#172: Mongolia

“And above all watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places…and those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” –Roald Dahl

As spring has sprung and the days are getting longer, the temps are getting higher and my patience for wearing shoes is wearing thin- I am reminded this week of this quote. If you don’t have at least one moment in a day where you stop and think “wow, this is magical and madness.” You’re not doing it right. I am constantly in awe of the world around me. It’s great and terrible beauty. The way the human body adapts and innovates both socially and physically. The way that no matter how much I dream of having a green thumb, pigeons always nest in my planters. The way that the sun also rises (it’s a metaphor and a reality here, guys). Regardless, I just wanted to take a second and remind you to take a second. Concentrate on finding the glitter and the magic. It’s not as far as it feels.

THE DINNER: Rolling in hot off the birthday weekend for Dan, we came in to make some food from our Asian heartthrob, Mongolia. Now the Americanized version of “Mongolian” food is the only yard stick with which to measure this love affair we have with the nation… but we figure this is a launching pad if any to pilot their culturally true cuisine in Brovskyland. For this we were thankful and excited.

Mongolian soup was the menu item we picked—and it was called Guriltai Shul. This dish is a basic “pho” style broth soup with beef and the veggies you would expect from the Asian countries. The kicker here is that the veggies and meat is fried—they call those shul. This gives the soup an amazing and distinct texture. Now, before you get too hung up in arms (like my sister will be) that we are serving soup and it’s been so warm, we still are in the last few weeks of our snowiest months and the ski areas are still open for business, folks. So hold your horses and slurp that soup.

Mongolian Guriltai Shul Recipe: https://www.agfg.com.au/guide/recipes/recipe/mongolian-noodle-soup-guriltai-

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 1 STAR out of 5 STARS for this meal!
There were no rice noodles to be found at kings, but luck would have it that we stock pile that stuff at casa de my folks. No harm, no foul. We were easily able to come by the four root veggies called for (onion, carrot, turnip and potato) without any fuss and the meat was simply sourced as well. Without conversion or translation, this one was easy peezey.

Best dish of all time scale: 4 STARS out of 5 for this meal!!
This wasn’t very flavor packed and comparatively to other soups that we have tackled from other countries, this was just not that exciting. All that being correct and true, the damn meat in this recipe was out of this world and we all agreed that if it were just about that component that this would have easily scored a 5 flat. Since it was not, the other components didn’t exactly detract, only to say that it was sort of bland. The addition of sriracha and green onion to garish did improve that a bit. Overall, hearty and simple. I should not that if you follow the recipe, we cut it in half and it still made enough for 8 people EASILY…

That’s all we have, as we dancing our ways into the end of April (ALREADY) and that means that April showers should be bringing us May flowers and hopefully some excellent grub from our #173 country, Armenia.

Wait for the Magic, Guys ❤ 
– L & K

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#171: Barbados

Happy Belated to all those birthday babes out there!

Ahhh, these past weeks found a few of us a year older and for me, none the wiser but all the happier. We are knee deep in 16 candle type wishes and Rockies opening weekends. From where I’m standing it’s all baseball and cherry blossoms and soccer tans around here. I snuck away from the snow with the best guy I know to sunny California for meeting family and witnessing wedding bells. I couldn’t have imaged a better time to be had with better humans. It was beyond hard to board that return flight.

THE DINNER: L was flying solo while I was soaking up the surf and sun! It was lovely for her to have a little island in her snowy Colorado weekend– so she hit Barbados to bake up some coconut hand cakes. They are basically coconut turnovers…popovers? For those that haven’t had a popover, allow me to enlighten- NAY, change your life. Popovers came into my life when Kiki moved to Charleston, SC. They are these pillows of dough that taste like pie crust but texture wise are more like biscuits. When you bite into these suckers, you immediately have airy fluff of warm gooey middle… and it’s hard to describe, but if you come across one on any menu in the future, my hope for you is that you don’t hesitate and order the hell out of them. You can thank me later, gator.

Barbados Coconut Turnover Recipe: https://www.allaboutcuisines.com/recipe/barbados-coconut-turnovers

OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 3 STARS out of 5 STARS for this meal!
So, my mom is a seasoned baker… so for her to give this one a three stars made me stand up and pay massive amounts of attention. It was attributed to quartering and proofing and handling dough in general. Then there was the filling. It’s a whole shebang– but without any specialty ingredients. This was 110% labor intensive… Labor of love.

Best dish of all time scale: 4.5 STARS out of 5 for this meal!!
Everything a taste of Barbados should be: “tropical” and “coconut forward”. The dough was soft and pillowy. Sweet and simple like a dense, humid island breeze. It wasn’t rich and over the top. It was satisfying. A birthday treat. And yeah, they might not be the prettiest thing on the menu, but this is that lesson that you got taught in grade school come home to roost– don’t judge a book by it’s cover, guys. It’s a beautiful thing when you’re taste-buds overrule your eyeballs.

We will hang out for Dan’s birthday this Sunday with a special appearance from Mongolia for #172!! We have 23 countries to go ladies and gentleman!

Hold on Easy,
– L & K

 

#170: Lesotho

“On the coast of somewhere beautiful, trade winds blowing through her hair. Sunlight dancing on the water- and I wish I was there… don’t know how I’m gonna get there. All I know so far, she’s on the coast of somewhere beautiful- running with my heart” ❤

ALL the Kenny Chesney lyrics bounced around my head this week, but when you spend that week in Cancun on a beach you sort of get some realizations. Allow me to explain for you the list A and I came up with of both deeply profound and not so deeply profound ponderings and musings.

  • There are no green beers in Mexico. So St. Patties requires one to get creative.
  • Along those lines: “cervesas” will get you whatever Dos Equis or Corona they have on tap… this is not a complaint. This is the realization that beach beers are all delicious. This is rocking some of you that think I’m a huge beer snob. All cold beer tastes craft when it’s 90 degrees.
  • Fish tacos will never be the same for me. The Cevicheria at our resort has ruined my life in the best way
  • Octopus ceviche = LIFE
  • Being hungover on a catamaran full of party hardy co-eds on spring break while your newly widowed co-pilot is sea sick means you’re BOTH literally throwing up off the starboard bow. Not what I had in mind when I watched titanic for the 80,000 time, but whatever. I’ll never let go, A. I’ll never let go.
  • Cancun literally means “maze of snakes” in Mayan… FML
  • Fire juggling level: jedi –> achieved when you also are belly dancing and balancing a sword on your head. It was insane to watch.
  • Lastly, Instgram photo shoots are a thing. It’s all every universal and there’s a distinct algorithm that A has figured out. It was an exercise in sociology and you should totally ask her what the protocol is for an IG post now.

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THE DINNER: I feel so badly that L flew solo again for this one, but rest assured that I did give her an “out” saying that I’d be happy to roll into birthday weekend this week rocking a double header with her. To which she relied, “Naw, dawg, I got this.” Not lying. Exact quote. So point in fact, she tackled Lesotho on her lonesome with Kodiak in full tow as sous chef in my absence. I will reclaim my title from her capable and fury paws now that I have returned.

In full disclosure, I haven’t been completely slacking– I closed out my job this week in preparation of the new one starting on Tuesday; pulled recipes for L to cook for this country and the next (BARBADOS! in celebration of my tropical adventures); and wrote up Odyssey Beerwerks for the Hopper (and interviewed two more Colorado breweries to boot). So along with the fun and games, a little research on Lesotho reveled nothing super shocking. Which was both a surprise and a sadness. It’s African food with a British twist. Hello, colonization! It’s all curries and stews and porridge and maize. It’s basically heavy on chicken and lentils for protein and features veggies like peppers, okra and tomatoes. So, we ventured into cornmeal maize (called Pap) with a curried bean stew on top.

Lesotho Pap with Curried Beans Recipe: https://www.crsricebowl.org/recipe#recipe419

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 1 STARS out of 5 STARS for this meal!
Gah, finally an easier one! It’s not like we have had a smooth go of things in February and early March so this was a welcomed sight. It was quick (can you say 30 min meal?!) and dirty (like dirty rice African style that is). The ingredients were easily sourced at Kings and there were no conversions or translations. BAM!

Best dish of all time scale: 4 STARS out of 5 for this meal!!
It was complex for having just a few ingredients and the main protein stay was beans. The spice was subtle but “just right”. The interesting feature on this one was the cornmeal. We’ve used this before MANY times for baking in breads or used in making dough for pizzas, Stromboli, etc. This was made into a grits like porridge and man, it really held up. Thick and texture-ful. Not sure what else there would be to say… not a home run, but a good home cooked meal for sure.

I’m back, jack! So this weekend, filled with birthday celebrations and soccer games we will take some time Saturday to create a meal from Barbados for #171!! GUYSSSS that means we have 24 countries to go!

Sun kissed and puppy kissed! 
– L & K

#169: Equatorial Guinea

Pardon the slight delay in our foodie adventures- we have been busy doing the things and loving the people. It’s not that we haven’t been cooking our weekly country meals, no, L has been all over that song and dance… I have been the one that has been remiss in my postings. So please allow me to catch you up!

THE DINNER: The week that our dear friend, Justin, passed we tackled Equatorial Guinea and made swordfish steaks and THREE sauces!! It was grilling and thrilling– along with the sauces, it was all hands on deck cooking chaos, which is too bad because L had to fly solo. Good thing this woman is a culinary mastermind and can handle all that stuff by herself. LIKE. A. BOSS.

Turns our “Grilled Fish with 3 sauces” is one of the most traditional recipes of that country. It’s all fun and games with the grilling of the swordfish steaks clocking in as the easiest part of this recipe…. the sauces are another problem entirely.

Equatorial Guinea Grilled Fish Recipe: http://dishinguptheworld.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/equatorial-guinean-grilled-fish-with.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 6 STARS out of 5 this meal!
YES- off the scales. Now, to be fair, L only gave this one a 4 star for difficulty… I adjusted this for the masses because she’s a cooking wizard. So, I adjusted for the average Joe… it’s sort of the idea that a normal human should compete against the Olympic athletes for scale so we can see how hard it really is because they make it look easy. Same principle. If you can’t find swordfish, you can definitely substitute tuna steaks. There was no conversion and no translation.

Best dish of all time scale: 4.5 STARS out of 5 for Meal!!
I was out on this one, but the report back indicates that the lime, chili and garlic marinade for the steaks happened to be delightful. The sauce choices were ultra complex in addition to the excellent base marinade. The favorite sauce was the spinach which was the spiciest and dad’s favorite was the peanut sauce for the richness/creamy profile. Smoked trout in the spinach sauce added another level of depth and it’s like “fish on fish on fish, guys!”. The third one was sort of the red headed step child– the avocado was spicy and creamy, but just couldn’t out mark the other two in those respective departments. It was a multitude of flavors and was fun to try all the elements so neatly arraigned.

Rolling in to #170 we venture to Lesotho. This African country stands alone with L while I was in Mexico on a beach in Cancun with A ❤ lemme tell you, it was sand and sun- but it’s nice to be back to the food blog with my mom.

Love you all lots! 
– L & K

#168: Moldova

“Kisses are a better fate than wisdom” – E.E. Cummings

Yeah, I know it’s sappy. I also give exactly zero damns about it. I had my first Valentine’s Day date EVER and it was perfect. So I’m basically on cloud nine a whole lot of the time these days. I’ve turned into that gushing, ridiculous girl that last year me would have rolled her eyes SO hard at. I’m not even sorry, only letting you all know that it’s now a thing and I’m now a thing… and I’m smitten AF. So to all you people out there that think (slash downright know) that I’ve done lost the remainder of my marbles: “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.” I guess my man, Nietzsche, really understood a girl. Now let’s all just lose our minds and find our souls!

THE DINNER: Similar cuisine to Romanian and eastern European nations of the same, the food of Moldova features beef, pork, potatoes and cabbage. Our sweethearts in check, our sweet tooth needed some loving too. For this reason, we picked Cusma Lui Guguta. This is a crepe style cake that is filled with tart cherries. It’s like a Swiss roll meets black forest pancakes dressed up with some vanilla creme… it’s all light and fluffy and sour.

There’s quite a lot of symbolism and folklore with this week’s dish. Allow me to extrapolate. The shape of the cake is like a hat. It’s based on a children’s character naked Guguta that is taught in many primary school lessons, and wears a pointed hat like the shape of this cake. The closest thing I can compare it stateside is the hungry caterpillar cakes that are popular with grade school parties. Anyway, it’s endearing and charming and reminds people of childhood; so it’s beloved in Moldova.

Cusma Lui Guguta Recipe: http://www.fantezieinbucatarie.ro/2011/10/cusma-lui-guguta.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 10 STARS out of 5 this meal!
Was it in Romanian? Yes, indeed, it was. Was it tricky to make all the individual swiss rolls? You guessed it, yes it was. This one was a whole lot of patience… 4 hours + worth of patience in fact. And it took two days. And it was a total “shit show”– but all that aside, there were no strange ingredients and we were able to actually make the damned thing… so if you’re in it for some free time to burn, you’re absolutely going to be able to tackle this one like Von Miller (6’2″ sack monster).

Best dish of all time scale: 4.75 STARS out of 5 for Meal!!
We had some guest judges for this one, guys, so hang ten for the reviews. At family dinner on Sunday night, we all were able to dig into this one. It was a truth universally acknowledged that it was delicious and beautiful. We wanted it to be more something… boozey? Sweet? Chocolatey? All in all, it was flaky and tart. It was sour creamy and it was definitely smooth thanks to the homemade whipped cream. It wasn’t a black forest cake, nor was it was cherry pie. It fell into this odd middle ground and for that it earned it’s score. Not quite a pie, not quite a cake… not quite a 5 star.

Next posting will take us into #169  which makes this 26 countries from the end! That country will be Equatorial Guinea and after this cold snap we are in, it’s going to be a welcome vacation! I’ll be in New Mexico, but L has this one wrapped up solo like the bossy that she is!

Happy Valentines, lovers! 
– L & K

 

#167: Qatar

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Hey friends, if you hadn’t noticed, we are already 1/12th of the new year down and it’s flying by because we are certainly having a blast. With our shortest month underway, it’s no surprise that February seems to be a favorite month around these parts. What’s not to like? Munching on chocolate and Eskimo kissing sweethearts; cursing till you’re blue in the face at the Pats during Superbowl Sunday; Mardi Gras parades and stout month all rolled into a nice 28 day package. From start to finish, this traditionally is one month that packs a serious punch. Don’t blink– you’ll miss it for sure.

THE DINNER: We ventured from our frozen stateside hideaways to the Middle East to rack up number 167 this weekend– Qatar! Now, to be honest and fair, this is one country I ALWAYS pronounce incorrectly. “Cut-ur” is how it’s said and yet I’m that annoying person that calls it “cay-tar” **insert eye roll here**

Some fun facts I learned about Qatar this week:

  • Qatar will host the men’s World Cup in 2022
  • Qatar National Sport Day celebrated on the second Tuesday of February (which is tomorrow, guys)
  • Qatar’s per capita GDP is $127,600… all those natural-gas and oil reserves, I suppose.
  • One of the top 20 most obese nations
  • Male to female ratio is two to one
  • Most urbanized nation in the world, with 99% of the residents stating they live in a city

Like any warm blooded Middle Eastern state, this one loves lamb. So that’s exactly where we took our pots and pans! To the batmobile in search of a lovely Qatar Lamb recipe!

Qatar Lamb Ribs with Mint Relish: https://www.donnahay.com.au/recipes/dinner/slow-cooked-lamb-ribs-with-mint-and-malt-vinegar-relish

 

OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
No trouble here. In point of fact, it was pretty much a cake walk (lamb walk?). Ingredients were a cinch and the whole process was low and slow, set it and forget it kind of business.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and A HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
I don’t care what yuppie you reference, anyone and everyone will tell you that lamb pairs with mint (and a cold American Pale Ale or Old Ale, but you didn’t ask me that). This anachronism held true– mint and lamb go together like Laverne and Shirley. There was a staggering amount of malt vinegar on these babies… and while that stuff most certainly smells like feet, it tasted like heaven. The vinegar broke down the meat in such a lovely way. I realize that lamb ribs are often called “lollipops” and this really settled in with me– I could have just pulled it off the bone like a sucker. It was everything moist, tender and juicy. The mint relish was not overpowering and I commented that in essence we could have substituted honey for the brown sugar/malt vinegar duo and the mint with cilantro and achieved a very similar taste profile. All in all this was a great Sunday lunch.

I’m not sure what February has in store for you all, but we are headed to #168 with a little visit to Moldova! This will mean a little pre-Valentine’s Day food loving and whole lot of pre-Mardi Gras partying (including a little beer review outing with Maggie to Call to Arms for their Mardi Gras)

Happy Those DAMN Pats Lost!
Well Played, Eagles!

– L & K

 

#166: Burundi

Alright, I’ve finally seen the Star Wars.

Yes, all of this time I hadn’t seen any of them, which drove my SW loving friends bonkers. I now am totally hooked. They’re amazing. I would like to take this opportunity to eat some crow to that effect. All this time, I was missing out. Glad to be part of the party. HUGE thank you to my amazing boyfriend for making time to check this off my to-do list. He’s fantastic and I’m just the luckiest girl. (sorry, had to gush just a tad).

Next order of business, I have gotten to write for an amazing local beer review (The Denver Hopper)! As many of you already know, I’m super enthusiastic about drinking local craft brews– so this was such an awesome opportunity for me to contribute to the brewery scene I so often find myself immersed in. I wrote up Barrels and Bottles in Golden, so feel free to check that out (Barrels and Bottles- a Hoppily Ever After Beer Review)

If you would have told me a year ago- hell, six months ago even, that I would have TWO blogs I love in my life (read: food and beer) I would have thought you were in need of medical attention. AND YET here we are! I am so excited to be part of the hoppy family over at The Hopper. Fun things are certainly streaming in for 2018… and sometimes, I have to find myself asking, “Is this my real life?? Damnit, I’m happy.”

THE DINNER: Burundi is a landlocked nation in the middle of Africa… and for that, we can relate since the big C-O is landlocked as well. The main method of cooking in Brovskyland is probably grilling, but for Burundi it’s either boiled or stewed. Like many of it’s African neighbors, their main staples include plantains, legumes and maize. Stewed beans the most popular and common side dish and can be eaten as much as with every meal including breakfast…wow. Protein packed you ask? Sure thing– but it’s a rarity. They are mostly a vegetarian nation. If they do eat the meats, chances are it’ll be chicken or goat. Remember when we tackled goat meat for Kenya like 66 counties ago?! It was in fact a food adventure for our tummies on that one.

We picked a fish stew! Now, I gotcha, I did say it was landlocked, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t streams, rivers and fish available. Colorado is known for it’s amazing trout, despite being landlocked as well. This adventure included pairing this river fish with tomatoes and onions– which aren’t typically something I put in with my white fish. So hang tight, we are off to see how this one pans out! Out if the frying pan and into the fryer, so to speak anyway… this one is actually poached.

Burundian Mukéké Stew Recipe: http://globaltableadventure.com/recipe/fish-in-tomato-sauce/

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Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
This was miles easier to traverse than our last several weeks adventures. There were no strange ingredients, except substituting the Mukéké (larger mackerel type fish) for a similar white fish like cod or mackerel or halibut.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and A HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Typically this is a lunch dish in Burundi, so we obliged that tradition here. It was warm and surprisingly hearty for a lighter fish dish that didn’t have cream. We were astonished as how insanely spicy it was… though in full disclosure, it was of our own design and we took a small liberty with the recipe to get there. Instead of allowing the habenero to “poach” with the fish and take it out like a bay leaf, we decided, let’s just “go big or go home” and cut that bad boy up. We don’t shy away from spice here in Brovskyland… and boy was it all that and a bag of spicy chips. Lemme tell you! Dad didn’t even fisnish his portion- mom and I had seconds. It was a brow sweating and sinus clearing kind of meal. We loved every minute of it. Initially, we gave it a four and as we continued to burn off our faces, that number we up. The tomatoes and onions worked so well with the fish, not overpowering but accompanying. The fish was firm but flaky and light. The whole meal was a delightful dish. We might need to catch the rains down in Africa with Toto though to quench our singed tongues.

Off to #167 in the middle eastern nation of Qatar!

Cheers!
– L & K