Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Green Curry Chicken with Thai Iced Tea

OK, I have always loved Thai food but have always been too chicken to attempt cooking it! Then, for some reason, I got a wild hare up my ass (or is it wild hair? Note to self... research that later) to grow eggplant this year. What the hell do you do with eggplant? Which honestly I figured would end up being a moot point anyway because they were puny, straggly and thoroughly unproductive until about a month ago. Much to my great joy, and somewhat distress, I was blessed with a crapload of eggplant! What to do, what to do?!? And to make matters worse, this wasn't your normal fat, purple eggplant, it was long, skinny, Ichiban eggplant! Definitely not the kind you cut into sections and fry or turn into eggplant parmesan. Then it hit me... CURRY! So I hopped online, looked for a reasonable recipe, tweaked it to my liking, headed to my local Asian supermarket and took the leap! The recipe that follows is my version of a basic green curry recipe. I fused one from the Food Network with another I found on a Thai food site, picking and choosing elements I liked and could find and adding more veggies (ALWAYS ADD MORE VEGGIES). It came with a recipe for the green curry paste, but I will be honest with you, I found it SOOOO much easier to just buy the green curry paste at the Asian market! I found some by Maesri that was MSG free. So here goes:

Green Curry Chicken

2 tbsp. veggie oil
Medium onion chopped into thin slices
Green bell pepper cut into slices
Eggplant, sliced
Fresh green beans
1 stalk of lemongrass (white bulb only)
1 tbsp. of fresh ginger
3 tbsp. of green curry paste
3 c. unsweetened coconut milk (2-13.5 oz cans)
3/4 c. chicken broth
3 good sized chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
Sea salt
Juice from a lime
Thai basil leaves

Put oil into a deep pot. Saute veggies for a couple of minutes to soften. Split the lemongrass down the middle and whack it to open the flavor. Add the lemongrass, ginger and curry paste to the pot and saute for 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken broth. Lay the chicken slices in the mixture to poach, add a pinch of salt. Stir everything together and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Squeeze in the lime and add the fresh basil and cilantro. I served it over rice. So YUMMY! Note: I did fish out the lemongrass before serving as I'm not a fan of it's hairy texture. It was pretty easy to find.

Thai Iced Tea (this recipe is for a single serving)

1 tbsp. Thai tea (cha)
1 tbsp. of sugar
2 tbsp. of evaporated milk
1 c. hot water

Let the loose tea steep in the hot water for 5 min. Then strain the tea leaves out. This tea is very orange and very fragrant! Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour into a cup full of ice, top with 2 tbsp. of evaporated milk. You will get somewhat of a division, so you'll need to stir before drinking. This recipe actually calls for 1 tbsp. of sweetened condensed milk per serving as well, but for my taste it was just TOO much!

So this is what I ended up with...

And I don't mind telling you it was AWESOME! And it was EASY! So run with it and tweak it to your specifications! And this is what your plates will look like afterwards...

Autumn in the garden

It's autumn! I love autumn! We are finally getting rain and the temperatures have dropped to a reasonable level. In fact, it's been quite crisp in the morning. The kids are excited because they can finally be outside without heat stroking. And I am excited to be out in the garden once again! I ripped out the okra yesterday. It was still producing quite a bit, but at this point, maybe due to the rain or the cooler temps, everything tasted like stringy wood! I am harvesting and processing basil like crazy, I desperately need the space in that bed for garlic, carrots and turnips. Yes you read right, turnips! I've never cooked a turnip in my life, but then again, I'd never cooked eggplant either and that was a total success! Speaking of eggplant, it's still doing great! We have had eggplant in curry (recipe to follow), in gumbo and in anything else I can chop it up and throw it into! Have I mentioned lately how much I love my little garden? There is just nothing like getting fresh produce directly from the plant and putting it into your favorite recipe!

I spent yesterday afternoon working Bed #1. It now has more topsoil and a nice helping of compost. It is just waiting to be planted. So what you may see as a big rectangle of dirt...

I see just overflowing with sweet and zesty greens, tender and luscious!

I'll spend the next couple of days weeding and composting the other two beds and hopefully by Sunday afternoon I will have all three planted and ready to go! I decided to bypass broccoli and cauliflower this year as they took up too much space and had low yields. Someday when I can dedicate at least 800 sq. ft. to a garden, THEN we might talk about a couple of rows of broccoli! But for this winter, I'm sticking with greens and root veggies. So keep your fingers crossed that we actually get carrots this year instead of little orange twigs!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Things I learned about Vegas


- is COLD! Then HOT! Then COLD again! I was never able to dress appropriately!

-is SMELLY! The casinos had a fragrant mixture of smoke, B.O., old lady perfume (probably Emeraude) and toilet mints. Many of the places outdoors smelled like the Bog of Eternal Stench, sewer maybe or stagnant water?

-is EXPENSIVE! Need I elaborate?

-has cool architecture.

-has lots and lots of HOT, NUDE GIRLS that are just waiting to meet you! At least that's what all the truck billboards and cards all over the sidewalk said.

-is PACKED with people 24/7.

-has more lights and neon than anywhere I've ever been!

-is extravagant beyond compare. It's quite sickening really to see the water and energy that is wasted there, not to mention the trash! Oy.

-is owned by Pepsi. In fact I think you could possibly get whacked for drinking a Coca-Cola in Vegas!

-has THE DEUCE! Affordable transportation for us po' folks!

-has the Hard Rock Casino.

-who had Carlos Santana! Can I get a "Hell Yeah!"

-has ELVIS! I spent my whole trip looking for him and finally on the last day I found him, WOO-HOO!

-has the Stratosphere, which was one of my favorite excursions (mostly because I was able to snap this smokin' hot pic of my Big Daddy!)

-has New York, Paris, Egypt and Italy all on one street!

(OK I forgot to take a picture of the Venetian, shoot me!)

And the BIGGEST thing I learned about Vegas? I learned that the American Standard rep who peddles auto-flush toilets is a fucking trillionaire!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Fremont Street Experience

Big Daddy and I arrived in Las Vegas on a Sunday afternoon. We grabbed our bags in one of the busiest damn airports I have ever seen and took a $30 (yes $30) cab ride to the hotel. So right off the bat, Vegas wasn't getting high marks in my book! We were booked at Treasure Island. Now I do admit that the hotel seemed quite nice. Extravagent, to be sure, with expensive restaurants and lots of slot machines and tables. The first thing that hit me was the smoke! Being an Austinite, I am not used to dealing with smoke thanks to the smoking ordinance. I don't know why it shocked me, but it did. The room wasn't bad, the furnishings were nice and everything was clean, but the view stunk and the bathroom smelled kind of like bum piss. Hey, I call 'em like I smell 'em! Everything was completely spotless in the bathroom, so I just assumed that the cleaners they used had a strange smell and yes, I have an overly sensitive snout!

We dumped off the luggage and went to check out our surroundings and get our bearings. And as it got a bit later in the day, we hopped on The Deuce (for those of you unfamiliar with Vegas, this is a double decker bus that travels up and down the Vegas Strip) and headed for the Fremont District.
I was most wanting to go there because of the "old Vegas" feel. If I had to be in Vegas, I wanted to see where it all started, I wanted to see the neon and the glitz. Well I certainly wasn't disappointed! I have never in my life seen so many blinky lights and neon! My eyes struggled to keep up with it all!

When we got off The Deuce, we were greeted by this marvelous cowboy! Ain't he a beaut?

And for those of you that wonder what a girl in Vegas does if she sucks at gambling, doesn't hardly drink AND is broke...
Now ya know!

At one point we got a little hungry, but didn't want to spend $40 a piece on some buffet that we would never be able to eat enough to justify the expense. So, we found a little row of street vendors that were selling everything from hot dogs to BBQ to Jamaican to Philippine cuisine. We eventually stumbled across a Philly Cheesesteak vendor and it was all over. Big Daddy can't resist a good Philly Cheesesteak. I was a little leery, I have a weak stomach and most food from vendors doesn't set well with me, but I figured what the hell? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas right? So if I spewed all over the sidewalk no one would ever know! I was pleasantly surprised though. The sandwich was good and we were able to get 2 sandwiches and 2 drinks for about $10! Woo-hoo! And just as a side note, for those of you that enjoy Coca-Cola products, Vegas is NOT the place for you! Pepsi owns the whole damn town! Yuck.

After eating I was ready to start exploring again. And then it happened, all the neon turned off and George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone" came blaring out of every speaker and the huge screen overhead began to light up. It was crazy! And yes, it was impressive.

In between the Viva Vision light shows, we beetled around Fremont Street, taking pictures, people watching and looking for Elvis! Yes folks, I had three goals for my Vegas trip: 1) Spend quality, child-free time with my spouse, 2) Take craploads of pictures, and 3) FIND ELVIS! I did manage to catch a quick glimpse of Elvis on Fremont St. but I lost him in the crowd, damn his hide! So I had to work on goal #2, take lots of pics.

On our way back to the main strip, I couldn't help but grab a shot of the Bonanza. That place was enormous! And just down the street from it was the Sahara and that seemed about as old school as it gets! I've seen that sign in so many Vegas films!

And that my friends was highlights from my Fremont Street Experience. But did we head back to the hotel and call it a night? Of course not, this was Vegas baby! We got off The Deuce and started hoofin' it down the Strip. But that is another entry!

Little Mama Goes to Sin City

So, here's the scoop... Big Daddy and I snuck off to Vegas for a few days sans rugrats! I went from being annoyed about it to being excited about it and then back to being annoyed again. To be perfectly honest, I never cared about going to Las Vegas. I literally could have gone my entire life without going there and not felt bad! I totally SUCK at gambling, I am NOT a huge party animal, and I'm poor! But most of all, I have always viewed Vegas as a place of absolute decadence and waste. The amount of water used for all of the golf courses, fountains and swimming pools, the wasted food from all of those giganto buffets, not to mention the energy needed to fuel all the lights and air-conditioners! As an environmentally conscious person, this place goes against everything I believe in. Yet there it was, the opportunity for a free trip to Vegas with my hubby with no kids. Seriously, I would have gone just about anywhere to get some one-on-one adult time with him, so I sucked it up and decided to go with an open mind to see what Vegas was all about. The next couple of posts will chronicle my Vegas Experience. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Well what do you know?

While I was in New Mexico, my poor little garden was heinously neglected. Big Daddy was just too slammed at work to go out and harvest and coo at what's left of it. I ended up having to get rid of a lot of okra, you just can't eat them when they're a foot long! But much to my surprise, the recent rains have provided a kick start for the puniest things in my garden... the Ichiban Eggplant. I am thrilled to report that two plants are producing and I shall be eating green curry with eggplant this coming weekend for sure! Hooray! Now if the rain would just mellow a bit so I can tend to some weeding and composting and preparing the beds for the winter season. I am hoping for some winter squash and hopefully loads of spinach and greens this coming season! Mmmmmm.

Greetings and Salutations!

Hello All! I am freshly back from a wonderful week in New Mexico! The weather was mild, the sky was blue, the air was crisp and we did all sorts of wonderful things! I have finally purchased more Picassa Web storage and I've been going through and editing the over 500 photographs that were taken over the last week and preparing to regale you with tales of my travels! What else should I be doing on such a rainy day!