While exploring the crock pot I discovered some Indian recipes I wanted to try, the aforementioned Tikka Masala was awesome. I decided that if I wanted to get serious I should get a cook book, even JCPE supports buying physical cookbooks. Possibly the last physical books we'll ever buy. I'm happy to read anything on a kindle but there's something about carrying a cookbook around the kitchen and staining it was spices and wilting the pages as you cook furiously that make a physical cookbook irreplaceable.
I bought 660 Curries on Amazon. It's awesome but REALLY intimidating. I wanted to jump right in and the first two things I've made have been... just... Ok. The first, Cauliflower with onions and peppers was WAY too spicy. The second, toasted lentils was beautiful and I think it tasted just like it was supposed to... it just wasn't really our style.
I'm a terrible learner. I get really frustrated and sad if things don't work out the first time... but hello, there are 658 MORE curries in this book, and I only did ones with ingredients I happened to have... I need to step up my game so here's the plan for the weekend:
1 - make a list of ingredients to purchase (either online or at an Indian grocery)
2 - make my own spice blends
3 - make my own ghee (butter boiled twice, sort of)
4 - make my own ginger paste
Then I think I'll be at a better place to get started! Also, the book is huge and I feel like I keep flipping to the same pages over and over. I need some post-its but I also need a little guidance. I compiled a list of 'favorites' from the stellar Amazon reviews and will start there! Wish me luck!
The Amazon comments tell me to try:
kidney beans section
marinated roast lamb
South Indian curd rice
Pineapple Chutney and have it warm, over vanilla ice cream
Spicy Potatoes and Spinach with Blackened Chilis and Coconut Milk
Cauliflower and Potatoes in a blackened red chile sauce (Alur Phulkopir Jhol) on page 481
Ginger Chicken with Peanuts and Coconut
Yogurt-Marinated Lamb with Ginger and Garlic
Brown Lentils with Chunky Onions and Chilis
Cayenne-Spiked Cauliflower with an Onion-Tomato Sauce
Sweet Potato and Plantain in a sauce of fresh and roasted coconut
Chili-Spiked Eggplant with Lemongrass & Scallions
I made the Chicken Vindloo and it was Amaaaaaaaaazing!! I didn't even get a good pic because we ate it so fast!
The thing about Indian food is that you need to do a lot of shopping before you can get started. You can walk into any kitchen and make something taste Italian or Mexican or American by mixing a few spices together but Indian food is a while new ballgame. I went to Etsy for an Indian Spice starter kit from Purpose Designs, it's just what I needed!
So I wanted to use the slow cooker & make Indian, I found the perfect recipie on The Meal Planner (Via Pinterst of course)
I had made the butter chicken a few weeks ago and it was ok but holy heck the Tikka Masala was amazing! It simmers for hours and the last step is to add the cream which makes it that creamy pinkish color! I even made the rice yellow with turmeric and added peas!
mmmm hmmmm. I'm so excited to eat it again tomorrow!
Also please note I'm trying to take better picture. I'm camera shopping around as we speak!
In the interim I took Old Time Savory Canning with Chef Daniel Stone and it was amazing! I always get that weird feeling when I walk into something new like I want to run away. In a 'fight or flight' scenario I'm a flight kinda girl. But, obviously it's a cooking class it's not the end of the world and I need to learn some breathing exercises. An hour of instruction and canning explanation later I'm standing across from my partner (who btw has taken more than 300 classes in the past three years at ICE) wearing a white apron and starring at 12 cups of watermelon rind trying to double 2T as fast as I can (it's 4T I was in a panic, but I figured it out).
Over three hours later my partner and I had canned watermelon rind, dill pickles, cocktail onions and a ton of chow chow (a relish... I don't know what to do with relishes really but now I have a TON!).
I loved it! Maybe it's just the feeling of being in a kitchen that's bigger than a hallway, and all of the pots and pans and the man who (god bless him) washes the dishes as you cook! Amazing.
The Chef made us snacks, a fantastic watermelon salad and an egg pasta. Plus, people kept stopping by with food "oh hey we just made these sliders" "oh hi I have a gigantic bowl of popcorn I just seasoned." By the end of the night we were rushing to get things finished and I'm not gonna lie I felt a little Top Chefish trying to clean things up and yelling to my partner across the room "I've got the sterilized jars!" while she yells "The water is boiling!" from across the kitchen. Ok, maybe we weren't supposed to yell but I promise I walked carefully and held my knife the right way when I walked.
By far one of the most fun Thursday nights I've had in a while!
Looking forward to taking more classes! Anyone want to join me?
This weekend JCPE worked for hopefully the last full weekend in a while (ie: morning - 3am both days) so I've been home. I finished Twin Peaks, I made two curtains and re-covered two pillows (and stared at my couch for a while trying to think about our color scheme). I found a bunch of new pictures to put into frames. Our friend Natalie gave us the most thoughtful card, it's two animals in a boat (I think a cat and an owl) and there is such nice stuff written inside that I had to frame it. You can't read the inside, but I know it's there.
Reception planning is going well. It's difficult to articulate what they are exactly but either way I think both parties are going to be very very fun! I've been looking at the pictures from Indika's wedding and I'm so excited to party with my friends! What I'm excited about is the excuse to just get together!
I have a lot more on flickr from my CSA (although someone I live with deleted this week's picture, like he deleted all the pictures from election night 2008 because he assumed I had saved them, will always be a little sad about that). It's also totally official, I'm sick of kale.
I booked two flights for the next few weeks. A weekend in Charlotte for my mother in law's birthday and a weekend in NOLA for the New Leaders Council. I'm excited to do both things. Actually, right as I typed this Ally McBeal had a dream about a plane crash. I watched it twice. It's ok. It really just has to be. I've been terrified of flying for about 5 years. I was ok immediately after 9/11, then the first year JCPE and I were together something changed. I flew from NY to Vegas to ATL to Orlando (where his parents are) for new years. Then to Philly (which I think was the flight that did it, it was small and bumpy) then to London. My whole two weeks in London I was like, I don't want to go back, I'm scared. Then that flight was the first where I really self-medicated and tried to sleep it off. Since then, what? I've read all the books, talked to a lot of people, and been on a lot of flights. All over the US many many times. I've gotten A LOT better. I just flew to Vegas and back totally alone.
I think I hit the mark last weekend. I didn't go to the movies for a while because of bedbugs. One stupid person on the Astoria blogs said they saw one at our theater and I didn't go for like a year. So finally I went and JCPE was so happy. Like, so happy. I'm a jerk. He loves movies, I need to go with him. So I realized, finally, that doing something for me means making JCPE happy, means making my friends and family happy. It means traveling and going to the movies. There is a lot I am afraid of, but I think I'm finally learning that life is funner when you're not afraid.
The initial point I wanted to make is that I feel busy all the time. I have a ton to do with the charities I'm involved in, there's a lot to do at work and at home, but I'm happy. I'm so super happy. I like being busy, I also kind of like complaining about it. In a counting my blessings kind of way.
More importantly we just had a nice dinner.
We went from having ZERO foods, I was home sick last week and had tuna and pasta for breakfast, that's how bad it was. To having SO MUCH food! I got an awesome order of base ingredients from Fresh Direct in anticipation of the CSA starting today! I didn't take a picture of everything because it was all in separate bags. I didn't know how it worked but now that I know I'm just going to bring one reusable bag and put everything in it!
The list for this week went as such:
1 lb of greens (mixed varieties in separate bins)
5 radishes mixed colors
8 garlic scapes
4 spring onions
The most exciting thing being Garlic Scapes:
Did I live a sheltered life or are there new vegetables? I have an amazing Mom and I had an amazing childhood full of backyard gardens and fresh veggies. I think I heard of kale like, a year ago. And Garlic Scapes?! This was the first time I'd heard the word scape!
The CSA was in an alternate location today than usual but it worked fine for me! Several bins lined some tables and each was labeled with how many you could take. I dug deep into the piles and picked out beautifully purple beets, red radishes and the whitest green garlic I had ever seen! The lettuce is huge the greens are kale and swiss chard in beautiful reds and oranges (anyone want to help the 'get Taylor an awesome camera fund' going?)
The scapes though, they were the most beautiful. They're soft and smooth and smell very faintly of garlic. I'm going to make them into a pesto and saute them and put them in salads (which, I only eat with lemon juice, dressing is overrated) I hope we get more next week and I haven't even tried them yet! Tonight's salad (that accompanied a curry I made with seasoning from Urban Accents) was lettuce with radishes and a left over cucumber from this weekend's water (ha!) with a spring onion. Amazingly fresh and delicious!
Tune in as I get increasingly better at photographing and increasingly sick of kale.
I have a crazy crazy urge to take a ton of pictures. First it was snow and now it's canned things! I should have started my photoshop class last night but I totally didn't. I'm a bum. Instead I chopped up basil with oil to freeze it before it all went bad and cleaned the apartment. It's like being in college, anything to not do work!
I think about my college apartment all the time, I can't believe I lived there by myself for two years. What a crazy time in my life!
Anyway - new camera soon. Find me on flickr.
ps. I showed JCPE this picture and he said 'where is that cabinet?'
My kitchen is SMALL. Not the smallest I've seen in NYC (my bathroom IS the smallest I've seen in NYC) but the kitchen isn't that big. We talk about our dream house and all I really NEED is a bathroom and kitchen drawers! Something about being engaged, or about being almost engaged is really making me want to stay home and cook. I'm kind of tired of eating non-delicious crappy processed foods. I haven't even had a Diet Coke in WEEKS! It's that crazy. On March 15th we're joining a CSA, I'm canning, I'm candying. I just want us to eat good things and take care of ourselves so we can be happy always.
Sigh. I'm being such a girl about these things.
Here's how you candy grapefruit peel!
This is from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff
Candied Citrus Rind
5 lbs citrus, removed in large pieces... ended up being about 7 grapefruits
5 1/2 cups sugar
To segment citrus: Cut the top and bottom off each fruit to expose the flesh. Set the fruit upright on on a cutting board, use the tip of a sharp knife to score the rind from top to bottom in four or five places around the fruit, then carefully peel off the rind so it stays in large pieces.
Cut the large pieces of peel crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips or long triangles, putting them in a bowl of cold water as you work. Drain and put the peel in a wide 6 to 8 quart preserving pan [I just used a regular pot]. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat the blanching process two more times. Cover with cold water again, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the peel is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain in a colander.
Put 5 cups of the sugar and 5 cups of water into the pan, Bring to a boil, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved, then boil without stirring until the syrup reaches 220 degrees F, about 15 minutes. Add the peel and simmer, without stirring, until the peel is translucent, about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the peel stand in the syrup overnight, undisturbed, at room temperature [it doesn't specifically say but I had the pot covered most of the time].
Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 226 degrees F, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 to 4 hours. Bring to a boil again and cook until the syrup reaches 228 degrees F, about 10 minutes (watch it closely, as it may come up to temp more quickly depending on the size of your pan) [seriously, it happens fast, it's awesome]. Remove from the heat and let stand for 2 to 4 hours. Bring to a boil once more, then remove from the heat and set aside until just cool enough to handle. Fish out the peels with a fork and arrange them on wire racks over baking sheets so that the pieces are not touching one another. Put the peels in a turned-off oven to dry for 24 hours.
Toss the peel with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar to coat them all over. Set on clean racks to dry again for 1-2 hours, then store in airtight containers. The peel will keep for about 2 months at room temp!
I ate a bagel so fast this morning that by the time I remembered to take a picture of my delicious bagel, it was gone. So here's the coffee I'm drinking. Diet = no milk. Right before the holidays JCPE bought us an exercise bike, initially he wanted to get two and forgo the living room all together, but we compromised on one. It's AMAZING. At first I was having issues JUST being on the bike because I'm a legit crazy person and can't JUST ride a bike and watch tv. So JCPE bought a tray, that I'm pretty sure is for sick people. (Actually the amazon comments are amazing, one guy didn't like the design so he brought it to the local community college to get re-done and now it's fine... what? Weird).
So now I spend up to 2 hours every night riding the bike, watching TV AND on my laptop. My brain might explode and I dream about food every night... but so far I feel pretty awesome! There are parts of my waist that are brand new.
Location and attendee updates expected soon! Almost at the 3 month mark!
Last night I pickled and canned for the first time. It went like this... I make homemade soup for JCPE all the time. He calls it peasant soup since there is no recipe, it's just literally whatever we have in the kitchen thrown in a pot to simmer for a while. Any veggies fresh or frozen, maybe some beans, maybe some cous cous really whatever. I also add a few bullion cubes for flavor but they have SO much sodium and they feel creepy and fake to me all of a sudden.
So, I decided to make veggie stock so we promptly went to costco where I bought 10lbs of carrots, 5 lbs of Celery and onions and peppers and cucumbers and sweet potatoes and 20 tubes of chapstick. I made all the stock I could, I made carrot bread, I roasted I steamed I boiled, I added to pasta sauce I did everything I could and still had a ton left. So I bought all the materials for canning (which, isn't easy... we went to Ikea and Target and finally had to order from Amazon and they sent FedEx AND UPS which are both impossible. They never knock and they won't leave anything at apartments... soooo why do you exist as a company?)
Last night after phonebanking with MYD I arrived home to find all my tools in place (and most of the ingredients? I'm a tad worried that pickling is more of a science than I'm used to... since my rule of thumb in the kitchen is to make stuff up). Anyway! They're in there with peppers and garlic and dill and vinegar and the cans sealed! I was so worried that I would have the little 'pop' in the morning when they were cold but it wasn't there! Sealed in! Now my carrots are in the cabinet over the fridge, dark and cold, to wait out the next three weeks before we can eat them!
Of all the things I do and I want and I feel for my marriage one thing that I cannot deny is my uncompromising urge to cook food for JCPE. I want to do things like go out of my way to make veggie stock so that the soup I make will be healthy for him.
In return JCPE makes the phone calls that I get nervous making. He asked Target about the canning stuff, he called the Intrepid, he orders take out over the phone because I can't handle it.
I guess it took all that to get to the point that I love that I know he'd just eat ramen without me and he knows I hate talking on the phone. So we look out for each other.