Sunday, January 31, 2016

In the land of kimchi

I am a huge fan of kimchi. Back in the days, I bought it in large quantities, inexpensively in Koreatown in LA. These days it is vastly overpriced up here in Maine, where there are only a few Koreans who know how to make it and napa cabbage seems also to quite pricy in the winter. Nevertheless, home-made kimchi to the rescue.

A few years ago, I made a first batch based on a video vom Maangchi. She’s my kimchi queen, she is just super cute.  She has another video on youtube, ‘easy kimchi’.  So, it was a kimchi making Saturday afternoon, and a basmati rice and fresh kimchi kind of dinner. Yum!

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It’s best to watch the video for more instructions. I am just writing up the ingredients.

Easy Kimchi (according to Maangchi):

Cabbage:

  • 10 pounds of napa cabbage (adjust the recipe if you use less. I used 7 pounds).
  • 1 cup of kosher salt

Cut napa cabbage into bite-size pieces. Wash and soak the cabbage for a few minutes. Then salt the cabbage in a large bowl and let sit for 1.5 hours. Every 30 min gently mix and turn over the cabbage. After 1.5h, rinse the cabbage and drain.

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Meanwhile make…

Porridge:

  • 3 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of white sweet rice flour
  • 1/4 cup of white or coconut sugar

In a pot, hit the water with the rice flour and constantly stir. With in 3-5 min, the porridge will thicken up. Add the sugar, and stir some more for 1min. Take off heat. Let cool to room temperature.

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Ginger-garlic paste:

  • 1 cup of peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 TB of fresh ginger
  • 1 cup of fish sauce
  • 1 medium sized white onion, peeled

Place in food processor and process for 1 min.

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Porrigde-Chili paste:

  • Mix the cooled porridge with the ginger-garlic paste.
  • add 1-2 cups of chili flakes (just 1/2-1 cup if you don’t like it too hot)
  • mix it all up.
  • Add
    • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup of daikon, thinly sliced
    • 1 bunch of scallions, sliced on an angle
  • Mix the vegetables in the paste.

 

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Make kimchi:

  • Prepare a large storage container with a tight fitting lid. You will store the kimchi in the fridge to ferment for a few weeks.
  • Put on some rubber gloves.
  • In a bowl, mix a portion of salted, drained cabbage with a laddle full of chili paste. Mix up, and place in storage container.
  • Mix until all is mixed up and placed in storage container.
  • Place in fridge and wait for fermentation. It will start after 2 days, and smell slightly sour.

I made a separate smaller portion in a glass jar, which will ferment in room temperature so it ferments faster.

Serve with rice, sesame seeds and beef, or just as a side.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Coconut waffles (vegan)

It is Friday. A lot went through my mind this week. Is the zika virus really such an explosively spreading threat as it is made out to be? Is it really responsible for the birth defects reported in Brazil? The whole hysteria eerily reminds me of Dan Brown novel “Inferno”.  I read somewhere that scientists try to bio-engineer a male mosquito that, if pairing with a female of the zika carrying mosquito species, the female would lay eggs that don’t develop into mosquitos. Inferno 2, revenge of the humans.

It would be funny if it would not be concerning.

Yesteryday, I read a blog post on the Bloggess, about Dave.  It made me think that I watch too much hulu and surf the internet to keep up with people I often don’t even know.

It is mild outside. Much of our snow has melted. It feels more like March than end of January, and mentally I am steering towards spring and summer, making mental notes about spring fashion and running outdoors again.

This week I experimented with a new recipe, coconut waffles. This is an easy recipe and gives waffles a bit of an exotic edge. Have  a good weekend!

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Coconut waffles (vegan)

Makes 4 smaller waffles (1 breakfast for 2 not so hungry people)

  • 1/2 cup of allpurpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 TB of coconut flour
  • 1 TB of raw coconut sugar
  • small dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk (used the drinkable kind, not the canned)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon for raw grated ginger (optional, but cuts through the sweetness)

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  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, and then add the wet ingredients. Combine and mix until the waffle dough is smooth.
  2. Preheat waffle iron (depending on the model, a green light goes on). Spray with nonstick canola oil spray (or wipe with some oil).
  3. Bake waffles according to the waffle maker's instructions, which usually means putting about 1/4 cup batter on the iron, closing, and waiting for a light to go out. I baked mine longer than the light signal (about 4 min altogether so that they are on the crispy side).
  4. Serve to your liking.  I just had them with butter and jam.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Arctic Winter Comforts

It is arctic around here. I wake up every morning to a glissening white-golden sun and a bright blue sky, the light reflected by the bright icy snow that covers the landscape pervasively. With January, the tempertures dip to the low 20sF, and it does not matter if it is 22F or -1F, it is simply too cold for comfort. Add some wind that icely blusters up the loose snow, and makes the tiny silvery snowflakes dance in house high walls, like ghosts, in the sun. I pull my fur-rimmed hood tighter around my head and try to get to the next building as fast as possible.

Winter.

January is closing out, but February will not be much milder. This is the time of the year when you do not see your neighbors. They disappear in the fall in their houses and sometimes, in the spring they emerge with newborns. In the spring and summer, the kids play in the yard, the dogs are walked twice daily and the cats meander the fence-less properties. But winter? Only cars and snowblowers humming in the night.

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This weekend all the winter action is happening a 1000 Miles south from here, and D.C. will see 2 feet of snow. It is actually nice to sit back and for once see someone else get walloped. It will be fun so see the White House rimmed in winterwonderland and snowmen on the mall. Picturesque as it always is when the storm is gone and a beautiful landscape left. I hope everyone has stocked up on fresh ingredients for chicken noodle soup and the wine cellar is restocked, ready to shamelessly hunkering down.

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This part of winter can be cozy. The house is warm, and me being wrapped in a down blanket and the cats snuggled. Reading, writing, endless netflix, a calm is in the air because there is nothing much to miss out on beside some skiing.

It reminds me of Switzerland, high up in the Alps, with no cars, warm ski huts and a beautiful view.

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Good food, of course. Like a lazy version of Trader Joe’s Palak Paneer mixed more fresh spinach and home-made fresh linguine. Unusual, but really good.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Spicy Mung Bean Curry with Potatoes

The recipe called for mung beans. Hmmmm. I had to google them. “Aren’t they just lentils?”  “But they are yellow. Yellow lentils?! Orange ones, yes, but yellow….?” Mung beans are indeed lentils, and specific to the Indian subcontinent where they are quite popular. They are also grown in other regions. Unshelled they are tiny green perls, and bright yellow mini lentils when shelled. The good thing is that they cook very fast, no soaking necessary. Basically, the fast food version among legumes. Just 20-30 min and they puff up, absorb the liquid and are tender, mushy, just as a dal should be.

My first version of this recipe I made with yellow split peas. They look and taste quite similar, but they definitely take longer to cook and they are not as mushy in the end. But, alas, a hearty texture can be good, too. Then, I went on a quest for moong dal, and made the dish a second time. I also reduced the number of chilies I used this time around, because after the first round, I felt like a dragoon.

Authentically, the dish is cooked differently: the potatoes are cooked with the lentils, and there are black lentils and very few of them. So, this is defnitely an Americanized version, but still, extraordinarily tasty. The usual Indian cooking suspects: fresh curry leaves, mustard seeds, some fresh grated ginger, dried hot peppers, a pinch of the mysterious asafoetida, tomato paste, lentil, water and then it cooks for 30 min. It is served over some soft cooked, small, crushed potatoes (it would be great to additionally fry them before serving them with the lentil curry).

So good!

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This is the version with yellow split peas.

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Frozen ginger, ready to grate.

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This pot is waiting for the tomato paste and water.

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Ah, bappy.

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Crushed small potatoes.

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Spicy Moong Dal with Potatoes (Bangaladumpa Upma Koora)

Makes 2-3 servings

  • 1-2 TB of grapeseed oil (or high heat, neutral tasting oil)
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 2-3 small dried hot peppers, crushed (Pequin Red Chilis)
  • 1/2 cup of moong dal (shelled split mung beans)
  • 1 pinch of  asafoetida
  • 1 TB of grated fresh  ginger  (I keep my ginger frozen, it last longer)
  • 1 larger white onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 spring of fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 ts of ground tumeric
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup of tomato paste
  • 12 small waxy yellow baby potatoes
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 lime
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet. Fry the mustard seed, dried red chile peppers in the oil until the seeds begin to splutter.
  2. Sprinkle the asafoetida powder over the mixture. Add in the chopped onion and the curry leaves to the mixture and cook until the onion is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the turmeric, ginger and salt, and stir.
  4. Add the mung beans/moong dal, 3 cups of water and  the tomato paste. Stir well, until the tomato paste is well distributed. Bring to boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and cook for 30min, until the lentils are tender.
  5. While the curry is cooking, heat a pot with salted water, add the potatoes, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-18min.
  6. Drain the potatoes, distributed in bowl, and smash with a fork.
  7. Add some of the lentil mixture over the potatoes.
  8. Squish some fresh lime juice over the lentils, and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Starting the year with a day of vacation

The year is still young, but it is never to early to have a day of vacation. I had worked hard this week and so, a day off it was, Friday, my early weekend. It was unusually mild for January in Maine, the side effects of an el nino year. The sun was out, and a thin layer of snow adds to the winter look and feel.  As usual, Belfast was my destination: a good meal at Chases, and vacation begins.

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I wonder when someone in our neighborhood adds Fluffy to this list.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas came early

When I walked in to Bed Bad and Beyond last weekend, and they said I could use the 20% off coupon for the Philips Pasta Maker, my consideration that I don’t really need a pasta maker went out the door. Instead, I walked out the door, with this wonderful device.

I bought “OO” flour, and fresh eggs.  Since I am not one for reading manuals, I watched a video on youtube. Measure the flour in the provided measurement cup (250g flour), mix the 1 egg with a bit of water (and in my case, saffron dissolve in the water) in the second measurement cut, and wait for pasta to be pressed out of the maker 3 minutes later.

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After cooking the pasta in hot, heavily salted water for 6 minutes, it was al dente  and perfect. I made a pasta sauce, with a bit of goat cheese, herbs, and it was ready for the taste test.

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Yum!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas tree, christmas tree

The last weekend before Christmas. The weather continues to be mild and supposedly, it will be the ‘warmest Christmas of our lives’, according to weather.com for most of the US. I know some people who can’t wait for snow so they can finally go skiing, but after last winter I am not keen on snow for now.

 The tree is decorated.


 This year I painted the Christmas cards.

 With help from this little fella. He decided to not just supervise but get in on the action.

 Outdoor kitty is still out and about and supervises the late season raking of leaves.



 Recent lunches. Spiralized carrots, pomegranate seeds, hummus and frozen figs and strawberries. Or sauteed mushroom and corn, with hummus and fresh campari tomatoes. Or apple cake and tea (with the beautiful Starbucks 2015 Christmas Mug collection).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

“It’s not the years in your life that count, it is the life in your years.”

Sometimes, we settled into a predictable routine for long stretches of time, with kids or partners or jobs setting the routine.  Then, the days are long and the years are short, and we long for a bit of excitement, of mixing things up, of getting inspired again, changing lanes, trying new things.

This reminds me of the new best thing on Netflix, “Master of None”, which I first thought is a male Mindy Kaling version. While there are definitely similarities (Indian main characters living  in NYC), this show stole my heart immediately. It is so fresh, funny, a bit deeper, without any sense of cynicism, just pure heart, like “Friends” used to be.  The explored themes of kids, parents, or ‘the other man’ made me laugh and think for a while.

It only took me only 2 days to watch the entire 10 episodes of Season 1. Unfortunately, by the finale the main characters also decide to put a bit more ‘life’ into their years instead of settling down into a relationship with one of the most funniest first dates ever (in Nashville). Instead they fly off into different directions, literally. And, yes, I now need a pasta machine.

Ah, modern life, with so many opportunities, and how can we ever be satisfied with what we have and not think there might be something better and more exciting ‘out there’.

Here are some wonderful inspirations for the holidays season from the world wild web:

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Mulled pomegranate cider.

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Chai Hot Toddy

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Thyme Cornmeal bread by the LocalMilk

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if you are still looking for presents, these beautiful hand-painted plates are a great idea.

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This year I decided to not get caught up in the holiday stresses and run around of parties, gifts and cooking, but have a peaceful, calm and more contemplative season. A chai hotty toddy after a sunny walk in the woods, hand painting my Christmas cards, and the realization that things feel christmassy with store-bought cookies, too, is a relief.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Christmas by the sea, Take 2

Last year I accidentally stumbled upon Camden’s Christmas by the sea activities. This time, I was prepared. Unlike last year when we had had several significant snow and ice storms already, this year it was mild, almost California-like (for Maine): sunny, dry and temperatures in the lower 50s. The stores and restaurants in Belfast and Camden were buzzing with visitors making a 2-3 day holiday season trip up the coast. Visiting a quaint, magical, wonderfully lit, quiet coastline with darling little intimate villages and finding just the right unique knick knacks to buy for presents, which are hand-made by local potters or weavers or artists, not by some machine in China. Large bonfires lit on the beach, Santa arriving by boat and reading stories, and hot tea in hand-made mugs and luxury hotels. Let’s be jolly.

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getting the Christmas tree.

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