Chickpea Curry

The recent food pics on my feed had me hungry.  I’ve also been cutting back a bit on my carbs but I just had the cravings for rice this week.  I decided to whip up some chickpea curry.  I don’t have detailed pictures.

I chopped up 2 large onions into quarters and sauteed them with a bit of salt and pepper.  They eventually break up when they cook so I wasn’t too worried.  Once it started to turn translucent, I added some 2 carrots (stew sized chunks), 3 potatoes (chunks) and 1 red pepper.  I wanted to add a bit of sweetness to the curry that’s why I used red pepper and carrots.   I also threw in some minced garlic and 1 can of chickpeas (rinsed).  I had some grape tomatoes so I threw some of those in too.  I cooked all the veggies for awhile until it started to stick to the bottom.

I cleared a spot in the pot, added a bit of oil and threw in some cumin powder. I let that cook for a bit in the oil  and then stirred it until all the vegetable were coated with it.  I then added 2 or 3 spoons of curry paste and 1 can of coconut milk (I used a reduced fat version).  I also added some sugar (I had a box of rock sugar so I just threw in a chunk).  Finally I added some water, a bit of salt and then let it simmer until everything was nice and soft.

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I made enough for several meals.  The next night I decided to add some ground chicken.  I marinated the meat in sesame seed oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, pepper and corn starch.  I  browned it and when it was cooked, I added it to the chickpea curry that was reheating on the stove.  I had a lot of left over rice so I made a very simple fried rice with spring onions and garlic.

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Zero points for photography but the food was decent.

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Lunch with another ex Xangan

I had lunch with Gary and his friend Will when they were visiting Toronto this past week.  Gary used to blog on Xanga (CurryPuffy).  I don’t remember exactly when I subscribed to him on Xanga – likely late 2000s.  His blogs were usually a lot of travel and food posts.  He would usually start each paragraph with a small Snoopy GIF.   I always had the impression he was a classy, soft spoken kinda guy.  He was always helpful and polite when I emailed him looking for travel tips.

We met at the lobby of the hotel where he was staying.  He still looks the same as his Xanga profile pic from years ago.  We walked to a nearby restaurant.  I usually worry about what to talk about or if I talk too much or too little.  Chatting with both of them was easy even if I did blabber on a bit too much.  We chatted about the people we knew on Xanga, where they visited, who picks the places to eat (for this trip – Will picked the restaurants), what’s going on in our lives and traveling in general.  Both of them were very easy to talk to. It’s interesting when you “know” someone but haven’t met them in person.  After lunch we walked back to their hotel and got some pics of each other.  I hope to see them again.  Both Gary and Will are really nice gentlemen.

 

Here’s what I ate.

The lunch was pretty good.  The restaurant (Luma) was offering a fixed priced lunch menu as part of Summerlicious.

Strawberry feta salad (romaine, toasted almonds and champagne vinaigrette)IMG_5861

Peameal Bacon BLT (vine-ripened tomatoes, basil aïoli, arugula, kettle chips).  The bacon was nice and I was so stuffed I couldn’t finish all the chips.

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Coconut cream + pineapple tart – this was very nice.  IMG_5864

 

The Power of Rice

While I was getting ready to wash the rice, I accidentally dropped the bowl of rice on the floor.  I was shocked.  I’ve never done this before even as a boy helping my mom cook rice.  There was rice everywhere – by the fridge, the stove – all within a 5 ft radius.  It took awhile to scoop up everything.  And in the process I picked up a bunch of dirt with the rice.  I had to wash the rice many times before I was satisfied all the dirt was gone.

While I was washing the rice and picking out all the pieces of dirt,  I remembered bits and pieces of stories about rice as I was growing up.  We were told to finish our rice because we were lucky to have lots of rice to eat.  I heard about starving kids that didn’t have any rice.  I was told my future wife would be beautiful if I ate all my rice.  There were also stories about how hard planting rice was.  The farmers worked so hard and we shouldn’t waste rice.  It was back breaking work.  At school, we even learned a song about planting rice.

Planting rice is never fun
Bent from morn till the set of sun,
Cannot stand and cannot sit,
Cannot rest for a little bit.

Planting rice is no fun
Bent from morn till set of sun,
Cannot stand, cannot sit,
Cannot rest a little bit.

Oh, come friends and let us homeward take our way,
Now we rest until the dawn is gray,
Sleep, welcome sleep, we need to keep us strong
Morn brings another workday long.

Oh, my back is like to break,
Oh, my bones with the damp still ache,
And my legs are numb and set
For their long soaking on the wet.

It is hard to be so poor
And such sorrow and pain endure,
You must move your arms about,
Or you’ll find you must go without.

Cambodian_farmers_planting_rice

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice#/media/File:Cambodian_farmers_planting_rice.jpg

photo credit:  Brad Collins

I didn’t know this until a few months ago but apparently the sun’s reflection from the water makes it even more difficult for the farmers.  It was so strange that one little incident triggered so many memories.

 

Contrasting Dinners

I went to my usual Saturday night dinner with J.  We tried a Chinese restaurant that we haven’t eaten in awhile.  It was packed and they squeezed us in one of the 2 remaining tables.  Nearby was  a table of 12 with a ton of food and wine on the table.  The folks were toasting each other regularly. A few of the guys were already red faced.   We got through our soup and waited for the  first dish.  The service slowed down considerably.  The big table was still having fun toasting each other but one person was starting to slow down.  After awhile, another person had his head down on the table.  Our first dish shows up with my beloved bowl of white rice.

After we were almost with the first dish, we waited for the 2nd dish.  All the tables around us are looking for the serving staff. A couple of tables got up to get hot water to refill their teapots.  The big table has slowed down their drinking but people were still filling each other glasses.  The guys paired up to go to the washroom as they had to support each other.   One person stumbled on another table knocking over a chair.  The only sober person on the table helped his friend get back to his feet and offered apologies.  4 other people were slumped over on the table.  One guy held his head in his hands.

Our last dish eventually shows up.  It’s a steamed sea bass in sweet soy sauce with green onions.  The meat has been separated out prior to steaming.  The meat was so tender and it wasn’t over cooked.  It was worth the wait.

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By the time we’re finished, the big table is leaving.  Most stagger off in pairs again.  The sober guy kept going back and forth helping his friends.   The last guy took about 20 minutes before he could stand up.  As they were leaving, the waitress came by with their last dishes … noodles and rice.  She looked at them and put them in styrofoam containers.

Those guys wasted their night.  They probably don’t even remember what their meal was like.  I don’t have a problem with people drinking too much.  But seeing so much food not being appreciated and wine left over on the table was disappointing.  They were out to celebrate some event.  This morning, most will just remember the hang over.  But I remember that yummy fish meal very well.