A Potluck of Sorts

I sit here, Edith Piaf crooning her classic, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien in my face via iTunes, completely relaxed after having cleaned my kitchen of the debris from tonight’s cooking, wearing one of my favorite hoodies…images of France in the 1940’s playing through my head…And as the song ends, Etta James comes on.  I am listening to my Jazz/Vocals playlist.  It always puts me in this “I am so grown-up” mood.  If I drank wine, I would have a wine glass full of red next to me, and I would take pensive sips as I pause from typing to think of what to say next…

But as it is, I am just a girl from Queens writing in her blog and enjoying a relaxing evening at home, sipping her Diet Coke, which has become an addiction as of late.  I’ve developed a Coke habit, you can say…haha.  Anyway, getting on with the evening’s agenda — There really isn’t one, so tonight’s entry will be a little bit of a lot of different things.  A potluck of subjects, if you will.

Indian Cooking: Semi-Homemade Style

I love Indian food.  I have made several attempts in the past to teach myself authentic Indian cooking, and I even made it to Kalustyan’s on Lexington to buy spices and paneer cheese on a mission to make saag paneer, my favorite Indian dish made of spinach with cubes of paneer cheese thrown in.  It was a successful first attempt — I just followed what the recipe told me and the end result tasted close enough to saag paneer (it certainly looked like saag paneer) to label it a success, but I found the whole process of cooking Indian food a bit like fumbling around a pitch black room with my hands out, trying to feel around so I don’t trip or bump into things.  I’ve tasted the spices in my food, enjoyed the different combinations on my palate, but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you their names.  And that is where I was when I started out.  If I were on Top Chef and I had to participate in the blind taste test quickfire challenge and it featured Indian spices, I would have failed miserably, and Padma would have given me a pitying look as she told me I was at the bottom and would not be saved from elimination…

Enter the jars of ready-made Indian sauces that some very smart, very enterprising people thought would be a great idea to put on the market for those of us who are certainly culinarily-challenged in the area of Indian cuisine.  I’ve often eaten in Indian restaurants, wishing I could take home just the sauce because it’s such a shame to waste after they give you such copious amounts to accompany the protein or vegetables in your dish.  Thanks to these pre-made sauces in jars, I no longer have to worry about making my own sauce and thinking it needs something, but what?  Garam masala?  Cumin?  Turmeric?  What?

During my last trip to Kalustyan’s I picked up a couple of jars of sauce, one of which was Geeta’s Makhani sauce.  I just read the description (“A rich, buttery sauce with tomatoes and aromatic spices from the region of Punjab”) and figured it would taste good with whatever protein I decided to throw into it.  Tonight I threw in some spinach, chicken and a bag of frozen paneer cheese I happened to have in the freezer from that same trip.  And the result was…

I ate this over basmati rice and it was just perfect.  This will be tomorrow’s lunch at work.  After I made this dish I thought of that show on the Food Network with Sandra Lee (any relation to Sara Lee, I wonder?  By the way, Sara Lee was a real person, for those who did not know) called Semi-Homemade With Sandra Lee.  I wonder if she’s ever tried to make an Indian dish on that show?  She should.  And she should use sauce from a jar, to give it that “semi-homemade” touch.

Around the Blogosphere

Been reading a few blogs that I’ve stumbled across in my travels across the Internets in search of recipes to try.  I am in awe of how otherwise ordinary, everyday people have managed to grow their blogs so much to the point where they’ve got companies sending them free samples of their products in exchange for a little plug in their blogs — my question is, How????.  Among the more impressive to me are sassyradish.com and cupcakeproject.com.  If you read the “About” on Sassy Radish, she’s actually “a finance geek by day, and home cook enthusiast by night.”  And I think the woman behind Cupcake Project is actually a writer living in St Louis (I think) who started her blog because, in her words, “having never baked a cupcake in my life, I offered to bake cupcakes for my friends’ wedding.”  Well, I made cupcakes for someone’s engagement party…does this mean I can go down the same route?  When it grows up, my blog wants to be just like these blogs.  Until then I draw inspiration from them.

A New-Found Respect for Padma

An avid fan of Top Chef, I have been following the show from the second season (Netflixed the first) and have always been a little annoyed by its host, Padma Lakshmi.  Perhaps it’s actually jealousy…she is, after all, pretty (my friend P thinks she’s hot), tall and she gets to eat that food the chef-testants prepare…part of my dislike of her is fueled by P’s thinking that she’s hot, but aside from actually thinking so, he partly says it to get a reaction out of me.  Not being a chef herself, I feel as though she doesn’t have the “cred” to pass as host of the show, and Tom Colicchio should actually be the host…then again, I think Padma has more audience — not to mention sex (it sells!) — appeal and therefore the producers probably made the right decision.  What do I know, anyway?  I’m just a girl in Queens writing in a blog…  But anyway, reading this article about her Sunday Routine made me change my mind a little.  A little.  I would like to have this lady’s Sunday routine, please.  First the gym, then back home to shower, then hitting up a couple of markets (She goes to Kalustyan’s too!), then back to her apartment to have a “Bed Picnic”…Oh wait, I can actually create a routine of my own similar to this.  I think I liked the part best about her going to the Ganesh Temple once a month.  It’s nice to see a celebrity talk about a spiritual side — Scientology doesn’t count.

World’s Biggest Cupcake

Read about the new record-breaking cupcake that is to be put into the Guinness Book of World Records (I wonder if the Guinness Book is in any way connected to Guinness Beer?  Why yes, yes it is!  Thank you, Wikipedia…).  It’s 1,500 pounds, 4 1/2 feet tall and 6 feet wide and was sliced up this past weekend after the official weighing and measuring.  Slices were sold and proceeds went to benefit various cancer research organizations, hospitals and charities.  What amazed me was that the cupcake was baked in an oven 10 feet wide and 10 feet high…I bet there were some singed eyebrows when they wheeled that baby in!

I think that’s about it for me tonight.  I did make some chocolate chip cookies, but you guys have seen that before.  It’s a slow week for me since I’m trying to use up some ingredients I already have before moving on to the next project.  I’m really thinking of doing those bacon cupcakes…

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2 thoughts on “A Potluck of Sorts

  1. I love Indian food and saag paneer is one of my favorite. Have you tried it with tofu instead of paneer? I would love to be able to make naan and masala dosas.

    I very much enjoy reading your blog. Bacon cupcakes, go for it!

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