Eat the World 20: Bolivia

Last Wednesday we sampled the cuisine of our 20th country on our Eat the World adventure. If you are wondering, we did indeed skip Bhutan but will be coming back to it later next week.

Bolivia is a South American country surrounded by Peru, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil. While Dylan or I have never been there,we were familiar with the cuisine and culture since we lived in Ecuador for a year. In fact, looking through the pictures and answering Ada’s questions brought back a flood of fond memories such as this:

Rainy season fun.

And this:

Alabanza!

And this one too:

The square.

Basically, Bolivia brought so many memories still so fresh in the mind, and it’s been eight years past since our time spent there. EIGHT years. I can’t believe it. Bolivia was indeed a nice reminder of our old home.

At the time I was planning this meal I think that I was feeling a bit industrious, much more so that what I actually felt last Wednesday, so we ended up limiting my four piece menu down to two. I think that the avocado salad would’ve been pretty delicious but it was just one extra step and I don’t think that it would’ve tasted outrageously different than anything else we’ve ever sampled. I’m still a bit sad that we skipped out on baking the Cocadas (coconut candies, think macaroons), so I’ll probably attempt those sometime later this month just for fun. We’ll see.

The two recipes that did make the cut were Aji de Lentejas con Sarsa (Lentil stew with salsa) and Saltenas (Meat and potato hand pies). I opted to cut the stew servings in half because I wasn’t sure the girls would eat it…and I was right, except that Dylan and I definitely could’ve eaten more than the small bowls that it made. Ah well, proxima vez. It was a fairly simple, quick cooking stew (due to the lentils) and a great vegetarian option. I’d make this again for sure. You can find the recipe here.

The saltenas were a LOT more work. Dylan and the girls made the dough while I prepared the filling. Ada and Nellie loved the dough part because they got to play with their own piece of it. Rolling, shaping, squishing, all that good stuff. They were good, but I’m not sure that I’d remake these. They were just really large and quite dense. I’m a bigger fan of Ecuadorian (think crispy-fluffy fried) and Argentinian (think flakier-more pie-crust-like) empanadas. When the saltenas cooled they were like light dumbbells. Big, heavy, and SUPER filling. You can also find the recipe here.

I think the general consensus was that dinner was good but that it wasn’t necessarily something that we would repeat again out of craving. The stew might show up again because it’s cheap, healthy, and light…but if I’m going to put a lot of work into something, I’ll make mandu or biryani or something much else.

And just a fun video to round everything out: 

Monday Meal Plan

First off, a funny video to brighten a dreary, cold Monday: 

Monday Meal Plan : 2.4-2.10

2.4 Monday (Terrah and the girls are in town!)

Dinner: @Terry & Sheila’s house

*Extra*

Pumpkin Butter for T-Rex. Shhhhhh…it’s a secret.

Freezer biscuits. I pinned this a la Pinterest a while ago because as much as I love a can of Pillsbury’s, I can’t get over the weird chemically aftertaste I experience when I haven’t eaten them for a while. If this is as easy as it seems, it would be an easy way to always have biscuits on hand that are homemade and “fresh” tasting.

Easy 5-Ingredient Fudgy Nutella Cookies with Sea Salt. While adding a third “extra” may sound overly ambitious, I have been hankering for cookies for quite some time. And these sound simple and crave satisfying enough to achieve. It’s okay, you can call me “Super Mom” today.

2.5 Tuesday (Terrah and the girls are in town!)

Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s house
2.6 Wednesday  

Dinner: Eat the World 21: Bosnia Herzegovina
*Extra*

Sesame noodles w/cilantro & scallions.

Cilantro Thai “grilled” chicken. I think these will be easy meals for Dylan to have this weekend for work, plus I’ve got a ridiculous amount of cilantro.

2.7 Thursday* 

Dinner: Mitti Handi Dahl w/basmati and chapatti (Because my kids are still obsessed with this book they got from the library.)

*Extra*

Mix up and freeze two scone batches. Maybe I’ll get fancy and try a new flavor combination? Peachy cinnamon sounds exciting, and I’ll definitely throw in some savory for soup this weekend.

2.8 Friday*

Breakfast: Fruit smoothies w/scones

Tea Time: Ada will be at Terry’s…

Dinner: Dachtler Pizza Night!

*Extra*

Do the initial feeding steps of Bruce in prep for baking.

Martha Stewart’s zucchini and cranberry muffins. Perfect additions to tea time and as snacks for Dylan’s lunches.

2.9 Saturday*

Breakfast: Easy Raspberry strudel w/coffee & tea
Lunch: Crockpot tomato basil parmesan soup w/scones
Tea: Muffins & Assam w/milk & sugar

Dinner: Leftovers or sandwiches or maybe even a blue box meal with frozen peas. Yessiree, you can still call me “Super Mom” today. 😉
*Extra*

Put sourdough loaves on the porch to rise (yes, I do use my front porch as an extended fridge/freezer in the winter thankyouverymuch. North Dakota does have some perks now and then.)

Espresso dark chocolate coconut cookies. In case one batch of cookies isn’t enough for the week because, you know, that would be tragic to be cookie-less lest a craving strike.

2.10 Sunday*

Breakfast: Sweet zucchini pancakes
Lunch: Crockpot teriyaki chicken over basmati w/edamame
Tea: Muffins & Assam w/milk & sugar

Dinner: Pasta w/tomato blue cheese sauce. The girls and I heart blue cheese. Heart it.

*Extra*

Freezer cinnamon rolls. This doesn’t exactly link up to a specific recipe but rather the method. It’s the same idea as the biscuits from earlier this week and I think that it should work great. Again, I know freezer rolls go on sale consistently, but they still have that weird taste to me. Plus, I can customize the ones that I make and freeze at home. Win-win.

Finish off sourdough loaves.

Next week is Ada’s 5th birthday. That’s unreal. I think I may say that every year around her birthday, but truthfully, it never ceases to amaze me just how quickly this adventure has gone. It’s the days where I’m crabby, irritated, and impatient with my girls, my husband, my life, that I need to be reminded that somebody’s birthday is just around the corner. That  somebody is getting older quicker than I can keep up.

Eat the World 19: Benin

Introducing: Benin, country #19 on our Eat the World adventure!

Benin’s Flag

Benin is a small, West African country that is landlocked by Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Niger. It was colonized by the French and thus you will find the French language predominately throughout. I am lucky to have a co-worker who is West African, he is officially Liberian, but was able to shed some very helpful advice on the general cuisine found throughout West Africa. The information he shared lead me to plan a light-on-meat, heavy on peanuts and starch meal of Peanut Sauce over coconut rice with Akkra Funfun (fried bean fritters). I bought peanuts to make sugared peanuts, a common street vendor food found throughout the country, but I was short on time and hungry. So I scratched that idea and will be snacking on them for the next few weeks…

Peanut Sauce
Makes enough sauce for 4 servings
3 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 -1 tsp of your favorite piment/hot pepper i.e. Cayenne pepper in our case. I only added a pinch, a fair amount less because I wanted my children to try it without hating me. Dylan and I added generous spoonfuls of sambol oelek to our helpings. Admittedly that’s not very African but Asian, but what can you do? The heat was a perfect foil to the fatty peanut butter and oil in the sauce.)
1/2 tsp salt
1 beef bullion cube
1 cup water-or more depending on the density of the peanut butter you’re using
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter (the mix before use stuff)
1/2 cup diced onion
1.) Saute tomato paste, hot pepper, salt, onion and bullion cube in oil for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.
2.) Add peanut butter and water.
3.) Mix and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Be careful to stir occasionally as you do not want the peanut butter to burn! Serve over rice.

Coconut Rice
Serves 6
1 can coconut milk
1 ½ c. water
1 ½ c. rice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1.) Bring water and coconut to a boil over medium heat.
2.) Add rice, salt and pepper. Lower heat and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Careful to keep an eye on your pot so the liquid doesn’t boil over. Makes a mess on a glass stovetop—not that I’d know…
3.) Uncover and let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve with peanut sauce.

Akkara Funfun (Fried Bean Fritters)
Makes around 16 medium-size fritters
1 small onion, finely minced
1 can of white beans (we used Northerns)
1 large egg
1/3 cup of flour
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Oil for frying (Peanut oil, palm oil or a combination of the two make for a more authentic flavor. We opted to use only peanut since I’m not crazy about palm.)
1.) Blend the beans, cayenne pepper and salt together until they form a smooth, firm paste. Dylan just whirred them together in our food processor for about a minute.
2.) Add the minced onion, egg and flour to the bean paste and stir to mix well.
3.) Add enough oil to a saucepan or wok to reach one or two centimeters up the side, and heat until hot enough to sizzle when a little batter is dropped in.
4.) Drop tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil and fry in batches on both sides until golden. Drain cooked fritters on a paper towel. Take care to watch your oil so it doesn’t get too hot and burn your fritters before cooking them.
5.) Sprinkle with extra cayenne pepper and serve hot. The girls dipped them in the peanut sauce.

Ada was all about the akkara funfun before she learned that they were made out of mashed up beans. :-/ Dylan and I actually really liked them but MAN, are they filling! We had a lot of leftover rice (which generally never happens) because of those little fritters. Knowledge for the next time I suppose.

Christmas Decorating

We spent a laid back Sunday putting up the few Christmas decorations that we own. Ada and Nellie were ecstatic about the Christmas tree and had a blast hanging the ornaments. It’s always fun for me unwrapping the ornaments and remembering the little stories behind each one. Hopefully, someday, both girls will be able to do that with all the ones that they’ll have collected throughout the years.

I didn’t take many pictures of the house because frankly, the kids and the tree are the best things to look at anyway. 🙂

Nellie So turns 2!

We celebrated Nellie’s 2nd birthday a bit early since Dylan has to work on the actual day. Boo to unconventional work hours. Boo.

We planned a Sesame Street Party for the birthday girl since she loves her some Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Grover. I was nervous about making her cake this year but I think it all ended up going really well. My parents even came up Friday night to spend some extra time with us prior to partying. 😉

And of course a little singing:

And a little bit of after-party goodness. I made a balloon garland to hang in our archway and the girls went to town on it after Dylan unhooked it.

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend and for those of you who weren’t, we know the holidays get busy and travel isn’t always the best, just know you are loved and were missed! 🙂

Family Pumpkin

We finally were able to cut into the pumpkin that Ada brought home last week (Daddy’s been gone working so we wanted to wait for him). Ada was beyond excited and Nellie, because Ada was bopping and dancing and squealing all over the place, was too.

Please note this is my first time loading pics up on wordpress, so I’m still figuring out what I like best as far as layout and options. You’ll have to leave me feedback on what you’d prefer/if you like today’s choice.

And maybe if I get really handy, I’ll get the video posted too.

New favorite joke.

Want to hear a joke about paper?

Nevermind. It’s tearable.

BAHAHAHAHA.

I’m glad I could brighten your day. Consider yourself doubly lucky that I have included the following:

JJ Heller speaks to my soul.

I don’t feel the need to write today, at least as of now. My friend, Kendra, wrote this beautiful post over on her blog today and through it she speaks the things I haven’t been able to say.

Enjoying the Sunshine

This weather has been crazy, bipolar, epic, outstanding, frustrating–> and ALL of the above. It’s been incredible. Never in my 26 years have I experienced a spring like this one, hopefully it’s a warm reflection of summer. 🙂

The girls have immensely enjoyed this weather as well and now that Ada is big enough to pull the wagon, hopefully we’ll be having many more walks with the shared burden of stubborn-walk-when-I-please-Nellie-duty.

And this video will be painfully boring for anyone other than family members–and probably for them too. But since I am so smitten with this little thing, I’m posting it here for prosperity. (Nellie that is, not the wagon.)