tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal

30Jan/120

Ski Morocco?

Hi there, E!

Sometimes I like to overbook my time and force myself to extend so that I get more things done in a short period. It can be a little crazy and crazy-making but that's what I did this weekend.

After a fun early morning with you out at Snoqualmie for our first attempt at skiing, I ran a few errands on the way home and then set to cooking our dinner!

For holidays, Mom sent N and I a gorgeous tagine. I seasoned it and we wanted to use it, so that's where I started. I found a recipe for a Moroccan Meatball Tagine that looked promising.

tagine w/couscous
tagine w/couscous

I made a few changes to the recipe. I used a 50/50 blend of beef and lamb for the meatballs, omitted the onion from the meatball mixture, and pan-seared the meatballs before adding them to the stew.

I doubled the spices specified for the meatballs and added them to the stew along with the saffron and cinnamon sticks. I omitted the raisins but added a couple of dried apricots.

Unfortunately our tagine was a little too small for the amount of meatballs this made, so I baked it in a French oven. I baked the tagine at 300°F for an hour and change instead of 350°F for 35 minutes plus.

I also made Israeli couscous* to go along with it and soak up the stew juice.

Overall impressions? The stew needed more salt and more spinach and something crispy in the stew (N, "this needs fava beans. Hey! how about adding a fried falafel to it at serve time?").

It wasn't enough vegetable content for me and I really should have made the side of broccoli I planned. That was where my over-packed day took its first toll**.

After our long strenuous day, we were too braindead to play anything beyond... Uno.

Gaming
mindless gaming

Everyone won a round, but you won the game! Congrats! I was originally thinking about trying to talk everyone into playing a game of Ra but given how exhausted I was while playing simple Uno, I'm glad I didn't attempt it.

For next time -- I'm thinking about maslenitsa -- blini!

*E, "They're like savory tapioca pearls!"

**I can't believe I went to my office, got my camera, set up my plate to take a photo and then.... started eating! I didn't realize I forgot to take a photo until my bowl was almost empty. Thankfully you took a shot with the iPhone!

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22Jan/121

Chinese New Year

新年快樂
Xin Nian Kuai Le

恭喜發財
Kung Hei Fat Choy

In Mandarin and Cantonese.

With the epic snow and ice storm last week, my work at home time stretched endlessly to Friday evening, I didn't think about menu until Friday night. After conferring with you to make sure you will be able to leave your house, I searched the web and my usual suspect of food blogs for some New Year dishes. Chinese food is tricky. By which I mean I am sensitive to the food preferences of G (and N), and still want to hold on to a little heritage. Last year, I run into trouble with the chicken. I tried to step around some of those issues and attempted a more friendly menu.

Really, these recipes are all guidelines, it was all free form cooking.

grocery,  home at 1:30 pm

I had a feeling grocery shopping Saturday morning would be madness. Snowed in for days, with Chinese New Year to shop for, I was anticipating chaos at Asian markets. So I gave myself some incentive and stopped at Tofu 101, for hot brunch items. Mmm. I was also thinking taro pastry for dessert. Buns yes, but no pastry and very small selection of tofu. Yikes.

Then off to Jing Jing Market. Where I stared wide eye and honked at the lady who decided to back up in the middle of the busy parking lot. "Inches", the parking attendant said. According to him, 'Happens a lot'. Sigh. Automobile adventure aside, I came home with the last package of long beans.

all prepped, at 5pm

Lots of prepping - clean shrimp, remove string from snow peas, trim ends from long beans, soak and chop shitake mushrooms and yuba skin, chop up chicken & fish & tofu & ribs, make dumplings, julienne ginger and scallions. After starting the braise and  all the prep, I had just enough time to take the fuzzies on a walk, shower, and start cooking.

phew! at the table

This particular Saturday, I felt like I was racing the clock all day! Phew. I tried to avoid cook-last-minute-dishes, but ended up with two stir frys and one pan fry. Stir fry is almost fool proof with a hot pan and same size ingredients. Keep the ingredients moving in the pan and take it off the heat just before it is done. For greens, I add some water (or broth) to steam for a few minutes.

The dishes turned out ok, no major disaster, just minor ones  like losing track of my utensils. The sauce set up oddly in the long beans. I did not overcook the fish. The braised ribs texture was off.  The shrimp dumplings was good. And well, the giant pot of rice was tasty, but it would be tastier with the claypot. (Yes, I really should get a claypot. I have no good reason not to have one.)

G, holding up a snow pea,  "don't these have peas inside them?"

I think he confused them with sugar snap peas. Heh. So sad N does not like shitake mushrooms. Did he mind the taste in the rice? or does he just not like eating them?

where are all the females?

After dinner, I was too lazy to take out new games, even thought I've had Forbidden Island, If Wishes were Fishes, and Coloretto for a while now. I need to copy and distribute those rules ahead. So we played one of our favorite - Castle. Wow. I had the very crappy hand, totally blocked by no Queen, no Princess ...

We wrapped up the evening with Mama Mia. Go you who made all your pizzas. Happy Year of the Dragon.

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