Coq au Vin with Parsley Potatoes and Buttered Peas and Butter Spongecake

We have reached the end!! Actually we reached the end about a month ago, on December 17th, but I’ve had a crazy month. As I mentioned before, the girls were home for two weeks during the holiday break and then it took me another two weeks to get myself situated. I have attempted to sit and post for almost two weeks but my days have just gotten away from me so here I am. A month late. I know my posting has been sporadic for the past few months but to be honest, my heart has not been fully into this project. Things started to get really hectic around September and I think that’s when I started to lose a bit of interest in this. It’s just been hard to prioritize something that ultimately is just an option, a luxury. I’m grateful that I’ve been allowed to do this but when I look at the bigger picture it’s just not as important as other things in our lives. I’m glad I stuck with it but I’m also glad it’s over.

I ended up only doing two French meals for French week. I had originally planned on doing three but I forgot to marinate the meat for another dish so I just skipped it. This meal took a total of six hours to make so, you know, I think I can be forgiven.

We had our friends Jay and Rick over for dinner, as well as my cousin Robert. Jay and his friend Paul have a podcast,  Have You Seen This One? where each week they recommend a movie for the other to watch and then review the movies. A few months ago Jay and I got the idea to combine forces and watch an international movie to accompany my cooking. Originally we talked about doing it for Italian week but the three of us couldn’t get our schedules together. We settled on French week and chose The Absolutely Fabulous Movie. Jay and I are huge AbFab fans and the way we justified this movie for French week was that it takes place in the French Riviera. I know, it’s a bit of a stretch but both of us had already seen many of the other French movies we considered and, honestly, we just wanted an excuse to watch AbFab.

So the one thing I finally learned from this project was to plan ahead and to do as much prep work as possible beforehand. It happened too many times where I was like “Oh, that won’t take long because chopping the veggies will take five minutes and blah blah blah” and then it’s time to make dinner, guests are on their way, and I’m still chopping veggies after twenty minutes. Not this time! I made the dessert (a butter spongecake with chocolate-rum icing) and peeled the onions for the coq a vin the day before and early the morning of, I made the appetizer (roquefort cheese balls). I am positive this saved SO MUCH TIME. It also helped that James was home the day before so I was able to spend some much needed time in the kitchen. I also set the table almost seven hours before our guests arrived and that too helped.

I had never made a butter spongecake, or any kind of spongecake, before so this was fun. I think I’ve mentioned I’m not the best when it comes to baking because for some reason measured ingredients and I do not get along. I feel like baking involves a lot of chemistry and although I was pretty good at chemistry, I’m a D student at best when it comes to baking. I made the sign of the cross, lit a candle, and got to it. OMG, I was nervous. I think I read the recipe about four different times, kept reading every single step before and after completing it, and was just very thorough. As I poured the batter into the cake pan I thought to myself “If this doesn’t work, I’m breaking something.” The good thing was I had to wait until the next evening to find out if it worked out so nothing was broken that day.

Jay, Rick, and Robert were arriving at 7:30 so around 4, I started cooking my coq au vin. I had to cut up a chicken, which up until this point I hated doing because it always took me forever to do it, but I guess I’d done it so many times throughout the year that it literally took me five minutes to cut up the chicken. FIVE MINUTES! This was a huge ego boost for me and was a great way to start dinner making. I have a pretty good self-esteem as it is so you can only imagine how much “OH YEAH!” and dancing took place after this. It will remain one of the highlights of my year.

The coq au vin wasn’t too difficult to make, really. The most difficult part was lighting the cognac and shaking the Dutch oven until the flame subsided. James really enjoyed that and even filmed it for FB. I was just happy I didn’t burn anything or myself. Low expectations are the key to a happy life! To accompany the coq au vin, I made parsley potatoes and buttered peas. A note on the peas.

The recipe states “In France it is usually accompanied only by parsley potatoes; buttered green peas could be included if you wish a green vegetable.” I laughed when I read this because I could just hear the disdain in Julia Child’s voice. If you wish…just a little eye rolling there. So yeah, I made buttered peas and they were delicious Julia!

Instead of par-boiling the onions, which is an option and one many people seem to prefer, I baked them. I think this made the dish richer and more flavorful but I have no real evidence to back this up other than my happy tummy and those of my guests.

So I was done cooking everything, placed everything in their serving dishes, and I looked at the clock and it was seven. THIRTY MINUTES EARLY! I was so proud of myself! I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal but every single time I’d made food for friends during the year, I was cooking up until the minute they arrived or still cooking after they arrived. It made for a very frantic greeting and I think the food suffered a bit as well. I couldn’t give my guests or the food the attention they deserved and it was very nerve-wracking. But not this time because by now I was a pro!

The food was amazing! The cheese balls were very strong but that was expected because it was blue cheese. Pairing it with bagel crisps helped but I ate about three or four by themselves. I also love blue cheese so that might have just been me loving on the bleu. The potatoes? Yum. They weren’t too soft or too hard, they were the right texture and flavor. The peas? I love peas and I love butter so I ate a few spoonfuls. Now, what everyone really cares about: the coq a vin. If I were choosing the meals for my last week on earth, this would be Wednesday’s meal. Chicken Sekuwa would be Thursday’s meal, Moules Frites would be Thursday’s, and Frito Pie would be my last meal on Saturday. Hey, I don’t want to hear it. Frito Pie is fucking amazing and if you look down on it, it says more about you than me. That’s all I gotta say about that.

The onions and mushrooms were to diiiiiiiie for! The onions literally fell apart in my mouth; I barely had to chew them. They were so buttery and soft! I’m basically drooling just thinking about them. The chicken was so tender and juicy and my goodness, I want to eat this again. Everything was just perfection and it shouldn’t have been surprising because it’s one of Julia Child’s most famous recipes and this is why. It was just so freaking good!

This was the spongecake the day after. I forgot to take a pic of it that evening; let’s blame the six bottles of wine and two bottles of champagne for my forgetfulness…As you can see, nothing was broken so it turned out well. Even with it being a day old, it was surprisingly moist. I’m pretty sure that was because of all the butter and eggs.

So with full bellies and brains starting to float in booze, we sat down to watch AbFab. If you’d like to hear our review (and I know you do) please check out Jay and Paul’s podcast. My bit starts at the 45 minute mark.

So that’s it, my last meal! I’m going to start working on my Year In Review and with my track record, you can expect it some time next month. Also, it looks like I’ll have to post the actual recipes because I can’t find them online anywhere and that always takes forever. Until then!

Advertisements

Ribollita

When I was meal planning for Italian week I knew I wanted to make a soup because we were expecting a cold front that week. I’m weird in that I prefer to eat soup when it’s cold outside. Eating soup when it’s warm or hot outdoors makes me feel really gross because I feel like it heats my insides to match my outside and yes, I know it’s crazy, but that’s how I feel. And don’t even get me started on cold soups. I don’t care how many great cold soups there are out there and how you think I’m missing out, I don’t buy it. Soup should be hot. End of story. Well, my story, at least. If you want to incorporate cold soup into your story, go for it, you’re the author. I’ll just skip that chapter when I’m reading your book.

So anyway, we were expecting a cold front that would lower the temps into the thirties so I knew it was perfect soup weather! Googling “Italian soup” brought up a lot of what I’ve seen at Olive Garden or soups with sausage but I was craving something veggie so when I found the recipe for ribollita, I was really happy! Ribollita, which roughly translates to “reboiled,” is another peasant dish that originated in Tuscany. It’s main ingredients are leftover bread, cannellini beans, and kale; preferably you would use Tuscan bread and kale but, yeah, use what you can! It’s also best eaten after it’s been sitting out for a couple of days but I obviously didn’t go that route. I had some the next day for lunch and I don’t think it was any better than the night before. Probs because I didn’t use Tuscan anything…

Since I knew I’d need days old bread, it gave me an excuse to bake my favorite loaf of bread, an Italian crusty bread. I first made this bread about four years ago and I found the recipe on some survivalist website. Don’t ask why I was on that website…Anyway, I bookmarked the recipe on my phone and always meant to print it out but never did. Then I got a new phone and lost it! I searched and searched and couldn’t ever find the exact recipe I used before but I did find one that was pretty close and have used it since. I love this bread mostly because I don’t have to knead it. I HATE kneading bread because I have zero upper body strength and I’m impatient. Kneading bread requires both strength and patience. So yeah, no kneading but you do need time because it has to sit and proof for twelve to eighteen hours before you can bake it. The recipe I now use is a little tougher than the first one but it makes the bread perfect for soups. So I baked my bread about two days in advance and then got to soup making!

It doesn’t get any easier than this recipe but it is time consuming. Thankfully it doesn’t require much attention so much of the time spent is just letting the soup boil but if you’re looking for a quick fix, this is not the recipe for you. I didn’t include chard like the recipe suggested but I doubt it made a difference. I also added cheese to my soup because I read “This soup is traditionally served without Parmigiano-Reggiano” as PUT ALL THE CHEESE ON YOUR SOUP.

This soup was perfection! It was so very cold that day and this soup warmed up the house and us and we were all so happy after eating it! Yeah, the girls even ate this! The four year old pulled out every piece of kale and mostly ate the beans, bread, and carrots but she ate it and that’s what counts! It was a little creamy and I think that was due to the pureed beans and the soft potatoes. It had a slight buttery flavor which, again, I’m putting on the beans and maybe even the kale. The kale really softened up and lost all of its tough texture, which was nice. I will definitely make this again and if I am on a time crunch, I’m gonna buck tradition and use canned beans. I’m sorry but, c’mon, how often do I have four and a half hours to make dinner???

Recipe, Recipe

Stamppot

Two weeks behind; I’m getting there!

This was the beginning of Dutch week. To be honest, I’ve never had an interest in the food from the Netherlands but we do have a friend who is Dutch and I did this for him. Hi Bob! Bob and his wife, Nicole, currently live in South Carolina but we met them a few years ago through mutual friends when they lived here in Austin. Through the years they have become some of our favorite people and I always look forward to seeing them when they come down to Texas. They usually make a couple of trips a year, one earlier in the year and then another later in the year. They came down during the summer but I had already booked the Netherlands for the winter so I told them I’d cook for them when they came back down. And that was the plan.

Well, then Nicole went and got herself a lucrative contract with a gallery in New Orleans and now they can’t travel as much. Way to go, Nicole! Of course I’m kidding, it was/is an amazing opportunity for Nicole and we are so very proud and happy for her! My friend is famous! If you’d like to check her out (and you really should!) please visit her website or The French Art Network, with whom she works. Saying Nicole is talented is an understatement and I’m constantly in awe of her work. I bow down at her abilities. I am not worthy!

But I am worthy of this meal! Stamppot was a suggestion made by Bob, who said that unfortunately the Dutch aren’t known for their food. We had other friends live in Amsterdam for a bit and they agreed, their favorite food to eat while living there was actually Indonesian. Well I had already done Indonesia so “boring” Dutch food it was.

This was far from boring! It’s really easy to make because all you do is boil and them mash veggies. A child could make this. Well, a child with a good handle of cutlery because you do have to chop up a lot of veggies beforehand. The cool thing about stamppot is that it’s very versatile. From what I gather, you just need to have a couple of root vegetables and a green and you’re good to go. I used potato, sweet potato, turnip, carrot, leek, and cabbage. Bob made a kale stamppot a few days later that look amazing so I will definitely try it kale next time. The recipe called for rookworst, which is a Dutch sausage, but I couldn’t find it so I used kielbasa. Bob suggested smoking it next time to get a richer flavor and to also use a sausage made by Salt Lick, a local barbecue place.

I ate multiple servings of this and I was stuffed afterwards. The girls did eat this as well. The four year old picked at the stamppot but really enjoyed the sausage; the baby stuffed her mouth with both. James also liked it but said it was heavy. It was but that didn’t stop me! I ate it for lunch the next day, and the day after that, and was sad when it was gone. I had planned on incorporating it into our Thanksgiving dinner but I forgot about it until later. Whoops! This would be perfect for the cold weather weare (finally!) experiencing here in Austin so I’ll probably be making this again soon. I’ll just have to make sure I go for an extended run beforehand so I don’t go into a carb coma.

Recipe

Kik Alicha, Timatim Firfir, Beet-Potato Salad, and Injera

I know, it’s been a WHILE since I last posted, four weeks to be exact. Sorry! We had a lot of social obligations, then Halloween, my birthday, the election… Life has been hectic and I have not had the time nor energy to sit and talk about food. There has been a lot of good, actually a ton of good, and bad in the past month and this project took a backseat to more pressing issues. It’s really hard to get excited about food when there are bigger things to focus on. I’m not going to get into it because I think there has been enough talk in the past week. I will say this, I feel like we need to accept where we are and focus our energy on making the best out of it. We can’t change what has happened but we still have the ability to change the future. Focus on that. Focus on what you can do. Get out there and do it. We’ve all heard the wake up call so now it’s time to sit up, put your feet on the ground, and make the Devil say “Oh shit, she’s up!”

So we ate Ethiopian food four weeks ago! Ethiopia was one of the weeks both James and I were really excited about. We were introduced to it a few years ago when we had dinner with some vegan friends. What we both remember from that first meal was the injera, which is a sourdough flatbread. Our friends warned us beforehand that we might not like it because a lot of people are put off by the bitter flavor but luckily James and I are both bitter people (I’m kidding, sort of). The injera was our favorite part of the entire meal and it has remained one of our favorite things to eat. Making injera isn’t fast. The batter has to ferment for at least three days but you can technically start using it after one day. Making my injera was delayed a day because I’m an idiot. When doing my grocery shopping, I grabbed a bag of teff seeds; teff flour is what is used to make injera. It is a a grain that is similar to millet and quinoa and is high in fiber and iron. The problem was I needed teff flour, not seeds. And even though I read “teff seed” on the package, it didn’t register. It registered after I poured the entire package of seeds in a bowl and mixed it with water. Finally the light bulb went off and I literally said to myself “Dummy. You need flour, not seeds!” and I smacked my forehead. So I had to go back the next day and buy flour. Watching it sit on my counter top was painful because I just wanted to cook with it right away and I am not a patient person. When it finally hit the 24 hour mark, I was so excited! The cooking technique was very similar to making the dosas and we all know how I aced that (brushes off shoulders) so I knew I had this!

I did not have this. I mean, it was fine but the flavor was not the same as what I’ve eaten. My injera wasn’t as spongy and it was kind of grainy. I was sad but I figured it wasn’t as great because it needed more time to ferment. So it goes. I moved on and prepared the rest of the meal.

Yeah the rest of the meal wasn’t much better. The kik alicha was good, even though I substituted white urad dal for the split peas. It was very creamy and buttery and it was similar to another dal we had during Nepal week. The timatim firfir was just onion, pepper, and tomato in olive oil and lemon juice. It really didn’t absorb any of the berbere seasoning and it was pretty acidic. And then the beet-potato salad…ugh. Like the timatim, it was just a sum of ingredients. There was nothing special about it, we just ate boiled potatoes and beets.

So obviously this meal was a fail but I had hopes for the next day’s meal. I can’t remember if the girls ate it or not but I want to say no. Because we didn’t even like it. So it goes.

Recipe, Recipe, Recipe

Sancocho de Gallina and Tamales de Pipían

As I mentioned before, I had wanted to cook for Caro when she was in town but was unable to do so but thankfully her mother and sister still live in Austin so I was able to cook for them. When meal planning, I asked Caro for input because I couldn’t really find much information on how meals are set up in Colombia. Like, do they do appetizers? How many sides do they typically have? What are the make up of the sides? Are they primarily vegetables or protein? Caro, can I rename you Google??? And as usual, she answered in her calm and honest way “Meli, we eat everything. Don’t stress out.” I still stressed out. She then suggested sancocho (chicken stew), tamales, and empanadas. Since empanadas usually take a lot of work, I settled on the sancocho and tamales. I know what you’re thinking, tamales take a lot of time to make BUT Caro did mention that Colombian tamales are much bigger than Mexican tamales so I thought that would cut my work time down significantly.

Hint: it did not.

I started prepping early in the day to reduce running around like a crazy person. I boiled the potatoes for the pipían, washed the banana leaves for the tamales, washed and peeled the potatoes and yucca for the sancocho, I was on it! Caro’s mother and sister, Patricia and Vane, were set to arrive at seven so I really started working on the meal at 5:30. I thought the sanchocho de gallina, a chicken stew, would be easy enough because it involved chopping up a chicken and veggies and throwing them in a pot. And since I’ve finally learned how to break down a full chicken in about five minutes, I didn’t worry about that. Same with the tamales. I didn’t have to pre-cook the meat like you do with Mexican tamales and I knew the masa would not take very long to mix so I kinda just took my time with everything.

What I did not plan on were the sauces. I had to make ají de maní (spicy peanut sauce) for the tamales, hogao for the masa (tomato based creole sauce), and aliño (a dressing) to put into everything. Those three took up an hour, not even kidding. It was a lot of chopping and blending and boiling and I was not a happy camper. Next thing I knew it was 6:30 and I hadn’t even made the tamales. I then ordered James into the kitchen and we created a mini assembly line. He filled the tamales, I folded and tied them with string. I had also wanted to make some arepas (kinda like a cheese pupusa) and patacones (fried plantain) but there was no time.

Thankfully Vane showed up with patacones of her own, and some extra hogao, and Patricia showed up with pandebono, which is another cheese bread. It was like they read my mind!

Everything turned out amazing, maybe my stress enhanced the flavor. All of the chicken sank to the bottom of the pot but I think that helped with its tenderness. It literally fell apart in my bowl and it was juicy and amazing. Patricia said that my seasoning of the sancocho was perfect and even though I didn’t have much to do with it (thankyou Goya!) I still accepted the compliment. The plantains held together very well and I think that’s because they were super green. I had expected them to turn into mush from being boiled for over an hour but they kept shape.

The tamales, though, oh man. I think pipían tamales have replaced pork tamales as my favorite. Unlike Mexican masa, this masa was not only flavored with spices but with actual veggies in the form of the aliño, which is a paste made up of red and green bell peppers and onions. It was so much richer than the masa I’m used to. The pipían itself, which itself was made of peanuts, potato, and the hogao, was indescribable. It was just fantastic! Vane said the tamales were kinda bigger than normal and I told her Caro had said Colombian tamales are but she clarified that Colombian tamales typically are bigger than Mexican tamales except for the ones made of pipían. I just fell in love with them and I couldn’t have been happier with the meal.

For dessert I made coconut flan. I’d never had homemade flan, it’s always been the instant stuff, so I obviously thought it was gross, but all the Colombian desserts I found were kinda complex so I sucked it up and made the flan. I am SO happy I made the flan! It was so much more amazing than I could have ever expected! It was rich and sweet and OMG I NEED TO EAT THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE! It wasn’t hard to make so I really might make this on a weekly basis.

I’m gonna get so fat. And it will.be.worth.it.

Recipe, Recipe, Recipe

Daeji Kalbi, Gamja Saelleodeu, and Pajeon

This will be a short post and not because I didn’t love this meal but I’m a little grumpy right now. I went out for my afternoon run and I tripped and fell because the sidewalks in our neighborhood are atrocious. I was almost done with my run anyway and took it as a sign that the universe was telling me to go home BUT that’s not the point. Or points. There are two points.

1. Get it together City of Austin! Sidewalk repairs are the city’s business and if this is how they work, maybe they should just close up shop and put up an “Out of business” sign on their door because they are clearly not doing their job. Talking to neighbors it seems that the sidewalk repair department (I don’t know the real name but that’s what I’m calling it) is made up of five employees. FIVE people for all of Austin. Sidewalk repair department: I’m a stay at home mom and have a few free hours a week. Employ me. I’m pretty sure I can figure out how to pour concrete. Our property taxes went up by 10% this year and our limited district is proposing another increase in fees but for what? So people can trip and fall on their sidewalks or so people can have their strollers almost tip over (with children in the stroller!) every time they hit one of the cracked or the uneven spots?

2. Four cars passed me and not a single person slowed down and asked if I was okay. I fell in a school zone, they were already going 20 mph, would it have killed them to stop?! I mean, I just have a scraped knee and was less than half a mile from home but they didn’t know that! This is what people mean when they refer the Californication of Austin, no one cares about their neighbors anymore.

Rant over.

Maybe the memory of this meal will put me in a better mood. The ribs were super yum and not as spicy as they should have been, probably because I only used half a cup of gochujang instead of the full cup the recipe called for. The pajeon (scallion pancakes) were also delicious is not a little burned. I blame it on my cousin Robert. He was our dinner guest and I was too busy talking to him to pay attention to the pancakes. The gamja saelleodeu (potato salad) was hea-ven-ly! Not even joking. I consider myself a potato salad connoiseur and this was probably the best potato salad I’ve ever had. The apples, carrots, and corn added some crunch and just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the bitterness of the mayo. I loved it so much that it will now be my go to potato salad recipe. It changed my life, y’all.

Okay, talking about the potato salad lowered my blood pressure but I’m still shaking my fist at you, City of Austin.

Moules Frites

This was our last Belgian meal and oh man! Before I get into how it turned out, let me share with you all the great information I learned about this dish.

1. It’s considered one of the national dishes of Belgium. It shares this title with Carbonnade Flamande. I am very jealous of the Belgian people because they get to choose from two fantastic dishes as their national dishes. As an American, my options are hot dogs and, I dunno, coke? Say what, coke isn’t a dish? Say that to the Fried Coke vendors at the Texas State Fair!

2. There are different versions of moules frites; I made the moules natures. There are six common variations and I would eat all.of.them.

3. There was something else I learned but I’ve forgotten it. It probably wasn’t all that interesting.

There were a couple of hiccups when making this meal. The first was that I couldn’t find fresh mussels. I made this on Sunday and thought about getting the mussels at the end of the week but I got lazy and then I also worried about them sitting in my fridge for a couple of days. Old shellfish is never a good idea. So I waited until Sunday to head out to Quality Seafood to buy the mussels, only to get there and find out they aren’t open on Sundays! Hellur? Did they not get my telepathic message that I was stopping by? Jerks. We weren’t too far from my favorite Asian supermarket, MT Supermarket, so we ended up going there because their website said they also had fresh mussels.

Their website lied!

They had fresh catfish, some other weird fish that I forgot the name of but that the girls enjoyed watching swim all over its tank, red tilapia, octopus, shrimp, you get the idea, but no mussels. I ended up going the frozen route and I wasn’t too excited about that because I’d gone the frozen route during Thai week and the results were not good. So I sucked it up and hoped for the best.

The second hiccup was making the mayonnaise. For whatever reason, the mustard and egg yolk refused to emulsify and I think that threw the whole thing off. Regardless of how much warm water or whatever other suggestions the internet offered, it would not solidify. I was annoyed. I only had one lemon so making another batch wasn’t an option. I ended up using store bought mayo and sprucing it up with a tablespoon of mustard and a lot of pepper. It ended up tasting as close to homemade mayo as possible so I was pretty content with that and hoped that it wouldn’t affect the meal too much.

So after holding my breath while adding the mussels and literally watching the timer to make sure I didn’t go over the recommended four minutes, I announced that dinner was ready. The baby set the table (She literally sets the table at two years old. What did I do to get such a wonderful child?!) and the oldest informed me that she didn’t want to eat dinner (Oh, that’s what I did. I had a temperamental, opinionated first child and the universe showed me some compassion and made up for it with the second kid). I served dinner and hoped we wouldn’t be taking a trip to Taco Cabana.

We didn’t go to Taco Cabana.

This meal was EVERYTHING. The mussels were not chewy or tough like during Thai week. Instead they were buttery, chewy, and slightly fatty. The leeks and celery completely dissolved in my mouth into rich, gooeyness and the fries, er, frites, were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft at the bite.

The oldest held true to her statement that she didn’t want to eat so she ran off and did what she does best, hide in her room and tell her imaginary friend how annoying I am*. I am not exaggerating about this. I’ve literally overheard her talking shit about me. Usually it’s after I haven’t let her do something like watch tv for six hours or because I’ve told her she needs to put clothes on. The teen years are going to be amazing with this one. The baby, however, ate TEN MUSSELS. She just couldn’t stop, she loved those little suckers. She also loved the mayo because at one point she just kept spooning it directly into her mouth. She is a treasure.**

This was a fantastic way to end Belgian week. The onion soup wasn’t my favorite but three out of four meals is not bad. And my two year old ate mussels. I mean, if that’s not a victory, I don’t know what is!

*She later told me she loved me and that I’m the best mommy. She might cause my blood pressure to skyrocket but within hours, she’s turning my cold, black heart a nice shade of gray and warming it up to just above freezing.

**She later kicked me in the stomach when I picked her up to put her in the bath. I had a tall glass of Frambois to calm down.

Recipe

Gado Gado

Last night was the start of Indonesian week for us. Irish, Jamaican, and American week had their fair share of fried foods so we wanted get some roughage in us and give our arteries a break from being clogged.

So I made fried tofu and potatoes. I mean, if you’re going to eat fried food, it should be fried tofu, right? That makes it a little better, doesn’t it? No, no it doesn’t. So it goes.

We originally wanted to do Balinese food but when searching for recipes, I kept encountering Indonesian food. This left me perplexed. Does Bali not have their own food? Why is their food classified under a neighboring country? Why can’t Bali be great????

Bali’s food is classified as Indonesian because Bali is a province of Indonesia. Yeah. We thought Bali was its own country…so not only am I learning about food, I’m also learning about geography. The lessons abound in this project! Just this morning I was telling the almost four year old that she should strive to learn something new everyday. We’re having issues with her wanting to read books at night because she’d much rather watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Friendship IS magic but so is reading! I tried to explain that by watching tv, her brain is turning to mush and reducing her ability to learn because she isn’t taking the time to observe or analyze things. She then said “Momma, the light is red.” I should really listen to myself sometimes. I’m going to take my own advice and make an earnest attempt to learn something new every day; yesterday was that Bali and Indonesia are NOT two different countries. I haven’t learned anything new today.

Moving on.

From my extensive research, a.k.a I read two articles, Gado Gado is one of the most popular meals in Indonesia. It’s a veggie salad, plain and simple, however, the peanut sauce is what makes it exceptional. Everything I read, all two articles, mentioned how the key to a great Gado Gado was the peanut sauce. I did everything the recipe said in making the sauce but mine came out a little chunky and I say this just based on the pics I saw online. I don’t think it made a huge difference, it just meant that the sauce didn’t spread as easily across the whole plate.

I had to blanch the vegetables and James was curious as to the purpose of doing it. I don’t have a lot of experience with blanching so I told him that I thought it was to cook the veggies and retain their natural, crisp texture. This wasn’t entirely accurate. According to el interwebs, blanching is used to preserve the nutrients and color in veggies before freezing them. It also helps when stir frying veggies. If you blanch denser veggies, like broccoli, you can then add them to the stir fry with less dense veggies and they will all cook at the same time. This is actually something I’ve encountered when stir frying carrots; I never know how to get them to cook evenly with the other vegetables.

There’s my lesson for the day!

The salad was delightful and I had multiple servings. James took leftovers for lunch and I think would be a great lunch to prepare ahead for the week. My shrimp chips burned a little so it changed the whole flavor of them. I wasn’t a fan of that. I’ll do better next time and there definitely will be a next time!

Recipe

Guinness Battered Fish and Chips

I once again forgot to take a separate pic of my meal from the one used for Instagram, HOWEVER, this time I have a legit reason: my three year old is insane.

If you haven’t noticed, we got a new dining table. Our last table was given to us by a friend nine years ago when he was switching apartments. We didn’t have a table so we gladly took his free one. When we bought our house seven years ago, “Buy a grown up table” was on our To Do List but then other things that were higher priority were added to the list. Things like “Plan bachelor/bachelorette parties” and “Get married” oh, and the real important one “Keep this new baby alive.” That last one hasn’t left the list for almost four years but I’m sure we’ll eventually get to cross it off.

The table started to fall apart about five years ago. The iron handles on the chairs lost their screws so they would pop out, the metal strips on the back of the chairs somehow got detached from the frame, and the straw that broke the camel’s back, the plastic caps on the bottom of the chairs disappeared and the chairs started scratching the floors. Apparently that was it for James. Having a table and chairs that look like they belong in an apartment off Riverside was okay but once they started scratching up the floors (and possibly causing more housework for him later on in case he needed to replace a plank) THAT WAS IT. I, obviously, didn’t complain, I’ve wanted a new set for a long time. So we got a new set and because I want this table to last longer than a year, I’ve decided we need to use placemats like the dignified, classy people we are.

The three year old disagreed.

I put the mats down and started bringing the plates to the table to serve ourselves and she walked in, took one look at the mats, and hollered “I DON’T LIKE THESE THINGS!” and flinged hers to the ground. What followed was an argument about how Mom doesn’t care what she wants, she’s using a place mat. But she doesn’t want to use a place mat. Mom.does.not.care. USE THE MAT. SHE DOESN’T WANT TO. That was followed by screaming and crying (she cried, not me, this kid can’t break me. And on the occasion that she does, I do it in the bathroom with a bottle of wine like a good mom) and the three year old being sent to her room to scream and cry to her heart’s content while we and the baby ate our meal. And James and I chugged our Guinness in silence. She eventually came out after twenty minutes and ate her meal ON THE DAMN PLACEMAT AND LOVED IT.

MOM FOR THE WIN!

Adding to my mom victory was this super, great meal! I got this recipe from a friend back home, whose parents are Irish. I wasn’t having much success finding recipes that didn’t include potatoes and cabbage as a main ingredient so I reached out to Caroline for help and boy, did she come through! This was just one of many recipes she sent me and I am so grateful for her help. I like cabbage and potatoes, I don’t like cabbage and potatoes for dinner all week.

The batter was really light and didn’t make me feel gross afterwards. The chips I figured out by myself, I mean, they’re fried potatoes, I don’t need a recipe for that. I used cod for the fish and it was the right amount of firm texture. Sometimes you get a soft fish and, yeah, that’s gross, but not cod. I’ve used cod before, for the Sister’s Stew, but this time it was prepared differently so I wondered how it’d hold up. It did great. Good for you, cod, you’re such a trooper!

Aside from Great War of the Placemat, this meal was extremely enjoyable. I almost felt like I was in a pub, eating my fish and chips and drinking a pint with my man and loving life. Then the local drunk, in the form of a moody three year old, tried to ruin it but we were like “Get out of the damn pub, you’re pissed” Not today, Satan, not today.

Recipe

Masala Dosa

I found this recipe here.

This was our last official Indian meal. I  made another one the night after but I didn’t take pics or save the recipe because I just wanted to eat. It was great!

A friend introduced me to dosas a couple of years ago. I was pregnant and we were meeting up for lunch. I was, as usual, very hungry. She’s a vegetarian and when she suggested we share what she described as a “Indian tortilla stuffed with potatoes” I was less than enthusiastic. But, you know, I’ll try everything once! And I remember thinking “If this sucks, I’ll pick up Taco Bell on the way home.” Pregnancy does the worst things to your body…We ordered our dosa and some samosas (I love samosas) and hung out while they prepared the food. What felt like an eternity later, but was probably ten minutes, a gentleman laid a giant ass brown tortilla in front of me. Like, ginormous. It was probably as long as my forearm. I just looked at my friend and she was like “You’ll love it, believe me” and she was RIGHT! It was probably one of the best things I’d ever eaten and now I order it any time I can. 

So needless to say, when it came to planning our meals for the week, I knew I had to make some dosas. Given my history with baking things, I was a little worried about screwing it up, HOWEVER, when I read the recipe and saw that the batter had to be fermented, I felt a bit better. I know how to ferment. I brew kombucha, I’ve made coconut kefir, kimchi, have helped James brew beer, I know my way around bacteria and yeast. Somehow this little factoid made me a lot more comfortable with the meal. I figured if I could make the batter, I could do it all. 

AND I WAS RIGHT!

Sorry for being a little braggadocious but this meal gave my ego a huge boost. It probably didn’t need it but whatever. I was also on a high from running a personal record during the 10k earlier that day. 1:07 y’all!

They came out fantastic! It took a few tries to make them thin enough and honestly, I could have made them even thinner, but they were great! The baby enjoyed eating all my mistakes, which is kinda odd because the dosa itself was a little bitter. She enjoys the weirdest things. 

I was so happy when I made the first good one that I might have yelled out “IN YOUR FACE DOSA!” I might have also included a couple of ‘eff yeah’s…

I made a spiced rice to accompany it but it was nothing special. The true dame of the ball was the dosa. I MADE MASALA DOSA AND IT WAS FANTASTIC!

Recipe