Sunday, July 16, 2017


I can’t believe it’s the middle of July, and I have to say that the summer is winding down. Who would’ve ever thought that the kids would go back to school in July? Sheesh. And when I got my daughter’s shots to enter kindergarten, it seemed like such a long time until the 6th grade shots booster. And yet, here we are. 

One giant loaf of banana bread. Basically.
So, this afternoon I’m not going to think about it. Thankfully, the soundtrack to HBO’s Big Little Lies on Spotify and cooking Papua New Guinean food is exactly what’s on my agenda today. (Followed by the new season of Game of Thrones tonight!) The first thing I made today was Papuan-style Banana Cake. In a large bowl, I mixed together ½ c softened butter (1 stick), ½ c sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla extract until it was well creamed. Then I slowly beat in 2 eggs and added in my 3 mashed bananas. Once I mixed this until it was consistent, I poured in 1/3 c of milk and 1 tsp of baking soda before folding in 1 ½ c of flour. After stirring everything together, I poured my batter into a cake pan and baked it for 45-50 minutes in a 350ºF oven.

This is my breakfast. Truth.
When it was done and completely cooled, I topped it with a pineapple-coconut cream. To make this, I mixed 2 c of milk and 2 Tbsp of cornstarch into a saucepan and heated it until it simmered and thickened to a cream (but I made mine thicker). I think I had my heat up too high or something because mine was a little bit lumpy, but I tried to work out most of them. I let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, and it thickened up quite nicely. (For once, something was going right, more or less. Knock on wood.) I gave it a good stir and added in 3 Tbsp of cream of coconut and 3 Tbsp of crushed pineapple, stirring it up and putting it on top of the cake. I thought the cake tasted like banana bread. Because I didn’t trust my round springform pans, I used a 13x9 rectangle pan instead, and it was a little flatter than I would’ve liked (and a little tougher, I think, too). But it was good with the cream on top. It turned out better than I thought it would.

I'm really beginning to like bok choy. Its flavor really enhances the dish that it's in.
My main dish today is Chicken with Bok Choy in Coconut Milk. I bought boneless skinless chicken breasts, so I cut them into smaller pieces and lightly browned them in a little coconut oil and minced garlic. Then I threw in some coconut milk, ginger, and some more garlic and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. While this was simmering, I cut some summer squash into cubes. After I added it to the chicken, I let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Then I threw in my chopped bok choy and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes until the greens were bright green and kind of wilted looking. I took it off the heat and seasoned it with a little salt and pepper and served this on rice. I liked this; I thought it was really good. The coconut milk kept the meat tender and the squash gave it a good flavor. The flavors were a little more subtle than I thought it was going to be.

Interesting, to say the least. I guess I'll be the one eating all the leftovers.
To go with this, I made Kaukau, or Papuan sweet potatoes. I wrapped four sweet potatoes in tin foil and baked them in a 400ºF oven for about 45 minutes, turning them over halfway through. They just need to be soft enough to pierce with a fork. (The recipe said 30 minutes, but mine took longer.) Once they were cool enough to handle, I took the tin off of them and cut them in half longways. I scooped out the potato and put it in a bowl, carefully leaving the skins for later. In a bowl, I mashed my potatoes and added in my coconut oil until it became a puree texture. Then I added in some coconut milk, finely chopped onions (in lieu of shallots), garlic and ginger and stirred. Once that was stirred in, I added in some orange juice (I actually used naranja agria), cinnamon, salt, and pepper and stirred again. Then I added a few spoonfuls back into the potato skins. Then I put them back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so. I actually added a step and garnished each potato boat with some chopped scallions. (I’m sure they won’t mind.) I’m used to eating sweet potatoes either plain or sweetened/candied. So, mixing it with onions was a little different for us, since it’s not what we’re used to. My husband wasn’t a fan, but I didn’t think it was that bad.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty tasty meal.
As I was doing the research on this, I couldn’t help but thinking of how much a place changes over time. Not just the landscape, or the number of people living there per se, but the culture. More often than not, you’ll find the colonizing culture become the dominant culture, and it’s often forced upon the native/indigenous peoples there. And with modern technology and land development, their own culture changes along the way. I always find it interesting which parts of their traditional culture that remains because to me, that is the beacon to what the crucial parts of their society are. I mean, I could be entirely wrong about all of this. But it was just something I was thinking about.

Up next: Paraguay

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