#137: El Salvador

Top of the mornin’ to ya!

It was St. Patty’s this weekend, and with that comes green beer, parades and way too much corned beef and take my word for it, no one is complaining. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. I love this sort of not-holiday-holiday. I’m Irish, catholic and my favorite color is emerald green; so this is my comfort zone. Two years ago, Thelma brought me back a Connemara Irish Wishing Stone from her trip. You’re supposed to rub it and make a wish. This stone now sits on a shelf in my house and from time to time, I seek a little extra luck of the Irish and indulge my silliness to make a “wish”. I’m not saying my March Madness state of mayhem had me picking up the stone…but I won’t deny it. Either way, Nova blew my bracket out so maybe the stone is out of luck. That’s the way the Girl Scout cookie crumbles. 

THE DINNER: We already too a trip to the Green Isle during our first year on this project (Week 64) and made Fisherman’s Pie, so this year we mixed it up and picked a Central American nation to party with. We decided to make Panes con Pavo which is like an El Salvadorian version of a Vietnamese Bah Mi sandwich. Stick with me, people. It’s also been compared to the American “Leftover Thanksgiving Sandwich”, but all things aside, it’s a roast turkey masterpiece.

In my food research this week, I learned that the Turkey was domesticated by the Aztecs. So in reality, the turkey sandwich is actually Latin American. Did I just blow your culinary minds? If you claim I didn’t, you’re lying; just let it sink in and you’ll see my side of things. This is game changing.

Panes con Pavo Recipe: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Salvadoran-Turkey-Sandwich

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
This one was a wash– I mean, it’s assembling a sandwich. Any drunk moron can manage that feat…even on St. Patty’s day weekend bender. Roasting turkey is a sort of set it and forget it deal, but I upped the points for not buying pre roasted meat here. The recipe, luckily, was not in need of translation nor was it in need of conversion. We had a pretty easy go of things. We couldn’t come by watercress so we subbed arugula.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Let me break it down for you. This is a turkey sandwich. It’s not exciting. It’s not sexy Friday night foodie adventure… it’s sort of a quiet Tuesday night in the burbs. Not to say it was disgusting or terrible. It was satisfying and fulfilling. I just mean to say, it wasn’t heart racing or show stopping. It was brazed in beer, so that alone put it above the average keel. We gave a hollar out to those raw onions for garnish and our spicy arugula substitution. It was lovely. We felt like it was just short of something special but couldn’t get there. Maybe it should have been spicier instead of peppery. Maybe it should have had something creamy like cheese or aoili. We couldn’t pin it down, but it was a solid player. The pepita seeds were such a neat surprise really. I never would have paired those with turkey!

AW195S is venturing into 71% completion!! Can you imagine that we are nearly at our two year anniversary for the project? Did I further mention, you can get AW195S t-shirts?! Because both of those are accurate. Please message me or comment below for details!

Off to South Sudan for #138!!

Spiraling in to March Madness!
– L & K

#136: Macedonia

Beware the Ides of March!

I love the idea of visiting the Ancient World with a trip to Macedonia on the week the Ides of March hit!! The continuity there is delicious– just like our meal (more on that below). The Ides refers to a portion of the month around the 15th that coincides with lunar movements. So you can have Ides of May or Ides of November….yet you never hear about those Ides. Why? Because thanks to Shakespeare, the March Ides are the day that Julius Caesar was stabbed in the back by 20 of his closest pals at the end of his famous play by the same name. That’s why one must beware these particular Ides. Don’t say I didn’t warn you… 😉 Sadly, I don’t think politics has really changed all that much.

THE DINNER: What do they eat in Macedonia? Well, to be completely honest, I never have given it much though because I think of Macedonia as being part of a time gone by. Now that I’m thinking about it, however, it occurs to me that it should be cross between Middle Eastern Food and Balkan Foods. It was just that. They gained Independence from Yugoslavia in 1993, so to be fair, it’s a young country but also an old country. The wonderfully mild climate means they get to harvest copious amounts of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Thus, Macedonian cuisine is particularly diverse and flavorful. We picked a dish called Pastrmajlija is a Macedonian Pizza topped with eggs and pork. Incidentally, this is such a thing in Macedonia that you can order it at Pizza Huts there!!

Pastrmajlija Recipe: http://diethood.com/macedonian-pizza/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE and a HALF STARS out of five this meal!
So homemade pizza dough? Turns out it’s not that hard to make!! I’m a little ashamed at how easy it actually is… apart from that, this one was really a dream. It was straight forward and simple.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
We’re on a roll! That’s two five stars in a row, which is nice after our little slump. We loved this one, but be ye warned, it was fiery! Lots of cayenne and the pepper was too much for my dad, but my mom and I loved it. I actually think this would make a great brunch treat because of the eggs, but it was nice for lunch. We added some green onions as garnish, but honestly, it really didn’t need a thing added. For those scared of the spice, a little ranch drizzle would clear that up nicely. The pork was really yummy though and instead of lard, we used butter as a substitute.

Next weekend we will be headed to El Salvador for a yummy #137!!

Et tu, Brute?
– L & K

#135: Fiji

Soccer is back, Jack!

I know it’s supposed to be March in Denver– which is traditionally our snowiest month. This March finds us without so much as a flurry, 15 days in. That’s pretty spectacular and sort of bitter sweet for us natives. Regardless, it was a good omen for our opening weekend of soccer. Typically, our first few games are called for weather, but this one, even though it was not a “w” was oodles of fun. Our teammates really know how to brighten a weekend.

THE DINNER:
Sticking with the warm weather theme, we bounced off to the tropics for some kokoda for our meal in sunny Fiji. In the South Pac (that’s what the cool kids call the Southern Pacific, btw…) there are many variations and versions of this meal. It’s basically ceviche, but with fish instead of shrimp. It’s a meal staple to the Fijian people, and it’s always served bathed in coconut milk. Additionally, unlike the Peruvian kind we hit up in week 51 this did not have garlic nor red onion. Replace those two things with tomato and spring onions for this island take.

Kokoda Recipe: https://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/16530/kokoda

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
It was every bit as easy as typical Peruvian ceviche in many ways. It’s sort of a “set it and forget it” type of meal… we ran into some problems with the coconut milk, but that was sort of user error. We used lite coconut milk and the milk solids had to be broken up. Easy fix. We were able to find Red Fish in the CO, which was a surprise and a huge help! Be careful to wash your hands and wear protection when dealing with the lime and lemon juice. We had burns from Peru last year.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE out of five for Meal!!
Finally! A five star meal! It was not without some work, but the work was minimal. The strangest thing about this one was the coriander– but with all the lime/citrus profile and the peppers, that’s something that really did not seem to come through for us. It was spicy, so for those that are not fans of peppers please reduce that and you’ll be just fine! I felt like tomatoes might be strange in ceviche… so happy to be proven wrong.

Next stop!? We will be hitting Macedonia for #136!! Now, when I told B that was our next country meal, she laughed and said nearly identically to me when mom told me what the stop was, “That’s still a nation…?! REALLY!” So you’re in good company if that was your thought. 

Guess we’re off to the Ancient World
See you in Macedonia!
– L & K

#134: Latvia

Patsy Cline is my guilty pleasure.

Her soft crooning of “oh, so lonesome for you Why can’t you be blue over me” fills the space in the apartment. It’s comforting to me, the way your favorite sweatshirt is or the way your butt fits into “your spot” on the couch. She’s emotional soul-filling-comfort-food for my psyche. I can tell you exactly why this is… my fondest memories of cooking with my mom (or watching my mom cook) when I was a wee small lass, have been colored with the notes of Mrs. Cline. She’s the background music to all my childhood food memories. So “Tear on my Pillow” or “Walking After Midnight” now fill my kitchen when I cook. It’s mindless background white noise, and a lot of the time, I don’t catch the tunes or the lyrics, but it’s like I’m cooking at home with my mom. I don’t think it gets better than that.

THE DINNER: Soundtrack of our weekend was a little less country and little more rock and roll in the Brovskyland. We had polar bear plunges and lunches with Grandparents so we were happy to have a second to slow Sunday way down and cook the cuisine of Eastern Europe: Latvia!

We picked piragi which is a lot like perogi but not quite. The Piragi have a more substantial dough situation going on– like a calzone more than the dumpling perogis tend towards. The piragi also have just meat (typically ham and bacon) and onion. That’s literally it. So they’re much more simplistic than their Perogi cousins that are filled with all manner of potato and cabbage, etc. These piragi are consumed year around, but in particular loved on the winter and summer solstice in celebration. We are not close to either of those lunar landmarks, but all is fair in love and food, right?

Piragi Recipe: http://cookinginlatvia.blogspot.com/2013/04/latvian-piragi-bacon-rolls.html?m=1

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five this meal!
So mom utilized the bread maker for the dough portion of this production, but even so assembly is required on this. The bacon and ham and onion are a cake walk. Overall, your tough scale comes from dough on this one. Also, the recipe does not include a temperature so we had to do some investigating. 375 C by the way 😉 knock yourself out, kids.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and 3/4 STARS out of five for Meal!!
So close!! It was almost a five star meal, guys. I have to be honest, we all wavered on the five star- back and forth like judging jump rope; but not one of us could in good conscience move it to a five. When pressed, none of us could really say why it wasn’t on the mark for a perfect score. We wanted a little something more. Apart from that “little something something” it was really tasty! For not having any spices, it was incredibly flavorful. The dough was crispy and flaky. All around we definitely enjoyed Latvia.

The island nation of Fiji will be our respite for #135!! See you there!

“I walk for miles along the highway
Well, that’s just my way of sayin’ I love you!” ❤
– L & K

#133: Swaziland

“You and tequila make me crazy…
Run like poison in my blood”

I think my main man, Kenny, summed that one up pretty well, don’t you? “One is one too many– one more is never enough” seems to be the reoccurring theme so many of us have with tequila. Why the theme for this week’s post, you might ask? Well, National Margarita Day is upon us!! As a student of world liquors and a tequila enthusiast (and let’s be real, there are so few of us these days that love and appreciate the liquid courage), I might have made the educated guess that National Margarita Day was one and the same as Cinco De Mayo— but, oh, am I so happy that is not the case! So cheers to that which makes us crazy and that which we love, because if we are being honest, those are typically one and the same fire.

THE DINNER: This week we stopped off in Africa for some of what Swaziland had to offer our stomachs! The national dish, as alluded to at the end of my last post is ostrich steaks. These proved a little to hard to come by state side for these culinary globetrotters. But fear not, we settled into another traditional meal the country had to offer us: Slaai and Mealie Bread. The first of these is a salad that’s traditionally served with a side of the second of these. The bread is basically what we know here in the colonies as “corn bread” with the twist that it’s got actual corn in it. Shock! Awe! I knowwww! The Slaai doesn’t contain anything “exotic” but does have avocados, beets, radishes and peanuts smothered in this very simple lemon-ginger dressing.

Slaai Salad Recipe: http://globaltableadventure.com/recipe/swazi-salad-a-k-a-slaai/
Mealie Bread Recipe: http://globaltableadventure.com/recipe/mealie-bread/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STARS out of five this meal!
Not sure how to rank this one. While it was structurally simple and there were no conversions or translations, bread making can be daunting and tricky and drying out cornbread is a true thing that many battle with in the war of “is it done though?”.  Conversely, a salad is a salad is a salad — so apart from dying everything in the kitchen red with beet juice, salad was less than a star for toughness. (it momentarily looked like a scene from Dexter when my mom had her hands covered in beet…).

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
Alright, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me just lead this with “Beets”. Now, for those that watch The Office, this sounds like something Dwight might say as emphatically as if saying “gold” but I want you to think of me saying it more like Jim might say it. I’m not a fan. But, that being said, the two other judges in the game here –are fans. So it did not effect the results. I can’t rave enough about the dressing on the Slaai. I scoffed at what was literally lemon-ginger-pepper spectacle. I thought as my mom tossed it into the greens… “Please…you can’t be serious…boring” and probably said it out loud because I have no filter these days. I’m a big enough woman to admit when I’m wrong. It was completely the opposite of boring. It was delightful. The peanuts added some salt and texture, the avocados creaminess, the radishes a little zang. It was a lovely salad. The Mealie was definitely the star of the show though, guys. Buttery and corn…y? It was warm and comforting and better than it’s Americanized version for sure. Everyone had seconds on bread.

Off to Lithuania for #134 to round out February!!   

Salt, Tequila, Lime!  😉
– L & K

#132: Nauru

Happy Valentines and Galentines to all!

Cupid is in the air here in the 5280. This girl has no shortage of love in her life. Parents, friends that are family, love of a good dog and a gentleman caller that as of late actually asked to be my valentine. This year’s Hallmark holiday had me seeing all kinds of wonderful. Galentines is the newest favorite addition though, and for those that have not been good enough to watch Parks and Rec, Galentines Day is February 13th and is the brain child of the incomparable Leslie Knoppe in order to celebrate all the fantastic females in her life. So, in an election year that didn’t quite pan out the way we wanted, I am so happy to celebrate my female heroes that are prominent in my life. I get to cook with one of those every week on this blog 😉

THE DINNER: We picked the innocuous nation of Nauru to do this week on the blog. It was another one I actually a) didn’t believe existed and b) had to then shamelessly google to learn where it was. The answer to these questions was simple. It’s located near Australia and is only 8miles big. Easy enough to overlook in the long run, but in the short run, they are lovers of this thing called “recycled coffee” so I was quick to adore and love them like my own.

Evidently, cultivation is difficult on Nauru due largely to poor soil, irregular rainfall and the impact of mining over the years. There are no local fruit or vegetables and most of the available food is canned, refined and imported. Fresh food is limited to a small amount of fish and, very occasionally, beef. The island uses an astonishing amount of bottled water, leading to what “recycled coffee” is and why it’s so popular here. Recycled Coffee is basically cold brew that is served and stored in the plastic water bottles that are so frequently used in the island. How much are we talking here?? 20,000 per month. That’s 240,000 bottles a year!! For an 8mile large island, that’s significant! Luckily, about 10% of the bottles are used to sell water or iced coffee in a localized recycling effort.

Recycled Coffee Recipe: http://globaltableadventure.com/recipe/recipe-naurus-recycled-iced-coffee-with-poll/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STARS out of five this meal!
Not much to see here, folks! It’s not that it’s tricky or easy, it just is what it is. It’s iced coffee. Even so, we took some care in picking out a roast that would have been appropriate had we been in Nauru. Since it’s in the area of the world where Sumatran and Kona coffee is grown we narrowed that down away from Colombian or Arabian blends and then settled on Kona. There is a pro-tip we would like to pass along. You can see in the pictures we tested several ways to “not make a lightbulb” here in straining the cold brew. The best one we used was the simplest– the small sugar sifter. The pour over method was agonizingly slow and the hand straining was messy as hell. So, there you have it: sugar sifter.

Best dish of all time scale: THREE STARS out of five for Meal!!
I feel like it’s hard to judge iced coffee. The coffee is delicious. It’s refreshing and simple. In the realm of iced coffees this one is actually a five– but in the scheme of this project and the 195Sundays mission, it was only a three. We added a splash of cream and my dad and I added some sugar. It was delightful. I actually prefer iced coffee to warm coffee most days of the week for two simple reasons: 1) I can shamelessly pound it down like a boss and accomplish caffeination in peak time and 2) I can also take my time drinking it when I want to without having to rewarm it. I took home the “leftovers” on this one– Yes, in a plastic container just for continuity 😉

Alright, guys, we are chugging right along here and will be visiting Africa for a little Swaziland cuisine.#133  already— and as I’m hunting down recipes for our next meal, Swaziland’s national food is ostrich. So, this one has potential to be a little interesting…. stay tuned!

From your forever Galentines! ❤
– L & K

#131: Comoros Islands

Well, hot damn, it’s been hot!

It was a record breaker in the Mile High City this last week with temps reaching into the mid 70’s…in February. Now, I’m not saying I wasn’t totally smitten and grateful for the change of pace, but I’m not ready to put away my cute boots and sweaters just yet. All that being said, it’s been balmy around here. Too bad for those of you out east that are enjoying record snow.

THE DINNER: We’re on this kick around here at AW195S in picking countries that we have absolutely never heard of before and that’s pretty impressive since I fancy myself a geography stud of sorts. This one and next week as well, stumped me. So, for those that had to google it, Comoros is a volcanic island nation that is on the south east coast of Africa near Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Sooo, now you won’t lose sleep. You’re welcome. It’s comprised of 5 islands and it’s where L went for country 131!!

She chose to make banana fritters but they have a much cuter name in Comoros: Banana Puff Puff. I know, right?! Adorbs. Bananas are obviously common to the region, and like it’s island counterparts nearby, they have quite the sweet tooth. I was not surprised by this, I did find it surprising, however that one of their main languages is Arabic!

Banana Puff Puff Recipe: http://www.midnightpie.net/blog/ttwcomoros

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
This was a solo mission for L, so those always tend to run a little higher on the difficulty because she has to translate, convert and take pictures on top of the actual cooking. So with all that considered, it also had the extra degree of frying. Now, for anyone that’s made fritters before– it’s not for the faint of frying. That’s dangerous business but usually anything fried is well worth the pay off of a few burns 😉

Best dish of all time scale: THREE STARS out of five for Meal!!
I wasn’t here for this one, as I was in Chicago, but from the assessment of the fritters, they were just “okay”. I’m not a fan of bananas but word on the street had it that they weren’t banana-y enough for those in the know. As far as desserts or fritters go, they were sort of lack luster but non the less tasty for a super bowl weekend treat.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming, we will be headed to another off the map country for #132. The Island of Nauru does exist. It’s near Australia. More on that next week!!

Still pissed that the Pats won, 
– L & K