Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pakistani Kima

Gone are the days of plain old spaghetti and red sauce. No more spaghetti that is white and limp and pasty, plastered with red sauce with no texture, flavour, or spice, resembling the tomato less than it reminds you of caulk or grout. Replace that with beautiful Pakistani Kima: fragrant, colourful, slightly spicy, set atop steaming brown or red rice.

I made this dish for myself and my roommate and we ate off of it for four meals, a few of those meals consisting of two hearty helpings each. This will freeze well and reheats beautifully for those long days at the office or in the library. The flavours of the curry, cinnamon, and ginger mingle and develop as it chills out in your fridge.

As this was my first time with Kima I followed the recipe directly from the More with Less cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. Having just celebrated its 25th birthday, I received the anniversary edition of this cookbook from my future sister-in-law for Christmas. The first 20 pages are packed full of helpful tips to cut down on your grocery bill by taking simple steps to learn the basics of a frugal kitchen: buying in bulk, making your own sauces, balancing meat consumption with environment-friendly and socially-conscious use of alternative proteins such as soybeans, and lentils. More with Less has impressed me deeply on my first read-through; it was originally published in 1976, making the author's eye to social responsibility through setting our own kitchens "in order" quite progressive. And, with an emphasis on the joyful and grateful attitude with which we should approach food-making and food-sharing, this cookbook reminds us that even the kitchen cannot escape our theology; if we truly believe that we are to feed the hungry, we have to start by feeding our friends and family real food. I'm eager to experiment with other ways of revolutionizing my kitchen: making your own bisquick, substituting natural sweeteners in high-sugar recipes, and buying supplies such as flour, grains, and spices in bulk a few times a year.

May your kitchen truly be the heart of your home!

- ODG.

Pakistani Kima (serves 6)

Sauté in a skillet:
3 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced
When the mixture turns fragrant, add:
1 pound of lean ground beef
Brown it well. Then add your spices directly to the hot oil in the bottom of the pan to "open" them up:
1 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
dash pepper
dash each cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric (all ground)
Once that's all stirred in, add:
2 cups cooked tomatoes (2 small or 1 large can diced tomatoes, with their juice!)
2 diced potatoes (I used two large russets and it was a little potato heavy, but very hearty)
2 cups frozen peas or green beans
Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Serve over brown or red rice.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Eating Gourmet on One Day a Week

It happens to all of us. We get home after a long day and are starving for something tasty, nutritious, hearty, and... let's admit it: fast. Our grocery stores filled with pre-packaged food and our streets lined with take out and fast food make it easy to eat quickly, but often what we put in our bodies at these hasty junctures is the last thing our bodies need. As a recently engaged grad student also working two jobs, finding the time to make a proper meal every day is like trying to breathe underwater. I am convinced that with a little thought and care taken on one day out of every week, we can eat tastier, healthier food that has had a shorter journey from our green earth into our bellies.

Another culinary challenge for most of us is... well, just that. Cooking up a meal for friends, or just for yourself, seems like a time-consuming process. My own Achilles' heel is throwing a fabulous party, wining and dining my friends, but never sitting down to enjoy the party until they've all left. I usually spend the whole evening in the kitchen over the stove, or running back and forth from the table getting that last little thing to make the table experience perfect. Call it a New Year's resolution: I am determined to master the way to throw a stunning party while still enjoying it, and my dearest friends, myself.

For these two reasons, the focus of this blog will be on foods that can be made ahead - a day, a week, or months in advance - so that when it comes time for you to eat, whether alone or with your closest friends and family, you can enjoy most fully your time with them around the table. One day a week, and we all might save a little time and money in the process of learning to live fuller, richer, tastier lives.