Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Misadventures Of Baking In Haiti: Thanksgiving Addition

Thanksgiving is my favorite family holiday. I can still count on one hand the number of times in my life I have not been with family on Thanksgiving. One of my all-time favorite Thanksgiving dishes is green bean casserole. It has been a staple of our family feast, and I started making it myself in recent years, so naturally I decided it was necessary part of Thanksgiving in Haiti, which was hosted by the incredibly hospitable, and amazing John & Beth McHoul. Wednesday, I "ran" to the store for the ingredients. There are only four, so I figured I could be in and out in no time. But, that turned into "Haiti time"... It's possible to find many typical American items at the grocery, but just because you saw it last week (or yesterday) does not mean the same store will have it today, when you really need it. And IF you find it, it's likely to cost 25-30+% more than it would in the US.

So, here's what I needed:
4 cans of green beans
3 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese
1 can of french fried onions

Green beans and shredded cheese where found in abundance, so I was hopeful as I scoured the shelves for the other two in ingredients. In the soup aisle, they had cream of EVERY kind of soup, EXCEPT mushroom, so I had to make a quick decision about which one substitute: cream of onion won the "eeny meeny miney moe" game. There happened to be canned mushrooms at the end of the aisle, so I threw those in for flavoring. (even though I am not a fan of eating fungus...but that's another story.) I asked one of the employees who spoke English if they had french friend onions, and thankfully there was a picture on the green bean can label, or I may have been there all day trying to describe in my broken creole, exactly what they were. No such luck. But, at the end of the aisle, where they would have been, there were cans of bread crumbs, so I snatched one up to use instead.  $57 later, I had everything I needed for my "easy" Thanksgiving side dish (plus a new frying pan, because frying eggs in a pot is bit complicated...)

Thursday I taught til 12pm, and had exactly one hour to change clothes, mix the ingredients, and get them in the oven to cook before my ride came to pick me up at 1:00. Everything was mixed and put in the pyrex ready for the oven, when, wouldn't you know, NOBODY can figure out how to light the inside of the oven I have been cooking on. Twenty minutes and 3 people later, I asked Edelyn if I could please use the oven in her kitchen, or it wasn't going to be ready in time. Miraculously, I was dressed and ready to go, and the casserole was out of the oven, just as my ride arrived.

I made a public disclaimer before dinner since I had no idea how it would actually turn out, but at the end of the feasting, there was only a small serving left. I'm happy to say that my 2nd mis-adventure of baking in Haiti was another success! :) (and I'm also happy to report that the missing "cooking gene" that runs in my family has seemed to have found it's way into my DNA.) ;)  I'm thinking about starting a cooking blog on all the recipe successes, substitutions, and disasters when the "Haiti" ingredient is might be useful for someone, if for nothing else than a little a bit of comic relief!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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