#173: Armenia

Ever feel like you need a weekend from your weekend?

Like your vacation was more reaction than relaxin’? That’s how I feel today. I’m not saying it wasn’t a great weekend. It was all that and a bag of chips dot com. But, I am actually digging the fact that hitting the ground running on a Monday morning still was more relaxing than the past three days. Three dozen cookies, five layer cake (times two because I messed it up once and had to remake it), soccer games complete with epic bruises, a beer fest and a baby shower. It was jam packed fun in the Colorado sun… and speaking of which, big shout out to the 85 degree weather we all soaked up. Couldn’t have done it without you 😉

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THE DINNER: If you were guessing that I didn’t make it around to a visit with my folks this weekend, you’d be batting 1000 (and not playing for the Rockies). L flew to Armenia solo this Sunday and did some baking of her own in the form of a orange marmalade cake. I had to laugh because Ned and I just finished watching both the Paddington bear movies. For those still struggling to make a connection here, let me help you out. Monday’s are hard. Paddington bear eats nothing but orange marmalade. So this was serendipity at it’s finest.

The basis of the cuisine in this nation is, as one might guess, geographically rooted in middle eastern flavors and lamb/kabob/gyro sort of feasting. This cake contains two whole oranges…yes WHOLE. Rinds and all. There’s also a revisiting to ground up almonds that we are big fans of in this past year (having made several baked goods for this blog project that featured this as a flour substitute). You gotta love a gluten free cake…. but after our last endeavor with the flour-less chocolate scrambled egg mess we endured for Gabon in week #72, you’d see why we were gun shy. But 101 countries later, we are back on the horse. Hold on, guys.

Armenian Orange Cake Recipe: https://aroundtheworldin80bakes.com/2013/07/27/52-armenian-orange-and-almond-cake-incidentally-also-gluten-free-and-a-giveaway/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 2 STARS out of 5 STARS for this meal!
These oranges biol for two hours then you have to pulverize the living daylights out of them. So this one is sort of time intensive. Additionally the timing of the baking is hard without flour. So texture is where it’s at here. Weathered and watchful eyes. A bit of conversion was needed, but the ingredient list was short and sweet.

Best dish of all time scale: 4 STARS out of 5 for this meal!! 
Redemption story here, ladies and gents! It was finally a successful flour-less cake and boy, that’s good news because scrambled egg cake isn’t a sweet treat to have. The almonds offered a little nut profile, and the orange made this cake so very moist and dense. While L+A aren’t massive fans of flour-less cakes, they just felt like maybe it needed to be a tad sweeter. Perhaps the addition of a dark chocolate drizzle would have kicked it up a few points. Regardless, it was a success. This one was edible and it was another country on the books. That puts us 21 countries from completion.

We are off into Cinco De Mayo (or rather Cinco De Maggie) as well as Derby Day! Brush off those floppy hats, dresses and margaritas. We are mixing and matching our holidays around the 5280! Our #174 country will be Kazakhstan. 

Happy anniversary to Dan + Jess ❤

May the 4th be with you this Friday! 
– L & K

#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

#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