Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ruwais Mall

When you move to a new place, I've found that it's usually best to try to live within what the culture has available rather than constantly trying to recreate things from home without the right ingredients. This is what we do most of the time, with the occasional special treat of making things like flour tortillas or other things we miss from Texas and Guatemala. What we've been able to experience this way, as a bonus, is one of the best parts of travel abroad: the local cuisine. In a multicultural place like Abu Dhabi, this has meant  a combination of Filipino, Indian, and a variety of Middle Eastern foods.

In Ruwais, especially, this has been the experience since the variety found in the many-malled area of Abu Dhabi is not available in this desert town a good 2.5 hours away, so finding something we missed from home even for special occasions was either a "see if someone feels like mailing it" or "just do without" thing. Part of this has changed with the new Ruwais Mall.

Some of the main things found at the mall that were difficult to get otherwise are flour tortillas, sour cream and salsa, some of our most missed and not-easy-to-make items. We still will only get them for special occasions, but it's nice to have the option!  Some other ways this will add variety to Ruwais, (soon, since all of the shops are not open yet) will include restaurants beyond the Indian/Arabic food option available, a wider variety of clothes and office/school supplies, baby supply shop and even a nutrition shop that might have more natural options for things like toothpaste, deodorant and coconut oil. That's what is important  to me... I know many of the other ladies are excited about a beauty salon and cinema.

I don't even know half of the new options this is going to provide, there's not too much I miss besides people and certain foods (I'm sure there's a connection there...) and I generally don't like malls, but just adding another air conditioned option for walking around during the the 100-125 degree months is a welcome diversion here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Learning to make flour tortillas: I miss TexMex food!

One type of food that's really hard to get in Abu Dhabi and especially the Western Region, is any sort of Latin American food. Corn flour, (actual corn flour, because what is labeled "corn flour" here is really just corn starch) which could be used to make masa for corn tortillas and many other things is almost impossible to find except every once in a while in the capital. I never could find it there either. So finding a good flour tortilla recipe was nice! This recipe was easy and they turned out soft and pliable just like they're supposed to. Previous attempts had suffered in this area. ;)

We made beef and bean burritos with chopped tomatoes, cilantro, mozzarella (hard to find cheddar) and a little yogurt to substitute for hard-to-find sour cream. They were yummy.

It's also hard to find good tomatoes or tomato products in this part of the desert also, so salsa is another thing I'm trying to figure out, if you have any good recipes for when we DO have good tomatoes.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Seen in Abu Dhabi: 22

A grape the size of a small plum. I couldn't find a label to tell where it was grown...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Winter" Crafts and Traditions

Since this is one of the first winter breaks spent with just immediate family instead visiting relatives in the States, we've had the chance to think about  traditions we'd like to have of our own. I have to admit, it was really nice to be completely separated from the consumerism of December in the States. It was like any other day in the U.A.E. except temperatures have been in the 60-70 degree range instead of 100's.

While it may not get super cold, it does get chilly enough at night to make and enjoy hot cocoa occasionally. Both kids were a fan of that!
They were also a fan of roasted marshmallows. My favorite are the black ones...
Talia made the characters act out the story Papi read.
It may not snow here, but we made cut out snowflakes... but a colorful version. A penguin family made from footprints also migrated to our wall to visit. Talia mentioned that we had left out the baby, so we added a little penguin egg later.
Cinnamon-raisin bread: it tastes like a cinnamon roll, but you slice it as you go. It was delicious.