Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Comfort food, in any language = L.O.V.E.

Most homes have a kitchen.  Some people actually know how to use ‘em, some people don’t.  It makes me sort of sad to visit a home with a great big, professional-style kitchen when I know that the owner doesn’t have an epicurious bone in their body.  Like Kitchen Zombies, they just wander to and from the fridge, microwaving leftovers or boiling water for tea bags or hot cocoa envelopes.  It is almost as though they are afraid to even turn on that big square device that contains gas flames or electrical heating coils.  I guess it makes sense.  Zombies (and the un-dead, in general) don’t like fire, or so I’ve been told.

 

Stands to reason then, that I have more than a healthy dose of awe and admiration for those who craft miracle meals in the most efficient of kitchen spaces (even boat galleys), by taking a handful of ingredients (some, I don’t even recognize) tossing them into pots and pans, chattering and moving – all the while making culinary magic, seemingly out of nothing, in no time at all.

 

Even more impressive are my friends who have lived in other countries without any modern conveniences and managed to survive like characters on, well… “Survivor” but doing so, with panache.  These people have cooked over hot coals or in fire pits, with no knobs to differentiate high to simmer.  They’ve bought rice by the pound in a marketplace, only to bring it home and have to sift out the rocks that unscrupulous merchants placed at the bottom to weigh the scale down to command a higher price.  If they wanted chicken, they actually had to bring home a live chicken to live in the cabinet under the sink until it was “time” for… dinner.  I’ll spare you the unsavory stories about them having to pick bugs out of cereal grains, flour and any and all vegetation before meal preparation.

 

Jeez.  This is no way to start a piece about food, is it?  Sorry ‘bout that.

 

As for me and my house, I stand pretty squarely in the middle of the playing field between making a meal from what’s on hand in the fridge and pantry to having to follow a recipe letter by letter (and calling in experts for help, if need be).  I am not intimidated by my stove, but I do find pressure cookers and candy thermometers to be a weird, sci-fi level kind of scary.  But, I love my kitchen and the chance to make meals for those I love.  Every autumn and winter I stand over my beloved stockpot to create delicious (so I’ve been told) soups and stews that are of my own imagination and momentary whims, no recipe needed, yet when it comes to making my favorite jalepeno cornbread or challah (egg bread) that my kids love, I have to put on reading glasses and follow directions to a “T” – I have never been able to commit those to memory.  Dang it.

 

The following recipe is from the mind of a friend, my blond haired, blue-eyed Janet who, along with her brothers and sister, went to boarding school in India as a child while her father served as a physician in that country.  During the handful of times she could visit her parents (it required an overnight train ride) she watched her mother and their cook prepare meals that sometimes involved that above-mentioned chicken, clucking away in the kitchen cabinet.  You can buy yours, from your local grocery store.


Simple Chicken Curry

2 Cups Chicken (cooked), chopped

1 Whole Sweet Onion (Vidalia or Maui), chopped

1 Cup Spinach (fresh)

2 Bell Peppers (1 red, 1 green), chopped

3 Carrots, peeled and sliced

3 Roma Tomatoes, chopped

3 Cloves Garlic (fresh), coarsely chopped

1 Teaspoons Ginger (fresh), finely chopped

2 Tablespoons Cilantro (fresh), chopped

*** If you like spicy, like I do – buy yourself a Serrano chili to add. :^)

1 Cup Greek Yogurt

 3 ½ Cups Boiling Water

Knorr Chicken Stock

2 Tablespoons Coriander Seed

1 Tablespoons Cumin Seed

2 Teaspoons Cardamom

1 Tablespoons Coarse Sea Salt

1 Tablespoons Canola or Safflower Oil

 

Sautee onion and garlic until translucent.

Grind coriander seed, cumin seed, cardamom and sea salt.  Add to sautéing vegetables and stir.

Add broth, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, ginger and cilantro.  Stir.  Bring to boil, then simmer.

Add chicken, spinach and yogurt.

While dish simmers, make rice – bringing water to boil, adding stock and rice then simmering for approximately 20 minutes.

 

Basmati Rice

2 Cups Basmati Rice

3 ½ Cups Boiling Water

1 Tablespoons Canola or Safflower Oil

Knorr Chicken Stock

 

Put rice in pan, add oil and stir.  Add water and bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover rice for 20 minutes and it’s ready to serve.

Once the rice is cooked, you can serve alongside the curry – OR, put curry in the fridge overnight to let the spices settle in for a richer, fuller flavor.

*** 

My friend Janet serves Iced Chai Tea with this meal and here is her recipe:

 

Chai

1 ½ Cups Water

1 Cinnamon Stick (approx. 1 ½ inch)

8 Cardamom Pods

8 Cloves, whole

1/4 inch Ginger Root (fresh), sliced thin

2/3 Cup Milk (whole, low or non-fat is fine)

6 Tsp Sugar (or sweetener)

3 Tsp Black Tea (leaves or 3 tea bags)

 

Place water, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger in a pot.  Bring to a boil.

Cover and lower heat to lowest setting and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add milk and sugar and again bring to simmer.

Next, add the tea leaves, remove from heat and cover.

Let steep for 3 minutes and strain. Enjoy!

 

Or, like me, you can go the even easier route on this one —

 

Simple Chai

3 Chai Teabags

2/3 Cup of Milk (whole, low or non-fat is fine)

6 Teaspoons Sugar or Sweetener of choice

 

Make tea and add milk & sweetener.

 

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