The start of the 2015 NFL football season, as exciting as it’s been this week, has kinda thrown a spanner in the works. My posting schedule has gone quite awry even though lately, it seems I don’t really have any kind of a schedule!
My usual post day is Tuesday and that means, because I’m far from being that blogger who has scheduled 20 posts out, inevitably on Monday night, I’m scrambling to finish either the editing of my photos, writing my post or typing out my recipe.
However, Monday night there is Monday Night Football and I like to watch it, especially if my team is playing. That doesn’t allow me to finish my post.
Then Tuesday night, I prep for my cooking/use/care class at work and also prep dinner for the next day for the kids. This doesn’t help with post writing either.
Wednesday night I’m at work till after 9 and when I get home, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer.
Thursday I’m exhausted from Wednesday and then there’s more football; I like to watch. This doesn’t help with post writing.
So, here I am on Friday. I’ve procrastinated most of the day but I’m finally working on this. I did get some work done and watched my PBS show but then I really had to write this!
I have some photos of me at work and what I cook if anyone is interested. This particular evening was a Jenn-Air use and care class, hence the Jenn-Air apron.
That evening I made a Middle Eastern themed dinner which everyone really enjoyed: hummus fatteh for starters, chicken kabsa, spiced beef flatbread (sfeeha), fried eggplant with pomegranate molasses, salad and layli lubnan for dessert.
I really enjoy these intimate dinners with future/current clients. They are always so appreciative and really enjoy the food. I throw a dinner party every Wednesday night!
So, this recipe, it’s one of the classics. My mother always made this when I was growing up. I loved eggplant as a young person too which is kind of strange because children aren’t very fond of eggplant/aubergine.
What made today’s curry so special was the amazing, local eggplant I bought from my farmstand. Almost all eggplant has a tad bit of bitterness or toughness. I was so surprised at these beautiful purple globes. They are so tender and so sweet. Braised with some golden onions and creamy potatoes, they just melt in your mouth with no hint of bitterness.
Like most of my vegetable curries, I don’t like to over spice. I like just enough spice to enhance the flavour of the vegetable but not over power the delicate taste. One thing I really dislike about Indian restaurants is their tendency to drop half a jar of red chilli powder and make the vegetables so hot that the they sear your taste buds. Of course, their vegetables are questionable to begin with so burning off your taste buds is the only way pass them off as flavourful.
This eggplant curry is pretty popular India. A great number of Indians are vegetarians so there is a huge variety of vegetarian dishes, all very delicious. Everyone has a family recipe and this one is no different. My mother kept it very simple and that’s how I like mine as well.
Serves: 8 servings
- 2 medium globe eggplants, peeled and medium diced
- 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, medium dice
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoon cumin, ground
- 2 teaspoon coriander, ground
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red cayenne powder
- 1 green chilli, Serrano or Cayenne
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 3 tablespoons oil, coconut or avocado (neutral oil)
- In a medium size Dutch oven, heat the oil on medium high heat.
- Add the onions and sauté until nicely caramelised.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute.
- Add the tomato paste and cook out the raw taste, about 2 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and eggplant cubes.
- Toss through and add the dry spices.
- Sauté to lightly coat with oil and brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the green chilli.
- Add 1 cup of water and bring up to a simmer.
- Cover the pot and lower heat to medium low.
- Cook until potatoes are done and eggplant is soft, about 20-30 minutes.
- I like my eggplant very soft so it takes about 30 minutes.
- Keep checking until you get the consistency you like.
- The curry should be of a dry consistency with soft potatoes and eggplant.
- Remove the cover and evaporate the liquid if necessary.
- Add the cilantro right before serving.
So, maybe Saturday will be my new post day….but who knows?
I hope everyone’s looking forward to a fun and productive weekend!
I’m not too thrilled personally because on Monday I’m having a tooth pulled. I have all weekend to stress about it, especially since I REALLY hate gum injections. Happy thoughts are appreciated.
Between what’s been going on at home and all the upheaval in Europe, it has made for an exhausting week. I am tired; my body, my mind, my soul, my heart, everything is exhausted and everything hurts.
It sounds selfish of me as I complain about my first world problems at home while others are facing real problems across the seas. What’s happening to the people of Syria is tragic, having to risk life and your loved ones to flee from your home, your country, maybe the only life you’ve known to a strange place, a new place that could be a safe haven for a new life but at the mercy of others.
The image of that little boy washed up on the Turkish beach was heart breaking. I cannot imagine the pain of the father who had to bury his sons and his wife. And it doesn’t stop with him, there are so many of them.
It’s been quite numbing to read all the comments from people on this crisis. There are some beautiful people out there with kind souls who want to help and want their governments to help. There are also a lot of ugly people out there. I have read my fair share of mean and nasty comments from these individuals.
The fact is, unless you’ve been in their shoes, or know of someone in this situation, you cannot understand. Many don’t have the ability to empathise; to put themselves in that situation and try to feel what another person could be feeling.
I understand or at least try to understand everyone’s point of view. I know what taking in refugees means to a country, it’s a burden on their social system, their healthcare and their taxes. I understand why so many are unwilling to take on this responsibility.
I understand that all these refugees may not be all what they say they are, some are truly without homes and some are opportunists. But, all you have to do is Google the images in Syria, there is nothing but rubble. Where are these people supposed to go? They didn’t start this war. Why are they being punished?
My best friend’s husband is from Syria. His family is still there. Another close friend of mine is Palestinian with most of her family in Syria. They have been refugees twice, thrown out of their home country and now country-less again. I know these families, I have eaten with them, talked with them, laughed with them, they are my friends. My heart breaks for their suffering and for all the others like them.
To know people from these oppressed countries casts a different light on your thoughts and your emotions. You see things from their perspective and not from what the media wants to tell you. You know the truth.
In my comfortable home here, all I can do is donate and contribute what I can. Every little bit helps.
On the house front, my teen daughter is having typical 14 year old melt downs and my son broke is arm skateboarding.
We’re going to chat about these teen meltdowns soon, but it will be in another post because honestly, I don’t understand today’s youth.
There seems no good segue into the recipe so this will have to do. Pickles…love them or hate them?
I like them, maybe even love them. It all depends on the pickle, the method and the usage. I’m not one to buy a huge pickle at the movie theatre and bite a chunk and pass it a round to the family (this actually happened at a movie we went to see once, a family sitting in front of us, had one pickled cucumber and they passed it amongst the mom, dad and teen son. Needless to say, I was more fixated on this pickle passing than the movie)
I love pickles on my hamburger, relish on my hotdog if I’m forced to eat one, pickles in my egg salad, in my potato salad, pickled turnips and cucumbers in my shawarma. I love Indian pickled mangoes and limes, I love preserved lemons and Italian assorted pickled vegetables. I think I’m just not a fan of pickled seafood because I’m not really a big fan of un-pickled seafood and so, I very much doubt I’d like it sour.
Fermentation has become quite popular these days because of the health benefits of eating fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha are all “in” things. And why not? If they are good for your tummy, we should consume a few to make our guts happy.
Kombucha is hit or miss with me. Sometimes I can tolerate it but most times it’s just awful. I rather eat kimchi and sauerkraut, and these lovely fermented turnip pickles.
Turnip pickles are a Middle Eastern thing. Most commonly stuffed inside a deliciously, spiced shawarma, they add a pleasing crunch and a salty, vinegary hit. I love them inside a shawarma; bright and tangy against the warm, spiced meat and the spicy, garlic sauce or tahini sauce.
When my farm stand carried these beautiful Hakurei turnips early summer, I picked up a few to try my hand at pickling/fermenting. If you are going to eat pickles, make them healthier by fermenting rather than using vinegar. Your gut will thank you.
This is a blue print for lacto fermenting almost any vegetable: carrots, beets, cucumbers, green beans and so on.
I can tell you about lacto fermentation and how it works and all, or I can just tell you to check out this great site, Nourished Kitchen, that I used to learn all about lacto fermentation. It has all the info on lacto fermentation, many recipes and tips.
My recipe is my adaptation from a few recipes I browsed. All were a little different but I wanted a small batch to try first so I adjusted a couple of recipes to get mine. It worked so I’m sharing it, two months later 🙂
Hakurei turnips are out of season now, but like I said, you can use any vegetable and regular turnips or beets. These are addictive. I can easily eat a whole turnip’s worth of slices from the jar.
The intial fermentation takes place in the jar on the counter. After about 5 days, we move the jar to the fridge. If your house is very warm, you only really need three days on the counter. Warmer temps speed up fermentation. You should see bubbles in the jar and you may have to open up your jar every few days to release some of the gases.
I left my jar on the counter for 7 days because my kitchen stays pretty cool. I opened the jar every couple of days to release the gas. After 7 days, I placed the jar in the fridge.
The pickles are still great, only a few left but they are nice and sour. The longer they ferment, the more sour they will get. I have a few turnips left in the fridge and I’m going to use some of the fermented brine to jumpstart another jar of pickled turnips.
You might see some funky stuff float to the top but if they smell pleasantly acidic and fermented, then they are fine.
There is a lot of information out there about fermentation. Some require whey to start the lacto fermentation, some need a lot of salt, some say not a lot of salt….yeah, lots of information. All I can say is, this equation worked for me.
So, if you want to have a go at making a small batch of fermented pickles, here’s how I did it.
- 2 cups/475ml spring water
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 4 small turnips, cut into strips
- 1 beet, cut into strips
- 2 grape leaves, to keep pickles crisp and under the brine
- 1 quart/ 950ml Ball jar/preserving crock, can use a larger jar too.
- Heat the spring water and the salt together until the salt dissolves.
- Allow the brine to cool completely.
- Add the cut up turnips and beets to the jar.
- Add them in tightly.
- Once the brine has cooled, pour into the jar carefully.
- You may not need all the brine.
- Cover all the turnips and the beets and leave an inch or two from the top of the jar if possible.
- The fermentation will cause gases to form so a little room is needed on the top.
- Place the grape leaves over the top of the turnips.
- I used a fork to gently tuck and wrap the leaves around the edges, making sure all the turnips are submerged in the brine.
- Out the lid on the jar and lightly tighten.
- Set out on the counter top for 5-7 days.
- If your kitchen is very warm, move into the fridge after 3 days.
- Check to see if bubbles are forming after 2-3 days.
- Unscrew the jar to release the pressure and tighten again.
- Make sure the turnips stay submerged, add more brine if needed to cover.
- Make sure the grape leaves help keep the turnips submerged.
- Pickles are ready after about a week or so.
- Keep them in the fridge.
- They will get more sour the longer they ferment.
You can add chilli flakes or whole chillies to spice these pickles up.
As long as the pickles smell pleasantly fermented, they are doing well.
How’s your week been? This week has started off with a three day weekend so it’s been nice! Didn’t get up to the mountains but did a bit of cooking, a bit of shopping and a lot of eating!
Hope your weekend was great!
Having taken an unexpected 15 days off from blogging, you would think I’d have an excuse or even a good reason to have neglected my little space…I don’t.
I’m not sure what happened, I got to have some time free from work and was excited to get a move on with some summer recipes and piling up a back stock of posts for when I’m not so free, then…poof…laziness set in.
Well, not entirely true. I’d like to say I spent the days away lazily in bed with a good book and a steaming cuppa or parked in front of my tv eating bonbons but that didn’t happen either. The children volunteered to help at camp and my son participated, so everyday I was dropping them off and picking them up. Then mundane tasks at home that needed to be done and then such things as actually cooking dinner also had to take place. Sometimes, I just want to eat my food, I don’t want to share on Facebook, write a post, flip out my camera or Instagram anything. I went on social media fast of sorts. It’s incredibly freeing!
My free week ended and then I was slammed with work, and that explains the last few days. I’ve been trying to get this post out for the last 4 days!
I have been cooking though. Between work and home, I’ve done quite a bit, but like I said, sometimes you just want to cook and eat. I love my blog and I love what I do, but I do feel some days, that I just want to cook for the joy of it and not for social media. Am I the only one? How about y’all?
Well, I couldn’t stay away for too long. Even though I think life would be easier without sharing, I cannot imagine life without it now! Besides, without this blog, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now, doing a job I love and the wonderful blogger community.
A trip to the farmers market or my local farm stand is all I need to bring me back to reality! Summer and its beautiful, abundant bounty is spilling over. The vibrant colours and textures, all perfectly imperfect straight from the fields.
Strawberries, stone fruit and tomatoes are always eagerly awaited, but you know? The true star of summer is all always squash! There’s always plenty of it, so much so that we struggle to find new and unique ways to use it all. I have to admit, I always end up making the same thing. I always buy it, but it always ends up in a curry with potatoes, grilled for a vegetable salad or with grilled meats. It never makes it into a cake, muffins or fritters. Of course, there’s nothing better than grilled zucchini with a touch of vinaigrette. That’s summer.
Squash is growing really well here and my farm stand has had plenty of all different kinds of summer squash and also their flowers. The squash blossoms are beautiful. They are delicious and make for a gorgeous dish as well.
I didn’t want to overwhelm their flavour too much or destroy their general shape, so I picked a tart to showcase them. Tarts are great to show off delicate favours because the filling, most of the time, is quite unassuming. They will let the star shine, in this case, the blossoms and the goat jack cheese I found.
Wandering the aisles of Whole Foods, yes, I still go there despite all the hoopla because I still find them to have what I need and quite competitive here in Colorado. I also know what to buy and what not to buy. Honestly, people can use their heads once in a while, maybe think and use a wonderful thing called maths and work out when something just isn’t a good deal! My local Whole Foods is wonderful, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given stuff for free because it didn’t scan or I had the wrong SKU, and they are always willing to let me sample anything. I will always pick Whole Foods over Trader Joe’s. The quality is far superior. Anyway, mini rant over.
So, while wandering the cheese coolers, I came across this goat cheese. The very friendly and knowledgeable cheese lady told me that Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese dairy, a local goat cheese dairy, mixes Hatch chiles into a goat jack cheese exclusively for Whole Foods. Oh my, is this cheese good! It shreds beautifully like a cheddar jack and melts just as beautifully. If you can find some at your local store, try it!
Serves: 1 Tart
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup/235ml half and half (light cream)
- 2 zucchini or summer squash, shredded
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon basil, chopped
- 2 teaspoons mint, chopped
- 4 oz/115g goat cheese or cheddar cheese, crumbles or shredded
- 7 or 8 squash blossoms, more if they are small.
- pastryfor 11" tart pan
- Preheat the oven to 425F/200C
- Wash and dry the squash blossoms.
- Sometimes critters like to hide inside so wash thoroughly!
- Dry gently on a towel, patting them dry carefully.
- Prepare the pastry for the tart pan.
- Roll out and line the pan.
- In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the half and half or light cream.
- Add the garlic powder, paprika and salt, mix well.
- Add the shredded zucchini and mix.
- Add the herbs and mix.
- Hold back a couple of teaspoons of the cheese to sprinkle on top and add the rest to the egg-zucchini mixture.
- Mix well and pour into the tart pan.
- Nestle the squash blossoms into the tart pan.
- Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the blossoms, don't obscure the pretty petals too much.
- Place the tart pan on a sheet tray and place on the bottom rack of the oven.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until firm and golden brown.
Hope everyone is enjoying the summer. For us, the nights and mornings are already becoming cooler and autumn is in the air methinks (yay!) We all know I’m not a summer person 🙂
School starts for my children next week. I’m still digesting the fact that I will have two in university this year, goodness. I do feel old.
Enjoy the week everyone!
Well, whaddaya know? I managed a post sooner than 10 days! I’m trying. I just need some organisation and an urge to actually cook and motivation to take photos rather than just gobble the food down. It really is hard sometimes to cook and spontaneously take photos. I never really cook for just the blog, I cook for the family and we always eat it after all the photos have been taken. However, there’s just no time sometimes and it seems like I will have to schedule blog cooking!
Do any of you cook for your blogs specifically? I know sometimes I really want to try a new recipe so those days are always planned and probably the most organised!
I have changed my photography area around a bit and moved almost everything into the kitchen and dining room. It has made it easier to shoot as I cook. My photography has always been quite minimalistic; I don’t use too many props or over style so this has made it even easier. At the graduation party, we pushed our huge 10 seat table back against the wall to do buffet style food and to make more room in our dining room. We’ve left it like that; I like the extra room and it still seats 6 of us for dinner. The extra room allows for my tripod and plenty of room to move and shoot. This has made my life a little easier and a bit more organised!
The children are out of school and I don’t think I’ve seen a couple of them since last week! The new graduate sleeps in, gets up, showers and leaves. I don’t see her till the next morning, where she proceeds to repeat the previous day. The 14 year old has become a gypsy, and only turns up once a week to get her allowance. Laith is the only one keeping me company at home. I’m not good company either since I’m busy with work related menus, recipe testing or reading manuals and always have my head buried in my iPad, my computer or in a bag of flour. He’s really good at keeping himself entertained.
So, the other day I was tagged by a very sweet blogger and though I don’t do all these award type things, I did want to thank her for thinking of me and giving me the Liebster Award. I didn’t realise that award was still making the rounds! She asked me so nicely to answer the questions she posted that how could I refuse? So, just for you, Habiba, here are my answers to your questions and I will tag a few of my blogger friends as well.
Where are you answering these questions from right now? I’m on my Mac in my bedroom in Westminster, Colorado. It has finally stopped raining and turned out to be a beautiful day.
Where did you go on your last holiday? Last holiday was the kids half term/spring break so we headed off to Houston, Texas to see my dad and brothers. My sister joined us from Columbus and many aunts were visiting from overseas so it was a nice reunion.
What’s your favourite book? I have so many! I love British classics and am finally reading some American classics. My favourite probably has to be Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Favourite movie? Once again, too many! Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Midnight in Paris but for a sappy love story, I adore Bridges of Madison County with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep
Did you go to university, and if so, what did you study? Now, this question is a bit of a sore spot with me. I sat my A levels and accepted an offer to Imperial College of Science and Technology (and Medicine now, and also happens to be #3 in the top colleges in the world) At the same time, my parents decided the move to America. Being Indian parents, there was no way in hell they were leaving me behind. I had no choice but to say bye to my dream of studying engineering at one of the most prestigious research colleges in the world. Am I resentful, a little. I try not to think like that but sometimes, the regret is too much. As a result of their decision and the stress of moving countries while studying, I did quite poorly in my exams, so the dream was shot anyway. I did start college classes here and got as far as two years, still in engineering but ended up getting married and kids came along very soon. I also went back to school after 3 kids and 10 years later, aced my classes too, I might add, but it was impossible to continue with everything at home and work. I will get back and finish one of these days! That’s a promise to myself 🙂
Dream job? Hmmm…..back in the day I would say it would be an engineering or science research. Some would say since I write a food blog, and am so much into food, I am doing close to my dream job now. Getting a chance to use the newest technology in high end home appliances, to be able to cook, demo and meet new people is quite a fun job. I do enjoy my job but it’s so funny that it’s something that I would never have thought of doing when I was younger. Anything that remotely was thought of as a “woman’s job” was something I had no interest in! And here I am!
Favourite fruit? Citrus and berries, though there is nothing better than a perfectly ripe, local, peach from Colorado’s Western Slopes.
Which would you pick: cookies and milk, or cookies n’ cream ice-cream? Coffee and cookies maybe but not milk! I’ll take ice cream, but plain vanilla!
Apple or Android? Apple all the way! Done Android and Windows, not a fan
Batman or Superman? Batman, because he’s just a very rich man with a lot of fancy toys. Batman is actually my favourite superhero 🙂
What’s the last thing you searched for on Google? Ozone therapy (for my RA)
So, there you have it. I’d like to thank Habiba from EatWriteBe for my award. I’d like to pass this award onto a few bloggers and you guys don’t have to do it, but I wanted to let you know I appreciate your support, the stories you share with us and for just being awesome people!
The people behind these blogs are more than just bloggers, they are my friends. Through our blogs and our comments and thanks to Facebook, we stay connected, talk and laugh just like we were in the same city. They are always the first to comment when I write a new post and are always there whether I write 4 times a month or barely once every two months. Thank you!!
Onto this recipe, it’s delicious! This was also a dinner from vegetarian week a couple of weeks ago and it is one of my favourite vegetarian dinners. Risotto in all forms is my weakness. I try to make risottos often since you can make them vegetarian, they are gluten free and I love them as does my eldest. Makes one’s life easier.
This is an all in one dish, the vegetables are incorporated into the risotto and you can have it straight up or with a fresh salad. I like a bit of crunch so I like to serve mine with a cucumber and red onion salsa on top, or whatever crunchy thing I have in the fridge.
I also like to use brown rice in my risotto. I buy the short grain brown rice and though it doesn’t get as creamy as regular white risotto, it’s still pretty gooey and satisfying. I make my brown rice risotto in my pressure cooker and do away with the stirring and pouring. 20 minutes in the pressure cooker is all it takes (time will depend on your cooker instructions).
Serves: 8 servings
- 8 oz/225g mushrooms, sliced
- 1 bunch chard or 455g, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups/455g brown rice, short grain
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tomato, large, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups broth, good quality vegetable or chicken
- 1 cup water
- Parmesan cheese
- Lemon juice, a squirt
- Start by sautéing the red chard and mushrooms.
- In a large sauce or fry pan, add the butter and a tablespoon of oil.
- Add the chopped garlic and cook a minute.
- Add the sliced mushrooms.
- Sauté the mushrooms until they release their water and begin to brown.
- As they begin to brown, add the chopped red chard stems, cook for a bit and then add the leaves.
- Cook until the leaves are wilted, the stems ate softened and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper.
- Keep the sautéed vegetables aside while you cook the risotto.
- In a pressure cooker, add the 2 tablespoons of oil on medium high heat.
- Sauté the onions until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook a little to get the raw taste out.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and cook about 2 minutes to soften.
- Add the risotto or brown rice and coat with the oil and seasonings.
- Add 1½ teaspoons of salt and a few grindings of pepper to the rice.
- Add the broth and the water.
- Bring up to a boil and put the pressure cooker cover on.
- Once the cooker reaches pressure and there's a steady steam, lower the heat to a low setting, and set the timer for 20 minutes.
- Check with your manufacturer's instructions and cook accordingly.
- I have a Fagor pressure cooker, a pretty simple one and this works for me.
- If you are cooking it the traditional way, and using brown rice, it will take longer and you may need more water or broth as the risotto cooks.
- Use hot broth and water.
- Pour in half of the liquid and let it simmer.
- Stir occasionally but you don't have to stir constantly.
- Once the liquid has absorbed, add the rest and continue cooking until the risotto is done.
- You may need to add more broth/water if the rice is still hard.
- Continue cooking until done and the rice is creamy.
- Stir in more water or broth if it's too dry.
- Add the sautéed red chard and mushrooms and mix well.
- Add as much Parmesan cheese as you like!
- I add about ½ cup to the cooker and mix till creamy.
- A squirt of lemon brightens all the flavours.
- Serve in bowls with crunchy red onions or cucumbers on top.
Ok, so this post got away from me, it’s a tad long but it seems like it’s feast or famine with me 🙂
Hope you’re all having a good week so far!
Have a good one.