lunch

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The fight against eating easy, grey food is ongoing. As I wrote the other day, I’m striving for color. I am also playing a game with myself to see how many/much of the recommended daily allowance(s) of vitamins and such I can pack into what I eat in a day while still eating fewer than specific numbers of calories. It’s not difficult at all since I don’t eat things like flour, processed stuff or sugar. But it adds some marginal entertainment to the drudgery of coming up with and preparing food. Which I have always hated doing. These may be the only times I have ever seriously considered getting married: find the person who can cook and wants to, and I’m halfway down the aisle.

In any case, today’s lunch is a variety of cherry tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, a sprinkling of green onions, cucumber, black beans, about a half cup of the red quinoa-amaranth-buckwheat-millet mixture I wrote about before (see image below) and some salmon. This whole thing might excite others more with some dressing or vinaigrette, but I don’t like sauces and that sort of thing, so it’s just dry.

Maybe not inspiring for others, but it is nicer to look at than previous lunches, and I am meeting my daily nutritional needs, so can’t complain.

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Chicken with masala sauce

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The other day I was doing some “prep cooking” – you know, preparing the stuff that could be done in advance before having a guest in town. And one of the things was this sauce.

Masala:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoon curry
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup plain, whole-milk yogurt
Heat oil on medium, add onions and saute until lightly golden (about 20 minutes). Add garlic and all the spices. Stir for about a minute. Cool mixture until warm. While mix is cooling, mix the tomatoes and yogurt together and puree until almost smooth. Add the onion-garlic-spice mixture, and again puree until almost smooth.

At this point, the sauce can now be refrigerated for a day or two before using. (This helps develop the flavors.) I left it in the fridge for two days and used it up today. And here’s how to do it…

When ready to prepare…

You can actually use chicken or prawns here. Normally I use prawns, but the guest was not into shellfish and seafood, so I went for chicken.

I cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, cooked them in a separate pan and then transferred them to the pan I prepared for the rest of the process. If using prawns, which cook faster, you can cook them in the same pan as the rest of the process.

Rest of the process:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Prepared prawns (or cooked chicken)
Half a can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add the prawns to cook (about 2 minutes). Or add the chicken you have previously cooked. Stir in the coconut milk, cilantro, green onion, lemon juice.

Chicken + coconut milk, lemon + green onions before adding masala

Chicken + coconut milk, lemon + green onions before adding masala

 

Then add the prepared masala sauce described above. Simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes more.

Chicken masala - final product

Chicken masala – final product

Serve with rice (which I like to make with caramelized onions, but that’s just me!).

Smoked Mozzarella, Experientialism, Psychic Nature and Magic

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Am I psychic or was it just coincidental? Did I manifest smoked mozzarella out of thin air? Two days ago I was thinking hard about the absence of smoked mozzarella – not really a favorite food or anything, but suddenly I felt I really wanted and needed smoked mozzarella but I knew I had never seen it here.

But then tonight I went to the store and had no intention of looking for smoked mozzarella – but there it was – on sale no less!

Who knew it would be so exciting to find?

On the way back from the store I was thinking about how it is so easy to get caught in the trap of thinking one is becoming happier and more fulfilled because they have more stuff. I have been alone and worked to buy more things – but I have not been any more fulfilled by having. I began to think about how experience can be so much more enriching – and then found an article on that very subject.

It really is all about the experience – “experientialism”, as the article puts it. Learning to breathe after the “stuffocation” modern society engenders.

And sometimes experience is magic.

Overdosing on Banshee on TV and enjoying the latest from Neneh Cherry and Robyn.

Roasted cauliflower and cumin soup

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I have previously documented my obsession with making soup. It’s easy, delicious and makes me happy.

Tonight I threw half a head of cauliflower, cut into smaller florets, into a baking dish with some olive oil, ground cumin and cumin seeds, tossing the cauliflower in the pan to coat. I roasted it at 185C for about 20 minutes.

roasted cauliflower, ready for soup

roasted cauliflower, ready for soup

Meanwhile I made broth in a pot on the stove – I sauteed one small onion in olive oil for about five minutes, threw in two chopped garlic cloves and added about three cups of vegetable stock.

When the cauliflower was sufficiently soft, I removed it from the oven and tossed it into the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid reduced.

I blended the mixture in the pot using a handy dandy stick blender, returned the pot to the stove and added a bit of coconut milk (you could use yogurt or cream, if desired).

I garnished with a bit of olive oil and a healthy dose of black pepper, but I think some fried onion would be a nice touch.

creamy cauliflower soup, ready to eat

creamy cauliflower soup, ready to eat

For whom to cook? Chicken pho and coconut tapioca pudding with mango

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Everyone knows I love to bake – and I bake and bake to the point of exhaustion and then come up with creative solutions for transporting all those freshly baked morsels to my office.

Sometimes, though, I go through cooking phases. I read a lot of recipes and gather inspiration for making real food. Trouble is, during the week I do not have a kitchen. And cooking only for myself is a drag. I need food guinea pigs and lab rats. And much more time at home in my kitchen.

Today I am overdosing on reading the archives of the Smitten Kitchen blog – filled with magnificent recipes, stories and pictures. Of course, what kicked it off was the post yesterday about chicken phở (me being a soup-obsessed wolf eel) caused a great stir in my brain. It also made me scroll through loads and loads of the recipes, dreaming about trying some out, experimenting. But why would I make a beyond-tempting coconut tapioca pudding with mango just for me – if I could even find tapioca with ease?