Ceviche

I’ve mentioned before that I ate boatloads of ceviche in Central America this past summer. I made a ceviche recipe by Rick Bayless once before, and while you generally cannot go wrong with a Rick Bayless recipe, I actually prefer the more simplistic version I ate all summer. In most places, it is served with crackers – either saltines or a Ritz-style kind, but I generally prefer it with tortilla chips.

Central American-Style Ceviche

1 pound any type of white fish – I used tilapia
1 heirloom tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeno, de-seeded and finely minced
1/2 onion, finely diced
juice of 5-6 limes, possibly more
salt & pepper

Cut the fish into ~1-inch cubes submerge in lime juice in a stainless steel or glass bowl. If you don’t get enough juice from 5-6 limes, be sure to add more – every single piece of fish needs to be covered. Let sit for 2-4 hours. It’s done when you see the fish turn opaque. If you leave it much longer than 4 hours, though, the fish can become too tart.

Drain the juice thoroughly and mix in the other ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Old and New Photos

Yes, I am procrastinating… again. I managed to sneak in a few solid hours of very productive work today on my paper on neoliberal policy and its effects on health outcomes for poor people in Nicaragua. I like that paper. The topic is interesting and its flowing nicely. Right now, though, I’m working on a community profile for Hammond, Indiana. This. is. boring. It’s one of those papers, you know – I didn’t choose the topic (except for choosing the city), and having to write about the mundane aspects of a post-industrial city are not exactly exciting me. So here I am, posting pictures from some recent outings.

The countryside of New York looks an awful lot like the countryside of Wisconsin, though Eric will quickly point out that there are hills in New York. Ok. Point taken. We were recently visiting Eric’s family’s country house in Otto, New York for his brother’s and my new sister-in-law’s wonderfully small wedding. Here are a few shots from that lovely fall day.

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Eric and his mom. Love this moment.

And here are more images from my time in Nicaragua this past summer. Clockwise from the top left corner:
-a statue in the cemetery in Granada set against a bright blue sky
-reflections in the window of moto-taxis
-the main square in Granada
-old-fashioned potter’s wheels in San Juan de Oriente
-coffee in multiple stages of production – from berry to roasted bean
-a local artisan in San Juan de Oriente makes traditional ceramics on the old-fashioned potter’s wheel

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My time in Costa Rica (top three photos) and Panama (bottom three photos) were characterized by outdoor excursions and city fun. Clockwise from top left corner:
-a snail in Corcovado National Park
-sunset view from Finca Maresia in Bahia Drake, Costa Rica
-beaches on Isla del Caño
-a large ship carrying more than 4500 cars through the Panama Canal
-graffiti in the Casco Viejo neighborhood of Panama City
-views of the modern Panama City from the original city ruins

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Finally, my sisters and I had a fun little weekend in Seattle back in September. Here are some shots:

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of course we hit the market

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oh the irony

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sisters in front of the gum wall

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feeling kind of lonely while they both play on their phones

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truffle popcorn and wine? um, yes please

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kayaking

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Amber is really, really white

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hiking

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more from the hike

And that’s it!

Yogurt Cheese

I have made this yogurt cheese from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking twice now. I still don’t fully understand the difference between this and Greek yogurt, except that there is even less water content in yogurt cheese than there is in Greek-style yogurt. But still, what makes it cheese?

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Either way, it’s good! Eric and I have been eating it on crackers, but it’d also be good slathered on some toasted french bread. The combinations of spices are endless, but I’ve been sticking with my new favorite spice of the moment, turmeric. Add in some really fruity olive oil and fresh black pepper, and you have a snack worthy of those moments when you’re procrastinating on writing a paper related to healthcare in Nicaragua.

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Yogurt Cheese with Turmeric, Olive Oil, and Black Pepper

adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking

1 32-ounce container plain yogurt (I have been loving Brown Cow brand)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Double line a strainer with cheese cloth and place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the entire container of yogurt in and let strain for 8-12 hours, depending on how thick you want it to be. After 12 hours, I had almost two cups of liquid when mine was done. Transfer to another bowl and mix in the turmeric, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to allow the flavors to mix and penetrate every bite, then eat on crackers, bread, or by the spoonful!

Really Good Chili

I have two weeks left of my first semester of grad school! I am feeling the pressure, let me tell you. Papers and projects plus work and work. Aaah. Somehow I will get it all done. Somehow.

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As the cooler weather starts coming on, I always start thinking of soup. And chili. I love chili. I decided to get a bit complicated with it this time and make Lisa Fain’s Seven Chile Chili (by the way, does anyone else get bothered when people interchange chile, chili, and chilly? Chile=pepper, chili=stew, chilly=cold) as featured on the Amateur Gourmet, a blog that I’m increasingly pulling really good recipes from. This chili cooks a long time, but the prep time isn’t so bad, so just find something to do for five hours or so in the meantime. The recipe below is written as I made it – who cares what Texans think because I love beans in my chili – but for the original, see here.

Really Good Chili

adapted from Lisa Fain’s recipe, as posted on Amateur Gourmet

4 dried ancho chiles
2 dried pasilla chiles
2 dried guajillo chiles
4 dried chiles de arbol
4 pieces of bacon
1 pounds chuck roast
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle of beer (I used Goose Island Harvest Ale)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 15-oz can black beans
1 28-oz can diced or whole tomatoes (if whole, you will need to break them down a bit after they’re cooked)
1 28-oz can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons masa harina
Grated cheddar and chopped onions, for serving

Start by toasting the dried chiles. Rip the stems off the top and dump out most of the seeds – I left a few in to add some heat to the chili. Put them in a dry pan and toast them over medium heat for a few minutes, until they’re sort of fragrant. Pour water over the chiles, bring to a boil, then turn off heat and let the chiles soak while you prepare the other ingredients.

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Prepare your meat by removing the gristle from the chuck and then cutting it into 1-inch cubes. In a large pot or dutch oven, fry the bacon until pretty crispy. Remove and place on paper towel, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Add the chuck and cook in the bacon fat until browned on all sides.

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Remove the beef and place on a separate plate. Add more oil if needed, and cook the onions and garlic until translucent. Then add back the beef plus the beer, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Crumble in the crispy bacon. Stir for a few more minutes to combine all the flavors, then add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.

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Meanwhile, drain the chiles (save the water!) and place in a blender with one cup of the chile water. Blend until you have a smooth paste. Add the paste the the chile.

Turn the heat to low once the chile boils and let simmer uncovered for 5 hours. At this point, you can taste for seasoning and add a little more salt and/or pepper if needed. I also added just a touch more cumin and a smidge of granulated garlic.

In a separate bowl, mix 1/4 cup water with the masa harina (you can also use corn flour or corn meal here, like I did). After 5 hours, pour the masa harina mixture in the pot and stir.

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Simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Top with fresh-grated sharp cheddar cheese and onions.

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Indian Cauliflower and Potatoes

Some time ago – I can’t remember why – I took this cookbook from my mom. I can’t remember if she was offering it or if I outright stole it, but it sat up in a shelf that I could not reach for a good two years or so since.

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And that’s why moving once in a while is a good thing. I found this book when we were moving out of our old apartment and realized that I should be using it. I took this book even before I knew who Madhur Jaffrey was or that she was considered the “world authority on Indian food”, but tonight’s dinner confirmed her expertise.

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This book was published in 1981 and includes a collection of vegetarian recipes from East Asia. China, Japan, India, Korea, and even Indonesia are all covered. I started with an Indian recipe, though, since this realm seems to be her specialty.

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Of course, I tweaked it a bit. And even though Fenugreek is listed in the title in the book, I could not find any in my not-very-thorough search, so I just omitted it. The recipe is still great.

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Indian Cauliflower and Potatoes

adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking

1 small to medium head of cauliflower
2 medium-sized potatoes (I used russet)
6 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (I omitted this)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 whole dried hot chile peppers
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic (my addition)
1 teaspoon fresh minced jalapeno (my addition)

2 ripe tomatoes, diced (my addition)

Chop the cauliflower into small, thin flowerets. Chop the potatoes into 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 cubes. Soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. When done, dry them in a dish towel.

Heat the oil in a large skillet on high heat. When the oil starts smoking, add the fenugreek (if using), fennel, cumin, and peppers. Stir for a minute, then add the garlic and jalapeno. Add the potatoes and cauliflower almost immediately and toss together all the ingredients.

Cook for a few minutes, then toss in the turmeric, coriander, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Stir around and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Add 1/4 cup water, cover, and let simmer on low for another 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Turn off the heat, then sprinkle in the garam masala and stir. Taste for seasoning. I needed to add a smidge more salt to mine.