Chili Peppers for Breakfast (and other food phenomena)

Hi All!

In honour of the upcoming Thanksgiving festivities, I thought I might start this blog post with the top five Indonesian foods that I am thankful for this season:

5. Gado-gado: the Indonesian version of salad – a mix of vegetables covered in a to-die-for-delicious peanut sauce.

4. Rendang: beef steeped in coconut milk and a blend of spices so good you’ll forget it’s not Alberta beef.

3. Nasi goreng: Indonesian fried rice, and my personal favourite breakfast meal. They say it’s quick and easy to make, so I will definitely be returning home with this in my recipe book.

2. Martabak: the translation for this creation is “pancake” – but it’s not like any pancake you can find at home. A spongy cake soaked in butter, with your choice of cheese, chocolate, or raisins in the middle. The perfect snack for a cozy Friday night on the base.

1. Indomie: no list of Indonesian food would be complete without Indomie – perhaps the real national food of Indonesia. What is it you ask? Why instant noodles of course! Served with eggs for breakfast, jazzed up with vegetables and more spices for lunch or dinner, or plain for a quick and easy snack on the way out the door… Indomie is a staple of the Indonesian kitchen. This is actually my second favourite breakfast food – especially with the addition of hot chili powder… delicious!

While we ingratiate ourselves in the cuisine of Indonesia, Jess and I are also bringing a bit of Canadian flavor to our friends here. I made cupcakes a few weeks ago – which went over surprisingly well with the Indonesian palate that doesn’t have much appreciation for sweets. We are also planning on attempting to cook a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving meal this week – perhaps stories of this upcoming adventure will grace the pages of our blog in a few weeks.

In addition to being spoiled with great food, Jess and I (along with our supervisor) had the amazing opportunity to attend a conference in Chiang Mai on natural farming techniques this past week. The conference was hosted by ECHO, an organization doing great work in collecting and disseminating information that can help small-scale farmers around the world. At the conference our organization entered a “Good Development Ideas” competition with our very neat drip irrigation tips.

The drip irrigation tip - this one is suspended above the soil so you can better see what's going on!

The drip irrigation tip – this one is suspended above the soil so you can better see what’s going on!

Our supervisor came up with the idea to create clay tips which can be attached to waste water bottles. These bottles can then be placed in the ground next to a plant, and deliver micro-irrigation based on the moisture level of the soil. This idea not only saves a lot of water, but it improves plant health and growth as well! Needless to say, others at the conference were also excited to try out this technique, and the idea tied for first place in the competition! (I got a pretty swanky T-shirt out the deal). We are really excited to be moving ahead with this idea, and see what opportunities it holds for local farmers.

The lake in Thailand where we enjoyed lunch on a floating restaurant.

The lake in Thailand where we enjoyed lunch on a floating restaurant.

After the conference, we headed over to Cambodia to visit the SP interns working in Phnom Penh. It was so great to see them and hear about all the adventures they’ve had, and the work that they are doing. We also greatly enjoyed capitalizing on their knowledge of the best restaurants in the city! While in Cambodia, we also had the opportunity to visit an agricultural project of one of Samaritan’s Purse’s partner organizations. Traveling through the Cambodian countryside, we were privileged to meet farmers and see first-hand the impact that training in natural farming has had on their livelihoods. What an encouragement in the work that we are doing!

After our incredible trip abroad, however, Jess and I are both happy to be back in our Indonesian home. Yesterday we spent the afternoon in the village with the Child Development Program, teaching English (and a little bit of math – I need to brush up on the intricacies of the metric system) to a lovely, eager, and bright group of students. We also taught them the Banana Song – because who doesn’t love that?!