Cooking From Scratch

While in Albania, I’ve learned a lot. Some of the things I never thought I would ever do, I have done here mainly involve the kitchen…cook from scratch.

When cooking American recipes, it’s really difficult because there are a lot of seasonings and little things that recipes call for that we don’t have here. And from scratch in America means something different than from scratch here.

From scratch here means you start with flour, water, butter, milk, eggs, oil, etc. But in the States, many from scratch recipes call for a can of condensed soup or brown sugar or vanilla extract or frozen bread dough/pie or pizza crust. I’ve come to the realization that here, from scratch means from scratch. In the States, from scratch means mainly from scratch.

Top American things I’ve learned to cook from scratch:
1) Cinamon Rolls // They are good. But they are still no Pillsbury…
2) Biscuits  // The recipe I found gets the job done but the biscuits definitely aren’t 100% southern…yet (I just need to add more butter maybe?)
3) Apple Pie // I only made it once and it took me forever to find a recipe that included an actual recipe for the crust. Most said to buy a premade crust. Which you can’t do in Albania…
4) Apple Cobbler // One of my favorite desserts. For some reason, I can never get the crust to rise…
5) Soft Pretzels // I made these once. They took forever to make. They did come out like pretzels but seriously, if you can buy them, don’t make them. Seriously. Don’t make them. It’s not worth the hassle.

Cooking with Albanians is always an experience. They use absolutely no measurements when they cook. So it’s very difficult to learn their recipes because they know how much of what to put in by taste, texture or look. And their food even comes out so good. Every. Time. But when I try and do it the exact same way they showed me, it never turns out quite the same as when the Albanians do it. So I still need to work on my Albanian measuring!

Top Albanian things I’ve learned to cook from scratch:
1) Byrek // The most traditional food (and a staple here).
2) Bread // My landlady makes her own bread because it’s cheaper. She taught me how to make it but it takes a long time to make (and I’m still not sure about the measurements) so Nicole & I just buy a loaf for 80 cents at the bread store.
3) Turkish Coffee // Our landlady taught us to make it with milk instead of water so it’s sweeter and better. When you visit someone’s home, you are usually served this type of coffee.
 4) Jiggly Dessert of some sort (see video update 5) // We had this one time. It was super sweet and was given to us in excess so we had too much of it and haven’t made it since.
5) French Fries // This is a staple for Nicole & I. A traditional Albanian meal includes fries but we still can’t get ours to taste as good as our landlady’s. Maybe by this time next year…we hope…

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