Recipe for Disaster

Yeah, it’s been a while. I’ll come back with a real post tomorrow, sorry folks.

I made this dish the other day, and actually got complimented on the leftovers (the leftovers!) the next day by my host, a five-star master chef. He has only one tip for me, I’ll reveal that later. Anyways, here’s how to make what I make, to the best of my memory.

You’ll require:

  • 1 onion, diced and sliced (I used a smallish red one, but really don’t care what kind you use)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 whole peppers; orange, red, yellow to make it look purty.
  • Some olive oil….1/8 of a cup sounds nice…how about 5.6 tbsps? Just follow along.
  • Maybe some butter, I like cooking with butter. From a stick, I’d say I used about 1/2 inch thickness-worth.
  • 1.25 lbs of beef, cut fajita strips style.
  • 2 cans of black beans. Black beans are the best beans, no one denies this (-Tommy from Quinzee, look it up if you’re so inclined).
  •  Cayenne pepper…I don’t know how much, a bunch of shakes’ worth? I like it, you may not. If you don’t, don’t bother going on because I will wreck you with it.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste. Because every recipe on the internet has them as ingredients, even if it’s talking about making cake.

Directions, because you don’t just throw this in a bowl and eat, you scoop it in kindly.

  1. Liberally (not conservatively) season the beef with cayenne pepper and salt. Salting helps prepare the meat to be tenderized.
  2. Chop-a-da garlic and onion, glare at it for a couple seconds then apologize.
  3. Heat up a large skillet on medium heat, pour olive oil in until coating the bottom.
  4. Once the olive oil is hot (check by dipping your fingers), slide in the garlic and onions. Pour some more olive oil out into the skillet for your fallen homies. You can also put the butter in here.
  5. Cook those until the onions are glassy and the fragrance calls out to you like a mermaid. Should only be about 5 minutes. Definitely do not overcook it at this point.
  6. Grind up some fresh fresh peppercorn onto the top.
  7. Slide the meat in, lower the heat, and disperse so it’s cooking evenly. At this point you’re probably looking at your skillet and realizing you should have gone for the bigger one. Sorry, I told you. So I’m not sorry, because I told you. Sorry I’m not sorry.
  8. Let that meat cook until it’s brown on that side, then flip the pieces. That should be about 6-7 minutes per side, depending on thickness of said meat. Don’t cook it too fast, we’ve got a ways to go. Also, stir it within the garlic and onions, let the juices get to know eachother a bit. Sidenote: If the recipe direction number starts with a number, you should be adding a couple shakes of cayenne pepper. That includes the number 8.
  9. Okay, now that the meat looks brown, get those cans of beans open with your teeth. I like to pour out about half the juices, but it’s all your preference. Dump it in there. Yeah, just like that. Ooh be careful, don’t spill. Get some good stirring utensils, and swirl everything around. Add cayenne.
  10. Lower the heat to low, cover that skillet. Gut and dice up the peppers (about 1 inch squares I prefer), let them be. Now you wait. Just go do something else, like write a blog post or read or anything. Just don’t check on the food, it will take longer. After waiting is filled (I heart Stranger in a Strange Land) – about 20 minutes but you really can’t go over the time limit – go back to the food and smell it. It should be lightly boiling and really hot. Also it should smell infuriatingly tantalizing.
  11. Add the peppers to the top, cover it back up, and wait about 5-10 more minutes.
  12. Open it up, and stir it around. Try to scrape the sides of the skillet, don’t be shy. That’s where the best flavors come in. Let it sit for a couple minutes – oh who am I kidding? Spoon that stew into a bowl and serve with a nice glass of rum and ice. You’ll need that because you were impatient and it’s way too hot to eat so soon.

Serves 4, unless you’re feeding a hungry small person. Then don’t expect any.

As I said, this got compliments from a trusted source, and it’s therefore now fact. His one tip is something to do with corn starch and the meat, but he’s requested I make it again this week so he can see and help out specifically. Also, my friend came over and ate some when I made it. She ate about 3/4 of the food I had, surprising because she’s only like 4’2, a buck flat. If she didn’t devour everything in sight, this makes enough for 3 meals.

If you are a lonely soul like me, then you should take use of tupperware and store it, just put it back on the stove on super low to heat it back up. It stores very well because it’s just a stew and presentation doesn’t matter.

Again, sorry I haven’t been writing this week, I think it’s good I took a break though. I didn’t even want to write tonight, but needed something to get me back in the flow. Good night, kids.

Montaña Adventure: Parte III

Why do you do such things?

Parte I

Parte II

I’m leaving for the weekend today, so I’ll finish up this story before I endanger myself again and want to write about something else.

After 2 hours of sitting by the side of the road throwing rocks at walls and children, watching the same motoconchos shuttle people to the towns that we were in between, the host came back to take us to the ranch. By this time, my snack bag of almonds and pistachios had dwindled to nothing and I was starving. Getting back to the ranch, a very rich smell of some braised meat greeted me. I had found out in the morning that depending on how many people came to stay that night, we were either going to have one of their rabbits for dinner or cow leg. Possibly due to unfavorable weather conditions, nobody showed up. I showered up hosed off and within fifteen minutes had a huge plate of steaming hot rice with two side bowls. One was the typical red kidney beans, and the other was pulled and spiced beef. Needless to say, I housed it. There was still something on the stove and my hosts told me to come back ‘ahorita’ (see below for what that means) to try it out. I went back to my quiet room, read more of the Gatsby (thoughts on that here), and came back in an hour and a half. The second dinner was a stew called ‘cocido’ with the main ingredient being the marrow of the cow bone. It kind of had the same color and consistency as fat from a steak or chicken, but was much more flavorful. Also, there was a surprising spicy (finally) kick to the whole dish, and had a side of boiled green bananas. Muy rica.

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July 7

I just realized that I haven’t watched television since I’ve gotten here. I literally have not sat in front of a television for a month, and I don’t miss it at all. That would be impressive if I also cut out my internet usage, but I’m very much in a connected work and living environment. I’ll take the small battles where I can get them, and maybe this will save me a lot of money back in the states in not getting a cable package. It’s such a waste of money anyways, back in Boston we spent $100/month on cable and called our TV the “Bruins and Seahawks machine”, because we never watched anything else. Here’s what’s happening this week:

– Happy Independence Day, Americans. I haven’t been able to celebrate in the States for the last 3 years, having been on a plane to London, plane from Mexico, and now in the Dominican Republic. I celebrated here in the stormy and rainy conditions, sad I couldn’t be with my group of dwindling Boston-homed friends. However, the daily chef for our office made us gringos a special cake, which was red, white and blue, had a cheesecake middle layer surrounded by chocolate and vanilla regular cake layers. We reciprocated by butchering the national anthem, luckily not fu–orgetting any words or quitting, and nobody laughed.

– I had the opportunity to try a few more of my hosts’ foods. First up was this rice mixture with cod, cilantro, and some yellow seasoning. Next they made some wheat pilaf/tabbouleh salad with mint, minced meat, and other spices served cold, which is one of my favorite things I’ve had here. Also, homemade flan for dessert one night was another all-natural, healthy option I was able to partake in. I’m not even going to waste my time giving reviews anymore, I’m convinced anything made naturally or at home just comes out tasting excellent.

– In terms of cooking my own foods, I’m going to try to cut down on the rice intake. In addition to not holding its own taste load (is that dirty?), it’s probably a good idea healthwise. Cue the sad face: colon open parentheses. It doesn’t seem to have any ill effects as of yet, as my latest cooking experiment was a great success. Last night, I bought two pounds of chicken breast (~$5), and with a nice sharp knife, cut myself

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June 9 – Happy Birthday, Q

I don’t expect this posting frenzy to continue for six months, we’d get far too tired of each other and probably have to call it off after a few fights over my little things like my music choices or the fact that you can’t differentiate “your” and “you’re”. Anyways, today:

– Returned to the barrio, followed a different mentor, went to a couple morning meetings and actually participated by interviewing a few associates. Again, a life experience.

– From the ladies at one of the meetings I got a list of Dominican foods I have to try: Chimi, añugaperra, refresco rojo, pico pollo, batada, matila, arepas/empanadas, fritura, yaniqueque, tostada, sanchocho, y sambubio. Also: mamajuana. I ain’t never scared.

– No guagua rides today, hence no near-death experiences. However, I’m doing my best to keep the masses entertained so stay tuned. YouTube is for stuff like this and this and this, right?

– My living situation got so much more awesome today. As I said, my landlady/house-parents have been traveling and I’ve been hanging with her madre and tía. Well, they got back today. I knew the husband was an author and guessed what he was into judging by all of the International Affairs books and general library they have (including one of my favorites – Clash of Civilizations by Samuel P. Huntington). I talked to him for a little while, and he’s an ex-Cuban Intelligence officer turned military activist against the Cuban government. He gave me a couple of his books to read, and now I’m tearing through my Sci-Fi read to get to them. They’re in Spanish, but we’ll give it my best. Definitely going to put more effort than the one paragraph -fine, three sentences- of El ingenioso caballero don Quijote de la Mancha.

Reading: Stranger in a Strange Land

Listening: Rubber Factory, The Black Keys

Dominicanismo: Zafacón – Garbage can