I have something I need to get off my chest: Jillian and I don’t just eat Cup o’ Noodles in Haiti everyday. In fact, we have used the time that we have without a TV and other distractions to learn how to cook more. And to be perfectly honest, we’ve gotten pretty good at making delicious food in the kitchen that we almost always want to eat.
A couple of weeks ago we decided to plunge into some stuffed peppers, and they were freakin’ delicious:
So when Jillian’s 24th birthday came around last Sunday, the one thing she really wanted to do was make some good, homemade, eats. Karen was in town, so we at least had someone there to make sure we didn’t blow anything up.
The first thing Jillian wanted to make was homemade apple pie, with gourmet crust. Neither Jillian, Karen, nor I had ever ventured into the crust making arena, so this was a learning experience for all. One of the things you have to grapple with here is the lack of certain ingredients and/or, in this instance, supplies. Making dough without a food processor is a messy endeavor, and it doesn’t always turn out the way you expect it to. So while the crust wasn’t as perfect and beautiful as the boxed stuff you can get in the States, they made it work and the pie turned out awesome.
So now that desert was baking, we moved on to dinner. Our friend Sharon had made some homemade pasta a couple weeks back and said it was shockingly easy, minus the tedious cutting of the noodles. So as an early birthday present to me, Karen brought down a manual pasta maker to add fuel to our newly found culinary fire.
For those of you who have never made pasta before, it is (as Sharon said) ridiculously easy. We decided to make pepper pasta, to spice things up a bit, and the ingredients included the following:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
- 3 large eggs, beaten
(Source: The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles)
That’s it! It’s crazy! But while the ingredients are surprisingly simple, the work that goes into making those ingredients into something you would eat is ENORMOUS. It takes about 3-4 hours total to finish a pound of pasta. But that’s why it’s fun, because once you get the finished product on the dinner table you can be truly proud of what you’ve accomplished.
So you may be disappointed to find out that there are no pictures of any of the finished products. For some reason I have a problem with eating first, and then thinking about taking pictures later. It’s a bad trait I have, especially in this particular situation.
But I can tell you that everything was delicious! Jillian makes an amazing pasta dish with a fresh tomato, garlic, onion and olive oil sauce, mixed with fresh mozzarella. This was paired with some garlic bread made with fresh garlic cooked in butter, and a nice glass of wine. And with a small large piece of apple pie for desert, this birthday dinner was close to perfect.
While we’re no culinary geniuses, it’s nice to be able to make food that is not preprocessed and filled with preservatives. And yes, we could buy pasta at the store, but I like the idea of being able to look at our time in Haiti as time we took to learn something new. For instance, I learned that Jillian makes the weirdest faces when we cook!