food

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The Burmese Coconut Tree

 

A friend of mine is married to a chef. He was recently invited to do a cooking presentation in Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar).  I would love to know what he is preparing for them. Perhaps it includes coconut.

 

The Origin of the Coconut

Many hundreds of years ago a raft with three people on it reached a city on the Burmese coast. The three strangers were taken before the king. In answer to the king’s questions, the strangers said that they had been set adrift on a raft on the orders of the king of their own country across the sea, because they were found guilty of certain crimes. One of the strangers was a thief, another a witch, and the third a mischief-maker who harmed people by his tittle-tattle.

The king gave a house and one thousand silver coins to the thief, and allowed him to settle in Burma. “He was a thief only because he was poor,” explained the king, “and now that he is no longer poor, he will make a good subject.” To the witch also the king gave a house and a thousand silver coins and allowed her to settle in Burma. “She bewitched people merely out of jealousy,” explained the king, “and she was jealous of others only because she was poor and unhappy. Now that she is rich, she will no longer be jealous of other people’s happiness.” But the king ordered the mischief-maker to be executed at once. “For,” said the king, “once a mischief-maker, always a mischief-maker.” So the mischief-maker was taken to the place of execution, and his head was cut off.

The next day one of the king’s officers passed by the place, and to his surprise he found the head of the mischief-maker rolling about on the ground. He was the more surprised when the head of the mischief-maker opened its mouth and said repeatedly, “Tell your king to come and kneel to me here. Otherwise I will come and knock off his head.” The officer ran back to the palace and reported the matter. But nobody believed him and the king was angry, thinking that the officer was trying to make fun of him. “Your Majesty can send another person along with me,” suggested the officer, “and he will surely bear me out.” So another officer was sent along with the first officer to the place of execution.

When they reached there, however, the head lay still and remained silent. The second officer made his repot, and the king in anger ordered the first officer to be excutied at once as a teller of lies. So the unfortunate officer was taken to the place of execution, and his head was cut off in the presence of his fellow officers. When the execution was over, the head of the mischief-maker opened its mouth and said, “Ha,ha, I can still make mischief by my tittle-tattle, although I am dead.” The officers, realizing that a gross injustice has been done to the dead officer, reported what they had seen and heard and the king was full of grief an remorse.

The king, realizing that the head of the mischief-maker would make further mischief by his tittle-tattle if it was to remain unburied, ordered that a deep pit be dug and the head buried inside it. His orders were obeyed and the head was duly buried. But the next morning, a strange tree was seen growing from the place where the head had been buried. The strange tree had even stranger fruit, for the latter resembled the head of the mischief-maker. The tree is the coconut tree. It was originally call ‘gon-bin’, which in Burmese means ‘Mischief-maker tree’, but during the course of centuries, the pronunciation of the name has deteriorated, and it is now called ‘on-bin’ or ‘coconut tree’. And, if you shake a coconut and then put it against your ear, you will hear a gurgling noise for, you see, although now a fruit, the head of the mischief-maker still wants to make tittle-tattle.

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Maung Htin Aung was born on 18 May 1909. He was the great grandson of a military officer who fought in the first war against the British in 1826. There were two more wars against the British and eventually Burma was completely overtaken in 1885.

Maung Htin Aung was part of an aristocratic family and received a Bachelor of Laws from Cambridge Univiersity, a Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford University, a Master of Laws from the University of London and doctorates in Anthropology and Literature from Trinity College, Dublin.

He wrote books on Burmese history and culture. The above is an excerpt from his book Selections from Burmese Folk-Tales published in 1952 by Oxford University Press.

A later edition: Burmese Folk Tales is available at Amazon.com

 

Burmese Coconut Rice

Serves 8

Ingredients
5 cups rice
3 coconuts
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sugar
1/3 tsp salt
2 onions

Grate the flesh of 3 coconuts. Pour some hot water and squeeze the milk through thin muslin. Repeat till all the milk is extracted. Wash rice thoroughly. Put rice into pot. Add this milk until it stands ¾ inch above the rice. Peel, quarter and wash the onions. Add to the rice, oil, sugar, salt and onions. Stir till well mixed. Cook till the milk is evaporated and the rice tender.

 

Easy Hunter’s Chicken

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Easy Hunter’s Chicken

1 lb chicken breasts

½ cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp basil (or use fresh if you have it)

1 tsp thyme

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 bay leaf

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup red wine

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 – 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

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Dredge the chicken in seasoned flower and cook in olive oil.

Add rosemary and garlic

Add chicken broth, wine, and crushed tomatoes

Let simmer for about 30-45 minutes, until chicken is very tender.

Add frozen veggies and cook until hot.

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I served this with mashed potatoes but it is good rice or noodles.

 

 

 

Nomad on the Loose – 2013 Recap

Last year was a busy one. Some challenges and some fun.

My child’s father, Nicholas, died a year ago today after a battle with cancer. In February we traveled to Milwaukee to bury him. We stayed a couple of extra days and saw the IMG_0092 Quadracci Pavilion and the Alumni House at the University of Wisconsin.

 

 

I posted 43 recipes and published my cookbook 52 Food Fridays on Amazon. IMG_1551 Baked Asparagus was my most popular recipe. 

 

 

 

I started writing for the Baltimore Post Examiner. Check it out – there is a good post on Boarding Schools.

IMG_1418In March I spent four days in Miami reunited with old friends.

 

 

 

 

In April it was back to Wisconsin for my parent’s 70th Wedding Anniversary. While we were there we enjoyed a quick tour of the Capital building. P1140558

 

 

 

IITA268I wrote a posts on TCK Patriotism HOME and Facebook and the TCK

 

 

 

P1150226In July we went to Halifax, Nova Scotia. A beautiful amazing place - Public Gardens, Halifax Part Two. This piece was so good somebody stole it and put it on their Facebook page claiming to have written it themselves.   After asking him politely to take it down, I had to write to Facebook to get it off.

 

IMG_2185My local trips included the National GalleryGreat Falls National Park, the Botanical Gardens and Shenandoah Skyline Drive.  

 

CoverShotI had a promotion on Amazon that gave away my memoir, Expat Alien.  I was surprised when 712 people in the US and 103 people in the UK downloaded it. I hope you all enjoyed it!  Write a review on Amazon!! Help me out!   

 

 

20131122-160324.jpgIn November it was a quick trip to New York City.

 

 

 

IMG_0115December took us to Chicago and back to Madison to celebrate some Nomad Holiday Traditions.

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What will the New Year bring? My son graduates high school and goes off to college. I’m going to Europe in June. Anything can happen, and probably will. Let’s hope we all have a great year!

 

Ginger Beef

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Ginger Beef

1 lb beef cut into strips (something tender)

1/4 onion, chopped fine

1-2 garlic cloves, chopped fine

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped fine

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 cup water

1 1/2 cups rice

2 cups broccoli florets, frozen.

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Stir fry the beef in a little oil along with the onion, ginger and garlic.

Add the soy sauce and water.

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Add the rice.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

IMG_0054Add the broccoli and simmer another 5-10 minutes until rice is done and broccoli is heated through.

 

Food Friday: Hummus

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Food Friday Number 52!

Hummus

1 19 ounce can chick peas (garbanzo beans)

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste) – use fresh if you can find it

2-3 Tablespoons water

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Rinse the cooked chick peas in water. Add to food processor and process.

Add the oil, tahini, garlic, lemon, and salt.

Process until smooth.

Add water to soften to desired consistency.

Serve with Pita Chips.

 

 

Food Friday: Plain Old Cheesecake

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Plain Old Cheesecake

Crust:

18 graham crackers (I have used digestive biscuits)

1/4 cup melted butter

1 Tablespoon honey

Filling:

16 ounces cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

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Crumble graham crackers in a food processor. Melt the butter with the honey and pour into the crackers as the food processor is going.

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Turn it out into a spring form pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper if you like. Press the crust into the bottom so it is more or less even and comes up the sides a little.

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Put all the filling ingredients into a bowl and blend until smooth. Pour it on top of the crust and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degreed F.

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Cool at room temperature until you can handle the pan. Then put it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours so it is firm.

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Top with berries, or jam, or eat it plain.

 

 

 

Food Friday: Lobster Chowder

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Lobster Chowder

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups cubed potatoes

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup white wine

2 Tablespoons flour

3/4 pound cooked lobster, cut in pieces

1 cup cooked corn

1 Tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chives, chopped

2 cups milk

1 cup cream

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Cook potatoes, onion, salt and pepper in the olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add  the wine and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Sprinkle with flour.

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Add lobster, corn and butter.  When butter is melted, add paprika, chives, and milk. Heat to a low simmer, stirring occasionally.

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Add cream and heat through.

 

 

Food Friday: One Dish Dinner

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I make this a lot.  It is easy to throw together after a hard day at the office.

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One Dish Dinner

1 lb chicken (or tofu, or beef) cut into cubes or strips

½ red onion

2 cloves garlic

6-7 sun dried tomatoes

1-2 tsp Basil

1 tsp salt

Black pepper

2 tsp Paprika

Put some oil in a large pan with a lid and cook the chicken with the onion and garlic until done.  Add spices and a bouillon cube.

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¾ cup rice

1 ½ cup water

Add the rice and water and cover.  Lower the heat and simmer about 15 minutes.

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Cut into smallish pieces:

½ small eggplant, peeled

1 medium zucchini, peeled

½ green pepper

Put some oil in another pan and fry up the vegetables so they are just softening.

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Check the rice at 15 minutes and throw in the vegetables.

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Continue to cook about another 5 minutes until the rice is done.

Serve.