Who says eating cheap is eating crap?

December 6th, 2009

One of the biggest adjustments for me to make when we started this trip was cooking at home versus eating out every day. Jenn has risen to the occasion and made some wonderful meals, but I still had a craving for Thai food, which I used to eat several times a week. Thanks to Tony and Caro up in the Seattle Bay area, I have finally learned to make a passable curry! I’ve been making it off and on since before we headed to Alaska; and for the most part, I think I’ve got it down pat.

The first thing to do, is go to an Asian food store and pickup red curry paste. Yes, I know you can occasionally find curry paste in your chain supermarkets, but you can actually get a large enough container to make several dozen meals for the same price as the tiny one meal container you might find in a chain supermarket.  In fact, the last curry paste I bought was in the neighborhood of $6 for a 35 ounce container. I don’t recall off the top of my head what the tiny containers you might find in supermarkets are, but I’d guess they’re under 2 ounces for a similar price. We hit an absolute dearth of Asian food stores in Alaska and thankfully couldn’t find the tiny containers either or I’m not sure I’d be able to live with myself.

Okay, that’s the big secret. I don’t have an actual curry paste recipe as that’s way more advanced than I want to be in the kitchen. Once you’ve got the obscure shopping out of the way, it’s one of the easiest meals you can make and still look fancy. As long as you’re in the Asian food store anyway, you might as well grab some coconut milk and whatever you like in your stir fry. Often the prices there are better than chain supermarkets anyway.

You can make stir fry, right? If so, curry is a breeze. Just make stir fry anyway you like it (but without soy or teriyaki sauce!). Depending on what we have on hand, I will use chicken or pork, broccoli, carrots, green pepper, onion, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, baby corn and bean sprouts. I recommend adding things like baby corn, mushrooms, bean sprouts and bamboo shoots last in order to keep from overcooking them. Once you’re done with the stir fry, set it aside and start on the curry sauce.

My personal method is to add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the pan over low heat and squirt out some curry paste into the oil. How much is up to you. I tend to like it fairly spicy so add perhaps 2-3 teaspoons. Next, add in coconut milk. Anywhere from half a can to a whole can for two people will work – depending on how hungry you are and how ‘soupy’ you like your curry. Getting the right amount of curry paste and coconut milk may take a little trial and error, but you can always add more paste if it’s not spicy enough and more coconut milk if it’s too spicy.

The next bits are optional, but I’ll just tell you the way I do things. If you want a more panang style curry, you can stop right here.  For a sweeter curry, add about a tablespoon of sugar and stir it in. For an even more diverse mix of flavors, I usually add some small pineapple chunks along with pineapple juice. Depending on what you’ve added to your stir fry, you may or may not need to add a little salt. Bean sprouts definitely negate the need for extra salt. Just let this simmer and cook to your own taste. Remember that the flavor will be a bit diluted by your stir fry and rice.

Once you’re happy with the curry sauce, toss your stir fry in and let it simmer for a few minutes. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Serve over rice. We just use white rice, but get as fancy as you want.

Happy Birthday Patrick (aka Mik)!

April 28th, 2009

City of Villains Reunion

The attacking thug is barely worthy
of notice as he is much lower level

Oops. We missed Patrick’s 40th birthday by a few days here on the blog, but that’s because we were hanging out with the old man himself, along with many of his family and friends near Seattle, WA. Patrick is a friend I met playing City of Villains a couple of years ago. In a game that had amazing PVP and a strongly PVE oriented community, it was great to find a like-minded soul that was more interested in beating up on real live hero scum than fighting the AI. Patrick was the driving force behind organizing and training one of the few villain PVP groups and the only one I’m aware of that could challenge and beat the experienced hero groups. He also has a wicked sense of humor that kept us all going during the long leveling grind.

Since we were ‘in the neighborhood’, you know – west of the Mississippi and north of California, we had to drop in for the little shindig he was throwing. His family is just as great and it’s easy to see how Patrick has become such a gracious person, surrounded by so many warm and friendly people. They were kind enough to provide us a place to park for three nights in a wonderfully quiet clearing within sight of the Puget Sound. I don’t think it would be possible for a group of people to treat complete strangers any nicer than they treated us. By the end of the weekend, we felt as if we’d known everyone for ten years instead of three days.

Double Piggyback Ride

Roman and Jaden attack!

In fact, the entire weekend became a mini City of Villains reunion. Morgan, another of Patrick’s friends and gaming buddies recently moved to Seattle from Juneau, making three of us. Morgan also helped set up the surprise guest, Jeremy’s arrival from Colorado. Jeremy was yet another of the guys we used to play City of Villains with. By mid-day Saturday, we could have been geeking out hardcore if we’d only had enough machines for everyone to play on. Fortunately, we didn’t and the rest of the party wasn’t forced to watch Patrick playing video games for the entire weekend. =)

The weekend was a non-stop riot of amazing Alaskan seafood, games of all sorts (except video games!), fun and interesting people, and for anyone that stood still too long – swarms of ninja kids looking for attention, caffeine, sugar, or preferably, all three! We’re going to be in the area for a few weeks waiting on passports and hope we can get together with Patrick, Caro, Tony, Siobhan and Roman again before we head across the border.

A few family recipes

November 27th, 2008

This will probably be our last week in Tennessee before we head out for warmer climes sometime next week. Jenn’s aunt and uncle have invited us to Thanksgiving dinner, and there’s no way we can refuse, considering the spread they put out. In the spirit of traditional Thanksgivings, we figured we’d share a few more homemade recipes: my grandmother’s chocolate pie recipe and Jenn’s uncle’s recipe for limoncello.

Grandma’s Chocolate Pie

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 6 teaspoons of cocoa
  • 1/2 cup of corn starch
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 stick of butter (or margarine if you insist)
  • dash of salt
  • 1 8 ounce container of Cool Whip (thawed)
  • 2 baked pie crusts
  • Grab a medium sized pot and toss in everything but the pie crusts (duh!), Cool Whip and butter. Set your stove to medium or medium high heat and begin mixing it together. Once the mixture seems to be warming up a bit, toss the stick of butter in and keep stirring. You’re going to do a lot of stirring. Basically, you want to keep stirring until it achieves the consistency of a thick pudding. I recommend a whisk for this… or even a small hand mixer if you can keep it from splashing all over.

    Once the mixture thickens up, remove it from heat and pour into a couple of pie shells. Personally, I like Oreo or graham cracker pie crusts, but it’s pretty hard to ruin this pie by picking the wrong crust. Next, I like to leave the pies sitting out under a paper towel so that the steam doesn’t form condensation and make the crust soggy. About an hour should do it. Once they’ve cooled a bit, toss them in the fridge or freezer to cool further. Before serving, cover them with Cool Whip and grab your own fork and plate so as to be sure of getting a slice.

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    La Dolce Vita

    November 22nd, 2008

    As we make our way south and west to avoid the bitter cold, Johnny and I are stopping at places we wont be seeing for a long time. We have stopped at GSP, at Winchester, VA, and now we are sitting at my parent’s place. Its our familiar last stop before we hit the great unknown again.

    While we are here, we have been doing some caving. Our good friend David visited us and we headed over to Camp’s Gulf Cave. We had a great adventure. Either Johnny or myself will post about it as soon as we get the pictures . Hopefully he, Pam and Chaos will join us for some more caving fun before we head off once again. We are surely going to miss them when we leave this side of the country. Its not often that you find good people who are great company and are willing to meet up in various places to do the things you like to do. We really lucked out when we met them. We would have probably left the east coast sooner if our paths had never crossed.

    For some reason, when I get to my parent’s place, I turn even more domestic than usual. Tonight, for instance, I decided to make a batch of pasta. It was my first time, and I would have to say it turned out well. While it smelled just like the stuff in the box, it wasn’t quite like it. The best way to describe it would be to say that it was much more hearty – not so much thicker, but more… wholesome. I have to say that I prefer it to the boxed stuff. Not only is it more hearty, it is better tasting and I know exactly what is in it. Which is a major plus for me. I hate turning over a container and seeing 3425437 ingredients in an item that I know should only have 5. Not only that, but now I know that I can make it, too. Continue Reading »

    Happy Birthday, Johnny!

    June 28th, 2008

    happy_birthday

    If I had an oven, I would so make you a cake! I know, I am supposed to be using the solar oven, but babes, it wouldn’t be very effective here in the rainforest anyway. Oh, and the fact that we used up all of the sugar and eggs feeding the local folks pie doesn’t help much either.

    That’s our new life hun. 🙂 I hope you’re loving it as much as I am.

    Glad to be spending another birthday with ya. I am sorry that all I have to give you is this stolen birthday card.

    xoxox Happy Birthday, Baby! xoxox

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