To say that I can’t cook is putting it mildly. If truth be told, I possess the rare the ability to turn any attempt at food preparation into a scarcely edible concoction that barely passes as a meal. (Except for macaroni & cheese.) I went into the Peace Corps knowing this – but also understanding that if I was to survive as a functioning adult in this world, I’d eventually have to learn. It was now or never, and the Peace Corps was ripe with opportunity.
If my life were a movie, then I’d be able to proudly announce that I conquered the kitchen, overcame my weaknesses, and am on my way to becoming an excellent chef. But this isn’t Hollywood – my life is much less climactic.
In the eighteen months I’ve been here, I’ve learned how to prepare a few meals, and I still count myself lucky if I don’t burn them.
Below, you’ll find the recipes for the only two dishes I can manage without mishap.
1 Medium Saucepan w/lid
Vegetable Oil (or coconut oil, or water)
1 Large Onion
1 Large Carrot
2 Medium Tomatoes
½ Sweet Pepper
½ Cup Broccoli and/or Cauliflower (Optional)
Veggie Chunks or Chicken (Optional)
¼ Cup of Lawry’s Teriyaki Sauce
- In saucepan, combine sliced onions, sliced carrot, and oil/water. Turn the burner on medium-low and let the onions and carrot soften, stirring occasionally. → As a PCV, and being inept in the kitchen, I use water instead of oil, and I let the water boil out. Once a majority of the water is gone, I move on to the next step. If I’m using chicken, I cut it into bite-size pieces and add it to the pan once the water is boiling.
- Add quartered tomatoes and sliced sweet pepper to pan, and lower heat. Recover and let sit for 1-2 minutes. → If I’m using veggie chunks, I’ve already hydrated them in hot water for half an hour. Now, I drain and add them to the saucepan. If I have broccoli or cauliflower, I would also add them now.
- Remove cover; add teriyaki sauce, stir, and recover. Let sit on low heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Serve a la carte, or over rice & peas.
*This recipe can also be followed using tomato sauce, instead of teriyaki. Just leave the rice out of the equation.
1 Large Cook pot
1 Small or Medium Cook pot
1 Microwave-Safe bowl (or glass bowl)
1 Cabbage head
1 Large Carrot
1 Sweet Pepper
Garlic & Onion Seasoning
1 Tbsp Butter
½ Cup Veggie Chunks
1 Cup (Boiling) Water
1 Pack of Ramen Noodles
- Thinly shred cabbage, and slice onions, carrots and sweet pepper.
- Combine ingredients into the large cook pot with butter (at the bottom) and season with Garlic & Onion.
- Place on stovetop and set heat to the lowest it will go.
- Let sit for 15-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Using a microwave safe bowl, combine veggie chunks and water.
- Set cook-time to 2 minutes, wait ten minutes, and then 2 minutes again.
- Wait another ten minutes, then drain chunks and set aside.
- Using a microwave safe bowl, combine veggie chunks and boiling water.
- Let sit for 25-30 minutes.
- Drain water when finished.
In small or medium pot, make some ramen. Everyone has their own way of doing it, so any which way will work.
- In a bowl, mix veggie chunks, your desired amount of steamed cabbage, and ramen without broth.