Most of the time the recipes involve cheese because, as you have probably read, I'm all about the cheese.
A few times a year we have brie cheese. I like to slather the top with apricot preserves, top that with sliced almonds, wrap it in puff pastry and bake until it's a gooey mess.
However, being GTMO, more often than not, if we do have brie (it's rare), we don't have puff pastry. (You can substitute refrigerated crescent rolls). Or we don't have apricot preserves (you can substitute any type of preserves). Or we don't have sliced almonds. At all. Yes, I live somewhere where we run out of things like almonds.
Ironically, I have an almond tree in my back yard, but they are highly toxic and there's a crazy process to make them edible, so I just admire it from afar.
|The mystery tree---after 2 years, we got confirmation that it's an almond tree|
But the recipe calls for cream. In 2 1/2 years, I have seen heavy cream at the commissary ONE time. Seriously. Once. You don't realize how often you use cream in baking until you need it.
So it's sitting in my fridge, waiting for Plan B. The expiration date is looming, so its future is uncertain.
Speaking of expiration dates, we've been told that is "best buy-by date." In 2 1/2 years, I have bought more eggs that are out of date than in date. They are always expired. Not sure why that is.
I also attempted to make corned beef and cabbage a few weeks ago. Found a beautiful, fresh corned beef, but alas, no cabbage. What can you substitute for cabbage? Nothing, right? So I put back the meat. Then a week later, we had a nice variety of cabbage, but alas, no corned beef.
It's a vicious cycle and a matter of timing.
Things we always have in our frozen meat section:
whole rabbits (yes, head, feet, everything)
"cubed pork"---mystery pork with skin and maybe hooves
pig's feet, pig's tail
ham hocks (I love these in my red beans and rice)
things that look like pork chops, that upon further inspection, are actually sliced ham hocks
So we recently went to eat at a friend's house and were supposed to bring something. Baked brie? Nope, no brie. Gorgonzola cornbread? Nope, no cream. But I did have a coveted ingredient in the fridge waiting to be used. My husband recently bought the one and only package of FRESH mozzarella cheese we've found in the commissary since we've been here. Real mozzarella, y'all. I'm in heaven.
So I set out to make a Caprese salad with my nice block of mozzarella, but---you see where this is going, right?---no fresh basil. (I did have a basil plant, but it died a very sad, violent death, thanks to the Cuban sun and my negligent watering).
Do we get brie or Gorgonzola or mozzarella or heavy cream more often than I see it? Probably. Do I go to the Commissary every day? Heck no. I go maybe three times a week. I'd probably have more success if I tried to time my trips around barge shipments and went more often, but honestly, I'm used to making do with what we have. And who needs that much fattening food, anyway?
So we went to the dinner with an improvised pasta salad (orzo, mozzarella, basil paste, tomatoes, capers, balsamic vinegar, pine nuts, and olive oil). We had fresh snook and permit. You can't buy fresh fish at the commissary, but if you are lucky, you have friends who will share their bounty with you (and several other friends who bring their own improvised dishes). And someone brought baked brie! They are much better at finding and hoarding than I am (and I'm glad they did it). There's no potluck like a GTMO potluck!
***post script: two days after writing this, what did I find in the grocery store? Cream! Seriously. I still haven't made that cornbread, but there's cream in my fridge. That's a first in 2 1/2 years of GTMO.