• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
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Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi
Aloo Gobi (home version)

Lunch
Aloo Gobi (work version)

At work, they served Aloo Gobi. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, so I decided to make it at home. I don’t think I’ve had it before, otherwise. I liked the home version better.

Now, since I hadn’t had it before in an Indian restaurant, I wasn’t sure what I thought it would be like. I did know I expected something spicier. Not necessarily hotter but spicier. You know? So, I turned to trusty ol’ recipezaar and sorted by rating and found this recipe: Aloo Gobi. It said it was from Bend It Like Beckham. I saw the movie so maybe that’s why the cafeteria version was off to me.

And then there were the tweaks/substitutions….

I didn’t have cumin seed, so I used ground cumin. I wasn’t sure of the ginger or garlic measurements, so I used 1″ of ginger and 5 cloves of garlic. I wasn’t sure of can size, so I used 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes that was on sale. I didn’t have chili powder — thought I did — so used ground red cayenne pepper. I wasn’t sure about the stem/leaf thing on the cilantro and got tired of ripping off the leaves so think I ended up using just 1/2 a bunch. Was tasty still. Also, didn’t use 1/4 cup oil. Used more like 1.5 T canola oil. The potatoes cooked up in 20 minutes because I chopped them bite-sized. I also cut the cauliflower bite sized and it kinda went fall-aparty at the end. Still good though. I didn’t wait as long as possible — ok, maybe I did. The length of time was as soon as the beeper went off that it was done. Very tasty! Spicy but not hot, until I dumped more cayenne in it.

I need a bigger saucepan. I need that in between larger than the saucepan size I have but smaller than the small stockpot. It was pretty full but cooked OK. Stirring was a challenge. I liked that it was one pot meal though! Lots of compost/stock waste generated too.

I was cooking for one so let it cool then put most of it in a large freezer bag. Laid it flat, got the extra air out, cooled more in the fridge — just to be sure — then put it in the freezer flat.

Cookbook Challenge: Cast iron story time

I got distracted by this that and the other thing but I was still doing various whatnots. I know. I’m so specific. School starts this week too. Hey, want to hear a story of a girl’s first use of cast iron?

Gather ’round now.

Once upon a time, a mother used cast iron to cook. Her daughter watched and learned how to clean it after use. This was the same mother who made fried chicken, hamburger helper, tacos, and bacon.

The girl grew up — chronologically, at least.

One day, she stopped her mother from donating the cast iron and kept them. “Ok, now what?” she asked herself. You see, she’d become vegetarian again so wasn’t sure if she wanted to use the pans as is.

IMG_2022

She researched and researched but got lazy. She bought a combo pot from Lodge. Well, she figured if she’s going to ‘ruin’ something, she’s going to do it with cheap Lodge pan and not pans that are older than she is.

The new cast iron

In the research, she read that the first few times should be frying things like chicken, hamburger or bacon. Well, that was out but she could do pancakes with a heavy hand on the oil. After finding a recipe in a cookbook — yay for the challenge (see end of post for status) — she set to work.

Cast iron "fun"

The first batch was not a success. Even though the recipe said medium-high, she found that way too hot. The next batch was on medium and still too hot.

Final heat

She then found the right heat (above), just in time.

Pancakes

The pancakes were good. She ended up getting two at the end for her breakfast. But what about eggs? Will they be a mess to clean up? (Lovely progressive shot of burned to not so burned.)

Pancakes and eggs

Nope. They were wonderful and fluffy. So odd how fluffy they were.

She cleaned the pan like her mother did with hot water, brush and then oil when it was dry. She stored the top on the bottom with a folded kitchen towel between, to allow air to circulate.

The End…. (or is it?)


2009 Cookbook Challenge: Cook a new recipe at least once a month from one of my currently owned cookbooks. Each new recipe I cook and post from a cookbook in my collection “earns” me $5.

Recipe 3: Pancakes from Vegan with a Vengeance (Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

2009 Cookbook Challenge Total: $15

The recipe was from Vegan with a Vengeance. My change: I folded in 1 cup of drained, canned corn. I let it rest in the fridge for 10 minutes as she suggested and I think that really did help!

Other Cookbook Challenge entries »

Flog it good!

Magazines I got on the scale this morning. It was disappointed in me again. 4 pounds up since Thanksgiving.

It’s possible to gain weight as a vegan or vegetarian. I’ve proven to my mother that just cause something’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthier.

I can pile on Earth Balance — which is amazingly butter-like — on my vegetables and be 100% vegan. I can eat a triple cheese pizza and be lacto-ovo vegetarian. With all the recipe testing and “Oh this looks good” type of cooking, maybe it’s time to step back — counts as exercise, right? — and start food blogging again. I love reading others’ “what I ate today” posts cause I can get some ideas — or feel better about that huge bowl of vegan bread pudding. I am interested in the new program at Weight Watchers but have no time in a few weeks since school starts back up.

There are lots of words of wisdom out there in the interwebs:

We’ll see. I don’t like those 4 pounds. I have more to lose but was taking a break by maintaining for a bit. Meh.

Inspired by Clara: Pasta with peas

Pasta with peas
Inspired by Clara’s Pasta with peas and her “Depression Era Cooking” videos, I reached into my 10 pound bag of potatoes and got to work. As I played with potatoes and onions, I thought back to what I remember growing up. What dish was my Grandma “famous” for? And what do I remember most from my mother’s cooking? After Mom grabbed her bowl, we talked about it.

Me: Know what I remember most about Grandma’s cooking? Delmonico steak with salt, pepper and garlic powder. (Grandma and I both are garlic fiends.)
Mom: That’s all?
Me: Yeah. Weird, huh? I know she could cook anything and remember all the family holiday gatherings where she would cook. But that was just ham and turkey and collards and whatnot.

We then talked about how amazing of a cook my Grandma was. But Mom said she didn’t think Grandma loved to cook. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember much? Near the end, Grandma and I would talk about cooking and it was mostly about sneaking ground turkey breast into Grandpa’s food or how versatile egg white omelets were. I’m going to try and get some clippings that my aunt got when we — well, you know… went through the stuff left behind. Most everyone was in Grandma’s head but maybe I can get an idea from what she clipped out and that will help.

Me: Mom, know what I think of when I think back to your cooking?
Mom: No, what? (I could hear the ‘uh oh’ in her voice.)
Me: Hamburger soup, tuna surprise*, succotash, hamburger helper, tuna helper, chicken helper — yeah, one pot meals.

* Tuna surprise is kind of like a tuna casserole cooked in a saucepan on the stove.

Now, back to Clara. I loved how she said she would ask what’s for dinner and get as an answer: “Pasta with garlic.” “Pasta with peas.” Etc. I had pasta, including a box that had a “use by” date of 2007 — oops, yes, that was tossed, sigh — and some potatoes. Like I said, I bought this 10 pound bag of potatoes cause I was crazy being frugal.

I wanted to get the consistency of a “hamburger helper” type meal because I want something that could hold its own on a plate with some sides. I got something more soupy, but I measured so maybe I can get closer next time.

Pasta with Peas ++
The ++ means I added more stuff… of course.

  • Olive oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cups frozen peas (keep frozen)
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled, diced
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Saute onions and potatoes in olive oil on medium heat till potatoes are softened. I think this took me about 15 minutes and I used a small stock pot. Add salt, pepper, water, peas. Bring to a boil. Add pasta. Boil for 10 minutes. Toss in parsley. Cook for 1 minute. This is where I added the carrots cause the pasta with peas was slightly soupy. Considering I ladled off about 1.5 cups, I’ll reduce the water amount next time. Maybe. The “stock” this all made was very good. I was heavy handed with the salt like Clara but Mom still added salt to her bowl. Ha.

Sauteed Carrots
I ended up dumping this into the Pasta with Peas at the end

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

I cooked the carrots in a skillet while I cooked the pasta with peas. The carrots kept browning too quickly on medium heat so I would ‘cool’ them off with a ladle of water from the pasta. I think it added a lovely flavor. I’m not a fan of carrots but these turned out nicely. I think they cooked for about 20 minutes sometimes covered and sometimes not. I tossed them into the pot of pasta right before serving and after the parsley. It added a nice color but since the carrots didn’t cook with the pasta, it had its own flavor but was somewhat familiarized with the ladles of water from the pasta.

Pasta with Peas (and carrots)
Nutrition Facts (via recipezaar)
Serving Size 1 (506g) Recipe makes 5 servings
Points 7
Calories 328
Calories from Fat 80 (24%)
Amount Per Serving %DV
Total Fat 9.0g 13%
Saturated Fat 1.3g 6%
Monounsaturated Fat 6.0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 42mg 1%
Potassium 640mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 54.6g 18%
Dietary Fiber 5.1g 20%
Sugars 5.0g
Protein 8.1g 16%

Some others that tried her recipe:

Laptop Lunch #7

Laptop Lunch #7

Yes. It’s been a while, but the leftovers inspired me to pull down the laptop lunch container. Clockwise, starting from top left: chopped up organic carrot, chickpea cutlets, sautéed collards, and spring salad greens. All items are vegan. I microwaved the cutlets and collards for about 1 1/2 minutes without a cover — just wanted it warmed.

I am sure that there is an etiquette book for cubicle dwellers that says something about the acceptable amount of aroma particles for food. I probably came close to the maximum. But, hey, I haven’t cooked popcorn at work so I can bring in some collards! Right! Right?

Cookbook Challenge: Chickpea Cutlets and Sauteed Collards

2009 Cookbook Challenge: Cook a new recipe at least once a month from one of my currently owned cookbooks. Each new recipe I cook and post from a cookbook in my collection “earns” me $5.

Recipe 1: Chickpea Cutlets and Recipe 2: Sautéed Collards from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook (Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero)

2009 Cookbook Challenge Total: $10

Chickpea Cutlet, Collards and Potatoes

Two recipes means $10 for the reward jar!

It’s amazing how many of my cookbooks I had to flip through to find some simple collard green recipes. I tweaked the collard recipe by adding 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the oil and garlic. I also cooked this in a small stock pot since the large skillet was going to be used for the cutlets. The potatoes are leftover pommes anna from Urban Vegan’s not-yet-published cookbook so doesn’t count for my resolution. Chickpea cutlets were good and I would make this again. The only tweak I did was to leave out the lemon zest.

Recipes can be found online, but I recommend buying the book or at least getting it on loan from your library. Chickpea Cutlets and Sautéed Collards.

I will be making more from this cookbook!

Pantry madness: Spice rack

I was searching for a way to get my spices under control. So often, I can’t find a spice, buy a new one, and then find the old one afterward. Such a waste! I had a 3-Tiered Adjustable Cabinet Organizer. Even that just allowed to hide the spices in the deep shelves.

Pantry in progress
Yes, Virginia, there are spices in there. After taking a lot longer than I thought, the spice racks are up. I liked how they were adjustable so I could do a few rows of short spices or not. I can do spices in alphabetical order or group by height or type. Not sure about that yet.

Spice rack
Here they are ready for spices! Now to fill them up! I set them up to the side like this cause I figured I could put something else up on the door. And these racks won’t hang hanging down things that will block the door.

Pantry in progress
Those are all the spices, plus there’s a basket that I bought when I got the spice rack. I’m figuring I can put my bags of dry beans there to keep them together.

Pantry in progress
The box is getting filled with non-vegetarian items for segregation for the omnivore in the house or donation. I started filling it up before I got the spice rack cause I was so tired of not finding anything. And all the expired items are surprising! I checked a few of my spices against McCormick’s “How Old Are Your Spices” application and was amused. The pantry became a combined pantry so there are a few people’s stuff in there.
Pantry in progress
I do worry about how the bottles will do with the door opening and closing. We’ll see with time. Speaking of time…. Time for me to get back to organizing! (Recycling pickup is on Monday.)

While on the McCormick site, I learned a few things about spice storage.

  • Members of the red pepper family, including paprika and chili powder, will retain their color and remain fresher longer when stored in the refrigerator. I never knew! I know not to keep my spices near the oven, but to keep them in the fridge?
  • Spices, ground: 2-3 years. Yeah? I’ve heard 6 months to a year.
  • Spices, whole: 3-4 years
  • Seasoning herbs: 1-2 years
  • Herbs: 1-3 years
  • Extracts: 4 years