Indian tonight and tomorrow night…..

I have been a bit under the weather for the last 6 days. I started out making traditional comfort food like lemon and herb roasted chicken. then switched to my NM comfort foods, pork and green chile. Went back to childhood with tater tots (feeling too crappy to cook even that night) and now am on to Indian.

Indian as comfort food you ask?

Well I am sure to someone from India, their comfort food is Indian. Roasted chicken is downright boring compared to Indian food. I still feel awful, but somehow well enough to make not one, but 4 dishes. Cooking is comfort to me. I thought I would try some new dishes and one old favorite, but this time not taking the shortcuts I usually take with the old favorite. The first dish is Malay chicken biryani and I usually skip some steps, don’t pay attention to the measurements (the box directions are metric) and don’t add curry leaves because I haven’t had any. This time, I followed the directions and found some curry leaves at the Asian store. Ok, I didn’t add the cucumber and wouldn’t have even if I had one on hand. I ate enough cooked cucumber during the years when my brother was a vegetarian (and now he raises pheasant, quail and high end chickens). This dish is terrific. Tangy, spicy hot and the curry leaves really make the dish. I could eat this every week.

Next I made Paneer Mahkani from Hooked on Heat’s site. I followed the recipe and added a bit of fresh muddled cardamom and coriander too, just a teaspoon or so. I used homemade canned yellow tomatoes for this one and it gave it a beautiful color. My goal here was to make a new dish and use my kasoori  methi leaves (fenugreek).  This dish turned out so well I had to hold myself back from eating it for breakfast.  Great creaminess from the ground cashews and nice tartness from the tomatoes.  The methi leaves are a key ingredient and have so much flavor!

On to Dahi Bhindi – Okra in yogurt sauce. I love okra and have wanted to make an okra dish for a while.  However after eating this dish, I have decided that I only want to eat okra three ways:  in gumbo, deep fried or pickled.  Perhaps I would have liked this more using fresh okra, but I had frozen on hand.  Still pretty slimy and not enough flavor to overcome the slime.


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Finally, rice with nigella(onion) seeds, cardamom, tumeric and one red chile pod with lemon juice to brighten the flavor (pictured next to the green okra). I know, two rice dishes. I can’t eat the bhindi and paneer mahkani plain can I? I need something to soak up the delish sauces.  Truth be known, Indian food is not very photogenic, esp dal’s.  But I did my best above.  Cooked okra is never going to be photogenic unless it is barely blanched to keep that green goodness color.

At least I can take tomorrow night off from cooking and indulge in my favorite TV weaknesses – Survivor and Grey’s Anatomy (And you thought I was perfect didn’t you? Guilty little pleasures).

i’m out

Yards, trees, wood splitting and stump grinding

I have had a busy year. Well, 5 years. Four years ago the ball got rolling by having a gigantic limb fall from the 70-80 year old cottonwood by the garage (there were three of these giant trees). The tree fell on my mulberry tree – a fruiting one and my fence and damaged them both. It, the mulberry had to go. Somehow while I was gone for 2 hours, the tree guy I had hired cut the wrong mulberry tree down. Then while he was attempting to take the cottonwood (which was dying and I didn’t know it) down, he dropped a huge branch on my neighbors house. She asked that I remove another tree to the North that leaned over her property towards her house a bit. So in the matter of a month I went from 4 full grown and two smaller trees to none in that corner. Only catch was, I had to dispose of the wood myself. We split it all that fall – yes it was lying on my lawn from July to November and it
was a lot of tree. It kept the lawn mowing down. I burned that wood during the winter until this summer when I gave the rest away to make room for the next round.

Last July I had two 70-80 year old giant cottonwood trees removed from the backyard. When I bought this house it was loaded with trees in the backyard. Now they are all but gone.

It has taken some getting used to the lack of shade, but it has been great for the garden. Last week was the beginning of the finale. When I had the trees removed I asked the crew to leave me about one cord of wood from the smaller stuff, the stuff about as big around as your thigh, so that I wouldn’t have to split it and could just use a chain saw to slice it up into smaller pieces. Well, they ended up leaving gigantic pieces that are too large for one human to move. My tree guy assured me that he would come back in the fall and split the wood for me (I am lucky enough to have a wood stove for extra coziness and heat). Well we got the fence up a month or so after grinding the stumps (renting a stump grinder) enough to get out of the way of a fence line (they needed still to be properly ground). Nine months later, I still have an obnoxious pile of wood that is keeping me from progress in the landscaping department. Enter in good friend whose boyfriend happened to just recently buy a wood splitter. I was about to pay to have the chunks hauled away, and he offered to help.

Last Thursday, we split wood. On Sunday my tree guy came over and ground all the stumps (and one very large root) for us. A four hour process. Lots of mulch, lots of wood chips flying through the air. Lots of raking in my future.

Finally a sense of completion. These photos document the drastic changes in the backyard since it all began. Watching a 90 foot high tree come down limb by limb is pretty interesting to watch, and terrifying if your house is underneath it!

Now to reroof the garage and finish putting up privacy fence. At least I can take my time with those and not worry about dying trees falling on my head and house!

i’m out

Coconut and cookies

Yum. I haven’t even baked them yet and I already can’t resist them. I am not a raw cookie dough eater by nature, but, well, it has been awhile since I have had a delicious choc chip cookie. I did make some with oats several months ago and used ground up McCann’s steel cut oats in place of normal flour for the Nestle Tollhouse recipe. Grinding the flour yourself makes the flour fluffier, so you have to compensate by adding a bit more, which I did not. But that didn’t stop me from eating flat cookies. They were very tasty. I can only eat so many cookies in a setting and really don’t like cookies when they are more than 24 hours old (I picky) so I just made enough for us to eat that evening and a couple for breakfast (why not? It has eggs in it.) and then made logs using parchment paper and tightly wrapped each log in plastic wrap, then in foil and then into a large freezer zip bag and wrote the baking directions right on the bag (I thought that part was rather genius of me and helpful in case I die and someone wants to know what that is in the freezer). I must have been close to an overnight or road trip as I tend to think that way before traveling.



For the recipe below, I followed it exactly except for two things – omitting the nuts and I used unsweetened, shredded coconut from the local Indian store as I thought it looked sweet enough. Plus, it is affordable there. Actually sweetened coconut from the regular store may be as affordable, I just never use it. I like my coconut to be flexible so that I can use it for my coconut shrimp batter that I have not yet fully invented. But when I do create it, I will serve it with my mango salsa, which is also fabulous on grilled fish. It has been awhile, so I will try to make that one soon and post a few photos.

Does anyone have a source for bulk brown rice flour? My Asian market doesn’t carry it and I don’t think my coffee grinder will get it fine enough before it dies trying to grind 3 cups worth.

From Mrs. GF ‘s site the other day

Chewy Crisp Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups brown rice flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xantham gum
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Spray pan with non-stick spray, or use parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, beat butter with granulated and brown sugar until fluffy; beat in eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, potato and tapioca starches, baking soda, xantham gum and salt; stir in chocolate chips, pecans and coconut. Pour over butter mixture, stir to combine.

Drop by 1 Tbsp, about 2 inches apart onto prepared pans. Bake about 12 minutes. Transfer to racks; let cool or not!

This batch made 4 logs that I put in the freezer and I baked a dozen (in addition to the logs) last night. My boyfriend can’t stop eating them and decided that they would be just fine for lunch. I am not sure I have seen him eat a GF baked good so whole heartedly. They are good and I like the coconut texture and taste. I think they might be too sweet if you use sweetened coconut. I can definitely live with these cookies the rest of my life!

Between you and me, I would add at least one more cup of chocolate chips as there is a lot of dough and doesn’t everyone want a chip in every bite?  If you are going to eat a cookie, you may as well indulge.

i’m out

Through the eyes of my cider

Homemade GF beer will come, if you make it…

Keeping up with the GF beer world. Here is a nice comparison of what is out there. I have yet to make my own, but I will. It has been enough for the last year to relearn how to cook fav’s, start baking any kind of baked good that I was craving and learn more about Celiac.

I plan to create a dark beer by roasting some rice flakes and will try to malt my own oats and roast some of those as well. Malting my own oats, that sounds kind of strange and definitely sounds labor intensive. A cousin of mine has a few feeder cattle on his farm that is near the farm I was raised on. He raises oats for his chickens and was kind enough to donate 20 lbs of raw oats to my experimental cause. Now I just need to get crack’in. I like the GF beers that are around, but not enough to say, ooh, I really want a beer. A vodka grapefruit almost always sounds better, or a mojito. So, to that end, I must create my own. I have several friends who are very excited at the prospect. I still attend my local homebrewing club the Firkin Homerackers, but it hasn’t been with as much gusto as I can’t taste the beer, just sniff it and hide my jealousy and sip some Strongbow as I have yet to do much with the now 30 gallons of hard cider in my basement. They are however, all my friends and my social network, so I do go. We have members who make wine, mead and cider too and those are my favorite nights now.

Here is one of my friends as seen through cider goggles.

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i’m out

Welcome to the new blog site!

Well, I have been having blog envy for a while now. The solution? Design my own blog with my colors and layout. I wanted a theme to match my mood, the colors of Mexico. It is still in process, but from now on I plan to post on this site: Once nice aspect is that the address is easier to remember.
So, update your links and enjoy! Gardening season is here and I am very much looking forward to my visit on Sunday to Van Atta’s to gather more varieties of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, other veggies and always more herbs. Next weekend I hope to install a cold frame in the garden and work on some long awaited landscaping.


I will figure out a way to link you to the new blog soon when someone types in this address. Lucky for me, my boyfriend is an internet/blog guru and is helping me with this project, ok, he is doing all of it and I just pick out the colors and photos.

See you over at the new Fresh Ginger, where I will actually be including more recipes on a regular basis soon!

i’m out