Cooking, Food, Life

Cooking Around the World: What do you get when you cross Brazil and Botswana? Full.

You. Me. “Cooking Around the World.” This week’s entry is a classic teamup: bread from Botswana and stew from Brazil. Specifically, the bread is Botswanan diphaphata and the stew is Brazilian feijoada.

The bread is not dissimilar to an English muffin; I used this recipe from Gourmet Vegetarians. The stew is a cornucopia of meats slow-cooked along with a black bean base. I followed this recipe and used pork shoulder, corned beef, chorizo (which provided most of the seasoning), kielbasa, and a ham shank. It was delicious; all of the meat was fall-apart tender.

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Cevapi

Today in “Cooking Around the World”, there’s another variation on ground meat shapes: cevapi from Bosnia. This meat is beef and pork, and this shape is little sausages.

I followed this recipe, and it tasted exactly like it’s shaped: oblong.  Luckily, I didn’t have to have to have the most stressful restaurant experience ever in order to taste them.

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Unboliviable

In my ongoing “Cooking Around the World” series, Bolivia is up next, and like many other South-American countries, their cuisine seems to be centered on grilled meat. So, I give you: grilled meat.

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Bheautiful Bhutan

Bhutan is the next country on my list for “Cooking Around the World”, and I tried to make a Bhutanese potato dish called Kewa Datshi, but it turned out closer to potatoes au gratin that I think it was supposed to (and it did not photograph well).  

The recipe I used was from Shruti on AllRecipes. My verdict: at least I tried!

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Okey-Dokey, Yovo Doko

Benin doesn’t have many options for representative dishes for my “Cooking Around the World” challenge, but the one I found and made was little doughnut balls called yovo doko:

 

 

I used this recipe from The Blvck Gourmet. We dipped them in chocolate syrup, which probably isn’t traditional, but nobody objected.

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: You Better Belize I’ll Be Making This Chicken Again

For our stop in Belize on my Cooking Around the World Tour, I made a Belizean stewed chicken dish served with kidney beans with rice and potato salad:

Belizean stewed chicken with kidney beans and rice and potato salad

I didn’t make the potato salad myself because I’m the only one in my family that likes it, but I did make the chicken, rice, and beans from scratch, and they were great. I couldn’t find a definitive recipe, but I relied heavily on this one from My Hungry Tum, this one from Explore Cook Eat, and this one from He Needs Food.

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Woodworking

How to turn your Irwin Quick-Grip clamps into decking clamps

If you’re building a deck or replacing decking, you have probably found that it would be helpful to have a clamp to hold the deck boards in place while you attach them. You could spend $52 for a specialized decking clamp, but you probably already have at least one Irwin Quick-Grip bar clamp that you could modify in just a few minutes (if you don’t want to spend $5 on the conversion kit Irwin offers).

Just remove the yellow rubber cap from the fixed jaw (the end opposite the handle) and file down the plastic from the first 3/4″ so it looks like this:

Now the clamp jaw will fit between the deck boards, so you can use it to pull bent boards into alignment, like so:

When you’re done with your deck (if one ever really finishes building a deck), you can put the rubber cap back on the jaw and continue using your clamp like normal, and no one will be the wiser.

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Belgium for Dinner

Although French fries are arguably Belgium’s national dish, for this week’s entry in Cooking Around the World, I made Belgian Liège waffles — the yeasted version of the deep-pocketed batter-based breakfast that we’re all familiar with. Unsurprisingly, these cakes covered in syrup, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce were a hit.

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: The True BBB

As I continue doing this thing where I cook a dish from every country, I’ve been looking for ways to speed it up a little. So this week, I made a meal out of the three B’s: Barbadian pigeon peas and rice, Bahamanian pineapple pie, and Belarusian draniki (pork-filled potato pancakes).

Our review of each was the same: fine, but I wouldn’t make them again.

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Fool me once, shami on you. Fool me twice, shami on paratha.

This week in my Cooking Hero World Tour, my taste buds are visiting Bangladesh. I made shami kebabs and paratha flatbread; we ate them together with lettuce and tomato like a taco or gyro. I liked it — it was like falafel and hamburgers had a baby, and I ate that baby.

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Cooking, Food, Maker, Woodworking

Cooking Around the World: Machboos and Maamoul, the original M&M

Bahrain is up next in my challenge to cook the national dish of every country, and I made chicken machboos plus maamoul cookies for dessert.

The chicken machboos was not too different from the many chicken and rice dishes that serve as national dishes for other countries, but it used some more fragrant spices like cinnamon and cardamom. I liked it, but it’s not my preferred flavor profile for a savory dish.

For the cookies, I took a shot at making my own maamoul mould. I carved a 1 3/8″ hole into a piece of walnut scrap with a Forstner bit and then scalloped the edges with a rotary tool. It turns out this was mostly a waste of time, since the cookies lost all detail during baking. This might be due to the dough being too dry, which it definitely was.

Sorry to anyone who was hoping to read about a Bahamanian dish this week; it has been postponed until the fresh seafood selection in southern Oregon can accommodate it.

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: From A to Zerbaijan

It’s been another week since my last passport stamp in my culinary world tour, and this week, I’m stopping in Azerbaijan for some baliq shashlik and tenbel pakhlava.

Baliq sashlik is a platter of fish fillets that were marinated in lemon and dill and then grilled on skewers (although I removed them from the skewers before taking the photo). I realized that this was the first time I have ever cooked fish in my life that wasn’t previously frozen and deep-fried, and it was, if I do say so myself, not bad.

Tenbel pakhlava is a sort of less time-intensive baklava — it has two thick layers of meringue-covered nuts plus three layers of pastry. This was fine, but I would still prefer baklava (although I’ll never make baklava myself). I may have undercooked it, since the center pieces were pretty gooey, but the edge pieces were nice and crunchy.

That’s the last A country — there are only approximately 25 letters to go!

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Tafelspitz, Bratkartoffeln, and Sachertorte. Gesundheit!

Tonight’s meal in my series of national dishes was Austrian from start to finish. The main course was Tafelspitz (beef cooked in broth) served with Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes with bacon and onion), and dessert was Sachertorte, a Viennese chocolate cake.

I have yet to get the hang of cooking beef via all-day simmering in liquid — it always comes out very very dry, but the broth and carrots from the soup were good. The potatoes were great; it’s hard to mess up potatoes cooked in bacon fat.

The Sachertorte turned out ok for how involved of a recipe it was, but my glaze was closer in consistency to hardened Magic Shell than it was to fudge. I must have cooked it to a higher temperature than it was supposed to go.  As the Austrians say, c’est la vie!

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Put Another Keshi on the Yena, Mate!

Week six of my world-famous every-nation cooking challenge united in matrimony the two countries most likely to be next to each other in an alphabetical list: Aruba and Australia. The main dish came from Aruba, and Australia supplied dessert.

I made keshi yena from Aruba — it’s a casserole that is traditionally cooked inside an Edam cheese rind, but I had a heck of a time finding Edam. Even my local cheese monger didn’t have any in stock, so I used Gouda instead. My wife and I liked it, but the salty/pickly taste didn’t fly with our kids.

I made Australia’s allegedly famous Lamingtons for dessert. They are cubes of cake rolled in chocolate icing and then coated in coconut (and optionally filled with whipped cream). They tasted exactly like Mounds bars, so just buying a pack of them would have saved me two hours of kitchen time.  Does Australia know this one simple trick?

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: I Gotta Have My Gata!

Week five of my journey around the world in a flavor-powered balloon brought us to Armenia, where we sampled both a main dish and a dessert: lula kebabs (ground meat mixed with onion and spices, cooked on a skewer) and gata (a flaky pastry akin to a croissant with sugar between its layers).

The kebabs were not too different from long meatballs or sausages made from ground beef. My kids were surprisingly receptive to them; this is a surprise because they are never receptive to new food. I think it helped that they were on long metal spikes.

The gata is perhaps my favorite new dish so far. Sweet but not too sweet, so I can still eat way too many at once without feeling sick.

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Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Folding Dog Gate

I built a folding dog gate to stop our labradoodle from walking on the carpet when her paws are muddy. It’s based on one my wife saw on Pinterest, but this specific design is mine.

I modeled it in SketchUp first to make sure that I had the hinge layout correct. I wanted it to rest against the first railing baluster but still fold up without extending past the edge of the first stair. This is why there’s a short panel against the wall; otherwise, the folded-up gate would extend 10.5″ outwards from the middle of the first stair instead of 10.5″ from the back of the first stair.

I built it out of red oak, using bridle joints for the panel frame corners and square tenons in round holes for the balusters. (Square tenons are easy to make on the table saw, and round holes are easy to make on the drill press. Round tenons or square holes are both very difficult with the tools I have.)

I ended up painting it white, but I originally thought I might stain it, which is part of the reason I used oak. The other reason is that it will likely get banged around quite a bit, so a softer paint-friendly wood like poplar would show more dents and dings.

The location where I wanted to mount the gate didn’t line up with a stud, so I made two brackets out of oak that screw into the two nearest studs, and then the gate is attached to those brackets.

I’m happy with the end result, but I’m curious to see whether the hinges are able to withstand the weight of the gate without sagging.

If you want to make your own, you can download the SketchUp plans I made. Your gate may need to be a different width based on your stairway width.

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Antigua, Bahama, Come on Empanada

In the fourth week of my “world food tour,” I teamed up two of the top eleven countries that start with A: Antigua and Argentina. Antigua provided Caribbean butter bread, and Argentina brought the main course: empanadas.

I used Laylita.com’s recipe for empanadas and this recipe for butter bread, although I combined techniques from a couple other recipes I had read previously. The empanadas were not much different taste-wise from standard ground beef tacos, but the hard-boiled egg slices were a surprisingly nice addition. I didn’t find the butter bread much different from any other white bread I’ve made… maybe I didn’t use enough butter.

What’s your favorite Antiguan/Argentinian food combination? Leave it in the comments below!

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Algerian/Andorran Fusion

Week three of my “cook a dish from every country” challenge saw the classic combination of Algerian and Andorran food that we all love. I made Cannelloni Andorrana (a lamb and pork-stuffed pasta) and Algeria’s maaqouda (potato fritters).

For the pasta, I used a combination of recipes from around the Web: I made the pasta filling from onions, ground lamb, ground pork, oregano, basil, garlic, salt and pepper, feta, cream cheese, and an egg.  I used half a lasagna noodle for each roll, and I covered the rolled up noodles in a basic bechamel. After covering with mozzarella, I baked it for about 20 minutes at 400º.  I’m not used to the earthy flavor of lamb, but I liked it, and it did well with my family.

For the maaqouda, I followed this recipe from 196 flavors exactly, and they turned out great, although I should have added more salt to the “dough” before frying.  They’re basically fried mashed potatoes, so it would have been hard to mess them up.

What’s your favorite Andorran/Algerian food combination? Leave it in the comments below!

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Cooking, Food

Cooking Around the World: Tavë Kosi from Albania

In week two of my “cook every country’s national dish” challenge, I made Albania’s tavë kosi. It’s cubed lamb shoulder covered in rice and then baked in a yogurt sauce; I also made pite në tigan, a fried Albanian flatbread.

While I didn’t care for the tavë kosi (the lamb was quite tough, and I don’t generally like yogurt-based sauces), the pite në tigan was very nice — sort of a cross between naan and a tortilla.

The photo I took was not very appetizing:

Sorry!

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CNC, Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Mid-Century Modern Nightstand

When I was tasked with making a  31″ tall nightstand for my mother-in-law that would fit in a 9″ wide space next to her bed and provide drawers and a shelf. I decided to use the opportunity to try a furniture style I haven’t tried before: mid-century modern.

From what I can tell, “mid-century modern” basically means it can look however you want, but the legs MUST be tapered and they MUST be splayed at about a 7º angle, so I opened SketchUp and designed a nightstand with tapered legs splayed at about a 7º angle.

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