#114: Nicaragua

How was that taste of fall, Colorado?

I’m not sure if you guys were around this weekend in the Centennial state, or if this blog catches you in another time zone, hemisphere or place– but the big CO got a taste of the fall weather Friday and Saturday… I mean, snow in the high country?! IT’S AUGUST. Rest easy though, the 80’s and 90’s are back and it was only a little snip it of autumn to wet our appetite for pumpkin spice everything and football. I’m sure we can all wait a little longer for that to happen officially, but it was a nice reminder to soak it in while we can. To paraphrase Game of Thrones: Autumn is coming.

THE DINNER: We hung out in Central America this weekend to enjoy what Nicaragua had to offer us– which was fish tacos, if you’re late to the party. Nicaraguan-style Repochetas  which are Quesadilla-Tacos. YES. HEAVEN is a place on earth. A quesadilla-taco hybrid? With this bitchin’ cabbage slaw from white wine vinegar? With grilled prawns?! Mouth watering yet? Yeah… It was just as good as you’d imagine. This is typical street food fare in the country, and you can see why immediately. It’s a grab an go meal that is the hybrid love child of two dearly adored comfort foods.

Now this particular recipe below does not have protein in it. We actually too a liberty there. Forgive us, but you’ll thank me for that one. The country has so many good fish and shrimp taco recipes that we meshed them into this dish. For the shrimp, we simply threw a small amount of fajita seasoning on them and grilled those bad boys up. It wasn’t a huge leap culinary wise, but made for a more sustainable and filling meal in the long run.

Repochetas Recipe: http://www.bitchincamero.com/2010/09/nicaraguan-style-repochetas-quesadilla-tacos/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
It was actually sort of hard to rate this week on a scale for difficulty. I mean, maybe I’ve been watching too much Olympics, but the elements of toughness were so varied. I mean, there was grilling of corn tortillas… which for anyone who has done this is deceptively tricky. Too short and they’re sort of gummy and too long and BOOM you’re having tostadas. So. To add to that, it was not JUST the tortillas but they were quesadillas. So the cheese dripping element came into play. The remainder of the meal was cake. Just making some slaw and assembly when you pass the shrimp grilling.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
Well, shoot, guys. This was just about the easiest five star we have come across in a while. We barely began eating when then “five” started getting thrown down with emphasis. So, all the elements came together and were just good. You start with good things and when you throw them together in a quesadilla shell of melted cheese, you can’t NOT love  the end product. So, the crema was really lovely. The slaw was bitter from the vinegar, but the sweetness of the seafood and the sour cream style creama cut it. We threw some hot sauce on them, and they would have been super amazing with avocado in place of the shrimp for a veggie version… or with the shrimp, because who are we kidding, we live only once.

So… in the words of my mother, “we should head to Panama next week so we can sing Van Halen’s Panama?!” ❤ so with that, I think two things– my mom is probably WAY COOLER than yours and we will be in Panama for #115!!

Oh, and Happy Anniversary, B + B Tileston!
– L & K

#113: Lithuania

USA-USA-USA!

Well, here we are– Olympics underway! America is kicking ass and taking names (unless you’re the USWNT… then you’re down and out). I think it’s the best to see how everyone gets into the spirit of the games, even people who aren’t innately competitive find themselves screaming and jumping when Phelps takes ANOTHER gold or watching in awe as Bolt lives up to his name and makes it look so easy to shatter records. It makes me wish that we didn’t have to wait every four years to feel this kind of national pride. I guess we will have to settle for the winter games next😉

THE DINNER: To the matter at hand, we picked Lithuania to tackle this week on AW195S! Whenever we hit up an Eastern European country, it’s any wonder that my whole family doesn’t just do cartwheels and jump for joy. It’s in our heritage and blood, but also… sour cream!? WHO CAN’T get on board with that!? and also cabbage and pork. Those are ALL givens whenever we are in that part of the world. So, with all that on the docket, I set out on my weekly sojourn to find a recipe that reflected the nation at hand… and came across this gem: http://matadornetwork.com/life/9-things-lithanians-explain-foreigners/?single=1 which is “9 things Lithuanians have to explain to foreigners”.

Entertaining read to say the least! This is one foreigner that actually learned quite a few things in reading that, particularly the last names bit. Had no clue, but also it makes for a little confusion I would imagine. As a foodie, I also was fascinated with the 12 meals at Christmas dinner! And as much as they love potatoes- we had those last week in Mali so we took a break and went for the cabbage rolls. Balandeliai as the natives call them are literally meat-rice-onion-bellpepper stuffed cabbage leaves that are then egg-rolled (yes, I made that word up) into a tomato sauce that then gets sour creamed. Lord, have mercy.

Lithuanian Cabbage Rolls (Balandeliai) Recipe:  http://www.10thkitchen.com/2012/03/lithuanian-cabbage-rolls-balandeliai/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
Okay. To be real with you guys, which we always are, we have been dancing around making these for a while now. We were scared. We were nervous. We were intimidated. THEY WERE EASY! The hardest part was the rolling, but even then, it was just so ridiculously simple that we almost feel silly for being such culinary chickens (See what I did there?? Chicken? haha, no it was pork. But you dig that I’m kicking). Regardless, the ingredients were handy and there were no translations or conversions. SCORE.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
Uh-Mazing. Simple ingredients– in fact, there were only two spices in addition to the obligatory salt and pepper: Garlic and bay leaves. That was all she wrote! And yet, it was so flavorful. I loved the cabbage/tomato/sour cream sauce… I might have eaten that with a spoon by itself and called it bisque. But honestly, it was simple and good and hearty. All the wonderful components of comfort food and Sunday cooking were there. We unanimously gave this one five stars– even from our tough Russian judge (my dad) who devoured four of these.

Where in the big wide world will #114 take us for our next country?? Central America for some time in Nicaragua!!

Keep on, Keeping on!
– L & K

#112: Senegal

Welcome to part two!

After a Saturday of mud volleyball and Colorado sunshine, it was time for some R & R at the brovskyland castle. Contrary to appearances, I am such a fangirl for lazy weekend days; particularly Sundays. Something about rolling out of bed, throwing on sweats that might as well be pajamas still, taking all day to sip my coffee, hanging out with my mom and dad, cuddles with the dog, maybe a run (maybe not. lol) and then the food! I think it’s only improved upon when there’s football involved, so let’s call it nearly perfect by that mark. Ahhhh, Monday’s are not so bad when you’ve recharged your battery this way. I’m beyond blessed. I don’t care if that sounds cliche.

THE DINNER: Continuing with our African adventure this weekend, we hung out in Somali today. It was actually a great day to sit about and cook! This one was pretty involved as far as ingredients. It was not a hard list to tackle, but it was long. For Senegal, we picked a rice and fish dish that was what my mother was calling “a one pot wonder” in a dutch oven. This super hearty dish is actually the national dish of Senegal, this boldly flavored combination of fish, rice, and vegetables simmered in tomato sauce. It’s stuffed fish and rice with veggies– what’s not to love. It’s called Thiéboudienne.

Thiéboudienne Recipe: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Senegal-Fish-Rice

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: FIVE STARS out of five this meal!
Don’t be scared! It’s difficult. I’m not going to sugar coat that– but it was not horrific. You have to chop a whole lot of veggies. You have to stuff and tie fish fillets. You have to make the stuffing for those fillets. You have to make sure the rice doesn’t boil dry (might be altitude specific problem #5280issues) but in all honesty, it was just time consuming and not hard. It was a meal we worked for though. No strange issues– save the problem with the yucca substitute and we had to sub the tamarind.

Best dish of all time scale: THREE and 3/4 STARS out of five for Meal!!
It was good!  At the time, we couldn’t really place why it wasn’t amazing… but upon a few days reflection it was decided that it was just a little blah. It was maybe bland? But it was not as flavorful as we wanted or expected. It was a hard followup to the super flavor-packed meal in Mali yesterday. That’s for sure. I loved the eggplant though and the fish was lovely. All in all incredibly hearty as promised (and also this recipe feeds a small village army, so be aware of left overs on this one. We might have quartered this recipe should we attempt again).

See you for lucky #113 on AW195S next weekend as we welcome back football Sundays with NFL preseason openers!!

GO BRONCOS!
– L & K

#111: Mali

Mud Volleyball anyone?

Yeah, my cornhole team (you read that correct, trust me, it’s a thing) was short a player due to injury for a mud volleyball tourney this Saturday… and guess who was their Huckleberry?! This girl! DUH. For those that know me, I am unrelentlessly always game for a new experience and always if it includes some good old fashioned athletic sweat and competitive sporting. After all, it was for March of Dimes– so getting dirty and having some good clean fun saving babies sounds like it’s 110% the best use of time. So this was one for the books, and boy was it was dirty one for the books as well. Goodbye to my shoes and my socks, my the rest in peace, for they will never be the same. Oh, it’s lovely to subscribe to the adage from Shanti:

“At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.”

Check. Check. Double check❤

THE DINNER: Well, hells bells, what’s a gal to do when she has spent all day playing ball? EAT. That’s what a girl is to do. And so, we traveled to a country this Saturday (and will tomorrow too, for a double header weekend). We picked Kofta for Mali this weekend, which is like curry soup with latkas in it… and paneer. You had me at paneer, guys. Cheese, cheese, cheese. You make the potato dumplings separate so they wont’ break apart.

Kofta Recipe: http://foodandspice.blogspot.com/2015/08/mali-kofta-potato-and-paneer-kofta-in.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five this meal!
Honestly, this one was just sort of a handful. It was tricky because it was a whole lot of moving parts for one soup. So, you make the Kofta (Mali potato and cheese balls) and then you make the curry/soup that it goes into. I actually think it might have been super easy with leftover mash potatoes from a meal, that way you eliminate some of the prep work. But it wasn’t hard to follow the recipe. There were a ton of spices and that was a little daunting. There was some prep work on the veggie cutting. Nothing overly exotic but the gargam masala can often be tricky to find. Be ye warned.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Delicious. This was just really surprising. I was expecting a curry and it was a soup. I was expecting fragrant spices or spicy spices and it was mild and flavorful. It was not what I was expecting– in the best way. We loved the Kofta but they are really bland by their lonesome. The Paneer was substituted for cheese curds, but the taste was lovely. We were all a fan of this one. Not a leftover in sight and we all had seconds.

See you for #112 Senegal as we continue our double header AW195S weekend!!

Cheers!
– L & K

#109/#110: Borneo (Malaysia and Indonesia)

Good food feeds the soul as much as the body,

In brovskyland it’s not uncommon for us to cook a family dinner at the very LEAST once a week. We love spending time in the kitchen– but more importantly sharing a meal with each other. It wouldn’t matter to me if my mom was a good cook or not, I mean, turns out she’s amazing at cooking. It wouldn’t matter to me if we had take out food, I just want to spend time with the people who make my heart happy. That’s what good food means to me. It has very little to do with actual food.

THE DINNER: After an adventure at the shooting range this weekend, we ventured into the Pacific and took on Borneo. I actually learned a whole lot about Borneo this week in pulling recipes and doing my typical AW195S research. The country is actually part of Malaysia and Indonesia. So it’s two nations, one island. So that’s why we have #109 AND #110 for this week. I found this part pretty fascinating. Alternatively, the other different thing is that this week’s “recipe” is via youtube. Guys, looks at the times we live in!!😉

Laksa Soup Recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1eHoriT_aI

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
Really doesn’t get much easier than rice noodles. I mean, those babies are so quick and dirty it should mean they don’t taste as good as they do. I’m not sure if anyone else will have the same issue we ran into with the bean sprouts, but they seem to either be out of season in the states or out of stock. If there’s a run on the sprouts, just substitute those bad boys and move along. We suggest snow or snap peas. We used both the snap peas and the radish sprouts. It was a great alternative. I gave it a added star for the youtube mayhem. Rewind, play, rewind, pause, play, etc… what a mess. And we had to do all that and convert from metric.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
SO YUMMY. To be fair, we were a house divided on this one. My mom and I were in the house of the “more spice! Pass the sambal and Sriracha!!” and then there were the house of dad and Jess who were preaching “it’s spicy as it is! Leave it and pass the acid reducer!” I think a happy medium in this game of thrones situation is best practice. IT was not TOO overly spiced. The radish sprouts we substituted added a little bite, but it was not outrageous. It was easily adjusted to the needs of everyone and no a soul passed up seconds. So that should speak volumes. It was “baby, you hurt so good” scenario. 

Hot damn, we’re on a roll up in here! That means we are going to announce #111 to be Mali and #112 will be Senegal for a double header next weekend!!

Later Gator!
– L & K

#108: Algeria

By the way, the Windy City says, “Hello”

Fresh off a trip to the metropolis of the Midwest, I have nothing planned. WHAT?! *gasp*Shock! Awe! It’s like a unicorn these days when I have a weekend where this is the docket. And by that, I mean that L & K literally kicked off their weekend with a massage and a little more REM sleep later… after that it got back to the normal pace of seeing friends, having dates, brunching like a champ with my besties. But it was a whole lot more chill than my Chicago adventure last weekend. I’m not going to lie, I feel like a new woman! Ready to hit the ground running. Which is good because a snapshot of the week to come looks a little hairy: meetings, Rockies games, cornhole leagues, blood drives, and and house-warmings.

THE DINNER: Venturing back to Africa, as we still have quite a few nations on that continent to knock out, we sojourned to Algeria for some soup. Yes. Soup. Now, before you get all “dude, it’s summer” on me, soup is wonderful. Soup should be eaten year around and I resent the fact that you seasonal elitists place it in the category of winter/fall fare and lest ye forget that in some areas of the world it is in fact winter/fall there. So with all that being said in our defense… we are huge fans of soup. Obviously.

We picked Chorba Bayda which is Algerian White Chicken Soup. This soup is most popular during Ramadan (so score another point for having soup in the summer!). It’s got chickpeas, like you would anticipate any North African meal to contain in one form or another, as well as eggs, which is a very strange addition to any soup or meal in Africa for that matter. I’m not going to lie to you good people, the addition of butter in this recipe made me souppppper happy (bad pun intended, because I love you and puns).

Chorba Bayda Recipe: http://www.halalhomecooking.com/chorba-bayda-algerian-white-chicken-soup/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE and A HALF STARS out of five this meal!
This was so fast and simple. It was quick and dirty. I loved that we had something that we could set and forget. Africa has been pretty accommodating to that type of cooking as a general rule. We had no special trips to any special markets for ingredients. I have it a half star more for converting from metric to standard… also… “Halal Chicken”? Not clear on what that is.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
Long and short of this one, kiddos, we wanted to grade inflate here. We really love chicken noodle soup in the Brovsky Clan. It’s clinical. We should be studied. But this was not chicken noodle. IT WAS chicken soup. And while it was lovely, it was not anything exciting. I was reminded how out-of-this-world our last venture into chicken soup on AW195S was (guys, Nepal… it was magical. and spicy). On the heels of that unforgettable love affair with chicken noodle soup, I couldn’t give this one top marks. Apart from that, it was tasty. I was not a fan of the cinnamon. It was a little strange. I did have a thing for all the parsley… and that egg yolk… good lord, more egg yolk, folks. Be still my beating heart.

We are proud to be rounding the bend on #109 by way of Borneo (which is actually Malaysia and Indonesia) next weekend!! I feel like the month of July is flying by, but that must mean that we are having fun😉 So I can’t possibly complain. It’s two countries in one nation next week… wrap your brains around that.

Toodles Poodles!
– L & K

 

 

#107: Oman

“Can we hold class outside…?!”

Remember when you were in class and it was so beautiful out that you wanted to beg and plead with all your classes to hold that day’s lesson outside. Sometimes it worked! Your teacher would take their session out of door and allow you to be a little less distracted. (now as an adult, I realize it’s not that shocking. They probably want to have class outside more than any kids and are happy as a clam to oblige the request. But still. It seemed magical when you talked them into it). You probably wonder where she’s going with this one— as an adult with a window at my desk, it’s hard when I can’t just “hold class” outside. Chalk another thing up to sucky adulthood, guys😉 I guess I’ll have to settle for paid time off as the trade.

THE DINNER: This week our food journey took us to the Arabian Peninsula to visit Oman. Now, I don’t know about you all, but I’m a geography ace. I mean, Carmen Sandiego couldn’t hide from this girl… but damned if I knew where the hell this one was without googling it. So, there you have it– Oman. A land where “very high income” is more prevalent, it’s more akin to Dubai, if we are being honest.

Omani cuisine is completely diverse and has been influenced by many cultures due to it’s situation on the Persian Gulf and it’s hub as a trade route throughout history of the modern world. Omani people, like many nations that have extreme and let’s face it absolutely crippling heat indexes usually eat their main daily meal at midday, while the evening meal is lighter (particularly during Ramadan and in the remaining summer months). So, when we made “dinner” for this one, it was more like a light lunch fare. Baba ghanoush ( or بابا غنوج in Arabic) was the name of the game this time. For those unaware, Baba ghanoush is like hummus… but instead of chickpeas it’s eggplant. And the people did rejoice.

Baba ghanoush Recipe: http://livewellnetwork.com/My-Family-Recipe-Rocks/recipes/Baba-Ghanoush/9121092

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: HALF STAR out of five this meal!
Guys!! We made our very own tahini. Go ahead and marvel. Okayyyyy…. to be honest, it was so easy. But still, we felt sort of excellent about this. It’s literally sesame seeds and oil in a food processor– and that’s all she wrote. Apart from that, you roast those eggplants and throw all the ingredients in the blender and it’s a dream. Half star is as good as it gets.

Best dish of all time scale: SIX STARS out of five for Meal!!
Alright. Six is a BIT dramatic. You can’t blame me though, if you were there and you tasted it, we were star struck. Five is the scale so that’s what it gets, but it could have gotten higher. The lemon and the eggplant played too well together. They should get married and have all the baba ghanoush babies in the history of forever. I think they owe it to the world’s taste buds to do this for us. For those of you that love hummus, this kicks hummus’ scrawny booty all the way across the playground. I’m not sure if we can go back to the second rate spread after this one…😉

#108 puts us in the African nation of Algeria! I’m not sure what you have planned… but I’m holding the next week of lab work and meetings outside. In the sun. With a margarita❤

Love and dog kisses,
– L & K