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    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.

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:

Quick Tofu Fried Rice

Tofu fried rice

I saw Tofu vegetable fried rice today through foodgawker and it inspired dinner!

Quick Tofu Fried Rice

1 block firm tofu, drained, pressed, cubed
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups (ish?) leftover brown rice
1 cup (ish?) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1/3 cup (ish?) low-sodium soy sauce
freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon (ish?) vegetable oil

I drained the tofu, wrapped it in one paper towel, then wrapped that with a kitchen towel. I then put a heavy cast iron pan on it and let that sit while I chopped up the onion and thawed the vegetables.

I sliced the tofu lengthwise then cubed it so that they were small-ish cubes.

Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet over medium. When it’s hot, add the tofu cubes. I flipped them around to get as much of the sides browned as possible. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove and save.

Add some vegetable oil to the skillet. Once it’s hot, add the onion and vegetables. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Add rice. I cooked for about 5 minutes. If the rice is too cold, I would heat it up so that the vegetables don’t get overcooked.

Add soy sauce, pepper, then the tofu. I add enough pepper so that I see it. That’s how I know it’s the flavor I like. That’s up to preference, much like the soy sauce. Heat for about 2 minutes.

Tofu fried rice vegetables Tofu fried rice tofu

In the past, I’ve added egg to fried rice. To do that, I push the rice to the side and add a little wetness like butter to a corner of the pan. The egg fries up quickly, then gets folded into the rice. Also, I’ve done cornstarch on the tofu before but wanted to try without this time. I didn’t miss it.

Review: Eat, Shrink & Be Merry! (with Recipe)

I recently grabbed a copy of Eat, Shrink & Be Merry, cookbook by Janet & Greta Podleski with cartoons by Ted Martin. Yes, cartoons. Not only are the cartoons great, but there are “funky factoids,” “cooking tips,” and puns — lots and lots of puns. This is one of the only cookbooks that I’ve read.

When I was looking for a recipe to cook, though, I skipped the cutesy titles and read the subtitle which was more descriptive of what the dish is. For example, “Livin’ on the Vedge” is subtitled with “Roasted vegetables with lemon couscous.”

There are many illustrations, but mostly cartoons and not photos of the food. The photographs of food are a few pages throughout the book. It’s not gathered up in the middle like some books. The photograph goes with the recipe which is nice, in a way. Sometimes I just like to “shop” for a recipe by looking at the pictures. What? Yeah, I’m a visual creature. Each recipe has nutritional information (calories, fat, saturated fat, protein, carbohydrate, fiber, cholesterol, and sodium) which is great for those following a point or other numerical system.

I checked for vegetarian dishes. And I don’t mean boring sides either. I mean main dishes that don’t just have lettuce as the major ingredient. Interestingly, there’s a section called “Don’t Have a Cow, Man!” that is full of meatless entrees. Nice! (And Greta recently did a “vedge” week.

The authors have a home at http://www.eatshrinkandbemerry.com and there are even videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/GranetPub.

Here’s the gem I settled on cooking:

Curried Cauliflower Soup
Melancauli Baby
(Available on their website in PDF form so you can see the whole page.)
Curried cauliflower soup with Swiss cheese and wild rice

1 tablespoon Butter or olive oil (I used olive oil)
4 cups Chicken or vegetable broth (I used vegetable broth)
2 cups Leeks thinly sliced (about 2 large)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoon Garlic minced (I used more, of course)
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper freshly ground
4 cups Cauliflower small florets
1 cup Brown and wild rice blend cooked (I had frozen brown rice so used that)
1 1/2 cups Sweet potato peeled and cubed
1 cup Evaporated 2% milk
1 1/2 teaspoon Curry powder (My curry powder ran away so I made up something)
1/2 cup Swiss Cheese shredded and packed
1 teaspoon Ground cumin

Heat butter in a large, non-stick soup pot over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic. Cook and stir until leeks begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

Stir in cauliflower, sweet potato, curry, and cumin. Cook and stir for 1 more minute. Add broth, salt, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return pureed soup to pot with remaining soup and mix well. Stir in cooked rice, milk, and Swiss cheese. Heat soup for 1 more minute. Serve hot.

Note: I was halfway through and realized I didn’t have curry! So I made up a curry-like flavor with these guys:
Spices used

Eggplant Experiment continues: Stirfry

I tried again to recreate the a side dish I ate a few months ago. I remember the cook saying she nuked it for 20 minutes to get the water out and then some time in the pan. 20 minutes seemed a long time.

I took an eggplant, sliced it into 1/3″ slices, salted, and put in a colander. This process I found in random googling. The salting process is supposed to get the water out. After 45 minutes, I rinsed the slices off and squeezed them as dry as I could. I even put them on a towel to help dry them more. I then chopped it up and added it to a pan that already had onion (1/2 chopped red), garlic (2 cloves) and olive oil (1 Tablespoon) going. I also added some pepper. I sauteed it a bit then covered it over low and cooked for about 10 minutes. I took the lid off and continued for a few minutes more till it was tender.

I served it with warmed pita bread, store-bought hummus, and leftover spaghetti.

Eggplant and spaghetti

I don’t know. It just wasn’t it and I’m not sure how to get it. Maybe she didn’t use onion and garlic? Or maybe the colander trick doesn’t work like I thought? Not sure. It was OK, but I will definitely experiment again.

Dinner: Spaghetti

I cleaned out my pantry a bit and found three jars of spaghetti sauce. There are also quite a few packages of noodles in there. Time for Spaghetti!

I tried Bertolli Organic sauce and added some chopped up Roma tomatoes that were passing away into tomato Heaven on the counter. Pretty good. Rounded out the meal with some noodles with “plus” on the box, cheese on top of bread, and some spinach on the side. Quick meal and tasty.

Now. What to do with the leftover sauce? And the other two jars?

Spaghetti

Dinner: Balkan Eggplant Casserole

I saw Balkan Eggplant Casserole on A Veggie Venture and just had to make it! I have had such bad luck with eggplant but found some on sale last shopping spree.

Success! Not bitter! Not… nasty. It was good. And the only stuff I had to buy for the recipe was Parmesan cheese (3.99) and eggplant (1.55). Not bad.

Balkan Eggplant Casserole

I diced up a garlic clove and added it to a saucepan with some butter. Sauteed that and added a can of drained green beans. As that was heating, I chopped up an apple and tomato. Voi la. Dinner! Next time, I’m getting red apples. I have a bad habit of going mono-chromatic in my dishes.

Balkan Eggplant Casserole