Sunday, January 19, 2014


These past two weeks have been crazy bad. First we suffered through a polar vortex, which gave us temperatures around -13ºF and wind chills around -35ºF.  Indianapolis Public Schools were closed for the whole week – which never happens! I couldn’t make it in to work for two days, and then the roads were terrible. Ice ridges caused cars to slide all over and the snow reached about 11” where we were.  Then after I make it through that ordeal, I got really sick and found out that I’m going to need surgery to remove large uterine fibroids. Great. I’m just glad that my appetite sort of came back, because my recipes for Ecuadorian food sound amazing. 

As creepy as these are, my kids added their own flair.

The bread we are making is called guaguas de pan, or “bread babies.”  It’s more or less a sweet bread in the shape of a swaddled baby.  It’s most commonly eaten at the Ecuadorian Day of the Dead festival, along with a spiced berry “smoothie” that is boiled down and served either hot or cold. I was going to make this recipe, but these fibroids have sucked the energy out of me. I’ll save it for another day perhaps.  I didn’t have all of the ingredients anyway. So, this bread recipe starts out sprinkling my yeast onto a ½ cup of warm milk, then whisking in a ½ cup of flour until it’s creamy, leaving it to sit for an hour. After that, I added in the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, butter, and remaining flour and knead it until it becomes elastic.  Then I let it sit for about an hour and a half.  After rolling it out to about an inch thick, I cut out the guagua shape and laid it on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet to let them sit for another 15 minutes. I brushed each piece with egg yolks before putting them into the oven for about 15-20 minutes.  And after they cooled completely, we got out my cookie decorating kit that I got for Christmas last year, lost it, found it, and have never used yet and decorated them. What an experience, but the kids loved it.  I thought they tasted like a sweet biscuit (and it was layered almost like one), but with the icing on it, it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet.  They were really good. My son just licked the icing off. 

Fancy schmancy shrimp. I'm going to have to bring this to a pitch-in and impress everyone.
The main dish is shrimp ceviche.  To make it is fairly easy.  I used already cooked shrimp and made sure I took the tails off.  Then I mixed the shrimp, some red onion, some tomatoes, lime juice, orange juice, a little ketchup, some cilantro, a little salt, and some pepper.  I mixed this up and put it in the refrigerator before serving it. It tasted something like shrimp cocktail, but my husband didn’t like how the ketchup and the lime juice mixed.  He thought it had too pungent of an aftertaste.  But I liked it. And of course, the kids complained about the red onions. 

Still think I can improve on this.

And to go with this, I also made baked plantains with cheese.  This fairly easy recipe called to peel and cut the plantains in half, rub them with oil, and bake them for about 30 minutes at 400ºF.  After this time, I turned them (well, I made my husband do it) and left them in for another 15 minutes or so.  Once I removed them, I carefully cut a slit down the middle (and I made him do this part too) and filled it with queso blanco.  The recipe actually called for mozzarella, but my daughter has now all of a sudden decided she doesn’t like mozzarella. So, I after I placed a thin slice of cheese in the plantain, I put it back in the oven (after turning off the heat) for about five minutes. It can be served with or without hot sauce – we opted for the no hot sauce option.  I thought the plantains tasted like a bland potato, and the queso blanco didn’t add much flavor. Perhaps I should’ve gone for the mozzarella anyway.

This would be a super awesome meal if it were warmer outside. 
For me, this was a meal made out of sheer determination.  Because I don’t have the energy I used to have, I definitely needed help with this one. It became a family-contributed meal. And I think those are the best kinds. My appetite was also kind of wonky, so I could only eat kid-size portions of what I made. My husband had to help make the slits in the plantains so I could put the cheese in it, not to mention reaching all of the things that put on the high shelves.  The kids helped to ice the bread babies.  But I’m hoping these are the things my kids will remember as they get older. 

Up next:  Egypt

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