Lentil Curry

My Salt Lake friends have a ‘friends vacation’ that is become annual tradition and really fun. We find a rentable home (this year it was an old schoolhouse) for 15-20 people within a 4 hour drive, so most of Utah is on the table, Wyoming & Southern Idaho. Once we find a pretty inexpensive place, we spread the word to every friend group and when you RSVP dictates if you get a bed or you are foraging for a couch/quiet floor space. Between last year and this year, only 7 people went on both trips so it’s a fun way to get to know acquaintances better or make new friends. Only a certain type of adventurous person will go to a random place with no agenda and few people they know well, so people generally mesh well and are lighthearted. It’s great. Last year we spent a lot of time at Capitol Reef National Park & this year it turned into a 4 square fest in the attached gym with some Nintendo, yoga and Lava Hot Springs. With so many people, you can usually find one, two or 15 people that want to do the same thing you are doing.

My friend Steph & I plan, buy and coordinate all the meals. The New Years risotto was actually first made for the friends vacation group and this year I found an easier dish to make to scale that was a delicious hit!

Lentil Curry

Serves 15
4 lbs sweet potatoes, cubed
3 large onions, copped
2 lbs cauliflower, copped
1 lb eggplant, chopped
4 cups lentils, rinsed
3 cans (28 oz) diced tomatoes
3 cans (13 oz) coconut milk
8 tbs curry powder

Serves 4
1 lb sweet potatoes, cubed
1 large onions, copped
1 head cauliflower, copped
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (13 oz) coconut milk
2 tbs curry powder

In a large pot, Sauté the onions over oil for a minute, add curry and stir until onions are coated with spice. Depending on your preference, you can add fresh or ground ginger, garlic, spicy curry powder, turmeric or cumin at this point.

Add sweet potatoes & stir until coated. Continue with the rest of the veggies & lentils. Most hearty vegetables would work in this curry, the sweet potatoes are essential for flavor but you can get creative here. You can also add cooked chicken at this point if you want more protein.

Add the can of coconut milk & diced tomatoes, including the juice. Stir it in. Bring to boil, then let simmer for 30 min or until potatoes & lentils are tender.

Serve over rice, with naan or by itself & enjoy!

Not All Butter is Created Equally

I didn’t realize this until recently, but there’s a cult following of Kerry Gold Butter. This stuff is really amazing. It costs more than regular butter, so we only use it for finishing steaks or on steamed veggies ( veggies are they still healthy if they are dripping in butter?). There is a real incredible difference in this butter. I could eat it plain, but I don’t want to have a heart attack tomorrow.

Tom once saw it in someone’s cart at Costco, but we can’t find it ANYWHERE at our Costco. Its our sasquatch. I think it was an illusion and he didn’t actually see it.

Salt & Straw, duh.

I really wish Salt & Straw would expand to Utah. It would even fit well here (aside from the alcohol references) the majority of adults don’t go to bars as much here due to the strong LDS influence. But they LOVE their ice cream shops (perfect date night- amirite?). AND the shops here aren’t anything special. I almost wrote a letter to Salt & Straw about this. I did some research on LinkedIn to figure out who in their company I should send the email to, then realized the decision maker has lived in Utah recently and I gave up. That person KNOWS, they get it and they didn’t need my encouragement. It’s either going to happen or not. My letter would not be helpful. Sigh. I’m just an internet creep that has to console herself with a decent compromise of Tillamook Marionberry Pie ice cream.

Far Away Foods: Dole Whip

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Yes, this isn’t some far away shack somewhere that is serving indigenous food out their kitchen window but this is just as delightful 😉

Dole Whip. That’s really all I have to say. If you’ve had it you know what I’m talking about. Very rarely is it available. I’ve had it at Wallowa Lake in Oregon. Other places I’ve heard have it: Disneyland, Disney World, and Hawaii.

What is it? It is a fruit flavored soft serve that has no dairy in it so Lactose Intolerants rejoice!!! It is light, creamy, and fruity. Who decided this was a great idea for the monthly blog theme! This is just torture!

Khao Soi

Khao Soi (pronounced: cow soy) was my favorite thing I ate in Thailand, it was widely available and I was shocked that I hadn’t ever tried it in the US as other US Thai staples were all over the menu. Sad news. My assumption was wrong. Nobody makes Khao Soi in the US- especially nobody in Utah. I keep hoping for a return missionary to open up an authentic Northern Thai restaurant, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Anyway Khao Soi isn’t appetizing when I describe it, but it’s incredible. It’s a noodle soup dish that has a drumstick floating in it. The broth was complex and rich, but still cozy and comforting. It has a strong curry flavor with lime and coconut. It was amazing. I should try to figure out how to make it, but in afraid the ingredients will be hard to round up.

You can find Khao Soi all over Thailand, I had it in Chaing Mai & Bankok. If you ever see if on a Thai menu- order it and send me the address please!

Far Away Foods: Spaghetti Eis

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Spaghetti, why would you have to travel to Germany for spaghetti? Well, look a little closer, this is no ordinary warm tomato based spaghetti. This is the amazing desert known as Spaghetti Eis or Spaghetti Ice Cream. Yes, those little noodles are all ice cream and the sauce is an amazing strawberry sauce drizzled over the top. It should just taste like vanilla ice cream and strawberry sauce but you know there is something magical when vanilla ice cream is made into small little noodles. It tastes even better!

Far Away Foods: Döner Kebab

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So many foods in Germany need to be imported to Oregon! This food happens to be from Turkey originally. My funny little American brain completely assumed this would be a chain the way Henri talked about “Döner” being his favorite food. I was picturing that was like saying, “I love Nachos Bell Grande” a name of a certain food from a certain chain restaurant. Döner Kebab was so much more! It was in a variety of places, it was in small little cafe’s and food carts.

Döner Kebab is traditionally lamb roasted on a turning spit constantly being cooked by burners that are parallel with the meat.  Meanwhile the meat gets shaved off so each person gets some crispy cooked pieces of lamb. It is placed on a flatbread (couple different variations here) with lettuce, tomato, cabbage, a white sauce, and if you’d like it spicy some red pepper flakes.

It is so delicious and I just looked it up, there is a new food cart in Portland! I’m so excited! It is called Dönerland!

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Sushi

I found out that in allergic to all seafood, shellfish & fish in 2012 except for salmon.

I don’t really like much other fish than salmon so it’s not so bad- but I LOVE sushi.

Now, just being in a sushi place makes me nervous and anxious that I’m going to accidentally eat some fish AND I have to be the person that says ‘I know I ordered the veggie roll, but can you let the chef know I’m allergic to seafood?’. That’s the worst sort of person, but I don’t really want to die.

Meringue Cookies

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Many years ago in high school I was on a meringue kick and I made meringue everything but since then I haven’t made it again. Wednesday, I was having Abby, Mitch, and Molly over for dinner and I remembered it as a fun sweet treat along the lines of macarons which Abby and Molly love so I thought I’d look up some recipes. I made two different ones a strawberry (which were eaten so fast I didn’t get a picture of them) and chocolate. I made them tiny and bite sized. Who knows maybe I might get my act together and make them for Easter? Here are the two recipes I used this time:

Strawberry Meringue Cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup pasteurized egg whites, room temperature (recommended: Eggology)
1 teaspoon strawberry extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 drops red food coloring

Directions
Preheat oven to 215 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites, 1 teaspoon strawberry extract, and cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy. With mixer running, add powdered sugar in tablespoon increments. Add food coloring and continuing beating until stiff peak form. (Careful not to overbeat.)

Transfer mixture to a pastry bag or large zip-top bag fitted with large round tip. Pipe into 2-inch spirals on prepared baking sheet. (I just put it in a zip-top bag and cut a corner so mine weren’t as fancy looking)

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, rotating once. Turn off oven and open door. With meringues still inside oven, let dry out for 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove parchment paper from baking sheet and let meringues cool completely.

Recipe courtesy of Sandra Lee, 2007

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

Ingredients

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
Directions

Preheat oven to 225°F. Line 2 large rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, increase speed to high and whip until mixture forms soft peaks. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue beating until whites are stiff and shiny.

In a separate bowl, sift confectioners’ sugar with cocoa to blend. Working in thirds, sprinkle cocoa mixture over egg whites and gently fold in until thoroughly incorporated. Transfer to a large ziplock bag. Seal bag, pinching out excess air. Snip off a small piece of one bottom corner of bag. Pipe out meringues through hole onto cookie sheets, forming small “kisses,” about 2 inches in diameter. Bake for 1 hour, until meringues are firm and dry. Turn oven off and let meringues sit in oven for 15 minutes.

Let meringues cool on sheets on wire racks, then gently peel kisses off parchment paper. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

 

Additional information

After sitting on the counter for awhile they got sticky so I looked up more information about keeping them fresh. I found out this, “Made primarily of sugar and egg whites, meringues are hydroscopic. This means that they absorb moisture from the air and will start to soften and ‘weep’ after just a few hours on the counter.” (The Kitchn) so I rebaked the cookies for 20 minutes, let them dry in the oven for while and then packed them in zip-top bags. It is amazing you can bake and re-bake them because all you’re really doing is drying them out!

 

 

Young Coconut

Young coconut was everywhere in Bali! Fresh coconut juice that you drink right out of the coconut. It was such a refreshing drink when it was hot, which was always. I’ve had coconut water, coconut milk & coconut creme back here but it’s just very different than young coconut juice. Maybe it has to do with the ambiance, freshness or produce,escaping humid heat and the vacation spirit? But nothing has even come close.

imageWhen my friend was in the Peace Corps in Indonesia (she was on an island much more remote than Bali) her afternoon treat was to get a young coconut carved up for drinking for ten cents, in Bali it was usually $1. Totally ripped off- totally worth it.

The best purchase of the trip was when we were walking on a path through a rice paddy and a guy asked us if we wanted coconut juice. We hesitated, but eventually said yes. He climbed a tree (no shoes or harness, coconut trees don’t have handy branches, remember?), dropped a coconut, cut off the fuzzy parts and made us a drink. After we drank it, he motioned that he wanted the coconut back, confused we obliged and he cut it up again so we could eat the coconut flesh. Omg, he was thrilled to have made the sale for $1 and we were awestruck that he only charged $1. Here’s our friend:

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