love potions

December 18th, 2011

The day’s snowfall approaches one foot, the roads are unplowed and the solemn silence of winter comes on like a weary exhalation across the endless horizon of white.  I want to be some place that smells of sunshine and trees and dirt roads.  The smell of horses would be nice as would be a pond shimmering in the heat with insects skipping and bouncing along its surface.

Alas, I am shackled to the kitchen table writing about database storage and software navigation.  Escape is possible, nonetheless, if I squint and imagine a golden and green hued environment.  I can ignore the double layer of sweaters and pretend I’m wearing a sundress made of organza that swishes in a tropical breeze.

Winter in the Boondocks has no aroma, and that too, is something I can correct, and in the realest of senses.  An exotic curry perhaps, made from toasted spices and lots of ginger and garlic, left to simmer on the stove for a couple of hours draws everyone to the kitchen and in the spirit of that intoxicating smell, a new energy and vibrancy is born.  Conversation becomes more animated and the hush of winter takes a back seat, if only for an evening.


Related Recipes

Beef Vindaloo

Serve this heady beef dish on a bed of basmati rice with and assortment of raitas and chutneys on the side.

  • 2 pounds top sirloin, trimmed and cut into ¾ inch cubes
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon bark, broken into 2-3 pieces
  • 8 black pepper corns
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1 cup hot water
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, as garnish

Toast cinnamon bark, peppercorns, cloves and cumin seed in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 4-6 minutes.  When cooled, pour spices into a spice grinder and process to a fine powder.

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process spice mixture, turmeric, paprika, garlic, ginger and vinegar until smooth.  Set aside.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil and sauté onions and pepper until soft.  Add contents of food processor and cook, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes.  Be careful not to scorch the mixture.

Add the cubed steak and cook until lightly browned.  Stir in the hot water and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.  For a thicker Vindaloo, remove the lid and continue to simmer until some of the liquid evaporates.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste and serve immediately, topped with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.