Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thai Coconut Chicken Curry Soup

This soup originally was inspired by the truly AMAZING soups at Safeway, yep that's right, I occasionally buy prepared food at the grocery store, but it is very rare. My goal is always to find something amazing and perfect my own version. This one took lots of work and many trips to the Asian market, but I finally got it down, and boy was it worth it! Some important things to look for at the Asian market, when you go, are red curry paste, lemongrass stalks (I freeze them so I can use them again in a month or so) kaffir lime leaves (mine had baggies in the freezer) fish sauce and coconut milk. Everything else is relatively available in the grocery store. Another helpful tool is a julienne. Mine is a hand held nifty one I picked up at Sur la Table in Seattle, but there are other options out there. Use with care, I've julienned my knuckles, not that attractive. So here's my very own take on...
Thanks for having a pic!

Thai Coconut Chicken Curry Soup

1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped or julienned
1/2 c uncooked wild rice

Sauté in bottom of large pot. Then add...
3 stalks lemongrass, trimmed to 1 inch pieces, crushed so juices flow
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
2 T red curry paste (or to taste if you like more/less heat)
3 Kaffir lime leaves
2 T fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 can chicken broth
juice of 2 limes

Reduce heat. In separate pot, boil...
2 chicken breasts
2 1/2 c water
2 tsp salt

When chicken is cooked, remove and shred chicken. Add shredded chicken and boiled broth water to main pot. Then add...

1 can coconut milk
2 carrots, julienned

Simmer soup until carrots and rice are tender. 

Ethiopian Chicken Lentils (Doro Wat)

I have my wonderful job to thank for this gift, and you get the finished recipe before they do, so you should feel loved. This came in a nifty recipe pack sample to us at work, and we have each tinkered with it on our own, making it what we want. The best part of this recipe was my sweet Joseph, who usually strikes out in the "complimenting my crazy experiments" department, texted me the next day to let me know it was the best lunch he had enjoyed ALL MONTH! I take immense personal fulfillment through his enjoyment of my efforts, so this was a home run for me! Forgive me for not having step by step pics at the moment, I'm sure I will be making this many more times, so they will come! This recipe doesn't require an extra trip to the ethnic store (well for me, that is) so I can make it any time, no planning necessary!

Ethiopian Chicken Lentils (Doro Wat, minus egg)

2 lbs chicken (I used bone in, skinned)
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced to 1/2" thin pieces
3 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced thin
1 Tbs chopped fresh ginger root OR 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cloves
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne
1 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs butter
2 c water
1 c lentils, rinsed

rice and naan for serving

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub with lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt. Let marinate 30 minutes. (Chop your onion, garlic and ginger and gather your seasonings while it marinates)
In a large thick bottomed pot or cast iron dutch oven, heat olive oil. Pat excess moisture off chicken pieces, to ensure browning, add to hot oil in pot and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from pot and keep warm.
In the same pot, dry cook onions, stirring occasionally until soft and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and fenugreek and sautee another 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add cardamom, cloves, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, chili powder, remaining salt and butter. Stir and continue to cook 3-5 minutes to release the aroma of the spices. Add rinsed lentils, chicken and water, ensuring plenty of water to cook the lentils. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender and chicken is no longer pink, about 25 minutes. Serve over rice with naan.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Kale Chip Nirvana

I'm publishing this more for me than for you, I apologize for my selfishness, but you should be grateful that it benefits you as well, right? I created this recipe last year, and it was delicious! But I have since near lost it altogether several times. I am putting out into the expanse of the great world wide web in hopes that I will never lose it again. This recipe is nutty, cheesy (but Vegan and also Raw) and altogether delicious! It is also a fantastic base to build on. Experiment with different spice blends, or some hard cheeses (not Vegan anymore, but very delicious!) Don't forget that kale is an AMAZING super-food, so when you get those salty carb cravings that sabotage your waistline, reach for this super amazing "chip" that will fool your cravings for sure! So here it is, I don't know how much more lead-in I can's late on a Saturday...

Kale Chip Nirvana
Those green onion looking things are garlic scapes,
 look for them at farmers markets!

3/4 c sunflower seeds, roasted and salted
1/4 c tahini paste
1/4 c garlic scapes OR 3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbs tamari, aged soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1/3 c nutritional yeast
1/2 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 c water (or as needed to make sure it blends and is pastey)

1-2 bunches of curly leaf kale (depending on the size of the leaves) rinsed and dried

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor, adding water as needed just to aid in blending. Set paste aside. Rip or cut kale into 2 inch pieces, approximately. I found the larger pieces don't hold the yummy flavor coating as well as you bite into it. Coat each piece evenly with the paste flavoring. I found that thin layers work best, too thick and it isn't tasty. Place pieces of coated kale on dehydrator racks, ensuring the pieces do not overlap at all. You may need to spray oil on your racks, depending on how sticky prone your racks are. Don't want to leave any yummy flavor behind.

Dehydrate kale chips at between 105-115 degrees for APPROXIMATELY 10-11 hours. In reality, this time differs every time, as it is greatly affected by how much moisture is in the leaves, in the paste and how humid the air is. Be sure to watch these carefully, starting at maybe hours 8-9. You want the chips to be crispy, the paste completely dried as well as the leaves. If there is any stem piece connected to the leaf, make sure this is completely dried, as this will re-hydrate the chip once removed from the dehydrator. Re-hydrated kale chips are NOT as tasty.

This is BEFORE I figured out that smaller
 pieces work better, do as I say, not as I do!
Once the chips are dried to crispy, remove them from racks and store them in an air-tight container. I have found that hard plastic containers work much better than baggies, as they can be damaged easily in bags. Also, storing them in the fridge helps to keep the chips fresh. But if you're anything like me, these little buggers won't last for very long!

Friday, May 11, 2012


Yesterday Joseph and I found out our application to be foster parents was denied by the State, permanently. I can't even put in to words what a blow this is. Basically, I just miscarried. I've been preparing, yes in fact nesting, for four months now. For the first time in 8 1/2 years, I thought that having a baby to care for was finally a real possibility. Now...not at all. There are very few options out there for us.

Yesterday when I found out, and my mind was completely consumed with shattered hopes and plans for the future, I tried to opt out of my commitments for the day. I asked for a half day off work to spend with my husband, who left work right away in the morning, to no avail. Had to tough it out. Also tried to explain my emotional state to slide out of the Relief Society mid week activity I was teaching that night, got a "not possible, sorry." How could I have explained myself better? So people understand? Is it possible for anyone to understand? 

I feel myself pulling away from women my age with children, there is now a discomfort there, like I was encroaching on their club, forging my membership card with this dream of being a foster mother. Now my bluff has been exposed and I'm left barren and childless, completely clueless and outside their life experiences. Did I mention Mother's Day is now in two days? Yep. This will be the worst Mother's Day to date. And as fate would have it, I am part of the presidency in charge of the Mother's Day Brunch we planned for Sunday, third hour of church. I could go, swallow all my feelings, be completely numb, and I could smile through the whole thing. Or somehow, someone will say something to break my shell, and I will melt into a ball of sobbing tears. I have decided not to go. 

I don't want sympathy, answering questions is the LAST thing I want to do. I just want to be understood. I feel like I should let people know, but I don't know how, and I don't want to be swamped with questions. I don't even know what I do want. I just want it all to go away, I want to feel nothing. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

A knock-off Jamba...

Made an amazing find the other day, maybe you've already tried it, but I got the Chunky Strawberry Topper at Jamba Juice, so yummy! But at $4 a cup, there's NO way I'm buying that again, not to mention the sugar headache aftermath. So, if you want to try it, here you go:

I am ball-parking the measurements, feel free to adjust as you like...

Place in blender:

1 banana
1/2 c plain greek yogurt
1 Tbs honey
5 frozen strawberries
1/4 c peanut butter
1/3 c soy milk
1 tsp cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla (I wanted the flavor of vanilla yogurt, without the sugar, and with some Mexican vanilla, WOW!)

Blend, or pulse if you want it chunky.

Top cup with Pumpkin/Flax seed Granola
1/2 sliced banana

Eat with a spoon. Hide from anyone who might steal. And don't say I never taught you anything useful!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dedicated to A Master, my father!

Today I am honored to dedicate an entire blog to bragging about my father, the most talented and incredible artist I know. He has just launched his website, making it even easier for me to spread his breathtaking landscape pieces to you, future devoted fans.
Reflections on the Day, Adair Payne
This piece is my favorite, by far! I love it so very much that it has been the wallpaper on my phone for the past 2+ years. It is so warm, vibrant and alive! California poppies hold a special place in my heart, and bring to my mind memories of warm hikes in the mountains of my hometown, walking alongside my father who pointed out these beautiful buttercups! He would tell me stories of his youth in Northern California and of growing up with his father, my beloved grandfather.
Between April Showers, Adair Payne
This one I am honored to have hanging in my living room! I love the calmness, the serenity, the cool peace that it brings to my home. The detail is so alive, the green moss and growth so vibrant! Every detail makes you feel as if you were right there, soaking in the solace.
Summer Solitude, Adair Payne
This is a second one I have captured to my phone, a picture I am lucky enough to enjoy every day! I love the movement in the water, the warmth in the rocks, and the clarity with which you can see the river bottom through the water. The filtered sun seeping through the trees is so real, so warm.
After June Rain, Adair Payne

Please visit his site and enjoy his masterpieces yourself! They are breathtaking and moving! I am so very proud of him and I hope his talents can bring you as much joy as they have brought me throughout my life.
Pacific Evening, Adair Payne

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What is Nesting?

I found myself in a baby store today, a darling one so sweetly decorated. I unintentionally wandered down an aisle, a possibility I should have considered happening prior to entering the store. As I fondled a crocheted baby  bonnet with a beautiful green flower, I realized in a panic that I didn't belong here, that this was a place I needed to run away from, and FAST! As I literally dropped the bonnet half-caress and quickly re-traced my steps back to the safety of my car, I pondered this sudden feeling in my chest. Is that panic? Is it heartburn?

For years, I have been successful at steering far away from baby paraphernalia, very successful. I don't even give cute tiny dresses a second glance. I am stoic. If I make it to a baby shower, after the self-pep talk in the car ride there, complete with waterproof mascara, I bring the mother some bath and body gift, for HER. Nope, I never buy baby things, so don't invite me to your shower if you want a rattle or a onesie. Self-denial, reppression, these are a few of my faaavorite things! As I found myself beating a quick retreat from the soft coos of the hand-made fleece burp towels today, I had to face the feelings, and the realization that they were still there, despite denying their existence for so very long.

What is nesting? How can I possibly find that instinct that nature tells me I was born with? Can it have survived all these years? How can I overcome the fear of that tiny little pastel wash cloth? How do I convince myself that it will happen? That I may very well have a baby in my arms in under 2 months time? Will I be in denial up to the very moment it happens? Then what will I have done to myself? I am terrified to plan, terrified it will all be for naught, that SOMEHOW the universe will find a way to deny me once again from my God-given birthright. And despite all of my work to circumvent this evil joke, there will still be a void.

At the end of the day, after the panic slowly released its grip on my chest, I discovered something very different in it's wake. Small though it was, it was there. Is that just a tinge of excitement? Are you starting to plan? To visualize? Can you really do this, oh broken heart of mine? I hope you can.