Coconut and Thai curry soup with pork dumplings

March 3, 2012 § 18 Comments

On Thursday it snowed!  Finally.  It wasn’t the best timing since Joel was flying back from a work trip that night, but it was snow, and I wanted it!  The winter has been so sparse and brown, and when I looked out at the fragile white coating on the ground I literally felt what is meant by “a sight for sore eyes.”  My strained retinas relaxed perceptibly, and something inside me that has been tight and knotted all winter relaxed and unwound just slightly.  I’m a northerner.  My heart aches for a real winter.

I think you can see it in the photos too, that de-saturated grey light that comes with flakes suspended in the air.  Today it’s drizzling, so the snow won’t last long.  But it was there, and I was happy.

But anyways, what was I here to tell you about? Focus.  Focus.  Reel it in, Emily.  Ah yes, soup.

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Vindaloo curry with parsnips and halibut

November 21, 2011 § 5 Comments

Yes, vindaloo with parsnips and halibut sounds, well, weird, for lack of a more graceful word.  But it tastes really quite amazing.  So, you should give it a chance.

It’s alternate name is fish-nip-aloo, which, of course, really makes it sound awesome.

Actually, I rather like the name fishnipaloo for the dish.  It’s quirky.  It sounds a bit like the name of a Bollywood dance, and that fits this particular curry incredibly well.

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Pea soup with coconut and ginger

May 19, 2011 § 12 Comments

Alright, so since we’re talking about favorite children’s books (or at least, I am, and I really do think you should be too), let’s talk about peas shall we?  If there is any better vegetable for a snippet of action in a children’s book to center around, I’m sure I can’t tell you what it is.  Peas have it all.  They have a funny name.  They look funny, all green and rotund.  They come in pods…It’s the ultimate trifecta of catchy vegetable characteristics!  Of course, mostly peas are the subject of disgust in children’s books, especially if they’re in soup form.  Though, I distinctly recall that the girls in the Little House books loved peas porridge (hot or cold!).

But, when I think of fresh spring peas, I think of a scene from one of my all time favorite books, The Ordinary Princess.  In this scene, having run away because she hated how boringly proper she had to be as a princess, Princess Amy is hiding and has gotten work as an assistant kitchen maid in the kitchen of the royal palace of the neighboring kingdom.  Amy and her friend Belinda (who really is a kitchen maid – rather than a princess pretending to be a kitchen maid, you see) are sitting shelling peas for a royal banquet and discussing what it might be like to be a princess.  Wonderful situational irony.  All the while Belinda keeps absent-mindedly popping peas into her mouth as they shell them and talking in a thick dialect.  When she gets excited, she drops her Hs.

Anyway, it was this jolly image that I had in my mind as I prepared the peas for this soup, listening to the pop, pop, plop, plop of them tumbling into a bowl.  I had peas leftover from making my spring vegetable jumble, and I had quite simply fixated on making a soup of them.  I wanted to keep it light and fresh and was at first planning to let the flavor of  the little peas carry the dish. But, then I remembered that I had some leftover coconut milk from the sauce for the lamb.  Waste not, want not!  Why shouldn’t this work just as well as cream for stirring into the soup for body and depth and, well, creaminess?

The coconut milk then compelled me (perhaps compelled is a bit strong, but it did drop a rather strong hint) to grate in just a little gnarly knob of ginger to tie the pea and coconut flavors together.

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Lamb chops with coconut mint sauce

May 17, 2011 § 11 Comments

Gratulerer med dagen!  It’s Norway’s national day, so I’m all in a tizzy getting ready to celebrate, and I’ll get back to you with some delicious treat from the day, but for now I’m going to share this post, which I wrote yesterday but didn’t get a chance to publish…

As I’m sitting writing, I’m looking through the windows watching a couple of little neighbor girls outside playing in the rain.  They are a whirl of colorful rain coats and spindly legs, executing awkwardly graceful dance moves as they boogey around and over the picnic table, over and over again.  It’s sweet to see.  It’s giving me a better attitude about the rain, actually.  And, it also has me thinking about books.

I feel like I’m not a very good reader these days.  What can I say?  Something about the process of spending long days reading papers full of painfully passive sentences or obtuse allusions to social theory that I do not remotely understand (this, for example: “Structures exist paradigmatically, as an absent set of differences, temporally ‘present’ only in their in their instantiation, in the constituting moments of social systems…”  Do you understand that?  Because I don’t.) leaves me feeling rather loathe to crack open a novel at the end of the day, at least one that’s at all high quality since it’s almost bound to be depressing and require more thought than I’m willing to expend.

I have, though, been reading children’s literature.  These books are the opposite of convoluted, but still tell wonderfully engaging tales.  I just made my way through my favorite trilogy of dragon stories, and I suddenly remembered a book that I loved when I was younger that I might have to seek out to read again, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  Did you read that book?  It’s the story of Peter, a well meaning and generally well behaved fourth grader who has a younger brother called “Fudge.”  And, Fudge is a little hellion but somehow he almost always manages to be the one who gets the attention and gets his way because he’s so cute.

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Thai Red Curry with pork

March 24, 2010 § 1 Comment

I’m afraid to admit that one of my resolutions for the new year was to try my hand at some Thai cooking – in fact, I think I resolved to “get really into” it.  This was a resolution because Thai is one of the favorite cuisines around this little household.  I’m afraid to admit it because January, and February, and very nearly all of March passed by without me so much as making an attempt.

We certainly ate a lot of Thai food in that time!  We have a friend (who we refer to as Cephas though that is not his name, but I will not attempt to explain) who grew up in Thailand, and he has been kind enough to start taking us to Thai restaurants and guiding us boldly through their menus.  Jiminy Crickets! do you ever get a different experience at a Thai restaurant when someone who speaks the language is with you!  Cultural solidarity comes out strongly, as does a sense of being invited to the inside, a special (non-physical) reserved dining room of sorts.  You get offered an entirely different menu (which the rest of us can’t even come close to making out!).  You are told in no uncertain terms by the proprietors which ones are the special dishes that you have to try, no excuses taken.  I think if you can prove a certain level of familiarity with Thai culture, the wait staff and chef take it on faith that you will accept a certain number of more esoteric ingredients as totally normal, even gourmet, rather than weird.  This is how we wound up eating such things as “horse piss eggs” (we definitely didn’t ask) and stinky beans.  They were quite good!  I mean, all thing considered, I come from a culture that invented lutefisk and an inedible substance know literally as “old cheese”, I should be open to virtually anything. « Read the rest of this entry »

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