Saturday, January 24, 2009


I don't know how it is out there, but it has been cold here. And my computer is in the 3rd flr, uninsulated office. (Really old house, stone walls, no insulation) that, along with a busy work week (covering some extra shifts, for extra hours) has kept me away from the blogosphere this week. :(

Since I was working a lot and it was so cold, I really wanted something warm & comforting to bring in for lunch, but I'm on a budget, so I can't go to the cafe. Well, I'll tell ya, a good stew is a like a good hug, cheap & warms you down to the soul!
In my latest library stash, I checked out the unbelievable real stew put together by Clifford Wright. (Wow, I really did find "Mr. Wright"-- too bad I'm married).
This is officially my next great find. It will also be a purchase when I return to the world of buyers rather than borrowers. In the mean time let me tell you Cliff (I hope he doesn't mind if I call him that) is worth "checking out!"
There are 300 stews in here, some that look more complicated than I want to mess with, but many are reasonable with combinations that I can't believe I never thought of. The book is extremely well organized, divided in sections by main ingredient and the sections go by regions.

The Chicken and Coconut Stew from Kenya was an instant must-try, so let's see how it went!
Peppers & Onions are always a good start (2 each here sliced) they are being heated up with 1/2 teaspoon ground Ginger, 1/4 t curry, salt, sugar a couple cloves of garlic (he says crushed to a paste, I just put them through the press) and 3 cloves.
Once the onions and peppers softened I added the tomatoes from a 28 oz can (mostly drained) (Cliff asked for 1 1/2 lbs of ripe tomatoes, but they weren't looking so ripe at the market, so I used the canned) Along with tomatoes there was a crushed dried red chile (from the garden last summer!) and 1 1/2 T grated lemon zest. Once they are in & heated, add a small chicken cut into pieces (next time I'll probably just buy 4 # of chicken thighs to make it easier to serve & eat) .
(Dory was very excited to help with this!)

After about 5 minutes add 2 cups of coconut milk* and (wait for it)

1 1/2 pounds of Sweet Potatoes! HO-licius!

Damn, you know I was excited by that!

The next step is a perrennial favorite of mine: Cover, lower the heat & simmer** a couple hours until chicken & taters are tender.

It has a pretty orange color and the chicken melts in your mouth! HP wanted it over rice, but I love it just the way it was! Of course the left-overs were the best!

So keep warm, where ever you are & if you need a hug, make some of this & consider it a hug from Kiki & Cliff. (If you serve this to some one else, spontaneous hugs may occur as well)

*(Cliff tells you how to make your own coconut milk, but I'm down with the Goya thing. Cheap & Easy)
**(Simmer only, don't boil-boiled chicken = tough chicken)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

A is for ...

Alphabet. I'm sure you know that, but soon you'll know why I bring this up.

I have been in a bit of a funk lately, 2009 did not start with the all the promise and joy I need to get out of the rut that I have also been in. Actually, I think that I'm in something like a runk, part rut, part funk. I have been cooking, but not thinking about it (except when I had 8 people over for dinner, 3 of whom I had never met before, and then I was thinking, gee I hope I have enough food!) I have not made anything brilliant in the pottery studio lately, but I will be posting pictures of some of the presents soon. With all this runk going on, I just couldn't come up with anything to post. If I'm bored, why should I bore you?

As we know, once you stop posting, it is hard to get back into the habit, so I have decided to get back into the habit by doing some alphabet based posts. I will still mix in other random posts throughout, but, like a cheap writers ploy, I will try to have some fun with the alphabet.

A is for Alphabet, Alessi, Art and Abacus

Alphabet, you get the picture.

All through Italy, I would come across their wonderful kitchen products and smile. They have great designs that are functional, beautiful, fun everything you could want. They have all sorts of products and designers in their stable.

If I ate soft boiled eggs on a regular basis, you know I would have to get these:

If I was big on tea, I would definitely get this:

I do drink wine, but I haven't found this corkscrew yet. But at $54, maybe I'll skip it.

Moving on to Art. I can't say enough. I love Art and Artists in all their forms. I love fine art, folk art, 2-dimensional, 3 dimensional, visual, performing... You get the picture. I don't have a favorite, though I do have a weakness for the bold, iconic images of Keith Haring and Henri Matisse was probably my first "love". I loved seeing all types of art in our travels. I love that is universal and provincial at the same time. Aside from seeing the amazing pieces through out Rome, I had great fun crashing an opening in Dubrovnik.
I saw this and had to go in.

The exhibit was an environmental/installation piece. It was cool to be in the middle of, but I have no idea what the artist was saying when she discussed her piece.

And finally an Abacus. This one was on the island of Murano.

Yes it's glass. Each bead was about the size of a pumpkin.

So, what do you think of with the letter A?


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Ho

What better way to start the New Year than with an entry for this month's Ho Down! This month is being hosted by Christie, better known in the ho circle as Milky Lee, over at Fig & Cherry. Me I couldn't wait to join in!

HP has been sick with a miserable cold (or is it that he has a cold & acts miserable...) so I decided that a little zip & a little soup were in order. Unfortunately, I hadn't been to the market since before Christmas, so I went with my frugal nature & love of reinventing leftovers and came up with
Mandy Lynn's Curried Sweet Potato Soup.

I have been eying my leftover Parmesan Sweet Potato Gratin from Thanksgiving for a while. I loved the savory parmesan & rosemary with the sweet of the potatoes and have been looking for an excuse to defrost them The only problem was that I knew that the thin slices wouldn't defrost into the tender slices I started out with and probably wouldn't be as crisp or even as sliced. At first I thought that I would mash them up & serve them that way, but the potatoes I found, which were red skinned and white fleshed, were a different kind of sweet than the orange fleshed cousins and I didn't think I could convince the family to eat them mashed. So I did what any good Mom does. I hid them. I pulled a few more leftovers out of the fridge, including my holiday goat cheese dip with caramelized onions, and some of my frozen stock. I threw it into a pot & added a few secret ingredients. MMMM, maybe it shouldn't be a secret after all, so I'll give you what I made, & try to translate into something you can do as well (without benefits of my leftovers). I know that I plan to make this dish again, so let's give a whirl.

I started with about 1 1/2 pounds of sliced red skinned sweet potatoes. (The closest image I could find was this one over at flickr for a red skinned white sweet potato) Since mine was "gratined" I would say to slice thin, in a large pot, poach in a hearty chicken stock with some fresh rosemary, salt & pepper, when they are tender, add about 2 1/2 ounces of Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of light cream. Don't drain. Here are my potatoes post defrost, pre everything else

To my already gratined, slightly mushed potatoes I added 1 1/2 cups of dark chicken stock, about 3/4 of a cup of goat cheese and some caramelized onions. (about 1/3 - 1/2 cup).
Next add 3 Tablespoons of Madras Curry, a teaspoon of salt and, if you can find it, 2 teaspoons Fried Garlic. Simmer until all ingredients are warm & tender, then puree with an immersion blender. (You can also allow this to cool and puree in a regular blender-the result will be smoother, but be very careful when blending hot soups.)

At this point, I added another 1 1/2 cups of stock to thin it, and whipped that in with the immersion as well, (for a little more exotic taste, you can use a cup or so of coconut milk to thin it; I thought about it, but didn't want to open a can of something new). When starting this from scratch, add 1/2 a cup of broth at a time until you get the desired consistency. Just before serving, I stirred in 1/3 cup of plain yogurt. This is a super rich soup, add a piece of bread and you are set to go out and brave the elements or just sit and watch snow fall. It warms you down to your toes and has helped me fight off the terrible cold that HP keeps trying to give me.

A sprinkle of chili powder on top gives the perfect finish


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