#188: Belgium

It was nice to have a weekend of pretty much nothing for a change. Still did some packing and unpacking but overall it was just soccer, football and cooking with mom. The weather was pretty supportive of this agenda and my body needed the extra sleep after the last couple weeks found me burning it down at both ends of the stick. It was a quiet one around here… easy like a Sunday morning.

THE DINNER: Belgium is most famous for it’s junk food. Read: Beer, fries and chocolate. Some fun facts about Belgium? You know i’m always game for some useless trivia!

  • Technically called “The Kingdom of Belgium” as it’s official name. Still to this day.
  • Brussels comes in tied with DC for the most amount of diplomats and foreign press correspondents in the world
  • Most castles per square kilometer in the world
  • Brussels’ airport sells the most chocolate of anyplace in the world (yes, that includes Hershey, PA)
  • in 1990 the king of Belgium was dethroned for 36 hours so that parliament could pass a law he was opposed to. They signed it and then put him back on the thrown.
  • Had the first openly gay PM
  • Belgians invented fries…. so that’s really the note we should end on here.

We picked Boulets Liegeois. Which by my last note you might extrapolate that it’s meatballs in apple and onion gravy served poutine style over FRIES. This is one of the most beloved and popular dishes in the country and should make for some comfort food coupled with the chilly Colorado weather.

Boulets Liegeois Recipe: https://cookingwithcurls.com/2014/10/13/boulets-liegeois/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 3 STARS out of 5 STARS for this meal!
This one wasn’t “hard” per say, but it wasn’t easy, you dig? It was a lot of assembly and it was probably a good thing that L had an extra set of hands on deck for the process. The ingredient list was cake– and apple butter is sold by the pound.

Best dish of all time scale: 5 STARS out of 5 for this meal!! 
A solid FIVE sparkly ones on this week’s board, ya’ll. Freezing cold soccer was happily followed by yummy meatballs. The most beautiful thing happened when apple butter met pork drippings and onions…. the gravy this gave birth to was spectacular. I mean, the meat itself was delicious (and kudos to the exponential use of onion up in here, people) but this gravy situation would have tasted good on a phone book. The meatballs were so filling and comforting– they called for “half cup” meatballs, but we used 1/3 cup and they were still enormous. Despite the chow down, we managed to salvage some leftovers for Ned when he returned from camping.

#189 throws us into the land of Sierra Leone!!

Trying not to listen to Christmas music yet, 
– L & K

#187: Ghana

Which countries are left!? I thought long and hard about whether to let the suspense kill you or dish on the remaining. I settled on dishing, because I am just as stoked as you all are, who am I kidding? So drum roll pleaseeee (in alphabetical order): Austria, Belgium, Gambia, Grenada, Kiribati, Sierra Leone, Suriname and Solomon Islands. There’s your final 8 countries AW195S followers! When asked how we pick each week, generally it’s a point at the map scenario– though occasionally it has to do with what area of the world we haven’t been to in a little while.  Even more occasionally, it’s when something is happening in that country in the media or sports. So there’s the magic equation that allows us to pick each week from several hundred countries… it boils down to our gut letting us know what she wants to eat.

THE DINNER: Ned and I moved this weekend into a house!! We are both so excited and it was pretty painless all around. Can I get an AMEN!? While that was underway, mom and dad took to the kitchen for Ghana. Mom made Red-Red which are stewed black-eyed peas. These affordable and hearty lil guys are just what the doctor ordered for nutrition and ease. This Red-Red stew can be a side dish with meat or take center stage. The Mama Bear chose to pair this super star with some crawfish (crawdads, crayfish– whatever you heart desires).

Red-Red (AKA: Stewed Black-Eyed Peas) Recipe: https://www.africanbites.com/red-redafrican-stewed-black-eyed-peas/ 

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 2 STARS out of 5 STARS for this meal!
This was easy peezy. Nothing was converted or translated. The ingredient list was a dream. The crawfish were doubled and added though optional.

Best dish of all time scale: 4.5 STARS out of 5 for this meal!! 
All around it was like having red bean chili almost. It was a cold day and the weather was perfect for a hearty stew. Those darling little crawfish were sourced at a local place in Wheat Ridge named Edward’s Meats (see our 153rd post on Dominica for the last time we were there grabbing frog legs). Welcome to Colorado fall, everyone, it’s time for chili! This almost tasted Cajun in it’s flavors but wasn’t “burn the house down” spicy.

#188 will find us spending the first Sunday in October in Belgium!! N is camping with his dad this weekend, so that means it’s some mom and Kris time in the brovskyland!! 🙂 No traces of Indian Summer here, buckle up for rain and 30’s overnight on Sunday this week

Singing along to some Tom Petty, 
– L & K

#186: St. Lucia

Alright. I feel sheepish admitting this one to you all. But what is adulthood if not a constant stream of having to admit you’re not as smart as you felt you were. Since it’s been several years of letting you into our lives and kitchen, I feel like we are fam up in here. Cutting to the chase, Ned found a sub-reddit a few weeks ago about how people mistake idioms or phrases most of their life till some embarrassing thing in adulthood clarifies it for them. For example, the story i’m referencing had a young man thinking the quote “Knowledge is power -Francis Bacon” was actually “Knowledge is power, France is bacon.” it’s understandable if he hasn’t seen it written out.

Mine is that age old saying around a “gift horse”…. I always thought it was “never lick a gift horse in the mouth”. It made sense on so many levels to me: 1. gross. Don’t lick a horse in the mouth sounds like sound advice 2. “to lick” also means to “throw a punch” and if someone gifts you a horse, you wouldn’t hit it in mouth, the poor thing.

Alas, embarrassingly enough, my sweet boyfriend set me straight this week. It’s “never look a gift horse in the mouth.” Meaning, don’t examine the teeth of the free animal you were just given. Accept your good fortune. So, it’s nice to know that learning never stops and France is bacon.

THE DINNER: St. Lucia is French Creole… *INSERT MASSIVE SMILE HERE* two power house cooking cultures collide!! We should only be so lucky. We picked a coconut bread to make for St. Lucia– it’s eaten mainly as a sweet bread at breakfast with cocoa tea, which is a traditional spiced hot drink.  No, you read that correctly, tea. Not cocoa drink like hot coco. It’s tea made from the cocoa leaves. To orient you, St. Lucia is Northwest of Barbados and northeast of St.Vincent.

St Lucian Coconut Bread Recipe: http://3pickles.blogspot.com/2011/11/recipe-coconut-bread.html?m=1

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: HALF STAR out of 5 STARS for this meal!
This took all of 10 minutes to prepare and 45 minutes to bake. THAT’S IT! no proofing, no rising, no yeast, just fun and (soccer) games for us this weekend. The recipe called for 5 ingredients that all went into the same bowl. Then that bowl went into a lined baking dish and into the oven.

Best dish of all time scale: 4 STARS out of 5 for this meal!! 
Okay, it was dense and cake like, which we loved. We ate it warm fresh out the oven, and it was not as sweet as we wanted, but none the less yummy. Without the topper of butter/cinnamon sugar, this would have been a 3 star production. The crush formed a good crispy and the inside was moist from the coconut and milk. Apart from that, there’s not much to report on. Simple bread, simple review.

Down to my luck number– with NINE MORE stops on this train, we have #187 heading to Ghana. Ned and I are moving this weekend, so L will most likely be flying solo to the African country. Race for the Cure weekend is here too, Denver, so get out and support second base! (Light the Night for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society is Thursday night in Wash Park too, ya’ll).

Cheers to Warriors in Pink! 
– L & K

#185: Afghanistan

With moving palooza underway here in Brovskyland, it seems like everyone is in the midst of moving! L&J moved in July, K&C moved this week, Ned and I are moving next week, B&B and P&Z have upcoming moves in October. It’s been a lot of sad and happy and boxes and tape. They say, home is where your mom is…. so really it’s not home unless you’re moving back with your folks. Luckily for me, I am moving 2 miles from mine, so that more or less covers the bases. Speaking of bases, those Rockies have to win or they’re eliminated. So let’s get on it. #roxtober

THE DINNER: We made a Bolani (sometimes called Perakai or Poraki) this week for the blog. We ventured to Afghanistan where this flat bread is filled with veggies and fried in oil….and sometimes baked. But if we are being honest, which we should always aim to be, fried is life. Our recipe pull called for potatoes, green onion, bell pepper and cilantro to use as the filling to this golden brown pocket of heaven.

Afghan Bolani Recipe:  http://foodtasia.com/afghani-bolani-potato-green-onion-stuffed-flatbread/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 3 STARS out of 5 STARS for this meal!
After a couple weeks of pretty easy preps and recipes, it was bound to come in with a higher level of difficulty. Here we are! The dough was fairly loose and sticky, making it hard to roll and control (rhyme intended. You’re welcome.). No translations and no conversions though, so this sat at the middle of the star pile just taking up time.

Best dish of all time scale: 4.5 STARS out of 5 for this meal!! 
“By Golly, these potato, onion, pepper and cilantro pockets were awesome!” was the letter written home on this week’s culinary journey. My mom mentioned that it was crispy dough and jam packed with flavor which is interesting because there’s not a lot of herbs or seasonings. My dad, A, hates cilantro, and loved these, so for those that find it a deterrent, don’t run. Enjoy this little trip to the Middle East 😉

We are into the last 10 countries on the home stretch here on AW195S. Can you even believe it?! Looking back, it’s been just under 4 years of cooking fun and family time. We have learned so much about geography and cultures as well as cooking styles. It’s been a blast. #186 finds us in St. Lucia.

Happy Belated B-Day to A!! 
– L & K

#184: Papua New Guinea

We are back at GABF and Oktoberfest this weekend here in the Mile High! Once a year, our fair city turns into beer mecca for a whole three days worth of chaos. It’s the largest beer festival around and many call it the Super Bowl of beer. We did the math last year, and if you were able to taste all the samples at the Great American Beer Festival in your 4 hour tour (granted that 1oz pours of each sample) you would SINGLE-HANDEDLY be drinking 2 kegs yourself. In four hours. And them ain’t pony kegs, partner.

So needless to say, while impossible and daunting, to those about to rock, we salute you 😉 God Speed.

THE DINNER: Guys, 85% of the Guinean people are rural! That means that there’s less of an emphasis on “street food” and a stronger (albeit, mostly unintentional) drive for farm to table foods. Lots of root veggies like Taro and lots of fruits like passion fruit color the palate of Guinean cuisine. While geographically, one might think they fall into the Asian influence for their flavors, it’s more akin to Oceanic countries (think back to 8th grade geography here with me, folks. That’s Australian, New Zealand, etc).

Rice being a strong contender for main starch source, we went into a dessert mode and made these banana tapioca dumplings. Usually these puppies are cooked/steamed in a pit or over flames in banana leaves, but we improved in Colorado for this one.

Guinean Tapioca Dumpling Recipe:  http://globaltableadventure.com/recipe/tapioca-banana-dumplings-in-coconut-milk-saksak/ 

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 1.5 STARS out of 5 STARS for this meal!
Ridiculously easy, ladies and gents! No metric conversions or translations and there were no specialty ingredients! Mom opted for foil instead of leaves because the market didn’t have any fresh ones, and we don’t like to use bad ingredients.

Best dish of all time scale: 3 STARS out of 5 for this meal!! 
Down to brass tacks, it was dumplings. I sat this one out because two foods out of all foods that I don’t like are 1. Tapioca/rice pudding and 2. bananas. So this one was not for me, and that’s alright. Came back as large dumplings and unfortunately seemed a bit rubbery for my mom’s taste — and she’s a connoisseur of tapioca. Textural disappointment aside, it as not as banana forward and one might expect or like. Not a winner, but now, they can’t all be.

Rounding home plate with 10 countries left, we make our way to Afghanistan for #185.

Drink safe this weekend Denver!! 
– L & K

#183: Sao Tome and Principe

“See the pyramids along the Nile. Watch a sunrise from a tropic isle… just remember, darling, all the while… you belong to me….”

It’s been some dog days for sure around here! After some incredible fun in the sun in La Jolla (minus one sting ray injury) with Ned’s amazing family, we find ourselves smack dab at the cusp of my FAVORITE time of year.

4906F3B5-5775-4EE4-8F2D-1E8BB26A0A93I know what people say, and sure it’s partially true, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year **insert eye roll** but i feel like it’s bigger than that. The most wonderful time of the year is the beginning of fall soccer season through New Years Day. I mean, stay with me here guys, allow me to explain the crazy because I realize that’s a little under half of the year. But with the advent of fall soccer season there is football season, changing of the leaves in the high country, apple ciders and pumpkin everything, GABF and Oktoberfest, Halloween, thanksgiving, snow and sweaters and boots and then Christmas! It’s THE BEST THINGS!
So forgive me for not having posted, but evidently things are happening, and GUYS at the risk of sounding like a cliche rock ballad, I just don’t wanna miss a thing!

THE DINNER: While I was in a sea kayak somewhere in the pacific ocean, mom was cooking up an island dish of her own! She took some cooking to the island of Sao Tome and Principe (the second smallest African country/island after the Seychelles). The island nation was originally settled by the Portugese and thus was home to a lucrative plantation economy heavily dependent on slavery from the next door main land. It’s proximity to the equator maens that it’s native rich volcanic soil brings all that good sugar, cocoa and COFFEE. And all the Lord’s people said, AMEN.

As one might guess, since it’s an island, they eat mainly chicken and seafood. Their main source of carb is maize and rice like many African nations of the same. Coffee is used as spice here… so let’s get another amen for that, people. They know how to roll there, I suppose.

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 1.5 STARS out of 5 STARS for this meal!
Simplicity is the name of the game as it’s been for all the African countries we have had so far! Just some chopping and sauteing. Apart from that, no metric conversions or translations and there were no specialty ingredients!

Best dish of all time scale: 4.5 STARS out of 5 for this meal!! 
L & A loved this hearty and healthy stew (shhh, don’t tell my dad!). We took a little liberty with the fresh herb choice and went with basil from my mom’s garden, because when in doubt, we always choose basil. Tomato and chicken paired together well, as the acidity helps soften the meat. The reviews stated “it was perfect, light and delicious”.

Alrighty folks! We have 11 countries to go! I know, right?! ONLY 11 left!? We are hitting a double header with Papua New Guinea for #184!! 

 Well done sneaking in at the last minute this weekend Broncos!! 
– L & K

#182: Kyrgyzstan

The lyrics to “forever and for always” have been on repeat in my head since the Shania Twain concert on Friday night. The smell of campfire still seems to be in my hair even after 4 washes. It was a wonderful weekend of friends, wilderness and WeldWerks. Back in town, L & A took after painting the ol’ Brovsky homestead and boy, does she look like a beaut, guys. It’s all fun and games till we had to all go back to adulting on Monday morning.

And despite my hives still in full swing and work being insanely busy, I’m still in awe at how it’s already August. Fun things coming up? Well, moving trucks are honking as Ned and I are starting the search for a place. Soccer season is nearly upon us and Kim and I are going to rock some U10 girl’s coaching escapades. There’s some more BBQing, vacations and patio time in store for the remainder of the dog days, so don’t worry, Colorado, we aren’t done yet— but thank you for the cooler temperatures!

THE DINNER: This was more of a dessert– but if i were a betting woman, I’d venture that it might have served as dinner for two hungry and paint weary Brovskys… just taking a stab at it. This week’s country was a solo mission for L as we took a dessert break in the desert for Kyrgyzstan. I have to get a running start at spelling that monster, by the way. The dish was basically apple cake. It’s a semi-nomadic lifestyle these people adhere to, which you know I can totally dig on. They have simple requirements for food, and this one is no exception. It’s thought that this recipe or some variant on the recipe is thousands of years old.

Kyrgyzstan Apple Cake Recipe: https://www.internationalcuisine.com/kyrgyzstan-apple-cake/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 1 STARS out of 5 STARS for this meal!
I warned you in the intro this week that these were simple humans. There were a handful of ingredients. They were easy to find and not a problem to prep. There were no conversions or translations making sure this one clocked in at a 1 star for trickiness. Feel free to do some handstands to spice up the challenge level if you’re so inclined. We don’t want you to get complacent.

Best dish of all time scale: 4 STARS out of 5 for this meal!! 
With the 5 ingredient fix that occurred, one might be tempted to think that there’s no way this one could be yummy/flavorful/amazing and that person would be wrong. I would think that the fluffy, cloud of sweetness that these apples were suspended in was due to the eggs. The cake wasn’t overly saccharine nor was it un-dessert-like. It was satisfying and unlike anything we have had in terms of apple cake before. Well worth the one star effort to make this one, ladies and gents.

We will be off to South African nation of Sao Tome and Principe for #183 next weekend and it’s going to hit all the bases we typically don’t associate with “African” food (read: island food and sea locked countries). We are excited to be heading into football season shortly here in the 5280. FOOTBALL IS COMING (a la Game of Throne. you’re welcome).

 Keeping you, forever and for always! ❤ 
– L & K