#130: Costa Rica

“A woman’s place is in the kitchen.
A man’s place is in the kitchen.
Everyone should be in the kitchen! That’s where the food is!”

Wise words in these tumultuous times, indeed. I completely agree with this sentiment… and isn’t it funny how the kitchen seems to be ground zero of every home. It’s inevitably where everyone ends up congregating. Heart and hearth of the home. If the soul of the home is the kitchen, then food is the lifeblood.

THE DINNER: We bounced off to Costa Rica this weekend, which is a short journey culinarily from Honduras where we were holed up last weekend. I’m a big fan of Latin food, so this was another treat. Arroz con Pollo was the name of the game this time. For those that flunked out of high school Spanish (thank you Mrs. Read for being constantly in my head with your sound effects and hand gestures), that translates to “Rice with Chicken”.

Arroz con Pollo Recipe: http://www.196flavors.com/2015/09/10/costa-rica-arroz-con-pollo/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five this meal!
There were a whole lot of moving parts to this one. It’s hardly a one pot wonder. It’s actually a lot of leg work and it took over two hours to prepare. That all aside, we didn’t have to translate the recipe and it wasn’t in metric. Just a good idea to make this one on a lazy Sunday.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
It wasn’t bad– but it wasn’t spectacular. Added some hot sauce, and then compared it to the non hot sauce version. I’m surprisingly neutral regarding the hot sauce component. It’s not what it was missing. It was just ho-hum. Delicious for what it was, but it wasn’t all that exciting. The cilantro was lovely, but I particularly liked the peas and the different timing of the veggies throughout gave some really great depth of texture. Some of the veggies were cooked completely and some still had a great bite to them. Very clever. Far and away, it was ultimately a forgettable one. EDIT: the leftovers seemed to taste better than the first time we had it! Not sure if this is translatable or if it’s just me being hungry… I would need a comparison study to confirm these results.

Super Bowl weekend finds L pulling a solo mission to Comoros for #131 as I will be out of town on work business… If you had to google “Comoros” you’re in good company– I did too. It exists. It’s in the Indies.

Rooting for whoever is not the Pats, 
– L & K

#129: Hondouras

So far so good,

The Chinese New Year starts this week, and since we have an international fellow in our lab that’s from China, I have taken an expressed interest in this goings-on this time around the sun. Welcome to the Year of the Rooster, ladies and gentlemen! Each year is denoted by a different symbol from the Chinese 12 year animal zodiac. Unfortunately, people born in a rooster year – 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 – are said to have an unlucky 12months under their sign as opposed to lucky as one might think. Bad news for the Rockies and my sister I guess as they fall into that group 😉 Silver lining type of people like me look at the Roosters and see that they are a sign that typically tends to be seen as confident, honest and hardworking. So really, if you believe in making your own luck, those are excellent traits to have.

THE DINNER: Anyone who has seen fit to follow us for any discernible amount of time will quickly tell you that breakfast is one of if not the favorite meal of the day in Brovskyland. This week on our sojourn to Central America we were quick to pick out a traditional breakfast meal to kick off playoff palooza. This sort of breakfast taco is referred to as Baleadas Hondureñas and has many variations and combinations. Typically, though, this one is just beans and cheese and tortillas. A bit basic. A bit boring. But we shall see how it pans out when we add in the “optional” ingredients and compare the traditional to our take. This one turned out to be a good old fashioned “compare and contrast”taste test… in full disclosure, I think we may be watching too much America’s Test Kitchen…

Baleadas Hondureñas Recipe: http://m.goya.com/recipe/Recipe.aspx?id=316

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
So this one was tricky to appraise, because there were a lot of “optional” ingredients. If we had only run the standard recipe, it would have clocked into a .5 star for difficulty. But we in typical Brovsky fashion, went big with all the optional ingredients and this added a little crazy. All in all, though, ingredients were easy to find and this one was assembly required.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Alright. This was a compare and contrast so let me begin with the traditional version: Beans, cheese and tortilla. This standard version would have clocked in at four stars or less. While it was yummy, it was just lackluster. Nothing earth shattering. The fully loaded version: eggs, avocado, cheese, creme fresh/sour cream, beans and tortilla…plus hot sauce because this is MY BREAKFAST we are talking about. This one is the reason for the extra half star. It was scrumptious— and gut busting! What were both versions missing that would have been five stars? MEAT. It needed a different texture in there with everything else to really put it into the top ranks. Regardless, every version was filling and satisfying. You would not need to hit up lunch if you eat these babies for breakfast. This was sustainable energy at it’s best.

Since we have had so much fun in Latin America we plan to trek on to Costa Rica for #130!

Adios Amigos de Gallo!
(Goodbye, Friends of the Rooster) 

– L & K

#128: San Marino

Pressing onward!

This week found so many of us adulting through the first full work week of 2017. For those of us that had to endure what felt like the “longest week of all time”, I salute  you. It was a struggle. It was also a whole lot of fun when it boiled down to it. I am starting to think that this “new year” business is so much more of a gift than 2016 turned out to be. From friends to dates to church, this week was jam packed. I’m so glad my lab was closed for MLK day, so that I can catch up on sleep; have yet another short week and have to relive all the pain of re-assimilating all over again. Ah, what can I say? I’m nothing if not a creature of habit 😉

THE DINNER: We pulled a double header this week, why? Because it just felt right! We wanna keep you all on your toes. We pulled into the country of San Marino for the second bite of the weekend. Now, San Marino you ask? Yeah, it’s tiny. It’s in the Italian peninsula and it’s actually got a strong food culture globally. A lot of the meals that we “associate” with Italian food are surprisingly San Marino based. Plot twist.

For the meal, this fact made it extremely hard to pick a recipe. Lots of options. So we settled on Nidi di Rondine which translates into “Swallow’s Nests”. Have you heard the story of the Swallows migrating to San Marino? Well, they have an entire national dish dedicated to this feat. At a glance, these are basically lasagna nests and are assembled and then baked.

Nidi di Rondine Recipe: https://www.thefooddictator.com/hirshon-san-marino-swallows-nests-nidi-di-rondine/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
So this was sort of hard to scale, if I’m being honest. We definitely had no problems coming across ingredients, nor did we have to translate or convert the recipe. The tricky bit came in during the assembly of the nests. That was a tag team effort and so in the spirit of full disclosure, undertaking this one solo might up the difficulty a bit for you. It wasn’t out of control though, so don’t worry. You could definitely take this one on by yourself, just be aware.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
Listen carefully to the words I am saying to you: pinwheels of pasta smothered in creamy bechamel sauce, gooey fontina cheese and Prosciutto and basil– wrapped into a bed of marinara and baked with Parmesan?! HAVE MERCY. This was pretty much the best thing I’ve eaten in 2017 so far and I suspect it’s going to hold onto that title unopposed for a long while. The creamy fontina (which is SUCH an underrated cheese) added some salt with the Prosciutto– the basil is listed as “optional” and first of all if you think that’s an option, how dare you. The whole nest was crispy on the top from the Parmesan. Overall, I probably ate my weight in these over the course of the day (yes, I shamelessly had leftovers).

We decided we needed a little Latin food to color our world, so we will be off to the country of Honduras for #129 to make sure we scratch that culinary itch properly.

Ciao Bellas!! 
– L & K

 

#127: Burma

NWSS Week!!

For those of you that are confused– you’re obviously not from around here 😉 That’s alright, allow me to explain. NWSS (National Western Stock Show) is celebrating it’s 111th year here and it opened this weekend. It’s two weeks of tradition, rodeos, cute cowboys and mutton bustin that takes over the Mile High City. Due to our massive snow storm, the parade was canceled, but the NWSS rages on! This girl, and her newly healed back, will take a little time to boot scoot over to the Grizzly Rose while the PBR riders are still in town ❤ Something about a man in a hat that calls me “ma’am” and can two step.

THE DINNER: We decided to have a little warm up on the itinerary this week, and took a detour for some Burmese food. Burmese food is heavily influenced geographically– so profiles of the Thai, Chinese and Indian cuisine markers show up pretty regularly. One of my favorite things I ran across while I researched today’s meal options, was this tradition of respecting elders during mealtime. The elder is traditionally served first, and when the elders are not present, a plate is prepared and set aside for them as if they were in attendance. Seems to me, they have their heads on right in Burma. Additionally, they believe in the healing power of food and it’s effects in a medicinal capacity. Pregnant women are not supposed to eat foods with chili as the Burmese believe that the child she is carrying may have sparse hair on their heads. Guess the riddle of male pattern baldness has been solved, guys.

From steamed food to fried food, Burma runs the gamut of preparations. We picked Burmese Red Pork Stew this week for our meal. This dish has a heavy Chinese influence and uses about a half gallon of soy sauce (alright, that’s a slight exaggeration, but I opted out of eating this week to avoid anaphylaxsis). It’s got massive amounts of sriracha though too, so actually it otherwise sounds like heaven. And pork belly, guys, pork…belly… 🙂

Burmese Red Pork Stew Recipe: http://threemanycooks.com/recipes/meaty-mains/burmese-red-pork-stew/

 

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
Alright, word from camp on this one was that it was a really quick and easy marinade and fry up. Freezing the meat before slicing, like so many other countries we have encountered on this journey through the years has proved a very helpful step in the prep process. All ingredients were readily available at local shops and we did not have convert or translate! Three cheers after last week…

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Evidently the sheer amount of soy sauce on this one lent to some really spectacular crisping up when it was fried. The carmalization was divine and the best thing about the flavors was the basil (which altogether was not shocking at all. Basil rocks.) After all was said and done, the ‘rents opted for heart healthy brown rice instead of the traditional white, and noted that while it was spicy enough for my dad my mom (any myself if I had joined in) added some more sriracha.

Pressing into the snow and first month of the new year, we plan on making this one a double header! Buckle up for a trip to San Marino for #128!  

Peace out Peeps!! 
– L & K

#126: Croatia

FINALLY! 2017!

I always love the romantic notion of New Years Eve– fireworks, champagne and kisses at midnight. It’s all so Gatsby to me. I feel like the whole thing is drenched in sequins and soft glow of rose lighting. Which is hilarious, because I never actually get dressed up and I never actually go out on the town. If I’m being honest, I can usually make it to midnight, but it’s a coin toss sometimes. For me, the brass tacks of this luminous time of year is that it’s the start and the end at the same time. You get to wrap up a chapter and start a new one, like a tidy little package. I think one of the best things about new beginnings is that they are afforded to those that are bold enough to take them. I would hope that in this new year, regardless of your resolutions, you can make sure to start each day like it’s NYE. So, my wish for you is to begin each day with coffee standing on top of the world and end each night with champagne dancing on top of the table 😉

THE DINNER: “Auld Lang Syne” translates to “for the sake of old times”. I think this is pretty darling. I have to apologize for the delay in this week’s posting, but for those that have seen me, I’ve been laid up with a pretty significant back injury… which was brought on by this sassy baker lifting 50lb bags of flour and compounded by dancing the night away NYE with the best people I know. Regardless, L took the reigns on the baking adventure in Croatia this week. And guys, it really was an adventure in every sense of the word.

This povitica is a bread that the Croatians use to ring in their holidays and the New Year. The folding of the dough on top of itself and the rolling of the dough like a swiss roll signifies the new year and the intertwining of all our lives. It’s really physically beautiful and poetically beautiful. That being said, this was all fun and games till it came down to brass tacks… buckle up for the difficulty on this one, ladies and gents.

Croatian Povitica Recipe: http://kneadbakecook.com/blog/2016/1/16/the-povitica-adventure

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: SIX STARS out of five this meal!
Yes, I get it. “Kris, that’s off the scale…” and it absolutely is off the scale. My mom and I are what one might call, expert bakers. We thought it was sort of ridiculous. First of all, the recipe is in weight and needs to be converted to volume (so for those not following me, things were in lbs and needed to be converted to cups). The ingredients were not exotic and were easy to come by at the local Kings. L did comment that the dough was really easy to work with– that was the saving grace for this recipe.

Best dish of all time scale: THREE and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Now, getting down to brass tacks… after what turned out to seven hours of work on this bread– it should have knocked our socks off. It had to proof twice, for goodness sake. But alas, when it came down it, we just wanted it to be…more. More what? I couldn’t tell you exactly. Flakier? Certainly. Sweeter? Absolutely. Just more. It fell short after hours of anticipation and work. But man, what a gorgeous photo op this one turned out to be. And it is always fun getting to bake with my mom on a Sunday. So that was not to go unnoticed.

First AW195S for the New Year you ask?? Burma for #127! We will see you foodies there! 

Cheers!! 
– L & K