If I had to choose one word to describe Saigon, it would be chaos. From the nonexistent traffic laws to the endless crowds there is much chaos. I love it. On the plane ride here, I was feeling nervous since I had no idea what to expect from the country that my family comes from. Long term travel is nothing like a vacation and not something to take lightly. When we landed, we were welcomed by the abundant sunshine and the shouting hoards of people at the airport. I felt instantly at home. Unlike the Philippines, I was in a country whose language I understood (at least, sort of).
We had a great welcome dinner with all the other volunteers and some of our co-workers who make up our group of friends here. There's nothing like bonding over being in a strange and foreign country to bring people together. We were thrown into a mix of Vietnamese and French speaking and I love it.
Anyways back to the chaos, which if you haven't guessed yet, is the theme of the post. I'll describe my first day working at the pharmacy so you all can get a good idea of what happens daily. So I walk in and the pharmacist (the sweetest lady!) starts telling me what my jobs will be (inventory, dispensing meds, writing up a list of what age groups of children should receive what meds, and a tobacco cessation presentation). Then after about 10 minutes of chatting, about 5 people rush in and start yelling. By the way, yelling is the normal here. I couldn't exactly understand what was happening and then all of the sudden everyone starts moving the shelves, etc. out of the pharmacy and everyone continues shouting. Things need to be discussed here (by yelling) before any work gets done. It actually reminds me of France a little bit. I slowly understood that they decided that during my first week working, they would be repainting the pharmacy. This meant that I would not really be working since the computers and drugs are...in the pharmacy. I did get to help with the heavy lifting and some packing away of files and medical supplies (my other useful skill). Instead of working the first week, I spent my time getting to know people that the pharmacist introduced me to like the people in the physical therapy rooms and the workers for Maison Chance. It was actually a lot of fun. I got to practice my Vietnamese and hear lots of people comment on how I don't actually look like a Vietnamese person. So that concludes our first week here! Pretty awesome all in all.
So pumpkin roll cookies. These are vegan and my contribution to the cookie exchange. They are from Oh Ladycakes and her pictures are much lovelier than mine. These are super soft and delicous!
Dough (makes 2 dozen cookies)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp almond milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
For the dough, mix all the dry ingredients together in a small mixing bowl with a wire whisk. The in a large mixing bowl, beat the butter,
sugar, molasses, vanilla extract, pumpkin, and milk until thoroughly combined.
Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with a little flour.
Make sure to use as little flour as possible. I used too much and the cookies didn't roll as nicely as I would have liked. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 10×18 rectangle.
Brush with coconut oil then sprinkle with other filling ingredients. Roll dough tightly, starting at the long end, into a log. Wrap the log with plastic wrap and place on a plate. Put in freezer for 15-25 minutes until firm.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Get nonstick baking pans ready and line if desired. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the dough into 1/2″ segments
and line on baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes, let sit for 1 minute after taking out of the oven, and then transfer
to a cooling rack. I skipped the glaze since the cookies were pretty sweet by themselves.