Potato Curry with Yogurt

If you crave making a curry dish, and don’t have time to stop by an Asian Grocery store, you can go frustrate the good people of Festival Foods, like I did.

First, the manager, who saw that turmeric and garam masala were not available, printed the ingredients for these spices for me, only to find that those ingredients weren’t available either. I skipped them. Then, in the check-out, I am sure I threw the teenage cashier over the edge, who must be still on the run from vegetables since he was two.

“Ma’am, what are these?”

“Well, I know that one is a leek, and those others….let me check my grocery list…”

(Woman behind us, literally tapping her foot): “Root ginger, shallots, and green chillies.”

As I began preparing vegetables, I thought of my boyfriend’s warning, “Always cook a recipe without substituting ingredients the first time you cook it!” I have never done this, I thought, kind of snickering and tearing up from the onions. I would like to say I am too pro to not substitute things, but really I’m just a very amateur cook. Especially since this dish took me about an hour and a half to make!

Let me know, can you make it faster?

Potato Curry with Yogurt

6 garlic cloves, chopped (*I used minced onion from a jar)

1 oz fresh root ginger peeled and chopped (if you try to shred it on a cheese grate, it takes forever, despite the delicious scent)

2 Tbsp ghee (??) OR 1 TBSP oil and 1 Tbsp butter

6 shallots halved lengthways and sliced along the grain

2 green chillies, seeded and finely slices (good luck finding these in the fall)

A handful of fresh or dried curry leaves (non-existent at Festival in the fall; I bought a Green curry paste instead)

1 ¼ lb. waxy potatoes, cut into bitesize pieces (I so didn’t know what waxy meant, so I did baby gold potatoes…)

2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered (“fuss-free” recipes? I think not)

1 cup Greek yogurt (I bought the individual cup, because I only like Greek yogurt in recipes)

Fresh coriander/cilantro and mint leaves, finely chopped, to garnish (I don’t believe in garnishes, cooking for one person)

1 lemon, quartered to serve

Other ingredients “From the storecupboard”

2 tsp sugar

1-2 tsp ground turmeric (skipped)

1 Tbsp garam masala (skipped)

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1 tsp red chilli powder, to garnish (skipped? Forgot?…I have short-term memory)

To make:

  1. Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, grind the garlic and ginger to a coarse paste.
  2. Heat the ghee in a heavy pan, add the shallots and chillies and cook until fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger paste with the sugar, and stir until the mixture begins to colour.
  3. Stir in the curry leaves, cinnamon sticks, turmeric, and garam masala, and toss in the potatoes, making sure they are coated in the spice mixture
  4. Pour in just enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are just cooked, they should still have a bite to them.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the tomatoes and heat them through. Fold in the yogurt, then sprinkle with the chilli powder, coriander and mint. Serve immediately with lemon to squeeze over it and flatbread for scooping it up. (What!? Flatbread wasn’t in the ingredients, so I didn’t buy it).

The recipe serves four and takes me a long time to make. Long. Time.

This recipe is from a pretty, blue and maroon cookbook I picked up from Borders titled “400 Best-Ever Budget Recipes: How to create fuss-free and delicious dishes for all the family, with fabulous recipes shown step by step in more than 1800 beautiful photographs.”

I should’ve known it was a hoax just by all the adjectives in the long subtitle. The recipes look delicious but have too many teaspoons of specialty ingredients to be low budget!

If I made this dish again, I would add chicken, as I am not a vegetarian. Also, it needs something with more color, besides garnishes—which are lame, and I might double the recipe because the leftovers were awesome! (In my opinion, not my mom’s.) Despite the trouble, this is the best curry dish that I’ve made…which makes sense, considering the other curry dish I just sprinkled “curry” dry-powder spice on the chicken. It was very salty.

Taste: 3 stars

Ease of cooking: 2 stars

Leftovers: 4 stars

Appearance: 3 stars

Highs: smells good when cooking, took care of my curry craving, made great leftovers!

Posted in My life as an amateur cook | Leave a comment

Easy, Fast Lasagna

Here is a Lasagna you can make in a jiffy. In fact, I put it together in 25 minutes with I prepared some lovely Blooming Onion Bread, then drove both to my friends house to bake–she broke her arm rollerblading last week 😦 but she has an awesome orange cast 🙂

Make sure, if you are driving somewhere to bake it, that you do not get lost in 90 degree heat with no air conditioning. But if you do, the food still heats up fine and you won’t get sick. 😉

Sorry I didn’t think to take pictures…I’m the worst blogger ever! And my camera’s broken. Drat on a stick.  But hey, back in the olden days, people just exchanged 3X5 note cards–no pictures there!

I got this lasagna recipe from my boyfriend’s lovely step-mom, who cooks like a pro.

Anna’s Lasagna Recipe:

(I’ll bold ingredients)

Brown the meat–> I use ground beef, 2 tubes of it.

Preheat oven to 350.


2 15 oz skim ricotta

4 eggs –>Not gonna lie, I forgot the eggs in the recipe I made…it probably keeps shape better with the eggs 😉

1 cup Parmesan

1 cup Mozzarella –> it’s extra quick to buy shredded cheese that’s a blend of Mozz and Parm.


Put layer of Paul Newman Tomato & Basil sauce at bottom of 9X13 pan .

Put layer of Oven Ready Lasagna noodles–>anytime you use these noodles,make sure they’re fully touching the sauce. Unless you like them crunchy, real crunchy.

Layer of ricotta mix.

layer of meat.

Layer of sauce…Repeat all layers.

Last layer: noodle/sauce/mozzarella cheese.

Bake 30 min. covered in tinfoil

Bake 15-20 min. uncovered.


Posted in My life as an amateur cook | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just some pretty things…

I have a weakness for pretty things.

For instance, I went shopping today for lasagna ingredients and half my cart ended up filling with clearance flowers!

Here are some other garden pictures:

These all taken after 8pm.

More proof of how much I love plants is by what I paint. Now I need to figure out two more paintings to go with this one….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I cleaned my room!

During my final semester of College, when I was walking up at 5am to work on homework, then crashing at 1am the next morning, I put off cleaning my room.

I do not enjoy having a messy room. To me, organization is a prerequisite to other goals. There have been cases where my life felt so out of control that I could not go another morning waking up to a mess, you’d find me vacuuming at midnight and scrubbing the bathtub at 1am.

Last week, exactly one month after graduation, I realized that my time


was still so busy, I had not sat in my room alone for more than one hour without falling asleep.

So I made a decision that this could not go on! I decided to spend extra time at home until my room was clean. It resulted in a lot of catch-up time with sleep and slow picking away at the mess.

I felt I did not have enough room, as I had smashed three years worth of apartment living into one bedroom, but really I just had too much stuff. I recycled three bags of paper and donated 4 garbage bags worth of stuff.

Then I realized I did not have a good system for organization. After ridding of stuff, and buying a bookshelf and putting my books into it (phew)–(thanks Mom for the graduation gift!)  I put everything in the middle of my room to categorize.

“It just keeps getting worse,” said my bff Julie, who sat studying on the

one cleared chair in my room. Thanks, Julie! lol. I had just barely organized when it was time to go to work again. After work, I bought six bins to categorize my stuff into for my shelf, and I bought “Wonder hangers,” I totally recommend these items. Oh, and of course a sock organizer. Finally, all my stuff was putaway. I moved some bathroom

bookshelf and library table

and kitchen items to storage, then I took down some of my temporary shelving and moved in a library table as a desk from the room next to mine. A little vacuuming and dusting and voila! My room was back! I can function again!


I can breathe again!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Roast Chicken in Puff Pastry

Sometimes, I can be a really dumb cook.

I made a few good recipes lately (3/5), including the Ranch Pork Roast, and got cocky. I figured if I always follow the directions, then I would automatically become a good cook. I must warn you: this type of thinking is a common dysfunction not only in amateur cooks, but intelligent students, too. Book smart people assume that if they put the work in and follow directions, they will become experts. The commonality between these Cum Laudes and I is the lack of practice and usage.

So when I read “3lb whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry” with a 80 minute cooking time, I assumed that thawing a frozen chicken in the refrigerator for four hours would do the trick. After all, one hour and 20 minutes should be sufficient for anything to cook. Right?

Also, what on earth is a “puff pastry?” I looked everywhere at Cub Foods and found only flaky biscuits, so of course I translated them as “puff pastries.” However, when I got home, I realized that they cook for 15 minutes–not 80. So I decided to add the biscuit and mushroom/herb mixture during the last 20 minutes of cooking only. Even though directions told me to wrap the puff pastry around the chicken and poor the mushroom mixture on top for the full 80 minutes.

Meanwhile, I put shortening on the outside of the chicken; it felt like changing the diaper of a baby with a rash.

The chicken felt quite frozen still, and so I cut into it, hoping it would cook better, as dissecting images from eighth grade biology whirled through my head.

Well, I was glad because my dinner was on time, even ten minutes early. Not only that, but my boyfriend was too! I switched off the steaming green beans, took out the dressing for the salads on the table, and pulled out the chicken.

The “puff pastry,” or stretched out biscuit that was not stretchy enough to hold the chicken, was a perfect golden brown and the mushrooms were crisp with perfection. I stuck a cooking thermometer, a “candy” thermometer into the chicken, looking for 160 degrees.

What? Is the thermometer broken? It reached 100 degrees. I considered looking for a “meat” thermometer, until I felt the tip of the thermometer; it was cold. I cut open the chicken and blood oozed out! Gross!

I had to cook the chicken for another hour, 15 degrees hotter than recommended. I took it off the pastry and put it on another cookie sheet. every time I checked the chicken, I drained some nasty juices in the sink. Three hours later, the pans are still soaking.

Cooked chicken, "crawling" off the baking sheet...

My boyfriend was so patient in waiting for food. When the food was finally finished, and we both re-heated the side dishes in the microwave, he told me two brilliant things. One, he told me he loved my cooking–always brownie points there. Two, he emphasized with how advanced and tiresome it is to cook full chickens, and then: “why not take individual chicken breasts and wrap them individually in the biscuits for the next time?”

Of course! What a smart man! Not only would it be easier to manage, it would be easier to store (no carving out the chicken), tastier (more chicken saturated with the thyme and sage) and quicker (chicken breasts cook for the same amount of time as biscuits!)

I am in love all over again.

Recipe: Jonathon Sawyer\’s Chicken with a Twist, published July 12, 2010, People magazine.

The final product

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Farmers Market Fun!

This summer, I have been trying to live a healthy, earth-friendly lifestyle. So I recently roller-bladed to the local farmers market. I was definitely the tallest person there!

I don’t always have the schedule to attend farmers market, nor do I prefer to exist on seasonal veggies alone. But I would like to suggest, as a hairstylist, that farmers market is like clarifying shampoo: sometimes you need to add something really fresh to your routine to cut out the previous junk you’ve been using.

I went to the farmers market looking for asparagus, which apparently is not in season. I left with the green beans and spinach! They were the crispest and freshest I’ve had in a long time!

Not only did I do farmer’s market, but I picked raspberries at a co-workers house the day before. Yay for fresh summer meals!

I cooked chicken to go with the vegetables. I found a fabulous way to prepare veggies–it doesn’t take a grill but it gives lots of flavor and makes them crisp! I put them on a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then pop them in the oven at 420 degrees for 20 minutes. Perfect!

Roasted veggie risotto with fresh veggies and grilled chicken

The meal was a success. And it definitely filled me up! It also made great left-overs.

For dessert, we had vanilla yogurt with fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of sugar.

Posted in My life as an amateur cook | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blueberry Bliss

I love blueberries. The gallon I picked on a double date this year was not enough to saturate my tastebuds! However, my best buds and I made pie, smoothies and scones!

Double date!

My boyfriend and I at the blueberry patch!

It was a gorgeous day for picking! We were able to meet our goal of two gallons in 45 minutes. My boyfriend is an expert at picking quickly (as I am an expert of eating unrinsed berries) and the other couple with us were experts at picking perfectly plump berries!

Later, we had a fun girls’ night making blueberry pie! The process was fairly smooth. I would post the video….but I don’t have the upgraded version of WordPress.

Besides eating them straight off the bush, my favorite way to eat blueberries is in scones! Scones can compliment both coffee and tea, soothe taste buds or excite them (with blueberry jam or cream cheese!). The scones I make are perfect for breakfast or dessert. Here is the recipe:

Here is the recipe for my favorite scones:

Scones (double batch)

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs beaten (3rd egg for browning)
  • 1 cup blueberries (or substitute with currants!)
  • 8-12 Tablespoons 1/2 and 1/2 cream

1. Cut butter into dry ingredients to make a fine crust.

2. Stir in eggs and fruit and enough cream to leave the sides of the bowl.

3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead 10 times. Pat or roll to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into diamond shapes. Beat 3rd egg and brush on dough before baking.

4. Bake at 400 degrees 10-12 minutes.

Posted in My life as an amateur cook | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment