Thursday, April 24, 2014

GOOD FENCES

This was taken in the children's garden at Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, Virginia.  It is full of whimsical garden ornaments which I always enjoy, and also has a lovely fence to share today.


Thank you Theresa at The Run*A*Round Ranch Report for continuing another great meme.  Click on the blog link to see other participants, and the button below to find out more information.  


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NATURE NOTES AND WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY

 

I am taking us back to the beach we visited towards the end of our time in Florida last February.  We had spotted a large number of gulls and I wanted to get some photos.  I expected to see only seagulls and it was a delightful surprise to find a couple of birds that were different from the rest. 

One that I was interested in and had never seen before was a Black Skimmer.  If you want to learn more about him you can click here and again here.







It has a very long, narrow beak.  The lower mandible is used for scooping up small fish as the bird glides over the water.










 
Occasionally they get told off by the seagulls.











 
Round Two?




Today I am linking with Michelle's Nature Notes and Stewart's Wild Bird Wednesday.  Thanks for hosting these wonderful memes Michelle and Stewart. I enjoy joining in when I have something to share.

Food post - Slow Cooker Butter Chicken


A lot of the time when we sit down for a meal,  I don't follow a recipe and fix our old favorite standbys.  However, when I do have the extra time, and more to the point, the inclination, I enjoy browsing through food blogs on line, for those times when we want something a little bit different.  Gregg loves trying ethnic foods, he actually started me on that path, but it took a while as I grew up in a very plain cooking household.  

My Mother was an exceptional cook and her meals were always ones to look forward to (her Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding will never be surpassed in my eyes).  However, after my marriage and with all Gregg's traveling from his navy days, he developed a taste for more exotic cuisine, and introduced me to it.  His Mother also was a great cook and used more seasonings and I had never been used to anything other than salt and pepper, but she taught me about such things and I took note.

I always remember a conversation with my Mum after I had lived in the States for a few years, and at the risk of repeating myself here because I have been writing this blog for a long time now, Mum and Dad were visiting and had been with us for about a week. Mum and I were in the kitchen, chatting over a cup of tea after she had watched me prepare another meal.  I remember going all out with the menu plan, trying to make my Mum proud of my developing cooking skills.  





After looking at all the ingredients I had on my counter, Mum said, with this kind of quizzical, very thoughtful look on her face, "You don't cook English any more do you Neesie?"  

It kind of took me aback because I hadn't thought about it up until that point.  I actually think I was making a spaghetti sauce and now it makes me smile because spaghetti and meatballs was an exotic dish to my Mum and Dad. You didn't get pasta unless you went to Italy.   

If they could have bought all their English groceries with them they would have but obviously would never have gotten it through the customs, not that they would have tried in the first place.  They were allowed to bring tea -  I think - and as we couldn't get English tea here back in those days, they always came with a suitcase full to the gills with PG Tips.  This was all gone by the time they went back and their empty suitcase was filled with all kinds of souvenirs to take home to family and friends.  

I love thinking back to that conversation Mum and I had in the kitchen all those years ago.  She would have been proud of the fact that Yorkshire Pudding was still on the menu.

At heart I am still a plain cook but I always find several recipes to browse through, and I asked Gregg to choose tonight.   His choice was Slow Cooker Butter Chicken by Chung-Ah at DamnDelicious.   You can visit the original recipe here.

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
6 Servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 hours 5 minutes
total time: 5 hours 15 minutes.

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, diced
1 (14 ounce) can light coconut milk
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high high.  Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in coconut milk, tomato paste, flour, garam masala, curry powder, chili powder and ginger powder until well combined and slightly thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place chicken into a slow cooker.  Add sauce mixture and gently toss to combine.  Cover and cook on low heat for 5 hours.

Serve immediately.



What did we think of this meal?  It was another hit.  I won't share anything that we haven't enjoyed.  The main reason I put recipes on here is that it is another way to save those that we enjoy, and can easily look up when we are in the mood to try it again.

I love getting the slow-cooker out.  Fixing things early in the day is a big plus, and by the time you sit down you can relax enough to enjoy the meal. Everything is in the pot before noon, and this leaves the afternoon for other things. 

Gregg asked if I could cook chicken thighs instead of breast and that was the only thing I altered. It cooked in the same amount of time.

This is the first Indian dish I have prepared.  It wasn't hot at all and if you do enjoy a little more heat, you can add extra chili to taste.  I offered to add more chili the next time but Gregg said no, he wouldn't change a thing.  

We are not eating out as much and it is one of the reasons I am making more ethnic dishes at home.  It stops the craving for meals we only found in restaurants before.

Thank you Chung-Ah for sharing this delicious Slow Cooker Butter Chicken.   Please check out DamnDelicious.  Her meals are varied and they look excellent.  I will definitely be going back to find more yummy meals.  You can find her blog here.