Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays from Morocco!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas 
and a happy New Year!
Thank you all for your support and love, prayers and well wishes, and care packages and letters! 
2012 has been an amazing year for us.  We look forward to 2013, and we wish and hope for peace and equality at home and around the world.
Love, Arie & Kate

Monday, December 10, 2012

got goat?

A Warm and Cozy Meal:
Spicy Goat Stew & Winter Squash Gratin

We Peace Corps Volunteers who live in Morocco most likely spent at least one day (if not four days) celebrating the important Muslim holiday of l'Eid al Adha.  The main tradition of l'Eid is that each household or family sacrifices at least one goat or sheep; then everyone feasts for four days on all parts of the animal (including its internal organs, brain, and eyeballs).  Often a family will share some of its meat with those who are less fortunate.  Arie and I received two gifts of goat meat from neighbors and friends which we put in the freezer. This was about the time I began to fear that the bags of frozen meat would end up lost in the back of the freezer for a year.  I was determined to find a delicious way to utilize the meat.  I searched the web for ideas and came up with the Spicy Goat Stew recipe of my own based on what was available in our site and our kitchen.

In addition to this recipe is a delicious squash dish that can be served along side the stew.  Squash is my favorite winter vegetable, and this is my favorite way to prepare it.  I make it a few times each season.  The recipe comes from my favorite cookbook: Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison given to me nearly 15 years ago (when I was still a teenager who thought it was cool to be veggie) as a Christmas gift from my Aunt Bridget and her family.  This classic cookbook, with an encyclopedic perspective on all earthly foods, contains simple and delicious ways to prepare everything.  Even for non-vegetarians this book offers ways to prepare simple, healthy and tasty meals.

*Please note the length of time it takes both dishes to cook (up to 2 hours) - plan accordingly (if you are a PCV - you've got time; plus this will warm up your kitchen)!  Enjoy! 

Spicy Goat Stew - Serves 4
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 pound goat meat, cut in 1″ cubes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
28 oz can of tomatoes or 5 peeled tomatoes; chopped (*see instructions below to make your own tomatoes)
Pinch saffron
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (or 1 cube of knorr with 2 cups of water) 

Spice Mixture
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon dried hot peppers (hang and dry your own and then grind them up)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

sour cream (plain yogurt)
fresh chopped cilantro 

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the onion until soft and transparent, about 5 minutes.

Place the spices for the spice mixture in a medium bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly. Toss the goat in the mixture until well-coated. Add the goat and garlic to the pot with the onions; increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring frequently, until the goat is browned.

Stir the tomatoes, saffron and chicken stock into the pot with the spiced goat. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened and the goat becomes fork tender, about another half hour. At this point, the stew can be refrigerated and reheated later. Serve with plain yogurt and fresh cilantro. Yum!

*To make your own “canned” tomatoes – take 5 large ripe tomatoes and core them (cut out the center where they were connected to the vine) and cut an 'X' in their bottom (this will make them easier to peel). Have a boiling pot of water on the stove ready and bowl of ice cold water ready. Drop one or a few tomatoes in the boiling water and let sit for 60 seconds. Remove and place in cold water 60 seconds. Remove from cold water and peel off their skins. Cut into quarters and remove the juice and seeds. Place juice and seeds in a strainer to strain the juice. Keep the juice, toss the seeds, chop the quarters. The juice and the chopped tomatoes will (approximately) equal a 28 oz can.

Winter Squash Gratin - Serves 4
About 2 lbs (1 kilo) butternut squash (or any variety of yellow/orange squash)
5 garlic gloves, finely chopped
½ cup chopped (fresh) parsley (dry parsley can be used too)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons flour
Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325 F. and oil a shallow baking dish. Peel the squash and cut it into even-sized cubes, from ½ inch to 1 inch. Toss it with the garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the flour and toss again until the pieces are coated lightly, letting the excess fall to the bottom. Pile the squash into the dish and drizzle oil generously over the top. Bake, uncovered, until the squash is browned and tender when pierced with a knife, about 2 hours. When served, the individual pieces will collapse into a puree. (Credit: Deborah Madison, “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.”)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Recipes to Keep You Warm

December has arrived and the weather has turned cooler.  For us that means 70's and 80's when the sun is shining and wool sweater weather once the sun sets.  For other volunteers in Morocco (living in the north or up in the Atlas mountains) this means a cold, snowy winter without central heating.  Here are two recipes to keep you warm this winter: Vegan Carrot Bread (there is nothing like a warm oven to heat up the kitchen) and Root Vegetable Soup (if it weren't for the chicken Knorr, this soup would be vegan too).  Enjoy!

Vegan Carrot Bread

  • 1 cup carrot puree (steam carrots then puree in a food processor)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup soy milk (carrot juice or pineapple juice works well too)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened, your choice)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (if you have)
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (if you have)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup oats (used for the topping)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your pan of choice:
1 bundt (1 hour 15 minutes)
2 loaf (50 minutes)
6 mini loaf (45 minutes)

Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl, and mix dry ingredients in another bowl. Slowly add dry ingredients into large bowl with wet ingredients. Stir. Spoon batter into prepared pan(s), sprinkle with 1/2 cup of remaining oats, bake for the amount next to each pan above, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then finish cooling on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Baked loaves can be wrapped then frozen for up to a few months. Just thaw at room temperature for a few hours before eating.
This is a quick bread - which means it is slightly sweet.  It is not quite like carrot cake and is best enjoyed warm with butter. 

 Root Vegetable Soup

Veggies of your choice:
  • 1 cup diced potato
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced turnip
  • 1 cup diced squash or pumpkin (if including, add with the chickpeas since it cooks faster)
  • 1 cup diced sweet potato

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 cups of chickpeas cooked
  • Approx ¼ cup of Olive Oil
  • Salt, Pepper, Cumin to taste (about 1 tsp each)
  • Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano to taste (about 1 TBS each) - ground if possible
  • 1 cube of Chicken Knorr
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Water
  • 3 TBS of flour
Heat olive oil in large pot and add onion, saute for about 5 min, then add garlic, veggies, and all spices. Cook, stirring, for about 5 min. Add water (enough to cover all veggies and 1 inch above veggie level) Knorr, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 min. Add cooked chickpeas (and squash/pumpkin), and simmer until veggies are tender. Remove 2 cups of liquid broth and add it to a small bowl. Add flour and whisk (this will thicken the soup when added). Put flour mixture and 2 cups of soup (with chunks of veggies) into a blender and puree. Add puree back into soup and stir. Enjoy. Usually serves about 6.

Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and Bay Leaf
are very important additions!