Sunday, December 22, 2013


Well, it’s been one hell of a week. I apparently showed up to work too many times and had a lot of time I had to use, so I had three days off this week. However, I was sick the whole time, and then I had to still do a million errands to do in order to get ready for Christmas this coming week.  So even though I lost my voice and still don’t quite have it back, I’m surviving.  And, I’m also skipping on some family Christmas stuff today to save a long trip that I’ll be making again in a couple of days anyway, make sure I’m well, and cook food from Dominica today.  (Hey, to be fair, I’ve had this on the schedule all year.)

Bananas and mangos and bread, oh my! 
I really struggled to find a bread that others with similar blogs haven’t already done. The trouble with searching for recipes from Dominica is that I would often come up with recipes from the Dominican Republic (which will be great in a few days, since I’m doing it next).  But alas, I went with the banana and mango bread that I kept seeing everywhere. On the other hand, I suppose it’s a tried and tested recipe.  I started off with two sticks of butter and a cup and a half of brown sugar (I actually only had enough for a cup, I used a ¼ cup of regular sugar to finish) and then creamed everything together, adding three eggs into the mixture as well.  In a separate bowl, I mixed mango puree (I peeled it, cut it, and pureed it myself) with some mashed banana.  And in a third bowl, I mixed flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Taking a little of the flour mixture and a little of the banana-mango mixture, I poured a little of each alternately in with the butter-sugar cream and mixed everything together until it was consistent.  This recipe said it yielded two loaves, but when I poured it, it was only enough to go halfway up.  And after I put it in the oven for about 20 minutes, I realized I forgot to fold in the golden raisins and the crushed walnuts.  Oh, well.  It’s a little late now.  Regardless, it was wonderful – with a nice crust on the outside, and smooth and moist on the inside (even though I read that “moist” one of the worst words to use to describe food; not sure why, but I’m using it anyway. So, there. You’re not the boss of me.). 

Crab bake. Or something like that. I think I need to work with this to make it better.
The main meal for today is Caribbean-style crab.  This reminds me a little of the crab dish I made when I did for Benin. So, this may be an African-influenced dish.  This recipe calls to melt butter in a skillet and add in some scallions (or green onions as I call them), garlic, chili peppers (I used a mild green chile), then add curry powder (I used half turmeric and half chili powder since I was out of cumin).  Then it came time to add the crab, fresh cilantro and fresh parsley, salt, pepper and crab liquid (I used whatever liquid was in the cans the crab was in).  After this cooks down a bit, I blended in my breadcrumbs until it was all consistent. The original recipe suggested to place this mixture on clam shells, but I just used ramekins and baked at 400º F for about 10 minutes until it was browned.  I bought crab in a can this time, which is not something I normally do – and I’m not sure if I ever do that one again. It was almost like it was ground, and I thought it might work well, but I think it would’ve tasted better if it was more chunked (although the recipe called to shred it).  And I think it calls for too much breadcrumbs; it was a little dry, almost like crab-flavored stuffing.  I think this recipe needs to be tweaked a bit before it gets the Adams’ Family approval on this one. It left us a little wanting for something more on this one.

Pigeon peas and rice. This was awesome. Truly. 
Originally, I had found a recipe for pumpkin ginger soup, but my husband would literally gag at just the mentioning of the name. When I described the ingredients – which sounded really tasty to me – he would practically go into dry heaves and convulsions. Because I didn’t want to list this recipe as the reason for divorce or on the death certificate (as he was thinking the case would be), I chose a different recipe at the last minute. I noticed a lot of literature about Dominican cuisine include the Caribbean favorite pigeon peas and rice. I found a recipe for stewed pigeon peas that was also listed on the menu for a Dominican festival that I came across. This particular one starts by caramelizing some brown sugar in olive oil (but I used white since I used the last of my brown sugar in the bread).  Then I added garlic and onions; a minute later, I added fresh thyme, fresh cilantro, fresh chives, a can of pigeon peas, and a little coconut milk.  I cooked this down until everything was consistent and heated thoroughly. I served this on top of some white rice.  (The rice I used was actually leftovers from the other night. I poured a little coconut milk on top of it and heated it up in the microwave.  It brought it back to life surprising well.)  I think this was the best part of the meal (ok, it was tied with the bread), and what made it great was the mix of the green chile that I added at the last minute and the onions mixed with the coconut milk and sugar.  I may have to do this one again. 

Hey, two out of three ain't bad. 
Christmas is in three days, and New Year’s is a week beyond that, so that makes this is the last country I cook from in 2013. I am still ever more amazed that I’ve made it this far on this project (definitely makes this the longest I’ve ever stayed on a project that I’ve started).  I think I have a certain following amongst a few friends and family.  I’ve gotten some recognition for my work and have definitely made a name for myself as a writer and foodie. Who knows what the future brings us (besides new recipes and awesome childhood memories for my kids, and perhaps a book deal at some point in time)?  I’ve certainly learned a lot this year from all of the countries I have done so far. And I certainly have added a lot of really cool to my repertoire.  But just to recap, here’s what we did: Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, and Dominica.  And next year will be even more awesome. Thanks for reading!

Up next: Dominican Republic

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