Chicken curry for beginners

I love thinking about how good different dishes will taste. I like cooking lots of food. But I’ve never eaten much curry and never cooked much either. Still, when I placed an order a few months ago from Penzey’s, I included a small jar of sweet curry. I have already gone through the jar of Foxpoint Seasoning, a blend of freeze-dried shallots, chives and scallions that is absolutely delicious on scrambled eggs and lots of other things. I also have been using the other blends I bought, but for some reason the jar of sweet curry was sitting unused in my cupboard. It smells yummy and I decided it was time to “get brave” and try it. I mean, really, this isn’t some arctic adventure I’m suggesting, just cooking something using a seasoning I’m not very familiar with. So I tried it tonight in a recipe I found in a Penzeys’ catalog called Started Chicken Curry. The note said “if you’ve ever wanted to try cooking with curry, but didn’t know where to start, this recipe is just what you’ve been waiting for”. It seemed pretty simple and I had all the ingredients already. Chicken, curry powder, onion, raisins (which I normally would NOT cook with), rice, chicken broth. So I cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and proceeded to follow the recipe. Mmmm. Wonderful fragrance drifting from the pan on the stove. Half an hour later, equally wonderful tasting dish for dinner. I served it with steamed brocolli, cauliflower, and carrots. I also added some Craisins in addition to the raisins. Dave said it was the perfectly level of sweetness. The two of us finished off most of the four person servings….. Well, that’s what happens when something works!

Here’s the recipe. I did serve it topped with a little shredded coconut, as suggested, and it was a good addition:

STARTER CHICKEN CURRY

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 Cup flour
1 TB. SWEET CURRY POWDER
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 Cup margarine or butter (1/2 stick)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2-1 Cup raisins
2/3 Cup uncooked white rice
3 Cups chicken broth (or 3 Cups water mixed with 11/2 tsp. CHICKEN SOUP BASE)
1/2 Cup shredded coconut, optional

In a zip-top bag, combine the flour, curry powder, salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces and shake to evenly coat. Heat the margarine or butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, turning once, until they are browned well. Add the onion, raisins and rice and stir to blend. Pour in the chicken broth. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

(picture is from Penzey’s, but honestly, mine looked just about the same!)

Road Kill for Vegans

We made a trip this past week from Central Washington to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Beautiful destination! Lots of open road on the way. We drove, and much of the route was familiar. Many years ago (three decades!) we lived in SouthWestern Idaho in Weiser, Idaho. But the drive through SouthEastern Idaho included some new spots.

I noticed as we approached Idaho Falls that there were a lot of potatoes on the side of the highway. Not just an isolated spill from a truck, but a continuous path of potatoes off the road. I didn’t pull over and collect them, but the thought did cross my mind that if you wanted to, you could certainly feed yourself. So many potatoes. Just waiting to turn into hash browns, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, french fries. And so much easier to think about that other road kill. I also noticed a few onions, just waiting to add to the menu.

Am I weird? Or do others also notice the vegetarian “road kill” as they drive along. The Yakima Valley where we live often has apples along the side of the road. What culinary delights do you find on the roadside on your drives?

Sues’ Sukiyaki Sunday

Great name for food, isn’t it? Sukiyaki. It starts with my name! But that’s not all there is to like about it. It also tastes good.

A Buddhist church in the lower Yakima valley has an annual tradition of holding a sukiyaki dinner every March as a fund raiser. The congregation is getting older and dwindling in size, but continues to hold the sukiyaki dinner with the assistance of many community volunteers. This year was the 50th anniversary. That’s a lot of sukiyaki prepared and eaten over the years.

We’ve attended other years, and headed down to Wapato on Sunday to continue our tradition of attending. The hall where the dinner is held was festively decorated with many rows of tables for the 1,500 anticipated diners over the course of the afternoon.

We were seated almost immediately and first relished the cucumber salad brought out by the teens volunteering to help serve. Dave and several others asked for a fork. I used chopsticks, remembering as I fumbled with them words of friends who went to China some years ago to teach. They were both large individuals, but when we saw them on a visit to the states after a year in China, they had slimmed down. They called it “diet by chopsticks”. After finishing the salad, individual plates of sukiyaki were brought out, accompanied by large communally served pots of steamed rice. Tea was also served.

I found it interesting to look around and see that one side of the hall was lined with tables, all set up with high countertops holding large trays of cut up celery, onions, beef and other ingredients, and volunteer cooks standing at electric fry pans, steam rising around them as the food was prepared just yards away from where we ate.

After we ate, I gazed at the hundreds of origami cranes adorning the stage and other areas of the room.

It brought to mind when my children were young and they struggled to create origami cranes also. I liked the memory, and how it brought together different times in my life. I never was very good at making the folds in the paper. I suspect I would be good at making sukiyaki. But I’m just as happy to eat it instead, contributing both my appetite and dollars to the Wapato Buddhist church funds.

Going crackers for oatmeal!

It’s been a long time since I’ve baked crackers. I like them, especially with cheese or spreads, but usually take what seems the easy way out. I buy them at the store. My sister-in-law recently reminded me that many years ago, when she and her family were visiting, I’d made graham crackers. I’d totally forgotten about that until she nudged my memories. And it was all the nudge I needed to try out a recipe for oat crackers from a new cookbook

In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark.

In the cookbook, the recipe was actually named “Port-Glazed Stilton with Homemade Oat Biscuits”. But I was interested in the “biscuits”, which really sounded more like crackers to me when rolled out thinner rather than thicker.

So, last night I measured out the white whole wheat flour and rolled oats, added a little sugar, baking soda, salt, then cut in some butter. Blending in the yogurt brought the dough together. I rolled it out, baked them as directed in the recipe. Then tried one. Yum. Tried another just to make sure. Yup. Still “yum”. Then ate a few more because they were still good. (If you look ahead to the recipe and see the ratio of butter to flour and oatmeal, you’ll not be surprised that they tasted good!) I had only made half a recipe, because I just wanted to try it out. I should have made the full recipe, as by morning we had finished them all up.

No photos to show as we gobbled them up before I had a chance to get out the camera.

Here’s the recipe:

Oat Biscuits

1 cup whole wheat or white flour
1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 ½ cups rolled oats
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup plain whole milk yogurt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease baking sheet. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the oats, and using your fingers (my FAVORITE part), rub in the butter to form a coarse meal. Fold in the yogurt.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle 3/16 inch thick. Cut the dough into 20 rectangles and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Sprinkle with addition salt, if desired, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are dark golden brown. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling. Store in airtight container. (laugh out loud. There won’t be anything to store if you’re like me!)