#125: Uzbekistan

Happy Holidays!

I have some serious Christmas season love. It’s everything from the twinkle of lights, music that makes you warm and fuzzy, and cooking that also makes you warm and fuzzy (but hey, that’s what sweaters are made to disguise). I have to resist the urge to answer the phone like Buddy the Elf, pretty much all season long. I won’t lie, my holiday decorations will stay up till after Stock Show, which for those that aren’t aware, is a Colorado tradition. The way the tradition goes is this: The great and spectacular City and County of Denver leaves all of it’s lights and decorations up on the court house till after closing ceremonies of the Stock Show. As this is a 111 year running paradigm for Colorado, and the National Western Stock Show closes January 22nd, I get to enjoy another month of glitter and magic. I would like to think that my great grandpa, Noble, would be so proud.

THE DINNER: For those unaware, Ellen DeGeneres is perhaps one of my favorite humans. The woman is not only witty and wise, but compassionate and altruistic to the max. So, basically, whatever she (and Barbara Streisand) lay down as “law”, I blindly accept.  Along those lines, Ellen laid out this nugget last week “I have a new rule. If the temperature is lower than my age, I am not getting out of bed.” I have come to love this sentiment a lot in the last few icy Rocky Mountain weeks. COLD. COLD. COLDER. So, what is there to do when you’re not a ca-jillionaire, like Mrs. DeGeneres? Yes, get out of bed and hussle like the lady boss I am. Additionally, make all the soup– which is where Uzbekistan came into play this week.

Uzbek cuisine is sort of fascinating from an anthropological standing to me. I for one lump Uzbekistan into the middle eastern countries pretty handily– but was so utterly amused that the food profile of this nation was so much more Russian/Eastern European in it’s make up. To be fair, geographically it falls in that Balkan region, so this shouldn’t have astounded me. With the weather the way it’s been, we were thrilled that one of the national foods in Uzbekistan is Chorba (Persian for “brackish soup” which is a fancy way of saying “salty/Meaty”). This was another opportunity to make dumplings from scratch– which we haven’t done in a few months and is always a crap shoot as far as difficulty.

Uzbek Chorba Recipe: http://fanblogs.jp/uzbekistancooking/archive/54/0

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STAR out of five this meal!
So this was “fun” development…. the recipe needed to be translated. No surprise there– but it was surprising that it was in Japanese instead of Uzbek or Russian or some Middle Eastern language. Then it needed to be converted from metric to standard. Apart from all that, the ingredient list was not challenging. Additionally, the dumplings turned out to be fairly pain free (as far as dumplings tend to go). It earned three stars though because, as with anything worth it’s taste, it took time and patience.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
Alright. I don’t want to be accused of “grade inflation” here, but this really couldn’t have had less than five stars. It was really flavorful… which is innately shocking as there salt and pepper are the only “non optional” spices (we did add the paprika as suggested). But for three spices, this was really a solid broth based soup. I know it’s no secret if you follow this blog for any amount of time, you have come to know that I am not a fan of dumplings (potato, bread or otherwise). It’s a texture thing for me. So, it should be noted quite strongly that I L-O-V-E-D these little dudes. They held up more like noodles or gnocci than actual “dumplings” and perhaps that’s what I loved so much about them. Also, the basil was our favorite thing about this soup. Clever little herb, that basil.

Up-up-and-away in to the New Year! We will bring in 2017 with a little stop off in Croatia for #126!

Good Tidings (and cookies) to You and Yours,
– L & K

#124: Tanzania

Happy Birthday, L!! ❤

Alright, she is gonna hate me a little for this, but it’s worth it as I am only afforded this privilege once a year. Additionally, I am the keeper of the blog and therefore get free reign on what I want to write for the week… when I’m in town that is. So, happy damn birthday to my wonderful, witty, dazzling, compassionate, undeniably sophisticated mother. If you were to ask how old she is (first of all shame on you- you know never to ask a lady her age) the running joke is that she’s 28. Always 28. If you ask anyone who we know, though, she really isn’t a day over fast cars and freedom. The shocked looks we get about playing soccer on the same team, make me hope that I age just as gracefully. Cheers to L, the perpetual “twenty-something” (medical term for someone in their 30’s by the way) 😉

THE DINNER: Officially it’s referred to as the United Republic of Tanzania, which sounds so much more prestigious if you ask me. The most famous thing for me about this large country, is that it’s home to Kilimanjaro (Africa’s highest peak, for those that slept through geography class). For those that would like a less historically relevant form of Tanzanian trivia—Disney’s The Lion King also too place in the country. So if we are lucky, my mom and I might sing the Lion Sleeps Tonight or Circle of Life while we cook this week to make sure we are getting into the proper head-space for this adventure.

We picked a Tanzanian BBQ recipe that is sometimes referred to as mishkaki. Mishkaki is basically meat that is seasoned and grilled till it’s a little charred and a lot delicious. Now, since it was my mom’s birthday weekend, this was a poetic turn of events from the (virtumba we had originally picked– which is like vegan coconut doughnut things) because my mom lives and breathes for BBQ. Lucky for us, this one looked easy too!!

Tanzanian Mishkaki Recipe: http://www.cookinghawaiianstyle.com/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
So while there are quite a few ingredients that this one calls for, and that does require some measuring, etc. We did not have to convert anything from metric (hallelujah!!). Then you throw it to marinade and then on the grille. I’m thinking the strangest component of this one was the food coloring. That’s just strange for me, but to each their own! It did make for some pretty pictures.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
I was out for this one because of the soy sauce, but it was flavor packed! From the sweetness of the honey to the dry sherry and the soy sauce, it got great reviews. It was not spicy, but rather smokey and tender. Served with a side of greens, it turned out to be a really easy and quick addition to the arsenal!

For the last weekend before Santa comes, we will be journeying to Uzbekistan for #125!

Pongezi kwa siku ya kuzaliwa (“Happy Birthday” in Swahili),
– L & K

#123: Dominican Republic

Decking the Halls and taking names,

This week we decorated it up both in Brovskyland and our respective residences. It’s so festive around here! While decking the halls, the halls nearly decked us… a tree my parents have on their bridge decided it was going to come crashing down to the main floor. No light up reindeer were hurt in the making of this Christmas catastrophe however. So rest easy. I would also like to take this time to remind those of us that are a little less than Holiday Happy this season, that Santa will not be able to find your house if you don’t put up stockings or lights. I guess this is a moot point for those that know they made the naughty list. You know who you are, I imagine 😉

THE DINNER: This week we took a tropical vacation to The Dominican Republic in search of callaloo! While this stew is made from the leaves of the Callaloo Bush, you can imagine that we don’t have those state side. So we improvised. This dish is traditionally a West African meal that made its way to becoming a Caribbean staple.  Regardless of where it came from, the stew contains a seafood (saltfish, crab, conch or lobster) and will have other veggies in there too including pumpkin or collard greens. You then have spices which primarily are spicy peppers and black pepper as well as garlic, though there are some recipes that call for saffron in all its crimson glory. We made “calalou au crabe” (crab callaloo) which is a traditional Easter dish in the region. We figure the Christmas timing of this is off from Easter, but maybe Jesus won’t mind if it turns out to be really delicious… ?

Things I learned during this week’s meal:

  • How to shell a Dungeness crab (no, my Colorado Native self has not shelled the WHOLE crab ever in my 27 years of life. Shocking)
  • My mom is a ninja at shelling Dungeness crabs… a skill I have no idea where she picked up as she’s a Colorado Native too.
  • Jimmy Buffett has a song named Callaloo which probably does not bare repeating
  • “6TBSPS?! of COOKING SHERRY!?… woof. This is a party!”

Dominican Crabs in Pepper Sauce Recipe: http://www.rainbowgr.com/single-post-crr5/2015/03/08/Dominica-Crabs-in-Pepper-Sauce

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five this meal!
Alright. The ingredients were not crazy to find. Even the Dungeness crab was pretty easy to come by in our land locked state… however, the removal of the meat? That took quite a long while. It was in fact, totally worth the work because crab is amazing. But still, this one was more difficult than normal.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
Delicious. This one was met by rave reviews. It was spicy. It was sweet and meaty from the crab. It was warm and gave us the warm-n-fuzzies. Well done, D.R.! We demolished this one. Not a leftover in sight. I will say that the cooking sherry really added another dimension to this one– though we did obviously bat an eye at the amount initially… we are soooo happy to be proven wrong!

King and Country will head to Tanzania for #124! This is also going to be a par-tayyy weekend… more on that to follow 😉

Dreaming of a white Christmas,
– L & K