I have never really enjoyed cooking much, even though I do it almost every day. Our last year that we lived in America, our family lived off of convenience foods from Trader Joe’s (frozen lasagna, orange chicken, potstickers, jarred spaghetti sauce and pasta, just to name a few). I love TJ’s so much.
A huge aspect of living in America that our family has missed is the vast variety of foods. As a result, I have learned to experiment and try new things. Looking back, I am pretty surprised by the things that I have learned to cook from scratch since living overseas. A lot of these things are way easier than I thought they would be to prepare. I am so grateful for our food processor that has been a huge asset in our kitchen.
Here is a list of 25 things that I have learned to make from scratch (in no particular order) since living here:
- Italian dressing– I used to bring the dried packets from America, but now I just mix different herbs, salt, a little sugar, oil, and vinegar! Thanks to my sister, who encouraged me in this direction😊
- Balsamic dressing
- Onion dip– I used to use the onion soup packets with sour cream, but now I just use dried onion flakes and salt! Our family likes dipping chips and veggies.
- Taco seasoning– I also used to bring packets of this over, but now I just mix paprika, cumin, salt, onion flakes, and garlic powder.
- Tortilla Chips– I make them from flour tortillas, so they taste more like pita chips. I really miss corn tortilla chips, especially since they are gluten free! They have them here in select foreign stores, but a bag of them comes with a hefty price tag😞
- Pancake syrup– who has space for Maple Syrup in their luggage?!
- Peanut Butter and Almond Butter– Two family members have a peanut allergy.
- Hot Chocolate
- Baked beans
- Cream of Tomato Soup- I can make this in about 15 minutes now if I have all the ingredients on hand!
- Spaghetti Sauce– This would taste so much better with Italian Sausage, but I have to settle for ground beef for this one😬
- Burgers– We used to always buy pre-made frozen burgers from Costco, but the ones we make now are so much yummier.
- Chicken Tenders/Nuggets
- Chicken Lo Mein
- Sesame Chicken
- Kimchi– My wonderful mother-in-law used to always make this for me. After months of missing it and trying to think of ways to bribe some Korean people I met here to share theirs, I finally had my mother-in-law teach me when she visited once.
- Cheesecake– My husband asked for NY Style Cheesecake for his birthday, so I had to figure out how to make it.
- Coffee cake
- Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting…you cannot forget the cream cheese frosting!
- Peppermint bark and Chocolate dipped pretzels with crushed peppermint-I told you I love TJ’s…especially in December when they go peppermint crazy…YUMMY.
- Korean pancakes (scallion or kimchi)– I used to think that you needed that special flour that you get at the Asian grocery to make this crispy and delicious…but you don’t. Thank you Maangchi.com for showing us the light.
- Kimbap– I used to buy this at the Asian grocery or eat it when my mom or mother-in-law made it for us. I mean, who makes their own kimbap?! I guess I do now…if you miss something enough, you will make way😝. I am especially grateful to my second son who enjoys rolling these with me!
- Rice– Ok, I saved the best for last…This is going to be mind-boggling for my Asian readers. I learned how to make rice…in a pot…on the STOVE! I did not bring my rice cooker here with me friends. A cultural lesson for my non-Asian readers…A rice cooker is an absolute essential for every Asian home. It’s like having a sofa…Can you have a home without having a sofa? Yes…but it is a little strange. That is what an Asian home is like without a rice cooker🇰🇷✌️. I had no idea how to make rice on a stove when we first came here. Thankfully, my big sister taught me how to cook rice on the stove and it actually works great! I do miss the warmer setting on my rice cooker though, but not enough to lure me to bring it with me from the states.
Well, that is my list of 25 things…I hope in the future I will have more items to add!