#150: Djibouti

“The cure for anything is salt water… Sweat, tears or the sea”

Holy cow, isn’t that completely true. Camping on the pristine white sand beach in Florida with Keeks and company was just what the doctor ordered. I got all those cures involving salt water and now am a believer in that quote. Salt water is the cure to everything. (that and the food in New Orleans! Man alive, that was a foodie paradise all around). It’s funny how you never really think about those three things being therapeutic; but sometimes you just need a good cry, a good run in the humidity and a long swim in the ocean with the cutest kiddo you know to set things back to true north. When I retire to my sailboat, I will be sure to check, check, triple check all those boxes each day.

THE DINNER: While I was in the surf 2500 miles away, L dove into making Djibouti cuisine back in the Mile High City. (See what I did there with the “dove into”?!) This country is tiny and situated in East Africa.They eat a traditional dish called Lahoh for breakfast which is a crepe like pancake. While this cake is sometimes sweetened with honey (or bananas like our recipe this week), it is also eaten like pita or naan and consumed with stews or savory dishes throughout the day.

Djibouti Banana Fritter Recipe: http://www.rainbowgr.com/single-post-crr5/2015/03/08/Djibouti-Banana-Fritters

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Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
The recipe itself is quick and dirty. Nothing hard about it, except it needed to be supplemented for flour quite a lot to achieve the consistency of batter needed. Going off recipe for myself and L, who are experienced bakers isn’t a huge deal, but some of you might find this harder or stressful so that’s a good point to take into consideration on your foodie journey. Once the adjustment was made to the batter it was smooth sailing (pardon my ocean puns this week, guys, I’m still on a beach evidently).

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and A QUARTER STARS out of five for Meal!!
Nothing remarkable about a banana pancake fritter if we are being honest. Solid creamy banana flavor but it just lacked flair. If we venture to make these bad boys again, it was noted that crushed walnuts to add texture or powdered sugar to kick up the sweetness might make excellent modifications to the base recipe.

Congratulations to Joe Walsh of The Eagles and Colorado native Dan Fogelberg who we watched get inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame last night! Really cool show! Next weekend while I’m in Chicago for work, L will be tackling the food of Zambia for #151!

Looking forward to the Solar eclipse,
– L & K

#149: Eritrea

On the menu this week? Crow. Kris is eating crow.

The most pretentious sentence I have ever uttered came out of my mouth this weekend… “I lost one of my Swarovski earrings at the polo match yesterday” Yeah, that was literally the single most entitled thing I’ve ever said. To be fair, it was a polo match for cancer charity and the earring was ordered from Amazon for a wedding I was in a while back. It wasn’t the irreplaceable ones I got from Austria for graduation. I wasn’t sure but something about that statement coming from my mouth made me re-calibrate my life a little. It was good to have an out of body experience.  Needless to say I was embarrassed.

THE DINNER: The following day we made food from the little African nation of Eritrea and the blows to my ego kept coming as I realized how food insecurity and poverty so greatly and drastically impacts the food landscape of this country and so many around it. They tend to eat a lot of stews in this part of the nation for many reason– mainly to make the food stretch and also to spend less of their valuable time in the kitchen prepping or preparing meals. Italian influence is felt strongly in the palate of the national dishes because of the settling and ruling of the Italian government over the state for decades. The stew we picked is called Tsebhi Sga which is meat in spiced butter… um, yum!

Tsebhi Sga Recipehttp://www.food.com/recipe/eritrean-ethiopian-beef-stew-tsebhi-sga-or-key-wet-106194

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Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
Not a “stew” in the traditional western sense of the term, but that’s not a good or bad distinction in my opinion– more like a friendly heads up that you’re probably following the recipe correct even though it doesn’t look like what you’re used to. No crazy ingredients and no need to translate/convert. We did have to hunt for an additional spiced butter recipe, so that added to the score but wasn’t insane.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and A QUARTER STARS out of five for Meal!!
There’s a quarter cup of chili paste in this recipe, guys… which basically makes it a 100% win in L’s book (and mine). The spiced butter added a depth of flavor that was unexpected. It was more than “buttery” it was more like velvety. We served it with Kale salad as is traditional to the area. The problem we ran into was the lack of salt. We got to have some basic cooking steps here, one of which is seasoning the meat properly whether you’re grilling or baking. It’s important otherwise you run into bland flavor profiles which is what kept this from a 5 star rating.

Polo matches and Maserati’s aside, while I head to the sunny shores of the Gulf of Mexico for some much needed R&R next week, L will be taking on Djibouti for #150!

Peace, love and lost earrings,
– L & K

#148: Pakistan

“Only you can prevent forest fires” vintage poster hangs in the Grand Junction Meyer’s guest room…

For some reason, this– THIS— was all I could think about a few Wednesday evenings ago when I was using my grill plate in my tiny one bedroom apartment. I had this image of a happy 1950’s Smoky the Bear smiling at me as my apartment filled with smoke. Fajitas. Indoors. Yes, I’ve had better ideas in my life. In my defense, I’d like to point out: I was left unsupervised; they were delicious; I would do it again.

Through the cloud of haze, when the door of the apartment opened, I was thrilled to see I wasn’t in this smoky mess alone. If at least one component of your adult life isn’t in a constant state of hot mess, you’re not doing it right. As you get older, there’s a realization that the messy parts are the best parts. Think about it. The best food? Messy food. The best games? Messy games. The best life? You got it. Even experienced cooks tend to make a total circus out of meals sometimes. The secret though is that they always enjoy that part. They make lemonade out of lemons… now this time, the solution was to make salsa, but trust us, lemonade wouldn’t have paired well.

Unrelated side note: Dad, the smoke detector works 😉

THE DINNER: To update you all on the 3 year journey we have had thus far, we only have 47 countries left! That’s a little less than a year away from completion. 76% give or take. With that, we were off to Pakistan like a herd of turtles for #148!

Beef Pasanda is a traditional middle eastern recipe for a lightly-spiced curry consisting of beef, onions and yogurt. The meal originated from the court of the Mughal emperors who conquered Northern India and Pakistan. The name Pasanda is a variation on the native word “pasande” meaning “favorite”. The cut of meat traditionally used? The best and most prime cut of meat… so it’s safe to say, “Tonight, we feast like kings!”

Beef Pasanda Recipe: http://mobile.pakirecipes.com/recipe/Pasanday

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Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
All things considered, we have had tougher meals to prepare. The ingredients, even for a curry were pretty simple and there wasn’t a lot of problem finding the spices (many of which we already had on had). The recipe does require some conversion from metric, but by now, we are old pros at that maneuver.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
This was tricky… we really enjoyed it but it wasn’t amazing. The strangest addition was the poppy seeds– and there was a metric ton of those. They added a bizarre texture component to the dish, but we all agreed that we couldn’t taste a distinct difference. The biggest thing was it was peppery. Not spicy, but peppery. That’s a good thing for the most part, but overall it was a little underwhelming. 

We were so happy to be able to celebrate Natalie and Matt’s wedding this weekend with all our out of town family. I gotta say, the Brovskys clean up nice and party like it’s 1999. The next stop for this adventure is Eritrea for #149!

Happy Campers All Around,
– L & K

 

#147: Jamaica

Happy belated 4th of July, America!

This last weekend was American Independence Day… and to stick it to the British (like we have every year for the last 200 or so years) we make a whole big ruckus that includes blowing things up, BBQing more meat than we could eat in a year and drinking lots of cold beer. Along those lines, I was able to escape for a girl’s hike with LS and BT in Boulder followed by really escaping to Buena Vista for some camping adventures. While we didn’t blow anything up personally, we did blow up our taste buds by roasting some Oreos over the open camp fire and pairing them with some pretty spectacular beer from Spice Trade Brewing (Olde Town Arvada’s own little America’s Sweetheart). Let me just tell you, both the mountains and the Oreos were life altering–heart stopping kinds of good for your soul 😉 …. and the company wasn’t too shabby either.

Check out that #oreodiet2017 life here for the recipe: http://spicetradebrewing.com/2017/07/07/first-friday-food-pairing-campfire-hero/
**sidebar for the foodies in my life: The Brewer at Spice Trade does a first Friday food pairing each month for you to sink your teeth into. You’re welcome in advance.

THE DINNER: Now, we took a bye for the holiday weekend because  every single Brovsky was stuffed with BBQ. But we picked up the torch again this weekend with Jamaica on the menu. L happens to have a friend who is Jamaican and gave me a week off from recipe research duty as she supplied us with the family recipe for her Jerk Chicken with butter beans and rice. I’m positive this one is not to be missed.

The coolest thing from a foodie perspective is that the Jamaican spice profile is so unique! It combines elements of Spanish, British, Indian, Chinese and French cooking. It’s literally a melting pot of people who have settled on the island over the centuries. This makes Jamaican food unlike anything else but at the same time oddly familiar to your senses. You can’t place it, but you love it. That’s the umami of Jamaica.

While you may be disappointed that we did not dress up as the Jamaican bobsled team for the meal… if you’re in the market, I might know someone who can hook you up with a costume. (Disclaimer: Must go to a good home. Only serious inquires please. Highest bid will be considered.)

Jerk Chicken with Butter Bean Rice Recipe: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/452189618826271201/

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Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
It wasn’t tough– it was a matter of measuring a whole lot of spices and then letting the meat get happy in the marinade. You throw it on the grill for a nice char and then continue cooking in foil. The rice and butter beans were easy as boiling water. We weren’t able to find scotch bonnets (they were sold out at Kings) but we did find Caribe peppers which are much more authentic as they are indigenous to the island we were making. Not to mention, the scoville units are similar so we were solid gold, baby.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
At the risk of being a broken record from last week: it was not as spicy as we wanted or anticipated… but man alive, it was good! The marinade was flavor packed and the rice, while bland, took full advantage of it’s side-kick-status by gobbling up all the yummy drippings. For those that are wondering why it was butter beans and not red beans? Yeah, turns out from the mouth of a native Jamaican, that they actually dig the butter bean more than the red bean. We were happy to oblige and were not disappointed… they were, well, “buttery” which added a nice texture contrast.

  • Question that came up from A while we were eating: “How did the marinade get so deep into the meat?!”
  • Question from L: “Wonder what beer would pair well with this…?)

 

Can’t wait to end up in the throws of Pakistan for #148! There’s nothing this girl loves more than slow roasted meats and eggplant– so I’m not worried about this food adventure.

Nyam! (which means “eat” in Jamaican)
– L & K

#146: Timor

If April showers bring May flowers what do June showers bring…??

If I were a betting woman my answer based on this weekend would be: Baby showers and bridal showers! We were even sprinkled with some rain showers to cool off from this crazy heat. While socializing can be exhausting, it was nice to get to celebrate with family and friends– and see faces I haven’t gotten to see in a long time. If you weren’t aware, this weekend was also Sand in The City here in Arvada. This festival brought about a playful family debate over what might make the best sculpture. It also found me trying some amazing beer while learning how to properly pour one. The weekend was full of mermaids, sand castles, high heels and mini rubber duckies. It was strange and awesome, as always.

THE DINNER: We have been hanging out in the Pacific the past few weeks. This Sunday funday we cooked up some Ikan Pepes from Timor (which, for those who have no idea where that is, you’re in good company. This was a google job for me too). This island nation situates itself between Indonesia and Australia. Since it’s an island nation, seafood is prevalent as is local veg. The spice profile is every similar to Indonesia and parts of coastal India with layers upon layers of depth.

Ikan Pepes is a whole fish cooked in a spicy curry and tamarind sauce, much like curry found in surrounding island nations. The Timor people have half a year of plenty followed by half a year of what they call “Hunger Season” which is marked by extreme food insecurity. The climate of the island can be so severe that it will pretty much wipe out all of their plants and crops for that period. The dichotomy of their food supply means that this dish is probably one of many dishes that can be made year around and is not effected by the Hunger Season. This is because there is little to no vegetation in this dish and the rice served with it is optional (read: when available).

Ikan Pepes Recipe: http://www.internationalcuisine.com/east-timor-ikan-pepes/

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Ease of prep and cooking: THREE and a HALF STARS out of five this meal!
Alright, we had to go to a special market this week (H Mart) but that’s not entirely why it earned a 3.5 for difficulty. In fact, the special market trip was excellent because the fish monger gutted, cleaned and descaled the fish for us– which saved A LOT of work. No, this one was just a matter of so many moving parts. You’re steaming in banana leaves, you’re doing some chopping and you’re definitely baby sitting. And then you have the rice. It was just complex but not unreasonably challenging for a Sunday. I wouldn’t call this one a weekday meal though. (NOTE: we also did not use the Macadamia nuts due to the listeria recall)

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
It was not as spicy as we wanted… though to be completely fair, we’re not exactly your average bears when it comes to judging that. We are aware of this fact and never mark down for things related. But we did want more depth of flavor from the peppers and the tamarind. I mean, we used 10 chilies for goodness sake! There should be some kick back, jack. The lime was really good. The fish was firm but flaky; and, while the basil rice sounds fabulous, upon execution, it just didn’t seem to offer a good pairing for our taste buds. Overall, a solid white fish dish and we were not disappointed, nor were we left hungry. Plus the culinary artistry of smoking a fish over indirect heat in banana leaves in the middle of Colorado, is pretty much too delightful for words when you’re a foodie.

We are ringing in Independence Day next weekend here in the states and while we will no doubt be doing some serious grilling-out, we also will be hopping own south to tackle Jamaica for #147! 

Three cheers for long weekends!
– L & K

 

#145: Vanuatu

“And the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.”

When I think of Vanuatu, I immediately conjure images that this– THIS must be where Max ran away to when he went to live Where the Wild Things Are. That book was and still probably is one of my most favorite children’s books. But to be fair, I have a different spin on it as an adult. Let me lay it on you: as a child I loved the illustrations and as an adult I love the plot. This kiddo has everything and yet he feels so put upon. He runs away to an island where there are all manner of monsters and beasts and they make him king and truly adore him and yet, he realizes he wants to be back with those he loved most because they loved him best. It’s like adulthood, guys. Every. Damn. Day. We wish for what’s on the other side of “this project at work” or “this relationship hurdle” or “this financial hiccup” all the while missing those milestones for what they are: LIFE. It’s the journey. And when we finally get to the destination, we realize we missed all the fun stuff. The fun stuff sometimes looks like struggle.

Mehhh, it’s a food blog… so call that some “food for thought”.

THE DINNER: Vanuatu is an island nation in the South Pacific… and if I’m being totally honest, it’s hard to not break out in to show tunes when I say that. Real hard. The food on an island is typically going to consist of two staples: veg and seafood. This doesn’t deviate from that game plan. The country does have so much in common with Filipino food it’s ridiculous, but makes sense geographically.

We decided to make Ginataang Tahong which is a South Pacific recipe for mussels steeped in coconut milk. Since mussels are cheap in coastal areas, this dish is a weeknight staple for the islands in the area.

Ginataang Tahong Recipe: http://panlasangpinoy.com/2013/03/01/ginataang-tahong-recipe/

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Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
Super easy, guys. There are a handful of readily available ingredients and it took no more than 20 min from start to finish. The one “tricky” thing is inspecting the mussels for cracks or being open prior to cooking, but that’s not even that hard. It’s quick and dirty, but not messy 😉

Best dish of all time scale: FIVEEEE STARS out of five for Meal!!
We all sort of wanted to give this one six stars. In the words of Rob Lowe in one of my favorite 80’s movies: It was outta hand. The coconut milk and the onions were just the best part. I loved the spinach. It literally didn’t want for any substitutes or additions. We always gauge a 5 star by whether we would want to add anything or change or modify anything to make it better and we just couldn’t find a damn thing. We literally didn’t add salt or sriracha. We ate it all. We gobbled and slurped and it was perfect. We can’t wait to make it again… and I might have dreamed about it’s creamy goodness.

Up next for Around the World in 195 Sundays?? We will be headed for #146 by way of Timor-Leste! Yes, that’s a country. No, I’m not 100% sure of where it is yet; but that is part of the fun of this project. I learn something new every week. 

Oh, please don’t go—we’ll eat you up—we love you so!
– L & K

#144: Albania

“I’m melting, I’m melting– oh what a world, what a world…”

This week has been a scorcher in the Mile High City. We have been camping out in the 90’s and it’s been getting all of us a little on edge. In addition to the short fuses you’ll see around town, it’s also been getting us thinking about what good things from the 90’s decade we loved. The NKOTB and BSB phenom has been hitting a resurgence. Both boy bands have released new hits and are touring. Though to be fair, BSB is singing country now with FGL. Who saw that one coming? I found that a great way to beat the heat is a cold drink on a warm patio with lovely people who are more family than friends. I will try to recall those lovely people when I turn into the Wicked Witch of the West Coast with these temps. Try. I said “TRY”.

THE DINNER: I’m not going to lie to you– it’s hard to spend a day over a hot stove or oven when it’s hot out. We picked another Balkan nation to munch on this week: Albania. There’s a whole lot of familiar territory here as far as flavors: Mediterranean and simple. There’s not a whole lot of spices happening like curries. There’s not a lot of fluffy. The meal we chose is called burek. It’s a cheese pie that’s made in filo dough and can sometimes contain meat like lamb, though traditionally is seen as a vegetarian meal with leeks or spinach rounding out the cheese. We chose a feta/Leek version for our journey. Leeks are so often under appreciated– and it always reminds me of that pun from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: “There’s a leek in the boat!?” hahaha. Sorry, not sorry guys– had to go there. You’re welcome for the smile on a Monday.

Albanian Burek Recipe: http://globaltableadventure.com/recipe/recipe-byrek-ose-lakror-leek-pie/

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Ease of prep and cooking: THREE and a HALF STARS out of five this meal!
So the dough is store bought… and you might be wondering, “Kris, what gives? 3.5 for difficulty, come on!” But listen, guys, you weren’t there. In the trenches. In the heat of it. It was sort of ugly. Not at the time– but definitely once we were out of it. It was labor intensive and messy. And for all the work, it did not fare well on the taste meter. (See below…)

Best dish of all time scale: TWO STARS out of five for Meal!!
In the moment, we all hemmed-and-hawed about what score to give. I think we felt guilty that we wanted to give it a poor score… but a day removed from eating it– I’ve come to the conclusion, it was just terrible. It was edible. It was just not good. It wanted to be quiche. It wanted to be pot pie. It was neither of those things. It also lacked a lot of flavor. Thyme excluded, there was not much in the way of spices and while the leeks contributed in all their glory; not even they pulled this back from the brink. I’m sad to report this one was just sad. Glad it’s over.

Up next for Around the World in 195 Sundays?? We will be headed for #145 by way of Vanuatu!

Stay cool, Denver!
– L & K