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Archive for the ‘Peas’ Category

Albert Chevallier Tayler - Girl Shelling Peas 1886

I’ve already hinted at my strange fixation over dandelion wine, and talked about planting dandelions (HA!  PLANTING DANDELIONS!  LIKE, ON PURPOSE!), but really, the boozing doesn’t stop there.

No, sir.

I recently came across a recipe for peapod wine that I’ve been jonesing to try.  Apparently the result is along the lines of a Riesling.  Of course, peapods aren’t the only food you can turn into wine (beets are supposed to make fab red wine), but I love the idea of using the leftover veggie parts you’d ordinarily toss or compost to make something of value.

And wine has some serious value around here.

There are three kinds of peas coming up in the garden right now, and two kinds of shelling peas.  Plus, the CSA has already delighted me once this Spring with a big ol’ bag of English peas.  It was fun to leave the tv off, cuddle up next to The Boy, and shell some peas while he tapped away on his laptop.  Every now and then I’d smack him in the mouth with a handful of peas and he’d mumble something that I’m going to assume was grateful in tone.

Ah, love.

I’m thinking that by the time summer’s heat kicks in, I should have the requisite four pounds of shells, maybe more, to do some tinkering in our fermentation room.

What are you folks brewing these days?  Home distilling is still illegal ’round these parts, but most states have permitted home brewing for some time (you can thank Jimmy Carter for that).

Also, why was Jimmy Carter so unappreciated in his time?  Poor Jimmy Carter.  You know I’ve got your back, right, Jimmy?

Right.

I’d love to hear about any family moonshine recipes you’ve picked up from relatives or an old homesteading book or two.  Bonus points if they use foraged or “leftover” ingredients!  Extra special super-duper bonus points if you’re actually Jimmy Carter.

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“Ahmaga!  AHMAGAHH!”  The Boy was clearly trying to tell me something.

“What?” I asked, half-afraid he didn’t like the kitchari.  I knew I liked it, but he’d never tried it before.  Probably because I’d made him a steak out of misplaced guilt or something.  I do that.

Oh, God, I AM turning into my mother!

Anyway.  The Boy was making frantic fanning gestures at his mouth.

“HAAAHT!  Is haht! ::cough cough swallow::”

What’s that, The Boy?  You’re trying to tell me I’m hot?  Well, way to point out the obvious, but thanks, nonetheless, my good man!

“I was trying to say, the kitchari is really hot.  But oh, man, I could eat this every day!”

Oh.  Right.  Well, that’s still complimentary.  I guess.

But kitchari isn’t exactly pretty or elegant–in fact, it’s best described as, well, gruel.  But he’s right–kitchari kicks all kinds of ass.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with kitchari, it’s a dish that’s very popular among those who live according to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine.  Ayurveda is a philosophy and healing art designed to restore the harmony and balance of the body.  The main premise is that people can generally be classified as having one of four main body types, and that this type determines how you should eat, sleep, and exercise for the best health and longevity.

Whatever, man.  I just think it’s really good.

So what is it? Well, it’s a thick, stew-y dish of split yellow peas, rice, vegetables, and easily-digested spices, with a texture that I can best liken to a very thick, starchy oatmeal.  Because it’s low in fiber, non-challenging for compromised digestive systems, and extremely nutritious, it’s often used as the sole means of sustenance for ill people trying to get their bodies back into balance.

READ: I eat it when I’m hung over.

But that doesn’t mean kitchari is bland–the spice blend of fresh fennel and mustard seeds, along with crushed cumin, coriander, and turmeric makes this savory, warm, and not boring at all.  Try kitchari if you’re recovering from digestive upset and feel you may not be getting the nutrition you need.  Ulcer-sufferers, IBS patients, vegetarians, those poor, poor people making unkeepable promises to never, ever drink again, and even just healthy people who want a big, warm bowl of something primitively nourishing can all benefit from a big, warm bowl of this MAGICAL STUFF THAT TOTALLY BROUGHT ME BACK TO THE LAND OF THE LIVING OH GOD.

What’s that you say?  You’re horribly hung over, you say?  You feel sick as a dog, you say?

FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!  Let’s eat!

Kitchari Recipe
Makes, like, a whole bunch

Go Get:
1 cup Brown Jasmine Rice (traditional recipes recommend white/basmati rice…I love the scent and texture of brown jasmine so that’s what I use.  You use what you like.)
2 cups Mung Dal (split yellow peas); I’ve also used half yellow split and half green split with great results
7 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tbs. Ghee (I just use regular melted butter, unclarified; use oil to make this vegan)
1Tbsp Fennel Seeds
3 tsp. Mustard Seeds
2 tsp. Cumin Seeds
2 tsp. Turmeric Powder
2 tsp. Coriander Powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Generous pinch ginger
1 heaping cup frozen peas
2 medium yellow potatoes
Large handful baby carrots, sliced into wheels
Large handful chopped cilantro leaves

Go Do:
Rinse and sort mug dal thoroughly.  Heat the butter/ghee/oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot, like a Dutch Oven.  Sauté the seeds in the fat until they start to pop.   Then add the other spices.   Add the mung dal and salt, and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes. Add water, bring to boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the dal is about 2/3 cooked.

Add rice and these vegetables. Stir to mix, adding extra water if the mixture is too thick.  Bring back to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes or until rice is fully cooked.  Keep checking to see if you need to add more water.  You want to achieve as little remaining water as possible, so make sure you leave the lid on the pot when you’re not stirring or checking it.  You’re not making a soup, or even a stew–remember my thick oatmeal analogy.  When the rice is cooked through, taste the mixture to see if it needs additional salt.  Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro.

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The Boy and I consistently and most seriously acknowledge the fact of his Irish heritage having given him a genetic affinity for potatoes.  While we can’t explain his attraction to curry by such convenient AND INCREDIBLY SCIENTIFIC means, we accept it without question as another certainty of our little life together (Do we like curry?  Uh, is the Pope Catholic?  Does the sun rise in the East?  Does Bad Mama Genny like fishnets?  I rest my case).

Thankfully, potatoes are also excellent budget food, and therefore, were to be a staple of our sobering (in many senses) week of post-Christmas meals.  Meals the week after Christmas tend to involve…innovative…combinations.  Take this morning’s scrambled eggs with hot dog wheels (“Mmm, wheeler-ific!”) or noon-time’s handful of leftover spiced pecans with a swig of grape juice (“Goes down so much smoother than Listerine!”).  So while The Boy and I were naturally okay with the idea of a week of potatoes, we were also bored with the same old standby options.  Enter…

THE MAIL!

You guessed it, my dollies: the mailman, unhindered by rain, sleet, or snow (or in the case of our neighborhood, stoned Mexicans, cantankerous elderly Asian men, or the cat-lady’s many savvy, trained-to-kill, unnecessarily aggressive “kitties,” if we may call them that), saved our day–NAY–our LIVES!  That’s because the mail brought us a Christmas present from the Girl and the Girl II–a Curry Lover’s Gift Box.img_4894

from the Spice House!

!!!

!!!!

I mean, great jumping Jehosephat, that kicks all kinds of ass!

For you poor souls who are unfamiliar with the Spice House, suffice it to say that they are a tiny chain of, well, spice houses that exist only in the greater Chicago/Milwaukee area (but by the magic of the Internet, absolutely anyone can enjoy their wares!).  I’ve managed to spend hours perusing their collections, and have never left disappointed (Spiced cider blend anyone?  Corned beef seasoning?  But of course!  I’ll take fifty!).

So after we got over the initial giddiness from huffing the Double-Strength Vanilla Extract and the Saigon Cassia Cinnamon they also sent us, our thoughts turned, naturally, to potato curry.  A quick survey revealed that we also had peas and carrots, and a dinnertime star was born.

The curry that resulted was beyond good.  If you can’t find a good hot curry powder, or if you’d like to try to work out your own blend, the one from Spice House is hand-mixed from “turmeric, Cayenne red pepper, China No. 1 ginger, Indian cumin, white pepper, cinnamon, fenugreek, fennel, nutmeg, arrowroot, cardamon, cloves, and Tellicherry pepper.”

Stick that in your tandoor and smoke it!

The addition of coconut milk in this recipe keeps things smooth, creamy, and, hellooooo, vegan!  What are you waiting for?  A freaking sign?  Here is your sign, people!  Here is your sign!

SIGN

Thank goodness for the Girl and the Girl II.  Thank goodness for the Spice House.  But really, let’s not forget the real hero here–no, not the potato.  It looks kinda like a potato, though.  That’s right–the mailman.

Thank you, Mr. Mailman–this time, you’ve really managed to deliver! (You still receive no credit for last week’s shredded magazine, though I will grant that the mangled perfume samples made our building’s wretchedly stanky hallway somewhat more bearable.)

Potato Curry with Peas and Carrots
Makes 4 generous servings

Go Get:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon hot curry powder, preferably from the Spice House (the Boy and I like it hot, as I’ve heard some do…use discretion, you may want to add it gradually)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
8 oz. carrots, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups frozen peas
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1 can coconut milk
1 cup water (you may need more)

Go Do:
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the hot curry powder and stir it around for 30 seconds. Add the onions to the pan and saute until they are tender and a bit golden. When you’re there, add the carrots, potatoes, and minced garlic. Give it all a good stir, and then add about a half cup each of water and coconut milk. Stir in the turmetic, salt, and coriander. Reduce the heat to low and cover it. Check every so often to stir the pot and check the moisture level. When the moisture is almost all absorbed, add more coconut milk and water, in equal parts. Continue to cook, stir, and add liquid until the vegetables are very tender and the curry is nice and thick. At this point, taste it to check that the spice levels are where you like them. When you’re there, stir in the peas and the rest of the coconut milk (and water if necessary), and cook it for another 3 minutes or so, until the peas are heated through and the curry thickens up again. Serve over brown rice.

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