I haven’t posted on here in so long I seriously feel like a stranger on my own blog. Although, I cook almost every day, I’ve just been really uninspired to carve the time out to post any recipes. It started when I got real busy and would put off posting “until tomorrow”. Tomorrow turned into the next day, and the day after until next days turned into weeks, which turned into months and here we are. But I’m not all to blame…there were days I would be inspired to post a recipe and I’d start sifting through my pictures (bloggers, you know how tedious that can get) and then boom! the power would go out or the internet would be too slow. Unfortunately I live in an area where we experience intermittent power outs….the power company seems to have a vendetta against us. Oh, and I had the unfortunate accident of drinking some freshly squeezed lemonade from hell. Ok, not from hell, but from the sleepy little town of Lamu. The hell part came after I drank some lovely lemonade - it tore my mouth up pretty bad for a couple of weeks. As a foodie, and a person who likes hot, spicy and citrus-y food, my mouth and tongue getting burned by the acid was not fun at all – soy pudding saved me or I would have starved to death. Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I woulda finally gotten skinny…mmhhh…before I starved to death. Screw that, I’m one of those people who hopes I’ll get a fantastic ”last meal” before I die:-)
I’m still re-training my tongue to eat hot spices and citrus and have been sending fervent prayers to the tongue gods to return my old tongue.
The tongue that could handle chewing whole chilies.
The tongue that could handle sucking a lemon/lime half.
The tongue that could handle toothpaste and mouthwash (yep, I’m now using Sensodyne)
The tongue that …
*lets all bow our heads now for a moment of silence for my fallen tongue*
I refuse to accept that one glass of juice can alter my future food choices. My life is simply not complete without Indian food or vinaigrettes or orange juice or Sriracha or darn it, lemonade!
Never one to care for excuses nor mundane explanations, I won’t share where I’ve been nor what the heck I’ve been doing while NOT posting on this blog. I’m here now and that’s all that matters right? I’ll go about my business posting and you can go about your business reading. So, let’s start off on a light refreshing note, like this Feta Salad. If you have had a Greek Salad, this is along the lines of the real thing – save for a few important ingredients such as olives, green peppers and capers. That’s why I decided to call my salad a “Feta salad” rather than “Greek Salad” – don’t want to insult anyone! Zeus might just decide to come down his little mountain and strike me down and who wants that?
I’ve been gone a while and guess where I was? China. Yup…the far east, home of about 1.3billion people! Then after getting back, I got sick as a dog and I’m just now getting back into my groove. I’m trying to compile all my photos from the trip then I’ll do a separate posting on foods I ate and ones I didn’t (!).
Today, I’m trying a new banana bread recipe, but I thought I would share my very simple version first. If the new recipe today proves to be better, I’ll post it later on in the week. This recipe is simple, moist and leaves your house smelling heavenly. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors knock on your door asking you for random things but all the time wanting you to offer them a slice of this bread!
One of the tricks of preparing easy meals is having things prepared in advance. How many times have you gone to the market and bought way too much produce with grandiose ideas of all the meals you’ll be making? The week starts and reality sets in…there is no way you will be able to use all your produce this week. So, rather than wait for the stuff to go bad, why don’t you try pickling your veggies? Pickling is simply preserving food in a solution of brine or vinegar. If done right, you can pickle your veggies and enjoy them for weeks or months! Pickled veggies serve as a side dish or can be added to your meals to give them a nice zing. Try this amazingly quick recipe for pickling red onions and you’ll wonder why you never tried pickling before!
On this side of the hemisphere, it is hotter than Hades. It’s been sweltering hot since December and finding ways to cool down have become my #1 priority. If you are lucky to have a pool at your house good for you – go jump in the pool and cool off. As for me, I have to find other ways to keep cool. Ways that involve putting something in my mouth and having my brain momentarily gasp at the coolness of it all. When a friend of mine gave me a whole basket of mangoes from her farm in Kibwezi, I knew exactly what I had to do. Make Mango sorbet!
Happy New Year…x2, because yesterday ushered in the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Water Dragon! I read in an article that “the dragon is larger than life and means big things are to come” so I wish you all good things to come in 2012. While you are chasing the “big things” out there, you will no doubt have little time for cooking but don’t be disheartened because I have you covered with a quick, easy and satisfying dishes. To start the year off is Polenta, which is a classic Italian traditional “peasant” food made from yellow or white cornmeal. If you’ve never heard of polenta, you can liken it to Grits in the US, Ugali in East Africa and Pap in South Africa. The similarities is that they all start with a pot of boiling liquid (water/stock) and the cornmeal. The differences are what other ingredients are added to that mushy mixture. Soft polenta can be treated like a mashed potato. Firm polenta can be cut into different shapes for grilling, roasting or frying.
Last year, I accompanied my sister to Kampala, Uganda and I had the pleasure of eating one of their staple dishes – matoke with groundnut sauce. “Matoke” are a variety of green bananas, which cannot be eaten raw – they must be steamed or boiled for consumption. “Groundnut Sauce” is basically peanut sauce. Groundnuts are what Africans call peanuts. To make the matoke authentically, you must peel the bananas, wrap them up in banana leaves and steam for a couple hours over a “double boiler” setup. Meanwhile, the groundnuts are roasted, skinned and ground. The ground mixture is then added to a stockpot with water and brought to a boil, continuously stirring, until it is as thick as porridge. The authentic sauce is a pale brownish color and somewhat grainy.
Is it me or does it seem like the closer you get to the end of the year the faster the days fly by? I feel like I used to get so much done during the day and still have time left over to plan dinner menus. I’m almost convinced that the days are getting shorter…it’s either that or my organizational skills have gone to hell and left me with very poor time management skills. Anytime I feel like time is out of my control, I always fall back on pasta dishes because of the ease of preparation and the fact that you don’t need a whole bunch of ingredients. More often than not, you have everything you need in your pantry! In this case, Spaghetti and Pesto. Easy Peasy!
When I made Lamb Korma a couple months ago, Linda, a friend of mine asked me to make an easier version of another Indian favorite – butter chicken. If you love Indian food you’ve probably had this dish before because it’s not as spicy as other Indian dishes and most newbies to Indian cuisine usually try this before any other dish. The sauce is a tomatoey, silky, buttery and quite a hit with everyone, even kids! The story behind butter chicken is that an Indian restaurant specializing in make Tandoori-style Chicken would end up with unused bone-in chicken pieces every evening. To avoid waste, the chef decided to make a tomato-based butter sauce and added all the wasted chicken pieces and butter chicken was born. Amen.