Sunday, October 03, 2010

Caribbean Curry

I just finished The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof, a fantastic memoir by a woman who traveled, ate, and cooked her way around the Caribbean via sailboat. Poor thing--must be rough, right? It's great read, but do keep a snack close at hand as it will make you good and hungry.

Vanderhoof's book is filled with exotic but very intriguing recipes but so far I've only tried one, a bright green herby marinade that made my simple grilled salmon sing. The recipe I'm writing about today jumped off the pages of The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook by Rachel Rappaport precisely because my mind has been drifting off to lush islands, white sands, and crystal blue water lately.

Rappaport's cookbook, despite its unwieldy name, is filled with tasty, simple, long simmered recipes from around the world and I find myself thumbing through its pages more often as the weather cools. The Caribbean Chicken Curry is a perfect recipe because the hands-on time is minimal and the end result is fantastic. Cubes of chicken thigh meat are tossed in a blend of spices and then quickly sauteed before getting tucked in to the slow cooker with potatoes and coconut milk for a delicious curry that is very satisfying and was a big hit with my picky kids. There's room to experiment and I think both red bell pepper and sweet potatoes would be tasty additions, upping the nutrition even more (but, sadly, rendering it unfit for consumption on my house).

Because this is a "healthy" cookbook, the author recommends using a dab of canola oil and a nonstick skillet but nonstick scares me and I rather like coconut oil so I say use a good couple of spoonfuls and do your sauté in a proper heavy skillet and it will all be fine.

Rice is a natural partner for this saucy curry. Plain basmati is fine, but if you want want to indulge any coconut lovers in your house, this Caribbean-style coconut rice is fantastic.

Unfortunately, I have no photos to share. We ate every last bit of this tasty dish. And you will too--put on a little chutney music before you sit down and you'll be feeling that island vibe in no time!

Printable recipe here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This is what 8 looks like:

a giant, goofy, gap-filled smile showing the simple joy of hanging out with your dear friend (and your tiger, of course) at one of your very favorite places. Interestingly, Tovah chose to skip the usual party this year, and opted instead for a few special outings and her favorite malted milk ice cream. Very low key compared to previous years, but it seemed just perfect for who she is right now.

Monday, August 02, 2010

My Weekend

I decided to celebrate my recent significant birthday with a weekend of learning and dance at a Nia workshop. Thanks to my one-and-only, I was able to take two whole days out of my regular life--no schlepping, no laundry, no what's-for-dinner--to dig a little deeper into the movement that's been so nourishing and energizing for me in the last year.

Have I written here about Nia? Probably not. Where to start?

I stumbled into classes at our local community center last fall after realizing that inhaling chlorine on a regular basis probably offset any gains I was making in the pool. I was initially attracted to the Nia classes I'd spied through the studio doors because everyone looked like they were having so much fun. Seriously--people grinning in an exercise class? I had to check it out.

During my first class I felt wildly self conscious, like I had two or three left feet. I stressed myself out trying to get the choreography and then suddenly, when I stopped thinking and started feeling, it all came together. I found myself remembering my years as a dancer and realizing that dancer was still deep down inside me somewhere and maybe it was time to let her out.

My goodness that all sounds terribly woo woo, doesn't it?

But the simple fact that I've willingly gotten out of bed 2 or 3 times weekly to exercise for the past 11 months is nothing short of miraculous so I will just accept the magic, thanks very much. For months that's been enough. In fact, I was almost afraid to learn more about Nia. Why ask questions when it works?

And yet...and yet I just recently hit a point where I realized that, God willing, this will be part of the rest of my life. And it suddenly felt ok to ask questions, to dig deeper, to learn more. And just about that time, an email dropped in to my inbox, promoting an opportunity to find out more. There's that magic again.

I sent in my money, packed up a day's worth of snacks, and dove in to 13 hours of learning and moving in a beautiful, light-filled, high-ceilinged studio that was the perfect place to listen and watch and think. I don't get a while lot of time like that so this felt very special.

What exactly did we learn? Nia is a fusion of 9 different movement forms: moden dance, jazz dance, Duncan dance, Feldenkrais, Alexander technique, yoga, aikido, tai chi, and tae kwon do. While I knew this, I didn't know much about these individually, and I certainly hadn't thought about how each of these relates to what we do in Nia. This workshop was an opportunity to learn about the various disciplines through discussion, video, and practice. There was a great deal to think about and ample opportunity to watch masters in action and then practice in both controlled and creative ways. There were lots of folks there with far more knowledge and experience than I have and it was wonderful to learn from all of them.

My re-entry wasn't easy. I pushed myself too hard and I was tired, sore, and ravenous when I made it home last night but I also had that profoundly satisfying sense of having made enriching connections. I can't wait to take what I've learned into the studio tomorrow and after.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Rain

We waited so long for summer this year that this morning's light rain sent me into an utter panic.

Nothing to worry about, of course. The sun returned soon enough but not before I happened upon these beautifully jeweled sage leaves.

Monday, July 12, 2010

13 months

13 months is all we had with Romeo but they were months filled with head butts and belly rubs, a deep, rumbly purr, and the most loving personality I've ever encountered in a feline. I'll be honest--if I were allowed to choose, I'd have gladly handed over a couple of our other cats if that could somehow keep Romeo with us, but it doesn't work that way, does it?

I don't understand how a cat gets cancer. Smoking? Bad living? Romeo had no bad habits apart from an incessant need for snuggling. He was coddled from the day he showed up, given the best food, brushed and petted and adored like no cat before. But all that love couldn't protect him from the rogue cells that weakened him to the point that he was too frail to withstand today's surgery.

He walked in to our house one day out of nowhere and added something indescribable to our family. He was the sweetest, gentlest of cats and he will be sorely missed.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Seattle Eats

Lola seattleImage by conjunction3 via Flickr

We just got back from an anniversary trip to Seattle. Because the kids were elsewhere we had the unusually delightful pleasure of being able to eat whatever we wanted. If you've been cooking for picky kids for over a decade then you understand just how remarkable this is.

We decided that, given our relatively limited funds for this adventure, we'd rather spend less on fancy lodgings and more on good food and that was a brilliant decision! We stayed in a little studio apartment in an old building right downtown. I was a little hesitant to rent it sight unseen but when Google maps showed its location to be directly across the street from the Dahlia Bakery, out came my debit card and a reservation was made!

What I didn't realize until we arrived was that our budget studio was located right in the middle of chef Tom Douglas' Seattle dining empire. We stayed two doors down from Lola, across the street from The Dahlia Lounge, around the corner from Serious Pie and a block away from Palace Kitchen. We'd planned to have a fancy dinner at one of these well-reviewed restaurants but when we arrived in Seattle, ravenous after a 3+ hour train ride and with time to kill before we could check in to our rental apartment, we decided it was a perfect time to try Lola.

This was probably the best of many good meals on this trip. It may have been due to our hunger after the long train ride or the playing hooky feeling of ditching the kids and skipping town or maybe just plain fantastic food--whatever, this was a meal to remember. Lola's menu is Greek inspired but features fine local ingredients. We started with freshly baked pita served with skordalia, a delicious potato garlic spread. I had amazing grilled salmon kebabs served with more pita, a lovely, tangy tzatziki and amazing "smashed" potatoes which were like no potato I'd ever eaten: golden and crunchy outside with creamy insides. Unbelievable. We were unnecessarily tempted by dessert and probably and ended up overstuffed and not nearly as delighted as we'd been by the meal itself but overall it was fantastic.

We spent the afternoon and evening wandering and, remarkably, ended up hungry again after hiking up to Capitol Hill hours later. There are plenty of restaurants along Broadway but none really caught our eye until we came to Galerias Gourmet Mexican Restaurant. A quick scan of their menu showed that this is definitely not your average burrito bomb Mexican place but a place that had a variety of interesting looking, unusual dishes. We stepped inside to some truly fabulous, over the top decor: bright colors everywhere, huge paintings of intense Biblically inspired scenes, and the tallest fake flower arrangement I've ever seen. We were seated in the shadow of the awe-inspiring monster bouquet but quickly forgot it once our food came. The trio of salsas which came as a starter was delicious. Each was distinctive, well balanced, and clearly made with care. The giant, tasty margarita was quite good and a definite bargain. My entree was poblano chiles stuffed with cheese and grilled veggies and wrapped in a light, buttery pastry which was an vast improvement over the usual soggy, eggy batter found clinging to chiles rellenos.

Other great meals included an egg and asparagus sandwich on a homemade English muffin at the Dahlia Bakery, delicious chai and kheer at Traveler's Cafe, salted caramel ice cream at Molly Moon's, a delightful brunch at the Dahlia Lounge (scrambled eggs with asparagus and Cougar Gold cheese and a bing cherry margarita), and some super simple but fantastic roasted corn from a cart. All so good!
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Today is a typical day: lesson planning, kid schlepping, laundry...pretty much the usual with one notable exception. It's also our 20th wedding anniversary. Twenty years! I can't believe I'm old enough to have done anything for 20 years but there you have it.

We decided to celebrate with a getaway to Seattle last weekend. The kids went off to stay with my wonderful, fabulous mother-in-law while we caught the train and headed north for a few days.

On of the frustrating parts of planning this trip was the outrageous prices for hotels in downtown Seattle. Even the simplest ones are shockingly expensive and, we imagined, probably completely lacking in charm in our price range. I kept searching and searching for something that didn't require a second mortgage and one day up popped airbnb in my search results, where we found a very inexpensive studio perfectly situated for our visit. We stayed on the second floor of The Virginian Apartments, overlooking busy 4th avenue:

We didn't really head out with much in the way of firm plans but we had a guidebook or two for ideas. We ended up at both the Olympic Sculpture Garden and the Ballard Locks on the same surprisingly beautiful day.

We walked for miles, we ate fantastic meals, and truly had a marvelous time.

Here are a few favorite photos:
And perhaps my favorite of all:
Here's to the next 20 years!