Friday, January 18, 2008

A convuluted trip down memory lane with dinner at the end

Cale has been on a great gift streak for me lately. Not that all his gifts aren't good ones that I appreciate, but there have been some serious standouts of late. On Christmas morning I was delighted that he had bought me cooking classes at a local high-end grocery store. I have been looking over the classes offered this spring and can't wait to take a few of them.

On Tuesday, Cale took me out to lunch for my birthday. As soon as we were situated at our table, he pulled out a large blue envelope with a book inside. Cale had taken all of the blog posts he wrote while we were in Namibia and had them printed and bound into a book. I had no idea he was working on this project and I was completely surprised. It is wonderful to have a record of our time there together all in one place in an easy to read format.

I have been reading through his account for the last few nights and it has flooded my mind with memories. If any of you kept up with our blog while we were gone then you know two things: Cale talked about computer stuff a lot and he felt the need to tell everyone what we ate every day. (Last night I read that we had chicken in vinegar for dinner. I have no clue what he's talking about but I'm pretty sure I never cooked anything in straight white vinegar...maybe he meant balsamic? I really don't know!) He also spent a lot of time talking about what we were learning or reading. Since I have been a very sporadic journal writer for the last several years, I so appreciate his account of what we were walking through during that time.

But back to the food! One of the things that we ate whenever we were out or that was prepared for us was a dish called Bobotie. (Can you even believe that I find a Bobotie article on Wikipedia!) We didn't know it was called that at the time, but it is something that we both enjoyed (even when it was made with kudu!). It is a traditional South African dish that is best described as a sweet, meat stew. Well over a year ago, I came across a Bobotie recipe in Rachael Ray's magazine. As I read over the ingredients I realized that this is what we had been eating in Namibia without even knowing it. Of course, I had to try it and it has since become a favorite here at our house. I've adapted the recipe a bit to fit our tastes, but if you want to see the original recipe go here. Cale loves this and since he's the one that started this trip down memory lane, I will share the recipe with you in his honor!

1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs ground sirloin
1 bay leaf
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 Piquante Peppadew Peppers, drained and finely chopped **
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup mango chutney
1 cup beef broth
2 Tbs curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp lemon zest

1. In a dry skillet, lightly toast the almonds for 3-4 minutes.

2.Heat a large skillet over medium heat and then add the 2 Tbs olive oil. When the oil is hot spread the meat into an even layer in the pan. Let it caramelize and deeply brown (which means don't stir!); then stir and move to the sides of the pan. Add bay leaf, celery, carrots, onion, peppers and garlic to the center of the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes, then stir into the meat. Add chutney, broth, curry powder, turmeric, coriander and lemon zest. Stir vigorously until the broth simmers and starts to evaporate and the meat casserole starts to thicken. Remove the bay leaf and add the toasted almonds. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!

**I have never been able to find these particular peppers so I have gotten creative. I've found a red pepper relish that works well. The key is to add some kind of sweet pepper to the mix. The last time I made it I used some random pepper mix I found at the store as well as a chopped orange bell pepper. It was great. So don't worry if you can't find these as I have found it still turns out great!

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