7 Months and counting

7 06 2019

Three days after my last post, a portion of northern California was laid waste by the Camp fire.  Proclaimed as a National wildfire disaster…the largest and most destructive in CA history. It was a news story for most folks…in Butte County it was a nightmare unfolding.  The evacuation line was 50 yds from my driveway.  We were a mere wind-change from the same devastation.

40,000 people are said to have escaped and evacuated…not sure if that’s only Paradise-Magalia, or it that includes the Concow-Yankee Hill-Jarbo Gap communities, or Berry Creek, or the Cherokee Road area on the east side of Table Mountain.   85 are known to be lost.  Amazingly, in spite of their (quite literally) death-defying feats of heroism, we lost NO first responders in the burn zone.

There are no fewer than 40 thousand stories of the Camp fire…  You didn’t have to be in it to be affected by the fire,either.  PTSD affects many survivors and helpers (those who have pitched in to help, regardless of how small an effort).  There are still pets being found by the tireless rescuers and trappers who specialize in small animal rescue following disasters.  That’s after major concerted efforts by hundreds of volunteers sending food and water into the burn zone, and evacuating livestock and pets even before the fire was contained.  Hundreds of pets and livestock were transferred to medical facilities well outside our area for burn treatments.  The UC Medical system got a whole lot of mileage out of learning about burn injuries.  The Camp fire came only a matter of weeks behind the Carr fire in the Redding area.  That’s two large fires with a lot of animals in short order… What they’ve done with these poor injured creatures is nothing short of miraculous!!

We discovered that exotic birds and animals were somewhat popular in the Camp fire zone.  Admittedly, the Camp fire ate a huge hunk of real estate, but it was also quite spread out.  The lake level was very low, and when it’s that low, it’s easier for the fire to jump across the canyons.  The several communities affected each had some kind of ranch, sanctuary or aviary…and most of those folks needed supply runs because they didn’t dare leave their properties due to evacuation orders.  Those are the rules… You can stay if you CAN stay.  Water?  Gas?  Feed?  Volunteers became life-line angels for some very unique “pets” that wouldn’t fit in just anywhere…

Life in our little part of the world has changed in a big way.   40,000 people had to go somewhere ELSE overnight.  A housing shortage was affecting the two towns closest to the burn zone be damned, the folks displaced by the fires had no where to return to.  In the early days following the fires, we were hearing that insurance companies were putting folks into the closest available hotel…in Sacramento, 75 miles away.  Initially, literally hundreds of households doubled-up in the aftermath.  Too much shock, too little real knowledge, too many decisions, too few places for information and help to restore.  Most folks believed they’d be home in a few hours to a couple days.  They never thought their lives were literally going up in smoke. One of my friends says her home “vaporized.”  Things you would expect to find…nothing remained except some bone china and heavy metals.

Yes, Life has changed in our little part of the world, and the “world” hasn’t kept up with that change.  Mostly, the immediate nearby communities are bigger by several hundred to a few thousand people.  Those numbers must surely be fluid…as housing shuffles and shifts and FEMA units arrive and are populated.  Schools are out now for the summer.  This is an ideal time for families to make bigger moves, especially if they’re leaving the state.  We all experience more delays, longer lines, and traffic changes along with everything else.  Hopefully, we can find a stasis that can be addressed and managed to help folks recover instead of making it worse for them.





ISO – Fabulous Peanut Sauce

5 11 2018

I love Thai Foodie….  She has a recipe for Peanut Sauce (Legit, no less!) that makes a much larger quantity than I was prepared for….

  • 3/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter (our notation….be careful…get the real natural…not the natural one with added sugar….thanks Jif – not!)
  • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste (a tablespoon or so less if you don’t want it as spicy, a tablespoon or so more if you want it spicier)
  • 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or 3/4 cup grated palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar or 2 tbsp tamarind paste (concentrate)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste

Since I bought Jif “natural” and didn’t  check for added sugar until AFTER I tasted the sauce and realized it was WAY too sweet….  I ended up adding an extra 2-3 tablespoons tamarind and a couple tablespoons of fish sauce, as well as using the full 2 tablespoons of red curry paste to offset the “too sweet” aspect.  Success!!

I have about 2 tablespoons of the ACF peanut sauce left in the fridge….and I’ve got close to a QUART of fresh peanut sauce… They taste slightly different…. The ACF sauce uses lime juice for the “sour” component and Thai-Foodie uses tamarind.  Both are in keeping with Thai cuisine, so both are “authentic.”  One thing I’m sure of at this point is I need to find a few things peanut sauce works with so we can enjoy our labors!

Another Peanut Sauce…

I got a copy of The Original Thai Cookbook (by Jennifer Brennan) for Christmas.  I’m starting to wonder what region of Thailand the recipes come from.  The Peanut Sauce is ok…just not what we think of when we think of Thai Peanut sauce.  It’s super thick – spreadable thick…and lacks a sour quality.  The ingredients are red curry paste, coconut milk, peanut butter, palm sugar  and fish sauce.  Like I said…really thick…  I ended up adding palm sugar (even though the peanut butter had sugar in it…same peanut butter as I used above….some soy, more fish sauce, the juice of half a lime AND 1/2 cup of water.  It was still thick…and neither of us like it as much as either of the previous sauces we tried.  And so…on to the next!

 





EwE: Pork bahn mi sandwiches~

29 04 2015

I’m always disappointed when I don’t have time to cook with this group…the ladies are wonderful, and there’s no pressure.  I get even more disappointed when my selected recipe comes and goes and I don’t get to play!!  Pork bahn mi sandwiches were scheduled for April 9th….it’s now the 29th.  Wow, how time flies!!

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A bahn mi is a Vietnamese sandwich filled with grilled meat, cilantro, pickled veggies and crisp cucumber.  I hiked to The Wooly Pig Cafe in San Francisco to try a bahn mi….  The sandwich was well worth the hike, but SF is 150 miles away so I can’t do that as often as I’d like bahn mi!

Time was against me, so I cooked, and didn’t take pictures this time.  I used a softer whole wheat roll rather than the crisp-chewy baguette, and I forgot to buy daikon, so we were “daikon-less.”   I didn’t add quite as much sriracha as the recipe called for….I figured there was some in the marinade for the meat, and some on the sandwich…and I don’t have an asbestos tongue.

Even with the minor adjustments, the sandwiches came out great.  The pork was done just right to be tender and succulent, and with those seasonings and pickled veggies….oh yum!!  All the flavors I was hoping for were there…a little heat, a little cool cucumber to offset it…  Sheer pleasure!

I hope the other ladies enjoyed this recipe from Ellie’s Weeknight Wonders cookbook.  It truly was easy to put together too….after a full workday and a weed-eater session!!

Oh….by the way, the next time I get to venture to The Wooly Pig Cafe….I’m having “The Wooly Pig”!!





EwE: Chicken Paprikash and Parmesan Crusted Chicken

31 03 2015

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I’m so far behind in posting and cooking that I’ve stopped thinking I’ll “catch up”.  I’ll have to settle for posting what I’ve cooked and cooking what calls loudest to me for now.  It’s a challenge to work full time and volunteer semi-full time and still COOK at all some weeks!  A couple concerts and a children’s musical stage play will certainly rearrange your life!

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A few weeks ago, when I was still reasonably on schedule, or doing a reasonable job of convincing myself I was still cooking on schedule, I fixed Ellie’s Chicken Paprikash as selected by Kayte….   Like all Ellie dishes, this went together so very quickly and was super tasty.  We truly enjoyed this one.  I put mine over a bed of noodles

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Next up was the Parmesan crusted chicken… This tasted far better than it looks.  I lost a lot of the Parmesan crust when I turned the chicken.  Doggone it.  Still….darn quick to put together and very tasty.  Sometimes the entrees go together so quickly the sides need to be started first!!

I’m about caught up on rest and ready to jump back into the kitchen…maybe I can even get my dish done ahead…we like Bahn mi!!  We’ll see….  Easter does need to sneak in here somewhere!





Eating with Ellie: Shotgun Wedding Soup

28 01 2015

This post will prove beyond all doubt…I am not a photographer!  I don’t have the right setting to try to make my pictures perfect, and I really don’t have the time to get crazy about that.  It’s cook and take some snapshots, or well…nevermind.  I’ll cook and we’ll leave it at that!  Having said that….trying to get a decent shot was the hardest aspect of this dish!!Featured image

I made the full recipe of Ellie Krieger’s Shotgun Wedding Soup…I wish I knew why!  It was way too much for just the two of us.  I thought maybe that there was only 8 cups of broth would make the batch on the smallish side…but I neglected to take into consideration 1/2 pound of meat and eggs…and some cheese…and a lot of baby spinach.  I’d been warned a half batch as a lot…silly me.  That’s okay…. I love this kind of dish for lunch.  Or a small serving with something else for dinner…there’s an idea!!

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Again…this Weeknight Wonder recipe went together super fast.  It had a nice flavor and a wonderful aroma.  I just couldn’t get a good picture without the flash dancing off the little bit of oil that came to the top of the bowl.  So…you don’t really get to see just how pretty it was…the delicate yellow against the emerald green of the spinach.  I’m sorry.  It really was pretty.  You’ll have to trust me on that part.  Margaret made a great selection!

I followed the recipe almost to the letter…I wasn’t absolutely strict about measurements.  I decided my eggs weren’t quite large enough…or I was a little heavy handed with the parsley…or maybe the parmesan…so I added a small egg and then it looked fluid enough.  I found my mouth wanted some kind of Italian seasoning though.  I’m not sure if I wanted a bit of oregano in the broth or in the meat.  But…messing with the meat might change the delicate texture.  I’ll have to play with a much smaller batch to see what I think in the end!  We had the soup with a big side salad, but a side of pasta would be pretty yummy too.

Next week we have Peggy’s choice… Penne with Grape Tomatoes, Spinach, and Toasted Garlic.   And I have the whole week with only one job.  Time for catch-up cooking!!





I♥CC: MJ-Everything’s Better with Yogurt-Carrot Salad~

27 10 2012

The challenge before us this week at I♥CC is to get to know yogurt a little better…think outside the carton, so to speak…  With the theme, Everything’s Better with Yogurt we were asked to “incorporate yogurt into your dish this week.”  No problem.  I’ve had my eye on a recipe for a couple weeks.

This week I’m cooking from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking.  The recipe for Yogurt with Carrot and Golden Raisins is on page 109.  It’s got a short ingredient list…yogurt, carrot, golden raisins, a bit of oil and a few spices.  And it goes together just about that fast.

Okay, I admit…I made the jump to a carrot-raisin salad with a yogurt dressing…not so  much.  But, once we both got our brains to accept and evaluate what our tongues were trying to tell us, we found it quite interesting and intriguing.  Every new dish brings a new application of familiar spices and other ingredients, opening us to whole new flavor profiles.  This particular dish is served at the end of a meal…kind of a cross between a salad and a dessert.  I’d be inclined to serve this alongside my first hot curry.  It would be a good thing to have handy.   I didn’t find it particularly sweet as in dessert. A traditional carrot-raisin salad done this way has some merit too.  Hmmm….

Next week ought to be most interesting!  With the theme of Indian Tea Party we’re invited to brew some tea and bring a snack for sharing!  Virtually, anyway…  See you then!





I♥CC: Madhur Jaffrey-Spice Bazaar-Tandoori Style Chicken

12 10 2012

We’re in the 2nd week of cooking with Madhur Jaffrey at I♥CC.  This week our theme is “Spice Bazaar.”   That’s for sure!  The cuisine of India is filled with spices…cinnamon, fennugreek, coriander, mustard, star anise…and that’s only the start!  Garam masala is totally foreign to me, but I dutifully ground the ingredients (this time I selected a pre-mixed blend while I await my spice order!) and sifted them, bottled them and I’m using them.  The aroma is enchanting!  Still…I’m really in foreign (no pun intended) territory with this cuisine, so I’m doing my best to select recipes that get us there a little bit at a time…this week I selected Jaffrey’s Tandoori Style Chicken.

One thing I quickly discovered is that not all recipes can be made “same day” in my world without some serious forethought.  I’m not good about forethought.  It took 2 weeks for me to time this with our active-with-diminishing-energy lifestyle.  The chicken marinates at least 8 hours, but overnight would work.  You begin with a salt and lemon short rub and soak, followed by a long bath in yogurt mixed blended with onion, ginger, chile pepper and seasonings…including the enchanting garam masala.  After a long autumn nap in the yogurt mixture, the chicken was baked at a high temp in the upper third of the oven.  Okay…

I seriously think my oven ran overly hot on this one.  I cooked the meat just to the minimum time listed in the recipe…but the juices and marinade were pretty dried and caramelized by that point.   This recipe leads in to Ms. Jaffrey’s recipe for Chicken Tikka.  I was hoping to get to take that extra step…but not with this particular batch.  Maybe next time.  And there will be a next time!

Tasting notes~ This didn’t rate overly high on my scale.  I was anticipating more flavor…although what flavors that were there were rather nice.  I think I need to try this again and keep a careful eye on the cooking time.  It felt like it had some potential….but then…the breast looked underdone.  A couple extra minutes to try to brown it up a little…and it was dry.   I’ll try it again…because I’m really intrigued by Chicken Tikka!  I didn’t photo the finished plate because it was pretty WHITE.  The chicken was light, the steamed basmati rice was white…too much white with no contrast makes not a pretty picture!  LOL!