Mole Poblano, Arroz y Frijoles, and Tortillas

It’s been two weeks since I last posted and I apologize for the long absence. I originally hadn’t planned on taking an off week until this week but then our dog got sick and after four weeks of continuous cooking, I needed a break.

Niko is our almost eleven year old husky. In November it’ll be ten years since he became our dog, even though he was only supposed to be a foster. At the time we already had a dog, a Rottweiler named Lars, who ruled our world. Niko was abandoned by his owner, who was our neighbor at the apartment complex where we were living, and when management called me to ask if I knew who the dog belonged to (I had previously worked for the company and the manager was a friend), I told them we’d take the dog until we could find an owner. He’s been a pain in our ass since.

I’ve never met such a stubborn dog in my life! From day one, he has been an ornery s.o.b. He suffered from major separation anxiety for the first couple of months we had him, which meant coming home to turds all over the floor, shredded hardcover books, or DVD cases that became chew toys. Sometimes all three! It took years, YEARS, to break him of jumping on people and to not yip and howl at us whenever he wanted something. Actually, I don’t think we did anything, age did. But throught it all, we kept him because 1. I’m a sucker for animals and 2. I knew no one else would tolerate him and I didn’t want him to be adopted and then returned over and over again. Niko has never been our dog, we’re his people.

And it probably would have stayed that way but then we had the Four Year Old and the day we brought her home, Niko found his soulmate. He never left her side for the first three years of her life. Wherever she was, he was close to follow. He slept next to her or in her room every night up until nine months ago, when he got sick.

Nine months ago I noticed a growth on his neck. At the time it was just a growth under the skin that didn’t have fur and it didn’t seem to bother him so I ignored it. Months passed and it didn’t go away. I hesitated taking him into the vet because I knew it wasn’t going to be good news. At his age, it would most likely be the big C and I couldn’t handle it. I’m aware how selfish it was of me.

Well then it started bugging him and he started scratching it, which made it bleed, which made it hard for me to ignore. So I took him in two weeks ago. It’s a mast cell tumor that was about to rupture (apparently they start to itch before they explode) so it was perfect timing. Luckily his blood work was great so whatever caused the tumor hadn’t spread. We didn’t have the tumor tested because, honestly, had it been cancer, we couldn’t afford to treat it and he’s eleven, what’s the point?

So they cut open his face, removed the tumor, and stitched him up. I’ve spent the past week tending to his every need and yep, he’s still an ornery s.o.b.

And that’s why I took last week off. Tomorrow I’ll post why I’m taking this week off.

And since this post is long enough, the food review will be short. My mole was good but not great. My rice was uh-mazing! My beans were semi-crunchy even after being soaked for four hours and cooking for two and my tortillas were delicious!



Beef Rezala and Bhuna Khichuri

Welcome to Bangladeshi week! Actually, it was last week but some appointments took longer than expected and it threw my entire week off. Also, weather. 

As I metioned last week, the Four Year Old became the Four Year Old last Wednesday and we planned a pool party for her the following Sunday. James just happened to check the weather forecast on Thursday and saw that there was a 90% chance of rain on Sunday.

Rain. In August. That almost never happens.

The next couple of days were spent checking the weather every four hours, sending out multiple group texts to our guests, and ultimately deciding to cancel the pool party and hosting a smaller version at the house. The Four Year Old still had an amazing time and even got a piñata, which she wouldn’t have had at the pool and it was the one thing she really wanted anyway, so yay! Birthday success!  

I learned two things from that event. Number one: I really need to buy an umbrella. I don’t know why I don’t own one but I need one. It’s been raining for the past four days and I’m tired of getting wet. Number two: I need to be more flexible. I’ve always prided myself in my time management skills and I still believe that they are essential but I need to make room for unexpected events. Too often I plan down to the minute and I get frustrated when I get thrown off. There is no reason to be so stringent because I end up disappointed and why put myself through that? Life is too short to be so annoyed with myself. 

I’m taking this week off from cooking so I can catch up on posting. I’m actually taking the week off from everything. James is home all week so instead of trying to fit in errands, running, yoga, housework, craft projects, and cooking, I’m filling it with Orphan Black binge watching with my man during the day and fun family time with the girls in the evening. I think it’s much more worthwhile than all the other stuff.

And now for the beef rezala. A rezala is a white spicy curry from Bangladesh. Yes, curries are typically a little spicy anyway but rezalas are spicier because they include whole chilies. They also get their white color from the inclusion of yogurt or milk. Rezalas are similar to kormas in that sense, however, unlike kormas, the meat is not braised. Very slight difference. This beef rezala is different in color from other rezalas due to the spices used but mine didn’t come out as red as I think it should have. My beef released a lot of water so I think that didn’t allow the spices to coat and stick to the meat as well. I was afraid that since it released so much water, it would come out tough but it was surprisingly tender. It also wasn’t as spicy as I expected it to be but that wasn’t bad because it made it more edible for the girls. And yes, both girls ate it. They also ate the bhuna khichuri, which I preferred over the rezala. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever, I love rice and beans! 

What I enjoyed most about the meal was being able to use two new tools. After  Indian week, where I scorched my arms from frying spices or worked my arms sore from grinding spices, I decided to invest in some tools that will make life easier. The first is a vaghar vadki, a spice roasting spoon. It’s basically a tiny skillet, about four inches in diameter, with a long handle that fries spices in seconds. The smaller diameter speeds up the process since the heat doesn’t have to be distributed to such a large area like with a regular skillet and it’s ideal for measurements under a cup. I was able to fry up the cumin in less than thirty seconds and had more control over how dark I wanted it to get. The other tool is a spice grinder, although I bought a coffee grinder but it’s basically the same thing. I’ve been using a mortar and pestle, which isn’t terrible except both my mortars have grooves so the spices often get stuck in them. This results in an uneven texture unless I put some real elbow grease into it. The grinder I bought has three different settings, coarse, medium, and fine, and it took maybe a minute to grind my spices into a nice fine powder. Technology is amazing! It was super satisfying and I wish I would have bought one sooner but so it goes.

Recipe, Recipe





Casado means “married” in Spanish. The story behind this meal is that it was traditionally eaten by newlyweds on their wedding night. Since they hadn’t lived together before and didn’t know what the other liked, the meal featured a little bit of everything so they could learn what the other did and didn’t like. I’ve also read that it got its name from “marrying” a bunch of different flavors. I like the former explanation because it makes me laugh that people didn’t talk about what foods they liked during courtship. I feel like that would be the easiest discussion to have.

“My favorite color is green and my favorite food is fried chicken.”

“That’s really interesting. I hate fried chicken. Date and possible marriage is over. Bye.”

Maybe that’s why they didn’t talk about likes and dislikes during courtship…


Bean Escabeche

This was our last Peruvian meal. I had planned it in the hopes of inviting our Paleo diet following neighbors over for dinner but I kinda forgot to invite them over…I think this is Paleo friendly, except for the rice. Okay I just took the time to Google “Paleo Diet” and no, this is not Paleo friendly. I thought you could eat beans when paleo but I guess not. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t invite them over.


Poor Man’s Tacu Tacu

This week we’re in Peru! Only one person voted in the poll and they voted for Russian food but we were in the mood for something lighter. Also, I found this great cookbook!

I was at Costco a few weeks ago and saw this gorgeous cookbook on Peruvian cooking. It’s huge and colorful so I was immediately drawn to it! Way to go marketing team! At roughly 430 pages, it’s almost an encyclopedia and I was thiiiiis close to buying it when I saw the price tag. $30. Nope, not gonna happen. I just can’t justify spending that much money on a cookbook, or any book for that matter. Anyway, I was at the library last week and lo and behold, the super pretty cookbook was right there, FOR FREE. Easy decision right there!

The first meal is Poor Man’s Tacu Tacu. In Spanish it’s Tacu Tacu A Lo Pobre. Tacu tacu is apparently a very popular dish in Peru that is made of rice and beans, shaped into a patty, and fried. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but my favorite food combination is rice and beans. Any kind of rice and beans. I’ll eat them all! So I was pretty excited about this! Also, it’s fried. I love fried food.

This is normally served with fried bananas and a fried egg on top. I didn’t make the egg part because I felt this was going to be more than enough food but I did fry a banana.

THIS WAS AMAZING! The tacu tacu reminded me of Gallo Pinto but tastier! I kept eating the mix when I was preparing it and noticed that it was drier after I fried it but I still loved it. I think it would have benefited from a sauce but that’s about it. The meat was okay, nothing special, but the tacu tacu was fantastic! Even the girls ate it, BOTH OF THEM! I mean, granted the 3 year old smelled it first and said “NO!” but then I told her she could have some ice cream if she took just two bites. Two bites turned into eating the entire serving and her exclaiming “This is good, Mommy!” Success!


Chicken Sekuwa and Black Eyed Pea Curry

Sorry for the lack of updates, the past week has been a little crazy. I don’t know who I’m talking to, I literally have one follower (Hi Andrew!).

After Finnish week, I was really looking forward to Nepali week. I don’t mean to offend any Finnish people that might be reading this and I sincerely apologize if I do, but I was a little underwhelmed with the food. Like I said in my last post, I know there are better meals out there (really want to try some Karelian Pastries) and I’m not entirely done with the Finnish cuisine, I definitely plan on revisiting it someday, but this experience didn’t leave the greatest taste in my mouth. So yeah, was into trying Nepali food.

I bought The Taste of Nepal by Jyoti Pathak from Amazon. It got good reviews, it didn’t cost a thousand dollars, and it claimed to be a good combination of traditional and homemade recipes.

The first meal I made was Chicken Sekuwa and Black Eyed Pea Curry. So, side note, shopping for groceries for the week was enlightening and very affordable; I spent a total of $70 on groceries for the four meals. Se-ven-ty do-llars. By comparison, Finnish week costs me roughly $140 and I didn’t get a year’s worth of beans with those $140 like I did with these groceries. Seriously, I bought like eight pounds of beans. I’m good for, like, forever.

The finished meal. Oh-my-gawd was this good!

The meat was beyond tasty and tender. It was a tangy due to the onion and yogurt but oh so good. Those onions I kept going on and on about? UUUHH, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I was worried because they were raw and raw onions mean my chest will be on fire but the lemons softened them to where they just melted in my mouth. And even though I knew what could possibly happen, I still ate like six of them. By the way, no heartburn. None. It was magic! The curry was spectacular! Who knew black eyed peas could be so fantastic? That asafetida ruined the scent of my house but turned those boring beans into one of my favorite dishes ever.

So yeah, this meal was aight.