#188: Sierra Leone

confession: still trying to not listen to Christmas music… and if I’m confessing that, I should just go ahead and confess that I possibly already did listen to some Christmas music on Monday. But in my defense, it was snowing a few weeks ago and it just felt like the true and right thing to partake in. SO YES, I AM A TERRIBLE HUMAN. But no, I don’t feel bad about it. It was a single day to get it out of my system…. and isn’t that what they say is healthy? Indulge a little here and there so you’re no binge-ing (and in this case it looks like putting up your decorations before the turkey gets center stage). So really, I did a huge favor to society. You’re all so damn welcome 😉

So now I will watch some scary movies and get in the spooky mood for Halloween tomorrow ❤

THE DINNER: It was all fun and games this weekend… in that J and D came over for game night Friday and then we played some soccer and watched some football on Sunday. It was a tad more seasonal than last weekend, weather wise, so thank our luck dog paws for that.  For Sierra Leone, we picked this luscious stewed chicken situation.

Sierra Leone Chicken Stew Recipe: https://www.africanbites.com/chicken-stew-african-style/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 2 STARS out of 5 STARS for this meal!
This was a tricky one to judge for difficulty. It wasn’t hard but L did have me helping cut veggies and take pictures this weekend– so solo it might range to a 3 star. More or less everything goes into the pot and stews till it’s falling apart. It wasn’t hard on the back end of the execution.

Best dish of all time scale: 5 STARS out of 5 for this meal!! 
Another five star meal here. It was just THAT good. It has all the elements one might want and to be 100% honest, we ate it all and were so damn stuffed but it was hearty and warm and soccer was cold and hard. So I’m not sure we feel badly about eating it all. Monstrous portions (but we halved it and it was still a whole lot). There was a metric shit ton of onion to this one- and topped with green onion at the end. The carrots were lovely but really the star of this show was the rice soaked in all the saucy goodness. The oil and drippings from the chicken with the rice stopped the presses and the show. What a great meal for a chilly Sunday in the Rockies.

For #189 we head to Suriname for some cuisine and family time.

Trick or Treat Yo Self, 
– L & K

#187: 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.

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

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

#186: 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.

#187 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

#185: 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 #186 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

#184: 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. #185 finds us in St. Lucia.

Happy Belated B-Day to A!! 
– L & K

#183: 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 11 countries left, we make our way to Afghanistan for #184.

Drink safe this weekend Denver!! 
– L & K

#182: 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 12 countries to go! I know, right?! ONLY 12 left!? We are hitting a double header with Papua New Guinea for #183!! 

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