Dear Meredyth,
I was living the high life this weekend. My PCV friend, Shannon, is house sitting for an American doctor who lives in a great house in Gaborone. A bunch of us came up to stay with her for the weekend which was a great escape from village life. The doctor left instructions for Shannon to have as many guests as she likes and to make herself feel right at home, we most certainly did.
Last night we did our best to have a fiesta, a mexican/spanish/botswana infusion night.
First priority, sangria:

Yamile, our go to expert on Latin cuisine, including food, wine, language and dancing, is the official taste tester of the attempted sangria. It was as good as boxed wine, white sugar, sliced fruit and orange Fanta can be, not the best but pretty darn good. It was especially passable after the second glass.

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My face says, “the bigger I smile the more you believe me that it’s really good!!”

For the main course we had tacos, tortillas are my new specialty. I add a dollop of plain yogurt to the dough for a thicker, spongier tortilla. Ground beef, veggie meat for the vegetarians, spicy black beans, Spanish rice, and the absolute best, fresh guacamole. (Shannon is the queen of guacamole). We struck gold at the grocery store when we found fresh cilantro, this was the first time I had seen it in Botswana, this meal was fated to be delicious.

For the dessert, flan. No really, I made flan. I was a bit worried when I first read the recipe instructions. The custard part seemed easy enough, but the tricky bit was going to be melting the sugar. You know that I am a novice cook, especially when it come to scary sounding things like, “carefully melting”, “sweating”, or “reductions”. These sound to me like specialty skills that require an artist’s delicate touch and intuition. Subtly is not my strong point, but my new life mantra is ‘fake it til you make it’. So I with blind, sangria induced confidence, I did just that.

Flan (real flan mind you, none of this condensed sweetened milk business)

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs beaten

2 egg yolks

2 cups milk

1 tsp. vanilla

3/8 cup white sugar

The method:

preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully melt 1/2 cup white sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. When its melted pour into ceramic baking dish ( 4 ramekins or custard cups)

Bring the milk just to boil before adding it to the beaten eggs, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Last add the sugar and vanilla, stir (I whisked) until well combined.

Now the odd part. Line a roasting pan with a damp towel, place your baking dish on the towel, then pour the custard mix in carefully. Pour boiling water into the pan until it reaches to half way up the side of the baking dish. CAREFULLY place this in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until set. Let it cool (20 minutes), flip and serve.

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I would love to tell you that I executed this seamlessly, but I won’t gloss over the dirty bits. I surprised myself by perfectly melting the sugar, not letting the milk burn, pouring everything oh so evenly. It wasn’t until the part where I put the roasting dish (full of boiling water) onto the oven rack when tragedy struck. The oven racked flipped, sending my beautiful custard all over the kitchen.

My world crashed down with the custard dish, for a minute I just stood there in shock. My wonderful friends rallied. Mops and towels were found and all evidence of the incident were wiped away. Luckily, we had more eggs, more milk so whipping up a second custard was super easy. Image

Sixty five minutes later my custard was baked, set, flipped and ready to impress the palates of our little dinner party’s guests.

It was warm and sweet and light and wonderful and gone in sixty seconds.

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It was a great escape weekend, we ate, we drank, we listened to awesome colombian rap and danced.

con amor, con besitos,

Julia

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