Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Illustrated "How ~To" of Chili Verde, a Pictorial Journey Through The Kitchen

I've been having food cravings, I will admit it. I have been craving Chili verde. I know the craving will not competely go away, until after I have addressed the situation. And you know what that means: Prep with a goal in mind.

Peppers included in this dish: Anaheim, Yellow, Pasilla, homegrown Jalapeno and Cayenne (all green or yellow except for the cayenne (orange).
All peppers are fresh as opposed to dried pods which will yield a red or brown sauce. Dried pods are used the same way up until the cooking of the strained pulp, at which time a determination for usage will be made (enchilada sauce, chilaquilas, etc.), all which will veer your recipe away from the directions in this Pictorial Journey. In other words you'll be on your own journey in a different direction, but just as wonderful a direction as this one will become.
And here we go~
Chopped peppers and garlic cloves, saving the seeds only from the hottest of all: Jalapeno and Cayenne. Discarding all seeds and pith from all of the benign (not hot) peppers. Seeds, of course, add to the heat-of-the-matter, and are well worth every single one that you save for the dish.

Big hunk o' pork shoulder with chopped garlic, black pepper and fresh-from-the-garden chopped oregano sprinkled over it.

Handy huge pork roast feeds us dinner the night before, and when cold gets chopped up into 1"cubes and stored in the frig. Watch out for sneaking family members that like to snag chunks of meat from the gladware container in the middle of the night. Sprinkling the roasted garlic (from the top of the roast) over the top of the cubed meat in the container will teach those poachers a lesson when they open the lid, grab the meat and pop it in their mouth. They can be caught by their scent later. Nibbling the roasted garlic from the top of the roast will also keep others from pestering you all night long.

Peppers and garlic only:

Coarse chop, adding the hot seeds

water just covers

boil baby boil

after the boil, cooking on low

optional: cool or immerse in a sink of cool water.

Always knew there was a reason I kept this old thing around. My Osterizer.

**Disclaimer: Use small amounts, hold top on firmly unless you love hot green explosions, that can easily reach the ceiling, walls, and everything in between. I know. Also make sure that the base is securely tightened, otherwise it will unscrew while blending and a bottom-blast will also occur!

Blending on the liquify setting (far right setting or highest, fastest)

straining the green

Spooning to press the pulp

Chicken broth (stock) used to facilitate movement
of the pulp through the strainer, prior to
discarding the skins and remaining slag.

Stock pan with veggie oil

in stock pan goes the green with chicken broth
heat 'er up again.

simmering, reducing.


Loosely chopped with fresh onions

secret spices;
some fresh,
some crushed,
some dried.

Chopped onions and tomatillos

Cooking and reduction

Cubed Pork shoulder roast during reduction.

That's Chili Verde! I love it, no matter how it is served. Open on a plate with steamed tortillas, beans, rice, hominy, salad, and don't forget the chili fresca (salsa), or wrapped it in a flour tortilla, or even create a soft taco with cheese and 2 corn tortillas. No matter which way it is served, it's all good, especially on a cold Winter's night, during the raging storm and served with a carafe of margueritas....
And here's the way I served it first:

garnish: homemade salsa (secret recipe that only a few know, including the one that taught me her secret family recipe)

Frijoles - hand smashed

Burrito innards and a side dish
in addition to rice and golden hominy.
Rolled into a large tortilla with grated asadero, pepperjack,
cheddar and/or mozarella layering on top~
take your Lipitor tonight....

After coming out from under the broiler,

the final garnish: fresh cut cilantro and crumbled Cotija cheese.
It was thoroughly enjoyed!

OK, now what's for dessert?
Thank you for accompanying me on my Pictorial Journey Through the Kitchen, with my Illustrated "How ~To" for chili verde
Oh, and did I mention that the above "How-to" should only be viewed as a backbone version of chili verde. What you do with it, how you interpret it, embellish it, link other things to it, and utilize it as a base, a starting; and what aspects of it you gather and move onward with, will be your decision that came from within you.
I would be greatly appreciative, to hear your rendition.,
as I will be here pushing on the limits and taking this version
as my starting point for next time.
Now I just have to ask:
Where shall we go next? hm?
Oh, I just had an idea, and the color of this text led me there
Next time
to see
Now that was good....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Big Move ~ a Cooperative Friendship in Eugene, Oregon

Today, my astrology said that I should pay close attention to details, or I may miss things that could prove to be costly in the long run. That said, I usually blunder through my day, and I am lucky to catch on to what's going on around me at times.

It just so happens that I have been craving home cooked Jeera Papadam and today was the day I chose to drive across town to our local Asian Market to pick up some unfinished product, so that I might try my hand at the prepping of this wonderful Indian cuisine snack and appetizer.

I had fun purchasing my Papadam, particularly because I had virtually no idea what I was looking for, nor where I would find it in the Asian market, mainly because nothing is in English until one turns the package over to read the small (required) English insert that has been added in order to sell it in the USA., and that means I am putting my reading glasses on and off continually throughout my travels in the store. It didn't take me long to find what I was looking for, among other things, too. I did refrain from buying a bunch of my favorite things in order to attempt my hand at Indian Cuisine at home. I have no experience at this and to start today could end up being costly (keeping in mind, today's astro reading for myself), so I put all the other items back on their shelves, including the asian ginger crackers and various snacks I usually pick up when I am shopping in this particular store.

I thought this had pretty much taken care of my day, other than the stop I still needed to make at my local Safeway for the milk, eggs, and other staple items I was out of, at home.

I was passing back through Downtown (I live in the extreme northern end of town, the Asian market is in the southern end of town), and I was trying to avoid the county fairgrounds because it just so happens that the Lane County Fair is going on this weekend and traffic was already building when I passed nearby, on my way to the Asian Market earlier. By now, it would be mayhem on the surface streets in that same area.

So here I was, winding my way back northward, avoiding the vicinity of the Lane County Fair, and as I was stopped at a signal, I noticed a string of bicycles stopped across the street from me. My first thought was of disdain that a bike rally or protest had been scheduled today, the final day of the Lane County Fair, and that it was just about to happen, right in front of me......
.....until I took a closer look.
What did I see? A kitchen chair on a trailer, and then a bed's headboard, and another chair. Looking down the street at the bikes still arriving I noticed even more! A washing machine???? Were my eyes deceiving me?
There were crates and boxes, and an easy chair??? What is going on? As the light changed and cars came up behind me, I started off driving northward toward my freeway onramp. As I drove I thought to myself, "this is something you don't see every day, Carol. Get the Car Cam out, now; you still have time."
There was only one more block to go until I was commited to the freeway onramp, and I did it. I turned left, and as I drove down the street I reached into my glove box and took the Car Cam out, laying it on the seat beside me.

Driving back towards the group on bikes, I drove right into the now thriving County Fair traffic jam, which was quickly turning into a gridlock as cars searched city streets for off-site free parking. I was able to skirt the gridlock by zig-zagging city blocks back towards the bike group.

Luckily I came across one of the stragglers of the group and I asked her about them, and she guided me to their resting stop several blocks to my west, one block from the Lane County Fairgrounds (oh my).

I was brave and drove right into the middle of it all, and turned northward away from the Fair one block, to 10th & Monroe, and to find the whole bicycle group parked in the shade of the tree lined residential street. As a residential street, it was already parked with Fair-goer's cars end-to-end; one long line of metal fenders and bumpers, separated only by the driveways of houses that are resigned to put up with the ordeal of Lane County Fair parking once every year at this time.

As I passed the intersection, I was lucky to find an open corner, an illegal yellow curb to park at, (perhaps it was the Police car, interviewing the bicyclists and helping them to pull their trailers to the side of the road that scared off other illegal parkers). I took my chances since I know I'd only be there a little while.

As I got out of my car I asked if they minded whether I took pictures and found that they were very friendly and they said "Go right ahead!" And I did.

I talked to them as I went along. They were all friends, moving a family from the extreme southern section of town from the 39th/Amazon Pkwy area, all the way up to River Road in the extreme northen end of town; and every bit of the move was being made on the backs and trailer of bicycles!

They had everything there, washer/dryer, furniture, even an armoire, boxes, one trailer had wheels on top of wheels, I even saw a flower pot being transported.

The movers were families of all ages, too. There were school aged children, young adults, parents, and even babies too, all in helmetss, all on bikes, all in a cooperative effort to move a family. Their friends.

Wow, I was elated while taking their pictures. Every one of them were happy and exhuberant, not a frown to be seen anywhere. One of them informed me of their route, well chosen as their temporary sojourn would soon end and then they would be approaching the final part of their transport, along the Willamette River's bike path, which would allow them smooth access with no traffic or obstruction for the final leg of their journey.

Right now, however, they were deep within the midst of the surface street County Fair parking and it was getting more and more crowded by the second, the gridlock almost solid, now that lunchtime was here and the Fair open for admittance on its final day of operation.

I knew it was time for me to leave, lest I get boxed in or even worse getting a ticket for my illegal parking. So as I turned to go, I looked back as I got back in my car, still amazed that the happy people moving their friends, were still laughing and smiling and enjoying a "move of a lifetime."

Ironic as it was, the ever growing tension of the 'wanna park for free folks,' seemed to be escalating as they drove round and round the block searching for that one last piece of curb to park along, within close proximity and walking distance to the fair. The bicyclists going to the fair also seemed angstridden, with frowny faces, and I do hope they all got to the fair without too many family arguments.

Amazing that they all shared the same corner with their bikes, the fair goers and the movers, complete opposites in mood and disposition.

I never asked a name, and I have no idea who these happy bicyclists are, but I am completely blown away by their excitement and the exhuberance they all shared, just by moving their friends from one home to another. And they weren't even going to the Fair!

Talk about a co-op! I loved it, and I hope they are going to enjoy their first night at their new home!

And I must say that already two times today, my Astro reading has proven to be correct. After all, it did say that I needed to pay attention to details or I might miss things that could prove costly in the end.

Of course, there is no price that one can put on a smile.

And... when I went to Safeway, I found that my card hadn't scanned correctly, and I got an extra $3.49 back in cash, for the savings I should have received when my items were checked through.

Hmmm.... food for thought.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cell Phone dinner at the Evergreen Restaurant

Off we go!

It's 5:30pm and it's Girls Night Out at Evergreen, our favorite Indian Cuisine Restaurant.

It's Friday night we're all ready to go, but we've been relaxing and chatting, the opening time of 5:00pm has come and gone and now we're wondering if there's still a good parking spot available. The Queen is hoping we haven't spent too much time chatting, because every minute spent not being enroute, is considered a wasted moment. After all, she has waited all week for tonight to arrive.

Now we're here and seated and the evening is about to unfold before us. The Queen is ready to eat and patiently awaiting the action to begin....

After Sarah, our server, arrives and receives the Queen's order directly, she is honored with a slight handshake of personalization, then Sarah turns to us and we quickly give our selections.

Tonights fare: Paneer Tikka and Shrimp Masalas, Veggie Koorma (Kurma), and of course, the Queen's Tandoori Shrimp. A couple of thali dinners and an entree... or two. Of course, we must each take home tomorrow morning's breakfast (or at least something for that infamous 2:00am hour of the "Food Triangle," where those edible items just seem to disappear from the refrigerator, as if consumed by some prowler that broke in, then broke back out, all before dawn, just because he knew there was Indian Food in our home).


Smugly, the Queen leans against the seat, extends her diet pepsi outward and toasts our friend's glass, then all in one swoop, she pulls her arm directly back, folding it inward while setting her 'chalice' back on the tabletop. Of course, we, having observed this moment, fully realize that most people would cringe with thoughts of impending doom had they actually seen it happen.

Before we know it, out comes the tripod chutneys, the 3 wonderfully colored taste bud awakeners, with essence of cilantro, mint, jalapeno, onion to coconut, gingers, tomatoes, with perhaps a hint of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, oh, who knows what secret spices they hide in these delectable chutneys of red, white and green?

Red White and Green (tripod chutneys)

What ever it is, it creates a perfect blend with the papadam that teems with cumin seeds, fresh from the burner. The oil from which these wonderful lentil flour sheets of heaven were just removed still appears as a slight sheen that exists only for a moment or two until it cools into the crispy wonderfully mouth watering meal and appetizer enhancer.

I'm almost embarrassed, because I must admit that when I order out, I always order a second side order of Papadam, otherwise the first order would never reach its destination, the delivery at my house; and my family would never know that Papadam even existed.

Papadam w/cumin

When we eat out like this there is always a flurry, a rush to get that first piece for ourselves. Like 7 puppies around a small dish of kibble, our hands all start to reach for the papadam, in such a way, that the plate actually starts to move across the table, as if on a Ouija board, the plate being its planchette.

I have my customary Sweet Lassi, a yogurt drink that many drink after their meal; as a soothing, relaxing, and digestive jumpstart, since yogurt is so calming and a great finish to any meal; and I would too, only in this family there is no "after the meal," since we always seem to be in a rush. Such as life is, when one lives with a Queen, like the worker honeybees humming around her, in the nest.

So I have my Sweet Lassi during my meal.
Luckily, I also love my Sweet Lassi, even more, since the Queen doesn't seem to like them. I can freely sip in peace without a pair of eyes hungrily planning out some diversion to spirit my libation from my hands to hers. (**update: suddenly, the Queen seems to have developed a yearning for my Sweet Lassi, so now I must covet them, too.)
I am very blessed.

Shrimp MasalaThali dinner
Isn't it funny how things change when the food arrives? It gets real quiet.

Tandoori Shrimp

Vegetable Koorma

Fresh clay oven baked Nan

As our friend cuts the tails off the Queen's shrimp, the room seems devoid of sound, only the sizzling of the veggies and shrimp can be heard, still happily grilling away in their cast iron pan; along with an occasional suckling sound, almost an internal kiss, that can being heard as I look up through the steam, catching the Queen, as she swallows in anticipation.

'detailing' the Queen's Dinner

Once again, all is relatively quiet and we enjoy our dinners.

The Queen in her element

Paneer Tikka Masala - Thali dinner
Remains of a Tikka. By the time I went to capture an image of the Tikka, it was gone. I was a bit late on the take. Oh well, that's what happens when I eat. The cell phone gets cast to the edge of the table, where I find it later dangling off as if to drop any moment.

Wiping the masala off the cell phone's lens, I survey the wreckage....

Well, the plates are clean, boxes are here,
All the bags are packed, dessert is near.

Homemade Mango Ice Cream
I hate to say good bye, but we have to go.......
We're leaving, we're on our way home...
We don't know when we'll be back again...

Oh baby, we hate to go......

Actually I'll probably be back next week, during my lunch hour, for my Sweet Lassi and my Papadam fix.

Many thanks to Usha and her family, for being here, Our Sweet Evergreen!