Monday, June 1, 2009

It's the Final Countdown!

After a whirlwind weekend, the kids resumed school for the last five days of the year--which means, of course, my last five days of freedom. I jest...sort of. But I do have an awful lot to get done this week, with end of the year celebrations looming large (I'm room mom for two--I know what you're thinking...crazy, right? YES! Never again...), and the small matter of packing the clothing we will need for the entire summer and planning our drive across the country--and back. Luckily the (heavily armed) man across the street has volunteered for security detail on our home while we are gone, which gives me great peace of mind. But there are still the animals to consider, and my potted plants, which includes two lovely tomatoes. Somehow it will all get done.

Thankfully, I have one of those husbands who is extraordinarily helpful, especially when given a list. He loves lists. I am always making fun of him when we pack to go away. Be it overnight or a week, he always makes a list that looks something like this, adjusting only quantities:

T-shirts (4)
Button downs (2)
Jeans (2)
Shorts (4)
Socks (8)
Underwear (8)

I, on the other hand, empty my drawers and closet in entirety and somehow shove the mess into an extra large suitcase. Thankfully, my wardrobe isn't that large, or we'd be in for some real problems. But guess who often leaves something behind? That's right, me....because even though I thought I brought everything....I didn't have a list. Go figure. The other travel issue he has (I say issue but it really is endearing and practical...when I'm not in a hurry to get a move on-which is, like, never...) is how he must pack the trunk perfectly before we leave. This gives me great pause because next week we will have a departure to contend with every day we are on the road. I can see him now, somewhere in Oklahoma, packing and re-packing the trunk of our car until I climb in, and drive away with the hatch wide open, abandoning him, the children and the dog (and the luggage) in the motel parking lot. I must take these next 10 days and practice meditation for peace and patience.

But in the meantime, in addition to all the travel preparations, I am cooking fresh, beautiful produce from our farmers' market and gorging on all the stone fruit I can, because once we get back to Cape Cod, it is literally like stepping months back in time. The farmers' market and farm stands will have only greens and eggs, and if I'm really lucky strawberries. Things don't start picking up until it is time to leave in early August. Sigh...maybe someday we will get to experience the full growing season.

Tonight I made grilled and marinated Indian spiced chicken, a fresh tomato salad (again with an Indian inspired dressing), Indian spiced chard (sensing a theme here?), raita, and rice. I have been grazing mindlessly today, without really paying any attention to what I was eating, and had the urge to really taste my food. What better way to do that than with the richly scented and flavored cuisine of India? With a few simple and easy-to-find ingredients at the ready in your pantry, you can have Indian food whenever you want. The only drawback, if you can call it one, is that your lips may burn a bit from the heat of the chiles, and your skin and house may bear a slight musky fragrance. But I don't mind that too much...I actually find it kind of sexy. But I digress...onto the recipes, which are adapted from Quick Indian Cooking.

Greens with Chile and Ginger
serves 2

Wash a large bunch of greens (I used Swiss Chard). Remove any large stems and cut into pieces. Heat 1 T oil in a large dutch oven over high heat. Add 2 T peeled and slivered fresh ginger root and saute until golden. Add 2 diced serrano chiles (remove seeds if desired) and chard and stir until wilted. Add 1/2 t garam masala (Indian spice found in many markets), 1/4 t sugar, 1/2 t salt and pepper. Saute 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and serve.

Fresh Tomato Salad

serves 2

Slice 2 tomatoes and place on a platter. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Set aside. Finely chop a small handful of cilantro, mint, or basil (or a combination) and sprinkle on top of tomatoes. In a small skillet heat 1 T vegetable oil with 1/2 t whole grain mustard and 1 t whole cumin seeds. Stir until cumin becomes fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Pour oil over tomatoes and serve immediately.

Barbecued Chicken with Indian Spices
serves 4-6

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts*

1 T garam masala
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 T lemon juice
2 T plain yogurt
3 T oil
3 cloves garlic, grated

Combine ingredients for marinade and pour over chicken at least one hour, or up to one day before cooking. Remove from marinade and grill over medium high heat, turning once for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with plain yogurt mixed with some grated cucumber, a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped cilantro and mint.

*Can also be made with bone-in, skin-on chicken parts. Grill over medium-low heat for 45 minutes, turning occasionally to avoid burning.

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