Red Curry Pork and Beans

Thai food has become very fashionable of late.  It's kind of become, for me, like 'chinese' food was in the 70's and 80's.  You know the stuff I'm talking about, I know you do.  I grew up in a small town in Ontario.  We had all the stereotypes to go with it.  That  included the one 'chinese' family in town owning and running our only chinese restaurant - The Coronation Restaurant!  Yup... I ate there.  Chinese fried rice, sweet and sour chicken balls (ok that makes me want to gag just a little bit right now),  chinese bean sprouts (I don't know exactly what they were called but that's what we called them!).  Imagine my shock when I went to my first dim sum in Montreal's Chinatown and discovered that chicken balls were not on the menu.  I discovered that in reality most actual chinese food was nowhere near that stuff from The Coronation Restaurant.  Shattered!!!  (The dimsum was dope though, I won't lie)
I have a suspicion that if I went to Thailand that the food we are eating here and calling Thai curry and such would be nothing like the red/green curry, phad thai noodles and crap that we're eating ourselves silly with.  What the hell though, it tastes great.  I'm not complaining.

Here's what I've discovered with Thai stuff though.  If you want it to taste like it does when you go out for it (well almost the same) then you have to use fish sauce.  I'd heard that this stuff smelled gross so I was expecting something to knock me over when I opened the bottle.  However, nothing of the sort happened.  In fact, I didn't smell anything at all.  It was pretty innocuous.  It made a huge difference in the taste of the red curry sauce though.  All in all, this came together quite quickly with the right ingredients.  I got this ready in about a half hour from start to simmer.  The taste is really good, it's satisfying and it would be nice enough to serve to guests - especially since it makes you look all 'au currant' and all that ;-)

Red Curry Pork
serves 4 - 6

oil for frying
1 1/2 lb pork (I used chops, tenderloin would do too) cut into strips
1 small onion sliced thin
1 or 2 red/yellow/orange peppers, sliced thin
3 cups green beans, ends cut and beans halved
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can of coconut milk
2 - 3 tbsp soy sauce
2 - 3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp red curry paste
2 lemon grass sticks (optional)
salt to taste

Heat a large wok and add enough oil to fry veggies.  I used sesame oil which has a beautiful aroma.  Add in the onion, pepper and beans.  Fry at medium heat for a few minutes.  Add in the garlic and fry that for about 3 - 4 minutes.  Add in the pork.  Cook with the veggies until the pork begins to turn colour.  Add in the soy sauce and fish sauce.  Swish around for a couple of minutes.  Add in the coconut milk and curry paste.  Swish around some more until the curry paste is well incorporated.  Add in the lemon grass and salt just to taste.
Serve with rice or noodles.
Easy... Yum!

Chicken Risotto with Shitake and Leek

Today I woke up at 6 am... ok 6:20 (yeah, I slept in a bit.  What!) and it was still pitch black outside.   I left to bike to work at 6:50 am and, Yup, it was still dark.  Not pitch black.  Not dead of night black but dark.  I needed bike lights.  In fact, it wasn't until well after 7 am that it began to lighten up a bit.
It's coming people.  The long dark of Winter.  This is a hard time for me.  D actually uses a light box from now and takes generous amounts of Vit D to deal with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  When you grow up in the West Indies there are no time changes, no times of the year when it's dark more than it's light.  The Sunrise/Sunset is pretty much the same all year round.  Heaven!  Not here though and it's a lot to grapple with.  Seasons are beautiful, for sure.  They are not easy though.

I did however, manage to get myself to a breakfast meeting that I'm pretty happy about.  Over the last year, I've begun to help out at school with our Eco Club.  We have been working away at our little corner of the planet to raise awareness and make our corner a more sustainable place.  Last year we got some funds from TD Friends of the Environment Fund to get a Vermi-Composter for one of our classrooms.  TD FEF, in turn, invited us to this breakfast which was attended by fund recipients and donors alike.  We heard about upcoming initiatives and got to give our input about where we think funds  should be allocated.  It's kind of heartening to feel surrounded by other people who care about something  as passionately and deeply.  It's easy for us to feel like we are working alone, to get isolated and depressed about it.  Today I walked away feeling like I'm not alone, like there is always hope and like I could maybe get some more money ;-)
Thanks to TD for caring and to our little SMCS Eco Club and Mme LoCurto for keeping the flag held high.

This, as you might have guessed by now, has nothing to do with the Risotto.  You gotta trust me though, the Risotto was good.  I made it with homemade chicken stock and the chicken that I used in the risotto was all chicken that came off of the 4 chicken carcasses that I used in the stock.  Yeah, I'm pretty proud of how resourceful that was... for sure!

Chicken Risotto with Shitake and Leek
serves 5 - 6

6 - 7 cups chicken broth, heated
3 cups diced or shredded chicken
2 cups Shitake Mushrooms, halved
1 medium leek, sliced thin
1 cup peas (frozen or fresh)
2 cups Risotto Rice
3 - 4 tbsp butter
salt to taste
1/2 - 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cream

Keep the chicken broth heated in a medium sized pot.
Heat a larger pot and add in the butter and leek.  Sauté for a few minutes.  Add in the Shitake mushrooms and heat for about 4 minutes or until things are wilting just a bit.  Add in the rice and mix in the butter/veggie mixture for a couple of minutes, until the rice is coated with butter.

Begin to slowly add ladles of the broth.  Stirring in between each ladle full.  Once the liquid simmers down a bit add in another ladle full.  Once you get close to the end of the broth (check the rice as you are going to see if it's done or not) add in the chicken and peas.

Let that heat with the last few ladles of broth.  Add in the parmesan cheese and cream.  Add salt to taste.

Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies and the great RACE.

Beautiful day today.   Perfect Toronto Fall Day.  Weather: Sunny and 16 degrees C, trees: changing colour beautifully... great day for a run...
Today I ran the Toronto Half-Marathon.  My time was 2:03 (2 hours, 3 minutes).  Yeah, that's ok - next year will be even better.  I came home afterwards, had a good rest (watching my Sunday afternoon Bollywood *sigh* - with Salman Khan!) and then got to it and made these babies.

Let me back up just a little bit.  Yesterday was a bit of a run-around because the race people decided to change the chip at the last minute.  The chip is this bit that goes on your running shoe which clocks your time across the finish line and gives the final run time.  If you want to qualify for anything (like Boston or New York) then you gotta get a qualifying time.  Well, I noticed that my kit bag had no chip in it so I dragged the kids down to the Exhibition grounds to the Marathon Expo to find out what was what.  The marathon people had changed things at the last minute and not updated their website so I had everything that I needed and in the end it was all good.  However, by the time we got home we were exhausted

AND the lovely lemon slice that I'd bought earlier at the bakery was crushed in my bag.  :-(  Didn't let it stop me from eating though... it was delish.

These cookies really just happened because I got bored.  After the bollywood film I just didn't know what to do with my poor, sore body.  Everybody likes cookies when they come home from school (or work ;-) and so, tomorrow being Monday,  I thought I would put this together.  Really this is a recipe for peanut butter and jam thumbprints so feel free to substitute if you would rather.  I'll post directions for both chocolate or jam.  I just really felt like using some chocolate today.  Since I was making some of this up, I did screw up a little and my first batch of cookies were kind of looking like UFO's.

I pushed the bottom out of some of them... OOPS.  Dang they still tastes good though.  That's the fun part of making it up... right?

Peanut Butter and Jelly (or Chocolate) Thumbprints (about 2 doz)
from Canadian Living Magazine

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup grape jelly
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 tbsp corn syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicon mat.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl beat together the butter, brown sugar, sugar, egg and vanilla until fluffy.  Beat in the peanut butter until well combined.
Add in the flour mixture and mix well.  Drop by tablespoons, leaving about and inch of space between, onto the cookie sheet.  Make a criss-cross pattern with a fork (flour it if it's sticking too much) and with your thumb or the back of a spoon (I used a measuring spoon) make an indentation.
If you are using jelly then fill each indentation with a little bit of jelly and bake for about 10 min.

If you are using chocolate then:
Melt the chocolate and corn syrup together in a bowl over simmering water.  Bake the cookies for about 10 min.  Once out of the oven place a little of the melted chocolate in the indentation of each cookie.
Allow the cookies to cool completely.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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