Easy peasy lemon squeezy. This catch phrase from a British advertisement in the 1950’s aptly describes this week’s blog: a kale and chickpea grain bowl with a bright shot of lemon! Fresh and easily put together, this decidedly spring recipe reflects the changes in the gardens around our community: a riot of daffodils in the orchard, brave pansies and primroses blooming despite residual winter chill, delicate cherry blossoms and lush magnolias are all in force. These blooms never fail to inspire hope each year and the promise of better days ahead.
The idea of a one-pot meal has always appealed to me. The fact that a whole meal can be prepared and everything you need for sustenance is in one pot? Magical. The absence of extra dishes piling up on the counters during meal prep also doesn’t hurt, either.
During a quarantine-inspired cleaning frenzy, I came across a cookbook that was given to us as a gift, “Cook It In Your Dutch Oven.” This tried-and-true kitchen essential from the clever folks at America’s Test Kitchen is an absolute treasure. This dish-defying cookbook was a welcome find, with recipes for one-pot meals, bread (bread!) and other side accompaniments. This week’s blog is adapted from the recipe for Classic Chicken Curry. I hope you give it a try!
Don’t have a Dutch oven? No problem! Swap it out for a soup or stock pot, slow-cooker crock pot or any heavy deep pot you have in the kitchen. For this recipe, I used a cast iron pot.
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One-pot Chicken Curry
Adapted from Cook It In Your Dutch Oven, an America’s Test Kitchen publication
Melt butter in the bottom of the Dutch oven or pot of choice on medium heat. Add curry powder, optional spices (if desired), salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant.
Add onion and cook until translucent. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add chicken and water to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover pot and reduce heat to low until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, about 22 minutes. Turn the chicken halfway through cooking. When done, remove from pot and let cool.
Add potatoes to pot with a pinch of salt. Cover and cook until just fork tender. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally until potatoes are fully cooked, about 15 minutes.
While potatoes are cooking, shred chicken into roughly 2 inch pieces with a fork and set aside.
Once potatoes are cooked, stir in chicken and peas until just warmed through. Turn off the heat and add yogurt. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
*As curry is a blend of spices, I like to add an extra pinch of my favorites: turmeric and cumin. These can be found in traditional curry blends and I like to play these up a little more. Feel free to omit, or try your own variation based on your tastes.
One of my strongest childhood memories was watching my grandmothers in the kitchen preparing meals for our large family gatherings on Sunday afternoons. Both my grandmother and my great-grandmother were influential figures in my life and instilled a quiet passion in me for bringing your heart and soul to the table. They would create memorable and delicious dishes that would cause us to want to sit at the dinner table for hours, not just minutes, and share together. They were wonderful and patient teachers and, like a sponge, I would absorb their body language, their knife skills, and their innate sense of creating something out of nothing as I worked alongside them. They were frugal, but they would never let us know it, as we sat down to a meal fit for kings.
When my great grandmother died, I inherited a few of her cookbooks. They have her notes in them from World War I, when she was a cook for the soldiers. They hold a place of honor on my bookshelf. It helps me to remember what an important role food has to play both in life and in death. I thumb through the fragile pages from time to time, half expecting to hear grandma’s voice whisper a secret direction to me.
This is among one of my grandmother’s signature recipes–a relish made with green tomatoes. We put our gardens to bed this past weekend and pulled up our tomatoes–now it’s time to take a stroll down memory lane.
On Tuesday mornings, at the break of dawn, all of the Sisters, Novices and Postulants divide and conquer the larger vegetable gardens in our community. That’s about 30 of us in each garden, with a small team of older sisters staying behind to make breakfast. In one hour, we are astounded at how much gets done – hauling off wheel barrows full of weeds to the compost pile and bringing in tubs of fresh veggies for the week ahead. The older Sisters teach the younger ones about suckering tomatoes and the younger ones have the strong backs to dig and till. Stories are told about the early days, and new ones are made – it’s Sisterhood life at its best.
This week, we got a bumper crop of Japanese cucumbers in – thin, long and crunchy –a welcome sight after a long winter of frozen vegetables! With the volume of cukes coming in, we opted to make our favorite sweet pickles. For many years, we have been making this special recipe and giving them as gifts at Christmastime. Now we are about to let you in on a big secret recipe that has stayed within the walls of our Convent for over 30 years. Enjoy and Happy Gardening!
“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel
Thinly slice the onions and cucumbers. Chop the peppers (if adding).
Combine cucumbers, onions, peppers and salt in a large bowl and cover with cracked ice. Mix thoroughly and allow to sit at room temperature for 3 hrs. or until the ice melts. Drain thoroughly but do not rinse.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a large pot and heat just until boiling.
Add the Cucumber and onion mixture and cook just a bit.
Sterilize 5 quart size jars in boiling water.
Add the pickles to the jar, followed by the juice. You may not need all the juice you have.