Favorites

I made 236 different recipes last year. When I went down the list to find favorites, I thought it would be hard to even get a top ten so I was really surprised when I ended up with twenty. I knew I had made a lot of good food but I didn’t I’d made that much that left such a great impression.

Here are my favorite meals from last year. They are not in order of preference. They’re in alphabetical order by country because I just went down the list of Categories and I am not taking the time to rank all of them. Sorry. Most of them are on the easy level so if you want a good, fairly quick meal (under an hour) most of these should work.

Fugazetta – Argentina I will never see stuffed pizza the same after this.

Moules Frites – Belgium This meal made me fall in love with mussels.

Black Bean and Sausage Soup – Brazil Probably one of the simplest meals I made all year. Probably why it’s a favorite.

Cumin Spiced Lamb – China Same for this one.

Tamales de Pipian – Colombia I can’t wait to eat this again!

Stamppot – Netherlands I’m totally incorporating this into Thanksgiving dinner.

Panes Rellenos – El Salvador I want to visit El Salvador just to be able to eat these things again.

Chicken Theresa – Germany Another very easy dinner. Not very healthy but who cares?

Murg Purdina – India You would think that the Masala Dosa would be my favorite since I was and am so proud of being able to make it but this Murg Purdina and the accompanying Methi Aloo far surpass it.

Shakshuka – Israel Oh man, I think I might host a brunch just to have the excuse to share this amazing dish with people!

Gamja Saelleodeu – Korea I’m seriously waiting for the next barbecue pot luck to take this dish and blow everyone’s mind with it!

Harira – Morocco This dish made me like lamb.

Chicken Sekuwa – Nepal The previous post already explained my love for this.

Arroz con Chancho – Peru I’ve made this a couple of times since I first made it. It’s that easy and that good!

Ceebu Jen – Senegal I love this meal because it got my kids to eat fish. And veggies. All at once!

Shrimp Curry – Sri Lanka This made the list not just because it was tasty but because also because of its versatility. I made it a few days later but with chicken and it was just as great!

Pork Meatloaf Stir Fry – Thailand This is now how I make pork meatloaf.

Chicken in Pandan Leaves – Thailand This meal introduced me to and made me fall in love with pandan leaves.

Kiymali Pide – Turkey Another pizza and soooo good!

Sister’s Stew – Westeros This meal taught me that not all fish soups are gross and for that, I am grateful. I also got semi-drunk making the bread bowl.

 

 

 

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Year In Review

I am finally getting around to my last post! I spent the last month really focusing on training for the half marathon I ran this past Sunday so this post took a back seat. To be honest, I put this post in the trunk and forgot it. It started stinking recently and I finally looked back there and found it so I decided I should probably air it out.

The first thing people asked when I told them what I was doing was “What’s been your favorite?” The second was “What’s been the worst?” followed by “What have you learned?” So let me go ahead and answer those questions.

“What’s been your favorite?”

I made a lot of food last year, 236 recipes to be exact. Despite making A LOT of good food, my favorite meal was actually from the beginning. I thought that it would change throughout the year because there was so much to choose from but nope, it was and is still Chicken Sekuwa from Nepali week. I think James will argue it’s my favorite because it was our first meal after the disaster that was Finnish week (I think just answered the second question) and coming off that, a grilled cheese would have been delectable but I disagree. I mean, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that the week before was spent training our gag reflex but this meal was really amazing! I just re-read the post and I don’t think it gave it justice. You will have to click on the recipe portion to get more praise because this meal was made when I was still on Blogger and when I transferred over to Squarespace, I broke the posts into two portions. Anyway, it was much better than I gave it credit it for. Yes, the meat was tender but I think the true essence of the meal was in the yogurt sauce and those flippin’ pickled onions! It was creamy and a little tart and salty and overall amazing.

There were others I loved a lot, nineteen others actually, but Chicken Sekuwa was number one. I’ll post the other nineteen in a separate post but don’t worry, it’ll just be a list.

“What’s been the worst?”

I’ve sort of already answered this…To be fair to the Finnish people who will probably never read this, not all of Finnish week was bad. The Summer Vegetable Soup, the Spinach Pancakes, and the Carrot Casserole were all things I enjoyed that week but I will say, the Liver Casserole did cast quite the black cloud over the whole week. Part of the reason we did this project was to get out of our comfort zone and try new things. We all get in our food ruts and we were tired of eating the same things over and over again. Also, sometimes we shelter ourselves and don’t want to try “the other” because we’re conditioned to stick with things that are similar to ourselves and are wary of different things. This is just being human, we have all experienced this at some point in our lives and we can blame our neanderthal ancestors for instilling in us a fear of the unknown but we wanted to get away from that. So we tried liver. And we hated it. But at least we tried it and that says something, right? There were other meals that disappointed me but I can’t think of any that I just could not stomach after a few bites like with this casserole. So sorry Liver Casserole, we tried. I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t you, it was most definitely you. You’re gross. Sorry.

“What have you learned?”

Where to begin?

Probably the biggest thing I learned was that 250 ml equal 8 oz, or one cup, and how to use my measuring cup. I can’t think of any time before this that I used a recipe that measured things in millileters because 1. I apparently didn’t know that the other side of my measuring cup had millileter measurements and 2. I would just find a recipe that measured in cups. Because I’m stupid. I am not a detail oriented person and never read the small print; this will inevitably be the cause of my downfall.

Which brings me to the second most important thing I learned: the importance of reading THE ENTIRE RECIPE. I don’t know how many times I got frustrated because I didn’t read the entire recipe when planning and then came cooking day and I was like “Man, I was supposed to marinate this stuff for four hours…” or “Oh, this says to let this sit for two days..people will be here in thirty minutes…” So now I read everything and I make notes because I will still probably forget whatever I just read because my memory sucks.

So it goes.

I didn’t do a full fifty-two weeks of cooking like I had originally planned; I ended up doing thirty-eight.

38 countries.

122 meals.

236 recipes.

So no, I didn’t do what I set out to but I did what I could and I’m okay with that. And that’s probably the biggest lesson out of this entire thing, learning to give myself a little grace. I am not a driven person, I am the first to admit that, and I often start projects without finishing them. James recently said that I’m good at starting things but I’m not good at grinding it out and finishing them. I agree with that 1000% percent. And you would think that with me accepting this flaw, I wouldn’t beat myself up about it but I do. And sometimes I should because not finishing things is a horrible habit and should not be encouraged but overall, I need to just give myself a break.

I have a lot going on, we all do, and as we continue on this journey, we will never not have something going on, so we do what we can and move on. It doesn’t mean we don’t fulfill commitments but it does mean that we don’t let it get to us that we can’t give it our all. Because you can’t give your all to everything or everyone, it’s impossible. You’ll have nothing left for yourself or to give in the future so give a little and be okay with it. And on the flip side of that, we should be appreciative of those who give us a little because sometimes it’s a struggle to even do that and we need to be grateful that they care enough to do that much for us.

So thank you for giving me a little of your time last year. Some of our best experiences last year were cooking for our friends or just talking about this and having people share their cooking experiences with us. I’ve made so many connections just by talking about food and it wasn’t just with foodies or professionals. Everyone eats, everyone cooks, we all like food, so yeah, thank you for sharing all that with me.

Chicken Tarhonya

I had said I would post yesterday but then I got stuck in Austin traffic (twice!) so I got home later than I had planned and by then, all I wanted to do was eat a late lunch and catch up on Gotham. I was full on “I can’t even!!!!” yesterday afternoon so I plopped on the sofa and ate Taco Cabana while wishing Ben McKenzie would clear his throat. Like, we get it Ben, you’re super tough and no-nonsense, but cough and speak with your regular voice. This is not how Ryan Atwood used to speak!

On to the food, sort of. So did you know this is not my first food blog? I know it would appear that way since this is about as basic as you can get and it looks like something a amateur would put together but I’m actually a seasoned blogger. I have been blogging regularly since December 2004 and in February 2008, my friend Kira and I decided to start a food blog. It was called “We Be Cookin'” I met Kira through our personal blogs in 2005. We became friends, spent most of our work days IMing each other about Veronica Mars, and eventually got so close that she was one of my bridesmaids. Our food blog lasted a year and I don’t remember why we stopped. I was unemployed in February 2009 and didn’t find a job until May so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because I was busy…Anyway, I bring it up because I posted about making Chicken Tarhonya on that blog.  Since I’ve already posted about making that meal, I don’t think the internet needs another post on the subject. Not much has changed since that post except now I make this meal for three beasts instead of one.

I want to focus on the second reason for me taking an extra week off because I think it’s a topic that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable addressing. The short answer is anxiety. The long answer is, well, get ready to read.

I’ve suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember; I think I had my first panic attack at eight. Of course I didn’t know it was a panic attack at the time but now that I know what they are, I can definitely diagnose it as such. What did an eight year old have to be anxious about? Oh, just an alcoholic father who was verbally abusive to her mother and who would often show up at their house at midnight and start arguments and be a general terror. I don’t remember how long this went on but I do know that my panic attacks stopped around the time I got to junior high and they stayed away all throughout high school. They reared their ugly head again when I got to college, which is understandable since I was in a new environment. I have always craved stability and my panic attacks seem to pop up when I’m experiencing some massive changes to my routine. They also always happened at night, they still do, so at least I only lose my mind at home and not in public. Silver lining.

In the summer of 2011, I experienced a miscarriage. I went in for a check up, they found something “abnormal”, and the next thing I knew, I was being prepped for a laparoscopy. They had only planned to perform a DNC (the nurse called it a dust and clean up. I hated her for saying that) but when they were in there, they also found a tumor that had grown on my left ovary. They ended up removing the tumor, ovary, and the fallopian tube. I was devastated afterwards, so much so that I lost 15 pounds in one week. One week. What followed was a month so filled with depression and anxiety, that I sought medical help. That turned into another two months of trying to figure out what meds worked and which ones didn’t. Fyi, Prozac did not, Zoloft and Xanax did. I also started seeing a therapist and that combined with my medication got me back to as close to normal as is possible for me. Then, four months after my miscarriage, I got pregnant again and with my psychiatrist’s and psychologist’s assistance, I got off my meds. I was lucky that I didn’t experience any side effects and it went pretty smoothly. I was very fortunate.

The past five years have been manageable, even with the stresses of being a mother. I run on a regular basis, I do yoga, I meditate, I’ve cut back a lot on my alcohol (yes, friends, what I drink now is me cutting back!), and I just watch myself. I work really hard on managing my anxiety and sometimes that probably leads to more anxiety. Which is what I’ve been experiencing lately. Which is why I took a mini-vacay. There have been days where I do everything I’m supposed to do and I still feel my skin crawl. Where I cannot stop worrying about “what if.” Where my mind races so much that I’m left questioning my reality. And to be frank, that shit is fucking annoying. Because I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing and sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it does, I’m not going to discount those methods, but sometimes they don’t and I’m left hyperventilating at three in the morning.

So I’m trying to decide if I need to get back on meds, specifically Xanax because I can take that when needed. I know that just having it will help me because it did in the past. Just knowing I had a way to end them right away gave me peace of mind. I mean, I never even had to get my prescription refilled, that’s how little I used it. The only thing holding me back is that I don’t want to be dependent on an outside solution because I’m one of those crazies that believes we are capable of overcoming everything alone. And that’s a dumb outlook, I’m aware, but that is the truth. When I got on medication before, it was with the understanding that it was a short term solution and it would give me time to find a permanent one. I never wanted to spend the rest of my life on medication because, let’s be honest, those people are not viewed in the best light. Again, I’m aware of how stupid that is but I’m being honest.

So that’s where I am. Trying to make sense of all of my conflicting, hypocritical feelings. It’s an exhausting experience but I need to get this figured out. I’m just really, really tired of this.

 

Willkommen

Welcome to the new site! Or if this is your first time here, well, welcome to the new site! 

Also, I don’t speak German. You might think I do because of the title of this post but I don’t. The only reason I even know how to say “Welcome” in German is because I adore Cabaret. And they say the theater doesn’t teach anything!

I was previously using Blogger and while it was a nice platform, as I started really getting into this, I realized I wanted to be able to customize my blog. Blogger offered customization BUT you basically had to know code to get what you wanted and I do NOT have time to learn computer speak. I barely have time to learn human speak and my mastery of that is mediocre at best so computer speak and Melissa was not going to happen.

Obviously the look of the blog is a lot different but there is another very big difference: I am now separating my thoughts on the meal from the recipe itself. Previously everything was in one post but it made for very long, drawn out posts and people (i.e my cousin Robert. Hay Robert!) complained about it so I decided to change it. The Blog and Recipes are now on separate pages and once I figure out how to link the two posts together I will. I’m also slowly going through old posts and separating the two so if you scroll through old posts right now, you’ll find most of them are still in one post. I will get there, I promise! Some of the original content is being edited out because it doesn’t work as well in two posts but thankfully the same ‘ol Melissa charm is still there.

Also, no more having to login to comment! Wooot! Now everyone can come on here and tell me how they really feel. That’s the best part of the internet, right???

I’m really liking this new platform and once I figure out how to navigate it, this site is going to be A-M-A-ZING! 

No, it’s not. It will be a lot of the same BUT it will be organized and pretty and that’s all that really matters.  

So welcome to the new site. Look around, comment, share, and remember: life is a cabaret.

Beef Fajita Nachos

I said I would post the recipe for my awesome, Super Bowl, Beef Fajita Nachos and I am nothing if not a woman of my word.

Ingredients

2 lbs beef skirt steak

2 very ripe avocados

1 tomato, diced with the pulp removed

12 corn tortillas

I don’t have accurate measurements of the following so just use how much you like:

Cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper

Cheese and sour cream

Do not use store bought tortilla chips when making nachos. Making your own chips is so easy and they are waaaay better quality! Also, they’re better for stacking since they won’t fall apart like store bought chips will. Grease a pan with oil. Brush each tortilla with olive oil and stack into fours; cut into quarters. Make sure you also brush the sides with oil so they don’t burn. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350.

Top with sour cream, cheese, and jalapenos! I forgot the jalapenos 😦 I had planned on making individual nachos because that’s the best way to eat them but I was running late so I just stacked everything on top of each other. They were still delicious!

Quick Programming Note

I’m taking a break from cooking this week because I really just want dinner to be easy and not a production. I mean, I am still going to cook but it won’t be any fancy cuisine, just regular meals. Well, the theme is “What Will the Three Year Old Eat?” so, basically, 4th of July food. Hot dogs, hamburgers, meat loaf, tacos, super good stuff.

Both James and I have one more meal each to post so we’ll have those up in the next couple of days. I also made some bombass nachos for Super Bowl Sunday so I’ll post that as well. James thinks I should post some kind of cooking tutorial, specifically how to chop onions. Does anyone really need that? If so, leave a comment, I’ll post it.

About this blog

Welcome to Eat the World in 52 Weeks!

No, this blog will not teach you how to eat the world in 52 weeks in some weird Pac-Man style. Sorry, I just don’t think that’s possible unless you are a super, giant, extra-terrestrial. And if you ARE a super, giant, extra-terrestrial, thank you for reading my human blog. I’m sorry to disappoint you but I’m sure if you Google the rest of the universe, you will find a way to eat our world in 52 weeks. I would prefer you not eat our world but if you do 1. Start in Europe. I don’t have anything against Europe but I would like to have a heads up that a super, giant, extra-terrestrial is eating the world so I can have time to get myself together. 2. May I suggest that instead of eating our world you maybe just enslave us and exploit us for our natural resources? Just keep it easy on the anal probes.

And that is what this blog will be about! Me talking to aliens!

But really, this blog will be about trying the world’s different cuisines, one week at a time. Last year I told my husband that we needed to be more adventurous with our eating because I was tired of making the same stuff over and over again. I try to incorporate new foods into our diet but I often fall into ruts where making a meatloaf is a lot easier than looking up a new curry. But not this year! This year I’m going to learn how to make all kinds of curry!

I will focus on a different country each week and will be using a variety of cookbooks. I will share the recipes and will also share the inevitable frustration from cooking these great meals and then having my three year old tell me they’re “Yuck.” She likes to do that a lot. The plan is to do five meals and they will mostly be dinners, although my husband just chimed in he’d like Banh-Mi on a weekend. Well that’s what the Banh-Mi restaurant on Burnet is for, James!

So thanks for reading this far, hope you come back for more!

Cheers!