#85: Ethiopia

Moving in the Mile High City!

Lots of moving going on in and around Brovskyland this week and month. I for one, love moving but absolutely hate packing and unpacking. There is nothing this gypsy soul of mind appreciates more than having new adventures in new and wonderful places. All that aside, unpacking is the worst. It’s nice to have a sort of spring cleaning in the dead of winter. New and fresh start.

THE DINNER: We picked Ethiopian food for our country this week. I actually have a deep love for the food of this country, due to the fact that I used to work nights with several Ethiopian gentlemen who routinely would bring food (lots to share) to work at night. The food is absolutely incredible. It’s flavorful. It’s savory. It’s complex. It’s also family food.

The Ethiopian people have a very high emphasis on family. Eating is a social thing that brings the community to the table to share and congregate. So many dishes are vegan and vegetarian too, based mainly on their large religious population for observation of Lent. Also, very large part of EVERY SINGLE MEAL is the addition of coffee!!! 🙂 literally made my whole life better to learn that. They have a huge love and appreciation for the flavor and it’s not only drank in a ceremony following each meal, it’s also put into many dishes.

 Ethiopian Spiced Lentil Stew: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/slow-cooker-ethiopian-spiced-chicken-and-black-lentil-stew

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STARS out of five this meal!
Easy come, easy go. This was a slow cooker meal, and it was actually really easy. Lentils were easy to find but we couldn’t locate black lentils but used green instead. The rest was pretty straightforward– we used the garam masala substitution the recipe called for. We also hit the 2.5hr high setting as opposed to the 5hr low one.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
Tasty it was! I loved the lentils, those were probably the biggest hit secondary to the yogurt. The Greek yogurt really cut the spices and made it a curry. It was not spicy, but fragrant and hearty. The chicken literally fell off the bones. We were all pretty please with how it turned out after last week’s misstep. I also should mention that there is white wine in this one- which is unexpected for the region, but actually showed up in the taste at the end in a good way.

For next weekend we will be sojourning to a surprise-yet-to-be-announced-country for #86!!

Congrats to our Bronco’s! Super Bowl 50 here we come!
– L & K

#84: Niger

“No one is born a great cook. One learns by doing”

It’s nothing really new, the idea that practice makes perfect. But I think it’s important because of what I constantly hear when I start a discussion to the tune of: “I baked x, y, z…” and people immediately say, “I can’t cook or bake or whatever.” I can’t fly a plane either, but I’m sure if I took a few lessons or practiced it, my odds would greatly improve. It’s the same thing with all the best things in life, practice makes perfect. I would encourage you all to go outside your normal comfort zone in so many things— but especially cooking. This was our way of doing that and it’s made an exponential difference in our culinary skills so far, and we were already good cooks going into it.

THE DINNER: We decided to hit up Niger for some Central African food this weekend. Interestingly enough, the first recipe I found on my weekly search was for chicken gizzards… and I knew that this was that we needed to cook because it immediately freaked me out a little. Now, like many of you, I have actually had gizzards before, but they’ve always been hidden in things like stuffing or gravy and not the main center of attention in the meal. My mom, when she was living out on the farm, used to eat these protein powerhouses for her marathon training. So I for one was excited to see what it was all about. In Niger it’s called “Gizdodo”.

Like so many of the other nations on the continent, it was an recipe that was altogether colorful and simple. They are all about the one-pot-wonders out there for already discussed reasons. This was also a recipe that featured plantains… which equally freak me out because I am a staunch hater of bananas 😉 none the less, my personal New Years Resolution is to try everything that scares me. So away we go!!

Gizdodo Recipe: http://www.nigerianfoodtv.com/2013/08/dodo-gizzard-nigerian-gizdodo-gizzards.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five this meal!
This one was actually sort of tricky. I’m not sure how many people still know how to clean/prep gizzard meat, but I for one was truthfully lost. There’s quite a lot of trimming and prepping that goes part and parcel with this one. I also was fascinated about how to make sure that they are cooked through, like so many poultry meats, they were tricky to sense “doneness” as it’s a firmness thing and not a color thing like seafood. After all that though, it was a few veggies and the plantains and like I mentioned above, it’s a one pot meal. Gizzards are also not super hard to find, though they are an “exotic” meat in many grocers.

Best dish of all time scale: TWO STARS out of five for Meal!!
This was hard for me to rank. It was actually pretty on the plate. It was colorful and sharp with the mix of habanero and two types of onion. I liked the creaminess of the plantain, which was absolutely surprising. It was clean to grab a fork full of gizzard, pepper, onion and plantain because all the flavors played so well together. So why the two? It just wasn’t good. The meat was not our “cup of tea”– it was tough and sort of gamey in texture and taste which I felt off put us on the meal in general. It was yummy, but in small amounts. It’s more of a side dish in my opinion. It was overpowering.

We head to another sort of neighboring African country with Ethiopia for #85!! I actually have several very good work collegues and friends that are Ethiopian, so this country is one that I’m stoked for. Those are some people who seriously know how to cook a good meal!

Stay warm, Bronco’s fans!
– L & K