Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Danielle Hetzel's Blog

So, apparently I don't say my name on here very much.  You know...Danielle Hetzel?  This has apparently led to some odd issues.  I have been doing some guest posts on my Church's blog.  The number one search result that brings people there?  Danielle Hetzel's blog.  Huh.  Apparently, right now, that search term doesn't bring them here.  Time to change that.

This is Danielle Hetzel's blog.  You hear that, Google?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Equatorial Guinea

Background: Gained independence from Spain in 1968
Location: Central Africa, between Cameroon and Gabon
Area: Over 28,000 sq km; 146th largest in the world
         Slightly smaller than Maryland
Climate: "Always hot"
Population: Over 685,000; 166th most in the world
Capital: Malabo
Geography: One of the smallest Africa countries; has a mainland portion plus five inhabited islands
Health: Tap water is not potable

Source: CIA Factbook

In my search I kept coming across one recipe that I wanted to try.  I tried to avoid it, given the unconventional ingredients, but I couldn't.  I was hooked on Guinea Fowl Paella.  That's right.  Guinea Fowl.  A new meat for me!  I searched high and low.  The international grocery store didn't have it.  Neither did Whole Foods.  My quest was done before it began.

According to the interwebs, quail is a decent substitute for guinea fowl, so I decided that that was my next best option.  I also then decided to make Succotash since there was at least some concensus that it was the national dish.  I was wary because Kevin doesn't like lima beans, but I figured I had to do something the right way.

I went to Whole Foods to buy the quail and low and behold...guinea fowl!  It wasn't there before!  My faith in obscure ingredients restored, I would have skipped home if I didn't have a baby and a full bag of groceries.  Plus, now I didn't have to make succotash that wouldn't actually get eaten.  Yay!

What is a guinea fowl?  According to Wikipedia they resemble partridges, but with featherless heads.  Yummy.  Here is what one looks like when you buy it from the store.

That's right, I got to harvest the breast meat.  I needed 500 grams, which is a little over one pound.  The breasts weren't enough.
So I kept cutting meat.  And more meat.  There really isn't a lot there.
In the end, I had to halve the recipe in order to get the proportions about right.  I should have made stock out of the bones, but unfortunately I didn't.  I was ready for that bird to be gone.

The rest of the recipe is relatively easy.  First you cook the meat, and then the onions and garlic.  You also do add the rice to the pan uncooked, as we have seen in some previous posts.

There were a number of spices in the recipe, which got me pretty hopeful.  Usually the recipes we've tried from Africa have had a tendency to be bland, so this was a welcome change.
Then everything just simmers for a while to cook the rice.  Tomatoes, black-eyed peas, and bell pepper get added as well.

We decided to teach Brendan a little bit about the circle of life while things cooked.
Dead bird nom nom.
I also decided that hummus was worth another try and followed this recipe.  Easy and good reviews?  Sounds like a plan to me.  I could work on it while everything else cooked since it was so easy.

Check and mate.  A delicious, flavorful, somewhat exotic African dish.  Kevin and I wholeheartedly approved.  In fact, it was a bit spicy.  Everything worked well together, there are some clear health benefits to the dish, and we got to try something new.  Win all around.

The hummus was delicious as well.  It worked to cool down our mouths after all of the spiciness.  Kevin said it tasted like the hummus you get from the store.  I agree.  I plan on making it again.  And again.  And probably some more.

It is so nice to have a recipe that wins.  If you want to try something new, go find a guinea fowl!  The meat seemed a bit tougher than chicken, but really not so different as to make you pause.  Baby steps: just what I like.

Next time: Eritrea