When I started this blog, I was hoping to get some regional U.S. recipes as well as dishes from around the world. My friend Phil came to the rescue (and later, Panda, another friend who went to USD), swearing I had to try chislic, a recipe that, as far as I know, doesn’t travel beyond the borders of the Mount Rushmore State. My mom also hails from University of South Dakota, and hadn’t heard of it (my mom was a good student; she didn’t go to bars, unlike Panda and Phil). Nevertheless, I decided this was a task I was willing to take on.

Almost everything you need to make chislic.
Almost everything you need to make chislic.

I had this recipe in my back pocket for a while, for two reasons. First, Phil and other Internet sources said that, while you can make chislic with lamb and beef, venison is really where it’s at. Luckily, my other friends Brandon and Joe here in Northern Nevada returned successful from a recent hunting trip, and Brandon happily gave me a couple pounds of Bambi to use. (This recipe truly was a group effort).

Bambi marinating.
Bambi marinating.

Second, Phil said the absolute best way to enjoy this dish is to fry the meat. I’ve never fried anything, and even though I love to cook, the idea of splattering hot oil is a little disconcerting. However, I did a little more Internet research, (like this helpful article) and found out it’s really not such a big deal. I decided it was time to stop making excuses and cook up this bad boy.

Bambi frying.
Bambi frying.

Not only had I never fried anything before, I’ve also never made venison. I did have the pleasure of sampling venison made by my friend Joe at a Christmas party this year, so I knew that I liked the meat itself (I haven’t met an animal yet I didn’t think was tasty… sorry vegetarian friends).

Chislic, hot sauce, and beer: the three South Dakota essentials.
Chislic, hot sauce, and beer: the three South Dakota essentials.

There’s a couple of important things to know when making chislic this way. First off, make sure to marinate if you’re using a game meat. Phil says this helps take some of the gamey edge off. I can confirm that there was only a slight taste of game left by the time I popped this baby into my mouth. Second, dab the extra moisture off the meat before frying. If you don’t do it, you risk splattering the oil, which would not be a happy time. Third, the hot sauce and the beer are essential. I tried to resist drinking the beer (Otra Vez by Sierra Nevada was my choice this time, so delicious), but it really was the icing on the venison cake.

Fried Bambi.
Fried Bambi.

I managed to make this dish with zero problems: no singed eyebrows, no oil fires. It was really quite simple! Definitely delicious. And best of all, you don’t really have to go shoot a deer to make it; any meat will do. Fry yourself up a bit of chislic (I used Italian dressing option for my marinade and then sprinkled the fried meat with salt and garlic powder), pour yourself a cold one and take a trip to South Dakota, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. OK, you got me. That’s Lake Wobegon, fake Minnesota, where my roots are from. But it’s all the same, right? (totally trolling you, Phil)

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A few weeks ago, I was short on time, and I really just needed something quick to whip up for dinner that would still be especially tasty. I’ve eaten a lot of different types of Korean food over the years, and my list for the Korean dishes I want to make is quite large. That being said, I know beef bulgogi is not the last time this delicious cuisine will make it onto my blog.

The beef chilling in the marinade, getting all happy for later.
The beef chilling in the marinade, getting all happy for later.

I decided beef bulgogi was sufficiently quick, and I could achieve the twin goals of feeding myself and making something for the blog for the week. Mark my words, though: this dish may be quick, but it sure packs a flavorful punch!

Everything chopped up on my super sweet cutting board from my boyfriend's sister and brother-in-law.
Everything chopped up on my super sweet cutting board from my boyfriend’s sister and brother-in-law.

I make a lot of stir fries. They are fast, healthy, and they generally contain all of the necessary food groups I try to eat in my meals (meat and veggies, and if you stick them on top of rice, carbs). One thing you want to make sure of when making this dish (and, really, any type of dish where you are cooking up a cut of red meat for not very long) is to not get a tough meat. I chose a good hunk of top sirloin, which is tender enough for when you only move it around the pan for 5 minutes, but is still good for your budget.

Moving everything around.
Moving everything around.

Don’t leave out the apple of pear for this dish – it really adds a different type of flavor!

You gotta have it with a beer.
You gotta have it with a beer.

You can bet I would make this recipe again. It was savory, with a hint of sweet, and it really hit the spot. Plus, it’s done in no time at all for your weekday, post-work, after-workout, after-soccer practice, after-choir rehearsal, pre-beer-drinking dinner needs. Give it a try!

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I cheated a bit for this one. It is perfectly possible to imitate a Hawaiian pig roast in your own backyard. I have been the willing recipient of two such roasts since I moved to Northern Nevada. However, I don’t have the space for that right now (also, I don’t think my landlord would appreciate that), and this recipe is a fair substitute, easily roasted up in the slow cooker. (Check out her pressure cooker version as well if you want to get this done in about an hour).

This recipe starts with bacon. Yes, bacon. Line your slow cooker with bacon.
This recipe starts with bacon. Yes, bacon. Line your slow cooker with fatty fatty pig candy.

I make this recipe at least every month or so. It’s great for groups because of how easy it is, and it’s great for my budget, because I cook this up and then stick it in dishes the next couple weeks after putting it in single-serving bags in my freezer.

Before and after. Voila. That easy.
Before and after. Voila. That easy. The pic on the recipe was before work. The pig on the right was after work.

When I was in Las Vegas, my boyfriend and I loved going to one of the fast casual Hawaiian places by our house. I would always get some kind of plate: macaroni salad, rice, and some sort of protein. Hawaii is also one of the few places I’ve actually been to IRL (yep, I did that) that I am “visiting” on my blog. One of my favorite experiences was the pig roast, where I got to have some authentic roasted pig, rice, and mac salad in the beautiful, lush 50th state. I wanted to recreate that classic Hawaiian plate at home.

These are the only vegetables that ended up in my meal.
These are the only vegetables that ended up in my meal.

I decided to pair the kalua pork recipe with this macaroni salad I found online. I halved the recipe for the macaroni salad and still ended up with quite a bit… Let’s just say I was having a Hawaiian plate lunch for a few days!

Elbows, elbows, everywhere!
Elbows, elbows, everywhere!

There is an INSANE amount of mayo in this dish. I did not realize how much until I was staring at it in the mixing bowl (I did not include that photo, because it looked a tad gross). This is not diet friendly… any kind of diet (unless there’s a mayonnaise diet out there… I’m sure my sister will find it if there is). But, it was soooooo tasty. My boyfriend is the type who asks to sub out his rice for another scoop of mac, and he gobbled this up. I also probably would follow the advice of some of the commenters and cut down the apple cider vinegar a bit. It was just slightly too sour, but it mellowed a bit after a day in the fridge.

My own Hawaiian plate at home.
My own Hawaiian plate at home.

Overall, this was a great meal, and fairly easy to do. This will be a great summer dinner party meal that will come across as taking much more time than it actually does (particularly because you’re not roasting a pig in the ground for a few days). Try the pig and mac out for your own little Hawaiian vacay.

Have a regional or country recipe to share? Send it to me!

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I had a bit of a hiatus, but I am back and ready to travel the world again in my kitchen. I jumped right back in, making Pakistani food with my friend Nur.

Cooking with friends. :-)
Cooking with friends. 🙂

Nur and I met back in college at our school newspaper when we were both but wee children. Nur’s family is from Pakistan, and she is also an awesome cook, always posting photos of the exotic foods she makes at home. When I stayed with her in California last week, I asked her if we could make a Pakistani dish for the blog. Thankfully, she agreed! Cooking with friends is awesome.

Putting everything in the magical instrument that is the pressure cooker.
Putting everything in the magical instrument that is the pressure cooker.

Nur presented me with a lot of options. But nihari, a curry-like dish made with either beef shank, lamb, or goat meat, is one of her favorites. We chose beef shank because it was readily available at the store (and also so cheap), but if you aren’t a red meat eater, feel free to substitute.

In the recipe, for reference, javetri is mace (yes, that kind). We found it at the regular grocery in powder form. Jaifel is nutmeg, and Saunf is star anise. See, nothing impossible to track down.

Nur thickening the gravy.
Nur thickening the gravy.

Usually, Nur said, this dish takes all day. But, we weren’t the best of planners that day, so we opted to use the pressure cooker. Nur called her mom for a few last-minute instructions, and we began chopping.

From left, Nur's husband, my boyfriend, and Nur each enjoy a heaping bowl of nihari.
From left, Nur’s husband, my boyfriend, and Nur each enjoy a heaping bowl of nihari.

This recipe took us about an hour (or slightly less than two episodes of Fuller House) to finish in the pressure cooker, allowing for the cooking and then gravy thickening. Nur was quite pleased with the results of the pressure cooker, and was especially delighted that fall-apart meat could be achieved in a much shorter time.

Nur demonstrates how to eat nihari, sans fork.
Nur demonstrates how to eat nihari, sans fork.

When eating nihari, Nur says the proper way is to pick up a dollop with a piece of naan, without utensils. She and my boyfriend were extremely skilled at getting only minimally dirty when doing this. Nur’s husband and I managed to get nihari gravy all over our hands even while using spoons. Hmm. There must be something to this not using a spoon thing.

I used a spoon. I still got messy.
I used a spoon. I still got messy.

Nihari has all the wonderful spices I love from southeast Asia: cumin, coriander, clove, ginger, cardamom. It is extremely satisfying and belly-warming. Even though all of us at the table can handle our spice, Nur chopped up serrano peppers, extra ginger and cilantro for each of us to add at our leisure. (Guess which one I did not add).

Nihari with naan and a bit of saag.
Nihari with naan and a bit of saag.

The best part was scooping out the marrow from the bone and spreading it on the naan bread. Yes, we had an actual discussion about who would get this tasty goodness, you guys. (There were only three). My boyfriend was sweet and relinquished one to me.

Needless to say, at the end of the night, we were all fat and happy, and my boyfriend requested that I make this again in the future. Give yourself a little party in your mouth: try out nihari from Pakistan.

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