Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Update, Garden & Other


Well, as undoubtedly noted, there has not been much action around here lately. And by around here, I mean the blog, not my life. There has been plenty going on in my life, some of it not good. The last 3 weeks in particular have been crazy. It started with the long-awaited visit from Ireland of Dad's partner's brother and his wife, who stayed with us for a week. That was exciting, but since it happened at the end of a quarantine at the nursing home and with the notice that Dad and T were to be transferred to their preferred nursing home back in their home town, it was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. At one point we were afraid they would be transferred in the middle of the visit, but fortunately not.

The next week was taken up by moving them both down, and naturally they were not able to go down on the same trip thanks to the joys of bureaucracy. There are still lots of loose ends to be taken care of there; moving is a big job. However, while we were making the second trip down, Mr. Ferdzy's mother's housemate - who does a lot to keep things on track around here - suffered a stroke, and is still in the hospital, outcome not completely known although it looks like there will be quite a bit of recovery. Still, a long road of rehab ahead with even more chauffeuring of parental units required, along with many other modifications to daily life.

Not surprisingly the blog is not the only thing being neglected. Why do these things always happen in May? We are 3 weeks behind in a gardening season that has only been about a month, so far. Peas are in, one trellis is up, but we have scarcely had time to look at anything since then.


On the bright side, peas are looking good, including some peas which are cross between Dual and Spanish Skyscraper. I found them in the garden last year and I am looking forward to growing them out and seeing if any of them are of interest. Last year they were an F1 hybrid and so very uniform. This year they should start segregating out into a wider range of phenotypes, although so far they look pretty uniform too.


Mr Ferdzy snatches a moment to week the asparagus. We are so behind on weeding we will likely hire someone for a day to come in and help us. Mr Ferdzy is quite grumpy about this; he says we have a garden so we can garden, not for someone else to do it. I agree, but... this year, I think it is required to get some help.


A walk in the woods showed that the wild leeks (ramps) we planted a couple years back are established and doing well, but not really spreading yet. None for us to pick, unfortunately.


More bad news - the prolonged cold snap this winter has killed a number of the fruit trees that we planted in the last few years. Saddest to me is the death of our quince, but all the paw-paws, an apple, and a cherry have also died. Our peaches and nectarines - 4 trees - are about 90% dead, but show signs of sprouting on some lower branches. This will put them back for years, assuming they manage to struggle through this season. We are debating whether to replace these trees or not - we are getting old enough that we are not sure we will see them to maturity.


Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, watermelons and melons, and a few other things were seeded in pots and are ready to go out as soon as it warms up. We were thinking of doing it last week, but the prediction of this week's cold snap dissuaded us. Hopefully next weekend, though, most of these will go into the garden, ending 2 months of dragging these trays in and out according to the weather.

One of those trays contains tomatoes from a chance hybrid found in the garden a few years back. I have been growing it out, a few plants every year, and I am very pleased with it. This year I am giving 20 plants or so to a local market gardener, with the proviso I get the first ripe fruit from each plant. This will let me know if this is as stable as I think it is, and give me a lot of seed. If it is found to be a success, it will be a new variety and I will need a name for it! You will be hearing more about this, assuming it works out.


And finally, we do have some garden besides vegetables. Of the ornamental plants, peonies are my favourite, and we now have over 30 varieties in the garden, about half of which are well established enough to put on a good show. The first to bloom this (and most) years is Nosegay. Peony blooms are rather fleeting, but it is hard to imagine any flower more spectacular. I will try very hard this difficult year to get out and take the time to look at them.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Stewed Rhubarb & Figs

Rhhhuuuubarb! It's just starting up, so it's not a bad idea to stretch it out with something else. Dried figs provide sweetness and a complementary flavour.

Like rhubarb, figs are a sufficiently high-fibre food that this recipe should perhaps be thought of in terms of dosages rather than servings. I ate most of this for breakfast over a week, with plain yogurt. Very good.  

8 to 12 servings
30 minutes prep time


3 cups chopped rhubarb stems
200 grams dried figs
2 cups water
a stick of cinnamon (2 to 3inches)
1/4 cup honey

Wash, trim, and chop the rhubarb. Trim the stems from the figs and cut them into 3 or 4 pieces each. Put the figs in a pot with the water and cinnamon, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 or 10 minutes until softened, then add the rhubarb and honey. Continue to simmer for another 5 or 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is cooked and the figs quite soft. Stir frequently. 




Last year at this time I made Oyster Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

One-Pot Creamed Spinach with Mushrooms

'Cause if there's anything I hate, it's a 3-pot side dish, although I will admit to having posted a few. I really try not to, though. This still requires a fair bit of attention, and so is best served with things like steamed rice or barley, baked potatoes, baked chicken or fish, or other simply cooked dishes which do not require much in the way of last minute attention.

6 to 8 servings




8 cups loosely packed spinach
225 grams (1/2 pound) button mushrooms
2 to 3 green onions OR shallots
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup 10% cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash the spinach, discarding any bad leaves and tough stems. Chop it roughly and drain it well. Clean, trim, and quarter the mushrooms. Wash, trim, and finely chop the green onions, or peel and chop the shallots. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Cook the mushrooms until lightly browned and reduced in volume, stirring regularly. Add the green onions or shallots and the garlic, and cook until wilted. Sprinkle the flour over mushrooms, and mix in well until no white flour can be seen. Cook for another minute or two, stirring, then add the chicken stock.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, then add add the spinach by handfuls, stirring after each addition and adding more as the spinach wilts down until it is all in. Simmer until the spinach is done to your liking, then add the cream. Bring the mixture back up just to the simmer. Keep stirring all the while to keep it from getting lumpy. The sauce should be just thick enough to coat the spinach and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper - the amount of salt suggested assumes the chicken stock is unsalted.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Herbed Goat Cheese Pasta

Apart from  the time spent wandering around the garden, gathering a bit of this and that, this is as quick and simple a dish as you are likely to find.

I had both green onions and chives, parsley, sorrel, and the tops of leaf celery that overwintered very nicely. I really don't know if it will go to seed soon (it seems likely) but right now it is a lovely addition to salads and other things. The cream should be just enough to make the cheese coat the pasta smoothly, rather than staying a bit sticky. I like whole wheat pasta for this, but I suppose it is not absolutely required - regular will do very well.

Daffodils, I should add, are strictly a decorative plant.

2 to 4 servings
20 to 25 minutes prep time, not including gathering the herbs


2 to 3 cups mixed fresh herbs and greens
1 clove garlic, OPTIONAL
250 grams (1/2 pound) whole wheat spaghetti, spaghettini, or cappellini
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
150 to 200 grams (1/3 pound) soft goat cheese (chevre)
2 to 3 tablespoons light cream
salt & freshly ground black or green pepper to taste

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

For the herbs, use a mixture of chives, green onion, garlic, or shallot tops, wild leeks (ramps), parsley, sorrel, spinach, or arugula. Stronger herbs such as thyme, dill, or oregano can be added in small quantities. Overwintered leeks or celery shoots can also be used, as could pea shoots. Wash them well, pick them over, chop them finely, then set them to drain thoroughly. If you like, peel and mince a clove of garlic.

When the water boils cook the pasta according to the directions until just done. Drain well, but leave the stove on.

Immediately return the empty pot to the stove, and add the butter, chevre, and cream to the pot. Stir well, breaking up the chevre, until you have smooth mixture. Add the herbs (and garlic, if using) and cook  until they are just wilted. Add the drained pasta, toss until thoroughly and evenly coated in the cheese and  herb mixture. Season with salt and generous quantities of fairly coarsely ground pepper, toss again, and serve at once.




Last year at this time I made Steak & Mushroom Pie.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Martin's Jerk Chicken Adobo

The recipe for this fusion dish came from my brother-in-law Martin. I've made both Jerk chicken and Adobo before, but it wouldn't have occurred to me to combine them. It works well though - I love all the intense flavours. I love them so much I pass the cooking liquid as a sauce with the chicken, but it really is strong so be cautious with it. Rice or noodles would soak it up beautifully.

2 to 4 servings
8 to 12 hours marinade time
30 minutes cook time


Make the Spice Rub & Marinate the Chicken:
1 tablespoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 teaspoon thyme
4 to 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
OR other pieces of chicken
the juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime

Grind the allspice and pepper, and mix them with the remaining spices. Rub the spice mix evenly over the chicken pieces, and put them in a container with a lid. Pour the lemon or lime juice over them, cover them up, and refrigerate them for 8 to 12 hours  until ready to proceed.

Cook the Chicken:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
2 to 3 bay leaves
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
2 to 3 slices fresh ginger
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil

Mix the water, soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, peeled and trimmed garlic, and ginger slices in a bowl and have them standing by.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pot that will hold the chicken in a single layer, but snugly. Brown the chicken pieces well on the skin side (7 to 10 minutes) then turn them over. Pour in the sauce, trying not to wet the tops of the chicken much. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, without a lid, for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a serving dish with a slotted spoon. The remaining liquid should be quite reduced in volume; you may either discard it or remove the bay leaves, garlic, and ginger, and pass it with the chicken. It will be very salty and intense, so it should be applied with discretion.




Last year at this time I made Egg Fu Yung.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Potato Waffles

I haven't made waffles for ages! I gave up on my old waffle iron, which always seemed to produce limp, floppy waffles, assuming I could even pry them from the waffle iron at all, in spite of the "nonstick" coating. However, my brother-in-law has given up eating much in the way of carbohydrates, and so I now have his old waffle iron, dating back to the 1940's by the look of it, which he acquired in a yard sale. It works much better, and without any of that nasty nonstick coating!

These are not a traditional light, fluffy waffle; they are more like boxty or potato scones, cooked into a waffle shape.  All the better to hold the butter. I don't think they go with syrup - bacon or sausage sounds like a much better idea - but Mr. Ferdzy likes them with applesauce.

6 waffles; 2 to 3 servings
40 minutes to make mashed potatoes
plus 30 minutes to make the waffles


Make the Mashed Potatoes:
500 grams (1 pound) russet potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk or thin yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash, trim, and cut the potatoes into even chunks. Put them in a pot with water to just cover them and boil them until tender; about15 to 20 minutes. Drain them, and let them sit in the pot with the lid off for a minute or so to get quite dry. Mashe them with the butter, buttermilk, and salt.

Or, use 2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes. 

Make the Waffles:
mild vegetable oil
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
1/2 cup soft unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
about 1/3 cup buttermilk or thin yogurt

Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil, and heat it.

Clean, dry, and chop the chives very finely. Put them in a mixing bowl and mix them with the flour and baking powder. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the mashed potatoes, and the buttermilk. Add a little more if the batter is to thick to spread out easily.

Cook the batter in the waffle iron in 2 or 3 batches, depending on the size of the waffle iron. Each batch will take about 10 minutes to cook; they are done when the amount of steam coming off them diminishes to a noticable degree. Re-oil the waffle iron between each batch, and keep the prepared waffles hot in a 200°F oven.




Last year at this time I made Spicy Parsnip & Tomato Soup.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Creamy Sorrel Soup

I promised the first new vegetables of the spring in my next recipe, and here they are! It's official! Spring and a new season are here.

You will be lucky to find leeks, but there may be some at the farmers markets. That's what I  used; but they come from my garden and I don't mind that at this time of year they need a fair bit of trimming. I would think shallots would work fine too. The green onions were walking onions, but welsh onions would also work, and I suppose if you could get your hands on them wild leeks (ramps) would be an excellent choice as well.

The butter, red lentils and yogurt make this soup seem quite creamy without the use of any actual cream, and the sorrel and yogurt give it a lovely delicate sour tang. We enjoyed this very much.

4 servings
40 minutes - 20 minutes prep time


2 small leeks
OR 4 to 5 shallots
3 or 4 green onions
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup red lentils

2 cups chicken stock
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups loosely packed sorrel leaves
1/2 cup thick yogurt

Wash and trim the leeks or shallots, and chop them finely.

Heat the butter gently in a heavy-bottomed soup pot, and cook the leeks or shallots until softened and reduced, but not browned. Add the lentils and chicken stock.  Season with salt and pepper, keeping in mind how much, if any, salt is in the chicken stock. If there is none, I suggest about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Simmer the soup, with the lid on, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are quite soft. Stir regularly. This can be done in advance, if you want. The soup can then be puréed, if you want as well, although I didn't bother. It's fine with a bit of texture.

Wash, trim, and chop the green onions. Add them to the hot soup. Wash the sorrel leaves, and remove any tough stems or other undesirable bits (such as snails... yeah, they're already at it). Chop it finely, and add it to the hot soup along with the yogurt. Stir well, while the sorrel wilts and cooks, but do not let the soup boil again - just get it steaming hot. I suppose you could purée it at this point too, if you wanted a very smooth puréed soup. I liked the little bits of green though, even though the sorrel quickly turns brownish.





Last year at this time, I had just had my gall bladder removed, and my life was about to go completely to pot, although I didn't know it yet... how quickly time flies. I guess.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Endive & Mushroom Salad

Well, here I am. Trying to get back into a routine that includes this blog.

Everyone is back from their winter vacations meaning that Mr. Ferdzy and I have much more chauffeuring and visiting of parents to do, and on top of that there is a quarantine in the nursing home while we make an attempt to sell the cottage belonging to Dad and his partner. It makes arranging for the offers and counter-offers to be signed a bit of production, but hopefully it will happen and we can get on to the next project, whatever that will be.

I'm struggling with my usual late winter/early spring depression, but I expect that to lift fairly soon. We've started cleaning up the garden, and have planted peas, along with lettuce and spinach. We planted spinach and lettuce in the fall, too, which is when we usually plant it, but it didn't come up. Or rather, I suspect it did come up but was eaten by last years bumper crop of slugs and snails so quickly that it seemed like it didn't. The rhubarb is starting to unfurl and the welsh and walking onions, parsley, and sorrel are all coming along nicely; in fact I believe this will be the last "winter" recipe of the year, and the next one will use some garden greens. I may be a bit overly optimistic about that, but we shall see.

2 to 6 servings
20 minutes prep time


Make the Dressing:
1/4 cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon apple butter
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Make the Salad:
200 grams (1/2 pound) Belgian endive (2 medium heads)
100 grams  (1/4 pound) button mushrooms
2 cups finely shopped Savoy cabbage
50 grams (2 ounces) chopped walnuts
50 grams (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
2 to 4 tablespoons dried cranberries (optional)

Wash, trim and chop the endive. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Finely chop the cabbage.

Mix all the ingredients in a salad bowl and toss with the dressing. Reserve a few of the cranberries and walnuts to sprinkle over the top of the salad.




Last year at this time I made Lamb Steak & Kidney Pie, and Rhubarb & Carrot Muffins.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Lion's Head Cabbage Rolls

Can't finish winter if I haven't made any cabbage rolls! This is a (slight) variation on a classic Chinese dish. It's usually made with  nappa cabbage or bok choy, but Savoy cabbage works very well, and will be available right now. Shiitake mushrooms are more traditional than the button mushrooms, but yeah, button mushrooms were the ones I had. Jerusalem artichokes make a great stand in for water chestnuts, but if you can't find them just omit them; like water chestnuts they add more texture than flavour.

4 servings
1 hour - 40 minutes prep time


Make the Filling:
2 or 3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced peeled fresh ginger
4 to 6 large Jerusalem artichokes
500 grams (1 pound) lean ground pork
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoon tapioca starch or arrowroot starch

Put a large pot of water on to boil.

Wash, trim and chop the green onions. Peel and mince the ginger. Peel and finely chop the Jerusalem artichokes, if you are using them. Put them all in a mixing bowl with the ground pork, eggs, sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, and starch, and mix until evenly blended.

Finish the Dish:
8 outer leaves from a medium Savoy cabbage
250 grams (1/2 pound) shiitake or button mushrooms
2 tablespoons bacon fat or vegetable oil
4 cups chicken or pork stock
a slice of ginger
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon tapioca starch or arrowroot starch

Separate the outer leaves from the cabbage carefully, keeping them whole and undamaged. Trim out the tough lower stems. Drop them, a few at a time, into the boiling water, and boil them for a minute or two. Remove them with tongs or a large slotted spoon, and rinse them under cold water  until they are cool enough to handle. Drain them well.

Put 1/8 of the meat mixture in the middle of each leaf, and fold it up into a neat roll. Repeat with the remaining leaves and meat mixture.

Clean and trim the mushrooms, removing the stems entirely if you are using shiitake mushrooms. Cut them into strips or quarters.

Heat the fat or oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms, and cook them until softened and slightly browned, then remove them from the pan. Add the cabbage rolls in a single layer, then pour about a cup of chicken stock into the pan. Add a slice of ginger to the pan, and return the mushrooms to it as well. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.

Turn the cabbage rolls over. add the sesame oil and soy sauce, and all of the remaining chicken stock except for about 1 cup. Cover and simmer the cabbage rolls for another 10 minutes.

Mix the remaining chicken stock with the tapioca or arrowroot starch. Remove the cabbage rolls to a serving dish, leaving the broth in the pan. Stir the last of the chicken stock and starch into the pan of broth, and simmer until thickened (just a minute or two). Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls.




Last year at this time I made Parsnips with Prunes & Lemon, and Mock Chicken Stock.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Meyer's Lemon Curd Cake Roll

For most of you, apart from a little flour and butter, the local component of this cake will be the eggs (and it does call for a lot of eggs). For us though, the lemons were local too!

Two summers ago we bought a couple of Meyer`s lemon trees, and have been growing them in pots ever since. Last year they did not produce anything, but this summer they really enjoyed their time outside, and grew many blossoms and attracted many bees. It took the rest of the summer, the fall, and most of the winter for the resulting lemons to ripen, but now they are ready and we are enjoying our lemon bounty.

Meyer's lemons are quite seedy; I recommend that you strain the juice before measuring it. You will need 4 good sized lemons according to the recipe, but it will not hurt to have 5 or even 6 on hand if they are smaller, or in case for some reason they don't produce the expected quantity of juice. You could, I suppose, omit the application of the lemon syrup at the end, but for me, the moister and zingier a lemon cake is, the better I like it.

My Meyers lemon trees wintering indoors

8 servings
20 minutes prep time for the lemon curd
30 minutes prep time and 15 minutes baking time for the cake
plus at least  hours cooling and resting times

Meyer's Lemon Curd Cake Roll

Make the Lemon Curd:
1/2 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter

Put the lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar in the top of a double boiler, and place over a pan of water. Stir well, then beat in the eggs with an electric mixer. Turn the heat on, and bring the water to a simmer. Beat the eggs constantly until the mixture thickens, then remove the double boiler from the heat at once, and set it in a pan of cold water. Continue to beat for a minute or two, then leave it to cool. Stir it occasionally as it cools, then cover it and refrigerate until needed.

This should be done at least 2 hours ahead, up to the day before.

Make the Lemon Cake:
3/4 cup soft unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice (1 lemon)

Sift the flour with the salt and baking powder and gently stir in the zest. Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a 10" x 15" pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper lightly.

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, and add the sugar. Beat well for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is very pale and fluffy.  Briefly beat in the lemon juice.

Gently fold in the flour, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the centre springs back when gently pressed, and the cake is just browning around the edges.

Turn the cake out at once onto a clean tea-towel, and roll it up so the short side is the curled part. Place it on a rack to cool.

Make the Lemon Syrup & Finish the Cake:
1/4 cup lemon juice (1 lemon)
1/4 cup sugar
a little icing sugar to dust the cake

Put the lemon juice and sugar in a small pot, and heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved and the mixture simmers a little. Set it to the back of the stove and let it cool. This can be done while the cake bakes.

When the cake is cool, gently unroll the cake. Spread the lemon curd evenly over it, and roll it up again, this time without the tea towel in it... for best results! Using a very broad, long spatula (or two) transfer it to the serving plate. Drizzle the lemon syrup evenly over the cake, and leave it for 10 or 15 minutes to absorb the syrup. Put  a spoonful of icing sugar into a wire sieve, and shake it evenly over the cake. Repeat if you feel that the cake needs more icing sugar.




Last year at this time I made Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili

Monday, 16 March 2015

Maafe; African Peanut Stew

This is a dish from west and central Africa, and is also known as Mafe, groundnut stew, or several other names, as it is popular over quite a large territory. It's also highly variable because of that, although I think mine is a fairly typical version.

Mine was made with chicken, but you could replace it with lamb, or beef, or even chunks of tofu, although in that case it will take less cooking.

The green vegetable part is pretty flexible too; I used frozen spinach from our garden, but kale or chard would also work, and fresh green cabbage would be fine, although I would place it in a colander and pour generous quantities of boiling water over it before I added it to the stew. I don't know what it is about adding completely raw vegetables to stews, but they never seem to cook properly when you do that.

This is another pretty rich meal. I used 6 large chicken thighs, and I would say one made a good portion, what with all the sauce. Served with polenta or rice, it is a complete meal in itself.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour 20 minutes prep time, not including cooking the sweet potatoes

Maafe; Chicken & Peanut Stew

2 large sweet potatoes (about 500 grams or 1 pound)
2 medium onions
1 tablespoon finely minced peeled ginger
4 - 5 cloves of garlic
1 kilogram (2 pounds) chicken pieces
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
4 cups crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce, or to taste
2 to 3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup peanut butter
chopped (frozen) spinach, kale, or Swiss Chard
OR about 3 cups chopped cabbage, blanched
chopped peanuts to garnish

Cook the sweet potatoes in advance; they can be roasted whole at a previous meal, or cook them in the microwave until tender.

Peel and chop the onions. Peel and mince the ginger. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken pieces until browned on both sides; about 10 minutes total. Put them in a large stew pot.

Cook the onions in the remaining fat in the pan over slightly lower heat, until softened and cooked down, but not much browned. Add the ginger and garlic, mix in well, and cook for a minute or two longer. Add them to the chicken, along with the tomatoes, chile garlic sauce, bay leaves, and vinegar. Simmer for about half an hour, until the chicken is tender.

Cut up the sweet potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Mix the peanut butter with a little of the sauce from the chicken to dissolve it, then mix it back into the stew. Add the sweet potato chunks and the vegetable, and continue to simmer the stew gently until hot through. Serve with polenta or steamed rice, garnished with some chopped peanuts.





Last year at this time it was chicken too, but one with a low-fat, low-key sauce: Poached Chicken with Dried Tomatoes & Shiitake Mushrooms .

Sunday, 15 March 2015

They're Here! They're Here!

... The red-winged blackbirds, that is! It's official - spring is coming.

(And of course, they're going to get whacked with some bad weather yet. I always picture them down south, thinking, "This year I'm going to be sensible, and not head up north until it's really going to be warm. It's crazy, arriving early and getting dumped on by a snowstorm, or putting up with -20°C weather. Hey guys, let's not... hey, where are you going? Guys?! Oh shit! I better get going or I won't get a good nesting spot! Guys! Wait for meeee...!)