Barbacoa Beef

Barbacoa Beef

I took advantage of having a slow cooker at our last airbnb in Ahipara to make Barbacoa Beef for taco bowls.  Barbacoa is, in Mexican cooking, beef, lamb, or other meat that has been slowly cooked with seasonings, and is typically shredded and used in burritos or tacos.  We've only had Mexican food once since we left Hawaii and we were both craving it - plus, this is ridiculously easy to make.

Read More

Potato and Corn Chowder

Look, I found a potato! 

Look, I found a potato! 

Cooking on the road has been both fun and challenging.  One of my favorite activities in a foreign country is checking out the grocery store.  Even in a place like New Zealand where English is spoken and many things we eat in America are available, you still find odd things.  They don't refrigerate eggs (this was true when we lived in London as well).  Plus, they are labeled as "caged" or "cage-free," which cracks me up.  I can imagine the marketing meetings where you discuss labeling your eggs "caged" in a way that appeals to consumers.  They sell sliced lamb for lunch meat alongside the turkey and ham.  Feoija is a common fruit (it tastes like guava).  The yogurt is delicious here (equivalent to or better than Noosa).  Bell peppers are called capsicum.  Grocery stores sell craft beer and have a large wine section.  I have no concept of how much food I'm asking for when I purchase anything from the deli, seafood, or meal counter, nor do I understand how much it costs (hello, metric system).  I can't wait to explore the grocery stores in Japan.

This isn't the best example, but what the heck is a "Muffin Texas Loose."  This seems like English language translation gone awry, but there wasn't any translation involved!  I certainly don't know what a Texas muffin is.

This isn't the best example, but what the heck is a "Muffin Texas Loose."  This seems like English language translation gone awry, but there wasn't any translation involved!  I certainly don't know what a Texas muffin is.

The difficulty with cooking while we travel is that we are often only in places for a few days.  We can't stock up on food and have to be sure we can move excess food wherever we go next (we are constantly trying not to waste food).  I also don't have many spices and pantry staples at my disposal and, again, am trying not to accumulate anything.  We frequently grocery shop before we've seen our next home, which means I don't always know whether the kitchen will be bare bones or well-equipped.  

As a result, we often grill meat and have simple sides.  Pasta is a staple and I try to be creative with what we add - Kalamata olives, tomatoes, and feta one night and sausage, basil, and mozzarella the next.  Stuffed peppers have actually proven to be quite simple. I purchase instant Mexican rice, canned black beans, and fresh or frozen corn for the stuffing, plus some shredded cheese to sprinkle on top.  Last night, I made a simple gado gado sauce and we made veggie bowls with quinoa, steamed broccoli, roasted vegetables (pre-cut so we had a variety), and red pepper.  

This was my first experience digging for potatoes.  They seem to just appear in the dirt without being attached to anything.  It was quite satisfying digging around for them.

This was my first experience digging for potatoes.  They seem to just appear in the dirt without being attached to anything.  It was quite satisfying digging around for them.

Blythe succeeded in digging a few potatoes despite her unwillingness to put down her water bottle.  

Blythe succeeded in digging a few potatoes despite her unwillingness to put down her water bottle.  

WWOOFing was fantastic for getting back into the cooking groove because I did have a fully pantry and spice rack, plus all of the fruits and vegetables on the farm available to me.  One night we were contemplating what to have for dinner and didn't want to have corn on the cob for the 3rd night in a row.  I knew we had potatoes as well, so I made Potato & Corn Chowder for the first time.  It was a cold, rainy day on the farm and the chowder was warming and delicious.  

One note about the broth used in the chowder - I was inspired by Mark Bittman's corn chowder recipe and didn't want to just toss my corn cobs, so I added them to my broth to enhance the flavor.  If you make this with fresh corn, consider bringing your broth to a simmer in a separate saucepan with the corn cobs in the broth.  It doesn't create extra work other than one additional pan to wash.  If you are using frozen corn, just skip this step and add the chicken broth as is.

Potato and Corn Chowder
Recipe inspired by The Food Network and Mark Bittman
Yield = 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups peeled, finely diced all-purpose potato
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (4-5 ears of corn)
  • 1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preparation

1. Shuck corn, and use a paring knife to strip kernels into a bowl.  Set kernels aside.  Put cobs and the chicken broth in a pot; bring to a boil, cover, and simmer while you continue preparing the chowder.  Remove the cobs prior to adding broth to chowder.   

2.  Put the butter into a heavy-bottomed pan (such as Le Creuset) and melt over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook till crisp. Scoop out the bacon and drain on paper towels; set aside.

3. Pour off all but 1/4 cup of fat from the pot. Add the onions, seasoning them with salt and pepper. Cook till soft; add the garlic, cooking it all for 1 minute more.  Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to combine.  Add the broth and potatoes.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or till the potatoes are tender. Add the corn. Cover and simmer 5 to 6 minutes longer to blend the flavors.

4. Stir in the half-and-half or whole milk. Season with the thyme, cayenne, salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with the bacon bits and serve immediately.

* This could easily be made into a vegetarian dish by substituting vegetable broth/stock and omitting the bacon.

Kauai Farmer's Markets

Kauai Farmer's Markets

This will come as no surprise, but the farmer's markets here are incredible.  The tropical climate means a year-round growing season, so even thought it is technically winter, the markets are stocked with fruits and vegetables.  About half of the produce I could find at home (tomatoes, kale, greens, squash, garlic, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, carrots) and the rest is never in season in Colorado or I've never heard of it!

Read More

Morning Glory Muffins

Please forgive the 

We are one week into our time on Kauai.  It wasn't difficult to adjust to "island time" and figure out a bit of a pattern for our days - reading and milk with Blythe, breakfast, beach or other outdoor activity, lunch, nap (for Blythe), reading/e-mail/errands (D & R), afternoon activity, dinner, and bed.  It's amazing how the days fill up, although I do still feel like we are on vacation instead of away for an indefinite period of time.  We've joined the Hawaii library system, found the closest playground, purchased a surfboard, and met a few neighbors.  Our friends from Boston have been staying at the adjacent hotel so we've actually been pretty social for the past week. 

During one of Blythe's naps, I decided to bake the Morning Glory Muffins that have been tempting me since the recipe arrived in my inbox from the NY Times.  I figured these would make for an easy beach snack and the ingredients reminded me of my all-time favorite Carrot & Quinoa Muffins.  Rob looked skeptically at the ingredients as I mixed these up, but both he and Blythe declared these "delicious" and we've been snacking on them for the last two days.  The coconut oil gives them a tropical flavor and the walnuts provide a nice crunch.  As you can see from the photos, these have indeed proved to make an excellent beach treat.

Our kitchen here is fine but isn't set up for someone who really enjoys cooking and baking.  I used disposable muffin tins and "shredded" the carrots in the blender.  The apples I julienned by hand.  Point being, you don't need to have a food processor or grater to make these (although it would be easier).   The original recipe states the yield is 12 muffins, but I ended up with 16 because I didn't want to overflow each cup.  From reviewing reader comments on the NYT, I also reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup (from 3/4 cup) as many reviewers recommended and the muffins are plenty sweet with less sugar.

Morning Glory Muffins
Adapted slightly from the NY Times
Yield = 16 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup/120 grams all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup/85 grams whole-wheat flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup/177 milliliters whole milk
  • ½ cup/106 grams packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup/90 grams shredded carrot (from 2 medium carrots)
  • ½ cup/77 grams shredded apple (from 1 medium apple)
  • ½ cup/57 grams unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • ¾ cup/90 grams finely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • ¾ cup/112 grams raisins
  • ½ cup/118 milliliters melted coconut oil

Preparation

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.  You may have extra batter - I found that I needed to fill 16 muffin cups to use the batter without overflowing the cups.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, dark brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir carrot, apple, coconut, 1/2 cup of the walnuts and 1/2 cup of the raisins into the wet mixture. Stir in the melted coconut oil.
  • With a large rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cups.  Fill each cup to the top but not so that it overflows.  Sprinkle the remaining walnuts and raisins evenly over the tops of the muffins.
  • Bake until puffed and set and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer the muffins, in the tin, to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the muffins from the tin and let cool completely on the rack. Once cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Print Friendly and PDF
Blythe's snack of choice is either a rambutan or pineapple, but the muffins are a close second.

Blythe's snack of choice is either a rambutan or pineapple, but the muffins are a close second.