Sunday, October 9, 2011

Curry Me to Warmer Climes

Hethyr:  Just a couple of days ago, I was in warm, sunny Florida visiting my family.  Outdoor festivals, swimming, bike rides, long walks on the beach, baseball/softball games, boating, dinner and drinks on the patio.  The weather was about as perfect as it gets… 80s and sunny with low humidity.

Tuesday in Florida

Yesterday, reality slapped me in the face when it snowed in Colorado Springs.  Meh.  I am not a cold-weather person, to say the very least.  I am rendered completely useless by the slightest chill in the air.  You may think that I’m a total idiot for living in Colorado since I don’t like the cold.  You may be right.

Saturday in Colorado

The freezing temperatures and rain/snow put me in the mood for comfort food.  I gave Jon a few options for dinner and we actually had a lot of trouble deciding on what we wanted because everything sounded so good.  This time of year is great for produce here.  We have the last of summer’s tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers and eggplant and the first of fall’s carrots, onions, potatoes and turnips.  This makes for a cornucopia of choices when it comes to planning meals.  Yeah, I just said cornucopia.  Sometimes we end up with such a variety of produce in our fridge that I like to use a bunch of it up at once.  Last night was one of those nights.

We ended up deciding on a curry, which was absolutely delicious.  We are going to work our way through the other options over the next couple of days since we really wanted to have all of them.  Today’s menu will consist of breakfast burritos with lots of veggies and beef chorizo, leftover curry for lunch and stuffed bell peppers for dinner.  Tomorrow we’ll have a veggie frittata for lunch and eggplant parmigiano for dinner.  Jon is one lucky man-guy this week!

When people ask me about my favorite things to cook, I always reply “ethnic foods.”  I grew up in an Italian family, so Italian food is second-nature to me and I still love it.  My parents were pretty adventurous eaters when we were kids, so I grew to love foods from other cultures as well.  Although I thoroughly enjoy simply prepared dishes which highlight foods’ natural flavors, I also adore using herbs and spices to complement those same foods.

I have cabinets, drawers and bins full of spices and am constantly adding new and exotic items.  My most recent gift from Jon was a collection of 12 salts from around the world.  It is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received and I use the salts every single day.  Um, I’m starting to get a little off the subject...

Anyway, when I was craving comfort food yesterday, I kept thinking about curry and that’s eventually what we ended up having.  To me, the warm spiciness of curry was the perfect antidote to a cold and dreary day.  I’ll give you the recipe for the version I made, but feel free to substitute any vegetables that you have on hand.  And I realize that my ingredients list is lengthy, but I was just using things from my fridge – you don’t have to make yours this complicated.  I served mine over brown basmati rice with saffron.

Mixed Vegetable Curry
Serves 6
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (your favorite blend)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 small carrots, sliced 1/4-inch
  • 2 small green peppers, seeded, ribbed and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small turnip, quartered, then sliced 1/4-inch
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • 1 small kohlrabi, peeled and julienned 1/4-inch
  • 2 small potatoes, cubed 3/4-inch
  • 1 medium zucchini, cubed 3/4-inch
  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed 3/4-inch
  • 1/2 small red cabbage, chopped coarse
  • Cilantro, chopped for garnish
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add curry powder, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant.

2.  Add onion, green bell peppers, carrots and turnips and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

3.  Add coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil.  Add kohlrabi and potatoes and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Add stock or water a little at a time if sauce becomes too thick.

4.  Add zucchini, eggplant and cabbage and cook for 5 more minutes or until vegetables are fork-tender.

5.  Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro and red pepper flakes.
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Jon:  Fall has always been my favorite time of year.  I love the cool weather, the changing leaves, football, and even the start of school.  Living in Colorado, the one major thing I miss during fall is the changing leaves.  Yes, we have some colorful deciduous trees and tons of Aspens that transform to yellow prior to shedding their canopy, but it is nothing like what we experienced when living in the Midwest, and nothing even close to the visual ecstasy of our autumn in Boston.  But one thing that I love about this time of year in Colorado is the unpredictable weather.  I love the fact that we've had beautiful, cool, sunny weather for two weeks straight... then woke up to a cold, snowy Saturday morning.

The timing sucked for Hethyr, however.  The cold weather hit just as I picked her up at the airport.  As she mentioned, she can't handle the cold.   Garr, our fat-free fourteen-year-old dog, is the only other creature I've met who shivers when it's 68 degrees.  Hethyr and Garr spend most of the non-summer months wrapped up in blankets on the couch.  They morph into two big frozen burritos, hibernating until the summer sun heats them back up sometime around June.


While I'm ready for "comfort food" any time of year, it definitely tastes best when it is cold outside.  The curry last night (and the monster burrito this morning) did, in fact, succeed in raising my comfort level.  I love meals that can fill you up to the brink of bursting but still allow you to feel satisfied because it is all healthy veggies and grains.  It's good food for the body, mind, and soul.

So the real question remains... when Hethyr ate the breakfast burrito this morning, was it cannibalism?  Fortunately for her it will be warm again this upcoming week, so maybe she can shed her outer tortilla.


  1. Isn't it interesting that some of us consider a nice curry as a warming food while most of India is super hot, suggesting they'd use it as a cooling food? We eat curry about 3x per week (Vij's cookbook is amazing) and it's been in the high 80s (32C) every day... this is springtime for us. I wonder if my Ayurvedic body type allows curries to cool me rather than warm me? Hmm... regardless, great recipe, great words... as always!!!

  2. Dad has requested your curry for dinner tomorrow, so he will also be one lucky man-guy like Jon. :-) But for now, I'm going to grab my favorite blanket, wrap up like a burrito, and hunker down to enjoy the much needed heavy rains we are having. Your timing for great Florida weather was perfect, Hethyr!

  3. Love curry so will definitely have to give this a try. Hope I can do it justice. Thanks for posting!

  4. Jodie, I agree! I remember having a delicious green coconut curry while in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica on a hot day and thinking it was the perfect thing to eat right then, so I guess it just depends on what kind of mood I'm in. I am curious in finding out more about Ayurveda one of these days.

    Mom, I hope he likes it! And the weather was absolutely perfect while I was there!!! =)

    Jeremy, let me know what you think if you try it. I love, love, love curry, so there probably isn't one out there that I wouldn't enjoy!