Help! I Need a Recipe.

by Laura on October 6, 2010

Everyone speaks the language of smiles.  And laughter.  And food, of course.

We are the only young family on our very-Asian block. We’re the only white ones, too. Come to think of it, we’re the only ones with kids running around all day as they take breaks from schoolwork and ride bikes and paint rocks outside in the driveway.  And we’re also the only ones who don’t speak {recognizable} Asian {yet}.

But, in the universal language of women, my neighbors–all single, retired ladies–have been bringing me food. Lots of it.  Everyday.  And it’s been sticky rice with purplish taro root wrapped in banana leaves, and it’s been omelets with peanuts and bean sprouts inside.  They’ve brought coconut cupcakes and even rice porridge.  Their offerings of friendship have been delivered outside when I’m kicking the soccer ball around with the kids {and disturbing their afternoon peace, I am sure}, and even have been left on my kitchen table when I had {like a too-trusting white chic} left the door unlocked while I was out.

But, friendships can only go one way for so long. And it’s time for me, the self-proclaimed Crappy Missionary who doesn’t even like to cook, to return the favor.  And here’s where you can help.  I need ideas, and fast, and it has to be:

* Easy.  {Three kids.  Homeschooling.  No dishwasher.  Little Natural Julia-Child Skill.}

* Made without an oven. {Yup, I know.  Narrows the playing field considerably.}

* Made with a few, basic ingredients. {Think flour and butter and sugar. Oats, I can get.  Baker’s Semi-Sweet chocolate chips, I have no idea.}

* Something typically “American.” They continue to bring me Asian food, so I figure I need to reciprocate with a similarly ethnic dish/dessert.

So, my fellow friends, have any ideas? Leave me a comment or email me.  I’ll try to document how my friendship-offering goes.

Thanks, in advance, for pulling me outta the ditch.


  • Kim Starnes

    Cocoa Oatmeal cookies-made on the stovetop with peanut butter dropped by spoonfuls onto wax paper. I will email you the recipe-Love You Guys!

    • Laura

      Oh, I love the no-bake cookie idea. I am totally into chocolate and figure, what woman wouldn’t be, right? Regardless of nationality.

      Thanks, Kim, for the idea . . . .

      Love, Laura

  • flyinjuju

    I was thinking the same thing, no-bake cookies. so yummy!! I love your realness. :)

  • Debbie Allen

    Flourless peanut butter cookies

    Shortbread drizzled with chocolate

    Your kids could help you make homemade fettuccine–no need for a pasta maker, and they feel like they’re playing with playdough. The bonus is an American supper for your kids.

    Recipes are in your email.

  • Anne-Marie

    Home made chicken noodle soup?? Potato salad?? Chili??

  • Tamara

    Do you have a microwave?

  • Teri Miller

    Easy, No-fail, Busy-Home-School-Mom American potato salad:

    -throw some whole, unwashed potatoes into a big pot of water
    -turn on the burner, do some school lessons, forget about potatoes
    -finally remember potatoes & they are cooked to perfection -put pot in sink, run cold water over it, throw some ice cubes in too…dash outside to break up fight & administer bandaids, forget about potatoes
    -remember potatoes & they are cooled perfectly
    -take the pot outside & enlist kids to peel the sloughing skins off
    -dump all the softy, mushy potatoes into a big bowl, cube up anything not perfectly overcooked
    -glop in a big spoonful of mayonnaise, a smaller spoonful of mustard, & a generous squirt of ranch dressing (add more ranch dressing as needed for flavor & gloppiness)
    -toss in some kind of green herb, dried or fresh: dill, cilantro, parsley, grass, whatever, it’s just for looks
    -salt & pepper to taste
    VOILA – good old-fashioned Southern potato salad.

    This is not a joke. My family in TX makes this all the time. Seriously, for family reunions & stuff. And the above directions are my specific, tried & true, homestyle recipe. It’s really yummy!

  • Laura@life overseas

    Teri, this recipe really made me smile. So Funny! I am definitely making this one, because potatoes are in abundance here, and cheap, and I love the easiness of it. Really, hillarious description, friend.

    Tamara, yes, we have a microwave, thankfully.

    Love, L

  • Tamara

    LOVE the measuring units on the potato salad!
    How about another southern fav: red beans.
    Get red beans, pinto beans, black beans, whatever dark bean.
    Rinse in cool water; do not bother w/ soaking.
    Put into pot about 4 times the volume of the bean.
    Cover with water about 2 inches over the beans. Use beef broth or chicken broth or bullion cubes.
    Chop up an onion and throw it in. Put in a bit – couple of tablespoons – of oil (olive, vegetable, canola, whatever).
    Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 6 hours. Use a crock pot if you want for more like 8 hours.
    After that, add whatever spices you like such as: jalapeno or other chilis, black pepper, salsa. ketchp, or ketchup with brown sugar.
    Serve over the ever-popular rice! Add in some cornbread pancakes (cornbread with more milk added and done on a griddle) if you want to get FANCY!
    Remember, if this is American food, they don’t know if it’s the best or worst of American food so just assume this is the BEST!

  • Rachel


    My mom’s spent 30-ish years as a missionary in Papua New Guinea where she couldn’t get many food / cooking ingredients easily available in the U.S. She’s also had to live for periods of time without an oven. Over time, she developed many of her own recipes for things like evaporated milk, baking powder, taco seasoning . . . . Anyway, she is super generous with her recipes and often shares them with others on the mission field, working in Peace Corps, etc. I’m sure she would be happy to send them your way if you’re interested. You can email me {} and I’ll put you in touch with her.


    • Laura

      Rachel, wow–30 years in papua new guinea– that’s the stuff heroes are made of.

      i totally might be getting in touch with her . . . thanks for the connection, Rachel.

      your mom is the type of person i need to be having coffee with and get some wisdom from!

      love, L

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