek and see if any of them speaks to you . . .

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