Cabbage and Squash Curry

I have amended my Christmas wish list.  'Time' is now officially the first item on the list. I know that it makes no real sense to have 'Time' as part of my wish list because once Christmas is here I'll have lots of time.  Let's look at it as 'At least I know that I'm going to get what I want for Christmas' - oozing positivity.
I have so many recipes ready to go.
I have cookies to bake.
I have lemon curd to whip up.
I have chex mex to make.  This is important for the Christmas Eve movie that we will go to and sneak in our own snacks.
Although most things of worth have gone by the wayside lately, here are some of the things that I've managed to keep up with:
1.  Bathing and teeth brushing
2.  Birthday cake making
3.  Clothes washing... almost
4.  Breakfast
5.  Biking to work
6.  Letters to Santa (Kid #2 wrote a letter that went like this: Dear Santa - I want....... signed Kid #2.  Kid #1 got really upset and told him that if he didn't write some nice things to Santa first that he wouldn't get anything on his list.  You can't just send Santa a list!  He was confused and more than a little frustrated but wrote the letter anyway)
7.  An early gift to myself.  This took a little more of that precious time than I had anticipated but it was so worth it and I'm thrilled and a little itchy.

So I'm keeping up in a manner of speaking.  However, when it comes to food I'm falling way way way behind.  It's pathetic.  And then there is the whole 'dark-in-the-middle-of-the-day' thing that is just totally wrecking photos for me.  It's bumming me out.  Curry helps.  Curry feels warm and sunny.  It reminds me that there are many places in the world that aren't dark, damp and cold.  If you find the curry powder amount sounds a little rash then by all means start with half the amount and ramp it up from there.  We prefer our curry kickin'.

I truly hope that you are finding some time for reflection and quiet.  I hope that you are making all the cookies and curds that your little heart desires.  I hope that your Chex Mex making schedule is right on target... and if it's not just know that you are not alone.

Cabbage and Squash Curry adapted from Simply in Season
serves 8

1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3- 4 cups butternut squash (or other winter squash), peeled, de-seeded and cut into 2 inch cubes
3 - 4 cups cabbage
2 lg potatoes, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 cup frozen peas or green beans

Curry seasoning:
2 bouillion cubes
1 full cup mild curry seasoning (I used west indian curry)
4 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
1 tsp pepper sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 - 3 tbsp tomato sauce or paste
1 can (400 ml) chick peas
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
2 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Coat the squash cubes in oil and spread onto a baking sheet.  Roast for about 35 minutes or until turning golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside.  Remove from oven and set aside.
Heat a heavy bottomed soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
Add about 4 tbsp of oil or butter and then add in the onion and cubes potatoes.  Cook together for about 10 minutes (turning the heat down if necessary).  The potato should be browning on the outsides.  Add in the garlic and cabbage.  Turn the heat down to medium/low.  Make sure that the cabbage is coated in oil and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.  Stir when necessary to keep the vegetables from sticking.
In another bowl combine the boullion cubes (crushed up with your fingers), curry seasoning, garam masala, ginger, cumin and salt.  Add just enough water to form a paste.  Add in the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce.  Stir well.
Add the paste to the cooking vegetables.  Stir well.  Add the chickpeas, coconut milk and honey.  Stir well.  Add in the roasted squash and the frozen beans.  Mix well.  Check the tastes and adjust if necessary.
Cover and simmer about 15 minutes on low heat.
Serve with rice.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

What do you want for Christmas?
It's not a question that I particularly savour.  I don't need much and I certainly don't want to spend time thinking about it.  However, I have kids and family members who aren't quite ready to let go of the whole 'gift thing'.  As a result, I'm obliged to think about what I do want for Christmas.  So here's the start of my Christmas list.
1.  A lego finder/extractor/exterminator.  'Nuff said.
2.  A day with my BFF just us, no restrictions.
3.  A day with my other BFF just us, no restrictions.
4.  Weather that allows me to bike all year but does not indicate the onset of global climate meltdown.
5.  The ability to see through B.S. quickly, easily and without holding a grudge.
6.  The recipes that I asked for last year but didn't get.
7.  Champagne
8.  Non Cable TV that's even remotely worth watching.
9.  A new cookbook that incorporates everything I love about cooking - seasonal vegetables (heavy emphasis on the winter ones that get ignored most of the time), honey, whole wheat, humanely raised animals, locally made cheese, wine and chocolate.
Hmmm - it seems that once I got started things flowed a lot more easily than I expected.  I don't expect to get any of the things on the list with the exception of #7 and the remote possibility of #'s 2 and 3.  And that's all fine with me.

December isn't all about Christmas and concerts and gigs and running to rehearsals and moping around about the baking that hasn't happened yet and making a list of presents to buy that probably won't ever get done.  December is also about birthdays in our house.  The celebrations begin on the 2nd and don't end until the 31st.  That's right.  December 31st.  Most people I meet with a birthday in December (and I've met many many many) are resentful about it.  It's busy and birthday inevitably get overshadowed by those dang holidays.
Defying the odds, we managed to get a slice of cake down D's gullet in between gigs and we were only missing one of the fam.  This cake has made up for absolutely everything.  Everything that makes having a birthday in December frustrating.  I took a chance.  I tried a new recipe that I'd had my eye on for a while.  I adapted and swapped and added.  And it worked.  It worked beautifully, exceptionally, thrillingly.  There is absolutely nothing Christmassy about this cake and I promise that you won't care one single bit.

Chocolate Birthday Cake adapted from Marcus Samuelsson and Alexandra's Kitchen

1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 lg eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
3 egg whites (optional, but it worked out nicely)
3/4 cup boiling water


1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
3 - 4 tbsp cream
1 - 1 1/2 tbsp espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350°F
Butter and flour 2 round baking pans and set aside.
Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda together.  Mix well and set aside.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside.
Combine the eggs, buttermilk and canola oil.  Whip together until the eggs are completely mixed in.  The mixture should feel just a little thick.
Mix the egg mixture into the flour mixture by hand or using a mixer until the liquid is incorporated.  Add the boiling water and continue to mix well until the water is evenly mixed in.
Gently fold in the egg whites until they have completely mixed into the batter.
Pour the batter evenly between the two baking pans.  Drop the baking pans onto the counter once or twice to let some of the air bubbles escape.
Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with crumbs and not liquid.
Cool for about 10 minutes in the pans and then remove to a cooling rack.
Cool completely before icing.
Mix together the icing sugar and butter until it begins to get cream slowly add the cream by a tbsp at a time.  Save 1 tbsp of cream and mix it with the espresso powder. Add the espresso cream just before the icing reaches the consistency that you are looking for - spreadable but not runny.  Add the espresso cream and mix until incorporated.  Spread over the first layer of cake on the top and sides.  Add the second layer and finish icing the top and sides.

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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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About Me

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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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