Thursday, October 28, 2010

Goan Beef Curry + Punjabi Cabbage

I am terrible with meals after returning from vacation. Normally I make a menu for the week and create my shopping list from that, so that Seth and I can get all of our shopping taken care of in one fell swoop; otherwise, it's countless trips to the local (overpriced) store as I try to come up with things daily, only to discover that I am missing about half of the ingredients. While living the single life I would look at a can of chickpeas, canned tomatoes and a bag of rice and think, "Dinner! For the week!", marital bliss had taught me that not everyone enjoys getting by on such monkish offerings. So for a week or thereabouts after returning from a trip I find myself scrambling to put filling, protein-laden (read: meat) meals on the table. That is my first excuse.

Luckily one meal this week only used half a kilo of beef, so I had almost a whole kilo on hand, which it turns out was the only special ingredient I needed for beef curry - well, that and coconut milk. Luckily, I keep that in stock. I didn't even need cilantro! However, unexpectedly cooking a blog-worthy dish meant I wasn't feeling motivated with the camera. I have mentioned this before, but Indian can be tricky to photograph attractively; this difficulty is doubled when all you want to do is eat. Maybe you try and take a couple of pictures of your husband spooning a bite into his, but you can't get the lighting right and want him to keep posing with the food right in front of his mouth, until he gets irritated because he, too, wants to eat. That is my second excuse.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Beef Stew Pie

Seth and I returned from England Tuesday night, along with a mean craving for meat pie. Well, I had a craving for meat pie, which seems to me quintessentially British, right up there with fish and chips. I wanted to make something of the steak & kidney or cheese onion variety, only tasty. I briefly searched the internet but was put off by recipes that called for boiling everything in some stock - with no pre-browning! - then covering it with a pastry made of flour and suet and boiling some more. Eck, no wonder British cuisine gets a bad rap. But it only took a couple of these "boil everything" recipes for me to realize that meat pie is just beef stew cooked in a pie crust - almost head-slapping obvious.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cocoa Brownies

 Seth and I leave for England tonight and when I woke up this morning my head was full of last-minute details I need to take care of. It is now 11am and what am I doing? I am baking brownies. It doesn't matter that I made brownies yesterday or that I dislike brownies so much that smelling the batter makes me nauseous. I put some toiletries in a bag and then decided, "Hey, I have some cocoa powder - let's make brownies!" No matter where I am in life, I am a chronic procrastinator.

Maybe I am subconsciously ensuring people will take of our new cat, but that would suggest that I am secretly organized. Ha! Really I think I am avoiding cleaning the apartment because, eh, who enjoys cleaning floors? It certainly isn't better than baking warm chewy goodness purely for the enjoyment of others. I am an addict.

It's a recipe from Smitten Kitchen which I followed verbatim (except for the addition of a scant 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper) so I won't bother to copy it here. If you have never visited the site, this is your chance. Though I tend to despise brownies, these are pretty good, probably because they are less sweet than traditional recipes. You could even make them a bit fancy and add some creme fraiche and berries on top, if that's your thing. Or not. I hear most people prefer to eat brownies with the "inhale" method. I am not one to judge. Anyway, see you in a week. Cheers!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Butter Chicken

 I hate my food processor. Not because it's a hand-me-down and I only have the chopping blade; it's the most useful, anyway. Or because it's a hassle to get it down from the top if the fridge every time I need to use it. Or that, due to the way outlets in our kitchen are set up, I have to delicately balance it on the edge of a shelf, holding onto the sides while it processes away. Or that it's 110 volts and I lost my converter in our last move (and obviously have yet to replace it), so I fear the Foop is going to explode in my hands, blowing chickpeas, parsley and fingers all over the kitchen. No, I can't hate it for those reasons because it does such a beautiful job of chopping and mixing things; plus, it's so persuasive. I look at a recipe that calls for finely mincing onions, garlic and almonds into a fine paste and the Foop calls to me from its perch: "I would make that job so much easier. Come on. Come on." And the Foop doesn't lie.

No, I hate my Foop because after the euphoria of finely ground onions and almonds has passed, I am reminded what bugs me so much: the fact the stupid contraption takes up all space in my teeny sink, forcing me to wash it before I can add more dirty dishes. The Foop mocks me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lemon Mint Drink

 If there is one thing a dry country does well, it's fruit juice. (And coffee, but that's another post.) Juices here (not just Kuwait, but all the Gulf states) are amazing; I had a watermelon-cherry combo in Dubai that made me throw back my head in surprised delight. Maybe (probably) it's the lack of the HFCS, but when I drink apple or orange or guava juice, it tastes exactly like the liquid form of those fruits. Which, you know, is the point.

And that brings me to mine (ha!): several weeks ago the outside temperature had cooled enough to make an evening walk enjoyable, so Seth and I wandered down to a shisha joint about a mile from our complex. (Can I take this moment to comment on how cheap it is to smoke shisha here? One hookah cost 750 fils - less than three dollars. Compare that to the 20 euro Seth and I spent at one place in Cyprus. Gah!) Anyway, I ordered a lemon mint juice and between the two of us, it was gone in about sixty seconds.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I will come out and say the obvious: one of the best aspects of living abroad is the myriad chances to taste new things. I love it. Sure, many of these "things" I will never try again (salt lassi, white ants, cooked goat's blood) but some surprise me and will happily pop into my mouth any time I come across them (grasshoppers and fried pig's ears, I'm lookin' at you!) Aside from insects and internal organs, however, there is a wide range of proteins that are simply difficult to find in the States - and probably Europe, for that matter. I'm thinking of the guinea pig Anthony Bordain ate in Peru; the dog (and dog penis) that my friend Solveigh saw (but didn't try; poop) on a menu in Cambodia; and my longed-for encounter with camel.