Monday, October 27, 2008

Slowcooker Curry

I don't like Indian food. Some of my friends from college claimed that our mutual dislike of curry made my roommate and I racist. I dispute that by pointing out that I have a number of Indian friends, and that I dislike as many American foods as ethnic dishes. That being said, I dislike spicy food. Like, a lot. It burns my mouth and I find it uncomfortable. I don't like the sensation of having my mouth set on fire. Some people apparently do. So I don't go out for Indian food.
However, making it myself? So I can adjust how much curry goes in? Yum.
Here is the recipe for a simple "No Hurry Vegetable Curry" based on the recipe in "Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker." It is adapted slightly for our mondo-normous six quart slow cooker.
  • Potatoes - 2-4 potatoes, diced
  • Onion - 1 medium, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced on a diagonal
  • garlic, minced
  • curry powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 8 oz string beans, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • frozen peas - half cup
  • half cup of coconut milk.
  • Six quart slow cooker
  • Pan (I've renamed my 2 inch deep frying pan/skillet/cooking dish the "always pan" because I use it daily.)
  • Spatula
  1. Put onion and carrot in pan on medium high heat in some olive oil to soften
  2. Add garlic, curry powder, and cayenne pepper (this is where your personal spice tolerance comes in). Allow to coat and heat.
  3. Put in slow cooker stoneware.
  4. Add potatoes, chickpeas, green beans, tomatoes, and anything else except the frozen peas and coconut milk.
  5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. (If your crockpot is defective like ours and runs too hot, go for 5-7.)
  6. Add coconut milk and green peas 1/2 hour before serving. Stir into curry.
  7. Serve over naan bread or basmati rice. (I love the Trader Joe's Na'an bread. Its amazing.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Upside-down pie

I made this pie last night and I call it upside down pie because the topping, which uses applesauce, winds up as more of a dough spread loosely on top, and the graham cracker crust ends up being the crumbly part.
Why make a graham cracker crust pie? A variety of reasons. First of all, its easier. You can keep a graham cracker crust for awhile in the pantry, without losing freezer real estate, having to roll anything, and without people judging you for not making your own crusts. It is also healthier, especially because you can get a low-fat graham cracker crust. My main deciding factor was that I had one on hand and I don't make pie crusts. Personal policy. I just don't do it.
I found this recipe here and I tried it with the apples we picked last weekend. I used Granny Smith, although they are actually still a little tart for the pie. I might try it with a milder apple. I have made some other modifications.
3-4 apples, sliced thinly (I don't peel them, because its more interesting and healthy if you include the skins.)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Graham cracker crust, prebaked in 9-inch pan
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce (if you want a more crumbly crust, use 1/4 cup butter, softened but not melted)

1. Combine all pie ingredients in a bowl. Stir to combine. Pour into a graham cracker crust.
2. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, until crust is hard.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

This is my first time participating in Blog Action Day. This year's topic is poverty, and I decided to educate myself more on the issue of Fair Trade Products. I couldn't get this up yesterday because my internet was down, so a day late, here it is:
The major fair trade industry, in which the fair trade product is only a little more expensive than the conventional, is coffee. I don't drink coffee, so this has always been a nonissue for me.
Fair trade coffee supports local farming coops and helps eliminate the middleman. Fair trade other-products achieve the same thing (including in your cosmetics). Ultimately, you pay very little more and the people on the other end of the spectrum get a lot out of it.
So what are some of the most common products that you can buy fair trade?
Coffee, tea, sugar, honey, bananas, cocoa, wine, as well as cotton and handicrafts.
I try to eat organic, as well as local. Eating local is also very important for alleviating poverty, as well as helping the environment, because when farmers don't have to pay for shipping costs or try to expand their farms to compete with big midwest farms, they are able to live off their farms. But I think now I am going to start trying to eat/consume more fair-trade products.
So I'm wondering, what can I buy fair trade?
Sugar, for example, is something I don't buy frequently. And while the bone-white sugar at the local megamart is cheap, buying a bag of fair trade sugar elsewhere might cost only a little more, and only sting once.
My options for fair-trade bananas are limited, because Shoppers only carries one kind of banana. I buy wine local (Basignani Riesling - best wine ever.)
Fair Trade Certified, the organization that certifies fair trade, offers a list of helpful shopping locations. They also tell you the logo to look for on packaging that is fair trade certified.
Another important thing to consider is buying fair trade cosmetics. Body Shop cosmetics are purchased via "community trade" which is the same concept (as well as cruelty free), and while they are more than you probably currently spend on shampoo, they are still cheaper than buying organic cosmetics. (And buying organic does not mean it is fair-trade certified.) And again, will paying a couple dollars more for shampoo or coconut scented body lotion really hurt that much at the end of the month?
While there are many ways to use food to eliminate hunger, there aren't a lot of ways to eliminate poverty through food. So consider harnessing your consumer power and supporting people around the world. If you still can't get your head around paying a little more for products, consider it a charitable contribution to working individuals in the third world (or as John McCain would say, "countries that don't like us very much"). It may not be tax deductable, but instead of paying for the overhead and operating costs of a nonprofit with your $20 donation, you are paying for working families to be in their villages and not in exploitative garment factories. You are helping people to empower themselves. And yes, you are helping to end poverty.

Monday, October 13, 2008

PYOP - Pick Your Own Pumpkins

Yes, dear readers, it is That Time of Year - pumpkin patching time, that is!
This weekend, hopefully, I will be out picking pumpkins with the boyfriend and his family. I am also cautiously optimistic that we will be able to pick apples and butternut squash. Hopefully I will have my camera charged and assembled for this event, and then can take pictures.
I hope its just slightly cool so we have to wear jeans and ruggedly outdoorsy jackets and look like an L.L.Bean ad. says rainy :-p and 58. But its only a few showers.
I am determined to try making a pumpkin pie from scratch this year. Mark, his family, and my family don't like pumpkin pie, so I'm not sure who is eating my pie.
I am debating whether I will tackle the crust of the pumpkin pie myself. I usually use store bought crusts, for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being that I can't handle rolling the crust dough myself. Also, the amount of butter I have to put in a crust makes me uncomfortable.
I'm considering experimenting with a graham cracker crust for both pumpkin and apple pies. Especially if I use those cinnamon-covered graham crackers...
What is your favorite kind of pie? (And if you don't like pie, what is your favorite thing to do with pumpkins and/or apples?)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Best. Thing. Ever.

I'm carbo loading for my half marathon next weekend, so this has led to the pantry being full of pasta and the fridge being full of bagels.
I picked up a box of pasta salad from target yesterday. It was their Archer Farms brand of "Tuscan Basil Pesto Pasta Salad." I normally stay away from pasta-salad-in-a-box because somebody puts mayo in it and mayo is gross. But you can make this with olive oil and it is fantastic. You can also make it with mayo, but why would you?
It says it makes 6 servings but we only got 4 out of it - probably because I used it as full meals and not a hearty side.
It's pretty much just ordinary pasta salad, except that it is fantastically delicious. And it was about $4 for a box - which is $1 for a meal. It's a little more than a PB & J, but its more gourmet than a PB&J as well. It's still way less than you would pay for pasta salad by the pound at a grocery store.