Introduction

September 8, 2008

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Curry powder is a low rent ingredient. But I like it, and it’s one step versus many steps. If you had access to the curry paste that comes in the heavy plastic bags I would recommend substituting it. It has been years since I’ve seen it but you might not be living in my neighborhood. This recipe uses fresh spinach; in the middle of winter you could substitute frozen chopped spinach.  Zucchini is usually available all year.

Basmati rice would taste a lot better, and if you have any I would suggest using it. If you prefer brown rice, that would have more nutritional value.  In both cases  cooking times must be adjusted.

Are lentils difficult to make from scratch? No. If you feel so inclined, go right ahead.  Canned lentils might border on silly, but I was trying to reduce the steps and keep to one pan. I wish ease of clean up did not have to be considered when cooking, but there you are.

This is not the equivalent of tuna noodle casserole made with cream of mushroom soup garnished with crushed potato chips. It’s a nice meal, has plenty of vegetables, some protein, isn’t very high in fat, and is easy to make. You could feed four to six people with this one; the six if you gave them some additional vegetable or grain. It could be extended by using a cup rather than a half cup of raw rice but  wouldn’t be as filling.

One Pan Wonder: Curried Rice, Spinach, and Zucchini

1 pound Baby Spinach

1 small onion, chopped

1 T canola oil

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 T curry powder

2 t cumin

1 t chili powder

1 small carrot, chopped up fine

2 T canola oil

½ cup raw rice (I used Carolina brand)

2 zucchini approximately 2 inches wide and 10 inches long.

15.5 ounce can of lentils (I used Goya brand)

Spinach

Wash and pick over a pound of baby spinach, remove the stems, and zap for five minutes. I use the kind intended for salad as they are very clean; this prevents spinach grit heartbreak. Do not dry the spinach; the water from the washing will be used to cook it. Empty into a bowl with its now green water.

Onions, Garlic, and Rice

Add first table spoon of oil to the now empty pan. Zap the onion for five minutes, stir, and zap for an additional five minutes. Add the garlic and zap for three more minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons canola oil, carrot, and the spices, zap for five minutes. Add the raw rice, stir well and nuke for four minutes, stir, and nuke for an additional four minutes. The rice should be a little translucent.Empty the spinach water into the measuring cup and top up with water to make a cup. Stir thoroughly and nuke for five minutes.

Zucchini

While the rice is cooking cut the zucchini in half the short way, quarter each half the long way, and then cut into pieces no more than a half inch big in any direction. Nuke for an additional five minutes. Take out the rice and look at it; if it looks dry (mine did) add a little more water and stir well.

Spinach, Lentils

While the rice is cooking chop up the cooked spinach. It is unorthodox to chop it after cooking but spinach is much easier to chop when it is a sodden mass. Drain the lentils.

Finish

When rice looks done, add chopped spinach and lentils. Mix thoroughly. Zap for five minutes and let sit for five minutes or more. You could garnish with yogurt or lemon juice but they are not necessary. Enjoy!

I hope to take pictures soon.

Blue Sweater Almost Done

I knit and knit and tried it on. The fit was fine but the fabric was so drapey the belt loops of my jeans stuck made lumps. I didn’t want to have to  wear a slip under the tunic so I ripped it way back. It is now just a long sweater. I wanted to have ribbing at the bottom that didn’t pull in and learned something from the wonderful new Mason Dixon book, Mason Dixon Knititng Outside The lines. If you do a huge increase just before tne ribbing it will not pull in and it will lie flat. So I am halfway done with the front ribbing. I will post pictures of the sweter after it is finished and blocked.

Just A Few Words

October 2, 2008

Pictures really are more fun but I don’t having anything that would make a good photograph.

Knitting

I am knitting away on my now very big blue sweater (282 stitches round, soon to be more) and it would just look like a graduating blob as it is all scrunched in on the circular needles.

Cooking

I did make a beets and sweet potato dish. I made a curried version with tofu. It turns out that beets are an Indian vegetable. There is a wonderful blog entry from India called about them here http://curryinkadai.blogspot.com/2007/11/cant-beet-this.html and the whole blog is very interesting to read. They have all kinds of vegetables and spices there that you don’t find in America.

Unfortunately, my recipe tasted great but doesn’t keep well. I always like to have more than one meal from a dish.The sweet potatoes absorbed all the liquid in the food.

I think I will try another go with one of those cans of whole tomatoes with all the juice. The tomatoes would add a nice acidity to the dish. and a more authentic protein source would be lentils rather than tofu. But as a card carrying graduate of one of the “granola schools” (do they still call them that?) I feel a certain nostalgia for tofu that I just don’t have for lentils. And I like the way the tofu turned pink from the beets. Hmm.

Dog

His tumor, or “mass” as Dr. Felton called it, is going to have to go, it’s not something caused by a foreign object and did not shrink with antibiotics. There is a chance that it’s malignant. The veterinary surgeon I use (Mr. Yuki has required quite a bit of surgery in his 14 years) is out of town this week and I will need to make an appointment on Monday when he returns.  Bad.

Yes, It Is possible to Cook Something Not Gloppy In The Microwave

Gratinesque Main Dish

Gratinesque Main Dish

This is based on the Summer Squash Gratin recipe from the New York Times this summer

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/19/health/nutrition/19recipehealth.html?scp=3&sq=gratin&st=cse

It says that it can be used with any cooked vegetable, and I have found this to be true. I make mine with less cheese.

Psuedo Gratin

2 eggs

1/2 grated cheese ( I used cheddar to avoid going shopping again; mozarella would have been fine)

1 cup cooked rice

Herbs to complement vegetables; if I had used the ciambotta I would have added basil.

Approximately two cups cooked vegetables.

I thawed a bag full of Red Spectrum (I thought it was a bag full of ciambotta which would have tasted a little better. TIme to get some markers.) from the freezer yesterday. I would estimate it yielding between a cup and three quarters and two cups.

Very important: use a pan which is big enough that the mixture is no more than an inch or two thick, or the gratin will not be dry.

Mix the non-vegetables ingredients together, then add the vegetables.. The original recipe calls for adding some milk but the Red Spectrum has plenty of liquid.  In my little tiny microwave it takes 16 minutes to get a crust; the time may vary in yours. I suspect it would take about as long in a 350 degree oven.

Much as I prefer quinoa I don’t think it would absorb enough liquid.

This is a very nice lunch dish; if you made a nice salad and served it wth bread or rolls it would make a passable company dinner. No one would have to know you didn’t have to knock yourself out.

More Cooking News

I have two days off for the Jewish holidays and I am thinking about doing some more cooking. On the internet I came across a recipe for beets and sweet potatoes that sounded perfectly vile (wouldn’t that be sweet enough? Why would you add sugar?) but got me thinking. Earlier this summer I made borscht and numerous beet salads; they were delicious but I want a good hot beet dish. And some quinoa pilaf. And something for protein; beans maybe? Beans and quinoa? Hmm.

Blue Sweater Update

Body and second sleeve nearly doneI have been knitting away. I just started the cuff on the second sleeve and expect to be finished with it shortly. It is a tunic style sweater with a lot of shaping; I am just going to knit up every bit of yarn and stop when I’m done. As it is gertting very wide towards the botton for ease I don’t think it will end up very long.

Cable Close Up

Cable Close Up

The cable has never shown up in any of the photos so I am including a close up. The yarn I am using is Adagio from Yarn Place but I have used what is basically the same yarn under different brand names- Jojoland used to sell it but now they sell a more expensive superwash version which is probably much softer. It is an old fashioned slightly scratchy wool yarn, not the best quality if the truth be told. I love to watch the slow color changes, it makes a nice finished product if it doesn’t receive too much wear, and the yarn can be bought for a reasonable sum on EBay. This is the third sweater I have made out of it. It is fingering weight but I knit it at sport. It is surprisingly warm.

Dog News

Some Suffering and Misery

Some Suffering and Misery

Mr. Yuki had a four day bout with his digestive tract (despite my best efforts he is an adventurous eater and has never learned better). Now he is a little better but is was touch and go. On Saturday I had stomach flu (fatigue,nausea, chills) and we were both extremely ill. There is such a thing as too much togetherness. He is going to the vet for his tumor, which shrunk up and has stopped bothering him. I am hoping it will not require surgery.

There will be no recipe today.  I had breakfast (Oatmeal? Want some oatmeal? Follow the recipe on the back of the box. ) and reheated some Red Spectrum for lunch.  But It occurs to me that I have been remiss. All my cooking is supervised by the cat, who is interested in the process even if she has no interest in the end product.

Elvira presides from the top of the fridge

Elvira presides from the top of the fridge

When shopping for produce earlier this week I began to wonder what eggplant and winter squash would taste like together. I don’t think I have ever seen them used together, but I thought that the bitter eggplant and the sweet squash might complement each other well. So I thought up Red Spectrum. This dish really tastes better if you serve it the day after it’s cooked so the flavors have a better chance to develop, but I ate it right away and you could do the same. Steam was rising from it and I had to eat it right away.It tastes pretty good. I couldn’t taste the eggplant at all, which surprised me. I don’t know how complimentary the eggplant and the calabaza were but the end result was good.

Red Spectrum

1 onion

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

5 cloves of garlic

3 small red potatoes

2 medium carrots

1 medium eggplant

1 large sweet red pepper

3 small tomatoes (you could use an eight ounce can in the winter)

1/2 bunch cilantro

2 pound wedge of calabaza (see note on substitution below)

Red quinoa, cooked.

Optional: 1 16 ounce can of black beans, drained.

I won’t lie to you. Some chopping is involved here.

Onions, Garlic, and Spices

Chop the onion and garlic, and add the chili powder and cumin. Add a little oil and zap until onion has begun to take on color, about eight minutes in the microwave, or cook on the stove on low heat, about 5 or 6 minutes, stirring frequently.  Meanwhile, chop the potatoes and carrots in thin slices, small enough to fit nicely into your mouth – see picture. Leave the skins on both of them, as that’s where the vitamins are, and how else can potatoes fit in the red spectrum?

Root Vegetables, Eggplant

Add what you just sliced and stir. Let cook for five minutes or until just tender. Frantically cut up the eggplant to be done in time for the above to be cooked, The eggplant should be in large dice. Leave the skins on, that’s where all the vitamins are. The skin of eggplants is rich in some rare phenols that are very nutritious, and be honest, how often do you get to eat a purple vegetable?  They are said to be antioxidants as well,

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=22 Stir in the eggplant when the bell has dinged for the root veggies, and cook for five minutes, While this is cooking, dice the red pepper, roughly cut up the tomatoes (forget about the skins, you won’t even notice them) and remove the leaves from the cilantro and chop into tiny pieces. Otherwise large pieces of cilantro may stick to your front teeth when you eat this, not rendering you attractive.

Pepper, Tomatoes, Cilantro

Add them, and zap for about eight minutes, until just tender. If cooking on the stove, this might take ten minutes. Use low heat and stir frequently. Remove from heat and let sit, covered.

Calabaza

Calabaza is sometimes called a West Indian or Cuban pumpkin, but what it looks like is a sort of scalloped acorn squash, and it tastes like one too. It has dark green skin and orange flesh, and you can really tell that squashes and melons are related when you look at one. Because calabaza are about ten or twelve pounds each, they are often sold cut in wedges. If you can’t find any, use an acorn squash. The easiest way to deal with a big squash is to microwave it in a big bowl and then take the skin off after its partially cooked. That’s what I did. I zapped it for about five minutes and zapped it again for about three more (it’s done enough if there is a strong smell of squash) so it would be more malleable but you could cook it until it’s entirely done. Remove the skin, chop it into bight sized pieces and mix it with the rest of the dish. Mix thoroughly.

Last Step

Zap for eight minutes and serve over a bed of cooked red quinoa. Unfortunately red quinoa loses most of its brightness when cooked, turning a sort of dark brown, but it still tastes good and has a lot of protein. Quinoa tastes a little like kasha but better. It’s a lot cuter than rice as well. Black beans also add protein and taste good with the squash. It’s easy to add a can  when you reheat this. Red beans would go better with the red spectrum theme, but black beans taste a lot better.

Sleeve Complete

Initially I decreased too slowly but eventually caught on. THe joy of working sleeves from the cap down is that you can try them on, and then little things like the fact that they are way too short and fat wider than they need to be become apparent.

Pet

Poor Mr. Yuki has got a small but nasty tumor (no picture, why would you want to see that?) on his right hind paw. I took him in to see Dr. Felton, his vet, who has been very helpful to all my animals for many years. She thinks the tumor resulted from a sharp foreign object. probably a piece of glass,  lodging itself in this paw  I feared the worst and was thrilled when the word “malignant” did not come up. The treatment involves antibiotics and soaks in the bathtub, pivtured below. He likes water so this is not an issue.

Mr. Yuki soaking his right hind paw, with the help of a biscuit.

Mr. Yuki soaking his right hind paw, with the help of a biscuit.

Disregard the slightly peeved expression on his face. In fact, Mr. Yuki is now one of the happiest dogs on earth. He is given biscuits to encourage him to stay in the water, and those twice a day antibiotics are mushed into turkey sausage  almost as stinky as liverwurst. Surgery may be required later but for now life is good.

Today I have a profusely illustrated version of ciambotta, the Italian stew. I learned how to make this about twenty years ago and have long since forgotten where I heard of it – it’s sort of like trying to come up with a credit for the original mac & cheese. My version is not terribly authentic, but I think the original conception was pretty elastic. It is great with the harvest of vegetables in Early September as it can consume huge quantities of them – add as many vegetables as will fit in your pan. If you use twice as many, just double the herbs. This recipe is foolproof as long as you don’t burn it. It freezes well and can be served over rice. And it contributes towards your five a day while not having any nasty overtones of eating your vegetables. Ciambotta is fun.

It should be mentioned that good enough cook only has a microwave, and zaps everything. Hey, saves money and no gas fumes, and  microwaves are said to use energy more efficiently than stoves. I have given directions for both stove top and microwave versions.

(Not pictured: green beans, vegetarian sausage (the Italian version of Field Grains)

Ciambotta

5 cloves garlic

rosemary, see notes

tablespoon dried basil, see notes

1 medium onion

3 small potatoes

2 medium carrots

2 red tomatoes and 1 yellow tomato

1 small eggplant

1/2 pound of green beans.

1 red and 1yellow pepper, medium

2 medium zucchini

2 links vegetarian Italian “Sausage” – I used the Field Grains brand

Garlic and herbs

Cut one six inch Rosemary spear and cut off the leaves, chop into the smallest specks imaginable. Rosemary is dry and hard; a big piece of rosemary is like having a twig in your mouth.

Add a tablespoon of dried basil (I was out of fresh) and five cloves of garlic, finely chopped.

Fry in a little oil over low heat until it shows a little color. Even in the microwave I add a scant tablespoon of oil.

Add one medium onion, chopped finely, and cook until golden, about eight minutes in the microwave.

Root vegetable stage.

Chop three small potatoes and cook until softened but not done, about five minutes in the microwave.  Leave the skin on, that’s where all the vitamins are and you’ll never notice those skins in this dish. If you are cooking on the stove, add about a cup of water so the potatoes don’t burn.

Add carrots, chopped up into very small pieces. Leave the skin on, that’s where all the vitamins are and you’ll never notice those skins in this dish.

At this point many people add more root vegetables but I am not a turnip and rutabaga fan so I stick to potatoes. This stew is very liquid from all the vegetables and is great served over rice; don’t add too many starchy vegetables unless you like to serve starch on your starch. Heh. Liquid is a polite word for it. “Gloppy” is more accurate.

Non starch vegetables

I like my zucchini and green beans not cooked very much; if you like them really really cooked, add them here as well.

Add chopped tomatoes. Leave the skin on, that’s where all the vitamins are and you’ll never notice those skins in this dish.

Add chopped eggplant. Leave the skin on, that’s where all the vitamins are and you’ll never notice those skins in this dish.

Add chopped peppers. Leave the skin on, that’s where all the vitamins are and you’ll never notice those skins in this dish. (Noticing a theme here?)

Cook until soft, five  to eight minutes in the microwave.

Vegetarian Sausage

This part is one of the inauthentic parts, but it adds protein, and the spices in the Field Grains “sausage” go very well with the stew. I suspect anise is in there. I added two links – that plastic “sausage skin” they are packed in is very peculiar stuff, and I suspect it shouldn’t be cooked. I cut them into disks about as thick as two quarters, and let them cook for quite a while. If you use the real thing fry it up before you slice it; it would  hold its shape better in the stew.

Almost Done

Chop up two small zucchini and tip, tail, top and chop a half pound of green beans. Cook to desired degree of done-ness. I like it just until the green parts of the zucchini are  very green but tastes differ.

You are done

That wasn’t so bad, was it? And think of how much you can put in the freezer.  I didn’t add salt. Taste and see if you want some. With all the garlic and herbs and the herbs in the “sausage” there seems to be plenty of flavor.

Blue Sweater Update:

I am taking a break and doing the sleeves, the better to estimate how much yarn I have remaining. I picked up the stitches from the armhole and am short rowing back and forth to make the cap. This is one of my favorite things in knitting, I love seeing the straight knitting curve up and take on the form of the cap.

Here is the all important animal picture – Mr. Yuki unmaking the bed, one of his favorite things. Spoiled? Him?

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