This Global Kitchen | Day 9: West Asia
A salaam alleikum! Please come in and make yourself at home. While I boil us some chai, let me show you around the kitchen. My name is Stephanie and I wish you could all actually be here with me to enjoy some chai and conversation!
My husband and I live in a country in West Asia. We moved into this house 6 months ago, but it’s been a part of our lives for over two years—we had the privilege (burden?) of designing and building it ourselves. This isn’t what expats here normally do, but then, I am not a normal expat—I am married to a local and we plan to live here until we die, God willing. We haven’t finished installing all we hope to in the kitchen (wooden blinds for windows, a range hood, etc.), but here is a tour ‘as is’.
I love how the kitchen turned out! It had been our dream to see our home as an oasis in the desert. A place of peace and calmness. A place where others would find rest. We continue to pray that it would be such a haven to all who enter.
Since we were able to design it, there were some specifics I really pressed for:
Windows! Especially if I was going to live in such a hot place (over 115 during summer, dropping to the low 90s in the ‘winter’) with no air conditioning! A breeze was a must.
A deep double sink. The kitchens I lived in here and formerly in Thailand always had such shallow sinks, then we always have to use buckets to get the washing done.
Enclosed drying space. With the high dust environment of this desert we live in, and let’s face it, my disinterest in drying dishes by hand, we needed something that would keep the dishes from dust while they dried. A dishwasher was out of the question, especially as we can go for hours and/or days without electricity.
Stove/oven. We want a constant flow of guests for meals and I wanted to be able to bake. Funny, a microwave is still not on our list of ‘needs’.
Lots of drawers and closed cabinet space. Again, because dust.
It looks like a western kitchen, but in many ways, it is not. There is no dishwasher, but I have these handy dish drainer drawers (if only we could stop the rusting). I came up with the harebrained idea, and these workers were amazing at making it happen. It definitely isn’t a perfect plan, however. Some things don’t fit, and currently I can’t open both drawers at once, or the drawer fronts catch each other. We also have a huge rusting problem that needs to be addressed. Also, the screen on the side allows airflow, but you can tell from the straight countertop that they built the wall crooked! Also note that the ant powder is ready for the constant flow of big black carpenter ants that get a little too comfortable coming in through the doors and windows.
I tried to plan the kitchen according to zones, so here I have the coffee zone as well as the ‘food prep’ zone, with the knives. Since we don’t have dependable electricity you can see we have a coffee maker but also a French press and tea kettle ready, just in case our morning coffee gets waylaid.
Just a couple of weeks ago we brought this oven home—but we do not have a strong gas flow, so I can only use one or two burners at a time, and I have to pick the hottest time of day to bake anything since no one else in the villages around us will be using the gas line. Also note that for all our planning, the ones who executed the plan didn’t really have eyes for details—my oven space is not centered between the two niches. There’s no fixing that as the cabinet frame is all made of concrete.
Our carpenter brought this drawing to life and made a detached china cabinet that houses all of our dishes, serving utensils, cutlery, drinking glasses, etc. My husband loves that he doesn’t have to disturb anything in the kitchen to grab a glass of water, and frankly, so do I.
It was really hard sometimes to convince the contractor and his laborers to try something new, so some things, like having the kitchen floor level with the rest of the main living areas, or having a 36in counter height was quite a battle. But thankfully, he acquiesced! I also had to be a bit (read: very) stubborn to get my husband to search with me for months in dozens of different tile shops until we found white subway tile! But when we found this beveled tile we celebrated big by buying enough to use in the kitchen and in both bathrooms! :D They were cemented onto the walls in a way I have never seen before, so I think it would take an earthquake to remove them, even the ones that were broken as they installed them! It’s a good thing we found this classic, easy to clean tile or changing it later would be quite challenging!
Perhaps our favorite feature in this kitchen is the island! It is where small groups gather around, where we play games, where we eat our breakfast, and so much more. My husband likes to hang out here while I cook and we are always finding more and more uses for it. This island also has our trash can drawer in the corner just out of sight in this photo, as well as an ‘everything’ drawer where we keep pens, paper, batteries, essential oils, vitamins and so many little things we grab daily.
Thank you for coming to check out our kitchen!
My Must Haves for my Expat Kitchen:
I don’t think I could live without that dutch oven you see on the stovetop, or my ‘tawa’ which is a large round flat grill pan on which we make our naan and chapatis every day.
My Favorite Expat friendly Recipe:
Homemade Cake Mix
by Stephanie | TakingRoute.net
This recipe I found at afewshortcuts.com years ago and I have adapted it for my personal use. This is equivalent to one 18.5 ounce boxed cake mix.
- 2 cups white flour (All purpose is preferred)
- 1-1.5 cups caster sugar (I tend to always reduce sugar where I can)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- If you want chocolate cake mix add ½ cup cocoa powder
- Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container or bag. It will be good for up to 6 months depending on your climate.
- I tend to make 3 or 4 batches at a time and store the bags in a container, pulling one out as needed.
Additional ingredients needed for cake:
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup butter or ghee, or 1/3 cup oil
- 3 eggs
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix wet ingredients together, then combine with dry mix and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes or by hand until mostly smooth but not over mixed. Pour into pre-greased pan of your choice:
- In an 8-9 inch round pan 20-25 minutes
- In a 9x13 35-40 minutes
- For cupcakes 12-15 minutes
- For bundt pan 45-50 minutes