Batting .500: Stir-Fried Mushrooms with Tomatoes and Onions

*Or, “a live commentary on how I got taken down by a very simple Indian recipe”

I am a huge fan of Indian food. The flavors are intense but nuanced, no one spice stands out…when made by someone who knows what they are doing. If you happen to have, oh I don’t know, me doing the cooking, the results are more mixed. I’ve had some luck in the past though, and I found this recipe in one of my Trusty Roommate Chad’s Indian cookbooks.

So with this recipe, we’re looking to use the mushrooms and the fresh tomato from The Box of Wonders.

We’ll also be using:

A red onion

Dried red peppers

A jalapeno

Cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, and a bunch-A BUNCH-of ground coriander

Ginger (shredded)

Garlic (minced)

“Tomato Sauce” (more on that later)

I’ve been doing some reading. When preparing Indian food, you generally start off by frying spices. “Classic Indian Cooking” by Julie Sahni (Which could easily be titled, “The Joy of (Indian) Cooking”. It is accessible yet encyclopedic. Fantastic.) points out that you do this both to change the flavor of the spices as they brown, and to add their flavors to the oil.  So we’ll do things in the order the recipe I found (in another cookbook) says to.

My sous chef for the evening

My sous chef for the evening

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A Word on Cilantro

*Or, “I Hate Cilantro”

Hold on while I get my soapbox out of the pantry and drag it to the middle of my kitchen. Okay, all set: I hate cilantro. I’m one of those people. You either love it or you hate it; there is no halfway. The divide is so stark that there have been studies done to see if there is a genetic root of the preference. People who hate it very often say it tastes like soap. Or dirt. Or old gym socks. I don’t think cilantro tastes like any of those things. It has a fresh, herby taste. A terrible fresh herby taste that destroys everything it comes into contact with. It is the Rogue X-(wo)Man of the culinary world, killing everything it touches. When I am tucking into a nice Indian dish and taste a hint of cilantro, I actually get a little choked up as I realize my curry has been tainted. The choking is both figurative as I instantly grieve for my prospective meal, and literal as my throat actually tries to reject the cilantro taste. Continue reading

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

This is taken straight from a cookbook called “The Improvisational Cook” by Sally Schneider. It is a great starting point if you are new to, well, cooking. It is particularly relevant this time of year because it takes those rather frightening grape and cherry tomatoes from the grocery store and turns them into succulent, tangy treats that go with everything. Or nothing, if you’re me and happen to have just taken them out of the oven and decided to just eat them off the pan. Continue reading

Sausage and Kale Soup

*Or “One can only eat so much kale sautéed with garlic”

What to do with a ton of kale? And you in the back waving your hand and whispering “Make kale chips! Make kale chips!”, you can just put your hand down mister, because I hate kale chips. I’m pretty much the only one though. I get that people like kale chips, and I’m not going to stop anybody from making them, you just won’t find me willingly making them myself. (Mom, Dad, if you’re wondering, you just take the kale, cut it into snack-sized pieces, toss them with olive oil and salt, and bake them for 15 minutes or so at about 300, and they end up crispy and salty and people are absolutely nuts about them). The one thing I have ever tried doing with kale was sautéing it last winter in Denver, which I did because the girls upstairs gave me a bunch from their garden. And sautéed kale is delicious, but a little goes a very long way and kale appears to be a staple of the season. I’m gonna need some fresh ideas.

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The Fresh Idea

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Week One: The First Box of Wonders

And, we’re off. This is my first box:

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I picked it up at my designated location (a bakery) and obeyed the sign telling me not to open it in the shop. They say this is so the shop doesn’t get overcrowded, but I think it is also so the people working at selling baked goods don’t have to deal with me the first time I find a rutabaga in my box and try to get them to take it back. Or possibly exchange The Dreaded Rutabaga for a nice loaf of sea salt and rosemary focaccia bread. Either way they’d rather I am at home when I open the box. So here is what I got this week:

  1. A pound of red potatoes
  2. Two delicata squashes
  3. A pound of mushrooms
  4. A big ol’ bunch of kale
  5. A red cabbage
  6. A whole mess of basil, interestingly enough
  7. A head of green leaf lettuce
  8. Three apples
  9. A surprisingly nice tomato
  10. Two satsuma oranges

I also have a sugar pumpkin sitting around that I’d like to use. Continue reading