#122: Burkina Faso

Football, Snow and Turkey.

That is what I call the “Three Horsemen”! It’s the week before American Thanksgiving– and I would like to take this moment to inform all the people out there that it has finally snowed in Denver. It’s officially holiday season now. To be fair… it was minimal. It was a glorified dusting, but I am breaking out the remainder of the boots and coats and making coco. In my lab we had a Canadian exchange student this summer, and though we came to find out that Canada has thanksgiving in October, it seemed to shock and amaze her all of our Thanksgiving traditions here in the colonies. In particular, she (and so many others) are horrified at “black Friday” which mostly has moved to Thanksgiving Thursday. To help with the remainder of the confusion, I have found this article to illuminate your turkey day:

https://www.bustle.com/articles/124804-8-ways-canadian-thanksgiving-is-different-from-american-thanksgiving

  • It’s on a Monday –> so no three day turkey coma. Sorry.
  • It’s in October
  • It’s not that big a deal to French provinces.
  • Not always turkey –> sometimes it’s chicken or ham

THE DINNER: WHOA GUYS!!!  I’m learning so many of the things! First off, I’m thrilled to find that there was a country I literally have never heard of (BTW, that was my very spot on Chris Traeger impression from Parks & Rec. It’s very good, you’ll have to take my word on it since you’re reading this). Incidentally, this not so tiny country in the horn of Africa gained independence from the French in 1960. Their food landscape, therefore, is obviously very French inspired because they’ve only been their own nation for about 50 years now. Apart from the typical things you see in French cuisine, I was saddened to find that Burkina Faso’s populace is mostly food insecure and the nation tops the list of the Global Hunger Index. All year, but particularly this time of year in the states, it is so important to donate time and food to local banks and outreach mission. We are so blessed here, but there is still a great need even in our country to provide meals to those that are starving. In this time of Thanksgiving, please know that it is us alone that make the change we wish to see in the world.

PSA over, we picked a drink for this nation! We haven’t done one of those in a while and this one is interesting. Jus de Bissap Rouge (sometimes called “Hibiscus sabdariffa“) translates to “Red Bitter Juice” more or less. The hibiscus is a native plant and the tea used from this infusion is thought to have healing properties. People with high blood pressure and Crohn’s disease often take advantage of this herb to alleviate their symptoms. Externally, compresses soaked in the infusion reduce edema, eczemas oozing, dermatoses as well as abscesses

Jus de Bissap Rouge Recipe: http://okra-cocoa.blogspot.com/2007/06/jus-de-bissap-rouge.html?m=1

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: HALF a STAR out of five this meal!
Guys, this one is literally steeping tea. You add some nutmeg, vanilla and sugar and then bring it to a boil. It’s so simple. I wish I could assign no stars. The hibiscus flowers were found at a local natural grocery store– like Whole Foods. That might be the one item that is “tricky” to come by.

Best dish of all time scale: THREE and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
So… it was tea. It’s hard to judge tea. On one hand, I thought it could be less sweet and more tart. On the other hand, my dad felt the opposite. I wanted this one to be a lot like “Lemon Zinger” from my very favorite Colorado tea house, Celestial Seasonings. It was not. It missed my mental mark somehow, through no fault of it’s own. It should be noted that we all drank it an sort of said “not…bad….” but there were no heartfelt musings about it either way. We left this one in the middle of the pack. I also think that if we had drank this in the midst of summer it might have come to different reviews. Timing is everything I guess.

I think we will be taking a “bye” week for the holiday and then be back at it for country #123!

To the Turkey!!
(the food not the country… we already covered the country in week #22 😉)

– L & K

#121: Sri Lanka

So, this week has been weird, Am-I-Right?

I guess if we are being fair, this whole year has been weird…and not in a Johnny Depp-it’s-charming-and-quirky kind of way, but in a distinctly odd and vague way. I feel like this year in general has been like a generic knockoff of a normal year. The milk is not completely sour and the bread is not entirely stale, but something just doesn’t seem to sit right. During this impending Christmas time, one of my favorite memories (and traditions to this day) is watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The old animated one, not the new Jim Carry one, just to be clear. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this, but at the end of that story, I still as an adult woman am reminded that the fabric of the Grinch’s soul was altered by the positivety of the Who people. Thus, I have decided that if I’m moving anywhere after this election, I’ll be moving to Whoville. My first order of business? Why, helping the Grinch grow his heart three sizes, of course. I know mine could stand to grow more anyway and they have “roast beast” and “Who-pudding” there, so it’s looking like a win-win for everyone. Please forward my mail accordingly.

THE DINNER: Our little detour to Sri Lanka was much needed this weekend. As is typically seen when we venture into the Indian Ocean region, so many of these cuisine profiles serve curry up as King and Country. That’s no different in the small island nation of Sri Lanka. They primarily devour fish or chicken in several variations on regular curry and serve it up over rice. Traditionally they also celebrate the food profiles of chutney, fruits and vegetarian fare. Additionally they are known for dahl (which I will remind you from our journey to Nepal in week #39 is “soup”) as well as these things call “hoppers” which is pan fried fermented batter. Sort of like a wonky version of a funnel cake, but savory and fermented. Okay, that was a stretch, I’ll admit it. Regardless (or “irregardless” as this was added to the Oxford Dictionary this week much to my chagrin) we picked a spicy squid curry to represent the nation of Sri Lanka!  It’s not surprising that the country utilizes so much seafood, as it’s an island, but the fennel was one ingredient on the list that did make me squint and my head tilt to the side. In disclosure, this is also a “masala” and not a “curry” for those keeping score.

Sri Lankan Spicy Squid Masala Recipe: http://abowlofcurry.cucumbertown.com/spicy-squid-masala-fry-recipe?image=4433

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five this meal!
So, actually the art of locating squid in a land locked state was half this week’s difficulty. We ended up at P.O.M.🙂 much to our happy detouring. We love it there. So a little vacation to that part of our world was nice and welcomed. Apart from that, there was spice palooza since this was a masala, that’s not all together surprising. The remainder of the ingredients were found with ease at our local grocery.

Best dish of all time scale: TWO and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Let me preface this low scoring meal with this caveat: WE LOVE SQUID in Brovskyland. The reason this dish scored low was in now was reflective of the meat choice. So please, if you haven’t tried squid, don’t be scared or alarmed or let this review put you off it. Squid rocks. This squid, did not. What a shame that turned out to be! The meal actually turned out to be rather bland when it all boiled down to it. The texture of the squid might have been improved with more of a carmalization, but that doesn’t detract from the reality that it just lacked flavor. Curry/Masala is supposed to bring in so many flavor profiles that were absolutely absent here. What a disappointing exhibition. However, it should be noted that the onion and peppers with the tomatoes were very tasty. It is a very small note😉

For turkey day weekend coming up, we are going to be thankful we are celebrating #122 in the little known African nation of Burkina Faso. Now, if you haven’t heard of that nation, you’re in good company, I hadn’t either.

Signing off from the top of Mount Crumpit😉 , 
– L & K

#120: Czech Republic

If you haven’t been, Prague is one of the wonders of the world.

Trust me on this one, it’s gorgeous, historical and foodie paradise. If I’m being perfectly honest, which you know I am, I didn’t care for the libations in the great country of CR. There was this spiced liquor called Becherovka, which I can only describe as 38% ABV version of paint thinner meets gin. It was not my cup of whiskey at all. But cest la vie, I’ll stick with their beer!  Along with the beer, I also really have come to love to sentiments of the Czech people… now, that might be a smidgen on the bias because my family is Slovak and until currently, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were the same exact place. But, seriously, these people have the right head-space. Here is my case study:

  • “Bez peněz do hospody nelez”   —>  “Don’t go to the pub without money”, very wise and very unwise at the same time. I dig the dichotomy. I too am a walking contradiction.
  • “Na každém šprochu pravdy troche”   —>  “There’s a bit of truth in every gossip”
  • Stokrát nic umořilo osla”  —>  “A hundred times nothing killed the donkey”…alright, to be fair, this one lost me in the translation; but it made me laugh.

THE DINNER: I have to say, the best turn of phrase for this coming weekend’s food adventure was this one Bez práce nejsou koláčewhich translates into “Without work, there are no koláče”. For those of you that aren’t fluent or well versed in puffy pastry lingo, “koláče” are like the Czech answer to the Danish. It’s a flaky pastry filled with jam, fruit or chocolate and served all times of the day and night. This bad boy does double duty as dessert and breakfast. I love me a multitasking food😉 The name of the specific koláče we picked was “Dukat Buhtle”. These little gems are pretty much like a vacation to Prague. To which my gypsy soul says, “Amen.”

Dukat Buhtle Recipe: http://tortelina.blogspot.com/2012/05/dukat-buhtle.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five this meal!
Don’t panic. I will explain myself. Four stars comes from the sheer fact that the recipe is in Bosnian. That was the first hurdle. Once translated, everything was obviously in metric. No surprise there, but the specific conversion from deciliters is ridiculous and tedious and time consuming. The dough was really hard to work with, as it is incredibly sticky- but not too much work apart from that. I have to say, though, that I loved the exact nature of converting Celsius to Fahrenheit. I mean, come on! What baker doesn’t get a little kick out of 356degrees. That’s adorable and breaks it up for a seasoned baker. Speaking of being seasoned bakers—call it altitude or what have you, but it did not make 25 Dukat Buhtle… it made 17. So, maybe something else (like the remaining 8 Dukat Buhtle) was also “lost in translation”😉 like the licks to the center of a tootsie pop- the world may never know.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
Well, damn it all to hell, the Czech proverb of “without work, there are no koláče” really does pan out here. Haha, “pan” see what I did there? Anyway, back on track, these were worth all the strange conversions, all the weird phrasing the translator spit out and all the time waiting for the dough to proof. When we tasted them, I had a hard time immediately placing what the dough reminded me of. Then it hit me like a five pound sack of all-purpose enriched flour! These have the consistency of biscuits. They’re dough like, but flaky; sweet but not “un-savory” (yes, I made that word up to prove my point. Call it creative liberty). They are buttery and melt in your mouth. I’m pretty stoked to try the jam and fruit versions. I will need to double to dough on the next attempt. These babies flew off the shelf. Fives all around, especially from our “Russian judge”.

While the Broncos did nothing to secure a win this weekend, the Rapids advanced over LA in a shootout shocker! We will be progressing with a “W” into next week’s country too for  #121. Can’t wait to see what the little island of Sri Lanka brings to our table!!

Already listening to Christmas music- don’t judge😉

OXOX, 
– L & K

#119: Taiwan

It was 80 degrees at the Pumpkin Patch this weekend!?

I know, right? That’s ridiculous, if we are being honest. I often wonder what people who don’t believe in Global Warming think when it’s this unseasonably toasty a week away from November… I can tell you for certain though, it was a beautiful, sunny outing with the gal pals and the littles to the patch. As an adult, I can’t recall the last time I was at a pumpkin patch, though I have to confess, it’s been more than a decade. It was really refreshing to feel like a kid for a few hours though. I couldn’t help but feel that maybe we all left that adventure believing that The Great Pumpkin would actually visit Denver this week. Good grief, Charlie Brown, I hope the Great Pumpkin brings some cooler temps with him too😉

THE DINNER: Continuing on our spicy pathway and our unseasonably hot weather, the heat wave on AW195S continued! We chose Taiwan as our locale for Sunday’s meal and pulled another sassy recipe for Spicy Beef Noodle Soup. While the weather didn’t really nurture our soup venture, the spicy was right on our agenda for this month. We hit up a five alarm fire last week in Haiti and I think my dad was secretly praying that not all the engines showed up for the burn down this week. My mom and I, however, had the smoke alarms at the ready.

Spicy food in many cultures is just food to the Hoklo peoples (Those are the Taiwanese natives, btws). Regionally, spicy food is more concentrated in Taipei, but in a general sense, the whole of Asia celebrates the spicy. This type of soup is commonly referred to as a “hot pot” which is exactly what it feels like it should mean: everyone in the tub, guys, and oh, yeah, here’s some noodles. The ingredients are basically whatever is on hand and it simmers in clear broth (no cream) and then noodles are added. Voilà! Soup’s on!

Taiwanese Spicy Beef Hot Pot Soup Recipe: http://thewoksoflife.com/2016/02/spicy-beef-noodle-soup/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five this meal!
This one was a little deceiving. It would seem “hot pot” renders visions of easy cooking, right? I mean, throw it all in, let it get happy and then eat away to your hearts desires! WRONG. While it was very far removed from rocket science or brain surgery, it was involved. Lots of cutting and prep and lots of measuring. But, all that aside, all ingredients were a piece of cake to come by and it did take less than an hour to prepare. All things considered it wasn’t as bad all that, just not as simple as we have been getting lucky with.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
For those keeping tabs, it was not as spicy as Haitian food. It was not, however, mild. It was spicy. A lovely hit of cilantro and anise later, it was also aromatic and fragrant, but in all the right ways. This meal was satisfying and tummy warming. If we are all being honest, who isn’t in love with thin sliced beef and rice noodle combos? That’s right, all of us with taste buds did utter, “Amen”.

This is the time for ghouls and goblins, but they aren’t going to scare us away from #120 with a detour to the Czech Republic!!

It’s just a little Hocus Pocus, darling!!
Happy Halloween🙂

– L & K

#118: Haiti

Sa fe lon temps nou pa we!

That’s Haitian Creole for “Long time, no see!” — and we couldn’t mean it more sincerely here in Brovskyland🙂 We have genuinely missed you all. As the fall gears up, we have had some pretty busy weekends around these parts. Happy to report that it’s starting to settle in and we are off to the races for the holiday season. I’m not going to lie, for some reason, this week started to feel like the first real week of autumn and boy, did that get my feels right in the feels, if you know what I mean! ((Additionally, happy anniversaries are in order for the Sewczak’s, Allen’s and Meyer’s❤ all of whom celebrated their marriages in the the last week! If fall wasn’t in the air, it might be easy to say that love certainly is))

THE DINNER: Haitian Shrimp in Creole Sauce (Kribich An Sos) is a common dish for this stop on AW195S’s island nation. The ingredients in the dish vary from village to village, but luckily there is continuity in the base and it’s pairing is consistent with rice, plantains or corn meal (a lot like fufu from our African nations). I have also seen it paired with grits, but that might be an American South corruption so don’t take me at that one. Guys, this one is NINE ingredients– which on the heels of our curry adventure last week in Sudan it’s a welcome sight. Not to mention, one of those nine is a scotch bonnet. I’m one happy spice girl on that front.

Kribich an sos (Haitian Creole Shrimp) Recipe: http://haitiancooking.com/recipe/haitian-shrimp-kribich-nan-sos/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
So easy! Like I mentioned above, there were nine ingredients and only one spice. It was a piece of cake to put this one together after soccer this Sunday. The timing of the meal worked out perfectly, which we commented was a very infrequent sight for AW195S. All in all, the hardest thing you got on this one was the chopping. Along those lines, it should be mentioned that we could not come by the scotch bonnets– but we substituted habeneros (which for those unaware, are the same tier on the scoville scale).

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
This girl is on fireeeeee! Alright, Alicia Keys, we get it. But real talk; this one was a five star, five alarm fire! It was so yummy, so please don’t panic. I’m a huge fan of the spice– this one got MY nose running! I mentioned that this was the first dish in a long long long while where I didn’t pour on the hot sauce following my initial tastings. All that being said, it was spicy but in a peppery way. It was not overwhelmingly spicy, but it was not for everyone. Even my dad, who can’t handle the heat gave this one a four– so the taste was there. The chili powder and the prawns. THE PRAWNS❤ those babies were tiger prawns and their sweet meat really played nicely with the tomato sauce. It was a win, win this week for Haiti.

Easy like a Sunday morning — or in this case afternoon — we can pick up #119 with Taiwan!! Rumor has it from the recipe pull I conducted that it will be another spicy one in the Mile High City😉 Prepare yourselves accordingly.

Cheers, Dears!!
– L & K

#117: Sudan

Cheers to GABF week!

When we were coming back from our attack on the Western Slope, the gal pals and I were remarking how the leaves were already changing. Now a few weeks removed from our Indian Summer annual girl’s weekend, it’s so much more brisk. There’s snap in the air and ginger in my snaps… COOKIES! Not to mention, the fact that we are ankle deep in October already. It’s totally astonishing. Time really does fly when you are having fun😉 Since we last saw you guys on AW195S, it’s been organized chaos in Brovskyland (color you surprised, I know) what with family reunions, friends moving into their first homes and soccer in full swing. This past week was the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) here in the Mile High City… and man, if that isn’t a week of Christmas in October, I don’t know what is! Like I said– Organized chaos!!

THE DINNER: We headed back to Africa this week to hit up Sudan. Now, logistically, I know very little about Sudanese culture and obviously food. From looking at a map of the continent, I can extrapolate that there is probably very little seafood, as they are land locked. Additionally it’s a large country, so I can also extrapolate that they have many regional transitions to their common meals.

We picked Karedok for our recipe originally- for those unfamiliar, to which I belong in part, this is a staple light meal fare in Sudan and several surrounding nations. It’s a raw veggie salad of sorts with a peanut dressing. It’s got other names when it’s cooked/boiled –> Gado-Gado is what it goes by when that’s the case. Karedok is widely served as DAILY food in the Sundanese family, usually eaten with hot rice, tofu, tempeh (which is still tofu, let’s be honest here…) and krupuk (The Google gods report that these are like shrimp crackers). This is literally the potato salad or side salad equivalent of the Sudanese people. So After doing this research, we were disenchanted with the whole idea of making a “potato” salad, and thus we switched gears. OMAHA!  Zighny is the Sudanese version of Ethiopian curry. It’s aromatic and deeply red. This was to be our new adventure. Zighny!

Zighny Recipe: http://mongoliankitchen.com/zighny-ethiopian-curry/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
This one was just a lot of spices. Shocking, I know. Kris– Curry? Spices? What madness are you talking about!? Okay, Captain Sarcasm, I get it. But honestly, it was a lot of measuring and adding at the correct times. It’s not a “set it and forget it” sort of meal. So, for that, we give it a two. It’s this incremental nature of curry that makes it tricky. Additionally, coming in on curry paste at your local grocers, you’re gonna wanna look near the Thai food items. Trust us on this one.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
Lovely tomato-y (not a word, but you’ll agree it should be) and onion based notes on this curry. Typically curry makes whatever meat that is stewing in it, so very moist and tender– which was exactly the case here. Chicken shined on the center of the dish. The most pleasant surprise was the eggs. Now, as you know, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Eggs are seriously a wonderful addition to any and all dishes, it was just unexpected in a curry but non the less delightful. The coriander was a little overpowering, but certainly upped the complexity. Not too shabby, Sudan!

That will bring us to #118!! To which end we have engaged the culinary services of the island nation of Haiti! 

Enjoy those PSLs like it’s your job😉
– L & K

#116: Uganda

And the Broncos are off!
This weekend in Brovskyland we were able to cheer on our Boys of Fall to a resoundingly exciting victory over the Panthers in the Thursday night football official season opener. It was a tight one point “W” for the Mile High Heros– but rest assured, with a little baby QB and the loss of a huge leader in PFM, it was not expected and we were actually the underdogs (even though we beat Carolina for the Super Bowl only months ago). So proud of my state in so many ways: Colorado sunsets are unparalleled, Fresh mountain air, friendliest people you’ll meet in a big city, great food, innovative ecology and world class sports. Having spent my weekend on my annual Girls Trip to Palisade with the loves of my life drinking wine and laughing way too much, Mom and Dad took off to have some Ugandan food for our 116th meal on this journey.

THE DINNER: I’m dubbing this recipe Sseko Ugandan Beans and Rice because of the owner of the recipe and their story about eating this particular meal 2-3 times daily while working at Sseko Workshop in the country… so I feel like this should bare that name in honor of that. This is basically what it sounds like though– it’s an open book recipe: Bean. and. Rice. Apart from what you’d expect, protein in the form of legumes is pretty big in many nations outside the Colonies and speaking as a partial (but very naughty) pseudo vegetarian, ALL hail the beans and rice. It’s filling and satisfying and economical. What’s not to love? What makes this one different though, you may ask. Well, I think it’s the Marsala and eggplant. Not a typical combo but wholly enjoyable from a creativity and textural eating viewpoint.

Sseko Ugandan Beans & Rice Recipe: http://blog.ssekodesigns.com/sseko-recipe-spotlight-ugandan-beans-and-rice/

 

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STARS out of five this meal!
It was one of those set it and forget it, as far as I heard from the troops on the ground. I watched in amazement as I dropped off a bottle of wine for my parents upon my return from Girls Weekend and saw my mom’s new pressure cooker making short work of the beans. Damn, I love technology. All the ingredients are local market available and there were no conversions or translations needed to hit this one home.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
The report from ground control on this one was that it actually had a little kick back to it! I guess the masala was a great little helper with the flavor profile– which absolutely isn’t surprising at all. At the end of the day, four stars for “just beans and rice” seems incredibly generous to a foodie like me, so this really must have been lovely. Additionally, coming from my dad who is all over a meat-and-potatoes sort of dude this seems extremely promising. Let’s hear it for Uganda!

As we venture off into the first week of Autumn (officially) and PSL drifts through the air, we can also venture off to #117 which will be Sudan. Not sure what Sudanese food is like, but I’m intrigued by what I am finding in my weekly research.

Salud!
– L & K