Let me start by saying, I have a sinking feeling that it will be a very cold winter in Albania. It’s only November and I’m already freezing. The main difference between winter here and winter back home in D.C. is that there is no central heat in Shkodra. That’s right. The temperatures here about the same all winter long, but its nearly impossible to thaw your fingers without a wood burning stove in your house. And guess which volunteer doesn’t have one of those small luxuries?! Right again, this one.
Not to worry, I have devised a clever plan for simultaneously eating delicious food all winter and staying relatively warm. Key word here is relatively. I moved my Albanian “furre” (aka as close to an oven as I’m going to get) into the kitchen! So even though I don’t have a real wood burning stove to heat my house even with the power goes out (which is more frequent than I’d like to admit), I can still multi-task by cooking dinner and heating my house at the same time. This oven used to sit on my patio, but now it resides comfortably behind my chair in the kitchen and keeps me quite toasty during dinner.
So the other issue we PCVs in Albania have to tackle is the lack of variety and produce available during the winter months. And there comes a time when you are just plain sick of eating the same thing every night. So tonight I used my abundance of carrots to make a delicious curried carrot soup. The best part? You have to roast the carrots for almost an hour. That’s a whole hour of being warm…which is a priceless thing these days. The only downside is that I will probably smell like a melange of strange spices all winter long. If you ask me, it’s a small price to pay.
Curried Carrot Soup:
1. Cut about 10 large carrots in a small pieces. Toss the pieces in olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin and put them in a large baking dish. Chop a medium sized onion and add it to the baking dish as well.
2. Roast the vegetables for 45 minutes to 1 hour until you can stick a fork in easily.
3. Put the vegetables in a food processor or use an immersion blender and pulse until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency. You can add in 1/2 cup of cooked lentils too if you want a thicker soup.
4. Add the mixture to a pot along with 2-4 cups of vegetable stock. Sometimes I do half water and half milk (or coconut milk) if I’m feeling indulgent 🙂
5. Add 2 tsp of curry and 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. Slowly bring to a simmer on the stovetop.
6. Enjoy! (P.S. this serves about 4 people) You can even keep this in the refrigerator and heat it up for quick meals when you’re in a hurry.
“It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different.”