Month: September 2012

Paraguayan Cheesy Cornbread | Sopa Paraguaya

Rumor has it, no meal is complete in Paraguay without a slice of warm, cheesy cornbread. While sopa means soup in Spanish, this is definitely bread and… traditionally, all mixed up with a happy bundle of homemade cheese. One of our readers – Emily – says everyone in Paraguay makes their own cheese so that this would be no big deal to a local. I read up on the origins of this bread… there are two main versions. In the first version, Don Carlos ( President of Paraguay from 1842-62) requested his favorite white soup for dinner – one made with cheese, egg, corn flour, and loads of milk. One day the chef put too much corn flour in the soup and decided to bake it up as bread in cast iron. The new dish became a hit and Don Carlos dubbed it Sopa Paraguaya. Here’s the second story, from Wikipedia: In ancient times, this food was made with fresh corn and cooked in the “ñaúpyvú” (clay pot), not in the oven “modern” inherited from the …

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Barbecued Meat | Carne Asada

Last chances only come once. Last chance to tell that boy you like him. Last chance to wear hypercolor. Last chance to wear a micro-mini. Because, guess what? The 90’s are over, and they’re not coming back. (not that I’m bitter) (well, maybe about the mini skirt thing). Take a look outside. This might be your last chance to fire up the grill in 2012. Come December, when the Mayan’s pop in to say hello, you might wish you took the opportunity. Especially when it comes with so much DIY goodness. I’m a big fan of DIY meals. (Remember when we made “Foe” (similar to Pho)? No one’s bowl looked the same. Yet they were all major Yum Town). Today we’re exploring the popular South American DIY called Carne Asada, a.k.a. the most lovely barbecued meat you’ll ever nibble. Carne Asada can be found all over  – from Mexico (hey, there’s those Mayas again), to the fine countries of South America. It is an especially fond part of the Paraguayan Global Table…and so here we …

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Dulce de Leche Stuffed Cookies | Alfajores

Sometimes we need a do over. A chance to get it right. And a little forgiveness. Because in every mishap is a silver lining. Especially when it comes to sweet, crumbly dulce de leche filled alfajores – the popular South American cookie. One bite instantly dissolves on the tongue into a cloud of tender lemon zest deliciousness. Divine. But back to forgiveness. Specifically, I need to forgive my sweet, bumbling husband for being so thoughtful as to fill up the cooler with ice for our 3 1/2 hour road trip, yet being so forgetful as to overlook returning the cookie dough to the cooler. I need to let go of the grief that the cookie dough rode in the bed of our pickup truck, saran wrap in the wind, balanced precariously on top of my red suitcase, all the way to our family vacation in Beaver’s Bend. And I need to accept that, because it was 100F and sunny, the cookie dough could never be cooked. In situations like this, it’s all about the silver …

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Menu: Paraguay (& Giveaway)

Let’s talk enlightenment. When it comes to packing up the family, driving deep into the woods, and taking a little time to “get away from it all,” there’s still good reason to set a Global Table. In fact, when there’s nothing but you, trees, and a few muffin tins worth of family members, it’s the perfect time to try out something new. That’s what we did this week, when we ate Paraguay … in Beaver’s Bend State Park (way, way Southeast Oklahoma). There aren’t as many distractions when you’re stuck in the woods. There is definitely no safety net… your snacks and zappable meals will be nowhere in sight. Call it a captive audience, if you will. Perfect for picky eaters. What sounds good to you? All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Barbecued Meat | Carne Asada [Recipe] Finger-licking grilled meat, seasoned with bright lime juice, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Delicioso. Paraguayan Cheesy Cornbread | Sopa Paraguaya [Recipe] This cornbread is so filled with goodies, it is practically a …

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About the food of Paraguay

Paraguay (pronounced parag-why) is the first landlocked country we’ve cooked in a long, long while. To celebrate, we’re going to hang out in a local swamp. Appropriately dubbed “The Great Swamp,” this wet expanse stretches through Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia, and is home to more than 10,000 species of birds, reptiles, fish, and invertebrates, according to Environmental Graffiti. It’s gigantic. P.S. The Great Swamp is considered by Environmental Graffiti to be one of the top ten swamps in the world. So there’s that. While there, let’s sip on yerba mate – a bitter, hyper-caffienated tea served in a “mate” container and drunk through a bombilla (a straw with a built-in strainer. Brilliant invention, right?). In the summer, try chilled yerba tea mixed with herbs. This is called terere, a wildly popular Paraguayan drink. Speaking of summer – if the sun gets in your eyes, feel free to throw on a a carved leather hat – something local artisans produce (you might find them tucked away between pottery, jewelry, and wooden sculpture vendors). When hunger strikes, there’s everything from carne …

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Asaro Mud Man. Photo by Jialiang Gao.

Monday Meal Review: Papua New Guinea

I hover over the dining table, scooping the tapioca and banana mush onto banana leaves to make saksak. The deep green leaves are soft and supple – completely relaxed from a pass over the licking blue flames on my range. I work slowly, eventually rolling each leaf into a rectangle shape, taking care not to spill any filling. I tuck each bundle securely in the steamer and, when I’m done, I click on the burner. A few moments later, vapors slip out between the pot lid and the pot. Little wisps of banana scented air. The house smells beautiful. Real life: later that night no one would eat these little rectangles of chewy, slippery banana tapioca dumplings. No. One. I had retreated to work on my speech for the Tulsa Global Alliance’s Global Vision Dinner (350 attendees – eek!) and left them to eat this Global Table alone. When I check the fridge the next morning, the little green packets are still there. Forlorn. With shifty eyes, Keith claims he didn’t see them. Later, I …

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Spicy Coconut Shrimp

Fact: Shrimp are like relationships. They should be warm and inviting. Not cold and clammy. I’ve never been a fan of cold shrimp at cocktail parties. I eat them begrudgingly (if only because I’m an eternal grazer). All the while, I daydream of a crackling, crusty, and “fried-until-golden-brown” shrimp. I’m not sure why I settle on cold and clammy at cocktail parties, but I do it every single time. Thankfully, I didn’t make the same mistake when choosing my husband. And, after this week’s Global Table, I may never do it again with shrimp. While you won’t find Coconut Shrimp in the remote villages of Papua New Guinea, you will find it in the country’s coastal restaurants. In fact shrimp would be the dainty option; often they’ll use humongous prawns and serve spicy chili sauce on the side for dipping. To give the shrimp authentic spice without sauce I added a sprinkle of brilliant cayenne… a spice the color of a Papua New Guinean sunset and a fishermen’s dream. Ingredients: 1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined, tails on 1/3 cup …

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Tapioca & Banana Dumplings in Coconut Milk | Saksak

I don’t make a lot of really, really weird things on this blog. You won’t see deep-fried tarantulas or monkey brains. This is because I feel strongly that regular people (and by that I mean regular-really-special-all-kinds-of-wonderful  people like you), living in average towns (that they love with all their heart, like you do) should be able to replicate this adventure without pulling their hair out by the roots. Simply put: the more people cooking the world, the better. And I’m here to make it as easy as possible. That being said, sometimes I run across really strange recipes made with really normal ingredients. These are like culinary goldmines for the stovetop traveler. Unique learning experiences that are not an impossible nightmare to cobble together. Fun, fun, fun. Take today’s recipe from Papua New Guinea: Saksak, a.k.a. Sago Dumplings. This slippery treat is made with nothing more than tapioca, bananas and sugar, wrapped up in a banana leaf “blanket” and swimming in a warm coconut sea. I found everything for the Saksak in our grocery store except for the banana leaves. …

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Autumnal Veggies in Spiced Coconut Milk

“I would eat that” says Mr. Picky, after taking a nibble off of my wooden spoon. I take a bite off the same spoon and let my eyes flutter shut. My mouth is filled with the most comforting, savory goodness. These coconut veggies taste exactly like a delicious hug on a rainy day… or a steaming hot shower after a rough and tumble game of basketball… or that happy dream you have after finishing a really, really great book (or show) – the kind of dream that lets the world of the characters continue on in your imagination. Good stuff. There’s nothing so softly seductive as sweet potatoes, butternut squash, potato, and green beans, simmered in creamy coconut milk with a touch of ginger and garlic. This is the quintessential Papua New Guinean meal – one you’ll often see ladled over white, somewhat mushy rice. Why mushy? Well, according to Caroline Leigh who has been to Papua New Guinea, rice cooked in thin aluminum pots is always mushy. Since  almost all pots in Papua New Guinea …

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Menu: Papua New Guinea (& Giveaway)

“How can a country of 800 plus languages and 700 plus ethnic groups unite to form a country, impossible but possible for PNG” – Sir Michael Somare, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. (Source) Sir Michael Somare has a great point. How exactly does a group of people so diverse remain unified as a country? From what I’ve read, PNG’s success has a great deal to do with the freedom it allows these  700 ethnic groups to express themselves, whether by wearing unique clothing, performing culture-specific rituals, or enjoying local music. PNG makes room for it all. That being said, the peoples are surely united by one food in particular:  the coconut. Every single dish on this week’s Global Table celebrates coconut for one simple reason – PNG loves the coconut. In my research I found it shows up in almost every recipe. (Update: turns out Brian S.’s trip to the interior of PNG did not feature the coconut, so perhaps this is just a coastal thing). Considering I can’t get my family to agree …

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As a fisherman waits patiently for the fish to bite, Tavurvur belches ash and pumice into the twilight. Photo by Taro Taylor.

About the food of Papua New Guinea

Few sentences succeed at stopping me in my tracks, however last night’s research on Papua New Guinea made me blush and chuckle. I can’t help but share the line that made me react so strongly, as it sums up the culture more succinctly than three pages worth of blabber I could offer: A young bare-breasted woman recently bought as a bride for five pigs may be wearing a digital wristwatch. (1000 Places to See Before You Die) Knock that image around your brain a while. As far as mental images go, the digital wristwatch really is the cherry on top – a snapshot of a bygone era in American style, circa 1980, which is now firmly lodged in the “outdated” category this side of the Pacific.  I love every bit of it. As for the pigs – yes, they are so valuable that many tribes use them as currency. The book goes on to describe several regions of Papua New Guinea celebrated for even more dramatic isolation. So untouched by modern influence, these communities remain submerged …

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Monday Meal Review: Panama

A canal cuts straight through Panama, dividing the skinny country and two great continents. Ships no longer have to pass around the southern-most tip of South America to circumnavigate the globe as they once did. They just slip right on through her middle. Each time a ship passes, 200 million liters of water slosh and gush through the opening. Incredible, the effect of a “little divider” like the Panama canal. Keith’s new job means he’s traveling a lot. One week of every month he just … vanishes, while Ava and I muddle through our “normal.” I spend the time he’s gone a little divided, like the canal, trying not to let all my energy rush out with his ship… trying ever so hard not to miss him (I’m a Cancer, need I say more?). It’s always hard to be the one left behind – the one not on adventure. The one living the normal, everyday, here I am, still hanging out life. Yet, after spending a week so divided, there is nothing better than coming back together. For …

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