Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 2 - Serbia - Ćevapčići

This week's random country was Serbia.  A quick Internet search turned up recipes for Serbian Ćevapčići, which is a meat dish, shaped, cooked, and served similar to sausage.  This was another easy one to make, with only a few ingredients.  My vegan friends may want to look away though.

We used the recipe from's Eastern European Food site:

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. ground lamb
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove chopped garlic
1 tsp. salt

Preparation was pretty easy.  Combine all the ingredients, then mix.  I tried using a potato masher at first to get the meats to mash together, but I found that a fork actually worked better in the long run.

Once everything was mixed, the next step was to roll the meat into sausage shapes.  I dug out my sushi mat for this, which worked incredibly well.  It was easy enough that Gab took over my place in the kitchen for a few minutes.  The meat was then left in the refrigerator for an hour to solidify a bit, then fried in a pan until cooked through.

Opinions were mixed with this one.  I liked it.  My wife, however, doesn't like lamb, so it wasn't really to her tastes.  Both kids refused to try it, though to be fair, they've both been ill for the last couple of days.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Week 1 - Nicaragua - Gallo Pinto

Our first new meal of 2014 comes from Nicaragua.  The dish, Gallo Pinto, is also well known as being a traditional Costa Rican meal, and recipes were easy to find.  At its most basic, Gallo Pinto is beans and rice.  Different recipes use different additions for flavor.  Our recipe included cilantro, garlic, onion, and Worcestershire sauce.

Gabriella, my five year-old, loves to cook.  She was excited to help dad try something new, though, as I expected, she wasn't sure about actually eating the results.

The recipe that we followed came from the NBC Latino website:

Gallo Pinto Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow Spanish onion, finely diced
4 small cloves garlic, crushed
1 15oz canned, low sodium beans (choose either small red or black beans)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups cooked white rice
¼ cup of finely chopped cilantro

I prepared the rice ahead of time, following the directions on the package (add 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water, boil, then simmer for 20 minutes).

With the rice ready to go, our first step was to chop up the onion, garlic, and cilantro.  Gabriella peeled the skins off the onion and garlic while I chopped the cilantro.  Upon seeing her sister in the kitchen, my one year-old decided to get involved as well.  She did a great job transferring the cilantro from the cutting board to a bowl.

After our ingredients were chopped, we fired up the stove top to heat up the olive oil.  Once that was ready, Gabriella carefully added the onion and garlic, which we cooked till they were clear and tender.  Next came the rice, then beans and Worcestershire sauce.  We skipped the salt and pepper.  Once everything was cooked, we added the cilantro and served wrapped in tortilla shells like a burrito.

Final results were delicious!  Elaina liked it so much that she took one of her mother's burritos.  It's amazing how much food a toddler can eat when she really likes something.  Gabriella wasn't as impressed, but I give her credit for at least trying a new food.  She was very proud of her cooking skills though!  My wife added just a bit of taco sauce to her Gallo Pinto, which we both agree improved the flavor.  We're definitely going to be adding this easy to make meal to our household going forward.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Introduction - 52 New Things

With the New Year approaching, I'm kicking off a new project.  52 New Things.  The goal of 52 New Things is to prompt my family and me to try new things, hopefully at least once a week.  We all tend to slip into patterns in our lives.  There's nothing wrong with that, but it can sometimes get dull.  With 52 New Things, I can establish a pattern, but also try something new.

For 2014, I thought I'd set a theme of Food.  For a couple of years now my wife and I have talked about ideas for changing up our food habits a bit.  One year we talked about making at least one meal from scratch each week.  That soon turned into at least once a month, then later, once whenever we had time.

We've also talked about trying different foods from various countries.  We never really got very far with that idea either.

This year, with the help of this blog (writing stuff down helps keep me motivated), I thought we could combine the two ideas, and try foods from around the world by making at least one home-made meal a week.  I like to cook.  Not in the "I'm going to be a famous chef when I grow up" kind of way, but more in the "I grew up on home cooking and liked it" kind of way.  I'm certainly not a Foodie by any stretch of the imagination.  Like most people, I like to eat.  It keeps me alive and sometimes food tastes good.  I'd be hard pressed to tell you what's in a particular dish just by taste though.

Will that change?  I dunno.  We're trying new things. :-)

So how will 52 New Things work for 2014?  Each week, I'll use an online random list tool to select a country.  With the country selected, I'll do some research on a dish that the country is either known for, or is a staple of that area.  Next, I'll see if I can find the ingredients for that dish, cook it, and serve to the family so that we can all try something new.

Wish us luck, and don't forget to try something new!