Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Another Greek Recipe For the Win

Man, I'm starting to wonder why I don't make Greek food more often!  Oy!  Tonight we had the Chicken with Spinach and Feta and Greek Rice...both were awesome!

My first attempt at the rice was a bit of an epic fail:

 Turns out I'm pretty useless without my rice cooker.  I redid the recipe in that and it worked like a charm.  The best part is, the butter (I think) lent it a little something that made the rice on the bottom of the pot crunchy...glorious!

 I made the rice while the chicken was simmering...which was well after the next few pictures.
First, the filling. YUM. Very flavorful.
 I got this sweet new uber-sharp chef's knife as a wedding gift, which I got to use tonight.  Worked like a charm.
 Chicken in the pan.
 Flipped and in the sauce...yummm.
 The sauce end result.  I think I had a lot more residual spinach and such than the author did, but it worked out.
 And, last but not least, the final platter.  You cannot even begin to imagine how glorious this smelled.  I don't know what the calorie content was, but it was wonderful.

I love that we've had chicken and rice from 2 out of three regions...I love that chicken and rice is so universal.

Ok, quick confession time: chef's knives intimidate me.  Thus far, this experiment in international gastronomy has been a series of personal bests in terms of fear-conquering.  Pasta making, chef's knife wielding...next up, I fear, will be conquering my fear of...international supermarkets.  (Insert Halloween screams here.)  That's right folks, I have never been in a foreign food store.  I am get so anxious about foreign language speakers talking about "that dumb white chick" that I talk myself into using something like a normal pear instead of a quince.  To that end, I'm hoping to conquer this fear tomorrow (or maybe Thursday, since tomorrow is a long day) and venture into a real, live, foreign food market.  Wish me luck.

Browned Butter


I will never make pasta the old way again.  Oh. Em. Gee.

So first, you take the garlic and you smash it.  Seriously, smash it.  Leave the skin on though.  When you smash it, it makes it 100 times easier to remove the skin, then chuck it in the pan.

FWIW, I used just enough olive oil to coat the butter and maybe an inch of the pan around it.  That was plenty.
You can see the butter browning, and the garlic frying.  Seriously, fried garlic may be the best thing in the world.
This was the first helping.  I added feta with tomato and basil, and some kalamata olives.  The next two helpings I just ate the pasta...I left the garlic in (the recipe says to remove it) on my bowl all three times and did not regret it one bit.  Oh. Em. Gee.

And in case you're curious, that's Chuck on in the background.  And cheap boxed wine, nothing special.

Just looking at this picture is making my mouth water all over again.  Any votes on tonight's recipe? I haven't found quince yet, so that will have to wait.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Week #3: Greece

It's Greek Week!!!  Wooooo!!  Toga Party!!!

Just kidding.  :-)  But seriously, what do we know about Greece (not college greeks)?

  • officially the Hellenic Republic
  •   A developed country with an advanced, high-income economy, a very high Human Development Index and consistently high quality of life rankings
  • Before adopting the Euro in 2002 Greece had maintained use of the Greek drachma from 1832.
  • This bridge is the Rio-Antirio bridge near the city of Patras and is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Europe and second in the world.

According to Wikipedia, here's what we can expect from the cuisine:

"Greek cuisine is often cited[who?] as an example of the healthy Mediterranean diet (Cretan diet). Greek cuisine incorporates fresh ingredients into a variety of local dishes such as moussaka, stifado, Greek Salad, spanakopita and the world famous Souvlaki. Some dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece like skordalia[citation needed] (a thick purée of potatoes, walnuts, almonds, crushed garlic and olive oil), lentil soup, retsina (white or rosé wine sealed with pine resin) and pasteli (candy bar with sesame seeds baked with honey). Throughout Greece people often enjoy eating from small dishes such as meze with various dips such as tzatziki, grilled octopus and small fish, feta cheese, dolmades (rice, currants and pine kernels wrapped in vine leaves), various pulses, olives and cheese. Olive oil is added to almost every dish.
Sweet desserts such as galaktoboureko, and drinks such as ouzo, metaxa and a variety of wines including retsina. Greek cuisine differs widely from different parts of the mainland and from island to island also uses some flavorings more often than other Mediterranean cuisines do: oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill and bay laurel leaves. Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme and fennel seed. Many Greek recipes, especially in the northern parts of the country, use "sweet" spices in combination with meat, for example cinnamon and cloves in stews."

Suffice it to say, this week I'll be watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding while making yummy yummy food. 

For the simple, quick meal:
A yummy salad idea:
I might have to try that New Year's tradition this year.  I like it.  :-)
Because this guy's grandmother ("yiayia")'s name was Agape, this recipe is a must:
Of course, spanakopita (which I will ALWAYS pronounce "spankitopia" in my head!) is a must:
And last but not least, one more healthy recipe:

I'm suddenly wishing I had more than a week to be Greek!  Everything is so fresh and green and...healthy!  I'm definitely bumping Greece up a few notches (not that it was very far down to begin with) on my list of "places to spend a month before kids/after retirement".

Who's joining me this week?  Lots of vegetarian options out there too...what are you making for Greek Week??

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Painted Rooster - The Edible Version

This was, again, surprisingly good.  It needed salt.  A lot of salt.  If I had more than a week on Nicaragua, I would probably play with this to make it more flavorful...but for a staple food (that's like, $0.10 a serving!), this was ridiculously quick, cheap, and yummy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Painted Rooster

Yeah, you read that right.  Tonight's recipe is a slightly modified (as in, I'm adding rotisserie chicken because some people are convinced it's not a meal without meat) to gallo pinto.  Stay tuned for pictures and a review.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Steak Churrasco & Fried Plantains

Another yummy meal, courtesy of my good friend Heidi! 

Both dishes were SUPER easy to make, and I will definitely be using this marinade again and again.  So good!  Would be even better if left over night I bet. 

I used a slightly staged process to get the meal done.  First up, I made the marinade (food processor was absolutely necessary for this...I'd hate to do it any other way).  I probably used closer to 8 cloves of garlic, but I LOVE garlic so it was a necessity.  I used a rib eye cut and didn't tenderize the meat first, since it's already such a tender cut.  I threw everything in a bag and let it sit for 30-40 minutes.

During that time, I did some laundry and sliced the plantains.  I used canola oil, and had my stove on medium high heat for this.  You can see the two on the left I flipped over, thinking they were done...not so!  I left the rest of them in for about 5 minutes and they turned golden BROWN, not golden YELLOW.  There's a difference.  :-)
Once the first batch was done (about one plantain), I let them dry on some paper towel and threw in the second batch.  Then I went out and turned on the grill (it's propane), came back in to check, took the steaks out of the bag, flipped the plantains, and took the steaks out to the grill.  I grilled the steaks on high about 5-7 minutes a side (mine were thicker than in the recipe Heidi provided), so by the time the first side was done, so was the second batch of plantains.
I let the plantains cool a bit, then ground up some sea salt to bring out the flavor some more. 
Finally, everything was done and I could not get a good picture of the full meal to save my life, but it was super yummy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chicken & Rice

This was ridiculously simple to make, and while it wasn't as flavorful as I was hoping (I always err on the side of not enough salt though), it was still pretty darn good.  I started the chicken first, then did all the onions at once (onions being step 4ish of the chicken and step 1 of the rice), and it all coordinated nicely.

Here's the chicken browning. I used bone-in thighs, with the skin and fat removed. 

 And here's everything in the "and now we wait" stage. 
 And finally, another new toy!  My mom got us this as a wedding gift and I finally got to pick it up today...I can't WAIT to find a use for it!!

Week #2: Nicaragua

Courtesy of Wikipedia
 Hello all!  This week we're going south of the south of the border, pretty darn close to the isthmus (I just wanted to say isthmus) to the largest country in Central America...Nicaragua!

According to Wikipedia, here's what we can expect from this week's cuisine:
"The Cuisine of Nicaragua is a mixture of criollo food and dishes of pre-Columbian origin. The Spaniards found that the Creole people had incorporated local foods available in the area into their cuisine.[143] Traditional cuisine changes from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast; while the Pacific coast's main staple revolves around local fruits and corn, the Caribbean coast cuisine makes use of seafood and the coconut."
Sounds good to me!

So first up, here are a few recipes from my good friend Heidi.  I think I'm just going to make a huge batch of rice every other night and just eat it with every meal lol. 

My favorite is the way they do rice. Super simple and easy but really tasty.

I was taught to just use white rice, doesn't need to be anything fancy. This is for 1 cup of uncooked rice so if you want to make more or less you can adjust.

Cut up 1 medium onion into large chunks. Into eigth's would work fine. Cut a large green pepper in to big pieces as well.

Melt a tablespoon or two of butter in a saucepan and add onion and green pepper. Let them soften a bit but don't cook all the way.

Next, add your rice. Saute rice in the butter until it gets a little bit of color. Be careful not to burn it though.

Add water (2 cups water to 1 cup rice) and cook for 15 to 20 minutes (or according to rice directions).

Some people remove the onions and peppers from the rice and use them for another dish. I like them in the rice so I usually just leave them.

Pollo Encebolado

2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken pieces (more flavor if you use bone-in pieces)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons oil
3 medium onions, sliced thinly (leave as rings, more traditional)
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup White wine
1 Bay leaf

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large saute pan or pot. Over medium-high heat brown chicken pieces in hot oil and remove to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add onion pieces to the same pot. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until onions cook down and just begin to brown.

Increase heat to medium-high, add chicken pieces back to pot, add the stock, wine, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 30 minutes. Chicken should be cooked through and tender.

Serve with rice.
I have ramekins that I've never actually used, so this next one I'm very excited to try:

* Sugar -- 1 cup
* Water -- 1/4 cup
* Eggs, beaten -- 4
* Sweetened, condensed milk -- 1 (14-ounce) can
* Whole milk or water -- 2 cups
* Vanilla -- 1/2 teaspoon
* Sugar -- 1/2 cup


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the 1 cup sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Place over medium heat and boil the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to turn a honey brown, around 10-15 minutes.
2. Remove the caramelized sugar from heat and pour into a 9-inch cake pan or in equal amounts into each of 6 individual ramekins, swirling to coat the bottom. You may not need all the sugar. Place the cake pan or ramekins in a baking pan large enough to hold them without touching.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, condensed milk, whole milk or water, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Pour into the cake pan or into each of the ramekins.
4. Fill the baking pan with enough warm water to come about 2/3 of the way up sides of the containers. Place in the oven and cook until a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean, anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour. Do not overcook your flan or it may curdle.
5. Remove the custard(s) from the water bath and chill well. Run a knife around the edges of the custard, invert over a serving dish and serve.

Steak Churrasco

Beef Tenderloin (1 1/2 lbs or so)
Large bunch of fresh parsley
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tbsp water

Slice beef into about 4 strips and place between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound eat piece to about 1/4 inch thick. Use a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin will work as well.
Place in a baking dish or other container for marinating.

To make chimichurri; (this process is a heck of a lot easier with a food processor, can even use a blender in you want) Process parsley and garlic until finely chopped. Add oil, water, vinegar, salt and pepper to make a thick sauce. Place half of the sauce in a bowl to serve later and pour the other half over the beef. Cover and refrigerate to marinate for about 30 minutes. Turning frequently.

Grill beef (grill pan on the stove works fine too) on high for one to 2 minutes on each side for medium rare. Serve with remaining chimichurri sauce. Serve with rice and fried plantains.

Fried Plantains

Heat oil in a skillet or deep fryer.
Slice plantains into thin, lengthwise pieces.
Fry in small batches for 1-2 minutes until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.
Sprinkle with salt or garlic, if desired.

A few more I'm going to try:

Last week I found it was actually easier to go grocery shopping on my way home from work, with a short list of items I needed for that night's meal. I think I'm going to go with that plan of attack this week as well, so I'm not going to post a shopping list...sorry!  :-) 

I think tonight will be the chicken and rice...and if I have time, maybe I'll even get brave and try the flan.  If I can find plantains, maybe I'll make those for dessert too.  My mouth is watering already.  :-)

Pesto Perfection

Last night I made my own variation of pesto, threw it together with some linguini and shrimp, and called it yummy.  And it was.  The pesto was basil, Parmesan, kalamata olives, pecans, and olive oil.  Oh, and garlic.  Duh.  It was very savory, but I liked it a lot.  Nick doesn't like pesto in general, but he ate some anyway. 

And on that note, I'm off to see what today has in store!  Yesterday ended Italian week (I'll get to the recipe from Sarah's dad maybe the week after Thanksgiving when Nick won't be here...it looks delish!) and today starts Nicaraguan week...look for a post later with some yummy recipes courtesy of my friend Heidi!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Salad Night

Last night I had planned on making pesto/pasta, then realized Nick doesn't like pesto (or mussels) so instead we just had salads.  Not even remotely Italian salads, just salads.  Mine had shrimp, avocado, croutons, and creamy poppyseed dressing on it.  Not even totally healthy salads.  Oh well.  We'll call that one "favorite night" and do the pesto tonight.

In other news, I have some really promising recipes for next week, courtesy of my friend Heidi.  Looking forward to it!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Flex Those Mussels!

Guess what I made last night?  That's right, Mussels and Potatoes. Personally, I thought it was wonderful.  I love mussels, and this was a totally new take on them...loved it.

I didn't take as many pictures, partly because it was a "keep going" kind of process, but mostly because my pictures would've looked pretty much exactly like the recipe's pictures.  With a few small changes.  First, I don't have a pot that'll work on the stove and in the oven, so I used a large sauce pan to steam the potatoes, then transferred them to a casserole dish when I was ready to bake.  I used a lobster pot for the mussels, since I'd used my "reasonably sized" pot for the potatoes.  It was a little overkill, but it worked.

After I got the mussels to open, I rinsed them in cold water so I wouldn't burn my fingers when I shucked them.  I don't know if that was strictly necessary, but I'd already burned my thumb so I didn't want to risk it.

 Here's what the mess looked like, before I spooned the batter into each shell.  This is about 2 lbs of each, potatoes and mussels.  It was a LOT.
Here's the dish post-spooning, in the oven.  It smelled SOOOO good.  I added some extra garlic to the top of the mussels, since I didn't think they got much when I cooked them the first go round. It was delish.

In the interest of time (which I have increasingly less of as the week progresses), tonight I'm going to make pasta with pesto.  Don't worry, I'll make the pesto!  Probably won't make the pasta.  I'm thinking I'll probably add some kind of meat to it as well...maybe some rotisserie chicken?  I know that's not strictly Italian, but it turns out making legit Italian food takes HOURS.  Seriously, even making my mom's lasagna recipe takes at least 2, last I  checked.

Anyway, that's the plan.  Anyone else try this mussels recipe?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pasta Fiasco

So last night we tried making the ravioli, mostly because I a) really wanted ravioli and b) really wanted to make pasta.  I came to one, single conclusion: I need a pasta maker.

I didn't go to BB&B on the way home as anticipated, so I didn't have the machine...oh well, I thought it couldn't possibly be that hard to roll out dough...right?  Oy.  Let me show you.

 First, I started with some nifty new tools...collapsible measuring cups!  Sweet!  They worked like a charm and look so cool while using them.  Bonus.
 I used this recipe to make the actual pasta dough. Now, when you read it, it makes it sound like a rather violent process...beating eggs isn't exactly a gentle thing (and I mean no Amelia Bedelia isms here...have you ever beaten an egg and kept it all within a 2 inch perimeter?  Me either.)
 Suffice it to say, the structural integrity of the flour "well" was not sound, and Nick had a small panic attack when I started shrieking about the walls being breached and enemy forces invading.  Then he held the bowl so I could scoop the mess (what I could) into it to continue the beatings.
 I wound up needing about 6 eggs and 4 cups of flour, since I lost some egg and was using large (not extra large) anyway.
 Eventually though, taadaa!! The first batch looked way better than later batches, ironically.  This stuff was springy and really hard to roll out...but oh well.
 I also got to use this nifty little thing, which my mom got me for my bridal shower.  It's a Smart Stick hand blender thingy with about a million attachments, all of which are useful for just about everything.
 Here's what the raviolis looked like in the end...a little more dumpling, a little less ravioli, as Nick put it.
And the final result.  It was tastier than you'd expect by looking at it lol.

A few minor changes to the recipe:
* I couldn't find canned pumpkin so I used canned yams instead.  SO GOOD.  I'll have to try that again sometime.
* I forgot to get sage, so I used Italian seasoning and nutmeg. Also, so good.
* For the sauce, I used smoked mozzarella instead of Gorgonzola...again, so good!
* The sauce looked a little lame with just milk and cheese, so I added the leftovers of the filling, which gave it a great flavor.

I'll bet sage would've been really good in this, so I'm tempted to try it again when I can make ravioli, not dumplings.  Overall, it was a nonfail.  We didn't have to order pizza, and we finished most of the meal.  I'll be shopping today. :-)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Week #1: Italy

Quick mention, in the interest of allowing Jessica to continue with last year's goals, I'm leaving Cross Country Kitchens open but will be posting to this blog, Cross Countries Kitchen (subtle difference, I know) to track the international goal.  If you follow the former blog, please hop on to this blog as well, as this is where I'll be posting for this year.  Thanks!

So!  Italy! What do we know about Italy?  I know when we went there as a kid I got my first memorable sunburn (I remember my parents sitting up feeling really bad that we were in pain and calling us their "lobster babies" which was a lot funnier after the fact).  I know it looks like a boot, and that it got a lot of mention (though I don't recall the details) in my AP European History class in high school.  Wikipedia has some very nice things to say about the modern country, and the name apparently means "land of the young cattle".
Here's a fun picture of the topography: 
I guess I didn't realize that the boot has a fuzzy lining.  Pretty nifty.

But what about the food?

Here are the recipes I've picked for this week:
Homemade Tortellini
Tortellini alla Panna
Lasagna Bolognese
Hand-rolled Lasagna
Mussels and Potatoes
Pumpkin Ravioli

The mussels recipe will change as soon as I hear back from my (very) Italian friend, Sara.  I know the ravioli isn't strictly "classic Italian" per se, but a) I desperately wanted to make my own pasta this week (I'll be doing a little shopping on my way home today to pick up one of these babies...though someday I may splurge on one of these...) and b) it's autumn in New England.  I can't NOT use some form of squash.

This week's shopping list is pending...I'll add it later.

I'm also in the process of starting a TasteBook for this adventure.  I like the layout better than random websites, so in the future I'll be linking to recipes on there, which will reference the site on which I found the recipe. It will be a collection of EVERY recipe we attempt this year, hopefully with ratings and notes as we go.  I've added a link on the sidebar to it, so you can check and search to your heart's content, if you like.  The one upgrade I'd LOVE to see available from that site is a way to generate a shopping list based on recipe selection.

So that's this week!  Who's joining me for this week's adventure?


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Not cho leftovers

Today's meal is a combination of donated chips, leftover chili and leftover red beans. And cheese. And autumn beer.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.2

The Almighty Order

Mmkay.  Because I'm slightly lazy and don't trust myself not to favor the "easier" cuisines, I've decided to, with a few exceptions, order the regions by using a random number generator, assigning each region a number, then sorting the numbers.  So:

Country Random Country Week # Week start
 Afghani 19  Italian 1 10/10/2010
 Algerian 42  Nicaraguan 2 10/17/2010
 Argentin 5  Greek 3 10/24/2010
 Aruban 31  Hungarian 4 10/31/2010
 Australian 20  Argentin 5 11/7/2010
 Austrian 48  Iraqi 6 11/14/2010
 Brazilian 7  Brazilian 7 11/21/2010
 Cambodian 9  Swiss 8 11/28/2010
 Cuban 36  Cambodian 9 12/5/2010
 Danish 33  Malaysian 10 12/12/2010
 Dutch 46  Southern America 11 12/19/2010
 Egyptian 37  French 12 12/26/2010
 English 38  Japanese  13 1/2/2011
 Ethiopian 26  Moroccan 14 1/9/2011
 French 12  Vietnamese  15 1/16/2011
 German 34  Thai 16 1/23/2011
 Greek 3  Polish 17 1/30/2011
 Hungarian 4  Mongolian 18 2/6/2011
 Icelandic 32  Afghani 19 2/13/2011
 Indian 27  Australian 20 2/20/2011
 Indonesian 50  Turkish 21 2/27/2011
 Iranian 41  Northern Mexican 22 3/6/2011
 Iraqi 6  Nepali 23 3/13/2011
 Irish 29  Scottish 24 3/20/2011
 Italian 1  Polynesian 25 3/27/2011
 Japanese  13  Ethiopian 26 4/3/2011
 Kenyan 40  Indian 27 4/10/2011
 Korean 47  Sri Lankan 28 4/17/2011
 Malaysian 10  Irish 29 4/24/2011
 Mongolian 18  South African 30 5/1/2011
 Moroccan 14  Aruban 31 5/8/2011
 Nepali 23  Icelandic 32 5/15/2011
 New England 43  Danish 33 5/22/2011
 New Zealand 35  German 34 5/29/2011
 Nicaraguan 2  New Zealand 35 6/5/2011
 Northern Mexican 22  Cuban 36 6/12/2011
 Norwegian 51  Egyptian 37 6/19/2011
 Peruvian 44  English 38 6/26/2011
 Polish 17  Sicilian 39 7/3/2011
 Polynesian 25  Kenyan 40 7/10/2011
 Portuguese 52  Iranian 41 7/17/2011
 Russian 45  Algerian 42 7/24/2011
 Scottish 24  New England 43 7/31/2011
 Sicilian 39  Peruvian 44 8/7/2011
 South African 30  Russian 45 8/14/2011
 Southern America 11  Dutch 46 8/21/2011
 Spanish 49  Korean 47 8/28/2011
 Sri Lankan 28  Austrian 48 9/4/2011
 Swiss 8  Spanish 49 9/11/2011
 Thai 16  Indonesian 50 9/18/2011
 Turkish 21  Norwegian 51 9/25/2011
 Vietnamese  15  Portuguese 52 10/2/2011
I tweaked a couple numbers to make sure that Italian was #1 and French falls on New Years...we're having a Yuppie New Year because Nick's cousins got us a fondue set for a wedding gift...cannot express how excited I am about that. :-D  Other than that, this is how Randomizer.org felt we should eat this year.  I'll update the calendar shortly.

Regional Discretion

Wow, this is going to be an interesting year.  Just looking over a couple maps to come up with these regions (and the subsequent quick n dirty Google searches to see if they even *have* traditional food) has granted me a glimpse of foresight into what could be a very enlightening and eye-opening year. 

So first up, here's my list, in alphabetical order.  I've searched the wide webs for blogs about cooking within each general region, preferably with a humanitarian bent to them, and found a few.  I'll likely add more when I come to the actual week.  If you host a blog that writes about one of these regions, feel free to let me know and I'll add you to the list. I'm excited to see how much I'm going to learn this year.
  1. Afghani
  2.  Algerian
  3.  Argentin
  4.  Aruban
  5.  Australian
  6.  Austrian
  7.  Brazilian (right off the bat I see a recipe for Pão de Queijo...I cannot wait for Brazilian week!!)
  8.  Cambodian
  9.  Cuban
  10.  Danish
  11.  Dutch
  12.  Egyptian
  13.  English
  14.  Ethiopian
  15.  French
  16.  German
  17.  Greek
  18.  Hungarian
  19.  Icelandic
  20.  Indian
  21.  Indonesian
  22.  Iranian
  23.  Iraqi
  24.  Irish
  25.  Italian
  26.  Japanese 
  27.  Kenyan
  28.  Korean
  29.  Malaysian
  30.  Mongolian
  31.  Moroccan
  32.  Nepali
  33.  New England
  34.  New Zealand
  35.  Nicaraguan
  36.  Northern Mexican
  37.  Norwegian
  38.  Peruvian
  39.  Polish
  40.  Polynesian
  41.  Portuguese
  42.  Russian
  43.  Scottish
  44.  Sicilian (prepare for all manner of Princess Bride jokes!)
  45.  South African
  46.  Southern America
  47.  Spanish
  48.  Sri Lankan
  49.  Swiss
  50.  Thai
  51.  Turkish
  52.  Vietnamese (I WILL make pho this week!)
Around the G's, I discovered this list as well.  Huzzah!
    I'm also starting a wishlist on Amazon for cookbooks that look interesting/promising.  If you know of a particular book that is especially good for a given region, please let me know!

    In the interest of time, I'm going to post this today and make the command decision that next week is going to be Italian week. I'll make a separate post for the recipe list.

    I've added a calendar to the sidebar, so you can see what week we're on.  Each calendar "appointment" will have all the recipes (or links to them) and the full shopping list (edit at your own discretion) in the description, and you can add it to your own calendar if you'd like to cook along for that week.  Keep an eye out for that calendar to update in the next week or so with the full year's worth of regions!

    Let's get this started!

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    In the meantime...

    So while I'm compiling a list (and links) of regions and a timeline, Nick has requested that this week be "favorites week".  To that end, last night was chili salad (with a twist this time...I added an avocado and croutons!) and tonight is red beans & rice. Now, I know making red beans is about has hard as tying your shoes (the hardest part is making sure you have laces), but I made a promise I'd document the process of cooking more thoroughly this year so that's what I'm gonna do.


    Red beans.

    You'll need:
     1 lb of kidney beans (I think these are light red)

     1 large yellow onion

     1 lb of your favorite flavor of keilbasa
    To prepare the beans, pour the bag into a bowl and pick out any nasty-looking ones or rocks (it happens). Cover the beans with water (I usually cover with an inch or so to spare...they expand a lot) and leave overnight.

    In the morning, between showering, getting the kids (or pets) ready for the day, and downing that first cup of coffee, chop up your onion and kielbasa.  You could do this the night before and just leave them in the crock pot (covered), but I rarely have the foresight to actually do that.  It does work though.
    The kielbasa is where you can get a little crazy.  A long time ago, my mom used to make this with full circle slices, but then discovered that smaller pieces mean more flavor - hence the quarter circles I use now.  The Boy (my brother) uses 2 lbs of regular kielbasa.  I use 1 lb of low-cal or turkey kielbasa.  I think my great grandmother actually used a ham hock (with the bone), and I'm sure there are other variations in our lineage that I don't know about. It's sort of gastronomical evolution, if you will...you tweak it to make it yours. 
    Dump everything into the crock pot, then add water to just cover the beans (you can't see it too well in this picture).  Depending on how long I'll be gone during the day, I'll add more or less.  Today, it's going to cook for about 10 hours so I added 2 full pint glasses' worth.  It was what was clean and readily available, don't judge my system. 
    Finally, put the crock pot  on low and let it do it's thing.  It's a little better if you can stir it periodically throughout the day, but it's no big deal if you can't.  Generally when I get home, I'll stir it a few times and leave the lid either off or partially off, depending on how watery it still is.  If it's really watery and I'm hungry like NOW, I'll crank it up to high while I make the rice and cornbread.  More pictures for those later.

    For now, I hope everyone's warmer and drier than I am today...it's pretty nasty out, so I'm really looking forward to this!

    In other news, I made a button!  If you want to join in my Cross Countries Kitchens challenge, add it to your blog and let's cook!  The motto is "Think globally, cook locally."  You can grab the button and put it on your own blog by copying/pasting the text below (or on the sidebar) and adding it as a text or html widget.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Cross CountrIES Kitchens!

    Hello all! 
    I'm back in action, and since it's the start (ish) of a new year, it's time for a new goal!  (See old blog for previous goal.)

    I discussed this with Nick today (who, you may or may not have heard, is now my HUSBAND!!) and after a few bleh ideas, I think we've come up with one that'll make everyone (and by that I mean he and I) happy. As a result of the abundant generosity of our families, I am now the proud new owner of several fun new kitchen gadgets (which I can't wait to get organized, once we have our new W/D set up!!) which is inspiring me to step a little outside my comfort zone in the kitchen.  Besides that, isn't the first year of cooking supposed to be terrible anyway?  This is my last chance to experiment with the copout of "hey, I'm a new wife, give me some slack!"

    So, without further ado...
    This year's cooking theme/goal is "Cross CountrIES Kitchens".  The rules are these: 
    • Cook 5 nights a week (leftovers count, but should really be used for lunches)
    • One night a week (hopefully Sunday) will be reserved for "favorites" in which the dish need not be part of that week's region, but can be from ones we've tried before. 
    • Each week gets its own region.  How do we pick the region?  I'm going to do some research and pick 52 regions (think southern, New England, south France, etc).  More details later. 
    • Weeks can be traded but not skipped...for example, if I know the upcoming week is going to be a particularly busy one, perhaps making traditional Indian food (which I can only assume takes FOREVER, given my old neighbors used to start cooking onions around 8 am every day...I could be making that up based on a singular presumed event though) might not be the best choice. So I can switch it with the next week, but can only trade each week once (so I can't get to the next week and say "I'm too busy again" and put off, say, deboning a duck). 
    • Not every meal needs to be dinner (desserts are ok too), but the entire meal needs to be from the same region...so no making a foreign main dish and using box potatoes as a side. In fact, a sub-goal is going to be avoiding box potatoes and the like altogether this year.
    So that's the gist of it.  Now, I'm going to need a little help from my loyal followers here.  Over the next couple days I'll be brainstorming a list of regions, then putting them in some kind of order.  What I need from you (especially my foreign or well-traveled followers) are suggestions of regions, preferably with a recipe or two to back them up.  Also, if you have suggestions of recipe books (preferably with authentic recipes, none of this Americanized for your pleasure crap), especially ones that cover multiple regions, I'm all ears (or eyes, as it were). 

    So that about sums it up.  I hope to have the list of regions (in some sort of order, no promises it'll be the final order) posted by the end of the week, so let's hear some suggestions! 

    Other goals for this blog for this year include (but are not limited to): 
    • More consistent blogging
    • More pictures
    • Better descriptions of processes, failures, successes, and workarounds.