Thursday, November 15, 2012

Recipes that Translate

Boy wouldn't that be great?!  To have a recipe that makes it so you could speak the language of your host culture perfectly?  Sorry to bait and switch on ya, but that's not what this is about.

I hope I am not the only one who sorta stumbles when it comes to cooking in our host culture.  Sure you get the hang of it, but there is process to it, right?   I remember one meal I made early on in language school that was just ground hamburger.  I couldn't figure out what to do with it beyond just cooking it.  My dear husband said, "well, honey, we have some cheese and some chips, let's make nachos."  That you Lord for giving me a man who has a brain when I don't!

Some of the go to recipes we all had in our home countries can't be duplicated in our host culture.  And sometimes they can.  Or they might taste just a bit different.

One of our family favorites is chicken curry.  It was funny when we were back in the states this summer and I made it, someone mentioned, "this doesn't taste the same." Nope, sour cream is different here in Costa Rica, plain yogurt is just a bit different too.  Oh well.  But overall this reciepe works well in both places.

And because I have told you it's a family favorite, I would be oh so mean if I didn't ive you the recipe!  Maybe it will work in your country.

Chicken Curry
olive oil
1 onion, minced
bit sized carrots, potatoes and cauliflower
salt and pepper

curry powder
chicken chunks
plain yogurt
sour cream/natilla

Saute onions, some curry powder, salt and pepper and veggies in a skillet with the olive oil. When onions are soft, add cubed chicken breast. Cook until chicken is almost done. Then add some plain yogurt, sour cream and more curry powder to taste.

Serve over rice.

Ok, now there are other things that we are used to buying, but you can make them.  Yeah, really, you can.  Food is so wrapped up in who we are and our culture and traditions.  And while we are all striving to integrate into our host cultures, sometimes you just really need some comfort food. 

One of those things for us is bagels.  And really, you can do this!  Here's the reciepe I use

The Bagel Recipe
Mix together:
1 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)

1/4 c. softened butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk

3 3/4 cup flour (enough flour for soft dough)

Knead 8-10 minutes. Rise until double (or so)
Make 12 balls. Thumb in center. Place on floured surface. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
In large saucepan, boil water. Drop bagels, one at a time, into boiling water. When bagels float to surface, remove with slotted soon and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.

Bake 400 degrees 20 minutes  or until golden brown.

Ok, one more and then I am done.  We found that mangos are so intresting!  Ripe mangos taste a lot like peach and make a great pie!  And green mangos taste a lot like apples and work get for crisps.  Here's the recipe I use for mango pie

Mango Pie
Double pie crust
Mangoes to fill pie crust, peeled, sliced to the size of peach quarters.  (oh, and FYI, if you allergic to poison ivy, be careful.  Some can eat them, but not touch the skin.  Some can eat them, but not touch the sap.  Some can't eat them, or touch them, or breath the pollen!)
1/2 c. sugar
3 tbsp. flour
Half a limon (or lime or lemon) squeezed

Basically, do what you think.  Slice the mangoes, squeeze limon (or lime or lemon) over it, put into bottom crust.  Sprinkle sugar and flour over it all.  Cover with top crust.  Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or so.  Although, since I don't really time anything, that's just a guess.  Check it...make sure it's done.  And then eat! 

So now, here's the fun part of this post...where you get involved!  What is your favorite recipe that translates?  And when you give it to us, let us know where in the world you are, if that's ok to put all over the interwebs.

And eventually I will get all the recipes together and make a cataloge for the blog.  So, what is your favorite recipe that translates?  Ready, set GO!!


  1. Love this, Liz! Living in the UK, things tend to translate a little better since we still speak English. However, there are still things that we had in the US that we don't necessarily have in the UK... so I can understand trying to translate recipes a bit! :)

    One recipe we really like is a pancake mix. Easy to double, triple etc...
    Here is the 2-serving recipe (serves 2 adults nicely)

    dry ingredients:
    2 cups four
    1 tsp. salt
    2 tbsp. baking powder
    2 tbsp. sugar
    1/3 cup dry/powdered milk

    wet ingredients:
    2 eggs
    4 tbsp. oil (sunflower, vegetable, or butter)
    2 cups water

  2. I'm so excited to try your bagel recipe! They look awesome! I don't have much time now, but if I think of a good recipe, I'll post it later. Fun topic!

  3. Here's a mainstay in our East-African home:

    Vietnam Fried Rice (From More With Less Cookbook)
    A fun way to use leftover chicken, rice, and veggies (carrots and peas are our favorite)

    fry in 4T oil:
    one chopped onion
    2-3 crushed garlic cloves
    1/2 lb any cooked or raw meat
    1 t salt
    1 t pepper
    1 t sugar
    1T soy sauce
    stir fry until meat is tender and hot, add:
    3 c. cooked rice
    stir fry 5 min., add:
    1 c leftover or frozen (cooked) veggies
    just before serving add:
    2 eggs well beaten
    stir carefully till eggs are cooked

    Serve with a salad of lettuce, cucumbers, fresh mint and parsley

  4. I have been looking for a bagel recipe:) thanks for sharing

  5. We're Texans in Turkey, so here is a Taco Soup recipe that we love. I just made this today:

    1 chopped onion
    4 peppers, seeded and chopped
    2 TBSP olive oil
    400-500 gm ground beef

    Saute the onion and pepper a few minutes in the oil. Add the beef and cook until it's browned.Add the following ingredients:

    2 cups water
    2 cans chopped tomatoes (or 3-4 chopped tomatoes)
    6-8 cups cooked beans with some liquid
    1-2 cups corn
    1 package taco seasoning mix***

    Let simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with shredded cheese, chopped fresh peppers, and broken corn chips as garnishes.

    Taco Seasoning Substitute:
    2 tsp. chili powder
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp garlic powder
    1 tsp corn starch
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp paprika or sweet red pepper
    optional: a bit of hot red pepper

  6. Mmm... thanks for the taco seasoning recipe :) So helpful!