Month: September 2011


Spam you very much! (w/ poll)

The thing about living on a coral atol with no good soil, waaaaay out in the middle of the Pacific ocean is … well, you’re a wee bit stuck when it comes to what you can and cannot eat. Bottom line, if nothing grows where you live, then breakfast, lunch and dinner all begin to take on the same appearance: Which is okay, since fish is the bees knees. And, as for breadfruit – it apparently smells like freshly baked bread – and pandanus fruit is said to be very sweet and juicy; they both sound like winners. Even still, the importance of imports in a country like Kiribati cannot be underestimated. Fresh deliveries of rice, colorful produce, and canned goods are much anticipated. I’ve even read that the chicken is imported. Now, time to get serious. Any ideas for what two of the most enjoyed canned goods in Kiribati are? …. wait for it…. …. Spam and corned beef. Are you into it?

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Roasted Lobster Tails with Coconut Curry Dipping Sauce

We’re all friends here, right? I need to tell you something important. I’m learning to step out of my comfort zone. Not just once in a while. Once a day. It’s scary but also rewarding. Sometimes, though, you can take too big a step. I’m learning that baby steps are better. Let me put this into context for you. Deciding whether or not to make this recipe caused quite the dilemma. You see, the last time I made lobster was traumatic. Have you ever made live lobster? It’s stressful. It makes me sad just thinking about it. Here’s the reality: I put on a brave face and went for it, but stepped too far out of my comfort zone. The result? I secretly vowed to never make lobster again. Then Kiribati skips into my life and, like a breath of fresh air, Kiribati tells me lobster is normal. That lobster is a way of life. And Kiribati tempts me with a 1 step coconut curry for dipping. <deep breath> Time to step out of my …

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Menu: Kiribati

What is it about Wednesday’s? They’re such a transitional day. A day when the weekend is too far away. From both sides. Listen, I want to tell you a secret. Although I like people, I’m rather shy. I don’t do a good job of being myself around new friends. Sometimes I trip and other times spill things on myself.  Sometimes it happens all at once. Kiribati is a new friend. I’m trying hard not to trip. I hope you’ll understand if I take it slow. We’re getting our feet wet with two dishes in the hopes of dissuading any big messups. Still, I think you’ll like them. After all, Kiribati – all the way out in the great, big, wild ocean – is all about really simple food with big flavor. That’s something I can get behind. What sounds good to you?* Roasted Lobster Tails with Coconut Curry [Recipe] Here’s the most ridiculous thing. Earlier on this Adventure, I vowed I would never  make lobster again. But I did. Thanks to Kiribati. True story. More on this tomorrow. …

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Inspiration for our Global Gingerbread Contest? The Former Kiribati House of Assembly. Photo by Roisterer

About the food of Kiribati

Every country has a distinct personality. Think of Kiribati as a distant relative – one you might not have even known existed. And I don’t mean your grouchy Aunt Lola. Nope. I mean an upbeat and exotic cousin – one that somehow also manages to exude simplicity and thrift. At her most basic, Kiribati’s a hodge podge of 33 teeny weeny coral atolls in Oceania. Translation? Kiribati’s landmass is so small that “island” is not an appropriate way to describe her situation (although the grouping is officially called the Kiribati Islands – confused yet?). To be honest, I had never heard of Kiribati before GTA. It only took a few internet searches to realize I was not alone. Most of the information about Kiribati was sparse and – as I was to learn – completely wrong. The little good information I could dig up was found in World Cookbook for Students and on a neat web site called 12 Months in Kiribati (about a guy and gal volunteering in Kiribati for – you guessed it – twelve …

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A long day of play makes for a very tired toddler.

Monday Meal Review: Kenya

THE SCENE “Look Ava,” I said, “You can pick up the meat with your bread – it’s called chaaa-paaa-teeee.” Ava laughed. Then, without blinking, she screwed her face up tight and cried. Then she laughed. Then she threw her head back and tried to squirm out of her high chair. Ava was tired. Really tired. “Watch how mamma does,” I continued, trying to stay upbeat. I tore a piece of the still warm chapati and used it to pinch a small piece of meat between my fingers. Trying to look nonchalant, I offered it to her. “No!” she wailed. I popped it into my mouth and offered her some plain stewed beef instead. She continued to wail without stopping until her little face was beet red. Keith went and shut the windows. On his way back, he scooped her up and gave her a bear hug. Then they sat together, in his seat. Thank goodness. She loves sitting in his lap when she’s tired. On napless days it’s often the only way she’ll eat. But even on …

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Simple Chapati

I firmly believe flatbread has magical qualities. It can revive dull dinner conversation during that gaping time when the food seems like it’ll never be ready. And, when the meal finally arrives, flatbread is there to happily house any number of visitors, including stews, sandwich fillings, spreads, dips, and cheeses. It can even make a grouchy baby happy again. I’m into it. Are you with me? Here’s the short of it:  I go to my happy place when presented with a steaming stack of warm, buttery flatbread. Today we’re celebrating Chapati – a thin, wheaty flatbread much adored in Kenya (with roots in Indian cuisine). Like the other flatbreads we’ve done so far on this Adventure (pita bread, naan, corn tortillas, chinese pancakes, injera, and laxoox), chapati brings on my mega smile. Those who make chapati daily – and there are plenty of such people in Kenya, not to mention India – they can zip out dozens of dinnerplate-sized specimens in mere minutes, rolling one while another cooks. They make the chapati so fast that even the first one …

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Kenyan Stewed Beef | Nyama

Serves 4 Hello, sky. Have you been outside lately? It’s amazing. The sky wants to swallow me up into a great big smile. Go ahead – check it out – take a look. See if it does the same thing to you, too. And the coolest part? That same sky you’re looking at – I’m looking at it, too. We’re all looking at it. Together. Over here, in Oklahoma-land, we’re tiptoeing into fall. I know because I recently felt the first chill of winter – the one that hits you upon walking outside in flip flops and a t-shirt. The chill that sends you straight back into the house for sneakers and a coat, even though you’re already ten minutes late. In this sudden shift, memories of Oklahoma’s outrageously scorching summer already seem vague and distant – replaced by fresh, cool air.  And here’s the deal: I can’t stop eating stews. Today’s meaty stewed goodness greets us all the way from Kenya. It’s all about hearty love and fall flavor. Or fall love and hearty flavor. Or …

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Grilled Corn rubbed with Chili & Lime Salt

Makes 1/4 cup seasoned salt for lots of corn goodness. Can you squeeze a lime? Can you smash chili peppers into a mini mound of salt? Can you grill corn? This is one of those recipes that you make on a day, much like today, when you want to prepare something impressive, but you can’t be bothered to do very much. We owe it to the lovely people of Kenya: take a walk down their bustling streets and you’ll likely find vendors selling roasted corn rolled in a spicy blend of chili, fresh lime juice and salt. The corn is cooked until deeply roasted. It’s for real good. Ingredients: corn on the cob 1/4 cup rock salt 2 small chilies, sliced or more to taste lime juice (about 1/2 lime juiced, or to taste) Method: Let’s head to Nairobi, where – certainly – inspiration will strike. The beautiful thing about this recipe? Everything is to taste. I ground 2 sliced chili peppers into 1/4 cup rock salt… Then squeezed in the juice of half a …

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Kale to “Push the Week” | Sukuma Wiki

Serves 2-4 When I look at this photo, my tummy literally rumbles. My mouth opens a little in expectation. I actually find it as appealing as my Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream that I made for Ireland. Weird, but true. What can I say? Mom taught me to eat my veggies. I’ve been trying to convince Mr. Picky. I’ve been working on Ava. My enthusiasm hasn’t started a wildfire. Yet. Still, I’m here to tell you what every Kenyan knows – the simple truth – green food does a body good. Especially when stewed with juicy tomatoes, rich broth and sweet onion. It’s also a fantastic way to stretch resources throughout the entire week – something built into the Kenyan name “Sukuma Wiki,” which literally means “stretch the week.” I’m into it. Simple, affordable, and delicious. What’s not to love? Ingredients: vegetable oil 1 large onion 1 very large tomato (or 2 small) 1 bunch kale (about a dozen stalks) 1 cup broth salt Method: Let’s get started. First, fly to Kenya and pick up …

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Menu: Kenya

“Let us see, then tell.” This Kenyan saying speaks to the importance of experiencing something before you can actually speak about it. All too often on this Adventure I have seen entire countries jump to life in my mouth, simply by tasting their food. The joy that hits me when I “get” a country on the first bite – it’s like going from black and white movies to color – or silent films to talkies. Stovetop travel really does let me “see.” In lieu of plane tickets I have pots and pans. In lieu of passports I have spices. I’m so grateful. Today’s menu will take you into the heart of Kenya, bite by bite. The sweet Kenyan who corresponded with me last week gave me wings with his words – wings right into his homeland. You can take your family, too. What sounds good to you? Chapati [Recipe] This simple homemade flatbread made its way from India to Kenya, where locals traditionally use it to scoop up food with their right hand (instead of silverware). …

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About the food of Kenya

The best way to get out of a rut is to let someone in. To let someone help you. Just the other morning a very nice gentleman emailed me. In beautiful English he explains that he is from Kenya and – hurrah- he would like to help me with my Kenyan Global Table. His email was complete with a four page document of recipes, photos, and details about the food of his beloved homeland. Did he know that I was having a tough week? Did he know the wind had left my sails? No. He was simply sharing his passion – his patriotism. But, still, his beautiful email put a smile on my face just when I needed it most. How wonderful to receive first-hand accounts of food from far-away lands. And what glories I learned about the food of Kenya – an East African country which boasts some of the earliest traces of our species in the form of a boy’s skeleton from more than 1.5 million years ago. This boy, known as Turkana …

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Monday Meal Review: Kazakhstan

THE SCENE Today is a tribute to my cat who died last week. To non-cat lovers, my apologies. Please return tomorrow for regularly scheduled programming.  This week’s comfort food was exactly what I needed. You see, when we finally decided to put Cabo to sleep I was a red faced, crying mess. I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be sure of my decision. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be free of “what if’s.” Instead I felt horrendous for having such power over life. I didn’t want to decide when he would take his last breath. I didn’t want to break his unfaltering trust in me as his owner. I just didn’t want any part of it. I simply wanted to make him better by ousting the horrendous disease that swallowed him up – feline AIDS. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible. By the time the decision was made, he was a skeleton of his former mega kitty self. He’d developed a tremor in his last days that ultimately brought us into the vet’s office …

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