#162: Jordan

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”

This week was Olde Town Arvada’s 26th Lagniappe. What in the Sam Hill is “Lagniappe” you ask? Well, friends, it’s this darling, quirky Arvada tradition where vendors and businesses give out Lagniappe– or “tiny gift”. This gift is something given gratuitously by way of good measure. And isn’t that the way, guys? Arvada goes all out for their show of gratitude and love: fireman chili cook-off, cider and egg nog competition, choirs and tree lightings. If you were trying to be a Grinch, good luck getting past the 7yr old in a bear hat handing you free hot coco in Olde Town Square. Bah Humbug never took a nose dive in such quick order. Every damn thing in Denver is twinkled with twinkle lights and wrapped in holly and dripping with Christmas music. Sometimes, I know, it all starts to feel heavy and “a bit too much comfort and joy” but remember that it’s only a few weeks a year and then it’s gone. Give in already! Be dorky, cheesy and ridiculous about all the childish wonders that are bombarding you. It’s oh so good to feel that warm fuzzy feeling of Fuzzy’s Tacos and remember that there is a magical thing about this time of year- in fact, you and 1000 of your closest Arvadans were there witnessing it together. So, hell yeah, Virginia, there really must be a Santa Claus and he’s living in all those smiling faces. (Now, for the love of the ghost of Christmas present, cue the snow it’s been way too warm here!)

THE DINNER: We picked Jordanian food for our sojourn this Sunday. I’m gearing up for what will undoubtedly be the busiest week of my year. EVERYTHING is happening in Brovskyland this week. I’ve been dealing with customs in Jordan’s neighboring country Israel and since we’ve already done the other neighbor Lebanon, it fell to Jordan this week to make an appearance.

Turns out, Jordanian food is exactly what you’d geographically expect– but I did learn some notable things about this one in my research. Ahem, please take notes. Mainly, the people of Jordan, eat very succinct meals and for most of them, Foul is present. Foul (pronounced “fool”) is very akin to hummus but made with fava bean instead of chickpeas. It’s a spread, a dip or a condiment to everything including breakfasts. We were celebrating L’s birthday, so a nice light lunch of foul sounded like the perfect foodie adventure.

Jordanian Foul Recipe: https://landlopers.com/2011/06/16/learning-make-foul-jordans-oldest-important-dishes

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Ease of prep and cooking: HALF STARS out of five for this recipe!
Well, hells bells, this one was a great follow up from last week’s equally easy recipe. Now, now, don’t mistake me– just because something is simplistic, doesn’t mean it’s not complex in flavors. I would even argue that simplicity is the best thing food can be. Along those lines, this one was a five ingredient wonder and took under an hour from boiling to taste buds. Not too shabby for a very busy weekend.

Best dish of all time scale: FOURish STARS out of five for this meal!
Ask and ye shall receive! We wanted to be satisfied and we were! In SPADES. Also we asked for the Broncos to knock it off with the losing already. Bonus points for that.

Alright… I’m gonna level with you- it’s hard to evaluate this one (or even ones “like this”) in that it’s so simple- how does one stack this up against #77: France? That was a five star but was off the scales on difficulty. No, to be fair, in comparison, it’s not close to being in the same league, but this was really delicious. It was sort of a game changer for the hummus crowd- it’s silky and smooth and buttery. It’s everything one might want in a dip. On that note, it’s easily five stars, but in context it’s more like four or three. So let’s split the difference and meet in the middle. I’m all about compromise, after all 😉 We decided we could have endless options for tweaks to this one: it bears mentioning that we would throw some hot sauce in there for a spiced up version or throw in onion for a kicked up version … now excuse me while I make a fool of myself with the leftover Foul.

Next weekend marks 8 sleeps till Christmas and while everything is still holiday hustle and bustle, we will venture to #163 for a little Palau foodie fun.

Dreaming of a White Christmas (& a HAPPY HAPPY birthday for L <3),
– Kris

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#161: Micronesia

The cure really is The Cure.
You feel me?

Sometimes you just have to jam out to music when you have to adult and don’t quite feel like it. That being said, I had my headphones glued to my ears all week long. It was that type of adulting this week (which is typical when coming off a holiday weekend). I hit the pop charts at a running start from Monday onward… and The Cure was the answer to all my problems. My mom often laughs at my mild obsession with this English band– but can you blame me? I learned my unquenchable love of British invasionists from her… I have long held this truth: “Lovesong” is one of the most romantic songs out there. Those lyrics are too good. Go ahead, google them and swoon. And while you’re at it, don’t stop there– live a little, the Brits were blowing up the social media with Harry’s engagement. Get down with your bad self and delve into the black hole that is British news right now. Next year will see a royal wedding and another royal baby. I had a friend mention to me this week that I was due for 2018 to be a spectacular year. At this rate, I think if I move to England I’ll already have hedged my bets on that one…

THE DINNER: While responsibilities had me pondering a trip across the pond, we took a culinary field trip to Micronesia for our blog this weekend. The respite was lovely, if I do say so. Something amazing about this time of year: all my weekends are full (read:jam packed) AND IT’S THE BEST! But getting to take a timeout to cook with my mom is probably even more magnified in the busy bustle.

Micronesia kicks off December for us. To be precise, it’s actually called “Federated States of Micronesia” and spans over 2100 islands divided into four states!! As one might suspect, this is a South Pac type of cuisine that bridges everything from French, English and whoever else settled and inhabited the islands in the course of it’s history. At the root,  it’s all taro, yam, bread-fruit, banana, and coconuts bringing together seafood, pig and chicken as main proteins. Rice is the staple carb and from there you find all manner of slow cooking methods from pit to spit. We chose to head that route for a Brovskyland favorite: BBQ. Polynesian/Micronesian/Indonesian pork ribs are slow marinated and then flame roasted for their version of BBQ.

Micronesian BBQ Pork Recipe: https://www.internationalcuisine.com/micronesian-bbq/

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Ease of prep and cooking: HALF STARS out of five this recipe!
After several weeks in a row of tough stuff, this was a relative cake walk… minus the cake, obviously, in favor of pork. It was all “throw it in a bowl, forget about it and then grill it up” kind of M.O…. and with that being the case, and no trips to a specialty market for meat or ingredients, this was half a star for difficulty.

Best dish of all time scale: THREE STARS out of five for this meal!
And thennnn it was just lack luster. I’m not sure where the train jumped the tracks, guys. We were poised for some really flavorful meat- what with the marinade looking the way it did. For the shear amount of vinegar and orange juice, the acidity should have done crazy wonderful things to the meat. Now, the acidity did seem to render the meat super tender, but as far as a flavor profile, it didn’t meet the mark. It was good still- just nothing to write home about. After all the insanely good meals we have enjoyed, we couldn’t give this one more than three stars in the blog presence of such food greatness.

Next weekend finds us gearing up for L’s birthday week and gearing up for #162 which will find us in Jordan. We are hoping this one leaves us a little more satisfied and is a lot more mouth watering.

“Whatever words I say… I will always love you”,
– L & K

 

 

#160: Venezuela

“Everyone should be able to do one card trick, tell two jokes, and recite three poems, in case they are ever trapped in an elevator” -Lemony Snicket

Side Bar for those not in the know: It’s a paramount fear of mine to be trapped in an elevator–nay, plummet to my death in said elevator. Is this irrational? Obviously. Does that make it any less stressful to ride in elevators? No. No, it does not. On this note, people at the hospital have gotten into this horrific, lazy problem of taking the elevator one floor… when you’re already nervous around elevators, this creates some unidentified rage that bubbles up less like champagne and more like hot caramel. Think: rolling boil as opposed to soft lovely glittery effervesce. So along those lines, I have been thinking about this quote from A Series of Unfortunate Events and while it’s funny in a dark way, it’s also not wrong. While I try to take the stairs as often as possible, I do work on the 8th floor. I’m now taking suggestions for card tricks as I’ve comfortably checked off the other boxes on that list.

THE DINNER: We ventured to Venezuela for the post-turkey weekend. The collaboration here is Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese… yeah, we go big or go home. But we are home, so all kidding aside, it’s a melting pot of culinary styling. Obviously, you’ll see traditional foods like arepas, empanadas, asado and polenta. You’ll also see not so common place things like Lengua de Res (beef tongue in vinaigrette, anyone?).  Lots of rice, beans, plantains, corn, onions and eggplant.

It was tricky to nail down a recipe for this country. So many options, so little time in the day. We settled into making arepas which were tricky but well worth it and they were topped with a type of chicken salad and avocados. It’s all fun and games till the food coma sets back in…

Arepas con Pollo y Aguacate Recipe: https://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/corn-cakes-with-chicken-and-avocado
Arepa Recipe: http://homegrownandhealthy.com/homemade-arepas/

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Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five this recipe!
Two hard weeks in a row… whatever will we do with ourselves. It’s not so much the chicken part of this recipe as it was the homemade arepas. Those bad boys are every bit the reason for this four star review. It’s that they fry quickly and not so quickly at the same time and the size of the pour is really integral to the success of the arepa. All in all, once mastered, it was smooth sailing. None of the ingredients were from a specialty market, and no conversions were necessary.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and A HALF of STARS out of five for this meal!
Call it the bird, but this weekend was fowl in all the right ways. Post Turkey coma, the chicken didn’t sound like a wonderful meal option but we persevered in the name of cooking! There was something really magical about this week’s meal– the corny, grainy and crispy texture of the arepa off set by the juicy lime, mayo infused chicken topped with creamy avocado. It just had all the best texture game. I think the real stars were the cilantro and the onion… and while we all added a round of hot sauce to these, we agreed wholeheartedly that it was wonderful “as is”. I wonder if this one was made on a different weekend if it would have scored better. Perhaps we were blinded by the bird this weekend but it was four and a half stars all around. Don’t let it fool you– it really was a great treat for a Sunday.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but we will be setting sail to Micronesia for #161. Bring your appetite and your favorite Holiday movie!

Cheers,
– L & K

 

#159: Andorra

“Life’s a dance. You learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow”

That’s about right. It’s a metaphor, obviously. But, this girl literally got her two step on this week. I love love l-o-v-e going out dancing…though admittedly (shamefully) in my adulthood, the times I actually get to go dancing are less and less. It’s at a point where we seem to be lucky if we get out of the single digits over the course of the year. Life gets in the way and many of my old dancing buddies are now married and otherwise occupied. To make up for this, I routinely dance in the car, lab and, yes, of course, the kitchen. This week’s trip to The Rose brought back this thing that my mentor, the incomparable Robert Pruitt, used to tell me all the time when I was working in DC, “It’s not always moving forward motion that makes progress. Sometimes you go one step forward… and two steps back…. and few steps sideways. KBrov, it’s not failure! It’s a marimba! Enjoy the dance.”

So, here we are. Enjoying all the steps and the missteps and all the twisty turns. I’m ready for many more trips around the floor. Dancing shoes are ready. Let’s boogie, baby!

THE DINNER: I had brunch with some of the gang today… it was lovely, utterly classy and all things adult. Pinky’s out. Now, speaking of classy. It doesn’t seem to get much classier than Andorra. Bear with me. This little nation happens to be the 14th OLDEST country in the world and is the first for life expectancy (read: 81 years average). They’re tiny. In fact, they’re so tiny that their militaristic budget is completely based on donation. Could you imagine? But they haven’t seen a war ever, so it’s probably very feasible for them all things considered. Andorra is nestled between France and Spain (we hit those countries in week #77 and #40 respectively). She is snuggled up in the peaks of the Pyrenees; and therefore, like we have here in the 303, there is no shortage of mountain sports like skiing and hiking. They’re also the highest capital city in Europe at 3300ft. It’s adorable, but we’re at 5280 here in Denver, kiddos 😉

One might expect that cuisine from this hidden gem would be both French and Spanish in collaboration and you’re not wrong. Last week we have a “collab” with England and France, so this falls into the theme of November so far in this blog. Look at all these super powers getting along so nicely…at least on a food scale. Armed with Google Translate magic, we picked a Andorran burger that features a country staple called “trinxat”. Think latke but with cabbage and ALLLLL the garlic. The burger is served on a bed of trinxat and topped with bacon, Camembert and tomato salad. If it sounds lovely, you should have smelled it.

Andorran Trinxat Burger Recipe: http://burgershereandthere.com/2011/02/05/andorran-burger-recipe/

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Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five this recipe!
This one was hard. I’m not going to split hairs over it. There were moving parts, conversions and lots of irons in the fire. So, to be fair here, make sure you’re on your toes and you’ve got what you need. I would be willing to bet, you can make the trinxat beforehand or early and it would go smoother all around if you’re looking for a work around. The best laid plans though, tend to work out well. We didn’t have to make any specialty market excursions, so that was a good spot in the process.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR of STARS out of five for this meal!
We aren’t sure what’s not to like here… except some people might not be fans of thyme that’s a small component. There’s creamy, molten cheese; crisp sweet tomatoes; juicy pork; smoky bacon and all served on indulgent mashed potatoes with cabbage. When you really get down to brass tacks, it’s meat and potatoes. It’s rib sticking Sunday family meal. For all the bells and whistles, it really is more farmhouse cooking which would be appropriate given the position geographically of the country. There was a problem with saltiness, but once everything was mixed together, honestly, it reminded me of meatloaf. Which is both great and sort of a letdown because that’s hardly exotic. All that aside, it was delicious and earned all four of those shiny stars. We would make this one again (without any salt).

Heading into American Thanksgiving week, we will take a detour to Venezuela for the even #160. Coming off Veterans Day– to all the service men and women here and overseas. To the police officers and all branches of the military both active and retired: we are so incredibly overwhelmed by your often thankless sacrifice and that of your families/friends. Thank you for making it possible for all of us to rarely give a second thought all day about our safety, freedoms and happiness. You have given everyone the immeasurable gift of “peace of mind” for which no amount of gratitude can repay. May we all be so mindful of this more than one day a year.

Happy Veterans Day and thank you all for your service,
– L & K

#158: Malta

Squeaky clean, jelly beans!

This week, post recovery from some pretty gnarly food poisoning and Halloween chaos. I found that cleaning was all I wanted to do. So I systematically took after each room in the apartment and deep cleaned. Turns out, when you’re dating and busy with life as I tend to get- clutter of the physical and emotional sense tend to pile up. My Type A personality just can’t handle clutter… so it was time to clean house in more ways than one 😉 which is such a great feeling.

Clean your floors and feel that glorious smoothness beneath your toes. Clean your freezer and find all the space you have for more ice cream. Clean your phone/social media of unwanted people and feel the peace of mind drift over you like warm milk. It’s all about cleaning here this week in Brovskyland– and might I just say, it’s just so damn good for the soul. So keep it clean and play through.

THE DINNER: After having a fun and low key Saturday hanging out at Mockery’s third anniversary party and then hitting Great Divide for their Jameson-Aged silky smooth Dark Lager– we found our way to pizza heaven at Fat Sully’s. Sunday rolled around we had our last soccer match and then made it our mission to eat all the rabbit stew. Alright- allow me to back up now that we’ve caught up.

Our country adventure this weekend was Malta. Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast–and was settled by both the French and the British at different times. This was super evident in their food profile. For one, rabbit stew is very much a British and provincial French peasant dish. The second part was the fact this puppy marinaded in red wine over night… sounds rather French to me. You would conceive that the country of Malta also has a big Mediterranean influence, and you wouldn’t be wrong there. It made for an interesting culinary excavation this weekend for sure.

Maltese Rabbit Stew Recipe: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/rabbit-stew-stuffat-tal-fenek

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Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STAR out of five this recipe!
We were back at converting from metric to standard and Celsius to Fahrenheit. There also was a lack of direction with the directions, if you know what I mean. We had to go to a specialty meat market for the rabbit (shout out to Edward’s Meats in Arvada!). Overall, it was slightly more intensive than previous countries– hence the three stars. However, once the marinade was applied we sort of just “set it and forget it” while we were off at soccer. We came home to a stew and some pretty horrific Bronoco’s football.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR of STARS out of five for this meal!
Rabbit tastes a lot like chicken, go figure. Who knew? But it was more dark meat and therefore juicier. There also was not a whole lot of meat- but that’s to be expected as it’s a small creature. The red wine was just perfect at breaking down the protein and creating a depth of flavor to the potatoes. Overall, it didn’t really need any extra seasoning…but we just wanted something more. More onion? Perhaps. More veggies? Quite possibly. Just More. So, therein lies the four stars and not five. More. At the risk of sounding greedy: Just More.

Running high on sleep post time change, we are off to the tiny country of Andorra for #159. As we head into the winter and Holiday months, we also might be taking occasional byes for family functions and “regular” food. Also as an update– for those that recall our adventure to Ox Tail Stew for #21: England?? Yeah, we are planning to revisit that recipe as the snow is flying and we are craving a little indulgence.

Later Alligators,
– L & K

#157: Tuvalu

Something Wicked This Way Comes…

Not going to lie, but that something wicked? It’s me. I’ve come off of a pretty bad month and it’s now almost comical how spectacularly terrible October has been. Not to mention it’s finishing strong as the hits just keep on coming. So, you know what they say? When the going gets bad; the bad get going. I’m now feeling incredibly sassy, edgy; and, yes, now that Halloween is upon us, even a little wicked. Macbeth is not one of my favorite Shakespeare masterpieces, but I have to admit that it’s timely and the older I get the more removed from Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and As You Like It I become–and start to really appreciate Lady MacBeth and her zero tolerance policy for the gooey and mushy bleeding hearts… something to be said there on how tough bitches get shit done, if you pardon the millennial verbiage. (why do I feel the need to cue a few bars of that Hall & Oats song maneater here? Never mind that! ON TO THE FOOOODDDD)

THE DINNER: Tuvalu is a new one for me. I had to google this one. Sigh. I have come to terms with the idea that my geography skills, though exemplary in a bar trivia sense are probably not as good as Jeopardy. This foodie adventure has been humbling in that department. I know nothing, John Snow (Mom, forgive me for the Game of Thrones reference that I know you won’t get).

Tuvalu is north of Fiji (which we covered in week #135) and was formerly known as the Ellice Islands which was settled by the British empire. Not surprisingly, coconut is a staple as is seafood (both of which are featured in this week’s recipe) with bananas and breadfruit rounding out the diet. Pork is consumed on special occasions or holidays. While they participate in offshore fishing, a 1500+ meter aquaculture pond was built in 1996 on the island and offers sustainable fish farming, which is pretty progressive for the 90’s and very cool. Well done, Tuvalu.

Tuvalu Tuna Curry Recipe: http://globaltableadventure.com/recipe/tuvalu-tuna/

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Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this recipe!
This wasn’t really a hard day’s night, if you’re following me. There were no specialty market trips and no interpretation needed. The whole ingredient list was about 6 things long… and for a curry, that’s really impressive. I will say, that tuna “doneness” does take a special touch and that might be rather tricky for some. Apart from all that jazz, it was pretty close to a 30 min meal from start to finish.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR of STARS out of five for this meal!
Cucumber… warm cucumber. It was interesting. I think we decided it was actually yummy and while I can’t recall till now if I’ve ever hard a warm cucumber it was very fragrant and the sauce really was infused with it’s flavor. It was just a tad off having it in there though. All that into consideration, it was not a creamy as I was expecting (what with all that coconut milk) but again, we chalked that up to water content in the cucumber. Mind you, none of these observations thus far made it a bad review. In fact we all ate it and liked it just fine. Tuna was lovely and soft. I felt like more onion (the white kind) would have been snappy texture wise what with all the cooked cucumber and fish. The heat from the peppers was nice and didn’t scream for me to want to make it spicier… though I am coming off of food poisoning and not really back to myself yet. It was sort of just there and for that I couldn’t give it more than a four.

Trick or Treat? Well, we will have all the treats for your taste buds next week on our adventure to Malta for #158 so I suppose that means you’re in it for the tricks. Just be sure to stay safe and sound on your ghoulish pursuits this week, friends (not that we aren’t fans of Mischief Managed) 😉

Double Bubble, Toil and Trouble;
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble,

– L & K

#156: Marshall Islands

Sorry for the month long hiatus…

We have been nursing some broken hearts here in Brovskyland the past two weeks and haven’t been up to cooking for the blog. That’s not to say we haven’t been cooking nor that we haven’t been having fun– but it’s just to say there’s a person shaped hole in our hearts and since this blog was one of his favorite things– it’s been hard… as have football Sundays. But we have resumed our regularly scheduled programming and this week we took a little journey to The Marshall Islands, because who couldn’t use a beach vacation in mid October?! I know this girl could. I feel like lately it’s been a weird constellation of weeks… they’re all the same and yet so many things are happening. *cue the twilight zone music* I don’t know about anyone else but I am maxed out on heartache for 2017. I have met my quota. It needs to be all bubbles in champagne and cold puppy noses till next year.

THE DINNER: We are 40 countries out from being finished with our insane culinary undertaking. Which may sound like a lot still, but having tackled 156 weeks already it’s actually the home stretch.

In the Marshall Islands, seafood is king but they also eat a lot of pork and fresh fruit (read: breadfruit) that is available on the island. When dining with locals, accepting food is a sign of appreciation. Also, in case you book a $5200k round trip ticket to the island anytime soon,  not trying the foods offered to you is an insult to your host so please be sure to just put your adventurous pants on and taste everything.  Additionally, if you do eat in a restaurant and are paying the bill, it is important to remember that tipping is not customary and would be an insult to your wait staff.

Marshall Oysters Recipe: https://hogislandoysters.com/news/article/celebrate

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Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five this recipe!
The overall prep is pretty labor intensive… but well worth the price of admission so hang with me here, people. Shucking oysters is a little known skill of mine. Thank you all the time I have spent in the East Coast and Charleston. But that’s not usually an easy thing. There are also a lot of moving pieces and prep with cutting etc, so be patient. There was no translating and no converting. So there you are good.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVEEEE of STARS out of five for this meal!
Let’s be real here, if we could have given this one 100 stars we would have. My father, who never gives more than 4.5 was RAVING about how these were a solid 10. For the amount of “work” they tasted like a million bucks and we all can’t wait to have them again (thinking NYE). The leek is a seldom appreciated star of the show as usual, and the bacon just added this decadent fattiness paired with heavy cream. What’s not to like?! Kale with oysters sounds so odd, but trust us, it WORKS.

Now that we have resumed our travels, we will take the next stop in Tuvalu for #157 which is in Polynesia.

Broncos are sad and so are we,
– L & K