spicysp2

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Happy Thursday.  I hope you all are having a great day.  I thought I would pop in  and show you a quick, slightly zhuzh-ed up version of one of my favorite recipes, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta-Olive Salad, from The Traveler’s Lunchbox.  I’ve mentioned it previously here and here, but in the last year we have gone from eating it as a side to having it as the main event.  I also tweaked it just slightly, bulking it up a bit and getting rid of what seemed like an unnecessary ingredient.  Again, my alterations are so minimal, I am in no way claiming this as my recipe, just letting you in on some changes we’ve enjoyed.  If you are doing the allergy elimination diet, or are vegan, whole-foods, plant based, etc.,  you can absolutely use this recipe.  Just be sure to leave out the feta, maybe substituting a big dollop of hummus for some creaminess.

Basically, once upon a time, I had a quarter head of purple cabbage languishing in my crisper drawer and a feta-olive salad that seemed open to new ideas.  So I chopped up some cabbage and slapped it in to the mix.   Then, while my mom was visiting recently, we left the oil out of the dressing so that she could eat it, and, lo and behold, it still tasted absolutely great.  So, cabbage is often in and oil is out to this day.  Although, may I say that, on this exact day, the sweet potatoes I purchased were so dry, I seriously considered putting some over the finished product just to lube it up a bit.  Anyway, that’s the story.  If you try this version (or the original) let me know what you think, or if you can think of any other additions/substitutions that might be good.  P.S.  I really love the salad/topping over tuna (yep, the kind packed in oil in a can, though I’m sure it would be lovely over fresh tuna).  Sorry, I’m weird like that (don’t judge, just try it)!

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Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4-6 as a main.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 C diced red cabbage
  • 1 1/2 C diced red bell pepper
  • 3/4 to 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup pitted, chopped black olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 to 1 cup goat or sheep’s milk feta, as you like (skip this to be a.e.d. friendly and dairy free)
  • 1/2 to 1 lemon
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic (we embrace garlic on a deep level!  suit yourself), minced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place clean sweet potatoes on foil or pan and bake until a knife slides easily through the flesh.  This will depend entirely on the size of your potatoes, but plan for at least 30 minutes.
  • Prepare all vegetables, herbs, and cheese.  Dice can be small, medium, or large depending on your texture preference.  Place together in bowl
  • If you have time, toast spices in a dry pan.  In a small bowl, combine spices with garlic and lemon juice (and olive oil, if desired).  Stir, whisk, or shake to combine.
  • Pour dressing over veg, and fold until ingredients are well mix and evenly coated.
  • Pile mounds and mounds onto your piping hot sweet potato, and dig in.

jasoneats

 

 

kichuri-curry1

Vegetable Khichuri-Curry or This Thing I Made Up

I first read The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni about eleven years ago.  The most vivid and lasting impression was not of a great story (though it is fair) or of any particularly endearing characters, but of the feeling of having feasted on her words.  I’m pretty sure this woman loves food.  The story, in which the characters travel a vast swath of India, is absolutely saturated with mouth watering descriptions of hot, crispy onion pakoras, creamy mango lassi, dal, sparkling sugared candies, aromatic tea, and on and on.  One of the meals that has a starring role is a khichuri, a meal made in poverty that becomes touched with a bit of magic, and has stuck with me (obviously) until now.

Let me stop right here and say I have no experience with Indian food.  When I first read the book, I’d never even had the Anglo-Indian version, the generic curry.  The Japanese steak house was about as exotic as things got growing up in my household.  I’m calling this recipe a khichuri because the base is a mix of rice and lentils and a curry because I’ve whacked in a load of things like coconut milk, tomatoes, and spices, but it really is just this thing I’ve smooshed together.

I started as I would a risotto: oil, aromatics, and rice, and built from there.  Again, making zero claims to cultural authenticity in either ingredients or technique.  If you are doing an allergy elimination diet similar to mine this recipe is a great option (if you are testing for a nightshade allergy, this is not for you).  I feel like this should be almost infinitely adaptable.  If you try any different combinations, substitute in different ingredients, let me know in the comments.

Have you ever read a book that left you jonesing for a special food?  Another of mine is The Pickwick Papers (Dickens); it always makes me want a picnic with cold chicken and cheese and pickles and things (basically, Feast).  What are some of yours?

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Vegetable Khichuri-Curry

serves 4-6 depending on how greedy you are

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion
  • 1 1/4 C rice (we used brown Basmati rice)
  • 3/4 C green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 large tomato, cubed
  • 1 large zucchini (courgette), cubed
  • 1/4 C tomato sauce or puree
  • 2 C vegetable stock
  • 10 oz coconut milk
  • 1-2 C spinach leaves
  • 1 Tbs curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne (you’ll be surprised how far it goes!)
  • salt
  • parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions

  • In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat oil, garlic and onion until fragrant and onion is releasing some moisture.
  • Turn on hood fan. . .seriously.  Add spices and a generous sprinkle (1/4 tsp or thereabouts) of salt.  Cook off until onions have softened and spices are toasted.
  • Add rice, and stir to incorporate with spiced onion/garlic mix.
  • Add zucchini and tomato, and another 1/4 tsp of salt, and stir, scraping up as many of the good bits stuck to the bottom of the pan as you can.
  • Add veg. stock, coconut milk, and tomato paste, and give it a good stir.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, add lemon juice, lentils, and spinach.  Cook for a final 15-20 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt (or other things) as you see fit)
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

kichuri-curry1

Davis Island Picnic rainbow

Rainy Day Picnic

Hello!  I am so glad to be back; I have really missed being here, chatting with you.  Both of my surgeries went well and I’m about five or six weeks in to physical therapy.  The hip arthroscopy, which I expected to be shattering, was actually the easiest in terms of the surgery itself and the initial home recovery.  My biggest concern was getting home and up the stairs on crutches after being released (hip arthroscopy is a same day surgery around here).  That concern was seriously heightened by the trip home following the ovarian surgery.  I won’t be graphic but. . .so sick, so. many. stairs.  However, amazingly, for the first time ever, I wasn’t even the slightest bit nauseated following the hip surgery!!  That really does deserve gratuitous use of exclamation marks.   The long term lack of mobility and general inability to do for myself have gotten me down a bit at times, but overall it has been so much easier than anticipated.  The last three months have also allowed me to see, yet again, how amazing my family is.  I feel absolutely soaked in love and uncomplaining care.

To celebrate being back on my wobbly pins, and to kick off our twelfth wedding anniversary weekend, I thought I would throw together a Friday night picnic.  We were both going a bit stir crazy being trapped inside all day, so an evening in the out-o-doors sounded just right.  Things didn’t turn out exactly as planned, as you will see, but it was a pretty great night nonetheless.  Scroll down past the video to find links to the inspiration recipes, as well as to see the changes I made.  If you would like to see how the rest of the night went, click over to Jason’s video.

Garlicky Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Changes I made: zest of 1 lemon added to dressing

Changes I would make next time: the only kale I could find at the shop this time was red kale.  Next time I would definitely hold out for lacinato kale, or switch to spinach or arugula.  I did not have three hours to massage the red kale into submission (the ten minutes I did put in just didn’t cut it)!

Farmer’s Market Cornbread

Sean Brock’s Cornbread Recipe

and, my version. . .

Cornbread before and after

Garden Cornbread

base-

5 Tbs melted, unsalted butter

2 cups of medium grind cornmeal (I used this)

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 C goat’s milk yogurt

1 C almond milk

1 tsp vinegar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 C corn kernels

1/4-1/3 C grated cheese (I used a firm sheep’s milk cheese whose name I do not know, but you could use just about anything you find tasty)

toppings-

1 pint (more or less) cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 red onion, sliced

basil, chiffonade (fancy way of cutting up; do what you want)

crumbling cheese (I used some cojita that was hanging out in the fridge)

directions-

  • heat cast iron skillet in 450 degree oven while preparing ingredients
  • combine dry “base” ingredients in medium bowl
  • combine wet “base” ingredients, stir into dry mix
  • add shredded cheese and corn kernels, stir until evenly distributed
  • removed skillet from oven, place on burner over medium heat (you will definitely want to turn on your fan)
  • pour base batter into pan, sprinkle with toppings
  • turn off burner
  • return skillet to oven, cook for 20 minutes
  • check for color (you are looking for a golden brown; the edges of your cheese will be picking up some color as well.
  • eat lots!

Davis Island Picnic plate

 

 

cookbook love

Cookbook Love and Menu #2

Happy Monday y’all!  As I was prepping our weekly meals and grocery list, I noticed it was pretty heavily populated by two of my favorite newer cookbooks.  In fact, for the last month or two, we’ve eaten from one of them at least twice a week.  I figure if you love something that much, you should share it.  The Art of Eating Well was a Christmas gift Santa Spence checked off my list.  I showed up a little late to the H+H party, but better late than never! Of course, if you’ve been reading O.i.H. for awhile, you already know how much I love Sarah Britton, so the My New Roots cookbook should be no surprise.

cookbook love

Hundreds of other people have written up these gorgeous books, and the gorgeous women behind them.  I think the food is good enough to speak for itself.  In that vein I thought I would share my menu for the week so you could see for yourself.  I scouted around the web and found many of the recipes from the books available online.  Click on the image below to access the PDF with recipe links.  For even more fabulousness (if, like me, you just can’t get enough), visit them at My New Roots and Hemsley+Hemsley.

menu#2

 

Finally, powerHouse Books seems to have posted a full preview of the Hemsley+Hemsley book here.  This seems a bit odd, but the link is directly from the publisher’s site.  Take a look, see how amazing it is, then buy a copy for yourself. . .and a friend. . .and your mom, aunt, cousin, sister, nephew!

Life Lately

This is my fourth attempt at writing this post.  The first two were totally devoid of information or emotional connection, while the last one was terribly earnest and solemn; let’s see what happens this time.

Hi!  I’ve missed being here.  I’ve not felt much like sharing over the last few months.  I got some frustrating news and needed time to process it before I could talk about it in a reasonable way.  Way back in November, Jason and I set out on a little exploration walk that turned into a 9 mile trek.  I know that isn’t a crazy distance, which is why I was surprised to start limping at mile 7 and mortified to have Jason run home for the car to drive me the final half mile home.   I tried resting it, but when I was still limping in January I went to a doctor.  Very long story short:  I’ve torn the labrum in my left hip.  Turns out I actually have a deformity of the femoral bone head, leading to something called femoral acetabular impingement.  Basically, the bone is a bit larger than the socket space allowed for it, and the resulting friction is tearing the squishy labrum and chipping the hip bone socket (or acetabulum).   After two months of physical therapy and no improvement, we decided on surgery.  I had a pre-surgery MRI done, and, **surprise**, found out that I have a dermoid cyst in my right ovary.

I’ve not spoken of it here before, other than a brief, non-specific mention of a second surgery on the About O.i.H page, but in 2007 I had surgery to remove a dermoid cyst from my left ovary.  Well, in about 10-15% of cases, dermoid cysts are bi-lateral, meaning they will develop in both ovaries.  Hooray for winning the percentage lottery!

Anyway, hip surgery discussion was put on hold until I could get an assessment of the cyst, and what sort of response that required.  Skipping over all the minutiae, the big picture is this- the cyst is small, but will need to be removed.  We were originally thinking laparoscopy,  but it turns out the cyst is in the exact center of the ovary, so the surgery of choice (or at least of recommendation) is a mini laparotomy.  I’ll have that surgery at the end of May, and the hip arthroscopy  mid-June!

From time to time the thought of the hip surgery makes me panic just a smidge.  I mean, it is technically an elective surgery for a condition that many people go their whole lives just putting up with.  Whereas I, for many reasons, am choosing to have this surgery that is going to put me on crutches for 4 to 6 weeks at a time when. . .well, I just have to keep asking myself, is there ever a convenient time for that?

In other news, things are getting exciting in Jason’s business.  He is set to give his first week long class the first week of June.  Yes, the timing could be better, but we are so thankful and excited to see how things are developing. Our house has been looking like we robbed a Radio Shack as we are compiling all the necessary equipment for classes. pelican cases telephones mantle

 

Now that I’ve gotten started, there is actually more I want to talk about :).  However, seeing as this is already a brutally long post, I’m going to say sayonara for now.  Hopefully I’ll be back in the next few days with a look at the cookbook we are pretty much living out of at the moment, and maybe some thoughts on getting ready for surgeries if anyone is interested.  Till then. . .