Living halfway across the world has taught me a lot about appreciating the little things in California that I don’t have here.
Sure, Dubai offers a great selection of American food and products to purchase; however, there are some products that are just a mirage in this desert city.
I dream about this stuff. I wish for it. I crave it. I pray that a helicopter will drop these products from the sky in a wooden box addressed only to me. It’s all just wishful thinking.
Here is my list of 5 things that I wish were sold in Dubai, in no particular order:
1. Baking Soda
I know this seems terribly odd, but you never know how often you need this until it’s not available to you.
The coveted orange Arm & Hammer box (or any other brand) is nowhere to be seen over here. I have no idea why…
I’ve started baking a lot more, on the search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. It doesn’t seem like that’s possible without some GODFORSAKEN baking soda! I practically pull my hair out as I look through the hundreds of chocolate chip cookie recipes on Pinterest in order to find one that does not require baking soda. And tip – baking soda and baking powder are not interchangeable. 😐 I have some baking powder in my cabinet, but it’s practically useless.
OK, I found ONE chocolate chip cookie recipe that used baking POWDER instead of baking soda, and, lo and behold, it was from none other than COOKIE MONSTER, my childhood hero and cookie inspiration. This recipe can be found here, but it still wasn’t the right cookie for me!
I’m no baking scientist, but baking powder seems to yield dry, cakey cookies. And I don’t want that. If I wanted something dry, then I would eat chips, and if I wanted cakey, then I would eat cake. I have a months long craving for ooey, gooey, soft chocolate chip cookies, and it doesn’t look like those will be coming out of my oven until I GET MY BAKING SODA!!!
2.Ouchless Hair Elastics –
Growing up with 5 sisters, we coveted our hair bands! If one sister lent out her hair tie to another sister, then we made sure that we got it back. Or at least slipped it off your wrist while you slept.
Of course the UAE sells hair elastics, but I have yet to find my favorite Ouchless brand.
I’m currently on my last 4 Ouchless hair bands. They’re all I have left, and I’m impressed that I haven’t lost them yet. Funny how you can keep track of your hair bands when you don’t have sisters around to steal them. 😛
3. Chicken Broth/Stock –
This goes along with all of my other food stuffs that I miss and really require in order to make my recipes. Ahh, I miss those carefree days where I could drive to any of my local grocery stores and find a variety of delicious chicken stocks & broths from all sorts of brands. You could even choose whether you want it canned or in a box. What a time to be alive.
I know that I can make my own, but I’m afraid.
My cooking/marriage/home garden/party/life-in-general guru Barefoot Contessa AKA Ina Garten has a recipe for chicken stock that seems like all you have to do is just dump everything in a huge pot of water and let it stew in its juices for hours. After it’s all said and done, Ina always says, “How easy is that?” But surely it can’t be THAT easy, can it? Perhaps it’s easy for her since she spent years cooking in the gourmet food business, and I’m just a housewife, 2 years / 5 years cohabitation. Is it easy for the average Joe Taxpayer?
First off, I don’t even own a large enough pot for this recipe. And what if I spend all this money on fancy vegetables and herbs, and then my stock comes out tasting like “dirty water”? (That’s how Ina describes chicken stock that has epically failed).
I know that I’m Barefoot enough for this recipe, but I just don’t think I’m Contessa enough.
Has anyone out there made homemade chicken broth that can give me any tips? Anyone? … Besides Barefoot Contessa. 😐 😐 Put your hand down, Ina Garten, I see you in the back and I don’t want your fabulous advice. You don’t live the same life I do.
4. Hostess Snacks
Cupcakes, Ding Dongs, Twinkies, Ho Hos, Choco-diles, Donettes.
I need them.
5. Vanilla Extract
As I wrote on my Baking Soda tirade, I’ve recently taken a liking to baking, however there is no GOOD vanilla extract out here. Vanilla extract is pretty much just alcohol + vanilla, which is a big no-no for a mostly dry country like the UAE.
I’ve looked up recipes to make your own vanilla extract, and Barefoot Contessa says that all it requires is a few vanilla pods (which they do sell out here) and a jar of vodka! Then you just sit the vanilla in the booze for a month! But this frightens me. First of all, it’s not humanly possible for me to wait ONE MONTH for my vanilla extract. Secondly, I don’t know how I feel about putting vanilla-flavored vodka in baked goods and then handing them off to my little boy. Will the alcohol cook off? Will my child get drunk after a couple of cookies? I’m terribly confused.
Has anyone tried making homemade vanilla extract? ….
Oh my God, Ina Garten! Not you again! Who let her in?!
Well, this was fun. Thanks for listening to my whiney first-world problems.
Thank goodness we’re going back to California soon, so I can load up on all of my essentials and make Barefoot Contessa proud. 😀
(Notes: When I went to California last month, I brought back 6 boxes of baking soda. Hopefully they last me until I leave. Still have no real vanilla extract and Ouchless bands. Found some sorry chicken stock at a grocery store… it’ll do. And don’t get me started on the lack of my precious Hostess snack cakes.)