Multi-Cultural Menu-Planning

Kato Joseph, one of the children we sponsor. His letters light up our mailbox!
Kato Joseph, one of the children we sponsor. His letters light up our mailbox!

By day, I work for pay, by night I write. I love my kitchen, but during the week I want to get in and out in half an hour. To accomplish this, I plan my menus on the weekend. Monday comes, and I can walk into the kitchen and make dinner without staring blankly into the fridge for 20 minutes. If Saturday is your day of rest and Sunday is your shopping day, then today’s post will be just in time!

The US is a terrific place for culinary experimentation. Here in Tulsa, I can get every possible Latino dish, Asian hotpot or cheesy pasta delight. My tastebuds cheer just thinking about it! I love trying new things, so today, I’m bringing you some recipes to try.

First, here are two of my own recipes, influenced by areas where Compassion International works. You’d think the pumpkin soup had a thousand calories because it’s so rich and tastes buttery, but a cup of this soup is only around 30 calories—yes I said THIRTY!

Asian Green Pumpkin Soup

  • 1 green pumpkin, about 10-12 inches in diameter and 4-6 inches tall
  • 1 onion
  • 6 c water
  • 4-6 tsp chicken or veggie bouillon
  • 2-4 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  • WAIT to add the next two items:
  • ¼ – ½ c cilantro, most of the stems discarded
  • ½ tsp fish sauce, optional

Dice the onion. Peel and chop the pumpkin. If you find the pumpkin too hard to peel, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and microwave it in a casserole dish with an inch of water for a few minutes to soften. In a large stew pot, brown the onion. Add the pumpkin and brown on high heat for a minute or two, then add the water, chicken bouillon and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to keep it boiling but not boiling over. Cook until the pumpkin is soft.

With a slotted spoon, dip the pumpkin into a blender but do not fill over half-way or the heat will cause it to overflow when blending. Add some of the cilantro. If your blender lid has a removable center, I recommend loosening it and removing it carefully, only after making sure the hot liquid does not reach the top when spinning. Allowing some airflow while blending hot liquids keeps the pressure from building.

Blend well. Empty the blender and repeat the process until pumpkin and cilantro are completely blended. Stir in enough broth to give the soup a velvety but not watery texture. Stir in the fish sauce and serve. If you’ve never eaten green pumpkin, start with a small dish to give your body a chance to get used to it. You will be tempted to eat the whole pot!

~~~~~~~~

Tomatillo Rice

  • 1 c uncooked rice
  • 2 c water
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 – 3 tomatillos
  • Fresh (not jarred) Jalapeño to taste
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 2 tsp chicken or veggie bouillon
  • ½ tsp Chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin

Put rice and water in a covered saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to keep from boiling over and keep the rice covered until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. If using brown rice, add ½ c more water and allow more time for boiling. While rice is boiling, dice vegetables. Brown the onion and jalapeño. Stir in tomatillos and cook until soft (just a minute or so). Add remaining ingredients and stir until heated through. Remove from heat. When rice is cooked, stir in the sauce and serve.

**If desired, place the mixture into a greased casserole dish, sprinkle with cheese and broil for a few minutes before serving.

~~~~~~~~

Check out the Compassion Explorer kidzine for more recipes, such as:

  • Wild Mushroom Soup – you can’t go wrong with mushrooms and serrano peppers in my house
  • Baião de Dois – a Brazilian dish made with rice and black-eyed peas served with hand-made tortillas.
  • West African Peanut Soup – a delicious curry soup from West African countries such as Burkina Faso and Togo, where Mathias lives. Serve it with Tô, a cornmeal dumpling.
  • Oop Bla – a fish soup recipe shared by the family of two sponsored brothers in Thailand
  • Khao Ber – a rice and pork dish shared by a sponsored boy in Thailand
  • Mandazi – a fried dough treat that is popular in Rwanda.
  • Brigadeiro – a Brazilian candy made with chocolate, coconut and sweetened condensed milk. OMIGOODNESS!

It’s hard to imagine trying to sleep with your stomach growling, because you have no food for your family. Sure, I’ve dieted and gone to bed without a late-night snack, but jiggly and giggly seem to be my trademark. Even when I go grocery shopping, my cabinets and fridge are never completely empty. Help Mathias and Deysi and John Michael get regular meals and learn skills that will keep them fed and productive all their lives. Let me know which child you’d like to sponsor, and I’ll send you the information. Share this with your friends, because tomorrow, I’ll begin introducing three new children.

In case you wonder, I will never take your money or your credit info. I will send you to the Compassion site and provide you with sign-up information for these children. I get nothing but the joy of knowing that I helped a few more children by spreading the word. If you have any difficulty responding through WordPress, find me on Facebook or email me at quequelmique@yahoo.com.

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