Saturday, May 24, 2014

Edible kitchen disasters

So my friend has rhubarb in her yard. She harvested and passed it along and I thought I'd make Smitten Kitchen's super easy strawberry rhubarb oat bars. And I didn't notice I didn't have strawberries. Or any fruit. Except for home canned apples. So I used those. 

The real recipe:

Just remember: never skimp on sugar with rhubarb

But my real goal today was to delve into Somali cuisine. (Someone in this house is pining for Djibouti.) So, I thought I'd try a recipe or two off The Somali Kitchen.

Comparing my photo to the original it seems I didn't do too badly:

My first few batches burned. I had the heat too hot. I should have heated the pan on high and reduced to medium as soon as the batter went in. I used two frying pans-- a non-stick egg sized skillet and my cast iron Le Creuset. The non stick yielded more consistent color whereas the Le Creuset was more prone to burn.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Yogurt and honey

In Yemen, we had yogurt and honey for breakfast.

I bought plain yogurt here in the States. I have never had much luck weaning my taste buds from all the sugar in commercial flavored yogurt. But in Yemen, the honey was so delightful and the yogurt fresh. So I decided to try again.

I made yogurt with honey and topped with honey roasted sunflower seeds. Imagine my excitement when I determined I had used too much honey.

Maybe I can ween those taste buds.

Birthday taco mix

For my birthday today, I made a massive taco salad for breakfast. Lots of green, some carrots. Dressing was a 50-50 mix of extra hot roasted habanero salsa and organic peppercorn ranch. Added a big old plop of my taco mix I spent two hours making yesterday and topped it off with organic yellow corn tortilla chips I smashed in my hand.

Why do I say "taco mix?" I didn't use all meat, nor did I go with vegetarian. I used a two pound container of ground beef with a bag of frozen corn, a can of spinach and two cans of black beans to make a massive pot of taco filling.

I didn't measure my seasoning. Keep pouring it in as everything simmered under water:
- chili powder
- cumin
- garlic pepper
- paprika
- hot paprika 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tuna and peas over egg noodles

I originally planned to make this to use up some leftover tuna from sandwiches earlier in the week.

But I had a really crazy shift at work and then I fell walking out of the store so my husband made his own version of my vision.

- Egg noodles

- leftover tuna

- peas

For the sauce:
- soy milk
- cornstarch 
- cheddar
- Swiss cheese

And a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan on top.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pineapple Crock Pot Chicken

** This is an experiment based on recommendations from my almost ten-year-old **

In the crockpot on high about 6 hours:
- frozen chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
- 16 ounces sweet and sour sauce
- 20 ounces crushed pineapple
- about 1/2 cup strong homemade chicken stock
- 1/2 cup water
- about 2-3 tablespoons ras el hanout

(I don't like this sweet and sour sauce. The ras el hanout is an attempt to make the flavor less sweet.)

- 2-3 tablespoons garlic pepper

When I got home from work, I added about 2 cups water and another 1/2 cup chicken stock. 

It was good. Definitely sweet, but not syrupy. Different.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Egg and pepper sandwiches

I'm not a big fan of green peppers. I neither like nor dislike them, but every once in a while I get really hungry for egg and pepper sandwiches.

It's far from a culinary triumph but it hit the spot and fulfilled the craving.

It started as one large green pepper, four eggs, and some buns. We had a mismatch of buns. Two kaiser and a potato hot dog bun. Child requested the hot dog bun.

We sliced the peppers into long slivers and fried them over low heat in olive oil & butter. I sprinkled them generously with garlic pepper.

Once the peppers changed to a more mellow color and softened, I jacked up the heat and added the scrambled four egg mixture (I had added about 1/4 cup water to it). 

And that is it. 

So good I want another.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Recreating breakfast

Nearly everyday that we were in Djibouti, my traveling companion (M) and I visited the juice bar at Cafeteria Sana'a a couple blocks from our hotel. It was normal a late morning break, usually after our second walk around the city. 

Around 7:30 a.m., we'd have breakfast on the porch of our hotel, a cup of café crême with a big cube of sugar accompanied by a basket of baguette slices and a couple croissants. The plates that came with the basket had a dollop of strawberry jelly and a large pat of butter. With my recovering broken hand, sometimes the butter started too cold to manipulate but within seconds it literally would begin to melt.

After this breakfast, we'd walk. With temperatures at 90 degrees F (even that early) and humidity around 85 percent, it didn't take long to find ourselves drenched in our own perspiration. We'd return to our hotel to drink a liter of water and let ourselves dry out and then we'd repeat. 

On the second morning tour, we capped everything off with a juice from Cafeteria Sana'a. 

The first day I ordered ginger juice. I thought, since gastro-international issues can pop up during travels in Africa, ginger would help keep my insides healthy. It was fabulous. Spicy and zesty and refreshing, even 20 minutes later still walking around in the heat that ginger juice left and incredibly pleasant taste in my mouth.

The next visit they had run out of ginger. This afternoon, they said. I was heartbroken so I let M order me a mango. It was delightful but lacked the zip and surprise of the ginger.

We returned the next day. No ginger. Maybe tomorrow, they said. I ordered "melon." I had no idea what type of melon to expect. I'm not a huge melon fan, but isn't the point of traveling to expand your horizons and be adventurous? Would it be watermelon? Honeydew?

Cantaloupe. Served in a frozen mug. Not as breathtaking as ginger but a flavor I soon learned to crave after an hour or two in the hot sun. That day we had a second juice, lemon. Our server offered us lemon with mint, something not on the board, but at this point we may have become regulars. This became M's pick.

The final trip to the juice bar we ordered large juices instead of regular. Still no ginger. So I stayed with my melon.

And today I made a breakfast that incorporates all of these taste memories:

- Take and bake Archer Farms baguette with Brie from Aldi and a chunk with butter.

- Simply Balanced green tea with ginger.

- Cantaloupe juice

My first attempt at my own cantaloupe juice smoothie included about 2 cups cantaloupe and 1/2 cup water in the blender. Suitable, but lacked the frozen mug. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Stuffed Burgers

One day soon I shall blog about my culinary adventures in Djibouti and Yemen. I fell in love with freshly made cantaloupe juice, could have survived on bread and butter (in temperatures so hot the butter melted on your plate) and decided maybe I'm not so fond of Ethiopian. The Yemeni cuisine was worth returning for-- never have I eaten somewhere where the spices were so effectively used in a dish. I now believe I have never had a true saffron rice, the blend of saffron (which did more than merely turn the rice yellow) and the touch of clove really did tease the palate.

Oh, look at that. I did blog about the food. My true lament is that I did not bring home honey from Yemen. The color was so richly yellow it almost appeared orange. We had a small bowl of yogurt with this honey at our hotel and it was so simple and fulfilling. I miss it. Painfully.

I brought home American sauce as a joke for my family, purchased in the Nougaprix in Djibouti. I thought it was Thousand Island dressing and my husband confirmed it on our burgers tonight. Thousand Island without pickles. That works for my husband as he loves Thousand Island but hates pickles.

So, last night we finally went grocery shopping. We bought $155 worth of food (90 items) at Aldi. For the first time in months my freezer and fridge are full.

My husband made burgers tonight, stuffing the centers with feta and mixing fresh spinach into the ground beef. Good stuff. Served with leftover sides-- mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes and corn bake.