Life is getting better, y’all. We hired a housekeeper/cook (well, she has a “certificate” in cooking, but admitted she has no experience as a cook), so the house no longer smells so strongly of dust all the time. Only some of the time. Also, she is really good at chopping onions and garlic! I think I’ll let her do the chopping from now on.
I got excited at the grocery store on Saturday because we’d been eating a lot of canned goods and macaroni and cheese during our first week here. When I finally had a chance to do a big grocery run, I went a little nuts with the fresh produce (which is why it took hours to clean everything). I also bought a very pricey frozen chicken on a whim. I’ve been cooking a lot ever since, hoping that my purchases won’t go bad before we have a chance to eat them.
Yesterday I made an easy potato leek soup straight out of Julia Child (it’s “simplicity itself to make”!), paired with a surprisingly good parsley and garlic focaccia from a Nigella Lawson cookbook that Andrea bought for me years ago (when the internet is so unreliable, my cookbooks are coming in handy). I say it was surprising that it worked out because we are up around 8,000 ft here in Addis, and baking gets all messed up at high altitudes. I didn’t have a high-altitude recipe, but I eyeballed it: a little less (~25%) yeast, a little more water and flour; a slightly higher oven temperature and just a little less baking time. This was the best damn focaccia ever. It would make excellent pizza crust too. I’ll send you the recipe if you want. (Too tired to type it out now.) My new mixer makes it so easy to bake fresh bread! Love that dough hook! But now I seriously want to buy the pasta extruder too. Damn you, KitchenAid, for being so good at what you do.
Tonight I decided it was time to make that chicken. It had been defrosting in the fridge since Saturday and I figured it was now or never. Now, I am aware that roasting a chicken is not hard. I just haven’t done it in many years, and I didn’t really want to unwrap it to see what it looked like. I was imagining feathers here and there, bloody inner parts, etc. Gross. But I broke out the Julia Child again, and you know what? I never really used that cookbook before, but it is perfect for a Foreign Service spouse. I suppose that’s exactly what she was, too, so it shouldn’t be surprising. In the section on roasting a chicken, she explains everything in detail, from how to defrost the chicken, clean it, and singe the feathers off, to using the internal organs for the sauce. It was just the refresher I needed. And that chicken, well, it was perfect. Paired with roasted potatoes and carrots, with a side of mushy peas (thanks, Jamie Oliver) and an American microbrew from the commissary: the meal was comfort itself. But let’s be honest, I’m terrible at writing about food, and even worse at styling food for photographs. Which is why this is not a food blog.
And because this is not a food blog, and kind of more of a mommy blog, let’s end with an update on the kids. Willa has slept through the night TWICE in the past 10 days. (The other nights she is up pretty frequently, of course.) Charlotte and I toured another school today and fell in love with it. It’s just the perfect preschool, combining the Montessori approach with HighScope and Reggio Emilia (look those up if you care), and the kids all looked so happy and calm. The teachers were all 100% engaged with the kids. There is art, music, math, reading, play, cooking, yoga, and so much more. And the best part is, I’ll be cataloging their library collection and developing new story time activities! I knew that MLIS degree would come in handy someday. I’ll get to work outside the home and be with my kids at the same time.