Friday, June 21, 2013

Bento whale in a pool of curry

In my previous post I mentioned making a bento whale for my grandson.  Well, now I’ve had several requests for the curry recipe, so I’ll tell you what I know!

I make curry 2 ways, either in a base of tomato sauce or a base of coconut milk.  If I’m understanding the Food Network channel correctly, the coconut milk one is Thai, and the tomato based one is Indian.  This may be entirely too simplistic but they both taste good, no matter the origins.  Both begin the same way.  I put some rice on to cook and start dicing vegetables.  Pretty much anything works for this, but I always seem to have carrots, peas and onion on hand so that’s my base.  Beyond that I’ve been known to throw in some broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, white potato, fresh green beans, cabbage, whatever is fresh and handy.  The more variety I have, the smaller amount of each kind goes in.  In a little oil I sauté anything that needs it, which I everything except the peas.  I buy those frozen.  Once they’re soft I put in my seasonings.  For a tomato base I sprinkle some curry powder into the oil and let it cook a minute so the flavors will bloom.  Stir it while this is happening, it might burn!  Let it coat the veggies.  I don’t like the curry powder you buy in the little red and white can at the grocery store, but at Fresh market in Destin, they sell a Madras curry powder in bulk that smells good enough to eat like a Lik-M-Stick.  Not that I’ve tried that.  Yet.  But I digress.  After the spices are heated up and smelling fabulous, I add the tomato sauce and whatever protein I‘m using, usually cooked lentils, occasionally chick peas, even more rarely I’ll add leftover meat.  I also add the peas and a little garlic at this point.  At this point all that‘s left is to let it simmer for 10-15 minutes and serve it over rice.  I add salt to mine but some people seem to think that’s all wrong.  To each her own.

As for the coconut curry, it’s the same until I get to the seasonings.  For this I go to one of the local Asian markets and buy a can of massaman curry paste, it’s less than $1 and it comes in a yellow can.  You can go to this link to see what the little yellow can looks like, so if you want to try this, you'll know what to look for. 
There are plenty of other curry pastes available but this is the one I like.  Not too hot and spicy, but very tasty.  At the point where you’d sprinkle in the dry curry powder for the tomato curry, here you will spoon out some paste and stirfry it in the oil and let it coat the veggies.  For the size meal I make for my family, I use about half the can.  This is totally dependent on taste, I’d say start with a small amount and if it’s not to your liking, stir some more in later.  Then dump in some canned coconut milk.  For my family I use 2 cans, a small family or single person wouldn’t need to use that much.  Salt (again) seems to be optional but I like it in mine.  Add the peas, protein and garlic and simmer, stirring often for 10-15 minutes.  Serve over rice.  Preferably with a bento sea creature swimming in it.   

Since this is more a technique than a recipe, feel free to ask for clarification if there’s anything I didn’t make clear.  I hope you’ll try it, this is such a simple, fast and inexpensive meal.  It’s a vegetarian meal I know my family won’t complain about, those rotten die-hard meat eaters are such whiners sometimes but not when I serve this!    

I'll be linking this post to the Blissful and Domestic linky party, stop in over there and see what everyone else has been up to!

Blissful and Domestic

Thursday, June 20, 2013


We had a great visit with our extended family last week, the last one left on Friday so now we can get back to whatever passes for normal at our house.  They delivered our new shed while the kids were here, my step-son was a great help in getting it set up.  Since then, hubby and his employee have been hard at work fixing up the inside so it can be used as an office.  They’re coming right along!  It’s happening a lot faster than I expected.  I’ll post some pictures another time, I haven’t taken any yet but I’m sure hubby has.

As for me, I’ve been doing some sewing and cooking, and a very small amount of knitting.  It’s just too darn hot to knit, but I want to because I find it so soothing.  So now and then I pick it up and work a little just to calm my mind. 

I’m getting back into the groove of cooking, sort of.  This week I’ve made several meals, including a curry that included my second attempt at bento.  First I was going to make a shark, but it looked like some sort of mutant.  So I changed it to a whale, which looked a little better.  Drake said it was a dolphin so I must have been on the right track!!!

Doesn’t it look cute, swimming in a vegetable/lentil curry?

Last Saturday Tahnee and I went thrift-store shopping.  Waterfront Mission was having a 69 cents sale and I got a few items to be re-purposed into new clothing or quilts.  I made this tank top for Drake from one of those purchases:


Pay no attention to the blue plaid shorts, they actually matched what he had on before he tried on the new tank top.  I didn’t get a “before” picture of the shirt, sorry.  It was originally an Old Navy polo shirt, size medium. I was able to use the collar as the ribbing around the neck but there wasn’t enough to do the arm holes.  At first I tried just hemming the arm holes but it looked all stretched out and baggy so I went back and used a bit of the leftover fabric to do a sort of “ribbing” effect.  It worked.  You know, someday I’m going to have to learn to do sleeves….  All in good time.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Or at least elephants.  I'm learning the art of Bento, and I'll work my way up to other animals but so far all I've accomplished is an elephant out of a hot dog, and some vegetable flowers.

What do you think?

The elephant is resting on a bed of homemade lo mein.  Easy, easy recipe! 
1 lb spaghetti or rice noodles
2 cups broth
About 2 cups assorted veggies, diced
leftover bits of meat, optional
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
I used fresh carrots, peeled and sliced, half a yellow onion, and a handful of frozen peas in this dish.  I like broccoli or cauliflower in it but I didn't have either one.  Really, almost any veg will do.  I've even added leftover homemade eggroll filling.
Dice up the veg and start sautéing in a little oil.  Meanwhile, start cooking the pasta according to package directions.  Undercook it just a little so you can finish the cooking in the sauce and let it absorb all that yummy sauce goodness.  Once cooked, drain the pasta.
When the veggies are ready, add meat if using, then add the broth and bring it to a boil.  Stir together the cornstarch and soy sauce, then stream into the boiling broth, stirring all the while.  As soon as it starts to thicken, remove from heat and toss in the drained pasta.  Stir til all the pasta is coated and cooked thru.  Top with bento elephant and flowers, or not.  Serve with sweet chili sauce, if you have some.  That makes it FABULOUS.
This post is included on a linky party at  Go check out the other great ideas there!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Finally. Sewing success!!

I made a shirt for Drake out of an old tank top of mine, and some ribbing I bought.  It was plain, but it worked.  That is, until I tried to put it on him.  I had forgotten, this kid has the world’s most ginormous head!  I got it on him but some stitching came loose at the back of the neck.  He wore it anyway, it was his “favorite”, at least til Tahnee bought him a new shirt a few days later, now that one’s his favorite.  But that one has a “motorbicycle” on it, so I get it.  It would be my favorite too. 

When I fixed the neckline the next day, I enlarged the opening.  I had made the pattern myself so I enlarged that too.  And it seemed so plain…

Note to self: Decide on embellishments BEFORE you make clothing.  They are hard to add once the garment is finished!  But I got this pocket on, despite the high degree of difficulty.  I think it enhances the shirt, and it cost me nothing.  I cut it out of an old pair of baby pants.  This whole shirt cost me about a quarter.  And now that I know what to look for in ribbing, I can scavenge that from used clothes as well instead of buying it.    
On to other news...
Next week I’ll have a house full of company.  Relatives will be sleeping on every horizontal surface in my living room for a week.  I’ve decided to break out that last turkey I bought at Thanksgiving, that’ll provide a lot of meat with no additional outlay, and give me more room in my freezer.  Addition menu items for the week are bean burritos made with homemade refried beans, fried rice, Cajun chicken pasta, nachos, and possibly chicken strips marinated in Italian dressing.  All are inexpensive and easy, good for a crowd and good for the cook.