I made enchiladas! The experiment was a success and we all ate well last night. They even had a garnish of fresh cilantro from our one practical houseplant. However, I had some hurdles to overcome in order to complete this recipe, the most basic being chili powder. You should understand that chili powder in Australia is not the same as chili powder in the US. It’s a good thing I was told this a few weeks ago because otherwise last night would not have been tasty, it would have been painful. As far as I know, chili powder in Australia is the equivalent of cayenne pepper in the US. And US chili powder is actually a mix of spices including cayenne pepper, paprika and cumin. Still spicy but not fire level hot. Can you tell the difference between the 3 red spices now in my cupboard? Maybe I should start labeling things, but anyway the first thing I had to do in order to make my red enchilada sauce was actually make the chili powder. You can buy it here under the name Mexican chili powder but I was unable to find it earlier this week. And speaking of things I couldn’t find, green chilis in a can were also unavailable at the grocery store. I believe I have seen these here but since I couldn’t find them on demand, they will now be on my list of “if I see it, buy it”. Because there will definitely be a next time making this deliciousness.I normally make two kinds of enchiladas at the same time, red and green. This is because we like them both, so why not just have both. But I think in order to make the green I am going to have to either learn how to make green salsa or find green salsa at another store. But that’s an adventure for another day. Although I wouldn’t mind hearing if anyone has any green salsa recipes or maybe ideas for green enchiladas sans green salsa if that’s possible. For now, the red enchiladas were a winner and I can add this to the list of things I’ve successfully accomplished making in Perth.
Two words. Mexican food. We miss our burritos. We miss endless baskets of tortilla chips and inexpensive salsa. And then there’s the cheese but that’s a whole other blog post. We’re making it work and there are many more options than I’m used to having after living in places like Germany or Papua New Guinea so I won’t complain. Old El Paso is, after all, quite the staple in most grocery stores. But this interesting bounty doesn’t change that we are missing some of our trusted staples and learning to eat creatively when we want to indulge our Mexican cravings. Some of this has to do more with my frugalness than actually not being able to find things. For example, there is an American store in town, two in fact. See my previous blog post: The American Store. But you’re not only going to pay a marked up price, you’re going to pay for their gift of importing these goodies to you too. So that jar of salsa is now $8. But sometimes you get lucky and they are on sale so you stock up and also offer them to your friends because you know they’ll appreciate the new lower $3 price too:-) This means that we are now unapologetic about the shelf in our pantry that looks like this but when this salsa is gone we might just start making our own. Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple places in town that make a decent Mexican meal but it’s just not the same. So I will continue to use my Trader Joe’s taco seasoning sparingily and keep rationing out the large bottle of Cholula that we brought in our suitcases. I will enjoy making our favorite chicken tortilla soup once the weather cools down again. But this week, I think I need to scrap my meal plan and see if I can gather enough ingredients to make my homemade enchiladas. If I can pull this off relatively inexpensively, it will be quite the Mexican food achievement.
“Smile, make friends and eat a healthy lunch,” was the advice from a friend when I expressed that I was a bit nervous about today. It’s been 10 years since I graduated from UCSB so I do feel a little out of practice with this whole student thing.
But here I am ready for my first day with my healthy lunch packed, smile on my face and ready to make friends. Please pray for this week of learning and adjustment. Graduate school can’t be too difficult, right?
We see what’s happening from our balcony, as the grass between us and the Swan River is slowly being transformed for tomorrow’s event. Our place will be the hub for our team to come and be a part of this Australian tradition because we’ll have a great view of the fireworks and we’re right on top of all the action.Perth is preparing for Australia Day. For all you Americans, think Columbus Day with celebrations like the 4th of July. But just like Columbus Day is drawing criticism because it tends to ignore the people the land originally belonged to, Australia Day also has critics. The city of Fremantle no longer has an Australia Day celebration and for my understanding of why, you can read my blog post from 2013: Australia Day also known as Invasion Day.Observing and participating in these celebrations are part of us getting to know Australia, history and all. And so we watch as the lawn below us turns into a carnival and a gathering place. And tomorrow we’ll take part in the sausage sizzle, maybe some of the games and then a group of us will gather in our apartment and watch the fireworks. Not a bad way to celebrate us being here in Australia together on our first Australia Day.
There are many different ways to learn about a city. Sometimes you need a local guide to talk about why certain things are the way they are and to point out places or things that you might otherwise overlook. Ryan and I decided to try out a local tour that seemed interesting and it turned out to be well worth our time and money. If you come and visit us, we’ll probably send you on this tour too. (Check it out: Oh Hey WA!) It was a great way to see the heart of the city, hear about local history, art, food and the future of what’s happening as well.
From the oldest building in Perth to the current revitalization of buildings in the city. We were introduced to all the basics and then some. This tour answered some of the questions I had about spaces I was seeing in the city as well as asked me to look up, down and around some corners that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.
The street art in Perth is pretty amazing, especially if you know where to look. And when the tour guide mentioned two different pizza places in the city, she had Ryan’s attention. One spot even has half priced pizzas on Wednesdays. I know where we’re eating soon!
We also were introduced to some of the buildings and art installations that light up in the city. This has inspired us to take more evening walks. I’m hoping that those walks will lead us to a couple of the cool bars that our guide also mentioned. Evidently there use to be no nightlife in the city but recently bars and restaurants have been opening up and making their mark. After 5 o’clock there is a reason to be downtown now.
One thing I have noticed before was the mix of old and new in the city. This tour just emphasized that this juxtaposition is the result of a lot of intentional work and planning. And of course, I loved being introduced to some of the Noongar (aboriginal art) that can also be found around the city. This was a wonderful way to spend our morning and now we have even more ideas of how to explore and enjoy this great city.
If you give a neighbor a cookie, he’ll probably ask for a cup of tea. And if he asks for a cup of tea, he will probably ask for a place to sit down. And if he asks for a place to sit down, he’ll probably want to have a chat. And if the chat lasts long enough, he might get hungry again. And then he’ll probably ask for another cookie.Ok so maybe that’s a little too simplistic. But here’s the deal, Ryan and I have always known our neighbors to a certain extent. And in a home, you just hang around outside and at some point you’ll see and get to chat with the people who live around you. But we now live in a high-rise and no one can access our floor except us and our 9 neighbors. Short of reading a book in the hallway, the only way to meet our neighbors is to cross paths while taking out the trash or in the elevator.I also enjoy baking and so we figured that some American chocolate chip cookies might help break the ice. Please pray for us as we continue to get to know people in our building and in our community. Please pray for our 9 neighbors who will be receiving chocolate chip cookies and an invitation for a cuppa (to share a warm beverage) at our place. Who knows what will happen, but if you give your neighbor a cookie…
Ryan and I have some newfound freedom this week because we are borrowing a car. Because of this, we’ve taken the opportunity to do a big grocery shopping trip at Coles (not clothing but food) as well as visit Ikea (the same wonderful store). It’s been interesting hauling our purchases up to the 18th floor but praise the Lord for elevators (or the lift for all you Australians). And it is worth mentioning that the driving has been interesting for us too. I’m sure I will blog more about our Australian road adventures another time. But now is the time to share about The American Store.50 States American Foodmart has two locations in Perth. There is a small shop in the CBD (central business district) and a larger in the suburbs just outside of East Perth. We’ve checked out both of them now and the only thing we bought was 4 jars of non-Old El Paso salsa that was awesomely on sale. Side note: Old El Paso is pretty much the main Mexican food provider here at the grocery store. Hard shell tacos, taco kits and salsa are all Old El Paso brand. We’ve already tried some Australian salsas but it’s not quite the same. We’re going to keep trying though because Mexican food is slowly gaining in popularity here.
50 States does have many speciality American items that you won’t find on the grocery store shelves. But there are many American products that can also be found at a normal grocery store as well. Some things like ranch packets and taco seasoning you can find here but they just cost more. Other things like chocolate chips, salsa and marshmallows can also be bought, however, they are different and don’t really taste the same. But don’t hear this as complaining, we’re thankful for all the food options and choices that we do have. And I’m following @50statesinperth now so that I can have a heads up if something special does come in that we can’t live without.
And at least for now we don’t have to pay the super high prices for our hot sauce of choice, Cholula, because we brought our own extra large bottle with us:-)