Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cooking School

I live less than two hours from Los Angeles, but I only go there a couple of times a year. Today I had one of those days that makes me glad I live so close. I went with some friends down to Culver City to The New School of Cooking to take a class in fresh Thai cooking. I like Thai food a lot, but now I feel like I understand it better. The girl who taught the class just happened to be Thai; she taught a souffle class the last time I went. We did all of the cooking ourselves, but she gave us a cultural/culinary introduction beforehand. Her description of the peppers that are traditionally used in Thai cooking was a little daunting. She said that we might want to kick it down a step with habaneros if the Thai chilies were too hot. Habaneros are milder??? Yikes!
We worked with partners. I cooked with one of my ex-students who I now teach with, and is now one of my best friends. We prepared "Dry Style Panang Curry," which was exceptionally good, without being too hot or strange....except that it has pork belly in it...which was strange to me. I really don't think we should eat pigs, but they are so darn tasty, even their bellies!

Our "Dry Style Panang Curry" is in the small bowl on the far left. The cream-colored dish was called "Seasonal Thai Vegetable Curry, and it was also delicious, as was the clam dish right next to it.

Dry Style Panang Curry

2 Tbsp. oil
1 lb pork belly, sliced into thin tiles
1/2 yellow onion (thinly sliced)
1 cup coconut
2 -4 Tbsp. Panang Curry Paste
2-3 Kaffir Lime Leaves, julliened
1/2 cup Thai Sweet Basil (Whole with stems)
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. Tamarind Paste
1/4 red bell pepper, julliened

Heat oil on high in a skillet and add pork belly. Brown the pork stirring occasionally for about five minutes. Drain excess oil.

Stir in 3 Tbsp. of thick coconut milk, curry paste, onion, and lime leaves. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds until paste starts to brown.

Stir in remaining coconut milk into curry paste. Increase heat to high until boiling. Allow to boil for about 5 min. or until reduced by half.

Add basil leaves, fish sauce, Tamarind paste, and sugar. Adjust flavors if necessary and serve garnished with bell peppers.

Red Curry Paste

15-20 red chile (Serrano or Thai) Dry if fresh is unavailable
2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
5 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1'' section Galanga (Try finding that in Kansas, ha,ha)
2 - 4 Tbsp cilantro roots or stems
1/2 tsp. coriander, ground
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/2-1Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. shrimp paste
2 Tbsp. oil (if needed)

Seed and soak the chiles in hot water until tender if using dried.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to use.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Another Hat!

I'm not that excited about actual Halloween night, seeing that our neighborhood has seemingly been deemed by our town to be the neighborhood least likely to give out poisoned candy so that we often go through between 400 to 600 mini-candy bars between 6:00 and 9:00 P.M. On the other hand, I like the build-up to it. I knit a second little Halloween hat for one of my sister's kids last night while we watched Shawn of the Dead. I hate horror films...except for this one. For some reason I'm not disturbed by the zombies getting skewered or the whole "removing the brain" advice from the newscaster. Maybe because it's British. Whatever the reason, we had a pleasant evening eating a "Wildcat Special" pizza with Paige and her friend Veronica and watching zombies get blown away. I just make the pattern up, and I'm not overly happy with it, but it was fun along the way.
I have the temporarily on display on my mantel until I mail it on Monday. The cute little woodblocks, however, get to stay. I already had the little Arbor Lodge, which is located in Nebraska City, Nebraska, built by the founder of Arbor Day. The trees are new. They have lots of apple trees in Nebraska City, so I ordered an apple tree and another "falling-looking" trees from Cat's Meow in honor of the falls I would like to experience again sometime.It seems pretty obvious that I like to show off my kds, but usually I do have their pics have some connection to knitting. So, here's my connection. I have only one show on T.V. that I regularly watch. It's The Office. Jim and Pam got married last week, and Paige baked a cake to eat as we watched. What could be better than eating cake and watching a show you love? --Knitting once you finish your slice of cake!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Routine Smoutine

It seems to have happened again that I've disappeared from blogdom wholehog. When I'm disconnected, I'm really disconnected. I can't fully blame it on my busy daily routine although I am really busy, I think it's mostly that the endless September heat depresses me and for some reason discourages me from holding warm wool in my hands in the evening.

I don't really care for knitting "philosophy" books. I mean the ones that elevate knitting to a religion, basically. On the other hand, I do consider knitting to be far more than a hobby for me. The amount and type of knitting I'm doing usually reflects in some way on my life, at least indirectly. I'm always busy at the beginning of the school year and don't have much free time. Plus, I've been distracted by my poor mom's health problems in the past couple months. She's had cataract surgery, congestive heart failure, and lost a crown all within a month and a half...oh, and her cat died. I think that's why I chose to start the "seaside throw" from Debbie Bliss's Home. It's nice not to have to think too much sometimes, and this pattern doesn't take much thinking. I love it because it's easy to memorize, and I can just sit down and knit it anytime. It's comforting when lots of other things in my life seem hectic and out of control to have that throw waiting there to be knit whenever I have a little extra time. I used 15 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cathay in fuchsia that I bought for only $3.50 from Little Knits a while ago. It was a little "splitty," but overall, I love it and am looking forward to snuggling with my throw as the weather gets cooler.I have gotten in a few other mindless knitting projects lately too. I like knitting little pumpkins and found a new pattern on ravelry that I like called Autumn Pumpkins. I like the little attached leaf. I've only knit one, but I'll crank out more before Halloween.I also knit a little pumpkin hat for my nephew. It was easy too, but a little different from the rest.