Sunday, September 20, 2015


Ten years ago today, I was in labor all day with my daughter, Marisa. I was a little nervous since I was only 34 weeks along, but it turns out that even though she spent a few days in the NICU, everything turned out fine. And now, she’s a super smart, caring, compassionate, sometimes-stubborn, sassy, and independent tween girl. (She actually doesn’t turn 10 until 1:00 am tomorrow morning.) I still can’t believe my tiny bundle of joy is now three inches shorter than I am (which isn’t saying much—I’m only 5’ 1/2”). And so, we celebrate today with the food from one of the most difficult countries I’ve had to research: Kiribati.

Clearly the winner here. I'd go get more, but I ate way to many earlier.
I had the hardest time finding any kind of bread, cake, or pastry recipe online. I seemed to look everywhere, even on page 10 of a Google search, and no one ever goes that far into “barely what I actually searched for” land. You’d think for a country that was once controlled by the British there’d be something posted. But still, it was to no avail. So, I had to spread out my search a bit. The I-Kiribati people are ethnically related to the Micronesians, so I started there and came across this recipe for banana and peach doughnuts. I first drained a 15-oz can of peach slices. Then I peeled and smashed up three ripe bananas. I added in the peaches and kept smashing it all together until it was like thick baby food. Then I added in 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 c of flour to the fruit mix along with 5 tsp of sugar. I mixed this until everything was smooth.  Then I heated up some vegetable oil in my deep-sided skillet, and when it was hot, I dropped in spoonfuls of the mixture and fried it. Once it started to turn brown, I made sure to turn it so that it would brown on the other side as well. I took them out and let them drain on paper towels. This was seriously one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I actually took a little bit of vanilla icing and thinned it down with some whole milk and poured it on top. Amazing! I can’t get over this. I suppose they’re more like fritters, but I think these would be good spread thin and made like pancakes. Totally worth the small oil splash burns. Totally worth it. 

OK, this had to be the biggest surprise of the day. I thought this was good.

The one recipe that kept popping up page after page as far as true Kiribati recipes go is one called te bua toro ni baukin.  I substituted several ready-made items to save time. The recipe calls for grated pumpkin, but I just used canned pumpkin instead, and poured the pumpkin in the bottom of my greased casserole dish. Instead of shredding a cabbage myself, I bought ready-made coleslaw mix (this one has grated carrots in it, I didn’t think it would matter; I usually buy angel hair coleslaw which is just the shredded cabbage). I added in the slaw mix to the pumpkin. Then I added flour, corned beef, powdered milk, and baking powder to the pumpkin and cabbage and mixed it all together. Next for the spices: a little salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Once everything was thoroughly mixed, then it went into a 350ºF oven for about 45 minutes. Although I really liked this, the kids weren’t so into it. I thought the flavor of the pumpkin was toned down after baking and it meshed well with the corned beef. The next time I make this, I would probably add another tin of corned beef, though. One tin’s worth kind of gets lost in the pumpkin. I’m not sure that I would serve this as a whole meal, but it would make a really good side dish nonetheless. 

I'm so glad I don't work in an office just so I can eat this for lunch tomorrow. If there's any left, that is.

I also found a recipe for seafood adobo. It calls for a mixture of seafood (I went with frozen salad shrimp, canned chopped clams, and canned oysters), minced garlic, ground ginger, vinegar (I used a mix of white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar), and soy sauce. I just sautéed this mix together until it was cooked thoroughly, and I served this on top of white rice. The oysters pretty much dominated the whole dish, but that’s ok. It was still good. I might go a little lighter on the vinegar next time, though. 

Overall, I'd say that this was pretty good. I was fairly impressed and am pretty full.
Amazingly enough, this meal came together well. When I picked these recipes (mostly out of the fact it was all I could find), it seemed kind of a strange combination of dishes and ingredients. But in the end, it was pretty good. Even my husband—who HATES pumpkin with a passion like no other—thought the pumpkin dish was pretty good, but agreed that it needed more corned beef. I suppose it’s appropriate since fall is around the corner and pumpkin dishes are the in-thing now. I certainly learned a lot about this country, and perhaps maybe a few more people know where Kiribati is now. And as it gets colder, I can just close my eyes and pretend that I’m sitting on a beach on one of the islands sipping some drink and eating good food and just taking it all in. Until I open them again and realize I’m still in Indiana.

Up next: Kuwait

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