Wednesday, October 10, 2012

making dinner easy

The following article first appeared in the Daily News Record on September 26, 2012.


Now that September is here, my days are filled to the brim with the children’s schooling. All the time I’d previously given to cooking vanished in a flurry of math problems, piano lessons, and geography games. In no time at all, we’d run clean out of prepared food. It got so bad that my husband gave up on packing his lunches and resorted to fast food. (And his wife writes a cooking column! Oh, the irony! The scandal!)

After three weeks of suppertime scrabbling, I’d had enough. I declared that the next Saturday would be my cooking day. I would cook food for the entire week ahead. I would cook until I ran out of supplies. I would cook until I dropped.

On Saturday morning, I tore around frenetically from stove to freezers to sink to counter to refrigerator. Pans of meats and veggies thawed on the table, big kettles cluttered the stove top, and wayward bits of chopped onion crunched underfoot. What a royal mess!

To make matters worse, my older daughter, invigorated by the flurry of kitchen activity, decided to give the refrigerator a much-needed dunging out. She emptied the shelves of their contents, and then the fridge of its shelves. And then, because empty space needs to be filled, she climbed into the fridge, just for the heck of it.

With the contents of my refrigerator sitting all over the kitchen floor, using things up became easier than ever. Into my soup pots went the good part of the tail end of a moldy piece of ginger, a solitary keilbasa sausage, a partially-filled jar of raw cream that was banging around the refrigerator freezer, some sour cream, the scrapings from a jar of applesauce.

The kitchen was trashed. The refrigerator crisper drawers perched precariously on kitchen stools. “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” blasted through the computer speakers. Bread flour covered the counters with a white film. The dirty dishes piled up higher and higher.

Early afternoon, exhaustion hit. I pushed through, bagging up the loaves of bread and putting the jars of prepared foods into the sparkly-clean refrigerator before collapsing on the sofa. The week’s meals were made, and the week hadn’t even started yet. Hallelujah.

We ate the curry on Tuesday night. All I had to do was cook a pot of brown rice, set out the condiments, and dinner was served. It couldn’t have been easier.

this picture is from another curry dinner - thus the white rice instead of brown

Golden Chicken Curry
Adapted from The Flavors of Bon Appetít 2000 cookbook.

1 chicken, cooked and deboned
2 tablespoons oil
3 large onions, chopped
1/4 cup minced, peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup tomato sauce
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup applesauce
1 pound (2-3 cups) packaged frozen peas
½ cup sour cream
½ cup coconut milk
salt, to taste

Sauté the onions in oil until tender. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté one minute. Add the curry, cumin, cinnamon, and flour and sauté briefly. Stir in the yogurt and tomato sauce and simmer for one minute. Add the broth and applesauce, bring to a boil, and simmer for a few minutes. Add peas and heat through.

Remove the kettle from the heat and stir in the chicken, sour cream, and coconut milk. You may continue to heat, as needed, but do not boil. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Serve the curry over rice, with a smattering of condiments such as cilantro, green onions, chutney, chopped bananas, raisins, chopped peanuts or cashews, and coconut.

Extra curry freezes well.

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