When I left home to go to university in Montreal, without the comforts of a mom or a cafeteria to take care of my culinary needs, I was a little worried. I made due. I got pretty good at grilling meats and cooking pizza. When I didn’t have time or inspiration, Chef On Call, Alto’s, Pizza Du Parc, and Boustan always sufficed! Here in the ‘Baijan, things, needless to say, are a little bit different. No Metro grocery store to hit up for some good steaks and BACON, no delivery service, and certainly no oven or full-sized kitchen. What is a useless 23-year-old to do? Well, usually I eat egg sandwiches, oatmeal, and snack on a lot of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, one of the pluses of food in this country. I don’t buy meat and I don’t have a cabinet full of spices and a store with every item I could ever need to cook. Occasionally I look at recipes online that people have posted on Facebook. 90% of the time, I get about 2 sentences into the recipe when I find out that I am missing a critical part of the recipe and there is no way I can cook such a thing here.
Egg sandwiches are great, but they can get boring after over a year. So, lately, I’ve tried to get creative. Here are a couple of my most recent dishes. It’s fun, and actually quite soothing, to experiment in the kitchen. The winter here is going to be long, dark, cold, and wet, but I am starting to realize that standing in front of a hot stove trying to cook news things from scratch, no recipe, phone, or mom to help me, is the perfect thing to get through this season.
On Canadian Thanksgiving, Trey and I celebrated by making homemade poutine! It certainly was no Patati Patata or La Banquise poutine, but it wasn’t half bad and reminded me of my home city and the people there that I miss and love. Trey made the fries, crisping them with a little flour, while I made the gravy using beef bouillon cubes, flour, and anything else I could find that I thought might taste good in a gravy.
This second dish is tuna cakes. Tuna, although a little pricey on my budget at about 3$ a can, is a great way for me to get some much needed, and usually lacking, protein and Omega fatty acids. I tried spicing it up, and it actually worked out! I added pickled ginger, Thai basil, shredded carrots, an egg, some floor, and some toasted oatmeal to keep it together. Nothing in it is bad for you, and once crisp with a little mustard on the side, well, they’re really freaking good!