Sunday, January 11, 2015


So, the kids went back to school this past week after spending over two weeks off for Winter Break.  Well, they kind of went back. We were off for two days because of extremely cold weather.  The wind chills were around -15 to -20º F (-26.1 to -28.9º C), and even though I drive the kids to school every morning, there are many kids who have to wait for busses in that dangerous weather.  The awesome part is that we’re predicted to get a quarter inch of ice tonight and into tomorrow. (Ok, please tell me you picked up on my sarcasm, because ice storms are about as awesome as being served with a subpoena or paying taxes.) So, if the schools are sensible, we’ll be off more this week.  And then it’s a 3-day weekend! So maybe cooking food from Guinea-Bissau will warm us all up.

I was about 20 minutes away from calling this a cake. Instead, I made my husband scrape burnt cakelets off the bottom of the oven.
The first thing I made today is Bolo à Moda da Guiné-Bissau, which is “Cake in the Style of Guinea-Bissau.”  This was supposed to be a simple cake. I tried to beat together four eggs with two sticks of butter and sugar until it all came together and was smooth. However, even though I set my butter out to warm up, it was still cold in the middle, and therefore took WAY too much effort to mix everything together. But I did it. Then I added in the flour little by little with just enough milk to make a loose batter. I usually don’t use my electric mixer, but I had to get it out today, because I had to mix this batter vigorously for about 7-8 minutes in order to incorporate a lot of air into it. Just about the time my arm was going to fall off, I poured the batter into my springform cake pan (that was buttered and floured first). It was supposed to be in the oven for about 30 minutes, but that’s where the major problems arose. The ONE TIME I didn’t thoroughly check to see if the bottom of my springform cake pan was secure is the time when it’s not, and ten minutes into baking, I realized the batter is dripping out of the sides and cooking on the bottom of the oven.  Uuuugggghhhhh… Really? And I didn’t have enough eggs to try it again. I’ll have to try to make this again when there’s not an impending ice storm coming and everyone is basically reenacting The Hunger Games at the grocery store.  Oh, well. C’est la vie.

Good, but would've been better with rum. I wonder what it would taste like with pinot griogio in it? Because that's all I have.
So I took another recipe I found for Batido de Abacaxi (“Pineapple Shake”) to amend this situation. This recipe calls for pineapple (I used canned crushed pineapple), milk, sweetened condensed milk, crushed ice, and rum or vodka. I left the alcohol out, though. I know I’m not a contender for Mother of the Year, but I’m pretty sure adding in rum and giving it to the kids will definitely knock me out of the Top 10. And as I put everything in the blender, I realized I never made any ice cubes for this (I don’t typically use ice cubes), so I blended everything and put it in the freezer to get partially frozen. It was still good, though. 

Not even sure what to think. It could've been good. It could've had class. It could've been a contender.  
I chose two main dishes this time. The first one was Bolinhos de Mancarra com Peixe (“Fish Peanut Balls”). I took my tilapia filets and marinated them with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and onion slices for 30 minutes. In the meantime, I measured about ¾ cup of peanuts and ground them until it was a paste. Once the fish was done marinating, I pan fried it until it was completely cooked through. After letting it cool, I flaked the fish and put it in a bowl. Then I added some diced onions, parsley flakes, salt, and the ground up peanuts, mixing it together with some of the leftover lemon juice from the marinade to bind it all together. Then I shaped it into balls about the size of a large hush puppy or a meatball and fried it in vegetable oil. Well, I tried to fry it. It just wouldn’t stay together. I ended up scooping it up and forming it into a pretend meatball. The flavor was good, maybe a little strong on the peanut side, and the texture was a little odd. But it wasn’t horrible. It was just one of those dishes that didn’t quite come together.  Not sure if I’ll be attempting that one again, though. 

For the sake of my wimpy kids, I left out a lot of the heat, but I really wanted to light this up with cayenne pepper. 
The second of the main dishes I made was Camarâes à Guineense, or Guinean Prawns. I went with cooked shrimp instead on this one.  I started out frying some onions until they were soft, then adding in the shrimp and julienned cucumber. I added in a little salt, lemon juice, and a little cayenne pepper and chili powder. Since my shrimp was already cooked, I just let it all sauté until it was warm. This one actually was the best part of the meal, albeit my shrimp got a little tough. 

And to go with these dishes, I went with a basic West African recipe of beans and rice. Here’s where I got a little lazy.  I made rice as I would normally do, except I added a little garlic powder to the water. When the rice was done, I opened up a can of pigeon peas and mixed it in with the rice. I seasoned the entire dish with salt, pepper, and a little chili powder. I tried to find black-eyed peas because I read that it’s pretty popular there, but for some reason, I couldn’t find any at all. So, I went with pigeon peas instead, which I think taste similar anyway (although my husband vehemently disagrees).

Overall, I'd have to say this meal was "Meh." Not bad, but not that great. Definitely going to make the shrimp again. With fire.

So, it just wasn’t a meal that came together as planned. Like Tonya Harding, it had so much potential to be really good. But, you know, that happens sometimes.  I still want to redo that cake.  I want to try to amend the pineapple shake recipe a bit to create a topping for the cake. I may still try to do that next weekend, perhaps. But it wasn’t all bad. The shake was good. And so was the shrimp. So, there you go.  Do you really need more than that? Now to settle in and brace myself for a good ol’ fashioned Indiana ice storm (and hope the schools have enough sense to call off tonight instead of tomorrow morning, just so I can sleep in, but I don't think that's happening.).

Up next: Guyana

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