Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Moroccan Chicken

There are a few recipes that I make over and over. Honestly, for chicken there aren't very many of them. We, unfortunately, prefer red meat but that is another story. This is a recipe that I found on the Food Network. We love this and have it frequently. It is easy to make but takes a little preplanning for the marinating. It is so worth it. I make extra so that we can have left overs. I guess traditionally this would be served over couscous but we do brown basmati rice. It smells so good while it is cooking that it is the longest hour ever waiting for it to be done. Every time I have served it to others it gets rave reviews. I have posted the recipe with all the changes that I make. It is possible that I am unable to follow a recipe exactly. I can't remember the last time I did that. This would also be good served with some teff flat bread which I am now making regularly. I am so happy to have discovered teff. It is my favorite flour to work with. Anyway, here is the recipe. Please try it. You won't be disappointed

Moroccan Chicken

8 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, zested and juiced (about 4 to 6 tablespoons juice)
10-12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 4 pounds)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 large onion, cut into smallish wedges
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch half moons or chunks
3 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch half moons or chunks
3 medium plum tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup dried pitted prunes (about 10-15)
1/2 cup black olives, pitted

1/2 cup green olives
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Spice Mixture:
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

In a medium glass bowl, combine the spice mixture, 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the chicken thighs and stir to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown the chicken thighs on both sides in 3 tablespoons olive oil, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set chicken aside on a plate. With the heat on medium, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan, and saute the onion until golden, about 5 minutes. Place the chicken thighs on top of the onions and add any accumulated juices from the plate. Arrange the zucchini and yellow squash and tomato quarters on top of the chicken and tuck in the prunes and olives. Season well with salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken broth. Cover and place on the bottom rack of the oven. Let cook undisturbed 1hr, until the vegetables are tender and the chicken cooked through.

Serve over brown basmati rice.

Friday, October 24, 2008

And Now... A Mouse

The desert has really been creeping in this summer. Last Sunday night when Ron was at work (this stuff always happens when he isn't here), I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw something run under my bed. I tried to convince myself that it was all in my head. I couldn't bring myself to look under the bed. Instead I just worked on my denial and tried to go back to sleep and not think about it. The following morning, in the daylight, I got my courage up and took a quick peak under my bed well actually I made Sage look first. Nope nothing there. All is well. It must have been my mind playing tricks on me. (Whatever it was it certainly would have still been there, right? More denial) Later that night it was all a distant memory when Ron walks into the kitchen and turns on the light and then states quite matter-a-factly, "oh, we have a mouse." Damn it, my denial will never work so well for me again. So there we are chasing this mouse all over the living room turning over the furniture. Amazingly after about 10 minutes Ron actually caught the tiny mouse. It was sooo small. Being the animal lovers we are (as in non snake, salamander or toxic toad type animals,all of which can be unceremoniously killed as far as I am concerned) we put it in a bucket to show the girls in the morning and then release. Because the little thing looked so terrified Ron even fed it. Here is a video, just for you mom! (My mom is petrified of mice.)

Then yesterday morning I noticed some large coffee grounds on the kitchen counter. More denial. As my sister so cruelly pointed out coffee grounds are not that big. Maybe course ground coffee.... More denial. So now we have mouse traps set up in the house. No kill of course.

And in case that wasn't enough wildlife in the house we had several birds again. Ron had removed the patio doors to refinish them and 3 of those desert birds came in again. Cactus Wrens I think. There were bird turds all over the house. How can they crap that much in such a short period of time? Maybe that is where the expression "had the shit scared out of you" came from.

What's next toxic toads, squirrel, rabbit, chipmunk? Maybe I need to rethink getting a cat. Maybe dealing with all the cat hair would be worth it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ethiopian Night

Once again I find myself being grateful for the Celiac diagnosis. Not for the disease I should clarify but for the diagnosis. Had we not needed to change the way we eat we wouldn't have had such a cool dinner today. A few weeks ago Ron saw on TV a program that talked about Teff. It is a gluten free grain which happens to be really nutritious. It is a mainstay of the Ethiopian diet. From Teff they make a bread called injera. He thought it looked good so he went ahead and ordered 25 lbs of the whole grain AND 25 lbs of the flour without even running it by me and without even ever trying the stuff. I guess he has some confidence in my abilities in the kitchen. Anyway, it arrived last Friday. It is really good. It is mild and I think the closest thing to wheat that we have tried yet. So then I started looking for recipes for injera. It sounded pretty simple but lots of people mentioned it being really hard to make. I can't imagine why. Here is the recipe: 1 1/2 cups of teff flour, 2 cups of water. That's it. You mix it up and cover it with a dishcloth and let it sit on your counter for 2-3 days to let it ferment. Then add salt and pan fry it like a thin pancake. Fermenting is supposed to be really good for you but I have never done it before. I started it Friday and we had it today. We really liked it. It was like a sourdough pancake or crepe. Along with the injera I made 2 other Ethiopian dishes. I have to confess, I thought Ethiopian cuisine was probably not much more than a timber float (glass of water with a toothpick). Boy, was I wrong. It was unique and wonderful. I was pretty impressed that I even had everything in the house to make it. Here are the recipes.


1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon whole nutmeg freshly grated
1/8 teaspoon whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon whole allspice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup paprika
2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper (I have kids so used 1/8 t)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 cup water

In a cast-iron skillet, toast the ginger, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice over low heat. Do not burn; this should only take a minute or so. Set aside to cool. Then grind in spice grinder.
Combine the spices, onions, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the salt, and 3 tablespoons water in a small jar of a blender and blend until smooth.
Combine the paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of salt in the skillet and toast over low heat for a minute or so. Stir in the water, 1/4 cup at a time. Then stir in the blended mixture. Stirring vigorously, cook over the lowest possible heat for 10-15 minutes.
Transfer the berbere to a jar, packing it in tightly. Let the paste cook to room temperature, then cover with a film of oil. Store in the refrigerator between use.

Beef Stewed in Red Pepper Paste (Sik Sik Wat)

2 onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger root
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons Berbere
2/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
3 lb. lean boneless beef, cut into 1" pieces
Black pepper

In a large stewpot, cook the onions over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and dry. Do not let brown or burn.
Add the garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Stir well. Add the berbere and stir for 3 minutes. Add the wine, water, tomato sauce, and salt, and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the beef and turn the pieces around in the sauce to coat. Cover the pot and simmer the beef for about 1 hour over low heat. Season with black pepper.

Alecha Wats

1 onion chopped
2 tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoons berbere
2 carrots peeled and cut into 3cm slices
2 green bell peppers, de-seeded and quartered
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup
passata (tomato sauce)
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ginger paste
2 potatoes cut into thick slices
1 tomato blanched, skinned and cut into 8 wedges each
1 small cabbage cut into wedges
salt and pepper

Add the oil and onions to a large saucepan and fry until the onions have softened, add berbere, fry for a minute then add the carrots, green peppers, water, tomato sauce, salt and ground ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes before adding the potatoes and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes before adding the cabbage. Season to taste and cook until the vegetables are completely tender (about 25 minutes).

As I said this was unique and very good. Even Sage ate 2 bowls. We made it fun by eating on the floor Ethiopian style and we were going to do it without utensils too but I just couldn't. Too messy. Traditionally Ethiopian food is eaten without utensils. The injera is folded in quarters and used to scoop up your meal. The girls got quite a kick out of this. It was fun. We will definitely do it again. I also have leftover Berbere so I need to find some more recipes to use it in. I feel pretty fortunate to have a husband who is almost as adventuresome as I am when it comes to trying new foods.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Green Eggs, No Ham

We finally got our first green egg today. We have been patiently waiting for this. I had never seen one before. They are sometimes called Easter eggs. Pretty neat hey?

We are supposed to have 6 different varieties of chickens. I can't even remember what the different kinds are but it is so interesting to me the different colors they produce. One chicken produces a twin routinely (2 yolks and 2 whites). That is the big one shown here. Anyway, enough about eggs. Things have been really busy here lately. I can't seem to find the time to blog or even to return e-mails lately. Part of my problem is sleep deprivation and the constant headaches and migraines I have had lately. I don't know what Justus' problem is but he has been waking every hour or two every single night for the last month. Honestly I don't even know how I am sane. Or maybe I'm not. I know that sounds like an exaggeration when I say he is waking every hour or two but it honestly isn't. So anyway that is my excuse for anyone that cares. I had good intentions of writing every day, ha. Maybe every couple weeks at this rate.

The weather here is gorgeous. No bashing the desert today. This is the best time of year. We are spending lots of time outside and it feels great. What doesn't feel so great is the realization of just how out of shape I am. I may not be obese but I feel like I may as well be. I took all 3 kids out for a walk today. Sage and Rori were in the double stroller and I carried Justus in my Ergo carrier. I was smart enough not to go too far. I forgot the cell phone (and my gun) so I didn't dare get myself in a position where I needed to call 911 due to exhaustion. About half way home which was all up hill I convinced the girls that it would be way more fun to walk the rest of the way home. When they got out of the stroller I promptly put Justus in. What a relief.

I had a busy day in the kitchen today. I made cornbread for breakfast. Not so nutritionally balanced but so satisfying. Then I set out to do the impossible. I wanted to make a pie. We haven't had one for so long. The challenge was this; it had to be gluten free, dairy free, and made from dried fruit. I should mention that I hate working with pastry. Like my mom tells me she did so many years ago, it always leaves me trying to refrain from hurling it against the wall. To add to my challenge, Sage was "helping". I am not sure if I am mentioned before but we grind all our own flours. We buy lots of different kinds of grains in bulk so we make and have just about everything you could need for gluten free baking. Back in February Ron was ordering a bunch of grains and he got a *little* carried away. He also purchased a bunch of dried stuff. I have no idea what to do with it for the most part so that is why I wanted to do this with dried fruit. Anyway, unbelievably it turned out. I made a peach apple pie. The crust was not too bad to work with and was made with wild rice mixed flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and Crisco (butter flavor). It was darker in color due to the rice blend but it tasted really good. It was even tender and flaky. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the way it turned out.

Dinner was also a self imposed challenge. I wanted to do a vegetarian meal that was entirely made from our bulk stores. I made a "stoup". You know, soup that is thicker like stew. It had white beans, dried vegetable soup mix (onion, spinach, carrot, celery, potato, tomato), beef broth, canned tomatoes, quinoa, fresh thyme and rosemary and garlic. We had that with the rest of the cornbread. It too was surprisingly good.

Well if you have made it though reading this boring post you must be related to me. So for you here is a little video clip of the girls.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cute Kid Quotes

Sage was opening a new pad of construction paper and 2 sheets were already loose enough that they fell out. She was quite upset about this. She also had an explanation for it.

"Maybe some stupid little boy with a half brain this size (she holds out her clenched fist) did it. Ya, he had a brain the size of a pea. He did it!"

Where on earth did that come from???

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm Done

Okay, that is it! I am sooooo done with desert living. I am sitting here on my bed reading e-mail when something catches my eye on the floor beside my foot. Something frickin moved! And fast. Oh crap, I thought, it's a scorpion. I cautiously lean over, after hastily moving my foot, to get a better look. I can't believe what I am seeing. This is a first. It's a tiny salamander. How he got into my bedroom, I can't imagine. So now I am frantically looking for something to get it with. Right now I am wishing that my room was a little less tidy. There isn't anything laying around but a small piece of paper. At this point I don't even know if I should kill it or try to catch and release it. Maybe that is a moot point though, the thing just ran under my bed and I can't see it. Oh, this is just f&^*$%g GREAT! I am having visions of this thing joining me in bed at night. Why does this always happen when Ron isn't here?! My heart is racing and I am feeling near panicky thinking that if I don't find it and get it now I may not see it again until it makes babies in my underwear drawer. I grab a hanger and start flicking it under the bed to scare the little thing out. It works. Damn it is fast but due to my horrible adrenalin surge I am faster. I smash my tiny piece of paper down on him (so much for catch and release). I press ALL my body weight into the paper and hold it there for, I don't know, maybe an hour. I just know that if I lift my hand and that thing runs, I will scream and wake up all the kids and probably my neighbors. Cautiously, I lift the paper thinking that the blood I see on the carpet is a good sign. There he is or rather was. Nothing left but a twitching tail and a blood smear on my carpet. Did I mention that I am ready to leave the desert?????

A Few Recent Pics

I haven't blogged for a while. It's hard to believe but I don't have much to say. Or maybe it is more about lack of any time to say it. So until I can find some time here are a few recent pics. This first one is of Sage sitting on my bathroom counter begging for me to put makeup on her.

Here is Rori enjoying her favorite part of baking a cake. In all honesty it is me and Sage's favorite part too. This time I used a mix that I bought from Costco of all places. This cake was incredibly good. There is no way that anyone could tell that it was gluten free.

I just like this picture because it shows how blue Justus' eyes are.

Right before I turned on the camera Sage had Justus laughing so hard. Of course when I turned the camera on he turned serious again.

Watching these next two videos makes me lightheaded.