Sunday, January 5, 2014


If you don’t live in the Midwest of the United States, you haven’t experienced the maddening rush of going to the grocery store before a snow storm.  Waiting in line for 1-2 hours, stores struggle to keep the shelves stocked as people buy 4-5 loaves of bread and three cases of bottled water – like we’ll be snowed in for weeks.  People generally lose their minds at the first mention of the word “snow” – and if the word “storm” is following it, you might as well start handing out straightjackets, because it’ll be hard telling the normal people buying normal amounts of groceries from the people who think the world is ending.  The problem is that after the snow comes through today, the temperatures are supposed to bottom out – tomorrow, our high will be -12ºF with wind chills between -30ºF and -50ºF. We call it “Snowpocalypse” for a reason.  Well, I was one of those normal people just trying to buy groceries on the Saturday after I got paid.  Oh, I found the plantains, but there were absolutely no potatoes of any kind, onions, celery, chorizo, or bread (well, I found a couple loaves of cheap white bread, but I only bought one because I’m considerate like that). My husband went out in the snow today to a different store and got the things I couldn’t get yesterday.  He is such a brave man and must love me more than I know. He also brought me dark chocolate, so I know he’s a keeper. 

My almost spice cake
So, you can imagine how excited I was to cook food from the Caribbean today.  Maybe we can pretend that it’s warm and sunny.  The bread I chose was a sweet corn bread.  First I mixed the flour, yellow cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together and slowly added the coconut milk and regular milk.  Then in a separate bowl, I creamed the butter and the sugar, and then beat in the eggs.  After this was all mixed, I slowly mixed the flour mixture that I did first into the creamed butter mix.  After I stirred everything to make it consistent, I poured it in a lightly greased bread pan and baked it for about 35 minutes.  Because of the spices that went into it, it almost tasted like a spice cake.  I really liked it – although it’s better when it’s warm.

The best new thing in the world
The main dish for today is called sancocho – also known as Seven Meat Hearty Stew.  I didn’t use all the meats listed – I pretty much had to choose what was available (so no goat meat) – I went with chorizo (that my husband thankfully went out and found later), stew beef, and pork loin.  I marinated my beef, celery, cilantro, oregano, vinegar, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a bag for 30 minutes.  Then I put it in a pot with oil and simmered for 10 minutes.  Then I added my pork and simmered for 15 more minutes, adding a little water. I added my chorizo next and simmered for another 15 minutes.  At this time, I added 2 cups of water.  Once it rose to a boil, I added in the some cubed sweet potatoes in lieu of a yam and some cubed plantains.  After this simmers for 15 minutes, I put in the remaining lime juice, corn, beef stock cubes, hot sauce, and orange juice and allow it to simmer until these are warm and tender.  This was the best thing ever. I’m definitely going to have to make this again.  I topped it off with some fresh cilantro which made it taste even better.

Kind of like my humor: a little dry. But always in good taste.
The side dish I chose kept popping up on all sorts of Dominican cuisine recipe sites.  Mangu must be some sort of national side dish.  I took a couple of plantains, peeled them, chopped them up, and boiled them until they were tender.  Then I mashed them like potatoes.  I took some of the bacon and fried it up. The only thing I could find was turkey bacon, and it didn’t fry up the same, nor did it leave any drippings that I was going to use to sauté the onions in. So, after I removed the bacon, I sautéed some of the shallots in some olive oil.  Although my recipe was a little vague, I served the mashed plantains with the bacon and onions on top.  My plantains got a little dry, but otherwise, the flavor was good. 

Perfect snowy day dinner
Even though we’ll probably be snowed in, at least we’ll have some pretty awesome stew to eat tomorrow and maybe I’ll pretend I’m on a nice, warm beach in the Dominican Republic.  And maybe I’ll also get lucky, and my job will close the office due to blizzard-like conditions. Personally, I’d really like to just stay home and make coffee and watch Les Misérables and maybe some old episodes of X-Files and Twilight Zone on Netflix.   

Up next: Ecuador

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