Monday, February 4, 2008

Fanta, Cabbage and Peanuts

My wife, Lisa, had returned to our home just a few minutes after me. She was somewhat out of breath, the baby was crying and the kids were hungry. It was nearly 6:00 after all.

"Hey, where've you been? I thought the kids were out early today," I asked.

"Oh, yeah, they were, but, we stopped by the African family's house and we made some dinner for them," she exlpained.

Our parish has sponsored a family from Burundi at the last minute and they dropped out of the sky like an empty Coke bottle. None of us speak Swahili or K'rundi and equitorial Africa hasn't been on the TimeShare listings. Something about civil war and ethnic cleansing that can put a damper on cultural exchanges. Consequently, we weren't quite sure how our new toys worked.

Lisa figured them out, though, real quick.

"I looked up their country on the Internet and found that the base diet consists of, well...just about anything they can get. Mostly, it revolves around rice and sweet potatoes; protein if available," she followed, "Did you know that Burundi is THE poorest country IN THE WORLD?!"

Good God in heaven, she is really off the reservation on this venture, I thought. How can she go head-long into helping to relocate and acclimate folks that might as well be from Mars?!

"We went shopping today and they LOVE Fanta orange soda, unsalted peanuts and the mother wanted cabbage and fish," Lisa continued. "I showed her how to use the oven and stovetop."

I can just picture my dear bride, stirring a pot with one hand, bouncing a baby on a hip with the other. Laughing and gesturing the whole time...

"I'll get dinner going, don't sweat it. Here, let me pour you a glass of Gris," I said.

As Lisa placed our 6 month old daughter in the high chair, she told me of the elaborate menu prepared for our sub-Saharan guests.

"All I did was make a pot of Basmati rice, boiled some sweet potatoes and poured Fanta orange soda by the 2 liter bottle. You'd think it was dinner at the Benson Hotel, the way they dug in and celebrated!" Lisa took a long sip of her Pinot Gris then, requested an ice cube. "They just LOVED it!"

But for the Grace of God, so too go we, I thought.

"Here are three ice cubes, 'cause you deserve 'em," I boasted as they plopped into her stemware and clinked as we toasted. "Wow, cooking has brought us another new relationship but, I suspect we don't know what that is just yet," I concluded.

"Who knows?" Lisa followed, "One of those 8 children might find a cure for cancer, run for President or do the same thing for someone else someday."
I love it when she's right.

Thanks, Loverlu, for showing us what power, kindness and love can be found through Fanta, cabbage and peanuts.

Now, let's try another dish with peanuts, cabbage and mandarin oranges:

Pad Thai at Home (serves 6)

1 pkg Rice stick noodles, looks like fettucine, only different
1 Onion, medium, diced
2 lb chicken meat, cut to fork sized
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled, halved and cut on a bias
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup peanut butter, either creamy or crunchy
2T soy sauce
1T fish sauce (found in the asian food section)
1/2 cabbabe, sliced as thin as possible, a 'chiffonade'
2 cups peanuts, ground
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
6 each mandarins or clementines, peeled and sectioned

Put a 4 quart pot of water on the boil.
Saute' the diced onions and chicken. Add the garlic and cook for
another two minutes. Add the stock, coconut milk, peanut
butter, soy and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Simmer covered for thirty minutes and stir occasionally.
Drop your noodles into boiling water for ten minutes or till desired
doneness. When done, strain and toss with half the sauce. Arrange noodles
on plates with a bed of the crunchy cabbage underneath. Ladle remaining sauce onto
noodles and garnish plate with peanuts, oranges, and cilantro.

Wine suggetion:
--dry Gewurtztraminer
--Pinot Gris

Thanks for reading and remember:

"Food, Faith, Family and Friends...
the Best Things in Life aren't Things!"

Take care and God bless, Chef BQ.

No comments: