Sunday, November 28, 2010

lentil soup

Eating in Liberia ain't cheap or easy, I'm finding.

Going back to lentils, this soup was pretty tasty (based on Alton Brown).

onion (I used two very small ones)
garlic (a few cloves)
carrot, chopped
a bit of seasoning salt

When onions are translucent, add:
chopped tomatoes (3 small)
1 pound lentils
2 quarts broth (I put in 2 quarts water and 4 bouillon cubes - too much bouillon, too salty)
cumin (1 tsp: but I forgot it this time and it was fine)
coriander (1/2 tsp: also forgot)
grains of paradise (which I have yet to find)

Bring to a boil, then to a simmer for 35-40 minutes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

smoked fish and potatoes

I have no idea what I'm doing here, but I grabbed some potatoes and smoked fish (most likely mackerel) at the grocery store, and doggone it sounds good, so here goes:

*Steam the potatoes until pretty done.

*Debone the fish.

*Saute onion and garlic in oil. When soft, add in the fish.

Eat the fish on the potatoes, topped with yogurt (which is all i have ... should have picked up some sour cream).

I'll eat it with stewed okra & tomatoes ... and now I'm very hungry!

I'm in Liberia!

While it's possible to eat from a supermarket here if one's tastes go towards $15 per box cheerios and $7.50 bags of M & Ms (I spent a long time staring at those before leaving them behind), I'm cheap.

Fortunately I can eat out a lot for a good price. Well, I can eat out for a very expensive price, but what I'm finding is that I would much rather pay $2 for cook shop Liberian food than $20 for western food such as chicken quesadillas (they're actually only $9 or so I think, but most things are quite expensive). There's a fellow in the office with a hookup of a nearby woman who will even deliver, so some days that's perfect (though, if I'm too busy to go out to lunch, I'm likely too busy to eat - and I got scolded seriously for not sharing when the food was delivered).

Liberian diet is VERY rice heavy. Which for me is great! I find it interesting how the quality of the rice varies so much depending on where you eat. At an expensive restaurant it's perfectly white, but less expensive has some grains with dark ends (burned?), etc. Of course I like the cheap stuff. The diet is a lot of greens (potato greens, cassava leaves, and numerous other kinds I can't think of right now), very spicy with these tiny peppers that pack a punch. People add pepper sauces made of these peppers. Into the greens or soups of whatever sort (my least favorite is palava which is made I think with jute leaves that are slimy) are put chunks of fish, chicken, and beef - usually all three in one bowl. Liberians cook with a LOT of oil and Maggi seasoning cubes.

So, the challenge for me will be: a varied, healthy diet. I won't be eating the chicken quesadillas on a regular basis, but I will be going for the potato greens. In my own cooking I will experiment a lot with the local fish: I need to find a good supplier and then have my way with it.

There aren't a lot of sweets here except for fruit: year-round is bananas and pineapple, and I missed mango season sadly. Peanuts are another snack sold regularly, and I used to see fresh peanut butter at the refugee camp though I haven't seen it around here yet.

And so my culinary adventures begin!