stir crazy…

I think I may have to get that gym membership, after all. Not that I have anything against going to the gym, but I had decided that I could save the money and get the exercise on my own. But I have swiftly come to realize that there will be nights when there is no Bible study or Kids’ Club… and on those nights, I may just NEED to get out of the house. Don’t misunderstand… I love the kids I’m caring for. But there are times when you HAVE to get out. I’m sure moms understand this, too.

But I have come to realize (unless I’m missing something here) that there aren’t a lot of places to go, after 5pm, unless you go to the grocery store or to the pubs. And going to a pub with a friend, or a group of friends, is one thing… going into one by yourself, knowing no one, is something else completely. I don’t do it. Sorry. Ain’t got it in me.

So, that leaves Woolies or Coles, the local grocery stores. Or the gym, which only just occurred to me, a little while ago. And this week will be longer than usual, as Mrs. B is doing some field work, and I’m getting up earlier, in order to get the kids ready for school, by myself. Sound like a piece of cake? Try again. I give props to any mother who regularly manages to shoo their kids out the door in the morning, and keep up with the ones that aren’t school-aged yet. Trying to get them all fed, dressed (which clothes are allowed for their uniform, again?), hair brushed (torture sessions), lunches packed, and out the door on time?

Anyway, today wasn’t a bad day, just a tiring one. And so, I went to Woolies, to get out for a bit. And as I was in the mood to wander, I started paying attention to details again, which I haven’t done in a while. If you’ve been listening to me talk about the differences in the stores, well… I’ve been getting used to it, so I haven’t felt like I had so much to talk about, lately.

While in wandering mode, thankfully, I wasn’t hungry. I had a lovely dinner, so I walked safely into the frozen food section, and went to look at the ice cream selection. I became aware, the other night, that some of my friends had no idea what Moose Tracks ice cream was. I know, it may sound like blasphemy, but it’s actually true. So, I went to search out the truth, in the frozen foods. And not a single thing resembling Moose Tracks did I find. For any Aussies reading this, Moose Tracks is vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cups and veins of a special kind of chocolate fudge running through it. Is it dark chocolate? I know it isn’t milk chocolate. But if you love this kind of ice cream, then you always dig for the fudge, when you scoop yourself some.

Before I start drooling, let me continue. I did leave the ice cream, and I’m pretty sure I discovered dog food in the frozen food section, though I’m not sure why they have that. And there was also the refrigerated BioCutlery, made of 70% starch. Does that mean it melts, when not in a fridge? I didn’t skip the sweets & lollies aisle, and almost made it through, but I had to get a pack of Rolos. I can now say that Rolos (chocolate and caramel) taste different, here in Australia. Same brand, same name… still tastes great, but there is a different taste. I definitely eat them often enough, at home, to know.

I found myself looking at ingredients to soup and cake, wondering if I made a certain recipe from home, could I recreate it, with all the different products? I can’t find anything that resembles the chicken base we use at home to make chicken broth, so will it taste the same with boxed chicken stock? And if you’re planning on baking, aren’t the cup measures in metric over here? I’ve asked my mom to send me some cheapo cup measures and measuring spoons, so I can make some of our recipes. Like pumpkin pie… once I figure out the correct pumpkin to use, because I’m certainly not making it with squash.

I forget what aisle I was in when I noticed that there were a couple of jars of apple sauce next to the cranberry sauce and the tartare sauce (yes, they spell that slightly different). I was unable to decide whether that was because they’re all sauces, or if apple sauce is just not a favorite item over here. How many hundreds of kinds of apple sauce can we get back home? I now know that Woolies has Best Foods brand mayonnaise, but Coles has different size selections AND one of them is actually labeled Hellmann’s. And it’s in a glass jar. Oh, that’s right, because it was made with free range eggs. How far can eggs range on their own, by the way? And do they need extra protection from a glass jar, after they’ve been creamed?

The soup selection caught my eye, but none of the soups were what I was interested in. I did buy some Campbell’s chicken noodle, yesterday, because it looked almost the same as what we have at home. But I tried it today and couldn’t figure out why it was different, aside from the different cut to the noodles. But it’s definitely different. No clam chowder down here, though, it seems.

What else did I notice? Oh, yes, there’s a whole section of peppers, olives, and tomatoes, in glass jars, preserved in olive oil (or something). Among these, you’ll find capsicum. I had no idea what a capsicum was, until the other week, Mrs. B made homemade pizza, and some of them had it on them. In fact, I tried several pieces of pizza with all sorts of things I could name, but didn’t particularly like. But I tried them all, anyway. However, I didn’t like the capsicum at all. Only later did someone tell me that a capsicum is just a bell pepper. Now, I’m not a big pepper fan, and adding it to olive oil doesn’t particularly help. But they always call them that, down here, so that’s another thing learned, for me.

One of the things I picked up at the store was Weet-Bix, as we were running out at home. Now, I have to admit that Weet-Bix is one thing that I haven’t tried since arriving. Considering it isn’t a strange vegetable or sandwich spread (I eat Vegemite and avocado regularly, now, thanks), this may seem odd. But considering I’ve never liked Mini-Wheats (frosted or otherwise) back home, I’ve figured it’s probably similar. Now, I think they soak it in milk and then cover it in all sorts of things like honey, but can it possibly be different? I probably should try it. But the “frosting” on Frosted Mini-Wheats never helped the taste. And the milk never softened it up. Might as well go chew some hay. I think I’d rather eat grits than Mini-Wheats. And I don’t have time to chew my way through anything like that in the mornings. Am I wrong? Been making assumptions?

I also picked up some shredded cheese, for one of my own favorite meals, and blast it, if I didn’t forget to get more spinach! But yes, I eat tuna salad with shredded cheese mixed into it, on spinach, whenever I can. Do Aussies eat tuna with mayo, ever? I’ve only seen the kids eat the different flavors of tuna, straight out of the can. Though the three year old has tried my tuna, and continues to request it for lunch, ever since, but I don’t always let her have it. Yes, my introductions of tuna and apples & peanut butter get requested regularly. Interesting that peanut butter isn’t in the schools over here, for allergy reasons, but if they’re not allergic, then it’s regularly asked for at home. It isn’t the norm, like Vegemite is. Maybe if more Aussie kids ate peanut butter when they’re young, there would be less allergies, and it could be eaten in schools?

Speaking of which, I did make the 3 year old a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the other day. And when I told her what it was, I immediately explained that we call it that in America, and that what we call jelly is different from her jelly. So, I said, this wasn’t anything like the jelly they make for dessert. She understood this, and seemed to recognize the term “preserves” for jam, though some of my other friends didn’t. Her sandwich was definitely NOT “uh-zurt”, as she calls dessert.

But for both sides, if you haven’t heard this already, here it is. Gelatin is used to make desserts, among other things. In the U.S., we call it Jell-o, as in the specific brand of gelatin dessert. Kind of like we always refer to Kleenex, not facial tissue. In the U.S., jelly is a kind of fruit spread that we put on bread. It’s similar to jam, but without the pieces of fruit in it. But in Australia, a gelatin dessert is called jelly. And what they put on bread is either fruit spread or jam. So, when Americans refer to a PB&J, they’re talking about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Rarely will someone say peanut butter and jam. So, Aussies may find this confusing, as jelly is a dessert. A dessert sandwich?  But in the U.S., the PB&J is as American as apple (or pumpkin) pie, and we’re raised on it, just like Aussies are raised on Vegemite and Weet-Bix.

Isn’t food a strange and wonderful subject? No wonder we like it so much.

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