Monday, October 22, 2012

weekend in the kitchen

One of the things I miss while I'm away at school is the kitchen. 

So, home for the weekend, with the house to myself and nothing but a thirty page paper to write, I cooked. I made the house smell first like a bread and cinnamon and then like a Indian restaurant. 

I made a variation of Sarah Britton's "cozy" banana bread with 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 barley flour. It was also sans nuts, seeds or chocolate, but I did add about 1/2 a teaspoon cinnamon and maybe 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, plus a pinch of cardamom and a large handful quick oats.

Saturday I received a gift of one gorgeously wild looking ginger root and a gnarly looking bulb of celeriac. Ginger I adore, but celeriac (to the right in the photo below) was an unknown beast. 

I think one of the most important things to do in cooking is experiment. Certainly, you should getting your footing and follow the recipe to the T while you're still learning. But once you feel confident with a sharp knife in your hand and onions at your fingertips, follow your tastebuds over the recipe. Recipes can be guidelines. 

To make a curry, I used this talented lady's recipe as a jumping off point. I had no butternut squash, so I tossed in sweet potatoes instead. Quinoa is similar to lentils, I've cooked with both - I figured it could work. And the spices I varied simply because I love to play with spices (next time, I'll use a little more cinnamon, less curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon cumin). 

Sweet Potato and Celeriac Quinoa Curry
(adapted from My New Roots)

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sweet potatoes peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 a celeriac bulb, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes*
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 cup quinoa (I used red and white), rinsed
1 tablespoon curry powder (preferably Madras)
1/2 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
a pinch of cinnamon
4 cups water
2 cups fresh spinach
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

1. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat and add sweet potatoes, onion, carrot, celeriac, garlic, ginger and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until veggies are softened and beginning to brown - 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Stir in spices and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute.

3. Add quinoa and water and simmer, uncovered, until quinoa is tender, expanded, and with their curly tails sprung out. Remove from heat and stir in spinach until wilted. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt if you like. (And know that it's even better the next day.) 

*The rest of the celeriac later got chopped up and roasted, along with carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, onion, and garlic

Listening to:
All of this (but particularly this)
And this

Monday, October 15, 2012

reading, lately

I could wake up tomorrow morning and read from sun up til sun down. Even then the number of pages I have yet to transverse - for school and for pleasure - would seem no less daunting.

Over fall break I had the chance to peruse David Mitchell's Cloud AtlasI realized then that it's very seldom I read novels anymore. They used to be the bread and butter of my literary diet.

Now, these are the facts of my reading life:
1. I read mainly non-fiction.
2. I cannot seem to read only one book at a time.
3. The bottom of my "to read" list is unreachable.

Read lately: