With the end of my coast guard enlistment creeping ever closer, I have become a little obsessed with one thing…. International travel. Being in the coast guard has given me the opportunity to explore the west coast, and experience the humidity of the east coast south. However, traveling internationally while not on orders while in the military is a huge pain in the rear. Thus, while I have been in, I haven’t even tried. Furthermore, most of my vacation days have been spent either visiting Jesse or my family, thus an international vacation would take time away from (not add to) my time spent with those I love.
But in less than a year, that will be true no longer! Open the gates! Release the hounds! Onwards and upwards!
Well, maybe…. There are still factors of, you know, money, time, coordination, tiny house building, need I go on? But the fact remains, that it is more of a possibility now than it has ever been before, and I have picked my dream destination.
What the hell? Where is Bhutan?
Bhutan is located exclusively in the Eastern Himalayas, and it is often called The Land of the Thunder Dragon. Need I go on? How bad ass is that! Let’s also talk about how in South Asia, Bhutan ranks first in economic freedom, peace, has the second highest per capita income, and is the least corrupt country as of 2016. They measure their wealth however, not on per capita, but on Gross National Happiness.
Life in Bhutan isn’t all luxury cars and roses however, in fact, it is one of the most undeveloped countries in the world. From what I understand, this is because the government has controlled industrialization, ensuring that any improvements are for the benefit, not the detriment, of its people. There are also, like in many non-developed countries, a complete lack of LGBTQ rights and decent amount of ethnic conflict regarding the immigrant population and the native population.
Yet the country still appeals to me as a place to go to blow my western raised mind. After seeing it in the Kindness Diaries I was very interested to meet the people who have so little, but are some of the most content in the world. I reserved almost every book on Bhutan in the Sacramento Library system, and I am currently reading Beyond the Sky and Earth by Jamie Zeppa. Zeppa writes of her experiences as a Canadian teaching in Bhutan, and the mental journey/cross cultural conflict can only be described as exquisite. I can’t tell you what conclusions she reaches eventually, because I haven’t gotten that far yet! However, just reading about someone else’s experiences is already opening my mind to new perspectives and completely different ways of living.
One of the things that I am taking away from this book, is just how much about cooking I have learned. Zeppa documents her struggles learning how to make rice, bread, curries, and how to mix spices. Her first weeks in Bhutan mirror my first weeks on a grocery budget; hungry, crabby, wishing desperately for a favorite restaurant. Her mantra becomes “anyone can live anywhere, even you.”
To me, if Zeppa can do this, then we can say “anyone can cook anywhere, even you.” Apparently, learning to cook not only opens one’s horizons through new tastes and textures, experiences and smells, but it allows us the freedom to travel relying only on ourselves to feed our own appetites. The journey of learning how to cook is a journey of independence and self-reliance. If Zeppa can make potato curry with no electricity and bread with a beer can rolling pin, surely, we can cook naan on a trail in the Appalachians with a camp stove, or homemade hummus in New Delhi. In Westernize culture, we become so dependent on other’s doing things for us, including cooking. Maybe, in order to truly break out of our comfort zone overseas, first we have to embrace self-reliant living at home. Anyone can cook anywhere, even you.
This Week in Updates: I’m a gecko
My new tattoo is shedding like my own personal reptile pet. This had led to my Chief calling me his new favorite gecko. It also means I am avoiding boxing, at least for a few more days. I can’t think of a better way to get an infection. Cooking surpluses from previous weeks have left me with a stocked freezer, so my grocery shopping this week was allowed to be a little exotic. I’m thinking another attempt at cashew ice cream is in order, as well as a cherry miso mostarda. My weekend is busy, but not overwhelmingly so. I am looking forward to some studying, cooking, running, and gosh… maybe I’ll clean something!
The Recipe: Easy Cheesy Homemade Hummus
There are two keys to this recipe. First, the garlic must be made in to garlic paste, not just chopped. Trust me. If you don’t know how to do this, check out last week’s blog post Top Ten Basic Vegan Cooking Skills. The second, is the nutritional yeast flakes. The combination of the two makes a protein packed hummus that tastes like cheesy garlic bread. Makes about four cups.
- 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked
- 2-4 cloves of garlic made into garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
- Salt and red pepper flakes to taste
- 1/2-1 cup water
- Throw all ingredients in a blender and blend.
- Adjust the water as needed so that you get the consistency you like.
Goes great with vegan naan!