Sunday, June 29, 2008

Proud of Myself

I swear, every time I learn something new, I turn into a little kid -- I'm all excited and proud of myself way out of proportion to the actual achievement. Note that -- unfortunately -- this doesn't apply to academic learning, just stuff that I do on my own time.

Anyway, yesterday's moment of joy was this:

"Everyday yellow dal" from 5 spices, 50 dishes with onion raita and rice. I actually followed the recipe, more or less -- added 1/4 tsp cardamom and 1/2 tsp ginger powder, omitted the butter, added a few extra cloves of garlic, seeded the tomato, and substituted white onion for red. (And -- shhh -- I used pre-ground coriander; I couldn't find a spice grinder for the whole seeds.) Apparently, the secret to cooking is to measure the spices and follow the recipe :) Who knew? The raita is just thinly sliced raw onion mixed with yogurt, salt, powdered ginger, and cayenne pepper.
Strangely, I had some difficulty finding yellow split peas for the recipe -- my grocery store didn't carry them and neither did TJ's. (Someone described TJ's as a grocery store for people who don't cook -- I got offended at the time, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I rarely buy basic ingredients there. I do LOVE their frozen fruits and veggies though!) So I stopped in to the Indian grocers and also picked up some chiles, sev, and paneer.
And despite the name of the recipe, I doubt this will be an everyday meal for me: this was my kitchen by the time I finished cooking. My next investment may have to be a spice rack :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's a Tie

I didn't kill it, and it didn't kill me. All in all, not bad for my first pressure cooking experience. I certainly didn't keep my cool under pressure: having heard several horror stories about exploding cookers, I was a little on edge. I called my parents no less than 5 times while pacing around the perimeter of my kitchen -- a safe distance from the hissing, shaking object on the stove -- and telling them that I was certain to be blown up any second.

Turns out that the little jiggly thing on the top didn't work so great -- it didn't jiggle to let me know that the cooker had reached pressure. After about a half hour of nothing happening, I poked it gently with a spoon and it started spinning like crazy. So I shut the cooker off, depressurized it, and opened it to find some very well-cooked beans. Thankfully, nothing burned, and next time I'll know to check the pressure after about 10 minutes.

I think that I'll give this recipe a try tomorrow. Green peas for the yellow, water for broth, add some cauliflower and carrots and maybe part of a can of tomatoes. The more that I use the cooker, the less scary it will be! (Yay for kitchen desensitization therapy!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mixed Veggie Raita

Somedays, I just don't feel like cooking. Like when it's 96 degrees (and me with no A/C)...or when I remember that my pantry is still pretty bare from the recent move. Raita to the rescue!

I was going to make cabbage raita from this recipe (about halfway down) but I didn't understand the directions. So here's what I did instead.

2 cups cabbage, thinly sliced (can substitute prepared coleslaw)
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced (shredded would be better but I was lazy)
3 tablespoons finely minced yellow onion (if you're like Kabs and hate onion, you can use a little less -- or if it's a texture thing, you can shred or juice the onion. But don't leave it out entirely.)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (more or less to personal preference)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 salt, or more to taste

Mix all ingredients and adjust seasoning to taste. It's best if it sits in the fridge for a little bit (mine chilled for about half an hour while I made rice) and it's good on the second day as well. I wouldn't let it go much longer because the cabbage was starting to get a bit of a bitter taste. I mixed the raita with canned kidney beans and served it over rice.

Tomorrow I'll try cooking dry beans in my pressure cooker -- if you hear of a roof being blown off of a house somewhere in Columbus, it's either me or a very small tornado. And I'm looking forward to using those beans (though maybe not this first batch) in recipes from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes. Nupur recommended it in this post and I've already reserved it at the library. (Yay for CML!)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Etiquette Tip

If you haven't seen someone in a year, don't greet them with "Hey, have you gained weight?"

Although you'd think that would be obvious, personal experience suggests otherwise. (And no, I haven't, thanks.) People don't always heed the call of the obvious.

Hence the warning label on the dryer at the laundromat: "Remove all pets and children before starting machine."

And the (literally) 50 people who've hit "Reply All" to an email that starts with "Please do not use reply all in response to this email."

Somedays, I just give up.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I Need Food Inspiration...

I've moved -- that could be several posts in and of itself, but whatever, it's done. I'm on vacation now, whee! (Not that I'm doing anything exciting, but I had early days all week and I'm happy to sleep in.) I think that I'll actually enjoy my surgery rotation (totally unexpected but sweet) but there's a downside: I have to eat breakfast. Days start at 5:30AM (eeeeeeew) and if I don't eat, I'll pass out in the OR. But I don't want to wake up any earlier than I have to (I already need to get up at 4:30 to get to work on time) and my stomach can't handle anything too "sloshy" that early. I ate cold pizza all this week -- and it was good but I think 8 weeks of it would get old. So here's the challenge: I need something that I can take from the fridge and eat in the car, no heating required. I'm willing to cook on the weekends but I'd prefer things that would keep in the fridge through the week, rather than needing to be frozen and later defrosted. Vegetarian is a must, high-protein would be ideal. There's always pizza, and I've also thought of French toast, and peanut butter sandwiches. Yogurt and smoothies are too liquidy; I've thought about something like a Spanish omelet but I really don't love eggs. So inspire me and I'll love you forever :)