Monday, June 29, 2009

Tomato paneer curry and sauteed kale

This is an excellent example of why I love local food. This is 100% local and 1000% yum. This is also why I made butter--so that I could make a curry without oil. Okay, so it has some non-local spices, but I'm working on it! This is a perfect light meal for a hot summer day. It's a bit spicy and the cumin is very fragrant and delicious. For lots of reasons I've stopped eating a great deal of carbohydrates for supper and I would eat this with a peach for dessert and maybe some yogurt raita on the side. You could cook up some potatoes in the kale if you want some starch to soak up the luscious juices.

Tomato Paneer Curry (serves 2-3)--From Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian Cookbook

2 T butter
1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cup peeled, chopped tomatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 cup cubed paneer
2-3 T chopped cilantro

Melt the butter in a cast iron fry pan and sizzle the cumin seeds for a few minutes. Add the onions and saute until the edges are a bit brown and crisp. Add the tomatoes and cook until reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and paneer and cook for two more minutes. Turn off heat, add cilantro and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Sauteed Kale

1 T butter
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cups coarsely chopped kale

Melt butter and saute garlic and onion until they release their fragrant juices. Add the kale and cook over medium heat until kale turns a bright green and/or until done to your desired texture. I like mine crunchy.

Ricotta yogurt

My multi-tasking on Sunday yielded some interesting results with my yogurt. Instead of heating it to a boil and then letting it cool, I just took out the milk for yogurt when it heated to about 150 degrees and stirred in the yogurt cultures and let it sit (or rather forgot about it again...). The result is a rather strange, but delicious, mix of ricotta cheese-like curds and thick cream. It smells fine and there is no evidence of what to do? Well...when life gives you green velvet curtains, you make a green velvet dress...or so I hear women do here in the south. So for a decadent snack yesterday, I diced up some juicy peaches and ladeled the ricotta cheese over them and stirred in a good dollop of local honey. That was pretty close to heaven. Then I took a nap.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fast forward to butter

So, it's been awhile. Since I last posted I have started volunteering for Athens Locally Grown. There is a *line* for this volunteering gig, it's so good. For four hours of fondling beautiful produce and homegrown foodstuffs you get a $50 credit towards your purchase AND the take at the end of the night in case somebody forgot to come get their stuff. Yo, I did it once. See for more info on this cooler than cool system. Anyway, in the downtime between filling about a thousand orders, I get a chance to muse on the goods. So, I decided to try making butter out of the rich, yellow cream from Johnston Family Farms.

The reason I decided to do this is simple. It irritates me when I have to go to the grocery store. I went in the other day for the first time in a couple weeks and I felt a bit dizzy and sick to my stomach with all the lights and crazy processed garbage. My blood sugar jumped a couple of points just walking into the place I think. While I can get all the veggies I can dream of eating in a week at the farmers market, my garden, ALG, etc, etc, (and goddess I am thankful for it) grains, legumes and oils are hard to come by in most local food systems. Fruit is easy to come by, just not so much at the markets yet since they are pretty strict about organic standards. To get a good bucket of peaches at a price that lets me eat 4 a day, I have to go down the road to the local conventional orchard. Grains and the like require a lot of processing and are really hard to do without machinery. Ever try to shell beans to get enough for chili? It's about as tedious as making butter (as I found out).

So, I decided to reach for the packaged butter for the last time and make a commitment to cream, which I did a couple weeks ago and then just put it in my shade grown, fair-trade coffee from Ecuador ( and on my peaches. But today I got motivated again and had a bit of an impromptu dairy processing day. I had a full gallon of milk and a half gallon of cream. I've been making cheese (paneer) from the milk in addition to the yogurt and so I decided to do this all in one shot. Streamlining my efforts, I guess. So I threw the milk on to heat and researched making butter. This is a good site: (while it goes into *washing* butter, it's not so clear about *drying* butter...think about THAT for awhile)

Glad I decided to multi-task on this one. I am pretty sure what the seventh level of hell would be for me--being that girl who had to churn butter by hand for an entire family... After about 15 minutes of standing there with my hand on the mixer, and not seeing much but bubbly milk, I got a little worried and thought about how nice that bubbly milk would be on my ripe juicy peaches... But I persisted and expedited the process by ladling out the heavier creamier parts and processing them seperately. Presto! Butter. It is soooooooooooooo delicous. I just ate a wee bit on a chunk of rosemary and sea salt baguette from Luna Bakery. It takes a lot of milk to make a little bit of cheese and the same is even more true for butter, but it's totally worth it. I can't wait to fry my local free-range eggs in it tomorrow morning. Good lord.

Now, if I only had a cow. And a bull....