Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Things that Come Up When Surfing the Web

It never ceases to amaze me all the things that come up when you are on a search for something online. Invariably, when looking for one particular thing, I end up learning about 3 or 5 others. If I look for one recipe, I end up finding others, equally interesting, but not even close to my search.

Today, I was online searching to find if barley was ever used in an Irish Soda Bread. Apparently it is not, at least as far as my search results came out. Still, I used barley and made another attempt at a Soda bread that came out really great. Along the way in this search, I found a slew of other information. None of which might be of the slightest interest to any readers, but still, just for the record:

  1. I learned that it is possible bicarbonate of soda may have been first created and used in the early Americas! No 100% facts on that, but it was interesting.
  2. Soda Breads are made all over the world, including in Serbia, from where my paternal grandparents haled. 
  3. This in turn led to looking at a site about Serbian Soda Bread and:
  4. Other recipes listed in that site included a cod and potato casserole made for Christmas Eve. My paternal grandmother made a fish and potato casserole (which we all hated) for Christmas Eve also, though it bore little resemblance to the recipe I saw online, which actually sounded very good. 
  5. Thinking of cod in turn led me to the fact that Easter is not far away and I had been meaning to get some dried salt cod to make the recipe for Bacalao a la Vizcaina that is served on Good Friday in Guatemala.
  6. I ended up on various sites looking for dried salt cod, which I eventually ordered, and:
  7. Then since I was ordering things, I also went to Vitacost to place an order I had been putting off for over a week. So the mind works.
I am sure many of you do this same thing, but it just struck me funny today how all over the board my searching ended. And now, of course, I am certainly planning to make the recipe for Bacalao. It may not resemble Spain's version of this dish, but then again, no matter how "authentic" a dish is, it is always changed by imaginative cooks. So, while my recipe uses mainly a can of this and a jar of that, it is also highly tasty. It has been more than 25 years since I made that dish, so I do want to get my own photos into my Guatemalan Cookbook / Memoir I have made for my children.

Grandma (Tina Makaji Hromish) and Dad
As for the Fish and Potato Casserole of my Grandma's, ("Bakalar s Krumpirom", according to many websites, though I never heard Grandma call her dish by this or any other name): we all hated it, including my Dad, which really surprised me when I found out. I am interested in that casserole from the standpoint of saving and preserving our cultural roots. Just because Grandma's casserole (to be fair, made with a lot of religious restrictions: no meat, eggs, milk or cheese) was unpalatable to us, does not mean it can not be made palatable. As I stated in my previous blog, Grandma's forte was pastries. Her pastries were absolutely the best, ever. Her chicken or beef soup and homemade noodles were a standard, and delicious. My love of saffron comes from Grandma's soup. What I am trying to get at is that I am interested to make some kind of version of her recipe, possibly with better results. Who knows? 

What I do recall about Grandma's casserole was that it contained fish, potatoes, sliced very thinly, and rice. The casserole was never thickened, but had a lot of runny liquid in it. I can still see Grandma in my mind, pulling out the oven rack, lifting the edge of the foil covering the casserole and checking for doneness. I remember vividly watching this with trepidation, knowing I had to eat it soon. Looking back, it seemed like there was just no flavor at all, and this was so rare in Grandma's house. 

Anyway, all that was a long time ago and far gone in all but memory. For now, I do have some salt cod ordered and will soon be making my Good Friday stew. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.