Armenia, a country with a history like no other. In the golden age Armenia was powerful ally or if you had them against you a feared enemy. Being on the paths of trade and war gave Armenia a unique position, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a not so good way. They were under a constant thread of attack. but neither Alexander the Great nor any of the other great conquerers could fully suppress the brave inhabitants of Armenia. Later in history Armenia got caught between Rome and it’s enemy Persia, each would use as a buffer against it’s rival. Great cities were laid waste. Like the Greek and the Romans the Armenians had their own ancient gods but merchants traveling to the great centers of trade in the Middle East came in to contact with a new idea, a faith that would shape the identity of their country. By 301 AD Armenia had been the first to adopt Christianity as it’s official religion. A century later they were forced by the Persian empire to adopt their old religion Zoroastrianism. The rich elite were furious and they started a riot which became a civil war and Armenia’s first challenge as a Christian country. Eventually they made a truce and allowed freedom the Armenians freedom of religion. But yet another invasion was lurking around the corner the Ottoman Empire. In the beginning they kept the freedom of religion, a few years later they started treating minorities like Christian and jews differently. Christians and Jews were not allowed to join the army or even own a weapon, they raised taxes, and their word was not admissible in court which basically ended in a massacre where the minorities where prohibited from using arms. And don’t even get me started on the Second World War. At some point in history Yerevan the capital of Armenia changed hands 14 times in 2 centuries. The official language is Armenian. Because of all the moving around, changing borders and empires a lot of Armenian moved out of the country which is why there are only 3 million in Armenia but in total there are more then 11 million Armenians. There is of course a lot more to tell about Armenia but I think this is enough for now! Let’s get cookin’!
I made a taboulleh salad! I wanted to make something healthy which would accompany the BBQ my mom prepared and to be honest it was perfect! And it’s really really really simple! But it does require some prep-time.
Ingredients: 2 cups of bulgur, 4 diced tomatoes, 1 cucumber diced, 2 cups of fresh chopped mint, 3 cups of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley, 4 sliced spring onions, juice of 1 lemon, pinch of salt, 3 cups of water.
Let the bulgur well in the water for about 1 1/2 hour. In the meanwhile you can chop everything and put it all in a bowl. Make sure the bulgur is soft, and add to the bowl.
While preparing I listened to a really relaxing armenian playlist I found on 8tracks! http://8tracks.com/kiranb_84/armenians, seriously it’s really relaxing oh yeah and did I forget to mention that one of the best musicians of all time is from Armenia! Charles Aznavour, for the people who don’t know who this is he is the singer of the song at the beginning of the Nottinghill movie and for the people who still don’t know! You should be ashamed of yourself and listen to it right now! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxaZMreym88
Argentina, the country of Maradona, Che Guevara, Evita, cowboys (gauchos) and tango. Argentina is one of the reasons I learned spanish, I’ve been dreaming to go there ever since I was about 15 years old and saw the movie Motorcycle Diaries. A really good movie about the young years of Che Guevara, still one of my favorite movies ever with the incredibly talented Gael Garcia Bernal (yes I know he is Mexican and not Argentinian, but still he is unbelievably hot)! Another famous Argentinian and probably one of the most well known soccer players ever Maradona, he is a really funny guy. During the soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010 he was Argentina’s coach and instead of just yelling at the soccer players he used his entire body to make clarify what he ment. I love these kind of people who get so enthusiastic, passionate and emotional about what they are doing. It put a smile on my face every time I saw Argentina play! But these are all things you probably know about Argentina, let’s skip to the things you don’t know about Argentina.
- in Argentina beauty is really important 1 in 30 Argentinians undergoes plastic surgery.
- On the 15th of May Argentinians celebrate Friend’s Day, a day entirely dedicated to the celebration of friendship. It’s not an official holiday, but making reservations for restaurants of even a pub is advised.
- Argentina is considered one of largest and best quality producers of wine.
- I always wondered what the sun was doing on the Argentinian flag but apparently it’s the Sun of May (Sol de Mayo) it’s an old Inca symbol which refers to the month May. Now it’s the symbol for independency struggle during the revolution 18th – 25th May 1810.
Now let’s start this recipe! This week I made empanadas, and hell yeah they were delicious! And really not that difficult the hardest thing was folding the meat mixture in the dough but I had a little help with that because apparently my mom has a empanada maker which forms the dough into perfect little empanadas! very very very convenient if your as clumsy as I am! So let’s get started! Here’s what you need to make this recipe.
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 2 white onions chopped, 500 gr of lean ground beef, 2 tablespoons of sweet paprika, 3/4 teaspoon of hot paprika, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 table spoon of white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of green olives chopped, 2 hardboiled eggs chopped, salt to taste, puff pastry 2 big round sheets.
Fry off the onion with the coconut oil in a pan. Remove from the heat and and the sweet paprika, hot paprika, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Spread the meat on a sieve and pour boiling water over it for partial cooking. (I know this sounds strange, but it really works)! Place the meat in a dish and add salt, cumin, vinegar and the onion mixture. Add the olives raisins, and eggs ,mix well and place on a flat dish to cool. Cut puff pastry into nice round shells. and place a spoon of the meat mixture in the middle of each round. Slightly wet the edge of the pastry, fold in two and stick edges together. The shape should resemble that of a half-moon. Seal by twisting edge, step by step, between thumb and index finger, making sure to add pressure before releasing the pinch and moving on to the next curl. Other sealing procedures like pinching without curling or using a fork to seal will not prevent juice leaks during baking, and empanadas must be juicy. (If you have an empanada maker , just put in the dough close is gently and carefully open is and your empanada will be perfect)
I found this really funny video about Argentina:
Next up is Armenia!
Another Caribbean dream, toes in the sand cocktail in my hand. Thousands of tourists visit every year to live this dream, frankly I wish I was one of them because it looks awesome, hmmm maybe one day! Located in the Caribbean and in the Lesser Antilles, it’s two major islands, many many smaller ones, and with an area of 440 sq km or 170 sq miles it’s feels like you are isolated from the rest of the world. Antigua Barbuda has a very small population, the largest city only has 25,000 inhabitants. Every year 250,000 people visit Antigua Barbuda, which seems bonkers, but apparently they seem to manage just fine. Strangly this small population produces some fine athletes, the worlds best lacrosse players. Another tradition is donkey race, ( I would love to see that!) and they do this just because it fun to watch. There is not much more to say about this tiny beautiful island, they don’t have a strange past or strange manners, except that it’s also very popular for mobsters to . So I guess I should just start writing the recipe. I made a Pepperpot soup and ducuna as a sidedish: It was amazing! When I read the ducuna recipe I was really sceptic, and I didn’t think it would turn out as good as it did! It tasted really sweet but the kind of sweet that I’m not used to but still it was delicious! I made quick version of the pepperpot soup and adjusted some ingredients because I couldn’t find okra so I used green beans and added a little extra cornstarch to thicken the soup. This recipe is for 6 people.
Ingredients Pepperpot soup: olive oil, 700 gr of sirloin steak trimmed and cut into bitesize pieces, salt to taste, 1 small white onion (chopped) , 1 clove of garlic (chopped) , 2 chili’s chopped(I left the seeds in one because I like the spice), 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, 5 cups of water, 3 teaspoons of cornstarch, 1 large sweet potato (diced), 1 cup of chopped okra or 300 grams of green beans (cut in half), 3 hands of spinach, 3 spring onions, cup of coconut milk, 1 vegetable stock cube. Heat oil in a large pan and fry of the steak with a good pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, until no long pink on the outside. This takes about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the onion, garlic, chili and thyme to the pan and fry for about 1 minute. Mix the water, cornstarch and stock cube and add to the pot along with the sweet potato and beans (or okra). Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer until the veggies are almost tender. Stir in the spinach and some salt, cook 2 or 3 more minutes. Add the steak and spring onions. Add the coconut milk and stir it in. 2 more minutes on the heat and DONE! Ingredients Ducuna: 2 sweet potatoes, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, salt to taste, all spice to taste, 1/2 cup of raisins Grate the sweet potatoes and put them in a bowl with the sugar, set them aside for 10 minutes. Add flour, salt, all spice and raisins. Divide the dough in 4 and make packages of lightly greased aluminium foil. Fold the foil to create sealed parcels. Now comes the strings part! Place the packages in a large pot of boiling water for 45 minutes. Remove from the foil and done! 😀
I’ve had so many positive reactions from friends, family and strangers on twitter and facebook! Thank you soo much for motivating me to do this! 😀
The Arctic! Coldest place on earth. Home of the penguins. Antarctica has no population, it is not a country, it’s not a part of a country(although many countries have tried to claim it, it does not have its own language. The entire continent is only being used for scientific research. Scientists come and go on average there are about a 1000 people on the continent. What surprised me is that it is also the driest continent, it rarely snows it doesn’t melt. The no citizens part makes my job really hard, no citizens means no cultures or traditions, which results in NO NATIONAL DISH! I screened the entire internet and found nothing that I think qualifies for a national dish! yes they eat beef Wellington on Christmas Eve in the research centers, but I don’t think that counts. There are no cows in Antarctica , so no beef, because that’s cheating! The only thing everyone in Antarctica eats and knows are sledging biscuits. The biscuits that they eat during expeditions, to stay alive. Honestly I do not have a good feeling about this. I think they are going to be dry and tasteless. But who knows they might turn out amazing
I made them and I was right! They were not very good but this is for the people who really really really want to give an arctic party but I recommend you stay with fish sticks, and popsicles in the shape penguins.
Ingredients 150 g whole wheat flour (1.25 cups), 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 30 g butter (full fat, unsalted, 2 T.), 50 ml cold water (3T. plus 1t.)
Pre-heat the oven to 190C (375 F.).Sieve the flour and baking soda together into a mixing bowl, then add the salt. Rub in the butter with your finger tips until you have combined the ingredients to resemble breadcrumbs. Slowly mix in the water until a malleable ball of dough forms. All the dry ingredients must be evenly incorporated, yet the dough should not be sticky.
Lightly flour a smooth surface and roll out the dough so it is 2 cm thick (0.8 inches) and fits a large baking tray. Transfer the dough onto a lightly greased baking tray and cut into 5cm (2-inch) squares. Prick each square with a fork. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the dough just starts turning golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
The Caribbean I’ve been looking forward to this! When I daydream about the Caribbean which happens quite often, I dream about drinking cocktails with my toes in the warm white sand looking out over a calm blue ocean, little bit of reggae music in the background. Okay get back to reality now! My point is that history neither food are the first thing that come to mind when I think about Anguilla. It might be a tiny tiny dot in the ocean but it has been claimed by a lot of countries though the centuries (The Netherlands, Spain, Great Brittain, France). Their national sport is boat racing, it’s like soccer for them everyone has their own opinion about it, and his or hers favorite team. The races are held in spring and summer. After the boat race there are big BBQ’s with lots of music and dancing. (okay I’m ready to pack my bags and move there!)
- Anguilla’s poor soil and erratic rainfall make it almost impossible for farming, thus the slavery and plantation system failed to take hold in Anguilla
- You only need 48 hours in the country to qualify for an Anguillan wedding license.
- Salt was Anguilla’s major export until the 1950s. Today it is exclusively tourism – People come to Anguilla for all the things that Anguilla doesn’t have: “crime, crowds or commercialism”
Oh boy it has been hard finding a proper recipe with ingredients that can actually be found. This week I made Beef and Pineapple Kebabs with rice.
Ingredients: 1 lb sirloin steak,3 tomatoes (medium), 2 onion, 1 green bell pepper, 12 pineapple chunks (fresh or canned), 1 tbsp of brown sugar, 4 tbsp pineapple juice, 2 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp oil, 1 garlic cloves (minced, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper
Make the marinade; put the brown sugar, pineapple juice, vinegar, and oil in a bowl and mix well. Add garlic, salt, and pepper. Cut steak into 1 inch cubes and add the marinade. Cover and leave in a cool places for at least one hour. Remove the steak and reserve the marinade to baste the kebabs. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, peel the onions and cut them into small chunks. Remove the seeds from the green pepper and cut into squares. Put the steak, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and pineapple chunks alternately on to a 8 short skewers.Brush skewers with marinade. Cook in a griddle pan or grill outside for approximately 10 minutes, turning frequently and basting often. Serve with plain rice.
Because Austria won the Eurovision Song contest I will be cooking their food sometime this week!
While I was doing my research for Angola, I was so amazed at what came up. Why is this beautiful country not a major tourist destination. Personally I have never been to Angola but from what I read and saw I believe that Angola might be a hidden jem in the heart of Africa. So now Angola is at the top my list of countries that I want to visit. The food is amazing, the music is swinging, the weather is hot, the beaches are amazing, the waves are ideal for surfing and the nature is stunning. So I ask you WHY is this place not swarming with tourists yet! After looking for a while I found out that there was a really long and hard civil war in Angola from 1975 until 2002. Now the country is slowly trying to recover, from a very cruel long war where a lot of people lost their lives. But the purpose of my blog is trying to find positive thing about countries, and Angola has so many!
- The giant sable antilope was thought to be extinct until a few years they were rediscovered in Angola
- One of Africa’s most beautiful natural wonders, the Ruacana Falls, is located in Angola.
- Luanda is known as the ” Paris of Africa” – This is apparently due to the city’s sophisticated culture and atmosphere
Serve with rice.
Next week is Anguilla, my first caribbean island!