Cooking Challenge 2020

Last year was one of the first New Year’s Resolutions that I made, I vowed to make 20 soups from around the world. I made the first one shortly before the new year and finished the challenge on May 19th. When I was finished I summed it up in a blog post.

The purpose of last year’s challenge wasn’t just to make 20 soups, it was to learn new techniques that I could ad lib with in my day to day cooking. On both marks, the challenge was a success.

After I finished the soup challenge I got into fermentation. That lasted most of the summer and I’ve learned good techniques for that too. As Winter moved in I kind of stalled out. So I started thinking about a new cooking challenge for the coming new year.

I’ve settled on making 17 meals from 17 different countries chosen almost randomly. That is one approximately every 3 weeks, if I move more quickly I can get back to fermentation when the summer heat rolls in. I will give a brief sketch of each one here as it is completed, so I get 17 blog posts as a secondary reward.

I’ve chosen the following 17 countries: Algeria, Viet Nam, Brazil, Slovakia, Cameroon, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Portugal, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Uruguay, Estonia, Namibia, Taiwan, Guatemala, Croatia, and Qatar.

This is more of a challenge than last year’s because that was just making a dish without any context. This challenge involves understanding the local cuisine and making a representative meal.

Stay tuned to see how it goes.


20 Soups From Around the World

Editors Note: No recipes are contained in this post, none are linked, Bing is your friend.

Shortly before Christmas of last year (2018) I decided that I would make 20 (new-to-me) soups from around the world as my New Year’s resolution. Today, May 19th, I made the twentieth. Since the soups were to be new-to-me, that precluded many of my personal favorites that I had made previously: Tom Kha, Miso, Egg Drop, Etc…

I can’t vouch for the authenticity of any of the soups that I made, I googled recipes and read and synthesized the ones that sounded best/doable into one that I could make. Following is an annotated list of the soups that I made,

  1. 12/26/18 Getting a jump on the New Year, I started off with Pozole from Mexico. The version that I made was chicken and hominy. It was a good one to start with as it ended up being one of my favorites. I learned a new technique in boiling dried peppers, in this case ancho, then running them through the food processor; this gave the broth body and loads of flavor.
  2. 1/4/19 Next up was Sinigang from the Philippines, I don’t remember much other than it was sour ginger.
  3. 1/9/19 Goulash Soup from Germany, this was a hearty beef stew with lots of paprika of two different kinds. It was good but didn’t seem exotic at all.
  4. 1/16/19 Bolivian Chili, a tomato based vegetarian soup with chick peas instead of kidney beans and chunks of sweet potato. It was much better than the description would make you think.
  5. 1/21/19 Arstoppa, a Swedish yellow split pea soup. Subtle in flavor but very good. It didn’t take long to discover that most European soups were similar to the soups I grew up on, makes sense since I am German heritage from mid-West America.
  6. 1/28/19 Lohikeitto, a Finish Salmon soup with potatoes. Basically a typical potato soup with chunks of salmon. It was very tasty. I should note that we have food allergies in our household, so any dairy was substituted with soy milk and/or coconut milk.
  7. 2/1/19 Thukpa, a Tibetan noodle soup. This was quite flavorful and made with multiple types of meat, it is on my must make again list.
  8. 2/4/19 From India, Sambar; a spicy lentil vegetarian soup.
  9. 2/20/19 Gombaleves, a Hungarian mushroom soup. It was an odd soup but strangely enticing. Made with multiple types of mushrooms, some dried others fresh. The dried mushroom were re-hydrated and ground into the broth. It was a thick hearty vegetarian dish that was a big hit.
  10. 2/24/19 Laksa from Singapore, a curry like soup made with lots of galangal. Galangal is a rhizome similar to ginger or turmeric. This was the only soup on this list that I had made previously, and along with Tom Kha is one of my favorite soups. I chose to make this one with shrimp.
  11. 2/27/19 Cambodian Samlar Kako, a flavorful chicken vegetable with lemongrass, turmeric, and galangal. Turned out to be one of my favorites.
  12. 3/4/19 From Georgia, Lobio bean soup. This one was quite interesting with ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, fenugreek and cilantro. It was definitely a unique bean soup.
  13. 3/22/19 Sopa de Peixe from Brazil. A spicy hot fish soup with coconut milk. Definitely one to make again.
  14. 4/1/19 Vietnamese Canh Cua, while usually made with crab, I chose to use shrimp instead. This is a sour noodle soup which, while tasty, I put in too much noodles and it turned out not as good as it could have.
  15. 4/10/19 Sopa de Fideo from Mexico, a chicken noodle soup.
  16. 4/15/19 Cock-a-leekie from Scotland, a chicken and leak soup made with dairy. It was OK, but required more work than it was worth.
  17. 5/8/19 Yemeni Marak Temani, a beef and potato stew. If there was a single favorite, this was it. First had to make Zhug, a chutney-like condiment made from cilantro. Then a spice blend called hawaij containing coriander, cumin, cardamom, and half a dozen other spices. Very flavorful, very tasty.
  18. 5/13/19 Irish Shellfish Chowder, basically it is potato soup that has been put through the food processor and then add shellfish. I used shrimp and scallops, it was ok.
  19. 5/17/19 Italian Kale and Chickpea soup, it has an Italian name but I forgot it. As with many of the European soups, it was a little boring.
  20. 5/19/19 Chinese Taho, I decided to rap up the 20 soups with a desert soup. This one involved making three things: homemade silky tofu, tapioca, and palm sugar syrup and combining them when serving. It was good and learning to curdle soy milk into tofu was a fun experience.

Overall, making 20 international soups was a fun and learning experience. I learned new cooking techniques that I will be using regularly in the future, it got me out of my comfort zone in using some of the more exotic spices, and I got to eat some really good food. Not sure what my next cooking challenge will be, my partner suggests 20 salads, but that doesn’t seem as fun. I know that I will be making a couple of cold soups this summer as gazpacho is the only one I’ve made.

Since we are getting back into the hot season, I will probably break out the One Pot and get back into experimenting with it. Maybe fermentation will be my next challenge.

New Year, New Look

Happy New Year!

As 2012 gasps its final breath, I’ve been refreshing the look (and some content) on my various bastions on the web.

Starting with this blog which has been switched to the Koi theme. Simple and easy to read with a splash of color, it makes a nice start for the new year. Actually I barely post here anymore, my popular content is all years old and mostly tech related.

My micro blog on Tumblr sports more color with a new theme called Royal Cameleon.  I’ve also added my Tumblr RSS feed to the right side of this blog.

My Shutterfly photo gallery has a new color theme.  While Shutterfly doesn’t allow much customization, I think the blue is better than the orange and yellow that it replaces.  Moving from Picasa to Shutterfly was part of my move away from Google services, attempting to regain some privacy.

I’ve also moved both of my websites from Google Sites to Zoho Sites, another free host.  Along with the move came new themes.

My personal website is now bold and dark.  A dark theme works well with this site as there is not a lot of content to read.

Lastly, my philosophy site has undergone major changes.  Along with the new look there is also new content.  While a friend says it reminds him of toothpaste, I like the soft colors and the easy readability of the white background.  I’ve deleted the early Christian archive and am slowly replacing it with a more generic “other thought” page.  I’ve been enjoying the studying up on the other schools of thought necessary to write the new content.  I am now embroiled with Cynicism and Skepticism and should be adding those sections soon.

I am looking forward to a bright new year and hope to bring some more web content to reflect that.

A New Year–A bit of tiddy-ing.

Another year over and a new one just begun…

Didn’t make it down to AZ for the holiday, but did spend a week at Death Valley–there are very few places to camp in the USA in the mid of winter…

Death Valley was a good experience, a happy holiday spent with family.  Since my dad retired I’ve been showing him the national parks and getting him out camping…he always complains of cold, but he enjoys it…this trip was no exception.

On another note: Anyone have experience with EasyTAG for Linux?  What are your views? Is it stable? Does it do what it claims?

I recently switched from Amarok to Rhythm Box–I can’t get Rhythm Box to edit id3 tags.  I switched for a few reasons…mostly because I am now a GNOME person and would like to replace my KDE apps with gtk apps….still have not found a replacement for Digikam (I abhor f-spot)…

What was this post about again?

Oh yeah…

Happy New Year!