When I was a wee lad I had to make my own lunches for school. At a quick glance, one might think my mother was either uninvolved or simply uncaring, but nothing could really be farther from the truth. In fact, my mother was quite involved and caring, and made my lunch for me every single day, up until the day when I complained so relentlessly over the contents of my lunch she told me something like this, “If you don’t like the lunch I make for you, you can make your own.” And so I did. And if I didn’t make a lunch, I simply went hungry at school, and I had no one to blame but myself. And thus I began to cook for myself.
Over the years I had spent more and more time in the kitchen, but my forays into the culinary world were somewhat brief and rather timid in their very nature. It all began with the egg sandwich. A devilish little bugger, the egg sandwich can be varied according to whatever whim strikes you at the moment. Want ham on that? You got it. Want a different kind of cheese? You got it. Want a biscuit instead of bread? You got it.
And thus I entered the realm of making food according to my own desires and whims. Granted, this wasn’t a very big step towards culinary greatness, but it was a step none the less.
Over time, my ambition into the realm of food has grown, and I have found myself taking bigger and bigger steps. This is not to say there hasn’t been some stumbling along the way. For example, I made some fried bananas not to long ago and was extremely disappointed with the results. Our friends, who were with us for dinner and attempting to eat this dessert, made a good showing of pretending to like it. Of course, there have been some great successes long the way as well. For example, I tried my hand at baking not to long ago, and made crepes for a desert. And wow, were they tasty. Tasty!!
I am somewhat sad to admit, though, I am a timid chef. For one, I am completely lost and confused when it comes to the subject of spices and herbs. Any baboon probably knows salt, pepper and garlic are one of the sweetest combinations on earth. So what about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme? According to Simon and Garfunkel they go well together; but even if they do, I wouldn’t have the slightest clue what type of food to prepare with such a concoction.
And so it is with me. I do love food. And there is so much of it out there, and so many ways to prepare it, and I am too lazy to look for them.
Pathetic, I know. But now I am working to overcome this deficiency. This weekend, I am going to prepare one of my favorite dishes: Yellow Curry Chicken over Rice. There are lots of types of curry in the world; this particular version originates in South East Asia.
I have spent my entire weekend here at work obsessing over this venture. I have scoured the internet looking for curry recipes. I have read eleventy-billion comments people have written on the different recipes. What I really want to do is basically recreate a recipe from a little diner in Arcata, called Japhy's.
Japhy's, located in hippie heaven, is really quite an amazing little restaurant. Soups made to order and the curry of the day.
And the curry, wow. So good. Thus far, I think my favorite is the yellow curry. And it is worth the drive to Arcata just to try. I highly recommend you do so.
So with some determination, and a little bit luck, I set out to recreate this recipe. I had an idea of how I wanted to do it. So first I went to the Asian market. Ten bucks later, I was on my way home with some curry paste and coconut milk. I did a little chopping of vegetables, and a smashing of garlic, and everything went into the slow cooker. I threw the chicken into the cooker as well, thinking to let it just sit in the combination of broth and milk and spices for about four hours before I return to it.
About 4 hours later I returned and removed the chicken and shredded it. Then, stirred it back in, added in some cilantro, and let it sit for about another two hours. And walla!!
So good, so juicy, so tender, and poured over rice, so comforting in the belly.
What?? I strayed from the easy and predictable formula and found myself doing something new and fun and wham-o! Dinner was a complete success.
So what does this tell me? I need to stray from the formula a little more often.