This past weekend I had a chance to ditch the computer and head west to visit family in a small town in Nebraska. In the past we've discussed bringing your own spices when you travel to unfamiliar kitchens, but what happens when you bring the exotic ingredients with you and still come up short on basic staples? What do you do when you can't find fresh basil — anywhere.
If you've never had the pleasure of small town living there's much to enjoy there. People wave and smile, even wish you a safe and happy weekend. Life seems a little slower and although the only thing to do is go bowling, it's oddly comforting and relaxing. Big city folks might get a little twitchy after a few days, but small cities and towns have much to offer.
That said, this past weekend I couldn't find fresh basil anywhere. Normally, if the family hasn't grown it, a neighbor has some and we can borrow or trade, but in this case, there wasn't a bit of basil to be found. I've learned that if I want something "fancy" like pad Thai, then I should probably bring every ingredient on the list. But when it comes to a caprese salad and other basil-loving recipes, I really didn't think I'd have trouble anywhere in the Midwest.
So, instead of turning to dried basil, I opted for the pricier freeze-dried version in the glass bottle which worked out quite well.
Lesson learned: the first thing you should do if you find yourself in a small town for any extent of time is to head to the grocery store! See what is available before you make your plans — especially if you are the one doing the cooking! It will help eliminate headaches and give you resources to plan a meal within the flavor profiles that are available to you.
Have you been stuck without an ingredient you'd normally find at home? How'd you adapt? Let us know below!
Related: The Classic Caprese Salad