Long before we made the decision to move our family to Kwaj, we did a lot of research on island life. The most useful info we found were people’s personal blogs who live/have lived on Kwaj. We were so excited about living on a tropical island, but we wanted to make sure that we were prepared for both the good and the bad that could come from living in such a secluded corner of the world. One thing that I noticed on almost every blog that I read was that the island grocery stocked the basic kitchen essentials, but that was about it. Being someone who loves to cook and bake and create new things in the kitchen, this was somewhat of a let down. However, it wasn’t a big enough deterrent to keep us from moving out here. My first trip to the grocery store was surprising; they had a lot more than I was expecting. There was plenty of meat, dairy, produce and pantry items to stock my kitchen well. Then I started noticing shortages. One week they would be out of bacon, or lunch meat, or orange juice. It may not sound that bad to the outsider, but coming from someone who loves to meal plan and make most of our meals from scratch, having the grocery store not stocked with things that are considered common fare back in the states is a bit of a challenge. Needless to say, I don’t go to the grocery store with a shopping list in hand anymore. Rather, I go a few times a week to see what they have and make do from there.
That said, we definitely haven’t been starving out here :). With a little extra planning and creativity (and some supplemental takeout pizza and Subway), we’ve been eating a pretty healthy diet since we’ve been here. The grocery store is stocked on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but they’re closed on Thursdays. All of the fresh produce for the week comes in on Tuesdays and is usually stocked in the afternoon, so the small grocery store is always packed with people trying to get the “rare” produce that you see out here. The first to go are usually the more perishable items like peaches, plums, kiwis, zucchini, and the “good” tomatoes. Since I really don’t feel like fighting hordes of people for a bag of apples, I usually wait to go to Surfway on Wednesdays. Most of the produce is still there, and I stock up for the week. Most of the other specialty items (how sad is it that in 3 short months, I’ve come to think of sour cream and deli turkey as specialty items?) come in on Thursdays, but since the store is closed, I go on Fridays for our dairy and meat and whatever other fun items I can find.
Another thing that has been incredibly helpful is that our packout finally arrived! No more hospitality pots and pans, I have my amazing cookware and knives! Not to mention all of my awesome kitchen appliances and knickknacks. This past year for Christmas, my sister in law Shelley bought me a really cool countertop ice cream/frozen yogurt maker. I worked at an ice cream shop through high school and college and I LOVE to make ice cream. We busted it out the other day and the girls and I undertook making our first batch of frozen yogurt; banana chocolate chunk! My fridge and pantry actually decided what flavor we were going to make as I had a container of yogurt that was going to expire soon and some bananas that weren’t going to make it much longer and were too mushy for the kids to want to eat. As for the chocolate chunk part… well, we all know everything is better with a little chocolate.
Ingredients ready to go into the machine!
Since we’re on the topic of bananas, there seem to be two types of bananas that arrive in Kwaj. The normal bananas that go from green to ripe yellow, then the type that go from unripe green to rotten green; they never turn yellow. These usually stay on the shelves and are offered at 50% off… then 75% off, then they’re a pile of mush. This latest batch was the weird never turn yellow variety, so they were turned into ice cream.
The bananas in question. Oh well, they make good ice cream and banana nut bread.
I let the girls help me mush the bananas, but didn’t get a picture of that because having two toddlers help with anything in the kitchen is usually a recipe for disaster.
After chopping up a few squares of semi sweet chocolate (which the girls were stealing bites of the entire time), we poured the mixture into the machine.
Go ice cream go!
After about an hour, it was finally done. I think it turned out really well and the girls loved it!
One awesome thing for foodies thinking of moving to Kwaj; the altitude here is extremely low, so baking is great! I’ve been baking a ton (and giving most of it away to neighbors and making Luke take it to work so I don’t eat it all) and everything turns out beautifully, especially yeast breads. I love to bake bread, and the whole family loves warm bread fresh out of the oven and it rises and bakes so, so well here.
Mmm, bread. And homemade lemon poppyseed muffins.
I’ve also made a few birthday “cakes”, this one was actually a huge pan of delicious fudgey brownies I made for one of Luke’s coworkers. Seriously, make these. Tell me if you want the recipe and I’ll write it up.
I said I could bake, not that I can decorate cakes.
They’re also AMAZING with a light, fluffy peanut butter frosting.
And I’m kind of proud of this dessert I made since I tend to not be very artistic at all and I think this turned out really well.
As most of you guys already know, there really aren’t any restaurants here. Sure, you can go to Subway or Anthony’s for a pizza, but there aren’t any sit down restaurants where you can sit and relax and have someone else cook, serve, and clean up your meal. We used to go out to eat fairly often on date nights, but that’s not something we can do here. So, I decided that we were going to have a date night at home once the kids were asleep. The people who used to live across the street from us recently moved back to the states and gave us their patio table and chairs. I bought some citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay and we had homemade chocolate covered strawberries and wine on the back porch :).
For awesome homemade chocolate covered strawberries, wash and dry them and let them come to room temperature. While they’re warming up, melt 8 tablespoons of chocolate (we like semi sweet chocolate chips) and 2 tablespoons of butter in a double boiler.
My double boiler disappeared in one of our moves, so now I just use a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water.
Once nice and melted, put each strawberry on a toothpick and dip into the chocolate. I like to stick them into a block of Styrofoam to keep them from sticking to anything or each other. Plus, they’re prettier like that.
And yes, we do also eat real food, but I only seem to take pictures of the desserts. But, here’s a picture of the kids eating carrots to nullify all of the sugar going on above