So, the kids are finally on Winter Break. We’ve taken a couple of days to relax before I’m making them finish their Winter Break homework packets. And frankly, I’m just glad I can sleep in. I mean, I still have articles I have to write during the day and things to do, but at least I can wake up at 9:30am and stay up later. And now we’re trying to gear up for Christmas—I’m almost done with my shopping. I just need a few more filler items and some gift bags, and we’re good to go. This Christmas Eve, we’re going to start the Icelandic celebration of Jólabókaflód, where books are exchanged on Christmas Eve and everyone goes off and reads in bed with chocolates. I think this sounds like my version of heaven.
|A bread flower?|
But today, we will head away from the cold of Iceland and eat food from a much warmer country this time of year: Lesotho. And as for my bread, I went with Alina’s Lesotho Sweet Pot Bread (because it’s made in a pot, not because it contains it). To begin, I mixed 6 c of whole wheat flour (the recipe calls for “brown flour”), 1 packet of yeast, 1 tsp salt, and 1 c of sugar. Then I slowly poured in enough warm water to form dough consistency then worked the dough (adding in more flour if necessary) to create a soft dough. Once I got it how I liked it, I formed it into a ball and put it in the bowl for about an hour. Now, I don’t have a cast iron pot, so this is where it gets tricky for me. I do have a metal pot with a lid. I greased the pot with 2 Tbsp of oil and heated the pot in a 225ºF oven. Then I split the dough into smaller balls (about 2-3” in diameter), placing one in the middle of the hot pot and the other balls around it like a flower. Then I put the lid on it and placed it back in the oven for 45 minutes. The bread just didn’t seem like it was done, so I turned the heat up to 300ºF for another 15 minutes, then I still wasn’t sure, so I took the lid off and turned the heat up to 350ºF for another 15 minutes before taking it out. Finally, the outside was slightly crispy, but the inside was super soft. It had a nice wheat flavor, but without tasting earthy like heartier wheat bread can sometimes taste. I really enjoyed this. I think it would be good with some honey butter.
|Very good. I'm glad I added in the beet greens. It gave it more color.|
My main meal for today is called Afrikaanse Stoofschotel. I diced some potatoes and shredded some cabbage and set it off to the side. Then I fried my onion and added some curry powder (I just used a few shake of turmeric, chilli powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger, and black pepper). Then I added in my diced potatoes and water and brought it to a boil for about five minutes. After that, I threw in my cabbage and the greens from the beets (I didn’t want to let those go to waste—beet greens are tasty) and let it cook for another 10 minutes before adding in a can of diced tomatoes. I seasoned the stew with salt and pepper and it simmer for a few minutes. This was pretty tasty. The curry definitely carried itself throughout the entire dish. I think it would taste better if I add a little cayenne pepper.
|Um, well, it served its purpose. But I do know that if I ever run out of couscous or something, this can be an alternative.|
I served this on pap, the preferred kind of pap (as opposed to the type you get in a doctor’s office, and so thankful I don’t have to do that anymore). This is much simpler. I measured out 2 c of water and brought it to a boil. Then I measured out about 2 c of yellow corn meal and dumped it in my boiling water, stirring it to mix it through. It was pretty crumbly. Then I turned the heat down to low and put the lid back on to let it cook for about 20-25 minutes. I had to make sure I stirred every 4-5 minutes to make sure it didn’t burn on the bottom. It had the consistency of a lumpy couscous. I think it went well with the Afrikaanse Stoofschotel I made.
|Mmmm, all for me.|
To go with this, I made beet and onion salad as a side dish. I absolutely love beets. They’re really high in iron. I always eat a can of beets any time before I plan to give blood. For this recipe, I bought fresh beets instead of canned. After cutting the stems and roots off, peeling them, and cutting them into strips, I placed the beets in a pot of boiling salted water. I let it boil for about 30 minutes or so until they were soft. In a medium bowl, I added in some balsamic vinegar (I forgot to get red wine vinegar), some salt and sugar and stirred. Then I added in my drained beets and onions that had been cut into moderately large chunks and stirred to coat. I let this sit out at room temperature to marinate, stirring it every now and then. I loved this, and I knew I’d probably be the only one to eat this. No one else likes beets in my immediate family, but I thought this was fantastic. I frankly don’t care that I get these all to myself.
|As an American, putting milk in my tea seems a little strange, but you know what? It's actually pretty good.|
Finally, to follow everything, I made a red latte. I’m a huge fan of coffee and tea, so this immediately grabbed my attention. I brewed a cup of rooibos tea to double strength (I just used two tea bags), only filling about three-quarters of my cup. Then I added in a little honey and stirred. I poured some milk into another cup and heated it in the microwave until it just started to bubble. I poured the hot milk into the tea and sprinkled the drink with a little bit of cinnamon. I had never had rooibos tea. It’s a little more robust flavor of tea (of course, it could be that I made mine double strength). The recipe called for steamed almond milk, but I just used whole milk with some sugar in it instead. I liked it, although it had a different flavor than what I was expecting. But it was good. Instead of honey, I might add a little vanilla extract next time, perhaps. Or maybe some almond extract.
|I'd say, overall, this was a pretty good meal. It quite surprised me to say the least.|
I enjoyed this meal. It turned out better than expected, actually. My husband hasn’t tasted it yet, and he certainly doesn’t know that it’s a meatless meal. So, we’ll see how long it takes for him to notice. And with this meal, I’ve put another year behind me. The next blog meal will be in 2016. I know I’ve enjoyed many of the meals I’ve made this year and have learned a ton of information (and hopefully you have, too). And I’ve had my injuries along the way (yes, I have to reset my “Days Without Incident” again. Thanks for the burn, Sweet Pot Bread.). But it’s totally worth it. It’s all totally worth it.
Up next: Liberia