December 2nd, 2008
With the winter quickly arriving what a better way to treat yourself but with some fabulous winter squash! I enjoy perusing the farmer’s market every week and am always looking for new or creative things to make. A couple of months ago I stumbled upon a small farm that grew winter squash and had a conversation with (…read more and get the recipe)
November 12th, 2008
Can you believe that I still have zucchini growing? Ok, maybe not, but last week I did. I picked three zucchinis and one of them had been there for some time. I can never figure out what to do with the HUGE ones, but Google and this recipe saved the day. Here’s what I did: (…read more and get the recipe)
October 30th, 2008
I am still alive. When my co-workers start mentioning that my blog is going stale, crusty and moldy then I know it is way past time to update! I haven’t really stopped cooking, and in fact there was much that I wanted to share on here but the effort required was too much for me at the time! I think it’s called laziness. Well after a little persuasion I decided to post last night’s dinner — Sweet Potato Risotto. (…read more and get the recipe)
July 2nd, 2008
I’m still imagining myself sitting at Grandma’s table trying to eat these ribs before the meat fell off the bone. They were the best ribs I’ve ever had. No, I’ve never had ribs from the south, so maybe I’ve never officially had “ribs” — but these were GOOD! They were juicy, tender, and like I said, the meat fell off the bone! (…read more and get the recipe)
June 14th, 2008
I received (thanks Danae) a very good book a while back (if you like burgers) called “build a better burger“ by James McNair. I was amazed to see all the varieties of burgers — all gourmet and DELICIOUS looking! With this beautiful weather we’ve had in Corvallis the last few days I couldn’t help (…read more and get the recipe)
June 13th, 2008
Rachel loves Real Simple Magazine and we have always found their recipes to, truly, be simple. She picked a couple at random the other day and the wrap was one of them. The wrap is really fresh and seems quite healthy. It has avacado, broccoli, pine nuts, tomatillo salsa, and tomatoes — all really healthy fresh ingredients. We made the recipe from the magazine but halved it and ended up eating it for a few days of lunch and dinner in a row. I sneaked a little sour cream in mine, but don’t tell Rachel! Whip these up on a hot day to save from turning on the oven or stove. Here’s what we did: (…read more and get the recipe)
June 9th, 2008
YUM! I am exited to share this recipe with you. I really loved cooking and especially loved eating this soup. It warmed my insides and had a wholesome texture that brought back memories of visiting my Grandma. The unique flavor of leek, heartiness of cabbage, and healthy carrots I feel make this soup a quick and easy meal that you can make and enjoy for the whole week — or feed a large family or group of friends. It’s a light soup but it still filled me up. Rachel said that it needed some potatoes, so next time I think I’ll add those. Here’s what I did:
- Olive Oil
- 3 long celery stocks diced
- 3 large carrots chopped
- 1 large white or yellow onion chopped
- 1 large leek chopped (white portion)
- 1 whole green cabbage
- (Rachel suggest 2 or 3 medium potatoes)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Sea Salt and Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons chili powder for a kick
- 64 oz chicken broth or vegetable broth for vegetarian/vegan
- Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium
- Add all the vegetables and heat them up until they begin to get soft (about 5 to 10 minutes)
- Add the broth
- Cover the rest of the vegetables (as needed) with water
- Bring the pot to a slow boil and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
- Serve the soup in a big bowl with some fresh Italian bread and garnish with some parsley.
I hope you enjoy it!
March 3rd, 2008
Food and coffee were, obviously, both very enjoyable portions of my trip to the Dominican Republic. Here I am a month later at home thinking back on what else I did there. We tried really hard to visit a lot of friends and even make new friends there. It was so enjoyable to walk to someone’s door and have them shrill ‘entre, entre’ (come in, come in). To have someone sincerely pull a chair out or laugh as they kick a younger brother or daughter out of their seat and say ‘Sientate, Sientate’ is such a great feeling. I was able to see a very different side of people compared to what we typically see in the U.S. For example, I don’t even know either of my neighbors and I’m sure I’m not alone.
Back to the food: My wife and I were able to visit each missionary (including one indigenous missionary) on the T.E.A.R.S. team during the two weeks we were there to cook! I made it my mission to cook a meal for each of them.When I left for the D.R. I felt miserable with a cold. When I arrived Jennifer and Luis Rodriguez(another T.E.A.R.S. missionary couple) had plans to have us over for dinner the night after we arrived. I still hadn’t fully recovered but Jennifer remembered my blog and was fresh out of Taco Seasoning packets. I was volunteered to come up with a substitute with the seasonings in the cupboard. Fortunately I had made this seasoning many times at home using cumin, pepper, salt, garlic, onions and ground beef. It turned out good and we had a great evening of sharing and games.
For Bau (a Dominican missionary living in Maria Auxiliadora, La Vega) we cooked one of my favorites — Unique Chicken Pot Pie. I was also able to share this meal with Tracy, a long-time missionary with T.E.A.R.S. Bau and his wife Adriana had never experienced a “soup” quite like that!
Tracy and I experimented with my pretzel recipe (and maybe I’ll teach you someday on this blog). That was an experience. Even finding the ingredients in La Vega was a challenge, not to mention baking in a tiny gas oven and kneading dough on a small wobbly plastic table. Good memories.
For Rod Davis (the Executive Director of T.E.A.R.S.), Twila (his wife), and two children I cooked one of my wife’s favorites: Linguine with Spicy Chorizo and Tomato Sauce. I combined this with a feeble (and unsuccessful) attempt to make French Bread for the first time. The bread tasted good, but I didn’t quite follow all of the directions. I forgot to roll out the dough and then roll it up so it just spread out and became very flat. When I got home I tried it again right away with great success. I’ll have to post on here how to do it right pretty soon.
One of my favorite evenings, yet bittersweet since it was our last night, in the Dominican Republic was when we stayed with Joy and Vidal Reyes. Vidal and I (the mighty men of the house) got to cooking. Due to the fact that it was about a perfect 75 degrees every day there Vidal fired up his BBQ. He figured we hadn’t had a BBQ since summer and cooked us up some delicious chicken and steaks. He was correct about that and it was so good to have BBQ. He also taught me how to make Spanish Rice Vidal style. It turned out pretty good and I’ve already experimented with my own back home. I’ll have to get it perfected and then blog about it too!
I was able to use fresh ingredients they already had in their house to cook some of my delicious pico de gallo salsa. I chop into small cubes tomatoes, onion, chilis, bell peppers (optional), cilantro and add fresh squeezed lime juice, minced garlic, and salt. We had a delicious meal that evening and also had a great time really getting to know Joy and Vidal.
All of the cooking I did there was quite an experience. Often times I was forced to improvise due to lack of a lot of the conveniences we are blessed with here in the states. While baking bread the power went out (as it often does) at the Davis’s house outside the barrio (Maria Auxiliadora, La Vega). Luckily, Rod has a generator! When I was preparing to make the Chicken pot pie the water was turned off (as it often is) to the Barrio. I used a bucket we had filled with water for such an occasion to rinse and boil the chicken. That was … interesting. Also, since hot water (from a tap) is pretty much non-existent in most places I never was able to wash my hands or utensils as I normally would. This sort of sicks you out, but you get used to it, especially after eating at someone else’s house where they’ll cut up chicken with the same knife they use to cut everything else up without even rinsing between. All in all the cooking turned out pretty good. The missionaries enjoyed some American cooking and Rachel and I got to have some great company throughout our trip.
In my next and final DR series I’ll talk about the no-bake cookies I cooked up in Travesia on the Fugon.
Thanks for reading!
February 5th, 2008
Above: Coffee Drying operation in the Village of Travesia
Coffee in the Dominican Republic, simply, is a way of life. My wife and I visited many friends in their houses during our two week trip. During every visit to a friend’s house we would be served a delicious cup of Dominican coffee. If you’ve read my last post, you know coffee also comes along with every meal. Needless to say, we drank a lot of coffee while we were there!
How it’s brewed:
Coffee is brewed in an Italian-style espresso maker they call a “Greca.” A little bit of since electricity there is fairly inconsistent — we had electricity about 1/2 the time we water goes in the bottom of the brewer. Some ground coffee goes into the “filter” area and it’s all screwed together. Almost everyone there uses a gas (propane) stove top to cook were there on average. The water is heated and boils through the filter (from underneath) and then up through a little spout into a reservoir.
How it’s served:
Once the water is all boiled into the reservoir it is removed from the heat and often poured into a serving carafe. About one-half cup of sugar is added for each pot (about 2-3 cups). This makes for one sweet cup of coffee! For drinking, you are served one very small cup (about the size of an espresso shot). I really enjoyed sitting on someone’s porch, taking in all the delicious smells, sights and sounds of the Dominican Republic while sipping on my sweet cup of “cafè.”
Often times the ground coffee is mixed with nutmeg, cinnamon and/or other spices during brewing for an extra layer of flavor. It is delicious!
Growing and Roasting:
Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to visit a village where coffee is grown and roasted! The growing seemed fairly normal in the village of Travesia (a small village in the mountains above the city of Jarabacoa), but the roasting was quite unique.
First off, they grow it under the banana and orange trees all along the hill sides. As we were walking up the trail to the village I saw coffee growing everywhere along the trail. It’s picked and husked using a small husk-removing machine (see photo) . Afterward it’s dried on a cement slab under a plastic covering. It is raked into ridges about twice a day (ridges are alternated between length-wise and width-wise).
To Roast in the village they use a clay-oven top called a “fugòn.” It’s basically a clay base and sides with a small fire (see photos). The coffee and unrefined (natural cane — still brown) sugar added at the same time to a huge cast-iron pot. Its stirred with a wooden spoon and caramelized.
My theory is that this is done because the fugòn and wooden spoon can’t get the beans evenly roasted so the caramelization hides the roast. The end result is a really black bean (on the outside) but a delicious flavor when ground and brewed! I brought some home and it’s sitting in my freezer now! YUM! My mother-in law once brought back about 10 pounds on her carry-on of this stuff and we drank it all year.
I hope you’re enjoying this series on the Dominican Republic. Feel free to ask me questions on the comment sections or just leave comments.
January 31st, 2008
I recently returned from a two-week vacation to the Dominican Republic (D.R.). My wife and I have friends there we visited and stayed with during out trip. This was my second time visiting but my first time really visiting with the people and learning a little more about the culture.
Of course, this being a food blog and all, I have to talk about my food experiences. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be sharing about some cooking I did while I was there and also cooking I experienced! I can’t wait to share it all and hope that you enjoy reading it!
I want to start with some typical meals that you might experience in some poorer parts of the D.R. I’ve got some photos of the market in La Vega below so that might give you an idea of some of the foods they get to eat (rice, beans, chicken).
The Meal line-up looks like this:
- For breakfast: Hot Chocolate with some really dry bread. The bread is a lot like a hot-dog bun and is commonly found around the country. They have three basic types, large hot-dog bun, regular hot-dog bun, and small. To them, it’s just “pan” (in Spanish) or “bread” (in English). The hot chocolate was really rich and really sweet. Just what you need to kick-start your day!
- Of course, as with every meal, you need some coffee! Coffee is absolutely a part of every day life in the D.R. The coffee is not quite like Starbucks, which is fine by me. They use the italian-espresso making device that they call a “greca.” It looks like you can buy them online. The coffee turns out really strong (like an espresso shot) but you wouldn’t find a Dominican drinking a cup without at least 1/8 cup of sugar in each shot! It tastes SO good with all that sugar, but you just know it can’t be good for you.
- For lunch, which is the most important — and largest — meal of the day, I ate well. Most of the time I had a plate full of rice and beans. They use a red pinto-like bean there and white rice. The rice is steamed (often with a plastic bag over the pan instead of a solid lid) in a ton of oil and a ton of salt. The beans are pressure cooked and then boiled for a bit with seasonings including (but not limited to): a ton of salt, oil, cilantro, garlic cloves, a type of squash and more salt! This meal is full of salt but that’s probably what makes it soooo good! YUM!Often I would have chicken (sometimes scrambled eggs) with this meal which is cooked in all the same seasonings as the beans plus sugar (for color — they say) and soy sauce (or in Spanish “salsa China”).
- Dinner is light, but full of starch. I ate with a few families in their homes while I was there and typically I had one (or more) of the following three boiled: Yuka, Plantains (Platinos), and bananas. Plantains are a very starchy — almost potato like — version of a banana. These are surprisingly good boiled! Along with the starch you had to have a protein which was one of the following: fried salami (again more oil), fried egg, or we even had freshly butchered pork one night.
I hope this gives you some insight into typical Dominican meals. In the coming week or so I will share some recipes (new and old) along with photos of me preparing food in some interesting places! Stay tuned…